Fátima: Local Sagrado ou Festival Religioso. Por Uncle Monty.

Local Sagrado ou Festival Religioso.
Por Uncle Monty.
Sacred Shrine or Religious Roadshow?
By Uncle Monty.
Fátima Photography By Alex Albion.
During his great and illustrious papacy, Pope
John Paul II personally visited the Nossa
Senhora do Rosário da Fátima or The Holy
Catholic Shrine of Fátima at Portugal. He
visited there at least three times during
his priestly and papal lifetime.
As the Holy Father of the billion-plus faithful of the
Holy Roman Catholic Church, John Paul also brought
with him to Fátima the gun wounds from his assassin
who thankfully failed to kill him. And so to mark both
the first and tenth anniversaries of his God-given
survival against his assassin’s bullets, John Paul
came to Fátima twice more to pray and to give
much thanks for his spared life at where I
myself, just only two weeks ago and as an
avid Anglican, humbly stood in his wonderful
and forgiving footsteps. No wonder I saw
pilgrims crying - along with many others simply
kissing, hugging or touching - at the impressive
statue of the pre-eminent John Paul II
at Holy Fátima.
At Holy Fátima, 2oo9.
John Paul represents Holy Fátima at its
best and most worthy, but sadly today the
sacred and the secular fight for space and the
attention from the millions of Catholic people
who flock annually to Portugal’s world re-
nowned Holy Shrine of Fátima.
The lines between the sacred and the secular
seem to me to be getting more blurred by
the day as one is confronted with what I call
a “religious roadshow” vs. a “sacred shrine.”
This is evidenced by all the hundreds of tacky
trinket shops, the secular overkill of profiteering
from the sacred, the blantant commercialism,
the street hawkers shoving their restaurant
menus in your face only moments upon one's
first arrival at Holy Fátima, and the rip-off
prices for hotels (that can house upto 10,000
pilgrims per day) and shoddy food; and the local
shopping centres that are also on tasteless
overload of mass-produced “religious” and
tourist souvenirs and gifts that adds to the
sense of a "religious roadshow" above and
beyond the core essence to preserve Fátima
as a Holy place and as a foremost sacred
shrine of Global Catholicism.
Just one of the umpteen trinket shops.
How many crucifixes does one need to pick?

My good and dear Italian Catholic friend
Ida Negri, who has worked for 30 years
at London’s Royal Masonic Lodge as the
housekeeper there, told me that if I thought
Fátima was full of commercial bad taste, then
France's shrine at Lourdes was even worse.
As a devout Roman Catholic, Ida seems to
have visited just about every Catholic shrine
in the book. She says she was perturbed, and
at times disgusted, by what she saw as the
over commericalisation and the sense of
desecration at such shrines like Fátima and
Lourdes. Ida Negri added that fifteen years
or so ago, those same shrines were mostly
free of such commercial junk that now
grossly clutters such sacred places.
In sharp contrast, however, was my visit
three years ago to the English Anglican-
Catholic shrine of Our Lady of Walshingham
with my dear Contessa Maria at where such
"non-sacred" junk is shunned and at where
the small shops there are small in number
with their tasteful selection of religious items
and gifts that are suitably and sensibly pre-
sented for pilgrims to choose from to pur-
chase without any kind of overkill or ill-
mannered hawking like I sadly saw at
Portugal's Holy Fátima. Walsingham is
presented in its proper sacred proportion,
while Fátima is presented in its commercial
disproportion, it seems to me as a plain old
Anglican. I simply reject overt commercial-
ism and over-retailing, no matter what,
in all its crude forms from London's £1.7
billion Westfield Mall to the masses of
junky Hong Kong imports of The French
Market at New Orleans. I admanently
reject such even more so at sacred and
holy shrines of whatever kind they
may be called.
The "Three Little Seers of Fátima"
I went first to Fátima with the intention of
spending some time in religious retreat, but
when I got there I quickly changed my mind
and realised I was not fully prepared emotion-
ally and spiritually to undergo such a three-
day retreat that I had planned. One reason
why, was that I could not find the “sacred
spirit” at Holy Fátima. After all, I first went
there to hopefully find symbols and traces
of sacredness and spiritual peace and quiet
prayer, but I found instead a tasteless and
tacky religious roadshow that should not be
there in the first place. There seemed to me
to be an hollowness of prayer and earnest
supplication all around me at what is billed
as "Holy" Fátima. There was no religious
fervour or flavour that excited me or in-
duced a sense of added religiosity to my own
Anglican faith that I had hoped I would find
and see at Fátima with its overwhelming
roots and history of Traditional Christianity.
And it was hard, frankly, to get worked up
about anything to do with the world shrine of
Fátima save for its secular and commercial ob-
scenity that surely spoils the memory of those
three “Little Seers of Fátima,” who witnessed
astounding apparitions, so we're told, of
the BVM back in 1917. In that same year
of 1917, the birth of John F. Kennedy took
place in America and the rise of the bloody
Bolshevik Revolution took place behind the
Iron Curtain of Soviet Russia and her Red
Army. The British captured Baghdad and
Jerusalem. Also, The Balfour Declaration
proclaimed British support for a Jewish
national homeland in Palestine and at what
many now believe was at the tragic expense
of innocent Palestinian blood of then and of
today. Israel's vicious 2oo8 Christmas mili-
tary attack on Gaza speaks of that blood.
Now the selection of old-hand and ultra-
rightwing Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's
new Prime Minister will most likely drain
even more innocent blood out of the opp-
ressed and occupied Palestinian people.
Fátima Statue of Controversial Pius XII.

