This Week.


I would like to apologize to you. My migraines have returned and I was unable to complete my article on the Lost Ark. I will however get it to you as soon as possible.

 

Joe

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JUST A QUICK NOTE TO OTHER BLOGGERS


This is a re-run, because it seems someone missed it the first time.

Note to my fellow blogger who attempted to comment yesterday:

I am sure your weight loss program is every thing you say it is. However, it has nothing to do with the Amber Room and for that reason your comment was marked as spam. Please read the below statement.

“If you are one of those bloggers who likes to put non-specific comments on other bloggers sites, so people will click on your name and go to your web site, sorry to disappoint you. If I do put your comment up – I remove your web address first. In other words, I just wasted your time, just like you are wasting my time.

Have a nice day

:)

Joe”

 

Sorry to the rest of you for re-running this, but it appears I needed too.

Have a great day,

Joe

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The Holy Grail (Lost Treasures Part 5)


"Holygrail" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Holygrail” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Disclaimer: This article is not about the validity of Christianity. This article is about the Holy Grail as an historical object and about a few of the many theories surrounding the Holy Grail.

The Holy Grail is different from the other lost treasures we have discussed in our series, in that there is no physical or circumstantial evidence to even support the existence of such an object. Even the Ark of the Covenant has a strong circumstantial case for its existence. But, let’s go back in time to the first recorded appearance of the Holy Grail, and the many theories of what the Holy Grail is.

If you believe the Holy Grail is the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper, and if you believe the record of Jesus and the Last Supper in the bible; then the Holy Grail is a cup with its first mention in writing going back to the late first or early second century. The bible’s only mention of the Holy Grail is that of a cup and no attention is paid to that cup. It is the act Jesus was involved in at the Last Supper which is afforded attention in the bible. No description is given of the cup, or any hint at the disposition of the cup after the Last Supper. It was merely a cup used for wine, and would have been the property of the inn where Jesus and the disciples were eating the Passover Feast. As such, after the dinner was over, the innkeeper would have washed it with the other tableware and reused it.

The first written record of the Holy Grail as a special object was in Perceval le Conte du Graal (Perceval, the Story of a Grail) by Chretien Troyes, a twelfth century French romance writer. In this, the first mention of the Holy Grail, Troyes refers to the Holy Grail as “du graal” or “a grail.” Yes that is correct; Troyes does not even describe it as “THE grail.” It is not Holy, or unique, and is also referred to as a golden serving dish by Troyes.

The Grail did not become Holy until sometime in the 15th century. Some four hundred years after Perceval, the Story of a Grail that the grail goes from “du grail” or “a grail” to “san graal” or “Holy Grail,” and it would be several hundred years further before “san graal” (Holy Grail) would become “sang raal” or “Royal blood.”

After Troyes there were others who took his story of the grail and expanded it, but their work was based on the romance of Troyes. There is no hint of a Holy Grail until more than eleven hundred years after the death of Jesus when Troyes first wrote about it.

Now we will examine the most controversial theory of the Holy Grail, the Royal Bloodline theory. This theory states that the Holy Grail is not a cup or dish, but the womb of Mary Magdalene which was carrying the child of Jesus when he died. There are also different goals and theories within this theory as well. Most (if not all) of these theories depend heavily on the pagan belief in the divine feminine. In this theory paganism is also treated as if it were one religion, which is not altogether correct. Pagan was a name coined by early Christians to denote non Judeo-Christian religions (the prophet Muhammad was not yet born, nor the Islamic religion founded by him). Pagan was a “catch-all” phrase. There was no one Pagan religion.

At that time (and before) it was not uncommon for each village to have its own gods and or goddesses that were unique to that location. As the villages formed alliances it was not uncommon for them to merge their religions together. The common practice of Rome was to add the gods and goddesses of conquered territories to their own long list of gods and goddesses. Another thing about these earlier religions, they were not trying to establish a balance between male and female gods. These people assigned male or female to a god based on the characteristics they attributed to a particular god. If those characteristics were believed by their culture to be largely female, then a god with those characteristics was female; and the same with male characteristics.

