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Alhambra Decree

The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492, by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of practicing Jews from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year. The primary purpose was to eliminate their influence on Spain's large converso population and ensure they did not revert to Judaism. Over half of Spain's Jews had converted as a result of the religious persecution and pogroms which occurred in 1391. Due to continuing attacks, around 50,000 more had converted by 1415. A further number of those remaining chose to convert to avoid expulsion; as a result of the Alhambra decree and persecution in prior years, over 200,000 Jews converted to Catholicism and between 40,000 and 100,000 were expelled, an unknown number returning to Spain in the years following the expulsion.:17The edict was formally and symbolically revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second Vatican Council. This was a full century after Jews had been practicing their religion in Spain and synagogues were once more legal places of worship under Spain's Laws of Religious Freedom.

In 1924, the regime of Primo de Rivera granted Spanish citizenship to the entire Sephardic Jewish diaspora. In 2014, the government of Spain passed a law allowing dual citizenship to Jewish descendants who apply, to "compensate for shameful events in the country's past." Thus, Sephardi Jews who can prove they are the descendants of those Jews expelled from Spain because of the Alhambra Decree can "become Spaniards without leaving home or giving up their present nationality." By the end of the 8th century, Muslim forces had conquered and settled most of the Iberian Peninsula. Under Islamic law, the Jews who had lived in the region since at least Roman times, were considered "People of the Book,", a protected status. Compared to the repressive policies of the Visigothic Kingdom, starting in the sixth-century had enacted a series of anti-Jewish statutes which culminated in their forced conversion and enslavement, the tolerance of the Muslim Moorish rulers of al-Andalus allowed Jewish communities to thrive.

Jewish merchants were able to trade across the Islamic world, which allowed them to flourish, made Jewish enclaves in Muslim Iberian cities great centers of learning and commerce. This led to a flowering of Jewish culture, as Jewish scholars were able to gain favor in Muslim courts as skilled physicians, diplomats and poets. Although Jews never enjoyed equal status to Muslims, in some Taifas, such as Granada, Jewish men were appointed to high offices, including Grand Vizier; the Reconquista, or the gradual reconquest of Muslim Iberia by the Christian kingdoms in the North, was driven by a powerful religious motivation: to reclaim Iberia for Christendom following the Umayyad conquest of Hispania centuries before. By the 14th century, most of the Iberian Peninsula had been reconquered by the Christian kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, León, Galicia and Portugal. During the Christian re-conquest, the Muslim kingdoms in Spain became less welcoming to the dhimmi. In the late twelfth century, the Muslims in al-Andalus invited the fanatical Almohad dynasty from North Africa to push the Christians back to the North.

After they gained control of the Iberian Peninsula, the Almohads offered the Sephardim a choice between expulsion and death. Many Jewish people fled to other parts of the Muslim world, to the Christian kingdoms, which welcomed them. In Christian Spain, Jews functioned as courtiers, government officials and moneylenders. Therefore, the Jewish community was both useful to the ruling classes and to an extent protected by them; as the Reconquista drew to a close, overt hostility against Jews in Christian Spain became more pronounced, finding expression in brutal episodes of violence and oppression. In the early fourteenth century, the Christian kings vied to prove their piety by allowing the clergy to subject the Jewish population to forced sermons and disputations. More deadly attacks came in the century from mobs of angry Catholics, led by popular preachers, who would storm into the Jewish quarter, destroy synagogues, break into houses, forcing the inhabitants to choose between conversion and death.

Thousands of Jews sought to escape these attacks by converting to Christianity. These Jewish converts were called conversos, New Christians, or marranos. At first these conversions seemed an effective solution to the cultural conflict: many converso families met with social and commercial success, but their success made these new Catholics unpopular with their neighbors, including some of the clergy of the Church and Spanish aristocrats competing with them for influence over the royal families. By the mid-fifteenth century, the demands of the Old Christians, that the Catholic Church and the monarchy differentiate them from the conversos, led to the first limpieza de sangre laws, which restricted opportunities for converts; these suspicions on the part of Christians were only heightened by the fact that some of the coerced conversions were undoubtedly insincere. Some, but not all, conversos had understandably chosen to salvage their social and commercial positions or their lives by the only option open to them – baptism and embrace of Christianity – while adhering to their Jewish practice and faith.

