Category: Travel


W.H. won’t take sides in Egypt

No call to Mubarak

President Obama has not spoken with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as protesters in Cairo demand that Mubarak resign, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday.

Gibbs said the White House is “watching and monitoring very closely” the political crisis in Egypt, but he wouldn’t take a side in the conflict. “This is a situation that will be solved by the people in Egypt,” he said.

The White House will “be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days,” Gibbs said.

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The Society of the Muslim Brothers (often simply الإخوان Al-Ikhwān, The Brotherhood or MB) is an Islamist transnational movement and the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. The group is the world’s oldest and largest Islamic political group, and the “world’s most influential Islamist movement.” It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna.

The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for … ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state”. Since its inception in 1928 the movement has officially opposed violent means to achieve its goals, with some exceptions such as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to overthrow secular Ba’athist rule in Syria (see Hama massacre). This position has been questioned, particularly by the Egyptian government, which accused the group of a campaign of killings in Egypt after World War II.

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, and members have been arrested for their participation in it. As a means of circumventing the ban, supporters run for office as independents.

Outside Egypt, the group’s political activity has been described as evolving away from modernism and reformism towards a more traditional, “rightist conservative secularist” stance.  For example, the Muslim Brotherhood party in Kuwait opposes suffrage for women. The Brotherhood condemned terrorism and the 9/11 attacks, but whether or not it has ties to terrorism is a matter of dispute. Its position on violence has also caused disputes within the movement, with advocates of violence at times breaking away to form groups such as the Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (The Islamic Group) and Al Takfir Wal Hijra (Excommunication and Migration).

Among the Brotherhood’s more influential members was Sayyid Qutb. Qutb was the author of one of Islamism‘s most important books, Milestones, which called for the restoration of Islam by re-establishing the Sharia and by using “physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system, which he believed to include the entire Muslim world.

The book also reveals that Qutb no longer held the Brotherhood’s ideas and that he was closer to the ideas of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is concluded in the introduction and dedication of the book” While studying at university, Osama bin Laden claimed to have been influenced by the religious and political ideas of several professors with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood including both Sayyid Qutb and his brother Muhammad Qutb.

However, once Al Qaeda was fully organized, they denounced the Muslim Brotherhood’s reform through nonviolence and accused them of “betraying the cause of Islam and abandoning their ‘jihad’ in favour of forming political parties and supporting modern state institutions”.

The Brotherhood is financed by contributions from its members, who are required to allocate a portion of their income to the movement. Some of these contributions are from members who live in oil-rich countries.

Muslim Brotherhood Beliefs

In the group’s belief, the Quran and Sunnah constitute a perfect way of life and social and political organization that God has set out for man. Islamic governments must be based on this system and eventually unified in a Caliphate. The MB goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam’s manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia.

It preaches that Islam enjoins man to strive for social justice, the eradication of poverty and corruption, and political freedom to the extent allowed by the laws of Islam. The Brotherhood strongly opposes Western colonialism, and helped overthrow the pro-western monarchies in Egypt and other Muslim nations during the early 20th century.

An important belief on the part of intellectuals who have assisted the organization is the reemergence of Islamic Civilization because Western Civilization is in obvious decline; in the words of an 2007 essay, “More than forty years ago the premise was made clear: The period of the Western system has come to an end primarily because it is deprived of those life-giving values, which enabled it to be the leader of mankind.”

As Sayyid Qutb, an Islamic intellectual and supporter of the Brotherhood wrote in his 1963 book, Milestones, (Ma’alim fi al-Tariq), “The leadership of mankind by Western man is now on the decline, not because Western culture has become poor materially or because its economic and military power has become weak.

The period of the Western system has come to an end primarily because it is deprived of those life-giving values, which enabled it to be the leader of mankind. It is necessary for the new leadership to preserve and develop the material fruits of the creative genius of Europe, and also to provide mankind with such high ideals and values as have so far remained undiscovered by mankind, and which will also acquaint humanity with a way of life which is harmonious with human nature, which is positive and constructive, and which is practicable. Islam is the only System which possesses these values and this way of life.

On the issue of women and gender the Muslim Brotherhood interprets Islam conservatively. Its founder called for “a campaign against ostentation in dress and loose behavior,” “segregation of male and female students,” a separate curriculum for girls, and “the prohibition of dancing and other such pastimes…”

The MB is a movement, not a political party, but members have created political parties in several countries, such as the Islamic Action Front in Jordan and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank. These parties are staffed by Brotherhood members but kept independent from the MB to some degree, unlike Hizb ut-Tahrir which is highly centralized.

PROTEST PHOTOS

Muslim Brotherhood In Egypt

Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Ismailia in March 1928 along with six workers of the Suez Canal Company. It began as a religious, political, and social movement with the credo, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

Al-Banna called for the return to an original Islam and followed Islamic reformers like Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida. According to him, contemporary Islam had lost its social dominance, because most Muslims had been corrupted by Western influences. Sharia law based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah were seen as laws passed down by Allah that should be applied to all parts of life, including the organization of the government and the handling of everyday problems.

The Brotherhood also saw itself as a political and social movement . Al-Banna strived to be a populist. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed to want to protect the workers against the tyranny of foreign and monopolist companies. It founded social institutions such as hospitals, pharmacies, schools, etc.

However, in addition to holding conservative views on issues such as women’s rights, it was from the start extremely hostile to independent working-class and popular organisations such as trade unions. This is disputed however by William Cleveland, who points out that the Muslim Brotherhood became involved with the labour movement early on, and supported efforts to create trades unions and unemployment benefits.

By 1936, it had 800 members, then this number increased greatly to up to 200,000 by 1938. By 1948, the Brotherhood had about half a million members. Robin Hallett says: “By the late 1940s the Brotherhood was reckoned to have as many as 2 million members, while its strong Pan-Islamic ideas had gained its supporters in other Arab lands”. The Muslim Brotherhood also tried to build up something like an Islamist International, thus founding groups in Lebanon (in 1936), Syria (1937), and Transjordan (1946). It also recruited among the foreign students in Cairo. Its headquarters in Cairo became a center and meeting place for representatives from the whole Muslim world.

Underground links to the Nazis began during the 1930s and were close during the Second World War, involving agitation against the British, espionage and sabotage, as well as support for terrorist activities orchestrated by Haj Amin el-Hussaini in British Mandate Palestine, as a wide range of declassified documents from the British, American and Nazi German governmental archives, as well as from personal accounts and memoirs from that period, confirm. Reflecting this connection the Muslim Brotherhood also disseminated Hitler’s Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion widely in Arab translations, helping to deepen and extend already existing hostile views about Jews and democracy in Western societies generally.

In November 1948 police seized an automobile containing the documents and plans of what was thought to be the Brotherhood’s “secret apparatus” (its military wing) with names of its members. The seizure was preceded by an assortment of bombings and assassination attempts by the apparatus. Subsequently 32 of its leaders were arrested and its offices raided. The next month the Egyptian Prime Minister of Egypt, Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi, ordered the dissolution of the Brotherhood.

In what is thought to be retaliation for these acts, a member of the Brotherhood, veterinary student Abdel Meguid Ahmed Hassan, assassinated the Prime Minister on December 28, 1948. A month and half later Al-Banna himself was killed in Cairo by men believed to be government agents and/or supporters of the murdered premier.

The Brotherhood has been an illegal organization, tolerated to varying degrees, since 1954 when it was convicted of the attempt to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser, head of the Egyptian government. The group had denied involvement in the incident and accused the government of staging the incident to use it as a pretext to persecute the group and its members.

On this basis from 1954 until Nasser’s death in 1970, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members were systemically tortured under Nasser’s secular regime, highlighted in Zainab al Ghazali‘s Return of the Pharaoh. More recently, since the mid-2000s, some young Muslim Brotherhood members have publicly identified themselves as members of the banned organizations on their blogs, where they have been critical of both the existing system as well as aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood organization itself.

The Brotherhood is still periodically subjected to mass arrests. It remains the largest opposition group in Egypt, advocating Islamic reform, democratic system and maintaining a vast network of support through Islamic charities working among poor Egyptians. The political direction it has been taking lately has tended towards more moderate secular “Islamism” and so-calledIslamic Democracy.

In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood’s candidates, who had to run as independents due to their illegality as a political party, won 88 seats (20% of the total) to form the largest opposition bloc. The electoral process was marred by many irregularities, including the arrest of hundreds of Brotherhood members.