There are two major camps in royal bloodline theory. Both lines of thought believe that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child, but they differ slightly after that. The first believes that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene, and that because he was a father he was a man and not divine. This is amusing, because in paganism we have many stories of the gods having sex with human women who then gave birth to sons and daughters. Hercules is just one example of someone from mythology with a god for a father and a human for a mother.

The other major camp within the royal bloodline theory heavily incorporates the divine feminine within its beliefs, and places Mary Magdalene on an equal level with Jesus. These theorists contend that Jesus represents the divine masculine and Mary Magdalene the divine feminine and that this is a balance of the two as it was intended to be as evidenced by pagan beliefs. This is also odd for the following reasons. Those copies of Jewish text which have been discovered that predate Jesus (I am talking about archeological discoveries here) clearly show that the Jewish religion was a monotheistic religion. The Jews believed that there was only one God, and along these lines they were not even permitted to have idols of other gods (graven images). Jesus was a Jew, and as such would have held those same beliefs. Also, in those Christian documents which have been discovered and which have been dated to the late first century and early second century, Jesus states he was not sent to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. So, clearly a divine feminine aspect of the followers of Jesus clashes with the most basic and fundamental of beliefs held by Jesus and by those who were followers of Jesus.

A common statement of the royal bloodline followers is that the First Council of Nicaea was convened by Emperor Constantine to create the divinity of Jesus and that they banned all books that showed Jesus was a man and not divine. The only books that were banned at the First Council of Nicaea were the books of Bishop Arius. The reason the writings and teachings of Arius were banned was because he believed that Jesus was a lesser God, not equal to God the Father. He believed in the divinity of Jesus, but not the way other bishops believed. There were no writings banned by the First Council that denied the divinity of Jesus, only the degree of his divinity.

One last thing is the Priory of Sion, the organization which was supposedly founded to protect the descendents of Jesus. This organization has been debunked by journalists and scholars alike (non-Christian journalists and scholars included) as one of the greatest hoaxes of the 20th century.

One last point about holy relics (and the Holy Grail if it existed would surely be a holy relic), holy relics during medieval times were big business. If you had an object, any kind of object, which you claimed had a connection to a Saint, one of the disciples of Jesus, or Jesus himself, people would come from near and far to see those objects. Innkeepers and churches alike made a lot of money from pilgrims coming to see holy relics. This, of course led to a lucrative black market industry in the production and sale of fake relics.

The belief in a Creator is based in faith and cannot be proved or disproved. Objects such as the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Shroud of Turin are physical objects, objects which supposedly have a connection to the divine. Of these three objects the Ark of the Covenant is one object which has any circumstantial evidence for its existence, forget solid physical evidence – it does not exist. That is not to say those three objects are fakes. They very well could be what the faithful claim they are; there is just not enough substantial evidence to back up those claims. If you decide those objects are what others claim they are it is an act of faith. And – after all isn’t that what the belief in a Creator is supposed to be – an act of faith?

So, here we are, in many respects no closer to the Grail than we were five minutes ago. Of the theories we have discussed, the only one which appears to support the existence of the Grail as an actual object that existed is the biblical version. If you believe the biblical version, then the Grail was a cup with no importance placed on it at the time. It probably stayed with the inn and was used many times over after the death of Jesus; only to be discarded with the trash by the innkeeper when it was no longer useful.

There is much more to Holy Grail research. However, it is outside the scope of this article, which is the Holy Grail as a real physical object which did or does exist. As a physical object I think we have shown that if the Grail did exist, it was lost forever the night of the Last Supper when the innkeeper washed and returned the Grail to the cupboard along with the rest of the tableware. In the innkeepers cupboard the Grail would have been indistinguishable from other similar cups.

This article does not take a stance for or against the divinity of Jesus. This is not an article attempting to justify or debunk Christianity as a religion or spiritual belief. Those are decisions for each of you to make individually. I encourage your comments, however if your comments are disrespectful or are attempts to assert your opinion as to the validity of the Christian religion I warn you I will chastise you for diverging from the topic of this article. Here on our web site, we avoid topics concerning finance, partisan politics, and the validity of any religion. We would appreciate you respecting that with your comments.

