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Ben Franklin's bifocals Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
[1547 - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, writer,
born at Alcalá de Henares, Spain]

Viscount Horatio Nelson
[1758 - Horatio Nelson, British Naval Admiral,
born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England]

Actor Ted de Corsia
[1903 - Ted de Corsia, actor, born in Brooklyn]

Academy Award-winning actress Greer Garson
[1904 - Greer Garson, Academy Award-winning actress,
born in Manor Park, London]

Singing Cowboy Gene Autry
[1907 - (Orvon) Gene Autry, singer, actor,
born in Tioga, Texas]

Director Michelangelo Antonioni    Director Michelangelo Antonioni
[1912 - Michelangelo Antonioni, director, born in Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy]

Hollywood Director Stanley Kramer
[1913 - Stanley Kramer, director, born in New York City]

Actor Trevor Howard
[1913 - Trevor (Wallace) Howard, actor, born in Cliftonville, Margate, Kent, England]

Babi Yar - Jews march to their death
[1941 - Babi Yar massacre of 34,000 Jewish men, women,
and children begins at Kiev in Nazi-occupied Ukraine]

Babi Yar - mass grave

Actress Madeline Kahn
[1942 - Madeline Kahn (Wolfson), Tony
Award-winning actress, born in Boston]

Letter from the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama of Tibet

I received a letter from the Dalai Lama along with a solicitation for funds on behalf of an organization working to bring relief to the oppressed people of Tibet. In the letter, his Holiness made a poignant and convincing case on behalf of his country and his people. He described how a hostile totalitarian regime had seized hold of his country, perverted the religious and historical cultural values of the people, and was seeking to reduce their freedom through fear and intimidation. Communist China had brought in all the apparatus of a police state and was spying on the Tibetan people and encouraging them to turn in their neighbors. A system of secret prisons had been created where enemies of the state are held without charges and tortured.

I was moved by this sorry state of affairs and considered replying to the Dalai Lama's letter. In my reply, I would have said that I understood all too well the pain and anguish that he must endure on a daily basis as he watches his country being strangled and enslaved. I have great empathy for his Holiness because I witnessed the same tide rising in my own beloved country for more than half a decade. The religious fanatics, extremists, and assorted war criminals who took control of my own government for eight years presented the same kind of threat to the United States of America. While the process in Tibet is much further advanced than it is in my homeland, we were clearly moving in the same direction for far too long.

William's Whimsical Words:

I decided that the Dalai Lama had enough to worry about in his own backyard, and that it would be unkind to burden him with my concerns, so I wrote this instead.

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