One observer, Jameel Theyabi, writing in an op-ed for Dar Al-Hayat, noted that a December 2006 campus demonstration by Muslim Brotherhood university students that included the “wearing of uniforms, displaying the phrase, ‘We Will be Steadfast’, and the drills involving martial arts, betray the group’s intent to plan for the creation of militia structures, and a return by the group to the era of ‘secret cells’….” .

Of course, the huge gains in the 2005 parliamentary elections allowed the Brotherhood to pose “a democratic political challenge to the regime, not a theological one” . Initially, there has been widespread skepticism regarding the movement’s commitment to use its influence to push Egypt forward towards a democratic state.

For instance, briefly after the elections Sameh Fawzy remarked in the Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper, “If the Muslim Brotherhood were in a position to enforce its ideological monopoly, the vast majority of the populace would face severe restrictions on its freedom of opinion and belief, not just on religious matters, but on social, political, economic and cultural affairs as well”

However, considering its actions in the Egyptian parliament since 2005, it appears that those skeptics misjudged the movement’s scope. In an article for the Middle East Report Samer Shehata from Georgetown University and Joshua Stacher from the British University in Egypt claim that, in fact, it was the Muslim Brotherhood that revived a parliament that till then had “a reputation for being a rubber stamp for the regime” . First of all, according to their observations, the movement did not simply “focus on banning books and legislating the length of skirts” .

Instead, the movement’s involvement shows attempts to reform the political system. Unlike other MPs, those associated with the Brotherhood took their parliamentary duties very seriously as an “unmatched record of attendance”  already shows. Moreover, they also took their role as members of the opposition to the ruling NDP quite seriously.

A significant example is the creation of a considerable opposition to the extension of the emergency law when MPs associated with the Brotherhood “formed a coalition with other opposition legislators and with sympathetic members of the NDP, to protest the extension” . The overall involvement leads Shehata and Stacher to the conclusion that the Brotherhood has convincingly attempted to transform “the Egyptian parliament into a real legislative body, as well as an institution that represents citizens and a mechanism that keeps government accountable”.

Meanwhile, approved opposition parties won only 14 seats. This revived the debate within the Egyptian political elite about whether the Brotherhood should remain banned.

Since 2005 Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt have also become a significant movement online. In 2006 Abdel Menem Mahmoud created the first publicly identified Brotherhood blog, Ana Ikhwan (http://ana-ikhwan.blogspot.com). In an article for Arab Media & Society (http://www.arabmediasociety.com), Courtney C. Radsch of American University explores how the Egyptian blogosphere expanded as many younger members followed suit, especially the activists who were sympathetic to Kefaya and members who wanted to be part of the discussion about the draft party platform.

These “cyberactivists” are often critical of the organization, such as its rejection of women and Copts as being permitted to hold the presidency, and more liberal than their offline counterparts.

General leaders (G.L) or Mentors of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt المرشد العام لجماعة الإخوان المسلمون

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Obama’s New World View Of The Middle East: Disaster Of Bibilical Consequences?


Related Links:

Muslim Brotherhood Members to Attend Obama’s Cairo Speech

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King Tut museum secured by Egyptian army: TV report

ME Report: Comrades and Brothers

Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising

Egypt protests: secret US document discloses support for protesters

Toppling Egyptian President Mubarak: Careful What You Wish For

Obama Administration Lifts US Ban on Muslim Brotherhood Leader

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To make war all you need is intelligence.  But to win you need talent and material.
- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ch. 9

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American author and journalist. His distinctive writing style, characterized by economy and understatement, influenced 20th-century fiction, as did his life of adventure and public image. He produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s.

He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Hemingway’s fiction was successful because the characters he presented exhibited authenticity that resonated with his audience. Many of his works are classics of American literature. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works during his lifetime; a further three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously.

Hemingway was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After leaving high school he worked for a few months as a reporter for The Kansas City Star, before leaving for the Italian front to become an ambulance driver during World War I, which became the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms.

He was seriously wounded and returned home within the year. In 1922 Hemingway married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives, and the couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent. During his time there he met and was influenced by modernist writers and artists of the 1920s expatriate community known as the “Lost Generation“. His first novel, The Sun Also Rises, was written in 1924.

After divorcing Hadley Richardson in 1927 Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer; they divorced following Hemingway’s return from covering the Spanish Civil War, after which he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940, but he left her for Mary Welsh Hemingway after World War II, during which he was present at D-Day and the liberation of Paris.

Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952 Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in a plane crash that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. Hemingway had permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and ’40s, but in 1959 he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.

Berlin Museum of Natural History

The extensive collections in the Berlin Museum of Natural History – at present numbering over 50 million specimens – were first formed in the Mineralogical, Paleontological and Zoological Museum. The latter, in turn, built upon a collection started by the Berlin Mining College in the 18th C., and was housed from 1810 in the Unter den Linden university buildings.

As a result of expeditions and gifts, such as those from Alexander von Humboldt and Adelbert von Chamisso, who took part in a Russian Pacific expedition in 1815-18, the collection grew enormously; consequently, a new museum was planned in 1875 and opened its doors on Invalidenstrasse in 1889. In 1893 the director of the British Museum in London praised it as being “a perfect example of a complete revolution in concepts of museum management.”

The Second World War put an end to the continued development. From 1941 parts of the collections were either evacuated elsewhere or stored in the cellars. Heavy bombing raids, especially in November 1943 and February 1945, destroyed large parts of the building and some of the most valuable exhibits – whole skeletons in the Anatomical Hall were destroyed, together with those of whales and other marine mammals in the Whale Hall and all but three of the large dioramas of indigenous animals.

Soon after hostilities ceased, the collections were again temporarily opened to the public and rebuilding commenced, as a result of which the Museum – which is now a part of Humboldt University – became one of the five biggest natural history museums in the world. The Museum also possesses a preparation workshop, the arboretum in Berlin- Baumschulenweg (Späthstrasse 80/81) and a library, the most valuable items in which include 545 pages of watercolors of animals by the Nuremberg doctor Lazarus Röting (1549-1614).

Lovebite partially paralyses woman

Stuff.co.nz – GILES BROWN

A Christchurch doctor had to treat a woman after she was partially paralysed by a lovebite from her amorous partner. Dr Teddy Wu, who is currently working in the neurology department at Christchurch Hospital, said he believed it was the first time someone had been hospitalised by a “hickey”.

An article on the case has appeared in the New Zealand Medical Journal. Wu said he saw the woman over a year ago while he was working in Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. The 44-year-old Maori woman went to the emergency department after experiencing loss of movement in her left arm. It happened while she was sitting watching television. The only injury was a lovebite on the right of her neck near an artery.

“Because it was a lovebite there would be a lot of suction. “Because of the physical trauma it had made a bit of bruising inside the vessel,” said Wu. “There was a clot in the artery underneath where the hickey was.” The clot had gone into the woman’s heart and caused a minor stroke that led to the loss of movement, he said. She was treated with warfarin, an anticoagulant. That treatment saw the clot disappear almost entirely within a week, he said.

“We looked around the medical literature and that example of having a lovebite causing something like that hasn’t been described before,” he said. If it had not been treated quickly the woman could have suffered more strokes. “Strokes have different levels of severity. But possibly patients can become paralysed.”

It was easier to live under a regime than fight it.
- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ch. 34

Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House

US humiliated in eyes of Chinese by song used to inspire anti-Americanism

Epoch Times – By Matthew Robertson

Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand.

At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.”

The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, “When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.” The “jackal” in the song is the United States. The name of the song is “My Motherland,” originally titled “Big River.”

Propaganda

“My Motherland” having been played at the White House will be seen as a propaganda triumph in China.

“In the eyes of all Chinese, this will not be seen as anything other than a big insult to the U.S.,” says Yang Jingduan, a Chinese psychiatrist now living in Philadelphia who was Deputy Director of science and technology development at the No. 4 Military Medical University in Xi’an in China. “It’s like insulting you in your face and you don’t know it, it’s humiliating.”

Yang sees Lang Lang choosing this tune as an expression of the deeply anti-American propaganda that is constant in China. “This deeply anti-American chauvinism has been fanned by the CCP for years; Lang Lang is expressing the feelings of this generation of angry young people,” Yang said.

A well-known example of such feelings was seen on Sept. 11, 2001, when Chinese chat rooms were filled with young people celebrating this act of terror as an American defeat. Excited at this coup, patriotic Chinese have been circulating the clip for the last several days. One netizen wrote “the right place, right time, right song!”

Humiliating the US

Whether Chinese officials intended Lang Lang to play this piece, its performance at the White House fits a general pattern of Chinese propaganda attacking the United States. Subtle details are seized on and used to humiliate the United States before the Chinese people.