There are many books worth reading on the subject of the Holy Grail. However, most of them do not deal with the Holy Grail as an actual object with a traceable history. The available books deal with the Holy Grail as a metaphor for something else, or attempt to make a case for an object (with no provenance) as the one true Grail. Many of the cups and dishes purported to be the one true Grail have interesting stories attached to them. Unfortunately none of those “one and true” grails has a history which is traceable beyond 1,000 years ago. For this reason, we are not giving our usual “recommended reading” list.

Next week, the Ark of the Covenant will be our last article in the Lost Treasures series.

 

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Lost Ships of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet (Lost Treasures Part 4)


"8 escudos Lima 1710" by Augi Garcia - Photo Augi Garcia for Daniel Frank Sediwck, LLC Treasure Auction #4. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:8_escudos_Lima_1710.jpg#mediaviewer/File:8_escudos_Lima_1710.jpg.

“8 escudos Lima 1710″ by Augi Garcia – Photo Augi Garcia for Daniel Frank Sediwck, LLC Treasure Auction #4. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

This is a story of lost treasure that harkens back to my childhood. The lost Spanish treasure fleet of 1715. The most amazing thing about this treasure fleet is that about half of the ships are still missing. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

The year is 1715, and all of Europe has been at war for 23 of the last 26 years. The last of the two wars The War of Spanish Succession began in 1701, and ended with the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. News traveled slowly in the eighteenth century and it was 1714 before the last of the hostilities finally ended.

During the wars it was very dangerous for the Spanish treasure fleets to attempt to sail back to Spain. At war against more than a half-dozen European powers with France and Bavaria as its only allies, Spain faced quite literally a sea of hostile ships determined to capture the Spanish treasure fleets. Under these conditions, even the lowly cabin boy could become a very rich man with the capture of a Spanish treasure ship.

"Spanish Galleon". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Spanish Galleon”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Faced with these conditions, Spain kept the treasure fleets in the Americas until the end of the war. The 1715 fleet was the first fleet of treasure ships to sail for Spain since the end of the war. During more than 300 years of treasure fleet sailings from the Americas to Spain, the 1715 fleet was the single largest loss of treasure for the Spanish Crown and it happened at a time when Spain was desperate for treasure. During the war the English captured or sank a great many of Spain’s treasure ships.

The two Spanish Fleets, the Terra Firme and Nova Espana, joined in Havana to take on supplies before sailing homeward as a combined fleet. When the fleet left Havana there were eleven Spanish ships and one French ship, the Griffon, for a total of twelve. Some people believe there were actually twelve Spanish ships for a total of thirteen ships in the fleet. But, this is due more to a misunderstanding of the Spanish records than any actual evidence of a thirteenth ship.

The Spanish fleets had been in the Americas for two years waiting to sail for Spain. During that time a very large treasure was accumulated, some estimates have the registered cargo valued at over 7,000,000 pieces of eight (well over $100 million USD in today’s value). No one knows how much unregistered treasure was aboard the ships and it could have easily been as much or more than the registered treasure. Once the ships were made ready for the homeward journey, they sailed from Havana harbor on July 24, 1715. The ships sailed past the Florida Keyes and up the Florida Straits. Once sighting Cape Canaveral the fleet would turn towards Bermuda. Once Bermuda was sighted the fleet would sail for the Azores, and then onto Spain. This was the route of the Spanish ships for more than 300 years.

As the fleet sailed up the Florida straits the Spanish ships hugged the Florida coast, yet far enough out to sea to take advantage of the northward flowing Gulf Stream. Captain Antoine Dar of the Griffon was wearier of sailing close to the Florida East Coast; he kept the Griffon further out to sea and east of the Spanish ships.

The weather was fine for the first five days. However, on the 29th of July the weather changed. The ocean became smooth with long low swells coming from the southeast, the air was heavy with moisture, and a gentle breeze caressed the north bound fleet. The experienced sailors within the fleet recognized this weather as the sign of an approaching hurricane. This would have been a good time for the Spanish ships to join the Griffon further off the Florida coast. But, the Spanish would wait until it was too late to make this move.

