Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Peter Gabriel

Solsbury Hill Photo

UN chief visits Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, meets Middle Eastern leaders in capital

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan
UN Photo Credit: Mark Garten

27 March 2016 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continued his trip to the Middle East today with a visit to Jordan alongside World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, where they met with refugees from the Zaatari camp, as well as with senior government officials from Palestine, Turkey and Jordan, including King Abdullah II. “I was here at the beginning of the establishment of Zaatari camp and I saw a lot of difference: first of all, much more people, unfortunately, are there without being able to return,” Mr. Ban told reporters at a press conference about his second visit to the camp since it opened in 2012. “I saw lots of activities, signs of life. I could find everything which you may have in the centre of Amman city. Even a theatre was there, not to mention shopping centres and restaurants and sports centres. However nice all those facilities may be, it is not the same as what they could enjoy home in Syria,” he added. The Secretary-General's activities also included an open dialogue with youth in the capital, Amman, at the University of Jordan. He said thanks to its strong institutions, he is confident the country “will continue to play a principled role in the region and the world.” “Young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow; they are the leaders of today. And you are part of the biggest generation of young people in history,” he told them. In meetings earlier today, Mr. Ban expressed his appreciation to Jordan for hosting Syrian refugees, and applauded the increased support by the international community to the countries most impacted by the Syrian crisis. An international conference was recently convened in London by the UN, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Kuwait, where $5.5 billion in funding was mobilized for this year. Mr. Ban said it was the “most successful one” but believes the global community needs to do much more. “That is why we are going to convene this World Humanitarian Summit, which will be the first-ever in the history of the United Nations, to discuss and to bring out some predictable sustainable framework to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 120 million people around the world, including Syrian refugees, including many helpless, defenseless people around the world,” he underlined, referring to the upcoming meeting on 23 and 24 May in Istanbul. UN News Centre

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Kenny Chesney

Please Come to Boston Photo

Zimbabwe fashion showcase returns this July By Mike Tashaya

Birmingham, UK (February 17, 2016) - Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase - Fashionistas throughout the UK will be flocking to Birmingham when the annual Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase returns to the city in July. The show, which made its debut last year was launched by Chiedza Dawn Ziyambe to support emerging and semi established designers of Zimbabwean heritage within the UK by providing them with a platform to showcase their designs. Following the success of last years show, Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase is back to bring together the best in Zimbabwean fashion from 28-30 July 2016. Hundreds of fashionistas and some well known faces are expected to attend the fashion showcase. Last year the event welcomed internationally acclaimed Farai Simoyi, a New York based Zimbabwean designer that has previously worked with Nicki Minaj and the Honourable Mayor of Birmingham who graced the event to help make community ties stronger. Day one will be held in London, an invite only event exclusively for media, buyers and industry experts. Day two will return to Birmingham, where talented designers will showcase their exquisite collections and day three will feature a range of business in fashion workshops, designed to empower designers with business acumen and other skills that will enable them to turn their artistry into a lucrative and longstanding business. Chiedza Dawn Ziyambe, Founder of Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase, said: “Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase returns with a packed schedule of fashion shows by designers of Zimbabwean heritage, business in fashion workshops, competitions and shopping.” “But, the event is also a great social event, couples, families and friends have all attended the show and been excited by what they have seen. The event really is a great day out where aside from meeting established and emerging designers, you can watch an exquisite fashion show and enjoy delicious food and great music.” The Zimbabwean

Southern Africa: SADC Economic, Energy Experts Discuss Energy Crisis in Lilongwe By Solister Mogha

Lilongwe — Economic and Energy experts from the South Africa Sub-region have convened in Lilongwe to discuss and find solutions to the long standing energy challenges facing the African continent. Speaking Monday during the opening of a two-day workshop, Director of United Nations Economic Commission for Southern Africa Sub Region, Prof. Said Adejumobi said the energy threat and crisis facing the Africa continent has had diverse effect on the economic performance and sustainable development efforts of member states. Prof. Adejumobi said the energy problems have among others contributed to productivity loss, unemployment, environmental degradation, labour unrest and de-industrialisation. "The Southern Africa region has not been spared from the negative effects and impacts of the crisis on the economic prospects of its member states as well as on the welfare and living conditions of its population. The energy sector in general and energy consumption in particular have reached a crisis point," he explained. The director then described the meeting in Lilongwe too important as it will help in facilitating exchange and sharing of experiences and generation of information and substantive content for informed policy formulation and policy making. Prof. Adejumobi further said the meeting will also build partnership and network for the purpose of mobilising resources and support for the future development of the region's energy sector while also promote awareness and sensitisation on the energy crisis and its impacts on the economies of member states. "As a continent we have the potential to generate enough energy and export to other continents. This meeting, apart from fossil fuel and hydro energy focuses on finding the alternative sources of energy such and solar power. "We really need to act and think fast in order to achieve this," Prof. Adejumobi said. The energy outlook special report of 2014 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) reiterates that the primary purpose of the energy system is to contribute to a better quality of life. Malawi News Agency Photo

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Birthday Elton John !!