When Nixon visited China, a photo was taken of him getting off the plane to greet Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Nixon has a big smile and extends his hand out to Zhou. Zhou stands with a rigid face and holds his hand close to his body.

The photo was widely used in all of the Chinese media to help support the idea that Nixon’s visit was a victory for China. Chinese schoolchildren were told, “See how long Nixon’s arm is stretched out? That shows the United States is reaching out to us.”

When President Obama visited China in November 2009, he toured the Imperial Palace. Obama exited through the Shen Wu Men, which may be translated as Gate of Divine Prowess. CCTV reported that he exited through the Shun Zhen Men, which may be translated as “Gate of Obedience and Purity.”

In fact, the Gate of Divine Prowess is the outer gate and everyone must exit through it. However, Chinese media would not accord President Obama the honor of going through the “Gate of Divine Prowess.” Neither the White House nor the Chinese Embassy responded to phone calls requesting comment on this story.

Broadband cable on its way to unplugged Cuba

Florida scholars left out of Obama’s ease on Cuba travel ban

The Obama administration’s move to ease Cuba travel restrictions won’t help Florida researchers and professors.

Herald/Times – BY JANET ZINK

Academics around the country hailed the move last week by President Barack Obama to loosen travel restrictions to Cuba. But there was no celebrating by scholars at Florida’s public universities.

A 2006 state law prohibits them from using state money or tapping into their budgets for travel to countries considered “terrorist states” by the federal government, Cuba being one. The others are Iran, Sudan and Syria.

The rule applies both to state funding and nonstate funds administered by public universities. Margaret Miller, director of the University of South Florida Institute for Research in Art, calls the law an “embarrassment.”

“I can understand trade restrictions because having an economic impact is a useful tool,” he said. “But I would want educators to share information. I wouldn’t put that in the same category as economic-related embargoes. Would I have problems with USF professors traveling to Cuba and meeting with colleagues, there? I wouldn’t.”

But Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, who sponsored the bill in 2006 and is a 2012 U.S. Senate candidate, stands by it.

“There should be three conditions before we change anything,” he said. “That is the liberation of all political prisoners, No. 2 the legalization of all political parties and an independent press, and third, of course, the scheduling of free, internationally-supervised elections.”

Hard-line positions against Cuba make for good politics in Miami-Dade County, where 72 percent of registered Republican voters are Hispanic, mostly Cuban…

Florida’s law is facing a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and faculty at the University of South Florida, the University of Florida and Florida International University.

An appeals court upheld the statute in August, forcing cancellation of an art exhibit organized by USF at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana that would have featured works by artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Chuck Close.

The program was to be paid for from privately-raised foundation money.The ACLU plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case…

Clint Eastwood: I do not think about Retirement

Le Figaro – By Jean-Paul Chaillet (English Translation)

…I do not believe in regrets. I operate on instinct. Once my decision, I do not procrastinate. A refusal does not mean it is estimated that the project will fail, just that it will be better suited to someone else. Examples? I could succeed Sean Connery and be the new James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service! I had the same lawyer as the producer Cubby Broccoli, who suggested that I take over in 1968.

It would have been very financially advantageous deal for me, but I had just finished a trilogy and I do not see myself signing for another in danger of being relegated to a kind and trapped in the long term. I also felt that the role should be maintained by an English-born. I would have had to work very hard to be convincing. It seems they are finally doing pretty well without me!

Later, in 1977, Frank Wells, president of Warner, asked me if I wanted to play as Superman. The idea of personifying a comic book hero does not attract me at all. It was a good concept, but not with me. So I made sweet, crazy and hard to spot, and both films were huge hits for Warner!

On several occasions, Steve McQueen and I tried to find a common project, even though every time he told me in gasping: “The problem is that you are damn great!” One day, Coppola has proposed play Willard in Apocalypse Now, but he wanted the role of Kurtz, who would have run only a fortnight for the same stamp! He therefore suggested to Francis that I play Willard in his place. It was quite a discussion with him on the phone, but as everyone knows, it failed! “

His passion for piloting

“I started in the summer of 1968 during the filming of The Paint Your Wagon, Oregon. I had rented a house in Baker City and as the main set was in the mountains 50 kilometers away, it took me by helicopter, a Bell Model 47. The pilot, certified instructor, suggested I take the handle. I have accumulated quite a few hours.

Then in June 1989, just before going to Zimbabwe to make White Hunter, Black heart, I went to the Air Show at Le Bourget, where I ordered a single-engine Ecureuil Aerospatiale. After shooting, I spent time at the training center of Aix-en-Provence, while one was developing my camera. It is parked in a hangar at the Burbank airport. In just under two hours, I can ask in Caramel. I like the anonymity it provides. Flying, we’re just a number in the sky. “

Women

“My mother is the woman who probably has the most to me. As my grandmother. I lived with my parents when she sought work during the Great Depression in the ’30s. She was very independent and progressive. I was her favorite and she learned to drive, even leaving me behind the wheel of his car. As for Dina, my wife, I like to think that with his influence, I became a better person and more patient. There is a great complicity between us, in addition to many tastes in common: family life, our menagerie of animals, travel, golf.

His family

“Today I have an excellent relationship with all my children, which has not always been the case. When I started, obsessed with success and my career, I was often absent in the pursuit of success, film after film. Becoming a father late in life has allowed me to devote myself fully to my two youngest daughters, Francesca (18) and Morgan (15 years). They were my priority, taking precedence over the rest, although I continued to be very busy. I attended all their school activities. I think they have instilled the traditional values. “

Longevity

“I certainly never imagined not last so long in this profession when I was trying desperately to make it to Hollywood in the early 50s. I was already well aware that success might be random at best temporary, and as luck would play a role. Whatever we possess an innate talent, it is a significant parameter in the equation. I have seen several stages of my career.

On the physical level, I always made sure my health: exercise regularly, watch my diet, take vitamins … I never smoked other than the camera. I always drank in moderation. Only beer and wine. I like to keep abreast of what’s happening again in the medical field. More particularly, the theoretical pathology, which I studied at a time at the University of New York.

Retirement? I do not think, even if some do it for me! With age, you appreciate things more. But I am not nostalgic or backward-looking. I’m still curious. I still learn, find new challenges. Many motivations that stimulate me. My enthusiasm is intact. And unless you are struck by senility, I intend to continue making films. Manoel de Oliveira’s centennial and is still running. As for John Huston, he directed his last film in a wheelchair and on oxygen! “

Spanish old folks still young at heart

One of the last great taboos is the sex life of the elderly. Will it be love among the ruins, or the start of a golden age?

EL PAÍS – LUZ SÁNCHEZ-MELLADO

We like to think that we live in more enlightened times: that 50 is the new 40; that 60 is the new 50; and that 70 is the new 60 — except when it comes to sex, which somehow tastefully disappears from our lives once we pass 60.

Old folks are supposed to be genderless folks. As one doctor less-than-tactfully put it to a female patient in her fifties: “nature has finished with you.” A generation on from the supposed sexual revolution of the 1960s — which didn’t reach Spain until a decade later — whether we like to admit it or not, most of us still assume that once the reproductive cycle is over, we return to an infantile state from the waist down. Tenderness, sure; even flirtation: but not predatory.

The image of an elderly couple out for a walk, hand in hand, or maybe chastely embraced in a gentle two-step at a village dance brings a warming smile to our faces. But the thought of passionate kissing, of intimate caresses, or of the pleasurable moans that precede orgasm is more likely to make us wrinkle our noses. We either assume it’s just not physically possible, or wouldn’t occur to any right-thinking retiree, or is just plain bad taste. Hence the expression dirty oldman.

Sex in old age is one of the last taboos, despite the fact that we live in an ageing society: of Spain’s 44 million inhabitants, there are more than eight million people aged over 65. And 28 percent of those are over 80. More than half still live with their partner, but in a country where women outlive men by nearly seven years, dying on average at 84 years of age, 38 percent are widows.

As a result of Spain’s demographics, there are more sexually inactive women over the age of 60 than men. That said, Spain’s situation pretty much matches the figures that emerged from a survey carried out by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. The survey reported that 73 percent of Americans aged between 57 and 64 enjoyed a regular sex life.

The figure dropped to 53 percent between the 65 and 75-year-old age group, and fell more sharply to 26 percent among 85-year-olds. “Even so,” write the authors in their conclusion, “there is a significant number of people who have vaginal intercourse, oral sex, or continue to masturbate even into their nineties.”

None of which is to say that our sex lives don’t change and to varying degrees diminish as we get older, in large part due to physiological factors. Women’s estrogen levels can drop significantly with menopause, provoking vaginal dryness; at the same time, diminished blood flow to the genitals can also reduce desire, explains gynecologist Santiago Palacios, president of the Spanish Menopause
Society.