As the fleet plowed onward towards Cape Canaveral the winds continued to pick up steadily. By the afternoon of July 30th Captain General Ubilla ordered his fleet to change course to head directly into the wind. It was already too late. The fleet was maintaining its distance from the dangerous coast with its reefs and rocks, right up until the hurricane caught up with them.

At about 4 am on the morning of July 31, the hurricane struck the fleet with all its fury, driving the ships ashore. The Santisima Trinidad (also known as Urca de Lima) found a cove on the Florida coast. It was in this cove that the ship was driven up on a sandbar. Because of the protection of the cove the Santisima Trinidad was the only ship of the fleet that did not break apart when it wrecked. The food and other supplies on this ship helped to sustain the survivors of the disaster until rescue ships arrived.

Captain Dar’s ship became separated from the Spanish ships during the storm. Unaware of the fate of his companions, Captain Dar sailed onto France. There are some who state that there is no evidence that the Griffon survived and returned to Europe.

The Griffon collected treasure in South America to settle debts owed by Spain to France and to French merchants. So it had a great amount of treasure onboard. However, once the cargo was signed for it was no longer Spanish treasure and did not sail to Spain. The Griffon arrived safely in Le Havre. Those claiming the Griffon did not survive; base this on the records in the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain. The Spanish records list the Griffon as being part of the fleet, but do not record the Griffon’s return to Europe. This is because the Griffon did not return to Spain and had no cargo or treasure which was bound for or the property of the Spanish Crown or of Spanish interests. In other words, they paid their debt in South America when they loaded the Griffon, and whatever happened to the Griffon was a French problem not a Spanish problem. The Spanish had no interest in the Griffon. Others on the internet who also continue to claim the Griffon was lost and no evidence supports the ships survival are merely repeating the early research of those who looked in the Archives of the Indies, but did not look in France for evidence of the ships return.

The Spanish immediately set about salvaging the shipwrecks, recovering over 5,000,000 pieces of eights worth of treasure by the end of the year. By the end of 1718, the Spanish authorities reported back to Spain that all of the registered treasure had been recovered.

"17158R" by Augi Garcia - Photo by Augi Garcia for Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC Auction Treasure #4 Nov. 2008. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:17158R.jpg#mediaviewer/File:17158R.jpg.

“17158R” by Augi Garcia – Photo by Augi Garcia for Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC Auction Treasure #4 Nov. 2008. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A note about this claim. Many of the items registered onboard the ships was not recovered, however, a treasure equal to the amount registered on the ship manifests was recovered. To avoid paying a 25% tax to the King, great quantities of treasure were smuggled back to Spain aboard the ships. Often the amount of unregistered illegal treasure was as much or more than the registered treasure. There are even recorded instances of ships being caught carrying more than twice as much illegal treasure as registered treasure. In one instance all the ships officers were condemned to ten years at hard labor aboard galley ships as punishment for their part in the smuggling which was discovered aboard their vessel.

For 299 years people have been salvaging treasure from the wrecked 1715 fleet along Florida’s coast, with no end in sight.

The ships wrecked near modern day Vero Beach, Florida. Starting near Sebastian Inlet and going south to Fort Pierce, Florida they are called:

The Cabin Wreck (believe to be the Nuestra de la Regala)

Corrigan’s Wreck (believed to be the Santo Cristode San Roman)

Rio Mar Wreck (believed to be the Nuestra Senora del Carmen)

La Holandesa Wreck (believed to be the Nuestra Senora de La Popa)

Sandy Point Wreck (believed to be the Nuestra Senora del Rosario)

Wedge Wreck (this is the Urca De Lima or Santisima Trinidad)

Colored Beach Wreck, Gold Wreck, or Douglas Beach Wreck (believed to be the Nuestra Senora de las Nieves, which is south of Fort Pierce Inlet)

The missing ships of the 1715 fleet are: the Maria Galante, El Senor San Miguel, El Cievro(Also known as La Galleria) and the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion.