Nikita Photo Wikipedia Wikipedia

Rolling Stones arrive in Cuba for historic free concert in Havana, in pictures

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans are expected Friday at the Rolling Stones' first gig on the communist island, with fans once banned from listening to rock 'n roll heralding a dream come true. The four superstars led by Mick Jagger flew in late Thursday for the free-of-charge concert at Havana's Ciudad Deportivo sports center. Cuban state media forecasted that about 500,000 people were to fill the playing fields, with music industry magazine Billboard reporting that as many people again could swarm into neighboring streets. The Telegraph Wikipedia

Concept of foreign policy has changed for Estonia

According to Estonia’s new Foreign Minister, Marina Kaljurand, the concept of foreign policy has changed for the country. "The role of the Foreign Ministry in foreign policy has certainly not diminished,” she said in an interview with Eesti Paevaleht in an interview last week. “When it comes to the foreign policy of the European Union and Estonia, it is conducted by the Foreign Ministry, which is and will remain the central foreign policy institution," she continued. "What has changed for us is the concept of foreign policy. Foreign policy is conducted within the competence and powers of other institutions as well - President, Prime Minister, Members of the European Parliament, and so on. “They all have a part to play and I believe in a foreign policy that is inclusive and is conducted in cooperation.” Despite outlining the shift in the concept of foreign policy for Estonia, Kaljurand said she cannot single out one particular task as more important than others. "The tasks are the same as those I have mentioned previously: security in the broadest sense of the word. “This means containing an aggressive Russia, but it also means energy and cyber security. “This means good economic relations, foreign investments in Estonia, Estonia's good reputation and entrepreneurs' interests. “In addition, good transatlantic relations.” Kaljurand believes security threats are not comparable, and each threat has must be addressed separately. "Russia's aggression against Ukraine has changed the European security picture,” she continued. “The same goes for terrorism that has truly arrived in Europe.” “It was only recently a terrorist attack was committed in Turkey. We must take into account that terrorism exists and is expanding. "There are many more threats to security than those two and I would include cyber threats in this list. Not a single cyber attack has yet caused human deaths but we do not know when such a thing might happen. If it happens, how, where and under which circumstances? We must be prepared for this danger as well.” As regarding the release of the Estonian security official Eston Kohver who has been detained in Russia, Kaljurand emphasised work must continue although the situation remains politically delicate. "Since the moment Eston Kohver was snatched from Estonian territory, everything Russia has done has been illegal. We have no illusions about Eston Kohver being given a fair trial. But it's not merely a question of administration of justice. What can we do? We can try to make his stay in prison as tolerable as possible. “There is reason to assume that Kohver will be found guilty and be given a long sentence, but this does not change the Foreign Ministry's activity. We will continue to work,” she concluded. The Baltic Times Wikipedia Wikipedia Wikipedia Wikipedia

Europe must declare war on terrorists - Grybauskaite

Following the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has said that Europe must declare war on terrorists. Speaking to Lithuanian national radio on March 24, Grybauskaite added that Europe is “too naive and superficial” about terrorism. “I believe we in Europe are too naïve and superficial about terrorism threats and do not consider them properly,” she said. “We must openly say to ourselves that a brutal and unjustifiable war is taking place against all European people, and therefore the response must be adequate.” "We must strongly respond with all possible means,” she continued. “By that, I mean to respond to the war with a war against terrorism. “We must also declare war on terrorists. Measures must be adequate. Terrorists are criminal. “They are waging war on humanity and on people. And that means our response must be adequate.” According to Grybauskaite, terrorists aim at the most important European value - human life. “That means we must step up cooperation among countries and our exchange of intelligence data. That, unfortunately, is not happening. “We must undermine the sources of terrorism funding, and fight against organised crime; money laundering must have a totally different foundation.” She also stressed the need to strengthen informational security as "now it's very easy to spread propaganda in Europe and recruit European youth." In the Brussels attacks, 31 people were killed and around 250 people were injured. The Baltic Times Photo Wikipedia