Back then in 1917, Fátima wasn’t even on the map other than being a Portuguese hamlet of no religious, social, political, commercial, national or international significance of any kind. But the "Three Little Seers of Fátima" dramatically and forever changed all of that.

Of the "Three Little Seers of Fátima," the two youngest ones - The Marto Cousins - at then ages 7 and 9 died within less than three years of seeing their apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). They were then told they would die shortly, so Ida Negri informed me upon my return from Fátima. In the meantime, the oldest of the three seers Lucia lived to the ripe old age of over 90 years old and who visited the Fátima Shrine at least three times to then describe the apparitions she profoundly experienced for the depiction of planned oil paintings at the Holy Shrine.


On entering the grounds of the Fátima Shrine, here are at least 12 things that you cannot do and they are prominently posted for the pilgrims and public to see and to adhere to: 1. Play no musical instruments; 2. No riding bicycles at the shrine; 3. No smoking; 3. No begging. 4. No use of cellphones or radio or MP3's; 6. No walking dogs; 7. No drinking; 8. No swearing; 9. No parking car; 10. No vandalism; 11. No shouting, and 12. NO PREACHING. Woooooooow. No preaching? How strange!!

At Fátima's Late Winter Saturday Evening, 2oo9.


Above: Delicate bottles of Holy Water from Holy
Fátima that I gave as gifts back in England.
Below: Uncle Monty at The Steps
of the Fátima Basilica.

Holy Fátima is created by human minds and hands and is therefore imperfect with all its sad faults and human shortcomings. What surprised me abit about the shrine was the lack of seeing hardly a priest walking on the streets, except for perhaps a dozen or so nuns or religious sisters heading to their respective convents or secular residence for some of them. It was off-season, too, during my stay at Fátima and so the shrine was relatively quiet and free of the usual masses of pilgrims at times like Eastertide and Christmastide. Also, got alot of rain to help dampen things abit. I think a day or a day and half is plenty of time to see pretty much of everything that is Holy Fátima. You can walk pretty much the whole town from north, south, east and west, without the use of transportation. English is widely spoken at Holy Fátima. It takes about 1½ hours to get there directly from the Portuguese capital of Lisboa either by car or coach.
I was glad I visited the world renowned shrine of Fátima, despite my anxiety and vexation of having to critically deal with the obvious and pressing issue of "Local Sagrado ou Festival Religisos" or "Sacred Shrine or Religious Roadshow?" My open criticism of Fátima, so it should be clearly understood, is not intended in anyway to slight or denigrate those of the Catholic faith. Far from it. I am by nature always a protester by being a Protestant by birth and rearing no matter how hard I try not to protest. When friends of mine tell me that they must be "Protestant" to stay Catholic, I always wonder why they stay Catholic instead of Protestant!?!? Someone recently stated that Protestants don't understand Catholic Shrines. But I myself do sometimes wonder why apparitions occur among the Catholic faithful, but not among the Protestants or other non-Catholic adherents? To me, apparitions and Catholicism are synonymous. Much like, I think, it is also seen with the rise of the Physical Phenomena of Stigmata, Christian religious sainthood and marked martyrs.

In the end though, it all comes down to the faith of the individual of whatever kind one may or may not hold. Holy Shrines are bright beacons to those who hunger to express and excerise their Catholic faith, but they also sometimes beckon other Christians like me who are Anglican from head to toe and who make no apology whatsoever to anybody for being of such faith and belief. At Fátima, I could and did hold my head up high as equally as any other pilgrim or visitor from any where else in the world of living Christianity. I shall always remember my short stay at Holy Fátima for it is, of course, not the kind of earthly Christian setting one visits and sees everyday. Its rarity should never become commonplace nor run like a "religious roadshow" over the sacred and of those apparitions of the BVM by those "Three Little Seers of Fátima" at more than 90 years ago at was then, and still very much is, rural and pleasant Portugal. Amen. Again, amen!!

Faithfully, Uncle Monty. +Ash Wednesday, 2oo9. The First Day of Lent.


My next story in this series on Portugal is called "Some of My Photos I Took of Lisboa." And after that story, I present a selection of the wonderful "Ceramic Tiles of Fátima and Lisboa."



My Vendor Gripe. By Wayne Barnes.