Hormonal factors are not so important in men, although their testosterone levels do drop. Physical deterioration, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes can also reduce the ability to gain or maintain an erection, and there is a general lessening of the libido, says Eduardo Ruiz Castañe, head of the andrology department at the Puigvert Foundation, a Barcelona-based nonprofit body dedicated to research into male urological and genital pathologies.

But in both sexes, overall health, the quality of sex earlier in life, good communication with one’s partner and being able to find the time and place to be intimate are more important factors than the mere ageing process…

Cuba Travel and Informational Resources

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Sunday Culture: Lost Art

Not Dark Yet

Shadows are fallin’ and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep and time is runnin’ away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writin’ what was in her mind
I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Well, I’ve been to London and I been to gay Paris
I’ve followed the river and I got to the sea
I’ve been down on the bottom of the world full of lies
I ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m movin’ but I’m standin’ still
Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Bob Dylan

A priceless gift or grand theft Pablo?

Electrician is under scrutiny after producing 60 million euros worth of Picasso works

EL PAÍS – By ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ BARCA

For more than 40 years, a retired electrician living in a small village in southern France has been storing 271 authentic Picassos with an estimated worth of more than 60 million euros. After trying to get them authenticated in Paris, he and his wife now find themselves accused of theft by the artist’s family, while the artworks have been seized and are being kept in storage at a police station that specializes in art crimes, until a judge reaches a verdict.

The story began on January 14 of this year, when Claude Picasso, the painter’s son and the administrator of his legacy, received a surprising letter at his Paris office. A man named Pierre Le Guennec was asking him for a certificate of authenticity for 26 previously unknown Picasso artworks. The petition included several photographs of mediocre quality of the art in question. Then, on April 30, Claude Picasso received another batch of bad photos and another letter assuring him that these were also the work of Picasso. He was asked once more to provide a certificate of authenticity.

According to the newspaper Libération, which broke the story, Picasso’s son was intrigued by the missives, and got in touch with Le Guennec – who is aged 71, and lives in Mouans-Sartoux, a village in Côte d’Azur – to ask him for a face-to-face interview. Claude told him that he could not establish the real origin of the paintings, or indeed their value, unless he saw them in person.

On September 9, Le Guennec and his wife showed up in Paris with a suitcase. To the amazement of Claude Picasso, as well as several art experts in the room, the couple pulled out notebooks filled with drawings; lithographs; ink portraits of Picasso’s first wife, Olga Khokhlova; Cubist collages that were in themselves worth ¤40 million; watercolors from his “Blue Period;” sketches of hands; caricatures; and landscapes. All of the works were produced between 1900 and 1932, the artist’s most productive and innovative period.

After examining the contents of the suitcase for three hours, the team of experts concluded that nobody in the world could have imitated so many techniques so perfectly, and that they were indeed faced with an unexpected mountain of authentic “picassos” that nobody else knew existed. And then came the inevitable question. How did Le Guennec happen to have come by all this material?

Le Guennec said that during the last three years of Picasso’s life – he died in 1973 – the Frenchman had put in the electrical wiring in the artist’s homes in Cannes and Mougins. The electrician said he installed several burglar alarms, among other things. The work inside the suitcase was a gift to him from Picasso shortly before his death, he said. But Le Guennec told the police another version of events, according to Libération. On that occasion he said that it was Picasso’s last wife, Jacqueline de Vallaurais – who died in 1986 – that had given him the gift.

Picasso’s six heirs have now decided to initiate legal proceedings against the electrician, whom they accuse of theft. The artist’s family figures it is impossible for Picasso, who was obsessed with keeping everything, to have given away such a vast amount of his own work – most of it undated, some of it incomplete, and none of it dedicated.

Claude Picasso, born of the relationship between the artist and Françoise Gilot, told Libération: “He always kept everything: metro tickets, the tickets to a play or a bullfight… Even the string around the mail he received each day… He thought that everything might be useful. Nearly 200,000 objects of his have been preserved and inventoried. [...] For him to just give a gift like this does not make any sense. All that was part of his life. He was generous. But he always dated and dedicated his presents. And Jacqueline might have given away a postcard or a book, but all that… It’s out of place.”

For now, the police have the artistic treasures under lock and key, in the central offices of the branch of the force in charge of cultural goods trafficking, in Nanterre. As for the electrician and his wife, they are facing a long legal battle with Picasso’s heirs.

The hyphothesis of the lawyers as to why the couple may have waited until now to reveal their haul of artworks is simple: to avoid a jail sentence, given that the statute of limitations for the alleged theft will have expired.

“Before anything else happens, we must recover these works for the sake of art history,” one of the Picasso family lawyers is quoted as saying in Libération.

Related: (Le Figaro)(FR) The unpublished notebooks Picasso

WSJ: Review Round-up: ‘Phas Gaya Re Obama’

Le Louvre to create new attractions

Le Figaro FR (English Translation)

Henri Loyrette, president and CEO explains how he intends to accompany the increase in attendance at the museum.

Patron of the Louvre for nearly ten years, Henri Loyrette charge of an institution whose success is undeniable. His challenge, he says, is that the public can see the Mona Lisa in good condition but is also curious about other works. His season of exhibitions devoted to the eighteenth century is this incentive to explore, while the white cards (à Patrice Chéreau right now) used to reach a wider audience.

LE FIGARO. – With more than 8.6 million visitors, the Louvre displays a record attendance. Would it be possible to do more?

Henri LOYRETTE. – Having more visitors is not an end in itself. But an increase in attendance is always a cause for satisfaction. This shows that the museum is in a good momentum and he knows renew its offer. We conducted a study which shows that our audiences are loyal visitors. It appears several times in the Louvre in the same year, because there’s always something.

This “microwave” poses does not have problems …

The Louvre is a palace, but he is perfectly capable of accommodating 8.6 million people, or 30,000 per day, provided they are not all in the same place and same time. However, some spaces, like the Denon wing where the Victory of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, are overloaded at certain times of the year. We sometimes have a problem of distribution of flows. I will therefore like to encourage visitors to focus their attention elsewhere. Some attractions, like the Crown Jewels, will be moved to other rooms. The path of the masterpieces offered by our audio guides, has already been reviewed. The Louvre’s collection go well beyond the Mona Lisa.

Le Grand Louvre, with its Pyramid, 20 years ago. How has it changed?

It is an undeniable success. I had another Louvre, where it was thought that the number of 4 million visitors was up. With this project, we doubled the area and gave an incredible boost to the museum. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of visitors grew by 70%! Obviously, some areas, including the Pyramid, are victims of their success and are now undersized. We will rethink welcome, and the information given at the entrance and inside the rooms. We must multiply the points of information, while creating new attractions. This is the condition for the Louvre tomorrow. This project moves us already and for the next three years.

Like most large public museums, your budget for 2011 is down. What consequences will this have?

France suffered a serious crisis and we share our efforts. A savings plan has been implemented, leading to a tightening of spending. Given this, we had to do with 5% less in 2009 and again in 2011 another 5 percent lower in 2011. Our grant investment will decrease it, a quarter, and we must comply with the obligation not to replace a retiring two.

To address these constraints, we will raise the price of the ticket from 9.5 to 10 euros and continue an active policy of patronage. For several years, patrons follow us: Recently, they must, among other things, the ceiling Cy Twombly, les vitraux de Morellet, la renovation of rooms art of the eighteenth century or the season Patrice Chéreau. However, it must properly fund the 40 posts required for the future Department of arts de l’Islam, scheduled for 2012. When I arrived at the Louvre, only 75% of rooms were open, lack of staff. Today, they are almost all. It would be unthinkable to go back.

With historian Marc Fumaroli, you propose an exhibition on the revival of taste for the antique eighteenth century, with its variations and oppositions. Is not it risky to bet on a very classic?

There was no exposure to the eighteenth century for a very long time. To assemble, we relied on the latest research in the history of art. We have chosen to show how ancient, much better known after the archaeological discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii, and publishing of large illustrated books, then the issue is a debate that runs throughout Europe. Different aesthetic designs are born and compete on a political and ideological. We show that the simplistic oppositions of art history – transition from Rococo to Neoclassical – hid developments infinitely more varied. We had the ambition to synthesize them.

What surprising aspects of this eighteenth century do we find?

We make up the emergence of the neoclassical expression much earlier in time, from 1720, whereas traditionally it is situated around 1770. We highlight a few major figures not seen enough today, as the sculptor Edme Bouchardon. We also discuss the cons-currents inspired by the Baroque mannerism and the taste sublime.