RACHFEST 2017 International Festival to be held in LA February 2017

LOS ANGELES – Plans and preparations are already underway for the RACHFEST 2017 International Festival to be held in Los Angeles County February 10 – 19, 2017.  This will be an exceptional and rare opportunity to showcase the Republic of Armenia and Armenian arts next year in the United States. The RACHEST 2017 Festival project is presented by International Competitions and Festivals, Inc. in collaboration and co-sponsorship with the Glendale Arts and the Music Department of the Glendale Community College. The ten day International Festival program will include an art exhibition of several prominent contemporary artists from Armenia.  The exhibition artwork would be available thanks to the efforts of Karen Aghamyan, President of the Artists Union of Armenia. The Festival program will also include the premier performance in the United States of a choral concert by the State Chamber Choir of Armenia, and a symphonic concert featuring music of Armenian composers. Several local based Armenian organizations and their representatives, among them the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association of western region expressed their interest and commitment to provide necessary support for the successful presentation of this unique festival. A major highlight of the RACHFEST 2017 program will be the Rachmaninoff International Piano competition for young pianists from around the world. Competitors will compete for cash prizes for over $25,000.  The final rounds of the competition with the symphony orchestra will be held at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. In previous years, RACHFEST Festivals were successfully held in the Cities of Pasadena and Los Angeles to great acclaim, receiving positive reviews in the international and local press. For further information on the progress and plans for the RACHFEST 2017 International Festival, please contact International Competitions and Festivals at (626) 888-2103 or by email: info@rachfest.orgAsbarez Photo

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol opens at Schiphol

The new Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol hotel opens its doors to its first guests today. With 433 rooms, 23 conference rooms, a ballroom and a total area of 40,150 square metres, this new facility is the largest hotel at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was developed by Schiphol Real Estate and designed by the Dutch architectural firm Mecanoo. The interior was designed by London-based The Gallery HBA. The new hotel is located at the main entrance to the airport’s arrival and departure halls, contributes to Schiphol’s image as a ‘preferred location’ and ties in with the aim to create a premium business location. A covered walkway connects the new Hilton hotel directly to the airport terminal.  
Architecture and interior design 
The new hotel forms an impressive landmark at Schiphol. The visionary design by Mecanoo, with its distinctive and original shapes, stands out as a result of its iconic cubed form and diamond-patterned façade. The impressive atrium, with its glass roof at a height of 42 metres, forms the dynamic heart and main meeting point of the hotel, consisting of the lobby and lounge. The glass roof and bright white balustrades bring the daylight deep into the building. From the galleries, guests can enjoy a spectacular view of the lobby and lounge.
The ‘Dutch Touch’ takes centre stage in the interior design by The Gallery HBA, which was inspired by Dutch cultural heritage, history, traditions and typical characteristics of the Netherlands. This theme continues throughout the hotel and the result is a contemporary, innovative and dazzling interior with a natural and harmonious colour scheme. A unique selection of original masterpieces from the Schiphol Group art collection can be found at various locations in the hotel. The works include pieces by contemporary Dutch artists such as Corneille, Anton Heyboer, Armando, Ger van Elk, Jan Cremer and René Daniels.  
Schiphol Central Business District
Schiphol is an area through which millions of people drive, walk and fly each year and where over 65,000 people work and 500 companies are located. The new Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol occupies a prominent position opposite the airport terminal at Schiphol Centre. This area, Schiphol Central Business District (CBD), is one of the most efficient and cosmopolitan business locations in the Netherlands and will see many new developments in the years ahead. New facilities such as Starbucks, the bar/restaurant VIVA!, 24/7 childcare by CompaNanny, The Base Library, The Base Health Club, the free Your SchipholBIKE loan bicycles and the SPOT community platform increase the dynamism of the working environment. Over the past years, multinationals such as Microsoft, Danone, Cargill, SBM Offshore and Smurfit Kappa have already based themselves at Schiphol CBD. In the first half of 2016, Samsung will also be establishing its headquarters at Schiphol. The new Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a development and investment project of the Schiphol Hotel Property Company (a wholly owned subsidiary of Schiphol Real Estate) and will be managed by Hilton Worldwide. Dutch Daily News Photo