The El Senor San Miguel and El Cievro are believed to be sunk off of Amelia Island, Florida (Amelia Island is in Nassau County Florida which is situated on the Atlantic Ocean on the Georgia/Florida border).

An urca is a cargo ship and Lima was the Captain of the Santisima Trinidad, so Urca De Lima translates into English as “the cargo ship of Lima.” Sometimes this wreck is listed as urca de Lima in the Spanish records (or cargo ship of Lima) and this is the cause for the misunderstanding as to the number of ships in the fleet.

So, out of eleven Spanish ships in the 1715 fleet seven have been found, two are believed to have been found, and two are somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean (your guess is as good as anyone’s as to where).

We know that the Wedge Wreck is the Urca De Lima or Santisima Trinidad wreck. The description of the wreck and the fact that it was the only shipwreck to survive the hurricane intact substantiates this. The other wrecks are identified based on the treasure which has been found near those locations, but there is no evidence confirming these identifications though they are probably correct.

The modern era of salvage on the 1715 fleet began with Kip Wagner in the late 1950s. An associate of Mel Fisher’s, Kip Wagner was already working the 1715 fleet wrecks when Mel Fisher arrived in Florida in 1963. He had heard that people could find Spanish silver coins on the beach after a storm. Armed with a surplus army metal detector (used in the army for detecting mines) Kip hit the beaches. Not only did he find silver, but he began investigating the find to discover where the silver was coming from. After diligent research Kip discovered the source must be the lost 1715 fleet. He applied for a salvage permit from the State of Florida. Then he organized a company, the Real Eight Company, and sought financial backers to pursue the treasure.

To learn more I recommend the following (Robert Marx is my favorite)

“Florida’s Golden Galleons: The Search for the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet” by Robert F Burgess

“Shipwrecks Near Wabasso Beach” by Robert Weller

“The World’s Richest Wrecks: A Wreck Diver’s Guide to Gold and Silver Treasures of the Seas,” by Robert F Marx

“Pieces of Eight: Recovering the Riches of a Lost Spanish Treasure Fleet,” by Kip Wagner

Today the “1715 Fleet – Queen Jewels” has the salvage rights to the 1715 fleet shipwreck sights.

Ever think about going looking for Spanish treasure yourself? Forget all that research and years of searching. Both 1715 Fleet – Queen Jewels and Mel Fisher’s Treasures offer you the chance to search for and find Spanish treasure that has been lost for more than 300 years. I am not affiliated with either group and do not receive anything for my endorsement. But, this is something I intend to do. Here are the addresses for you to find out more about these two programs.

For the 1715 treasure fleet:

www.1715treasurefleet.com

Phone: 513-235-1105, e-mail: 1715treasurefleet@gmail.com

Address 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, LLC P.O. Box 781798 Sebastian, Florida 32978

For Mel Fisher’s Treasures:

www.melfisher.com/myadventure/

or contact Kim Fisher, Mel’s son and CEO of “Mel Fisher’s treasures” at kimfisher@mekfisher.com

phone: 305-296-6533

Diving for treasure!

Diving for treasure!

 

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We Interrupt This weeks Article


I am interrupting this week’s series for our (myself and fellow bloggers) discourse on our governments. As always, we do not take a partisan stance, but point to areas where governments are over reaching their own laws or not meeting the basic responsibilities entrusted to them by the people. First I want to say my sympathies are with the Dutch people. The Netherlands is a nation of 16 million people, so the loss of 193 of their friends, neighbors, and family is of a greater impact than September 11 was to the United States with its population of 330 million people (in other words, a larger PERCENTAGE of the Dutch population was killed on July 17, 2014 than the percentage of Americans on September 11, 2001).

Each nation in the world is different, and the government of each nation in the world is different, reflecting the people which it represents. Different peoples have different priorities, which are neither good nor bad. These priorities are based on the cultural and personal experiences of the citizens. The United States has, in times of crisis, taken a stance or action on issues to make a statement concerning what we judge to be right or wrong actions. The 1980 Olympics is a good example of this. In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. In 1980 the United States boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion (in addition to many other actions to protest the Soviet invasion).