Thus, we present artists such as Briton James Barry and the American Benjamin West, not as it normally does, as eccentric, but by placing them in the great movement of positioning in relation to art ancient. Another example: we are facing two artists never close to each other, Fuseli, the celebrated painter’s Nightmare, and David. These two artists who were at the same time in Rome.

Why do you spend a season in the eighteenth century? For, besides “The ancient dream, you have an exhibition on the Age of Enlightenment at the Louvre (Sully wing), another on catalogs and inventories of antiques of the era (Chapel Room). From 28 January, we will discover the amazing work of the sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Finally, the auditorium of the cinema program, concerts and lectures on the Enlightenment.

The conclusion of “The ancient dream” is the Louvre itself! Indeed, the museum opened its doors in 1793. For the first time were confronted on a massive scale the ancients, with the masterpieces of ancient sculpture, and modern, with the most famous artistic productions since the Renaissance.

Catalogs and inventories of antique eighteenth may, in turn, be considered what will lead to the Louvre and more broadly based history of art. Furthermore, I would remember – we too often forget – that the Louvre is also a major research center. It turns out that we are working on renovating the rooms of the decorative arts of the eighteenth century. However, any relocation requires reflection. Shows that you just mentioned are involved. With them, the whole time that we reconsider. This allows us to point out what is missing in our collections and building acquisition projects.

With carte blanche to present to Patrice Chereau, and soon to JMG Le Clezio, these major themes monopolize the business of the institution. Is it detrimental to the eclecticism of the programming?

I do not think. This year, before the eighteenth century and Patrice Chereau, we have had exhibitions of Russian art, in Arabia, but also contemporary art. But I like the idea a great theme: this is a way to order things. Internally, it promotes cross-departmental, and this results in a more holistic, multidisciplinary topics. Finally, it is a way to attract a wider audience for events that, singly, may seem too sharp.

Born in controversy, museum victim of its success

Twenty years after the inauguration of the Grand Louvre, the pyramid is the symbol, it is hard to remember the incredible controversy that has surrounded the announcement. The book by former Culture Minister Jack Lang, traces the “battle” of the Louvre, which lasted several years and exceeded the left-right divisions. The project (double surfaces, introduction of an underground, single entry under the Pyramid) hardly accepted by the Commission of Historic Monuments, 23 January 1984, a heated debate snaps.

At its front, France-Soir: “The new Louvre already scandal,” while an editorial by Jean Dutourd squeaks: “Poor France!” Le Canard chained mocks the work of “Uncle Khamon” Le Quotidien de Paris peak “pride, excess” of the president, while Le Figaro Magazine campaigned. It denounced the choice of architect IM Pei, who is outside any formal competition. A committee Anti-Grand Louvre turns up under the aegis of Michel Guy, former Secretary of State for Culture.

“As a cathedral”

The wave “anti” is largely driven by finance union head, who must leave the premises of the Louvre to settle eventually in the new Bercy in the twelfth arrondissement of Paris. In 1986, political alternation. The new finance minister, Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppe, in charge of Budget, return to their neighborhoods in the Richelieu wing!

“History will record that the project had support, including all the museum’s curators,” says Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent, former director of Government and author of the heritage of culture (1999).

The conservatives, who feel cramped, signed an open letter in support of Pei. The composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, the artist Pierre Soulages or director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Dominique Bozo, give voice to defend the work. Jacques Chirac, mayor of Paris, speaks of a high quality project. Finally, the Minister of Culture, Francois Leotard, confirms the Grand Louvre, which he estimates to cost 3 billion francs.

From the commencement of work, the public flocked to see the excavations and eventually approve. On March 12, 1989, the Pyramid and the Cour Napoléon is opened, without arousing the same passion. A few months after the removal of Finance in November 1993, the Richelieu wing was inaugurated in the presence of Edouard Balladur became the meantime, Prime Minister.

Today, with 60,000 square meters, the world’s largest museum hosts nearly 8.6 million visitors. The collections shown doubled. Guided tours, audio tours, children’s workshops, lectures and films have done their entry. Shops including a McDonald’s challenged along the way that leads to the rooms, and the Pyramid is a mecca for the great patron festivities. Outside, tourists are posing at his feet.

But the Louvre is a victim of its success. The noise is deafening at times, and the dense crowd in front of the crates. Difficult to leave his coat, or seeing the Mona Lisa properly on some Sundays. The direction of the Louvre has promised to review the conditions for receiving the public and, especially, to rethink the information given to it. Le Grand Louvre is like a cathedral: the main work will never end, “Judge Mary Saint Pulgent.

Darren Aronofsky On Budgets, Bad Apples, And ‘Black Swan’

NPR -By Linda Holmes (Listen To The Story)

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky is getting significant Oscar buzz for his new film Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman as a very troubled ballet star. On today’s All Things Considered, Aronofsky talks to Robert Siegel about filmmaking in general and Black Swan in particular.

If it’s been a while since you checked in with Aronofsky, you might have been surprised to hear that he was making a movie about ballet. His previous project, after all, was the brutal film The Wrestler, for which star Mickey Rourke received an Oscar nomination.

As the director says, however, there are things that unite the dancers and wrestlers he places on screen: “Both films are about performers and performance.”

While you’ll hear in the interview about Black Swan‘s limited budget (he points out that $13 million really isn’t that much), you’ll also learn a little about the way those close to a filmmaker do their part to pitch in. Having his family help out on the set is, as Aronofsky explains, a tradition that started back when he made his first film, Pi, on a relative shoestring:

There was only eight people on the crew, so we really needed as many people as we could get. My mom did catering every day with her best friend, my Aunt Jo, and my dad filled in a few — when we needed another extra, he showed up in a suit and slicked back his hair and carried a suitcase.

But whether working with big budgets or small, Aronofsky works with some tortured, sometimes unpleasant main characters.

Asked about the fact that Portman’s Nina isn’t treated with great sympathy in Black Swan, he says:

Movies have really turned our heroes into one-dimensional characters, and you sort of really have to love these characters in most films. And I just — people aren’t really that way, and so this dancer is filled with ambition and stress, and she’s trapped, and she’s a prisoner. I was able to go there partly because I know people love Natalie Portman. So I got the sympathy votes very early from her, so I was comfortable with her pushing away.

But in the end, as much as he speaks enthusiastically about his films, look to this quintessentially independent director to deliver a ringing endorsement of his field. Aronofsky admits to having mixed feelings, even about the indie arena:

I’m on the fence with it. I used to be really encouraging, telling people, “Just go make the most original thing you can, the thing you think is best for your friends.” And I still — I teach, and I still talk about that. … [But] with the economic realities, there’s less money around; it’s a really tough time. But then again, for $2,000 you can buy cameras now that give any camera that Hollywood’s using a run for their money. And so you can make a small, interesting little film. So I don’t know. But it is buying a lottery ticket; I guess it comes down to persistence. If you really, really want to do it and you really want to work hard, there’s probably a future.

That is, you will note, quite a number of repetitions of the word “really.” Apparently, for that future to emerge, this particular director thinks you really, really have to want it.

LOA: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan: Desolation Angels led to “Desolation Row”

Way of St. James

The Way of St. James or St. James’ Way (Spanish: El Camino de Santiago, Galician: O Camiño de Santiago, French: Chemin de St-Jacques, German: Jakobsweg) is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.

The Way of St James has existed for over a thousand years. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, together with Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned; other major pilgrimage routes include the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Legend holds that St. James‘s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. There are some, however, who claim that the bodily remains at Santiago belong to Priscillian, the fourth-century Galician leader of an ascetic Christian sect, Priscillianism, who was one of the first Christians to be executed .

The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Plague, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in 16th-century Europe led to its decline.

By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims arrived in Santiago annually. Since then however the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO‘s World Heritage Sites.

Whenever St James’s day (25 July) falls on a Sunday, the cathedral declares a Holy or Jubilee Year. Depending on leap years, Holy Years occur in 5, 6 and 11 year intervals. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2010. The next will be 2021, 2027, and 2032.

The pilgrimage to Santiago has never ceased from the time of the discovery of St. James’ remains, though there have been years of fewer pilgrims, particularly during European wars. During the war of American Independence, John Adams was ordered by Congress to go to Paris to obtain funds for the cause.

