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Page 2 POST-GAZETTE, DECEMBER 28,2012 | by Prof. Edmund Turiello I A weekly column highlighting some of the m ore in terest ing aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. ~ .... MESOS POTAMOS, AN OVERVIEW Mesopotamia is the name given to the earliest civili- zation of Western Asia. It was an area of fertile plains between the Tigris and Euph- rates Rivers. The name Mes- opotamia is derived from "mesos" meaning middle and "potamos" meaning river, the Greek name for middle river or the area between two riv- ers. History marks this as the location of the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, the great walled city of Babylon with its Hanging Gardens and the Tower of Babel. It is the area which is now occupied by the country of Iraq. Many of the bricks of Babylon were used in the buildings of Baghdad. The area between the two rivers, being originally of rich alluvial soil, was capable of supporting lush vegeta- tion. The destruction of their irrigation system by Mongol invaders was the major fac- tor in transforming Meso- potamia to a barren area of thick mud and clay. There were no convenient hills to furnish building stone, nor were there any convenient forests to furnish lumber. The only mineral wealth was clay and mud. This was also a region of floods, swamps, and abundant rainfall. Mod- ern day temperatures dur- ing July and August run as high as 120 degrees in the shade. The religion of the ancient Mesopotamians was based upon superstition and sym- bolism, which prevailed ev- erywhere. Palaces and pub- lic places were protected from evil spirits by benefi- cent genie set in pairs to guard the entrances. These genies were usually in the form of man-headed bulls. The Mesopotamian culture developed the art of cunei- form writing (using wedge shaped characters). Their writing was normally done on clay tablets or cylinders, which were more permanent than the Egyptian records on papyrus. The history of this West Asiatic culture tells of .a code of laws as far back as 2250 B.C., the family idea prevailed, women were free and were respected and cities had rights and char- ters. Their code gives evi- dence of an elaborate legal system, complete commer- cial life, property owner's responsibilities and city dues. They even had a police sys- tem and a postal service. NEXT ISSUE: The Bible Lands News Commentary President 0bama Nominates Kerry for State Post As expected, President Barack Obama has nomi- nated U.S. Senator John F. Ker.ry as his next Secretary of State when Hillary Clinton resigns her cabinet position Kerry was first elected to the United States Senate following U.S. Senator Paul S. Tsongas who served one term. The 68-year-old, 5-term U.S. Senator won the 2004 presidential nomina- tion but lost to incumbent President George W. Bush. Once Kerry is sworn into the cabinet post, the Governor will be able to fill the va- cancy with a short-term ap- pointment within a specific period of time, it could be in April depending on how quickly the nomination pro- cess sails through a Senate by Sal Giarratani vote. There will be a special election held sometime in the spring. Many Republicans pre- sume that outgoing U.S. Senator Scott Brown will run in that special election. Pos- sibilities like the return of former Governor Bill Weld are also being thrown into this political mix. Over on the Democrat side, names such as U.S. Representa- tives Stephen Lynch and Mike Capuano have been mentioned. Somerville Dem- o-crat Capuano ran for the U.S. Senate seat in that January 19, 2010 special election but lost to Attorney General Martha Coakley in the Primary. Lynch is a very popular blue-collar Democrat from South Boston and con- PLEASE JOIN US FOR THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF JANUARY 11, 2013 7PM- 12AM 30 TREMONT STREET DOWNTOWN BOSTON AFTER STOPPING ON OUR RED CARPET SIP ON A SIGNATURE FASCINO MIMOSA WHILE ENJOYING THE AMBIANCE OF THE SALON AND A FASHIONABLE SURPRISE! THERE WILL BE MUSIC, PASSED HORS D'OEUVRES AND A GIFT BASKET GIVE-A-WAY] THIS IS A NIGHT DOWNTOWN BOSTON WILL NEVER FORGET! REDEEMABLE FOR $10 ON YOUR NEXT VISIT JOIN US IN OUR CELEBRATION! WE HOPE TO SEE YOU AND ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS] 617.367.2446 FACEBOOK.COM/FASCINOSALONANDSPA sidered far less liberal than other potential candidates being mentioned. Longtime U.S. Rep. Ed Markey's name has also been thrown out as a possible candidate. In 2014, the seat will be on the ballot again for a full 6-year term. Many believe Brown will attempt a come- back after his defeat to Eliza- beth Warren this past November. Many expect him to take his time rather than rushing into any return bid for the U.S. Senate. Mean- while, Democrats expect a bruising battle for this Senate seat. Many believe if U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch seeks this seat, he will be the Democrat candidate to beat. The primary battle could be a classic one be- tween two wings of the Democrat Party. Capuano is the favorite of liberals and labor unions, and Lynch a moderate Democrat who can attract Reagan Democrats in any election. Lynch also as a former ironworker in Local 7 has great