My Vendor Gripe.
By Wayne Barnes.
Edited By Uncle Monty.
Photos By Alex Albion.
My vendor gripe concerns the Information
Touts: Personally, as someone who dispenses di-
rections for free I find the current vogue for selling
directions, in and around London’s Westminster,
reprehensible but can see that it is useful to mem-
bers of the public who are in a hurry as time is al-
most priceless. However, I feel that unlike The Big
Issue, which at least contributes some tax to the
Exchequer and employs over 100 staff, this
is an un-taxed form of begging.
Perhaps, in view of the coming Olympics event, a
better image would be presented if it were handled
by a pool of charities or even, (bad taste in mouth),
a private company, Transport for London (TFL)
or the Mayor's Office.
I will expand further on this to you, with a rough
calculation of revenue lost to the country. If the in-
come could be taxed it would be useful in these difficult
times. One of those touts makes at least £60,00 p.a.
(per annum) all spent on crack which was smuggled
in without duty. They scrounge and cadge any food,
the state pays for their rent! I find it reprehensible.
It is a closed cycle to the public good.
I (also) feel that the influx of Eastern Europeans
and crack are both contributing factors in the
accelerated collapse of morality in our
beleaguered society.
Known as V288, Wayne Barnes is
a London badged Big Issue vender.
Editor: If you have a gripe of any kind, please feel
free to send your full gripe for possible publication.
Guess Who He Is?
Hint: He performed last night
in London to a sellout crowd!!
This morning he headed back
home to California, USA.


Saturday's Folkz & Thingz. Photo Essay By Uncle Monty.

Saturday's Folkz & Thingz.
Photo Essay By Uncle Monty.
Essay Photos By Alex Albion.
My ten images for this photo essay begins
with my dear and durable friend Jill Fergu-
son, who is shown above in (1) my caption
photo of her. However, Jill refused to be
photographed with me, saying "next time,"
as she walked away despite being friends.
Jill doesn't like being photographed at the
best of times, so that may explain her re-
luctance to have anymore photos of herself
taken at least after the ones already then
taken of her just yesterday by me.
Whatever, she, Jill, was part of my
packed Saturday of folkz and thingz that
caught my eye just yesterday on the
last Saturday before Shrove Tuesday or
England's Pancake Day, 2oo9. Mardi Gras
or Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wed-
nesday in New Orleans, where I lived and
worked for 13 years. They've never, of course,
heard of Pancake Day at Old Louisiana. So
here I go with my Saturday's Folkz and
Thingz for you to hopefully enjoy ...
2: Cylindrical IMAX at Waterloo.
3: Pearly King of London's Highgate.
4: Rough Sleeper Brian, 40.
5: Man's Best Friend.
6: Freemason and Fundraiser Richard Loom
of the Children's Kidney Trust at Tesco.
7: Iraq War Memorial to British Soldier Private
Lee O'Callaghan (1984-2004). At only age 19, Lee
was killed in action. His unneeded death was due
entirely to the evil Iraq Invasion by vile George
Bush and his UK war poooooodle Anthony Blair.

8: Volunteer Rett Branson with elderly Welsh Dorothy
Stewart, 84, who just couldn't take the big photoflash.
Sorry Dorothy and thankz Rett for helping the elderly.

9: Saturday's Kidz at the Park.

10: Saturday's thingz included this stretcher limo.
Other folkz and thingz also interested me, but
I don't want to overload my blog readers like
you with too much of my shutterbugging. My
day was perhaps about 16 to 17 hours yes-
terday, which is quite usual with me. I need
usually about 5 hours of sleep and I am then
ready for the dawn of a new day.
So from photo shy Jill Ferguson to the cylindrical
IMAX to the flashy Pearly King John Everett to
heavy-laden rough sleeper Brian to man's best
friend then to freemason and fundraiser Richard
Loom onto the sad Iraq War Memorial followed
by me visiting my close neighbour Dorothy
Stewart to see she was alright while good volun-
teer Rett Branson also showed up to help her to
those Saturday's kidz of innocence at the park
and finally to the hideous parked black stretcher
limo, was all part of my long and varied day. And
so, such is all in my photo essay of Saturday's
Folkz and Things that was unique to the day.
For tomorrow will be different from today in
one way or another even when we think it
seems the same. But, it oftentimes isn't if
you stop and think about your day ...
Cheers everybody, Uncle Monty.
+Sunday Before Ash Wednesday, 2oo9.
>> Yes, my promised Holy Fàtima story
will go online on or before Ash Wednesday or
what is then the beginning of Lent, 2oo9 <<
My graphic below is of Wayne V288, who folkz
may remember was portrayed as "Wayne, The
Invisiable Man" in the 2oo8 Christmas edition
of The Big Issue No. 825. Thus, I now present
him here by showing him by "invisiable" form
based on the photos I just took of him. Wayne
seems to be a jolly and decent fellow as a
BI street vendor that he is ...


York City's Elliot Stroud Joins Homeless World Cup. Edited By Uncle Monty.

