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On This Day in History: July 14

Fête Nationale, or Bastille Day as it is called here in the US, marks the storming of an infamous fortress in Paris and the beginning of the French Revolution. Bastion de Saint-Antoine was built in 1370 during the 100 Years War to defend the east end of Paris and one of the royal palaces. At the time of the battle, the Bastille only held seven prisoners. Most had been removed, the most infamous, the comte de Solages aka the Marquis de Sade, was moved to an insane asylum 10 days before.

Early in the morning, the crowds had stormed the Hôtel des Invalides, gathering arms but without powder which was stored at the Bastille, 30,000 lbs. of gun powder.

The regular garrison consisted of 82 invalides (veteran soldiers no longer suitable for service in the field). It had however been reinforced on 7 July by 32 grenadiers of the Swiss Salis-Samade Regiment from the troops on the Champ de Mars. The walls mounted eighteen eight-pound guns and twelve smaller pieces. The governor was Bernard-René de Launay, son of the previous governor and actually born within the Bastille.

The list of vainqueurs de la Bastille has around 600 names, and the total of the crowd was probably less than one thousand. The crowd gathered outside around mid-morning, calling for the surrender of the prison, the removal of the guns and the release of the arms and gunpowder. Two representatives of the crowd outside were invited into the fortress and negotiations began, and another was admitted around noon with definite demands. The negotiations dragged on while the crowd grew and became impatient. Around 13:30 the crowd surged into the undefended outer courtyard, and the chains on the drawbridge  to the inner courtyard were cut, crushing one unfortunate vainqueur. About this time gunfire began, though some stories state that the Governor had a cannon fire into the crowd killing several women, children, and men turning the crowd into a mob. The crowd seemed to have felt it had been drawn into a trap and the fighting became more violent and intense, while attempts by deputies to organize a cease-fire were ignored by the attackers.

The firing continued, and at 15:00 the attackers were reinforced by mutinous gardes françaises and other deserters from among the regular troops, along with two cannons. A substantial force of Royal Army troops encamped on the nearby Champs de Mars did not intervene. With the possibility of a mutual massacre suddenly apparent Governor de Launay ordered a cease fire at 17:00. A letter offering his terms was handed out to the besiegers through a gap in the inner gate. His demands were refused, but de Launay nonetheless capitulated, as he realized that his troops could not hold out much longer; he opened the gates to the inner courtyard, and the vainqueurs swept in to liberate the fortress at 17:30.

Ninety-eight attackers and one defender had died in the actual fighting. De Launay was seized and dragged towards the Hôtel de Ville in a storm of abuse. Outside the Hôtel a discussion as to his fate began. The badly beaten de Launay shouted “Enough! Let me die!” and kicked a pastry cook named Dulait in the groin. De Launay was then stabbed repeatedly and fell, and his head was sawed off and fixed on a pike to be carried through the streets. The three officers of the permanent Bastille garrison were also killed by the crowd; surviving police reports detail their wounds and clothing. Two of the invalides of the garrison were lynched, but all but two of the Swiss regulars of the Salis-Samade Regiment were protected by the French Guards and eventually released to return to their regiment. Their officer, Lieutenant Louis de Flue, wrote a detailed report on the defense of the Bastille which was incorporated in the logbook of the Salis-Samade and has survived. It is (perhaps unfairly) critical of the dead Marquis de Launay, whom de Flue accuses of weak and indecisive leadership. The blame for the fall of the Bastille would rather appear to lay with the inertia of the commanders of the substantial force of Royal Army troops encamped on the Champs de Mars, who made no effort to intervene when the nearby Hôtel des Invalides or the Bastille were attacked.

Returning to the Hôtel de Ville, the mob accused the prévôt ès marchands (roughly, mayor) Jacques de Flesselles of treachery, and he was assassinated en route to an ostensible trial at the Palais-Royal.

The key to the west portal of the Bastille was presented to Pres, George Washington  by the Marquis de Lafayette on March 17, 1790 and is on display at Mt Vernon.

All that is left of the Bastille is located at the Square Henri-Galli on Boulevard Henri IV. The stones of one of the eight towers were discovered in 1899 during the excavation for the Metro. The footprint is marked by special paving stones along the sidewalk and streets around the Place de la Bastille. The Fossé de Paris, the ditch behind the Bastille, is now a marina for pleasure boats.

Is This Site About Politics?