support amongst trade unionists. A Lynch-Capuano battle also could help any Republican running for this seat. If Lynch runs and wins the US Senate primary, I see him going up against Brown creating a doozy of a race. It could be a nail-biter and right down the wire. I am a fan of both Brown and Lynch. I go back with the South Bos- ton Democrat to his first campaign for state represen- tative in the early '90s and have been with him every step of the way. At this point I like both Brown and Lynch as our next US Senator from Massachu- setts. I will be keeping my options close to the vest. Either way, our next U.S. Senator probably won't be a (Con_tinued On Page !2) R Publica I by David Trumbull What's Your Favorite Christmas Movie? Democrats' favorite Christmas movie is "Miracle on 34th Street." Republicans' favorite Christmas movie is "It's a Wonderful Life." I first heard that aphorism at a holiday party about a decade ago. It's been around longer than that and I haven't been able to deter- mine who first said it and when. On the face of it, the say- ing makes sense. After all, what better movie for adults who still believe in Santa Claus than Miracle on 34th Street?. Besides (watch out for plot spoiler) the p~Puq-d's crisis is resolved when a huge federal government agency -- the Post Office -- comes to the rescue. And with a divorced mother rear- hag a child alone, M/rac/e fea- tures a non-traditional fam- ily, surely a plus in the eyes of liberals. It's a Wonderful Life, on the other hand, celebrates the infinite worth of an in- dividual human being, a worth that far exceeds even the biggest financial for- tune. In Wonderful Life the hero's crisis is resolved (an- other plot spoiler) by the spontaneous voluntary ac- tion of family, friends and local community; emphati- cally not by the government. The film also shows people in fervent prayer, not to some generic higher power but to the God of the Bible as worshipped by the Protes- tant and Catholic believers shown in the picture. That alone must drive some lib- erals nuts when the film is broadcast over the public airwaves. But the game can be played the other way. Won- derful Life presents negative stereotypes of bankers, so much so that when it was released some Hollywood observers (but not, as is erroneously asserted on some liberal websites, ,the Federal Bureau of InVe ig a- tions) "clihFcjed'tliat itr a vehicle for communist pro- paganda. The charge is easy to ridicule today, but in the 1940s communist infil- tration of the motion picture industry was a real and serious threat to American values. Now look at the fa- vorable treatment -- not to mention free advertising -- which Miracle gives to two large department stores! Main Street Republicans surely must find that re- freshing compared to the negative views of business that Hollywood gives us today. The lesson? It's just a movie? Enjoy them both, or whichever ones you choose to watch this holiday season. Santa's list does not include your political affiliation, but he does have a lump of coal for those who would strip our public life of all sense of wonder at the love of God and thankfulness for all miracles big and small. [Res Publica is taking a break between Christmas and New Year's. This column originally ran for Christmas 2008.] Nine Boston Public Schools Win Funding for Fitness Equipment As part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino's Boston Moves for Health program, nine Boston Public Schools have won a total of $4,500 for new physical education equipment after boosting their daily physical activity. The awards were made possible with support from Partners HealthCare. In October, the Boston Public Health Commission joined Partners HealthCare and Shaw's and Star Market to announce three new and innovative ways that city schools would incorporate more physical activity into their students' daily routines. As a part of this initiative, schools partici- pated in a Physical Education Challenge from October 15~ to November 9th, competing for the most steps taken by students during physical education class. "Finding ways to work more physical activity into your daily routine is important for all age groups, so I'm proud of these students for their progress," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "This partnership between Boston Moves for Health, Partners HealthCare and Boston Public Schools is helping students to learn good habits about physical activ- ity early in life." Forty-six schools participated in the Physical Education Challenge. They were broken into three categories based on age and moved a total of 9,628 miles. First Place - $750 each -- Samuel Adams Elementary School, East Boston; Harbor Middle School, Dorchester; Burke High School, Dorchester Second Place - $500 each -- Michael J. Perkins Elemen- tary School, South Boston; Eliot K-8 School, Boston; Excel High School, South Boston Third Place - $250 each -- Condon Elementary School, South Boston; Richard J. Murphy K-8 School, Dorchester; The English High School, Jamaica Plain Next month, the Physical Activity Challenge, from January 15 to February 15, 2013, will engage students in a challenge for the most minutes of physical activity during the school day.