His ship started leaking and he disembarked with his two sons in Finisterre in 1779, where he proceeded to follow the Way of St. James in the opposite direction, in order to get to Paris overland. He did not stop to visit Santiago, and came to regret this during the course of his journey. In his autobiography, he gives an accurate description of the customs and lodgings afforded to St. James pilgrims in the 18th century, and mentions the legend as it was then told to travellers:

“I have always regretted that We could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saint Iago de Compostella. We were informed, … that the Original of this Shrine and Temple of St. Iago was this. A certain Shepherd saw a bright Light there in the night. Afterwards it was revealed to an Archbishop that St. James was buried there. This laid the Foundation of a Church, and they have built an Altar on the Spot where the Shepherd saw the Light. In the time of the Moors, the People made a Vow, that if the Moors should be driven from this Country, they would give a certain portion of the Income of their Lands to Saint James. The Moors were defeated and expelled and it was reported and believed, that Saint James was in the Battle and fought with a drawn Sword at the head of the Spanish Troops, on Horseback. The People, believing that they owed the Victory to the Saint, very cheerfully fulfilled their Vows by paying the Tribute. …Upon the Supposition that this is the place of the Sepulchre of Saint James, there are great numbers of Pilgrims, who visit it, every Year, from France, Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe, many of them on foot.”

Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society,

 

Today tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims and other travellers set out each year from their front doorstep, or popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey (for example, the British author and humorist Tim Moore).

In addition to people undertaking a religious pilgrimage, there are many travellers and hikers who walk the route for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. It acts as a retreat for many modern “pilgrims”.

Analyzing Literature by Words and Numbers

NYT – By PATRICIA COHEN

Victorians were enamored of the new science of statistics, so it seems fitting that these pioneering data hounds are now the subject of an unusual experiment in statistical analysis. The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.

This research, which has only recently become possible, thanks to a new generation of powerful digital tools and databases, represents one of the many ways that technology is transforming the study of literature, philosophy and other humanistic fields that haven’t necessarily embraced large-scale quantitative analysis.

Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs, the two historians of science at George Mason University who have created the project, have so far charted how frequently more than two dozen words — among them “God,” “love,” “work,” “science” and “industrial” — appear in British book titles from the French Revolution in 1789 to the beginning of World War I in 1914…

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Gibbs’s “Reframing the Victorians” study is one of 12 university projects to win a new digital humanities award created by Google that provides money along with access to the company’s powerful computers and databases.

Some scholars are wary of the control an enterprise like Google can exert over digital information. Google’s plan to create a voluminous online library and store has raised alarms about a potential monopoly over digital books and the hefty pricing that might follow.

But Jon Orwant, the engineering manager for Google Books, Magazines and Patents, said the plan was to make collections and searching tools available to libraries and scholars free. “That’s something we absolutely will do, and no, it’s not going to cost anything,” he said.

One criterion in choosing projects to finance, he added, was whether they were going to create new data sets and computer codes that other researchers would find useful.

Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Cohen’s searches of book titles represent only an initial swipe at the data. Step 2 is canvassing the full texts. The professors will also have the ability to zero in on details, specific titles and passages.

Their starting point was an earlier work that focused on the written word as an entry point into the era: Walter E. Houghton’s “Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870,” a landmark book published in 1957 that has shaped generations of scholarship, even as its conclusions have been challenged. Mr. Houghton sought to capture what he called a “general sense” of how middle- and upper-class Victorians thought, partly by closely reading scores of texts written during the era and methodically counting how many times certain words appeared. The increasing use of “hope,” “light” and “sunlight,” for instance, was interpreted as a sign of the Victorians’ increasing optimism…

Culinary art museum

EL PAÍS – VICENTE MOLINA FOIX

The death of the novel was followed by the death of theater, easel painting, and tonal music. Now comes the demise of plain Spanish cookery — roast suckling pig, grilled blood sausage. The auteur chef is the artist of modern life; and the restaurant, understood simply as a place to eat well, is on the way out.

Ferran Adrià, the Spanish auteur chef par excellence, has said this clearly enough, announcing the closure of his restaurant elBulli and its planned reopening, after three years of “profound reflection,” as a Creativity Center.

Adrià was the guest artist at the Documenta festival in Kassel in 2007. He has given courses at Harvard, and last year was the object of Food for Thought, Thought for Food — one of the most portentously vacuous books ever published, though its compiler-authors are, I believe, intelligent men.

Emboldened, perhaps, by the book and by the proliferating seminars and academic chairs of gastronomy, Adrià said recently that “normally no one argues with a scientist about his theories and equations, but in cooking everyone has an opinion.”

I recall Adrià’s words whenever a friend (usually female) invites me to eat in one of these temples of nouvelle cuisine, and, after the stiff bill has been paid, the friend asks me what I thought of the dishes — so exquisite, so recherché.

Out of prudence, or courtesy if she has paid, I say nothing. One no longer has the right to opine about the thickness of the sauce on the meatballs, the degree of salt in the cod, the sweetness of the rice pudding… The cook, who used to be a mere artisan, is now an artist, and advances his pretension to be a scientist.

Are we looking at the birth of an innovative sensuality of taste that my own palate, boorish and antiquated, is incapable of appreciating? The idea has occurred to me, suggested by a feeling that comes over me in connection with some (not all) exhibitions of the plastic arts, some novels and essays touted as a break with the past, and some films that, laden with prestigious prizes, arrive from Greece, Iran or Sundance.

And while a certain degree of sham is common to certain cuisines and certain vanguard arts, cooking does not really enter into the same sphere of jurisdiction as these arts. Whatever the auteur chefs and their house writers may tell us, eating is not yet an activity of the transcendental spirit.

Ferran Adrià has more than once been accused of using dangerous “molecular” ingredients, and a reputed German critic, Jörg Zipprick, has denounced the elBulli wizard’s systematic use of colorants, emulsions and polysaccharides that might cause intestinal cancer. Adrià has denied this, and the natural suspicion is that we are looking at a reactionary call to return to the beaten path.

I am the first to admit the value of a healthy diet, Mediterranean or otherwise, but I fail to see how a laboratory treatment of cabbage, so that it arrives on the table with “floating pumice” effects, constitutes any progress over dipping a chunk of bread into the broth at the bottom of a bowl of tripe and chickpeas.

Not to mention the loss of easy conviviality in favor of the experimental gravitas proper to these centers of high culinary art, where you have to wait years for a reservation, as for the Bayreuth festival. The very idea of eating under an artist’s eye gives me cramps, and whenever one of these great chefs, with the best of intentions, emerges from his kitchen to receive the applause of his guests, I think of the nightmare of being in a public library where 15 or 20 people are reading the latest Spanish novels, and a noted author appears, wanting to know what you think of the use of the narrative second person in chapter three, all without punctuation and with abundant footnotes, in his recent book.

Vicente Molina Foix is a writer.

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”

Oscar Wilde   “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

end ;)


Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation

NY Daily News – By Andrea Tantaros

Sacrifice is something that many Americans are becoming all too familiar with during this economic downturn. It was a key theme in President Obama‘s inaugural address to the nation, and he’s referenced it numerous times when lecturing the country on how to get back on its feet.

But while most of the country is pinching pennies and downsizing  summer sojourns – or forgoing them altogether – the Obamas don’t seem to be heeding their own advice. While many of us are struggling, the First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her “closest friends.” According to CNN, the group is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, more than a third of the lodgings at the 160-room resort. Not exactly what one would call cutting back in troubled times.

Reports are calling the lodgings of  Obama’s Spanish fiesta, the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, “luxurious,” “posh” and “a millionaires’ playground.” Estimated room rate per night? Up to a staggering $2,500. Method of transportation? Air Force Two…

…Michelle Obama seems more like a modern-day Marie Antoinette – the French queen who spent extravagantly on clothes and jewels without a thought for her subjects’ plight – than an average mother of two. While she’s spent her time in the White House telling parents they should relieve their chubby kids’ dependency on sugar and stressing the importance of an organic veggie garden, hopping a jet to Europe to meet with Spanish royalty isn’t the visual the White House probably wants to project. Perhaps they’ve forgotten the damning image of John Kerry, on the eve of the 2004 election, windsurfing off the coast of Nantucket?

I don’t begrudge anyone rest and relaxation when they work hard. We all need downtime – the First Family included. It’s the extravagance of Michelle Obama’s trip and glitzy destination contrasted with President Obama’s demonization of the rich that smacks of hypocrisy and perpetuates a disconnect between the country and its leaders. Toning down the flash would humanize the Obamas and signify that they sympathize with the setbacks of the people they were elected to serve.

In January, President Obama insisted that “everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good. Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game.”

If sacrifice is the precursor to change, what will the family that ran on change offer up? Elitist doublespeak won’t cut it.

Related: ‘Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette’: First Lady slammed for lavish Marbella holiday



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Democrats: Say, Let’s Exempt Rich People in Blue States From Tax Hike!