Boycotting the Moscow Summer Olympics did not cause the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan (the Soviets stayed until February of 1989). President Carter knew they would not leave even before he made the decision to boycott Olympics. The decision was not universally popular in the United States among the citizens and the athletes. Some of those athletes missed their last opportunity (in some cases ONLY opportunity) to perform in the Olympics. However, the United States government believed this was an important statement the United States must make in defense of the defenseless.

Now, in 2014, the governments of the world are faced with deciding how to respond to the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. I predict that words will be passed, politicians will take weak ineffectual actions, and then publicly congratulated each other for their “tough stance” with Vladimir Putin. Their backslapping and “high-fiving” will not be for their own benefit, it will be to convince us that their weak and ineffectual actions were not weak and ineffectual.

Some of you will disagree with me. Some of you believe that our governments will send a strong message and ensure this sort of thing never happens again. Some of you may even believe that those responsible will be brought to justice. I respect your opinion, but strongly disagree; let’s look at the economics of the United States, Russia, and the Netherlands.

In the United States, bribery is illegal, even those in the aristocracy of America have had to pay a price for being caught involved in bribery. In Russia bribery is illegal and the penalties in Russia are tougher than in the United States. In Russia, bribery is a way of life; it is how people survive, feed their families, house their families, and pay their bills. Do you need your papers processed by a bureaucrat in Russia? That could be an incredibly long time for the simplest documents. But, with the right gift to the right person you can get you documents in a timely manner. In the Netherlands, bribery is a tax write-off.

Report to the American tax service that you paid a bribe and you could find yourself arrested. Report to the Russian tax service you paid a bribe and that Russian bureaucrat will probably call you a fool and tell you to go away. Report to the Dutch tax service you paid a bribe and they will take it off your taxes. This beautifully illustrates the difference in the three countries over what is perceived as morally right. This is why I say nothing will happen in response to the death of 193 Dutch citizens.

Even if Vladimir Putin found out about the shoot down of MH 17 the same way I did, he is still responsible for the tragedy. The shoot down occurred in a Russian controlled part of the Ukraine, perpetrated by Russian backed insurgents. These insurgents are not just supported by Russia; they have been trained and armed by Russia. So, even if Vladimir Putin did not know the shoot down was going to happen, his actions have caused the tragedy.

The Dutch people have now learned, in the cruelest way possible, they are no longer safe in the 21st century. This is a new way of life to which the Dutch people are going to have to adjust.

The Russian billionaires and millionaires keep their money in Dutch banks, Russian corporations do their banking business in Dutch banks, Russian oil and natural gas is the energy that runs the Netherlands, the government of the Dutch people will not take a tough stance with Russia. Given the choice between commerce and the safety of its own people, commerce wins the day. For hundreds of years commerce has always held veto power over all else in the Netherlands.

Today the Dutch people have to decide if life is to continue “business as usual.” Is commerce more important than your neighbor, wife, husband, father, mother, and friends; is commerce more important than the life of your own children. On July 16, 2014, the answer to that question was yes, but the unstated opinion of the person answering the question was that September 11, 2001 could never happen to the Dutch people. Now that it has happened, if your are Dutch, what do you do?

Though the capitalism of America is often attacked for its greed, it is the socialism of Europe that will turn a blind eye to Russia to protect its commercial ties with Russia.

I believe that each and every life is priceless beyond compare, but I am not a European. This is their decision, and I believe their choice is not the choice I would make for my daughter. If the Dutch people choose commerce over safety, I understand, but respectfully disagree. If the Dutch people choose safety for their neighbors, friends, and family over commerce – they need to speak out and speak out loudly. In the Netherlands commerce has been the first choice for so many centuries that your government will only assume it is the choice today as well – and why wouldn’t they?

No matter what the future holds, I will always support the Dutch people, and my sympathies and prayers are with them in this dark hour.

(next week the lost ships of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet)

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