York City's Elliot Stroud
Joins Homeless World Cup.
Edited By Uncle Monty.
News File Photo.
The Homeless World Cup (HWC), the world-class
international football tournament changing lives,
has recently appointed York City's Elliot Stroud
as HWC Commercial Director.
Stroud joins from York City Football Club at where
as the Commercial General Manager for three years
he has more than doubled the commercial turnover
for the Club. In this newly created post, Stroud will be
responsible for engaging global and national partners;
whilst developing new, innovative revenue stream to
fulfil the Homeless World Cup mission to engage one
million players who are homeless in the benefits
of football across 75 nations by 2012.
Founded by world-leading social entrepreneur
Mel Young, the Homeless World Cup is currently
supported by UEFA, Nike, Vodafone Foundation,
Global Ambassador Eric Cantona and international
footballers Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand.
Mel Young, co-founder and WHC first president,
said: “The Homeless World Cup combines a
world-class international football tournament with
the unique opportunity for business to create a real
and significant social impact. This is a very exciting
proposition, even more so in the current climate,
with business beingchallenged to demonstrate
values and commitment to social responsibility.
Mel Young added: “We are delighted to appoint Elliot
to the team and welcome his contribution to building
a pioneering social enterprise using football
to change the world.”
Elliot Stroud, HWC Commercial Director,
said: “This is football at it’s best. The chance to
work with the Homeless World Cup, a world-class
international football making a difference; a global
brand aligned with sports brands such as UEFA,
Vodafone, Nike and Eric Cantona is fantastic. I am
thrilled at the potential and the challenge to build
the partner portfolio; revenue streams and contri-
bute to the power of football to change lives.“
The 7th Milan 2009 Homeless World Cup takes place
from 6-13 September 2009 before the tournament
heads to South America in 2010, Europe in 2011.
Since its inception in 2003 the Homeless World
Cup has triggered grass roots football program-
mes in over 70 nations working with at least
30,000 players all year round.
Research demonstrates that over 70% of players involved
experience a significant life change; no-longer using drugs
and alcohol, moving into homes, jobs, education, training,
repairing relationships and becoming coaches or players
with semi-pro teams. 94% claim to have a renewed
motivation for life.
Over 93% of spectators surveyed at the Copenhagen
2007 Homeless World said they were more positive
about a corporate that supports the Homeless
World Cup. 85% viewed corporate partners
of the HWC as making a difference.
The Homeless World Cup uses football as a catalyst to
encourage people who are homeless to change their lives;
and to change the attitudes of governments, media, public
and key influencers to create better solutions to homelessness
around the world. We do this with a world-class international
football tournament uniting teams of people who are homeless
to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent their
country. And by triggering and developing grass-roots
football programs in over 70 nations currently en-
gaging 30,000 homeless players all year round.
The HWC mission is to engage one million players in
75 nations in the benefits of football and be the most
reputable organisation using sport for social
change in the world.
The inaugural Homeless World Cup kicked off in Graz,
Austria, uniting 18 nations. Since then it has gained great
momentum in Gothenburg, Sweden (2004), Edinburgh,
Scotland (2005), Cape Town, South Africa (2006) and
Copenhagen, Denmark (2007). In Melbourne, Australia
(2008) 56 nations were united for the biggest Homeless
World Cup ever, including the first Women’s Cup and a
legacy of 30 street soccer programs across Australia.
And, thebiggerissue.org stands firmly be-
hind HWC.
That's for sure, Uncle Monty.
+Eve of Sunday Before Lent, 2oo9.
So These Scumbags Are Called British?
No way!! If they are, then for Godsake help
us at "Broken--Little Britain."
And, then
truly curse the present, still in power, British
Labour Party for first letting in such scum.
Under its almost criminal and insane policy
of mass immigration to the UK over more
than 10 years, New Labour has now forever
inflicted the country with a permanent burden
of dealing with such scumbags and the masses
of Third World immigrants that will also plague
Britain forevermore. "Rivers of Blood" will be
on the hands of such ilk as Anthony Blair and
Gordon Brown for ignoring the cry against
their floodgate of continuing and mindless
African immigration to the UK at all costs. It's
now about 2 million and still counting!!! Now
read about those above photoed scumbags ...


Evening Arias At The Kirk of The Crown of Scotland. By Uncle Monty.