Heightened security at European Parliament in Brussels

European Parliament in Strasbourg, France
The European Parliament has raised its alert level in Brussels to orange. 
It heightened security in close cooperation with the Belgian authorities, following the terror attacks in Brussels on Tuesday.  Yesterday staff at the European Parliament and the European Commission was requested to stay inside where they were until further notice. The Parliament remains open, but the visitors' entrance and the Parlamentarium have been closed. European Parliament President Martin Schulz has decided to ask staff to telework on Wednesday and to close all Parliament buildings in Brussels with the exception of the main building. It will remain accessible but will be further secured through systematic checks of ID documents and bags.  Also, all missions, meetings and visits scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled.  Martin Schulz said in a statement that he was “horrified by the despicable and cowardly attacks which took place in Brussels. My thoughts go out first and foremost to the victims and the wounded, as well as their families and friends.”  He added that “these acts anger and sadden me at the same time. They are born from barbarism and hatred which do justice to nothing and no one. Brussels, like other cities hit by such terrorist attacks, will stand strong, and the European institutions hosted so generously by the Brussels institutions and its inhabitants will do likewise.” The Brussels Times Photo

The European Parliament has three places of work – Brussels (Belgium), the city of Luxembourg (Luxembourg) and Strasbourg (France). Luxembourg is home to the administrative offices (the 'General Secretariat'). Meetings of the whole Parliament ('plenary sessions') take place in Strasbourg and in Brussels. Committee meetings are held in Brussels. Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lillehammer: Winter Youth Olympic Games opened

The Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) 2016 opened at Lillehammer, Norway on Friday evening, at the same venue that hosted the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer in 1994. The flame of the YOG cauldron was lit by Norway's 12-year-old Princess Ingrid Alexandra. Exactly 22 years ago to the day, the Princess’s father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the same cauldron in 1994 to kick off Lillehammer’s first Olympic Games. The Opening Ceremony marked the start of 10 competition days for the 1,100 young athletes from 71 National Olympic Committees taking part in Lillehammer 2016. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach addressed the athletes taking part in Lillehammer 2016, saying: “These Games will be about your love for sport. They will also be about learning and sharing and about making new friends. This is what the Youth Olympic Games are all about: bringing young athletes together from all around the world to enjoy competition and friendship.” The Norway Post Youth Olympic Games

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Latvia calls on Russia to release Nadiya Savchenko

The Latvian Foreign Ministry has called on Russia to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian Air Force pilot imprisoned in Russia. It also called on Russia to observe its international commitments and the Minsk agreement, which calls for the release of all political prisoners and persons who have been illegally detained. The LETA news agency was informed by the Russian Foreign Ministry, that a verdict in the show trial against Savchenko in Russia's Rostov region will be announced today, where she is accused of murder of two Russian journalists. The Latvian Foreign Ministry once again strongly condemns the illegal kidnapping and detention of Savchenko, and says her trial is based on unfounded accusations. The ministry calls on Russia to immediately release her. Savchenko was captured by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine in June 2014. She was handed over to Russia, where she was charged with the murder of two Russian journalists. Savchenko pleads not guilty to the charges leveled against her. The Baltic Times

Savchenko trial: Ukraine pilot ends hunger strike  By Stephen Ennis

Ukrainian officer Nadiya Savchenko, who is on trial in Russia over the killing of two journalists, has ended a hunger strike that she began last Friday. She is consuming liquid nutrients, called Nutrison, and drinking water. She had vowed to refuse food and drink pending the verdict. An aide said she changed her mind after a plea by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Ms Savchenko is accused of directing mortar fire that killed the journalists in Ukraine in 2014, a claim she denies. An aide to Ms Savchenko, speaking to the BBC's Sarah Rainsford outside the prison in Novocherkassk, southern Russia, said she ended the hunger strike and drank two litres of water on Thursday. But one of her lawyers, Mark Feygin, said he was misled about a letter that he handed to Ms Savchenko, which it turned out was not from President Poroshenko. "Thank God Nadiya has stopped her dry hunger strike. Pleas from Petro Poroshenko and everyone who supported her impacted her decision!" another of her lawyers, Nikolay Polozov, said on Twitter. A dry hunger strike is when someone refuses both food and water. The prosecutors have asked for a 23-year prison term, and a verdict in the case is due to be delivered on 21 and 22 March. Western politicians have urged Russia to release her, and the US envoy to the UN described the trial as "farcical". More than 4,300 people, including Nobel prize-winner Svitlana Aleksievich, have signed an open letter urging European leaders to act to secure her freedom. However, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said negotiations on any decision concerning Ms Savchenko would not happen until after the court's verdict. Ms Savchenko, 34, who is also a member of the Ukrainian parliament, was captured two years ago while fighting pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. A pioneering female combat pilot in the Ukrainian air force, where she held the rank of lieutenant, she had enlisted in a volunteer infantry unit, the Aidar Battalion. She is charged with acting as an artillery spotter and directing the bombardment of a rebel checkpoint, in which two Russian state TV journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, were killed. Ms Savchenko says she was kidnapped by rebel fighters at least an hour before the attack in which the Russian journalists were killed, and later handed over to the Russian authorities. Russian prosecutors say she secretly crossed into Russian territory herself. Relations between Russia and Ukraine - along with its Western allies - have deteriorated since the events of 2014 in Ukraine. Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula that March after an unrecognised referendum on self-determination, and is accused of covertly supporting the rebels in the bloody conflict which later divided eastern Ukraine. Among her supporters is the well-known journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov, who recently tweeted (in Russian): "In this selfish and base era, Savchenko has shown herself today to be a model of true, beautiful and unexampled heroism." BBC News Photo Wikipedia