Converted families who continued to intermarry were viewed with suspicion. These secret practitioners are referred to as crypto-Jews or marranos; the existence of crypto-Jews was a provocation f

Ponce massacre

The Ponce massacre was an event that took place on Palm Sunday, 21 March 1937, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, when a peaceful civilian march turned into a police shooting in which 19 civilians and two policemen were killed, more than 200 civilians wounded. Most of the dead were shot in their backs; the march had been organized by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party to commemorate the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico by the governing Spanish National Assembly in 1873, to protest the U. S. government's imprisonment of Pedro Albizu Campos, on sedition charges. An investigation led by the United States Commission on Civil Rights put the blame for the massacre squarely on the U. S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico, Blanton Winship. Further criticism by members of the U. S. Congress led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to remove Winship in 1939 as governor. Governor Winship was never prosecuted for the massacre and no one under his chain of command – including the police who took part in the event, admitted to the mass shooting – was prosecuted or reprimanded.

The Ponce massacre remains the largest massacre in post-Spanish imperial history in Puerto Rico. It has been the source of many articles, paintings and theatrical works. Several days before the scheduled Palm Sunday march, the Nationalists had received legal permits for a peaceful protest from José Tormos Diego, the mayor of Ponce. According to a 1926 Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruling, government permits were not necessary for the use of plazas, parks or streets for meetings or parades; as a courtesy to the Ponce municipal government, the Nationalists requested the permit. Upon learning about the march, the U. S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico, General Blanton Winship, ordered the new Insular Police Chief, Colonel Enrique de Orbeta, to contact Mayor Tormos and have him cancel the parade permit. He ordered the police chief to increase the police force in the southern city, to stop, "by all means necessary", any demonstration conducted by the nationalists in Ponce. Without notice to the organizers, or any opportunity to appeal, or any time to arrange an alternate venue, the permits were abruptly withdrawn, just before the protest was scheduled to begin.

Following Governor Winship's orders, Colonel de Orbeta went to Ponce where he concentrated police units from across the island sporting "the latest riot control equipment", among which he included the machine gunners in the island. Winship intended to crush their leader, Pedro Albizu Campos; the Insular Police, a force somewhat resembling the National Guard, was under the direct military command of Governor Winship and ultimate responsibility for the massacre fell on Winship, who controlled the National Guard and Insular Police, ordered the shootings. Police Chief Guillermo Soldevilla of the municipality of Juana Díaz, with 14 policemen, took a position in front of the marchers. Chief Perez Segarra and Sgt. Rafael Molina, commanding nine policemen armed with Thompson submachine guns and tear gas bombs, stood in the back. Chief of Police Antonio Bernardi, heading 11 policemen armed with machine guns, stood in the east. According to some reports, police numbered "over 200 armed" guards; as La Borinqueña, Puerto Rico's national song, was being played, the Ponce branch of the Cadetes de la República under the command of Tomás López de Victoria and the rest of the demonstrators began to march.

The Insular Police started firing on the marchers – killing 17 unarmed civilians, two policemen, wounding some 235 civilians, including women and children. Police firing went on for over 15 minutes; the dead included 17 men, one woman, a young girl. Some of the dead were demonstrators/cadets; as of 2009, only two survivors were known to be alive, siblings Fernando and Beatriz Vélez. The flag-bearer of the Cadets of the Republic was killed during the massacre. A young girl, Carmen Fernández was shot and gravely injured. A young Nationalist cadet named Bolívar Márquez dragged himself to the wall of Santo Asilo de Damas and wrote with his blood the following message before dying: Many were chased by the police and shot or clubbed at the entrance of their houses as they tried to escape. Others were killed. Leopold Tormes, a member of the Puerto Rico legislature, claimed to reporters that a policeman had murdered a nationalist with his bare hands. Dr. José Gandara, a physician who assisted the wounded, testified that wounded people running away were shot, that many were again wounded by the clubs and bare fists of the police.

No arms were found in the hands of the civilians on the dead ones. About 150 of the demonstrators were arrested afterward; the next day, Winship radioed Washington and reported that the Nationalists had initiated the shooting. Part of his radiogram report stated that "two shots were fired by the Nationalists... with Nationalists firing from the street, from roofs and balconies on both sides of the street... showed great patience and understanding of the situation, as did the officers and men under him."The following day, as a result of this misinformation, the New York Times and Washington Post reported that a Nationalist political revolt had claimed the lives of more than eighteen people in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican senator Luis Muñoz Marin traveled to the city of Ponce to investigate the event. After examining the photograph taken by Carlos Torres Morales of El Imparcial, which had not yet been published, he wrote a letter to Ruth Hampton, an official at the D

SS Mona's Queen (1934)