Evening Arias At The Kirk
of the Crown of Scotland
By Uncle Monty.
Photos By Alex Albion.
After last year’s mumbo-jumbo with those
mediaeval singers I heard doing their gibberish
“Gothic Voices,” it was such a delightful occasion
this evening to spend it with the noted and
talented opera duo Soprano Kerry McDunnough
(above left) and Mezzo Soprano Grace Trinnaman
at The Kirk of The Crown of Scotland.
Their presentation of the Flower Duet, Habañera,
Barcarolle, and Ava Maria, clearly demonstrated
their diverse ability to sing songs of such a wide range.
Arias by their composition and nature can be tortuous
in sound to the listener, if those performing such arias
aren’t skilled enough to present them in the form and
style required of them. Sopranos Trinnaman and
McDunnough proved they could not only perform such
arias with natural ability, but also with the exquisite
timing and tonal texture that was befitting of their
superb evening arias at The Kirk of The Crown
of Scotland.
I thought, however, that Kerry and Grace came
even more into their own when they performed their
becoming selection of songs from noted American
Musicals with "Moon River" -and "Can’t Help Lovin’
That Man"--being sang solo by Trinnaman and Mc-
Dunnough respectively. Their duet, "Bridge Over
Troubled Water"-deserved a standing ovation in
my opinion. I also loved Grace Trinnaman’s
singing of “Mon coeur s/ouvre à ta voix.”
The sad thing for the evening for me was that
it was too short, even though Kerry and Grace
sang close to 15 arias and songs in the course of
their polished performance at The Kirk. I just
wanted to hear more singing from them that I
now happily give thanks and praise for to them.
Grace Trinnaman also does many of the duo’s vocal
arrangements that are presented on their latest
CD “Bell’Aria PRIMA,” which I willingly purchased
as an upcoming birthday gift for a opera friend
of mine who was unable to attend this evening’s
performance of the two sopranos who were a
sheer joy to meet and to chat with at the close
of their one-hour presentation.
Such was followed by evening refreshments at
where they then autographed their boxed CD’s. They
had, did Kerry and Grace, an aire of proper conviviality
that was short on stiffness and ample on smiles and chit-
chat on meeting the audience that sadly should have
been much more packed than it was at The Kirk
of The Crown of Scotland.
In any event, I look forward to their next
performance on May 27th, 2oo9, at the
Wednesday Lunchtme Concerts at
The Kirk of The Crown of Scotland
at 1:10-1:40pm.
Mezzo Soprano Grace Trinnaman (left)
and Soprano Kerry McDunnough.
Bravo, bravo, then to the sopranos
of Kerry McDunnough and Grace
Trinnaman. Well done, my dears ...
Your's Uncle Monty.
+St. Clare, 2oo9.


No Accommodation Conference. Homeless Notes By Uncle Monty.

Saturday 21st February, 2oo9. 10:00am – 3:30pm
Homeless Notes By Uncle Monty
London’s "No Accommodation Conference" is aimed at
sharing and learning from established homeless shelters
and hosting schemes and other practical assistance
organised by churches and others for people with no
recourse to public funds. "Come and be inspired,
get involved, join the network!"
To register please return form to: Bethan Lant, Praxis,
Pott Street, London E2 0EF or e-mail bethan@praxis.org.uk
or kathryn.dennler@praxis.org.uk with your full contact
details and choice of workshops.
> Name: ______________________________________________
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ .
> Organisation: _________________________________________
> Address: _____________________________________________
> Tel #: _______________________________________________
> E-mail: ______________________________________________
>>> I have enclosed /will be sending by post [delete as appropriate]
a cheque for £10 made payable to "Praxis Community Projects" <<<
. .
The workshop sessions will be run twice during the day.
Please number your preferences from 1 to 4 and we will
endeavour to place you in your preferred sessions:-
. .
1 > Setting up and running a night shelter.
2 > Setting up and running a hosting scheme.
3 > Setting up and running supported houses.
4 > Move on options – rights and entitlements of
Europeans and refused asylum seekers.
Lunch will be provided. Please tick if you are a vegetarian or
have any other dietary requirements (all food will be halal) :-

[ ] vegetarian. [ ] other dietary requirement.
No Accommodation Conference, 2oo9.
1970's Photo: "No Dear They're Homeless."
:: My Confirmation I’m Not Quite-Yet Dead ::
By Uncle Monty.
As for recent reports of my death from such good
friends of mine as Roger Shaljean, Elizabeth Middleton,
and Sadie Hicks, I am pleased to report that such is
totally untrue!! Of course, if I were dead, I couldn’t
report that to you … So folkz could then be dead
right that Monty here has finally gone to hell.
Ah, well. But, no such luck quite-yet …
Dear Monty,
"I am overjoyed at receiving your email as I had recently
been told that you had passed away! It must be another
Monty! We are currently working on a fundraising walk
along 200+ miles of the Queen Eleanor Way from Lincoln
Cathedral to Westminster Abbey... now you can't get more
Anglican than that. I hope we can meet up next time I'm
in town so that I can hear more about your visit to
Portugal and the homeless women of Lisbon."
Regards, Roger.
To: earlofalbion@linuxmail.org
Cc: "Morgan McEvoy" morgan.mcevoy@cstm.org.uk
Subject: Re: tell me something, roger ...
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 10:26:46 -0000


Birthday Deified, Otherwise Vilified. North Korea Notes By Uncle Monty.