Bulgaria to Send Humanitarian Aid to Migrants Stuck at Greece's Idomeni

Bulgaria will send humanitarian assistance to the migrants and refugees stuck at Greece’s border with Macedonia in adverse weather conditions, the government in Sofia announced on Friday. The assistance will comprise tents, beds, blankets and heating materials as specified by the Greek authorities in a letter sent to Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, the cabinet said in a statement. Thousands of migrants – men, women and children - have been stuck at Idomeni, on Greece’s border with Macedonia, after the so-called Western Balkans route used by migrants to reach Western Europe was practically closed. Heavy rains and poor living conditions at the camp in Idomeni require urgent measures to avert a humanitarian crisis, the Bulgarian government said. Novinite Photo

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Russia's Agriculture Ministry awards gold medals to Peruvian pisco and maca By Hillary Ojeda

The consumption of pisco within Peru doubled between 2010 and 2014, going from 2 million liters up to 4.5 million liters, reports Manuel Cadenas, promoter and creator of Chilcano Week, according to El Comercio. It appears that Peruvians know the worth of a high quality pisco. Does the rest of the world? Russia does. The Russian Federation Ministry of Agriculture awarded a gold medal to Peruvian pisco macerado, among other products at the 23rd International Exhibition for Food Prodexpo-2016 in Moscow, according to Andina. In addition, they awarded a gold medal to maca, and a silver medal to Chulpi corn, Peruvian products that are making an impact on a global scale. These products stood out as being among the most appealing out of products from 64 participating countries at the International Tasting Contest “The Best Product”. The contest included the participation of Cusco-born Jose Aguirre Callapiña and his company Inversiones Los Andes, under the supervision of Sierra Exportadora. The company is targeting the Russian market, emphasizing the nutritional and stimulating properties of maca and pisco. Conveniently, Russia, the largest country in the world, is also scheduled to host a major international event that expects masses of tourists—the FIFA World Cup 2018. “The goal is to conquer Russian cities where the 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place. Maca and pisco have to be present in this important event,” said Aguirre according to Andina. Living in Peru