H.R.1943 — Tax Equity Act of 2009 (Introduced in House – IH)

HR 1943 IH

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1943

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for adjustments in the individual income tax rates to reflect regional differences in the cost-of-living.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 2, 2009

Mr. NADLER of New York (for himself, Mrs. LOWEY, and Mr. ISRAEL) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

A BILL

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for adjustments in the individual income tax rates to reflect regional differences in the cost-of-living.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Tax Equity Act of 2009′.

SEC. 2. REGIONAL COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS IN INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX RATES.

(a) General Rule- Subsection (f) of section 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to adjustments in tax tables so that inflation will not result in tax increases) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new paragraphs:

(9) REGIONAL COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS-

`(A) IN GENERAL- In the case of an individual, the rate table otherwise in effect under this section for any taxable year (determined after the application of paragraph (1)) shall be further adjusted as provided in subparagraph (B).

`(B) METHOD OF MAKING REGIONAL ADJUSTMENT- The rate table otherwise in effect under this section with respect to any individual for any taxable year shall be adjusted as follows:

`(i) The minimum and maximum dollar amounts otherwise in effect for each rate bracket shall be multiplied by the applicable multiplier (for the calendar year in which the taxable year begins) which applies to the statistical area in which the individual’s primary place of abode during the taxable year is located.

`(ii) The rate applicable to any rate bracket (as adjusted by clause (i)) shall not be changed.

`(iii) The amount setting forth the tax shall be adjusted to the extent necessary to reflect the adjustments in the rate brackets.

If any amount determined under clause (i) is not a multiple of $50, such amount shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of $50.

(10) DETERMINATION OF MULTIPLIERS-

`(A) IN GENERAL- Not later than December 15 of each calendar year, the Secretary shall prescribe an applicable multiplier for each statistical area of the United States which shall apply to taxable years beginning during the succeeding calendar year.

`(B) DETERMINATION OF MULTIPLIERS-

`(i) For each statistical area where the cost-of-living differential for any calendar year is greater than 125 percent, the applicable multiplier for such calendar year is 90 percent of such differential.

`(ii) For each statistical area where the cost-of-living differential for any calendar year exceeds 97 percent but does not exceed 125 percent, the applicable multiplier for such calendar year is 1.05.

`(iii) For each statistical area not described in clause (i) or (ii), the applicable multiplier is the cost-of-living differential for the calendar year.

`(C) COST-OF-LIVING DIFFERENTIAL- The cost-of-living differential for any statistical area for any calendar year is the percentage determined by dividing–

`(i) the cost-of-living for such area for the preceding calendar year; by

`(ii) the average cost-of-living for the United States for the preceding calendar year.

`(D) COST-OF-LIVING FOR AREA-

`(i) IN GENERAL- For each calendar year beginning after 2009, the Secretary of Labor shall determine and publish a cost-of-living index for each statistical area.

`(ii) METHODOLOGY- The cost-of-living index determined under clause (i) for any statistical area for any calendar year shall be based on average market prices for the area for the 12-month period ending on August 31 of such calendar year. The market prices taken into account under the preceding sentence shall be selected and used under the same methodology as is used by the Secretary of Labor in developing the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

`(E) STATISTICAL AREA- For purposes of this subsection the term `statistical area’ means–

`(i) any metropolitan statistical area as defined by the Secretary of Commerce, and

`(ii) the portion of any State not within a metropolitan statistical area as so defined.

(11) AREAS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES- The area applicable multiplier for any area outside the United States shall be 1.’

(b) Effective Date-

(1) IN GENERAL- The amendment made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2009.

(2) TRANSITION RULE- Notwithstanding section 1(f)(9)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code (as added by this section), the date for prescribing applicable multipliers for taxable years beginning in calendar year 2010 shall be the date 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.


'Disculpe si les salpico'

USDA Report Finds More Of Nation’s Neediest Families and Children Receiving Nutrition Assistance

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Fiscal Year (FY) 201 I SNAP Cost-of-Living Adjustments


Senate Approves $26 Billion to Help States Retain Teachers

Bloomberg – By Brian Faler

The U.S. Senate passed legislation providing $26 billion to help states pay their Medicaid bills and avoid firing thousands of teachers in a victory for Democrats’ long-stalled jobs agenda.

The chamber voted 61-39 to send the legislation to the House. Yesterday, Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe joined Democrats to halt Republican stalling tactics. The House plans to vote Aug. 10, making a brief return to Washington from its August recess, to complete work on the measure before the new school year begins.

“These are real people across the country who are breathing a sigh of relief today,” said Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat.

The bill would provide $10 billion to prevent teacher layoffs and $16 billion to help states pay for the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor. The aid is paired with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget so the measure would reduce the deficit by a little more than $1 billion.

The plan would be financed in part by clamping down on what Democrats called the abuse of foreign tax credits claimed by multinational corporations. The provision is projected to raise almost $10 billion over 10 years.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, signaled his colleagues will oppose the measure next week. He accused Democrats yesterday of “scampering back to Washington to push through more special-interest bailouts and job-killing tax hikes.”

$200 Billion

The aid plan is in addition to more than $200 billion lawmakers provided states last year as part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.

Many states still face funding shortfalls from slack income and sales tax revenue stemming from the slow economy along with increased demand for services from the jobless. Unlike the federal government, almost every state is required to balance its budget.

Dozens of states assumed Congress would provide the additional Medicaid funding when they drew up their budgets, so a failure to approve the aid would exacerbate state shortfalls projected to total $84 billion nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The crackdown on foreign tax credits for multinational corporations drew the opposition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said the bill would impose “draconian tax increases” that would “hinder job creation, decrease the competitiveness of American businesses, and deter economic growth.”

The bill is also partially financed by cuts in food-stamp benefits beginning in 2014.

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Despite Budget Cuts, Layoff Fears, Milwaukee Teachers Fight for Taxpayer-Funded Viagra


Ballet sobre espejo


Portland lemonade stand runs into health inspectors, needs $120 license to operate

The Oregonian – By Helen Jung

It’s hardly unusual to hear small-business owners gripe about licensing requirements or complain that heavy-handed regulations are driving them into the red.

So when Multnomah County shut down an enterprise last week for operating without a license, you might just sigh and say, there they go again.

Except this entrepreneur was a 7-year-old named Julie Murphy. Her business was a lemonade stand at the Last Thursday monthly art fair in Northeast Portland. The government regulation she violated? Failing to get a $120 temporary restaurant license.

Turns out that kids’ lemonade stands — those constants of summertime — are supposed to get a permit in Oregon, particularly at big events that happen to be patrolled regularly by county health inspectors.

“I understand the reason behind what they’re doing and it’s a neighborhood event, and they’re trying to generate revenue,” said Jon Kawaguchi, environmental health supervisor for the Multnomah County Health Department. “But we still need to put the public’s health first.”

Julie had become enamored of the idea of having a stand after watching an episode of cartoon pig Olivia running one, said her mother, Maria Fife. The two live in Oregon City, but Fife knew her daughter would get few customers if she set up her stand at home.

Plus, Fife had just attended Last Thursday along Portland’s Northeast Alberta Street for the first time and loved the friendly feel and the diversity of the grass-roots event. She put the two things together and promised to take her daughter in July.

The girl worked on a sign, coloring in the letters and decorating it with a drawing of a person saying “Yummy.” She made a list of supplies.

Then, with gallons of bottled water and packets of Kool-Aid,  they drove up last Thursday with a friend and her daughter. They loaded a wheelbarrow that Julie steered to the corner of Northeast 26th and Alberta and settled into a space between a painter and a couple who sold handmade bags and kids’ clothing.

Even before her daughter had finished making the first batch of lemonade, a man walked up to buy a 50-cent cup.

“They wanted to support a little 7-year-old to earn a little extra summer loot,” she said. “People know what’s going on.”

Even so, Julie was careful about making the lemonade, cleaning her hands with hand sanitizer, using a scoop for the bagged ice and keeping everything covered when it wasn’t in use, Fife said.

After 20 minutes, a “lady with a clipboard” came over and asked for their license. When Fife explained they didn’t have one, the woman told them they would need to leave or possibly face a $500 fine.

Surprised, Fife started to pack up. The people staffing the booths next to them encouraged the two to stay, telling them the inspectors had no right to kick them out of the neighborhood gathering. They also suggested that they give away the lemonade and accept donations instead and one of them made an announcement to the crowd to support the lemonade stand.

That’s when business really picked up — and two inspectors came back, Fife said. Julie started crying, while her mother packed up and others confronted the inspectors. “It was a very big scene,” Fife said.