I was asked that very question late last night. The answer is yes, very much so. We are a very “hard”, left leaning blog but willing to entertain many points of view. Just be prepared to defend whatever you write. We are democratic in that sense.

We like people like Glen Greenwald, Sirota, digby, Jane Hamsher, Atrios and even occasionally, Armando (BigTentDemocrat).

We support sites like Corrente, Feministing and Think Progress among others.

We encourage you to read the sites that are to the right of us like Open Left, Booman Tribune and Balloon Juice for perspective.

We support our friends’ blogs, too. Edger’s Antemedius, RiaD’s Firefly Dreaming and davidseth’s The Dream Antilles.

We will be up dating our blog roll to reflect not just the views of the site but to include others that though they may not fit our mission to move the Overton Window left but are well written and thought provoking.

We want to hear what you think in diaries and in comments. Don’t be shy because we know you’re not. Speak up, be heard. We want to hear you

Live Aid: 25 Years Later

It started off as a song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, released that previous Christmas to raise money for relief of the famine in Ethiopia.

Band Aid was a British and Irish charity supergroup, founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia by releasing the record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for the Christmas market that year. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release.

The record was released on November 29, 1984, and went straight to No. 1 in the UK singles chart, outselling all the other records in the chart put together. It became the fastest- selling single of all time in the UK, selling a million copies in the first week alone. It stayed at No. 1 for five weeks, selling over three million copies and becoming easily the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK.

It exploded into a concert that went around the world and raised £150 million (approx. $283.6 million).

1985: Live Aid makes millions for Africa

The Live Aid concert for the starving in Africa has raised triple the £10m expected.

And as the London event draws to a close at Wembley Stadium, Britain had contributed £1,100,000 to the global total of £30m.

Described as the Woodstock of the eighties, the world’s biggest rock festival was organised by Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof to raise money for famine relief in Africa.

Wembley was packed with a crowd of 72,000, andTV pictures, co-ordinated at BBC Television Centre, have been beamed to over 1.5 bn people in 160 countries in the biggest broadcast ever known.


On This Day in History: July 13

1985: Live Aid concert

On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans. Continued at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and at other arenas around the world, the 16-hour “superconcert” was globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations. In a triumph of technology and good will, the event raised more than $125 million in famine relief for Africa.

Live Aid was the brainchild of Bob Geldof, the singer of an Irish rock group called the Boomtown Rats. In 1984, Geldof traveled to Ethiopia after hearing news reports of a horrific famine that had killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians and threatened to kill millions more. After returning to London, he called Britain’s and Ireland’s top pop artists together to record a single to benefit Ethiopian famine relief. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was written by Geldof and Ultravox singer Midge Ure and performed by “Band Aid,” an ensemble that featured Culture Club, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, U2, Wham!, and others. It was the best-selling single in Britain to that date and raised more than $10 million.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Morning Quarterbacking

Meet the Press

This is “Take Two” which is only available on the web. Rachel Maddow discusses her recent trip to Afghanistan and the Republican women and what they have to offer American women. (Sorry, no transcript is available.)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On This Day in History: July 12

Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry Thoreau; July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862)  was an American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore; while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and “Yankee” love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time imploring one to abandon waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.

He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau’s philosophy of civil disobedience influenced the political thoughts and actions of such later figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoreau is sometimes cited as an individualist anarchist. Though Civil Disobedience calls for improving rather than abolishing government – “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government” the direction of this improvement aims at anarchism: “‘That government is best which governs not at all;’ and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”

Haiti: 6 Months Later: Up Dated

Emergency response after the Haiti earthquake: Choices, obstacles and finance

Six months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti on 12th January 2010, this report describes the evolution of MSF’s work during what is the organisation’s largest ever rapid emergency response. It attempts to explain the scope of the medical and material aid provided to Haiti by MSF since the catastrophe, but also to set out the considerable challenges and dilemmas faced by the organisation. It acknowledges that whilst the overall relief effort has kept many people alive, it is still not easing some of their greatest suffering.


The earthquake destroyed 60 per cent of the existing health facilities and 10 per cent of medical staff were either killed or left the country. MSF had to relocate services to other facilities, build container hospitals, work under temporary shelters, and even set up an inflatable hospital. With over 3000 Haitian and international staff working in the country, MSF currently manages 19 health facilities and has over 1000 beds available at various locations. The organisation has provided emergency medical care to more than 173,000 patients between January 12th and May 31st.


