Monday, May 25, 2015

Obama marks first Memorial Day after end of combat in Afghanistan By Rebecca Kaplan

President Obama marked an "especially meaningful" Memorial Day Monday, honoring American service members who had died in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan in the wake of September 11, 2001. "For many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful; it is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end. Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years when the United States is not engaged in a major ground war," the president said during remarks at Arlington National Cemetery. He also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. His speech also recalled the men and women who fought and died in other wars throughout American history from the Revolutionary War to World War II. He acknowledged the caretakers at Arlington National Cemetery, the sentinels who stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the gold star families who lost a relative at war. "Each simple stone marker, arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay. But it is a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay," Mr. Obama said. "By remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice, by living our own lives the way the fallen lived theirs, a testament that greater love has no other than this, than to lay down your life for your friends. We are so grateful for them. We are so grateful for the families of our fallen." CBS News

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Astrid Lindgren's second world war diaries published in Sweden By Alison Flood

Years before her stories of the red-braided Pippi Longstocking would make her famous, Astrid Lindgren was a 32-year-old mother in Stockholm with two small children, recording the nightmares of the second world war in 17 volumes of diaries that have just been published in Scandinavia for the first time. Documenting the progress of war and how it affected her family life, the diaries run from 1 September 1939 until the end of hostilities in 1945 – the year that the publication of Pippi Longstocking would change the Swedish author’s life for good. It took a team led by Lindgren’s granddaughter Annika Lindgren two years to turn the 17 handwritten volumes into the just-published Krigsdagböcker (War Diaries). The book includes facsimile images of the pages, which Lindgren peppered with press cuttings, as well as unpublished family photographs from the war years. “They make fascinating reading, these records of happenings in a neutral, non-belligerent country, squeezed in between Hitler- or Stalin-attacked or occupied countries. Spared, but often in anguish,” said Nyman. “It seemed timely [to publish this year], 70 years after the peace of 1945.” “Oh! War broke out today. Nobody could believe it,” writes Lindgren on 1 September 1939. “Yesterday afternoon, Elsa Gullander and I were in Vasa park with the children running and playing around us and we sat there giving Hitler a nice, cosy telling off and agreed that there definitely wasn’t going to be a war – and now today! The Germans bombarded several Polish cities early this morning and are forging their way into Poland from all directions. I have managed to restrain myself from any hoarding until now, but today I laid in a little cocoa, a little tea, a small amount of soap and a few other things.” Six years later, on 7 May 1945, she celebrates: “The war is over! The war is over! The war is over!”, writing of the “wild sense of jubilation” on the streets of Stockholm, where “everyone’s behaving as if they’ve gone crazy”. Towards the end of the diaries, in 1944, there are notes about Lindgren “amusing” herself with Pippi Longstocking, her children’s character, whose stories would go on to sell more than 60m copies around the world, in more than 70 languages. She died in 2002 at the age of 94, one of Sweden’s best-loved authors and the author of more than 100 books, and was also famous as an advocate of children’s welfare and animal rights. The Guardian Photo

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ukrainian robots, Latvian pirates, so many wacky hats: The American’s guide to the Eurovision Song Contest By Noah Charney