Imen McDonnell’s modern Irish recipes from The Farmette Cookbook By Darina Allen

As the whole world (it seems) gears up to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, have a good root through your cupboards and pick out your very best ‘greenery’ to don on Thursday next. Let’s all have fun and get into the emerald vibe. The Irish diaspora from New York to Shanghai are in high spirits. Tourism Ireland recently announced this year’s additions to the Global Greening initiative where famous sites and monuments throughout the world are illuminated in green to mark our National Holiday. It’s a totally brilliant initiative to focus the whole world’s attention on Ireland. This year the 7 World Trade Centre at Ground Zero in New York, the famous Big Wheel on Place de la Concorde in Paris, the City Hall in Tel Aviv and Munich’s Hofbräuhaus and the Amazon Theatre Opera House in the midst of the Amazon Rain Forest are among the newest sites to join the Sydney Opera House, the Colosseum in Rome, the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, the Empire State Building in New York and Auckland’s Sky Tower. Here in Dublin, disability rights campaigner Joanne O’Riordan from Millstreet has been chosen as Grand Marshall of the St Patrick’s Day Parade. At 19 years old, she’ll be the youngest ever to lead the celebrations. Well, back to the kitchen, to plan a feast. For me, St Patrick’s Day is all about bacon and cabbage and parsley sauce with a big bowl of champ and a generous lump of Irish butter melting into the centre — the ultimate comfort food. Despite the atrocious weather, our rhubarb is growing enthusiastically, so it’ll be a juicy rhubarb tart for pud with lots of soft brown sugar and Jersey cream. But if you’d rather ring the changes how about St Patrick’s Day bacon and cabbage pot stickers with soy dipping sauce. This is just one of the tempting recipes in Imen McDonnell’s new book Farmette Cookbook which documents her recipes and adventures on an Irish farm. Imen will be very familiar to the Irish Farmers Journal readers for whom she’s written a food and lifestyle column for many years. She’s also a contributing editor to Condé Nast Traveller and Irish Country Magazine. In a former life, she spent her days working in Los Angeles, happily going about her business in a successful broadcast media career. Then fate intervened, she met a dashing Irish farmer in Minneapolis and fell instantly in love. In short order, Imen found herself leaving behind her career, her country, her family and friends, to start a life from scratch on a centuries-old family dairy farm in County Limerick. When she’s not cooking, writing, weeding or photographing, you’ll find her in the farmyard with her husband and son, milking cows, feeding calves and chickens, or looking after their two donkeys and amusing Airedale terrier, Teddy. Imen highlights farmhouse skills such as butter and cheesemaking and the use of local, wholesome ingredients. Here are a few of Imen’s modern Irish recipes for you to enjoy from The Farmette Cookbook published by Roost Books. Irish Examiner Photo

Brussels bilingual? Brussels francophone? Both and neither! By Philippe Van Parijs

The Kingdom of Belgium, you must have read somewhere, is a federal state that consist of two big monolingual regions and a tiny bilingual one. Is that so? Not quite. True, Dutch is the sole official language of Flanders, with the exception of “facilities” for French speakers in a handful of communes, mostly around Brussels. True too, French is the sole official language of Wallonia, with the exception of a handful of communes near the German border, where German is the official language. What about the third region, small but densely populated — over 10% of Belgium’s population on 0.5% of its surface — the Region of Brussels-Capital? It has two official languages on an equal footing, Dutch and French. This means that all official documents must be published in both languages, that both languages can be spoken in the parliament of the Brussels Region and in the councils of its nineteen municipalities, and that all publicly funded schools must use either Dutch or French as the medium of instruction. Ever since the language border settled in the early Middle Ages, the bulk of the population of Brussels and its surroundings spoke Brabants, a version of Dutch (or Flemish, which is a variety of Dutch in about the same linguistic sense as American is a variety of English). From the moment the Dukes of Burgundy made Brussels their capital in the 15th century, however, the dominant language in a slowly growing elite was French. In 1830, the Kingdom of Belgium was founded, like the French Republic at the end of the previous century, as an officially monolingual French-speaking state. It is only in 1898 that Dutch, spoken in some version by the majority of the population, was recognized as co-official at the level of the country, without this challenging the position of French in the capital as the dominant language in politics, education and administration. From generation to generation, especially after the introduction of compulsory schooling, native speakers of Dutch living in Brussels first acquired French as the language of social mobility, typically  by attending a French-medium school, which made them bilingual. And it the next generation, Dutch got lost as a result of people educated in French deciding not to transmit their native Dutch to their children, since French was anyway sufficient to get along in a Brussels environment increasingly dominated by it. This explains why Dutch-French bilinguals formed a strong relative majority at close to 50% for nearly three quarters of a century, from the end of the 19th century to after World War II. [see Figure 1]. This is the period in which Brussels could be called bilingual in the pretty strong sense that half its population could speak both Dutch and French, a proportion that is now down to about 20%. Firstly, for the first time in recorded history, the proportion of Brusselers who know Dutch and no French is slowly increasing. This may be due in part to the growing presence of citizens from the Netherlands, but also to the decline in the knowledge of French by young people arriving from Flanders. Secondly, the proportion of people who know French and no Dutch has seen its century-long steady progress halted. This has not happened because of more Francophone Brusselers now learning Dutch (even though there is some indication that this is happening too): the proportion of bilinguals French-Dutch keeps falling, indeed more quickly in ten years than in the previous fifty. The main cause is rather to be found in the third and most striking new development: the fast swelling of a category that was insignificant throughout most of Brussels’s recorded linguistic history and now corresponds to 10% of the total: those who know neither Dutch nor French (beyond a rudimentary level), most of whom (8%), it turns out, know no English either. What does all this lead to today? Let us first look, for each of Brussels’ main languages, at the proportion of adults who have it as their native language or one of their native languages (i.e. spoken at home as a child) [in blue in Figure 2]. French is clearly the dominant language, with two thirds of the Brusselers mentioning it as a native language. This is far more than the 21% for Arabic, which has now overtaken Dutch (20%) as Brussels’ second native language. As we turn from native language to linguistic competence [in green in Figure 2], French, as should be expected, becomes even more dominant, with 89% claiming to know French well or very well. Despite being less often mentioned as a native language than Arabic, Dutch (with 23%) leaps ahead of Arabic (18%) in terms of competence. Contrary to all other languages, there are less adults claiming competence in Arabic than adults who spoke some Arabic at home when they were children. Arabic is not taught at school, and many families of Moroccan origin (close to 20% of the Brussels population) switch entirely to French. Unsurprisingly, however, the most spectacular difference between native language and competence concerns English. With 30% of competent speakers, it has clearly become Brussels’ second language. It is, however, noteworthy, that the proportion of competent speakers in all three of Brussels’ top languages has gone down in 2011 relative to five years earlier: from 96 to 89% for French, from 35 to 30% for English and from 28 to 23% for Dutch. The proportion of people competent in none of these three languages, by contrast, rose over the same period from 2.5 to 8%. To sum up. Brussels is officially bilingual French-Dutch, but the proportion of its population that claims to speak both languages is now down to 20% and still declining. Especially in the last half century, Brussels has become increasingly multilingual in terms of both native language and competence.  Further, Brussels is a “francophone” city in the sense that two thirds of its population grew up with French present in the home context, albeit in half the cases in combination with another language. But it is definitely no longer on a path that would take it from a situation in which the bulk of the population had Dutch only as its sole mother tongue to one in which it will have French as its sole mother tongue. Brussels can also be called a “francophone” city in the sense that close to 90% of its population can speak it well or very well. But this proportion has recently started to decline, and in some environments it now faces competition with English as Brussels’ lingua franca. The Brussels Times (Graphs) Photo