Birthday Deified, Otherwise Vilified.
North Korea Notes By Uncle Monty.
Kim Graphic By Alex Albion.
Mysterious halo heralds Kim's
birthday in North Korea.
By Reuter Correspondent
Jon Herskovitz.
SEOUL (Reuters) - The moon over hermit North
Korea gave off a mysterious glow and citizens pledged
undying loyalty to leader Kim Jong-il ahead of his birth-
day. The rest of the world is wondering whether the
head of Asia's only communist dynasty might be ready
to mark his 67th year by testing its longest-range
missile that could, in theory, carry a warhead as
far as the United States.
On top of that, Kim's health problems have set off fresh
speculation over who might succeed him as leader of one of
the world's most isolated and impoverished states, whose
efforts to become a nuclear weapons power mean it is
never far from the international community's
list of major concerns.
Deified at home as the "Dear Leader," and
vilified elsewhere as a dangerous tyrant, Kim
celebrates his birthday on Monday, labeled by North
Korean state media as "the most auspicious day of the
nation." By some accounts, he may be fortunate to
have made it this far after suffering a suspected
stroke in August.
Kim, who took power after his father and state founder
Kim Il-sung died in 1994, has vexed the world for years
with his nuclear arms program and the constant threat
of sending his one million-strong army across the border
that has divided the Korean peninsula for over half a
century and into the South. He has also led his country
deeper into poverty and, in the late 1990s, a famine
estimated to have killed about 1 million of the then
22 million population.
The reclusive Kim has relied heavily on military
threats, with some success, to squeeze concessions
from regional powers to help keep his ravaged economy
afloat. In recent weeks, the level of angry rhetoric has
increased sharply, including a threat to destroy the
wealthy South in anger at the hardline policies
of its President Lee Myung-bak.
The saber-rattling has been accompanied by reports that
the North is readying a test-launch of its Taepodong-2
missile, which failed in its first and only test in 2006 but
is thought to have the potential to go as far as Alaska.
Many analysts say Pyongyang's motivation in raising
tension is to grab the attention of new U.S. President
Barack Obama and ensure it is high on Hillary Clinton's
agenda when she flies to Asia this week for her first trip
abroad as secretary of state. On Friday, Clinton offered
North Korea a peace treaty, normal ties and aid if it
eliminated its nuclear arms program. There has
been no response yet from Pyongyang.
North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006,
does not have the technology to make a nuclear warhead
for missiles, experts have said, but it can threaten South
Korea and Japan with a proven arsenal of short-range
and ballistic missiles.
In North Korea, the birthday means festivals with singing
soldiers, dancing in the street, a few extra handfuls of rice
for workers and sweets for children. State media is
relentless in its praise of Kim and his achievements. A few
days ago above Mt. Jong-il "an unprecedented phenomenon
of moon halo was observed," the North's KCNA news agency
said. "The surroundings of the peak became as bright as
daytime to make the night view above Kim Jong-il's
birthplace in the Paektusan Secret Camp brilliant."
It is not unusual for Kim to miss the public birthday
celebrations. But his absence in the past year from events
he usually attends raised concern about his health, his grip
on power and who might be making decisions about the
North's nuclear arms programs. Kim appears to have
recovered although his trademark paunch presses less
clearly on his mud-grey jumpsuits, the hair has thinned
in his bouffant and he appears to have given up wearing
platform shoes – with speculation in the South that,
post-stroke, these are harder for him to balance in.
(Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Dean Yates).
:: North Korea Notes By Uncle Monty ::
Obviously without the threat of nuclear weapons,
quaint North Korea would otherwise be of little
significance on the world stage nor would
the 67th birthday tomorrow of Kim Jong-il be
of much importance beyond the closed realm of
the last Stalinist State that I myself experienced
first hand while visiting North Korea’s capital
of pseudoscopic Pyongyang.
Rueter’s Jon Herskovitz has some merit in
his otherise rather waggish report from Seoul
entiled “Mysterious halo heralds Kim's birthday
in North Korea,” but I wonder if he has been
inside North Korea itself like me?
If he hasn’t then his article is also abit flawed
for it then fails to present the real “feel” of
what it is like inside North Korea itself to that
of reporting from the capitalist capital of South
Korea's Seoul that is an entirely different world
and "feel" to pro-proletariate Pyongyang.
What the West fails to understand is that North
Korea is first a political and social abberation
and secondly that it is an obsolescent society
that is not moved by modern Western thought
and lifestyle. If it were to accept such, then
Pyongyang would soon be like Seoul or any
other Asian capitalistic and Western-styled
city like Tokyo or Hong Kong or Singapore.
As for Obama's new and first U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t know a Hill of
Beans about North Kroea other than what has
been fed to her by her State Department handlers.
She is something like a third-class ballet dancer
that will never fit the shoes of a first-class prima
ballerina like the late Dame Margot Fonteyn.
Thus, Hillary Clinton is likely to make an utter fool
of herself by trying to do third-rate piroutettes
with the likes of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim
Jong-il and his exclusive diehard gang of military
Stalinists thugs at Pyongyang. If any thing, Hiliary
Clinton is the least qualified to deal with the
problem of the historic divisions and enmities
of the divided Koreas. She knows Pyongyang is
somewhere out there, but I suspect she couldn't
point it out directly on a map of the world
without the help of her U.S. handlers. In fact,
the American Government by its nature, and
no matter who is President, will never get inside
the mind of North Korea until it sheds its past
thinking toward it, which of course, is highly
improbable right now or in the near future.
The U.S. response and reaction to Kim Jong-il
is much like it is to Iran, except for different
reasons, that displays the open ignorance of
American foreign policy in the world today.
Under Barack Obama the rhetoric will
undoubtedly be different and softer to that
of hideous and vile ex-prez George Bush, but
I doubt very much that Obama's planned
new policy will result in any dramatic U.S.
"détente" with either North Korea or Iran.
As for the birthday of "Dear Leader," who
gives a damn anyway? I sure don't. Although
I am truly fascinated with North Korea, but
most certainly not with Kim himself. After
having seen myself his father's embalmed body
on state display at Pyongyang's huge Memorial
Palace, I can say his son is not only very un-
inspiring but a curse on the future of North
Korea and the freeing of his people from state
oppression and callous mass starvation.
Truly, Uncle Monty.
+Homelessness Week, 2oo9.
Next Story By Uncle Monty:
Fátima : Local Sagrado ou Festival Religioso?
Otherwise: Sacred Shrine or Religious Roadshow?
During his great and illustrious papacy,
Pope John Paul II personally visited the
Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Fátima
or The Holy Catholic Shrine
of Fátima
at Portugal.
As the Holy Father of the billion-plus
faithful of the Holy Roman Catholic Church,
John Paul also brought with him to Fátima
the gun wounds from his assassin who thank-
fully failed to kill him. And so to mark both
the first and tenth anniversaries of his
God-given survival against his assassin’s
bullets, John Paul came to Fátima twice to
pray and to give much thanks for his spared
life at where I myself, just only last week
and as an avid Anglican, humbly stood in
his wonderful and forgiving footsteps. No
wonder I saw pilgrims crying - along with
many others simply kissing, hugging or
touching - at the impressive statue of the
pre-eminent John Paul II at Fátima.
More from me on Fátima, shortly.