ABBA skyrocketed to fame with their '74 win for "Waterloo" — but the politics of the contest are as fun as the acts. Pop quiz: What annual European-based televised event, the longest-running in world history, is viewed by nearly twice as many people as the Super Bowl? Need a clue? It may feature Moldovans with giant black cones on their heads, Latvians dressed as pirates, yodeling, Amazonian Scandinavians in breastplates, and is casually referred to by some as “the gay Olympics.” The answer is the Eurovision Song Contest, which last year drew 195 million viewers (and that statistic is just from 41 countries monitored—several hundred million more may have watched from elsewhere in the world), blowing the Super Bowl, with its measly 114.4 million viewers, out of the water. Never heard of it? I can’t say I blame you. I’d never heard of Eurovision either, before I married a Slovene and settled in as a European expat. Now I’m hooked, but not so much for the quality of the contest (more on that later), but because of the truly bizarre spectacle. The Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956, founded by the Swiss European Broadcasting Union, with the goal of providing “light entertainment” that would bring together the nations of Europe for a friendly competition. It features 52 countries (for some reason Israel and Azerbaijan and newly Australia are considered sufficiently “European” to be included), each of which send an act to perform an original three-minute song. For logistical reasons, the music is on playback, so the only thing live is the singing and dancing, which makes it more like an extremely high-end karaoke event than a proper concert. Last year’s winner, Conchita Wurst, an Austrian drag queen singing a straightforward, if melodramatic, diva song (that’s not the surprising part, as drag queens have appeared not infrequently), but wearing a pronounced beard to offset the elegant feminine glamour of her manner and outfit. Europe voted her the winner by a landslide, and hats off for such overt liberal open-mindedness. But the effect of watching Ms. Wurst was undeniably surreal. SALON Logo

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Iron levels in brain predict when people will get Alzheimer's By Clare Wilson

Does this qualify as irony? Our bodies need iron to be healthy – but too much could harm our brains by bringing on Alzheimer's disease.
 
If that's the case, measuring people's brain iron levels could help identify those at risk of developing the disease. And since we already have drugs that lower iron, we may be able to put the brakes on. Despite intense efforts, the mechanisms behind this form of dementia are still poorly understood. For a long time the main suspect has been a protein called beta-amyloid, which forms distinctive plaques in the brain, but drugs that dissolve it don't result in people improving.  

Researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia followed 144 older people who had mild cognitive impairment for seven years. To gauge how much iron was in their brains, they measured ferritin, a protein that binds to the metal, in their cerebrospinal fluid. For every nanogram per millilitre people had at the start of the study, they were diagnosed with Alzheimer's on average three months earlier. The team also found that the biggest risk gene for Alzheimer's, ApoE4, was strongly linked with higher iron, suggesting this is why carrying the gene makes you more vulnerable. Iron is highly reactive, so it probably subjects neurons to chemical stress, says team member Scott Ayton.
 
Anti-iron drugs
The finding by itself doesn't prove that reducing iron levels would cut people's risk of Alzheimer's but a trial of a drug that rids the body of some of its iron, carried out 24 years ago, suggests it's a hypothesis worth investigating. The drug halved the rate of Alzheimer's cognitive decline but was overlooked when the beta-amyloid theory of the disease became dominant, says Ayton. "Perhaps it's time to refocus the field on looking at iron as a target," he says. One easy way of reducing iron levels - having regular blood donations - would not be a good idea for older people as it can bring on anaemia. Also, says Ayton, "there is only a modest correlation between iron levels in the blood and in the brain." However, there is an iron-binding drug called deferiprone which gets into the brain and reduces levels of the metal there without disturbing blood levels too much. It is used to treat cases of iron poisoning and has also been found to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease, another condition in which high iron levels have been implicated.
Journal reference: Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms776 New Scientist Photo

Tchaikovsky

1812 Overture Wikipedia

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kate 'interested' in joining the Women's Institute

The Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, could be set to join the Women's Institute. The British royal, who is settling into country life at Anmer Hall on the Sandringham Estate, has said she is 'interested' in joining Anmer WI, located just a stone's throw from her Norfolk home. According to the Mail on Sunday, president of Anmer WI Dorothy Pulsford-Harris, has had a positive response to a letter she sent the Duchess before Christmas inviting her to join. "I had a very nice letter back from her private secretary saying she was interested," said the 70-year-old retired barrister. "We would be delighted to see her." The Duchess is said to be keen on signing up to the WI. Dorothy's sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Janice Langley. "We would be delighted to welcome the Duchess of Cambridge," the Mail on Sunday reported her as saying. "The WI has a long tradition of royal members. The WI is made up of all kinds of women, of all different backgrounds and ages, which is what makes it so special." Indeed, Kate would be following in the footsteps of many British royal ladies if she were to join the 100-year-old organisation. The Queen became a member of Sandringham WI in 1943 and is now the branch’s president, having taken over the position from the Queen Mother. Prince Charles's wife the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Edward's wife the Countess of Wessex are also WI members, while Princess Anne is an associate member. Sophie and the Princess Royal are expected to join the Queen on 4 June to attend the WI's annual meeting which will also mark its centenary. Should 33-year-old Kate sign up to Anmer WI, she would be one of [the] group's youngest members according to Dorothy. "She would be one of our younger members," she said. "I don't know how old our youngest member is, but I would say early 40s." Hello! Photo

Netanyahu: Jerusalem has and always will only be the capital of the Jewish people

“Only under Israeli rule will there be freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem,” says PM. Jerusalem has historically only been the capital of the Jewish people, and so it will remain, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday at the government's official Jerusalem Day Ceremony at Ammunition Hill. “We need to tell the truth, without fear,” Netanyahu said. “This is where we began our path as a nation, this is our home, and this is where we will stay.” Netanyahu, in comments that left no doubt as to whether he would agree to share the capital with a Palestinian state, said Israel will ensure that the city remains an open and tolerant city. “Only under Israeli rule will there be freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem,” he said. “Believers pray at their holy sites not in spite of our rule in the city, but precisely because of it.” The prime minister, who recalled growing up in a divided Jerusalem and catching a glimpse of the Old City through binoculars from certain vantage points in the capital, said it would never revert again to being “wounded and split.” “We will forever preserve an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty,” he said. The Jerusalem Post

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Simon and Garfunkel

Scarborough Fair 1968 Photo

Don’t panic! How to escape a swarm of bees

Towns in southern England are being beset by noisy hordes of honeybees in search of new homes. Here’s what to do if you get caught by the buzz. Bee happy – unless you’re the beekeeper. “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams,” said Henry David Thoreau, who clearly knew what he was talking about. Swarms of honeybees have appeared in Salisbury, Marlborough and Chichester, and the growing fashion for amateur beekeeping may be to blame. So, are middle-class novices not looking after their hives properly, causing their bees to go rogue? Bee swarms may look terrifying and trigger memories of a certain scene from the film My Girl, but if you are confronted with a buzzing horde don’t panic: bees stuff themselves with honey before they head off, which makes them particularly docile. These are not “attacks”. “You can be very close to a swarm and they won’t sting you. Honeybees aren’t aggressive anyway,” says Webb.
If you spot a swarm, contact your local beekeeper’s association. In the unlikely event that you are stung, Webb recommends antihistamine cream. The Guardian

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

STEM Schools Best High Schools

To determine the top science, technology, engineering and math schools, U.S. News looked at the top 500 public schools from our latest Best High Schools rankings, and then evaluated their students' participation and success in Advanced Placement (AP®) science and math tests.

#13 Stuyvesant High School 345 CHAMBERS ST
       NEW YORK, NY 10282
       New York City Public Schools 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
#29
Northside College Preparatory High School  5501 NORTH KEDZIE AVE CHICAGO, IL 60625
Chicago Public Schools

Cressida Bonas dazzles in sequins at Dior show

The blonde beauty was stunning as she attended the French fashion house's cruise presentation

Cressida Bonas is continuing to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. The blonde beauty, who recently starred in a campaign for Mulberry, attended the Dior fashion show on Monday.

The 26-year-old, who famously dated Prince Harry for two years, dazzled in a sequined black minidress by the famous French fashion house. Paired with black stilettos, the glitzy ensemble put her slender pins on display. Hello!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Peter Gabriel

Solsbury Hill. Secret World Tour. Happy May Everyone !! Sping is here in full bloom and Summer is just around the corner. Photo

Saturday, May 2, 2015