TSS Mona's Queen No. 145308, was a ship built for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company in 1934. The steamer, the third vessel in the company's history to bear the name, was one of five ships to be specially commissioned by the company between 1927 and 1937, they were replacements for the various second-hand steamers, purchased to replace the company's losses during the First World War. However, the life of the Mona's Queen proved to be short: six years after being launched she was sunk by a sea mine during the Dunkirk evacuation on 29 May 1940. Ordered in August, 1933, Mona's Queen was built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead at a cost of £30,000. Mona's Queen was the sixth vessel to be built in the Birkenhead yards for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, was completed in June 1934. Constructed under special survey in accordance with the requirements of Lloyd's Register of Shipping and Classification, Mona's Queen was classed as A.1 "with freeboard for Irish Channel Service."The clerk of the works on behalf of the Company for the building of Mona's Queen was Charles Cannell.

The vessel had a registered tonnage of 2,756. She was certified for 2,486 passengers and a crew of 83. There were 5 decks: Promenade Deck, Shelter Deck, Main Deck and Lower Deck; the Boat Deck was 174 feet long and the Promenade Deck 298 feet. The Promenade Deck on the Mona's Queen extended forward towards the bow giving the impression it was larger than the Lady of Mann; the Shelter and Lower decks extended the full length of the ship. She was considered to be an elegant ship because of elliptical stern. Part of the space on the starboard side amidships on the main deck was occupied by provision rooms which included a refrigerated store, the ship was fitted with a Hallmark automatic refrigerator. Mona's Queen was propelled by twin screws driven through single reduction gearing by two sets of Parsons steam turbines, she was the first of the Company's ships to have water tube boilers, taking up less room than the scotch boilers used. Each set of turbines comprised a low pressure turbine; the high pressure turbines were of an impulse reduction type, two rows of impulse blading being followed by end tightened reaction blading, while the low pressure turbine ahead blading was of the all reaction type.

The astern turbines were incorporated in the after ends of both high pressure and low pressure turbine casings and were capable of developing up to 70% of the full ahead power. The turbines were fitted with governors for overspeed control; the turbines exhausted into a large condenser capable of maintaining a vacuum of 29 inches at full power and fitted with turbines of Alumbro composition made by Imperial Chemical Industries. The condensers were placed outboard of the turbines and their exhaust openings were connected directly to the lower portions of the low pressure turbine casings; this arrangement eliminated the requirement for large overhead trunking and simplified the work of overhauling the low pressure turbines. In order to ensure a suitable feed of water, a water softening plant supplied by Paterson Engineering was fitted, an electric salinometer was installed to test the salinity of the condenstate from both port and starboard condensers and of the reserve feed water. Steam was supplied at 230 lbf/in by three water tube boilers.

The boilers were oil operated under the closed stokehold system of forced draught. The air for combustion was supplied by two large fans driven by enclosed forced-lubrication engines, manufactured by Matthew Paul & Co; the oil firing equipment was supplied by Babcock & Wilcox, a special feature being the electrically driven lighting up set. The fuel oil was carried in two deep tanks arranged on either side of the after boiler with the oil settling tanks placed behind the boiler at the centre of the ship. Two large pumps were provided for oil transfer purposes and an additional pump was provided for emergency bilge duties. A CO2 recorder was fitted in the boiler room to assist combustion control. For fire fighting purposes a Foamite Firefoam system was installed; the air pumps were of the Weir Paragon type and circulating water was supplied by centrifugal pumps driven by compound enclosed forced lubrication engines. The air pumps discharged through a gravitation type filter to a large feed tank.

A turbo pump would draw from the feeder tank and discharge through the feed heater to the boilers, with a further direct acting pump being provided as standby. The feed heater would provide an automatic drain control. Lubrication was provided by three pumps and the oil cooler was fitted with tubes of cupronikel; the propellers were three bladed, cast in bronze and designed by Cammell Lairds in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory. The propeller revolutions at full power were 275 revolutions per minute; the hull was subdivided into 10 watertight compartments and 5 of her bulkheads were fitted with sliding watertight doors operated on the Brunton hydraulic system and controlled from the Navigating Bridge. Mona's Queen had two rudders, one forward as well as an Oertz streamline type astern; the ship was equipped with a Marconi C. W./I. C. W. Wireless installation together with a Marconi Echometer sounding device in order to derive the depth of water beneath the ship. Submarine signal receiving apparatus, with a distance finding capability was installed, supplied by the Submarine Signal Co. Ltd.

Electric power was provided by two 90 kW turbo generators in addition to which a 35 kW diesel driven emergency generating set was fitted