Technically, any lemonade stand — even one on your front lawn — must be licensed under state law, said Eric Pippert, the food-borne illness prevention program manager for the state’s public health division. But county inspectors are unlikely to go after kids selling lemonade on their front lawn unless, he conceded, their front lawn happens to be on Alberta Street during Last Thursday.

“When you go to a public event and set up shop, you’re suddenly engaging in commerce,” he said. “The fact that you’re small-scale I don’t think is relevant.”

Kawaguchi, who oversees the two county inspectors involved, said they must be fair and consistent in their monitoring, no matter the age of the person. “Our role is to protect the public,” he said…


Caroline Giuliani, daughter of former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, busted in alleged shoplift attempt


end

Summertime Blues


Nasa says large CME on Sun headed for Earth: Expected Arrival August 3rd

On Sunday, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a complex magnetic eruption on the sun. The NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) also spotted a large coronal mass ejection (CME) The eruption happened around (3:50 am EST), the SDO detected a C3 class solar flare originating from a group of sunspots (called sunspot 1092). The flare itself was not that large, but the filament located about 70,000 miles away erupted at the same time.

A filament is a large, bright feature extending outward from the Sun’s surface, often in a loop shape. Filament is anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere, and extends outward into the Sun’s corona.

It is a long magnetic structure rising above the surface of the sun, filled with cool plasma. The flare and filament erupted at the same time, this suggests they are connected by long-range magnetic field lines. Some believe the flare may have accelerated the eruption of the filament. Eventually, a giant magnetic bubble of plasma broke and blasted out into space.

The problem is, the eruption occurred on the side of the sun facing earth which means, the Coronal Mass Ejection is on its way to the planet earth. It’s expected arrival is Aug. 3. This is known as a geomagnetic storm, and they have been known to cause electrical power outages and damage communications satellites. They drive shock waves which produce energetic particles that can be damaging to both electronic equipment and astronauts that venture outside the protection of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Expect the government and all observatories to be on high alert.They know a CME is coming, they can probably prepare for its arrival. The reason I find this particular story interesting is because the event being discussed continues to happen more frequently, and on a larger scale than prior events of such a magnitude. Is our solar system going through a time of great change? Should we spend more time laying under the stars? We will see how this particular CME effects earth on August 3rd. It will effect the area of earth facing the sun.


Helen Thomas Sculpture Project



‘Racist police’ claim mars Obama holiday in Spain

US embarrassment over racism charge as Michelle Obama heads to Marbella

The First Post – By Sophie Taylor

As Michelle Obama takes her daughter Sasha to Marbella for a mini-break, the US State Department has been forced to disown travel advice it issued warning that African-American tourists could be targeted by racist Spanish policemen.

The First Lady and her nine-year-old youngest daughter arrive on the Costa del Sol tomorrow for a four-day holiday at an uber-luxurious spa and golf hotel, the five-star Villa Padierna. Her husband, meanwhile, will celebrate his 49th birthday at home with 12-year-old Malia.

Like many governments, the US publishes travel advice for its citizens. And, until very recently, the advice for Spain warned that “racial prejudice may have contributed to the arrest or detention of some African-Americans traveling [sic] in Spain”.

The advice page said two African-American US government employees have “recently” been “questioned by police in Barcelona for no apparent reason”. One was detained, the page said, and “suffered physical injuries in the process”.

However, the page now carries no such warning – the offending paragraph has presumably been removed by an embarrassed State Department after press reports drew it to their attention. The original version of the page can still be seen here, thanks to Google’s cache, while the newly-revised version is here.

Contacted by Spanish daily El Pais, the US embassy in Madrid played down the advice. It said the Barcelona incident had “happened a long time ago” (though the advice page said “recently”) and said: “This note should not be there.”

“We are in no way suggesting that Spanish police are racist,” an embassy spokesperson added. “This was an isolated incident.”

Spain’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, told the newspaper: “Each country includes what they think relevant in the recommendations to their travellers.”

If the US government doesn’t take the allegations of racism in Spanish police seriously, though, it seems the Spanish police do. El Pais reports that a police union said that holding foreign citizens would actually be in line with advice from the country’s interior ministry issued this January which advised the police to “identify individuals”.

The union complained that the directive was purely designed to increase arrest statistics and amounted to a “denial of immigrants’ rights”.

The Obamas have booked 30 rooms at the luxury hotel where prices start from £210 for a room for the night and a private villa can cost as much as £4,175. As well as a secret service detail, they are being joined by a large group of friends.




BP start Macondo injections

BP has begun pumping fluid into the Macondo blowout in the final testing that must be completed before beginning the static top kill that may stop flow at from the well for good.

Upstream Online – By Noah Brenner

Pumping began shortly after 1 pm local time and will likely continue for a couple hours, BP announced.

The static kill itself should begin later Tuesday, Allen said.

Injectivity testing involves pumping base oil into the well from the Helix Energy Solutions semi-submersible services platform Q4000, through the choke line on the original Macondo blowout preventer and into the wellbore.

The test are meant to ascertain that crews can get fluids into the wellbore and determine what pumping rate and pressures are best for the actual static top kill operation.

“The most important thing will be measuring the volume (of mud) going in and the pressure it produces,” Allen said at a briefing Tuesday morning.

BP has an array of both mechanical and electrical sensors that will take pressure readings as often as every 12 to 15 seconds.

Allen said he expected that final round of testing to wrap up this afternoon, after which time BP and government scientists would need a couple hours to analyse the data before beginning the top kill operation.

Those engineers will use the data to draw pressure and volume curves in an attempt to predict how the well may react to the flow of mud and what that can tell them about the flow of oil.

Once the actual static top kill operation begins, crews will pump 13.2-pound-per-gallon drilling mud into the well starting at one barrel per minute and increasing to as mush as three barrels per minute.

Pressure in the well could temporarily increase but then should begin to decline as the mud pushes the oil back down into the reservoir.

Allen said pressure in the capping stack will not be allowed to exceed 8000 pounds per square inch, although it is not expected to approach that level.

No one is sure the exact flow path of the oil; it could be flowing through the drill pipe, which extends an unknown distance into the wellbore; it could be flowing through the well casing; it could be flowing through the annulus between the production casing and outer casing string or it could be flowing through any combination of the three, Allen said.

Normally, oil should not be flowing up the annulus but there has been speculation that during the blowout a seal failed, allowing production flow to travel up through it.

If there is a sudden drop in pressure or it hits a certain point and does not change, that would indicate that there is a problem in the wellbore somewhere, Allen said, and the top kill may have to be abandoned and BP would use the bottom kill through the relief well to kill and cement the well…


Alvin Greene gets his action figure

Yahoo – By Holly Bailey

South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint had better watch out: His surprise Democratic rival, Alvin Greene, has already made good on a campaign pledge without even being elected to office.

Greene recently told a reporter for the Guardian that creating action figures in his likeness could stimulate job creation. And so it has come to pass.

The Charleston RiverDogs, a minor-league baseball team in South Carolina, is hiring people to help distribute 1,000 toy figurines at their game this Saturday featuring a taped-on picture of Greene’s face.

“Who better epitomizes the American dream that anything is possible than Mr. Greene?” Dave Echols, the team’s general manager, told the Charleston Post and Courier.



Stimulus Slammed: Republican Senators Release Report Alleging Waste

ABC News – By JONATHAN KARL, MATTHEW JAFFE and GREGORY SIMMONS

The Obama administration has credited its $862 billion stimulus program with pulling the economy out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. But a new report by two Republican senators argues the stimulus is riddled with wasteful projects that do not create jobs.

The report, released by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., highlights 100 stimulus projects that they say have “questionable goals,” are “being mismanaged or were poorly planned” and are even “costing jobs and hurting small businesses.”

The Coburn-McCain report takes issue with stimulus spending on projects like one that entailed research on how cocaine affects monkeys. The Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center was awarded $71,623 to study what the report calls, “Monkeys Getting High for Science.”

Bonnie Davis, a spokeswoman for The Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, said the “small grant has helped protect very important research that will have significant impact on public health in regards to cocaine addiction and the issue of relapse.”

Go a little further down the list and you’ll find even bigger spending. The California Academy of Sciences is receiving nearly $1 million in stimulus funds to send researchers to the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands and East Africa to capture, photograph and analyze thousands of exotic ants.

There’s also funding for yoga and hot flashes. Researchers at Wake Forest University have received nearly $300,000 to study whether integral yoga “can be an effective method to reduce the frequency and/or severity of hot flashes” in breast cancer survivors…

Read Report (PDF): SUMMERTIME BLUES


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