Fidel Castro No More!

The Comandante who established a communist state and who survived numerous assassination attempts, and survived various premature obituaries, had death finally catch up to him, at the age of 90. And that too, after battling for long with illness.

Even though due to the fact that he was ill for a long time, and that the news of his death was expected, it was still shocking. He was the figurehead across the developing world for an armed struggle against oppressive capitalist forces.

Raul, Fidel’s younger brother, assumed the presidency of Cuba in 2006 after Fidel had a near fatal health problem when he had a major intestinal ailment. In fact, it was he who on the 25th of November, 2016 at 10:29 pm announced that his brother was no more. After the cremation, Fidel Castro’s ashes were interred at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery on the 4th December, in a solemn ceremony.

There were nine days of national mourning which were declared to mark his death, and there were numerous emotional scenes both in Miami and Havana. Several world leaders paid tribute and reflections too.

The US President Obama too offered his condolences and said that the prayers and the thoughts of the Americans were with the Cubans. He also said that the Cuban people should remember that they had a partner and a friend in the US.

However, Obama’s successor Donald Trump referred to Fidel Castro as a person who was a dictator and an oppressor of the people. He said that the legacy of Fidel Castro was of denying of human rights, poverty, suffering, theft, firing squads and more. He said that now Cubans could look forward to living in freedom.

Both Obama and Trump used very different language, and in fact, the renewed relationship between the US and Cuba which has been seen as one of the major legacies of the Obama rule could be under threat when under Trump.

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World Witnesses Mother Teresa’s Canonization

The canonization of Mother Teresa took place on the 4th September at the Vatican. This ceremony was transmitted live all over the world. The mass at St. Peter’s square took 2 hours, and it was led by Pope Francis. Mother Teresa was canonized 19 years after she died and in fact even though she was an icon globally for the work she did with the poorest of the poor, yet there were deep criticisms regarding the order which she founded.

Her relics have been and are venerated, and people can even buy 1.5m 95c postage stamps commemorating her and her humility, dedication, simplicity and strength.

Prior to the mass, her images were displayed all over the Vatican, and there were series of different musical events, prayer sessions, seminars and feasts which were held for those who were visiting pilgrims. Rita Ora the British Pop star too performed at the Vatican before the ceremony.

In Kolkata, there were three months of commemorations which were planned. These commemorations included art shows, book launches, stadium masses as well as installing of a bronze life-size statue of her.
The Prime Minister lauded the efforts of Mother Teresa in a radio broadcast. Sonia Gandhi too wrote a letter to the Vatican saying that it was a proud moment for all Indians and not only Catholics that Mother Teresa was canonized.

The Hindu nationalists, however, claimed she surreptitiously baptized dying people without them knowing it. Aroup Chatterjee too who was one of her critics felt that such a huge hoopla should not have been made about a black magic ceremony. He said she was a bogus figure. Some criticized the work the nuns did which lacked medical training. Some did not like her dogmatic views about contraception, abortion, and divorce. Others felt the care the disabled children got was inept and unprofessional.

Is Artificial Light Causing Hormone Changes And Obesity?

Artificial light at night or ALAN is causing serious concerns. As per studies, when there is chronic exposure to artificial light, the hormones are affected, and this could be the cause of the obesity epidemic which is worldwide. There are other studies conducted which show that artificial light exposure at nights results in hormonal cancers.

As per the Nara Medical school in Japan, 1100 elderly participants whose average age was 72, were followed for almost two years and their lifestyle, as well as health, was evaluated. It was found that those participants who had more exposure to artificial light gained more weight and increased in their waist size than those that did not have this artificial nighttime exposure to light. It was also seen that those who had exposure to natural light in the mornings had not only healthier body weight but also had smaller waist sizes. It was estimated that an increased night time light exposure increased the weight gain by 10.2 percent and the BMI increased by 10% over ten years.

The timing, as well as balancing of energy and the metabolism, is due to nerve cells which are called the suprachiasmatic nucleus and this is found in the hypothalamus. This is what is called the master biological clock. This sets the timing and the rhythm of the other clocks in the body which includes the thyroid, insulin, and leptin as well as the gene clocks too. Due to artificial light at night, the ambient light disrupts the rhythm of these internal clocks, and there is a misalignment created between the internal clocks in the body and the natural rhythm of the environment, and so this leads to decreased energy and impaired tolerance of glucose and so increase in obesity. As per the study, a sleep duration of about 5 hours a night reduces the insulin function by 20%.

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