Homemade Shamrock Shakes

Homemade Shamrock Shakes
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes
Yield: 2 milkshakes
Serving Size: 1 milkshake
Learn how to make a homemade shamrock shake! Cold, creamy, and so refreshing!
  • 2 cups of your favorite vanilla ice cream, frozen
  • 1 and 1/3 cups whole milk, very cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 2-3 drops green food coloring, optional
  • Whipped Cream, optional
  1. In the body of a blender combine the ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, confectioners' sugar, and food coloring (if using). Blend until smooth and creamy. Divide milkshakes among serving glasses, top with whipped cream (if using), and serve at once! Baker by Nature Yummly

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rose Broome uses crowdfunding to offer hope to homeless By Kevin Fagan

Rose Broome is a techno-nerd. Proudly so. She also agonizes emotionally about the homeless. Proudly so. She sees no disconnect there, contrary to stereotypes of uncaring, young and well-off techies. And she has put proof to that lack of disconnect by founding — and taking to wild success — one of the more compassionate technological enterprises to emerge in recent years to help the penniless. Three years ago, 34-year-old Broome invented a crowdfunding program to raise money tailored to individual homeless people. She called it HandUp, and to date, it has helped 1,637 people with more than $1.07 million funneled through her site — and she’s just getting started. “I don’t have all the answers; I have a lot of questions,” said Broome, whose innocent-seeming sincerity belies the steely, no-nonsense interior of someone who knows how to hammer home deals. “But as a person who has worked in tech, I have seen how new ideas are nurturing and encouraging.” For acting on that conviction, Broome has been nominated for the second annual Visionary of the Year award, sponsored by The Chronicle and St. Mary’s College of Economics and Business Administration. Some people need dentures. Others need glasses or security deposits for moving indoors — the sort of things someone who is down and out needs to get up and running in life. And as they fill those needs, donors get to follow their progress online. It’s a double-feel-good loop. Clients are found through case managers who help the needy, and donations are processed through organizations such as Project Homeless Connect so that they are sure to go to the need delineated. The organization started out in San Francisco and is still based there, but it has expanded around the nation to locations including Detroit, Oregon and Utah. At the time, Broome was working as a data analyst for a self-improvement startup, offering games to help people cope with sickness or lose weight. Four months later, with the help of hackathon buddies Zac Witte and Sammie Rayner, HandUp was born. It took months of fishing for startup money before she caught the ear of angel investor Jason Calacanis. He gave her $35,000, which was enough to get up and running. Soon investors from Ron Conway, who nominated her for the award, to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff were weighing in, and she was well on her way. “I’m a New York and Los Angeles transfer, and I’d moved to San Francisco and was in complete shock at what I saw here on the streets,” Calacanis said. “So when I met Rose I was really intrigued. “Rose is an amazing person, and what she started changed my life,” said Ronnie Goodman, 55, who gained national attention as an artist and competitive runner while living in a tent in San Francisco for five years. Goodman moved indoors in December after he got more than $3,000 in move-in costs through HandUp. “What I got was not charity, not a handout,” Goodman said. “It was a belief in what I was doing — belief in helping people up, giving them a hand. It’s beautiful.” SFGATE Photo