Caras dos Sem Abrigo em Lisboa. Por Uncle Monty.

Caras dos Sem Abrigo em Lisboa.
Por Uncle Monty.
Faces of Homelessness at Lisbon.
By Uncle Monty.
Lisboa Photos By Alex Albion.
Lilliana Pęlo is old enough to be a great-grandmother.
Yet, she has no home at the historic capital of Portugal
at where she was born almost 75 years ago. While I
surmise her name, her age, and her place of birth,
I do not surmise the fact that she is homeless and
sleeping rough on the streets despite her being so
elderly and in such poor health. See the photo
of Lilliana below.
"Lilliana Pęlo"
Each day she goes to her local No. 28 city
bus stop and begs for abit of money.
That’s where I first saw and met Lilliana
Pęlo on my way to get a city bus ride to
East Oriente. Everybody at the bus stop
just plainly ignored her with her little
plastic cup in her hand with no coins in it
other than the ones I gladly gave her. No
empathy or sympathy was shown toward
her by the well-fed folkz at the bus stop.
In her other hand she displayed a small sign
in Portuguese presumably asking for help
from her fellow Lisboans. But they just
ignored the poor woman, whose face was
so wrinkled it was hard to ignore the
suffering that I saw in her sad face
and her weary eyes and her
aged lips of old age.
In many ways, Lilliana Pęlo would be better
off dead than alive. She struggles daily to
live. And, the quality of her life looks pretty
dismal like so many others caught-up in
the homeless cycle of dead-end street living.
She is, ironically, already like the living dead
in many ways, too. For the Portuguese society
has given up on her for whatever reasons best
known to itself. She wasn't the only elderly
woman I met that was homeless on the
winter streets of Lisboa.
Another Street Lady with Uncle Monty at Lisboa.
A few days earlier I discovered another “Street
Lady” at Lisbon’s downtown Praça do Comercio
at where a number of the regular homeless gather
to rough sleep and socialise each night under the
canopy of the sheltered walkways. Come morning
the Lisboa municipal police – Policia Municipal -
move them out by force until the shops there
close at night. They then return to spend
yet another night sleeping at the plaza.
While at the Portuguese capital, I went most nights
after dark to checkout the homeless and to give them
a euro or two to help them out. During the day, I kept
a sharp lookout for homless people throughout the city
as I went here and there to record the sights of Lisbon.
Some Homeless Men Nr. St. Emilia Street.
In the most unexpected places scattered around
the city, I came upon the homeless like near
St. Emilia Street off the beaten track and found
homeless men and women in clusters just laying
or sleeping or lounging on the streets in broad
day light. They were hidden from the drama of
downtown Lisboa and forgotten and unseen
by the busy city slickers and ever trooping
foreign tourists. The photo above is a good
example of what I found of just two of the
homeless near St. Emilia Street along with
the above caption photo that introduces
this story of mine to you called "Caras
dos Sem Abrigo em Lisboa."