Six months on, the medical provision for the majority of citizens has been significantly improved in general and some poor people who were unable to access healthcare prior to the disaster are now able to recieve care.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Edition

It’s the Sunday morning round up of the usual and unusual. Sports seems to be the popular topic. So pour that cup of whatever you drink when you read and add your opinion to theirs.

In the realm of stranger things,  Carlos Ruiz Zafon looks at sports and a psychic octopus and how it has reshaped a country.

HIS name is Paul, he has eight legs and he flaunts a flexibility that would put to shame the ethics code of any self-respecting investment bank on Wall Street. What’s more, he’s one of the stars of the World Cup blazing on zillions of TV screens around the world. Yet Paul has never set foot on a soccer field, never kicked a ball and to this day most of his running has been devoted to chasing lobsters. Paul, you see, is an octopus.

OctoPaul is, at present, an inmate at the Oberhausen aquarium in Germany, where he has entered the V.I.P. lounge of animal oracle lore due to the uncanny precision in his predictions on the outcome of crucial sports events. He works his magic according to a strict procedure: his caretakers introduce into his tank two boxes containing the flags of the opposing teams (and a mussel in each for him to snack on, post-decision). Then, while the world news media eagerly waits, OctoPaul, cucumber-cool and donning his trademark deep-thinking face, settles on one of them.


What the future will bring, maybe only Paul the Octopus knows. And by the way, Paul predicted Spain will win the final.

Eugene Robinson wonders why everyone is upset with Lebron James

Why is everybody hating on LeBron James? I mean, is this a free country? Or did a couple of important amendments to the Constitution get repealed while nobody was looking?

I understand, of course, why the good people of Cleveland would be disappointed, distraught, even irate. King James is, at the very least, the second-best basketball player in the world. For a city that has seen so many ups and downs — and let’s be honest, the general trend for the past half-century has been down — the departure of a hometown superstar must be a cruel blow. But let’s try to keep things in perspective.

On This Day in History: July 11

Aaron Burr slays Alexander Hamilton in a Duel

On this day in 1804, Aaron Burr, Vice President of the United States slays Alexander Hamilton, former Secretary of the Treasury, in a duel in Weehauken, NJ. There are accounts that Hamilton, who had been involved in several other duels that had been settled without shots, decided at the last minute that the duel was immoral and fired his weapon in the air. Burr, whose seconds said that Hamilton did indeed fire at Burr and missed, shot Hamilton in the abdomen. The bullet lodged near Hamilton’s spine, and he was taken back to New York City where he died the next day.

The irony is that this was the same place that Hamilton’s son, Philip, had died two and a half years prior defending his father’s honor.

Few affairs of honor actually resulted in deaths, and the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Alexander Hamilton. Charged with murder in New York and New Jersey, Burr, still vice president, returned to Washington, D.C., where he finished his term immune from prosecution.

In 1805, Burr, thoroughly discredited, concocted a plot with James Wilkinson, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army, to seize the Louisiana Territory and establish an independent empire, which Burr, presumably, would lead. He contacted the British government and unsuccessfully pleaded for assistance in the scheme. Later, when border trouble with Spanish Mexico heated up, Burr and Wilkinson conspired to seize territory in Spanish America for the same purpose.

In the fall of 1806, Burr led a group of well-armed colonists toward New Orleans, prompting an immediate U.S. investigation. General Wilkinson, in an effort to save himself, turned against Burr and sent dispatches to Washington accusing Burr of treason. In February 1807, Burr was arrested in Louisiana for treason and sent to Virginia to be tried in a U.S. court. In September, he was acquitted on a technicality. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he fled to Europe. He later returned to private life in New York, the murder charges against him forgotten. He died in 1836.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

A ‘Winter’ Vegetable Shines in Summer


Beets you say? Ugh! Well, they are nutritious and when prepared well in hot and cold dishes quite tasty. They come in a number of varieties besides red, such as chioggas (pictured above: white striated), pink and golden. When buying fresh beets, buy them with the greens still attached. The greens are an excellent source of beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamin C. The beets themselves are rich in folate, magnesium and potassium. So if you eat well, you won’t need those vitamin supplements.

Beet and Beet Green Gratin

Roasted Spring Onion and Beet Salad

Beet, Citrus and Avocado Salad

Mixed Spring Greens Salad With Roasted Beets

Grated Raw Beet Salad

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