Homeless Camp near Lisbon's Cais do Sodrė.
My impression is that the City of Lisbon seems
to be in absolute denial of the serious problem
of the homelessness and its ever-growing
displaced population. When I also hit upon a
make-shift homeless camp (seen above) of
about couple of dozen or so members at the
Rio Tejo river edge near Cais do Sodrė, it
only confirmed my suspicion of the denial
of the homeless by the authorities at the
Portuguese capital.
I was told it was too danger to approach by
myself the make-shift homeless camp as a
foreign visitor for they may rob me of my
money, my cameras, my passport, and even
beat me, etc., but I went ahead anyway and
then photographed upfront the entire home-
less camp for this story of mine of the faces
of homelessness at Lisboa. They told me at
the camp that I was the first Englishman to
venture with my cameras to the camp and
to speak with those homeless there. I had
no fear whatsoever of being harmed despite
the graphic tales of horror I was told else-
where about the "dangerous" and "evil"
camp. Nothing could have been further
from the truth. The camp itself was
made-up of mostly Portuguese-African
immigrants who became jobless and
homeless since their unhappy arrival
at Lisbon during the past decade of
immigration admission to Portugal. The
rise of the black immigrant homeless is also
a growing social problem at Lisbon. In fact,
I witnessed alot more blacks on the streets
of the Portuguese capital than I have in places
like Washington, D.C. (at where I myself was
homeless), or in London or Melbourne or
Copenhegen or Rome. At the Lisboa camp,
poor white folkz also shared the same camp
being equally jobless and homeless, too.
Uncle Monty (centre) With More of
the Lisbon Homeless on the Streets.
There isn’t any street paper at Lisbon, from
what I could find, for the homeless to sell un-
like in other European Union countries. Nor is
there much of a social service system to help
them out even with the present Portuguese
socialist government of José Sócrates in power.
One of the homeless guys – with many of them
speaking quite good English to me – said that
the few homeless hostels available were full
and that to get a bed in one of them was more
a matter of luck and timing than anything else.
There are no “Tea Runs," to speak of, although
I did see a volunteer bring soup to one of the
old street ladies at Praça do Comercio while I
was there. He asked that I not photograph him,
which I didn't to ensure that he would come again
and help those he is helping by his good deeds.
At Praça do Comercio itself, I counted at least
18 to 25 of the homeless and rough sleepers
there just in one night. They ranged in age
from perhaps 17 to 77 of both males and
females and of black and white people.
At Night, Another Lisbon Rough Sleeper.
It was getting on for midnight when the rough
sleeper shouted out at me and he immediately
flung his hands up in the air and I then imme-
diately shot the image of him as shown above
just like he was before he promptly put
his hands and arms back down at his side.
He wanted to know if I had any cigarettes
and/or booze to give to him. I said "no," for I
don't smoke nor drink - period. He spoke only
alittle rough English, but enough whatever to
then beg some money out of me instead of
fagz and booze. He then promptly curled
up and quickly dozed off to sleep the night
away. He looked so starry-eyed, I thought.
Yet, Another Homeless Woman at Lisbon.
Some final comments on the homeless of Lisboa
under my title of "Caras dos Sem Abrigo em
Lisboa," highlights the fact that homelessness
is not only a problem at Portugal but also
throughout the European Union and to which
most member countries have barely grapple
with other than attempting to criminalize
and to stigmatise, in many cases, the
homeless in the hope that problem will
somehow go away. But, it will not.
To see elderly women living and fending
for themselves on the streets who are old
enough to be our great-grandmothers or
grandmothers is totally unacceptable whether
they're in Lisboa or London or anywhere else.
What I also learned at Lisbon is the homeless
are looked down upon with contempt, suspicion,
rejection and even a degree of hatred by
many of the pubic at large. They have no pity
for them no matter what. All homeless people
are seen as the same that is tantamount to
"blaming the victim" and thus exonerates
whatever guilt the individual or society would
otherwise have. That simply compounds the
growing homeless problem for where there
is no social or collective guilt then such will
rarely bring about constructive public solutions
to help resolve such problems like homelessnes
in the future. I am, therefore, not optimistic
that it will get any better for the Lisboa
homeless before it is going to get alot
worse, I'm afraid, for them.
But for now, since writing here of homeless
women at Lisbon, there is one interesting
one from Hawaii, Honolulu, as reported
Wednesday in USA TODAY’s
"News From Every State":
“A homeless woman who has kept up to 19 cats
in cages and shopping carts while she camps
along streets is the target of a bill in the State
Legislature. The measure would prohibit keeping
a pet captives on public property for more than
four hours and also would outlaw keeping
more than 10 cats or dogs as pets.”
Well, I've yet to see any homeless person
with 19 cats. Yes, a cat or two perhaps but
not that many cats. I've mostly seen the
homeless, especially males, with their dogz.
I never saw a Lisbon homeless woman
either with a cat or a dog. I did see a
couple of guyz with their dogz, however.
Must run for now ... Oh, Happy Valentine's
Day tomorrow to all those nice womenfolk
I know. No, you're not going to get red roses
or fancy cards, sorry. I cannot afford to keep
you all happy, so there you are ...
Kudos, Uncle Monty.
+Eve of St. Valentine.
First Friday the 13th of 2oo9.
There are 3 of them this year.
Good luck ...