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Coconuss Network Blog

Week March 2 to March 9, 2016, we got pageviews from The United States, Germany, Romania, Bermuda, Spain, The United Kingdom, Switzerland, China, Sweden and Ukraine. For the month, pageviews from Russia and Canada. For the year, pageviews from France, Poland and South Korea. Thanks to everyone for your continued readership. If you have any news topics of interest, email me at coconussnetwork@gmail.com. Cordially, Susanne

Saturday, March 5, 2016

‘The Mermaid’ Reaches $500 Million at Chinese Box Office By Patrick Frater

Stephen Chow’s “The Mermaid” on Saturday became the first film ever to score more than half a billion dollars at the Chinese box office. The film grossed $8.18 million on Saturday and ended the day with $502.9 million (RMB3.30 billion) according to data from Ent Group. It has achieved that score in 27 days of release since its outing on the first day of the Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) holidays on Feb. 9. Yahoo! and Variety

16 Early Warning Cancer Symptoms


Friday, March 4, 2016

Starbucks to Open First Italian Store in 2017 By Silvia Donati

Starbucks will open its first store in Italy in early 2017. The announcement was made by none other than Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who was recently in Milan for Fashion Week, where he met with a group of Italian business leaders and journalists to talk about his plans for the first Italian Starbucks. Scheduled to open at the beginning of 2017 in the center of Milan, the store is expected to be the first of several set to open in other Italian cities throughout 2017. According to an article published in the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Schultz said he is personally involved in the opening of the first Starbucks in Italy. “Our mission is to surpass Milan residents’ expectations,” he was quoted saying. “ I am personally involved in every detail, for me the first Italian Starbucks isn’t just about business, it’s a personal question.” After all, Schultz came up with the idea of launching a coffee shop chain after a business trip to Milan in 1983, during which he noticed the large number of coffee shops (bar in Italian) in the city and the ritual of coffee drinking in Italian society. That inspired him to try to recreate the same experience and coffee culture in the U.S. The idea was clearly a winning one, as Starbucks has not only become ubiquitous in the U.S., but has also expanded to the rest of the world (there are roughly 24,000 Starbucks stores in the world). The rest of the world, except Italy – so far. “I didn’t feel ready for Italy,” Schultz said. “I felt for a long time we hadn’t earned the right to open here. But after all these years, I can say we have learned the craft and honored Italian culture around the world. It’s a dream I’ve had since 1983. Now the time has come, and it will all begin in Milan, the capital of food, fashion and style.” Starbucks certainly isn’t entering the Italian market with the expectation to teach Italians how to roast coffee or how to prepare an espresso, Schultz pointed out: “We’re coming here with great humility to present our interpretation of the coffee experience, whose main component is to create a sense of community, a third place between home and the workplace.” Just as in its other stores around the world, the Italian Starbucks will recreate comfortable spaces, with music and wi-fi. At the same time, Schultz said, Starbucks will honor and adapt to Italian culture by having the classic bar counter, for Italians who still prefer to drink their coffee standing, and by creating a special blend to suit the taste of the Milanesi. “It’ll be a classic, dynamic and elegant Starbucks store,” Schultz said, “but in terms of experience, atmosphere and design, it’ll be immediately obvious how much we respect the Italian people and their coffee culture.” Italy Magazine Photo Oprah Winfrey Network (Interview)

Mikhail Baryshnikov and Joseph Brodsky, in a Song of Exiled Russians By Marina Harss

It may seem odd that the poet Joseph Brodsky, a man who had little time for ballet — “the art of better days,” he called it in a 1975 poem — should have counted among his closest friends the Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. (The poem, in fact, was dedicated to him.) Brodsky was eight years older than Mr. Baryshnikov, and in his friend’s dancing he saw something more than ballet, something, as he told the Russian musicologist Solomon Volkov, closer to metaphysics. Mr. Baryshnikov remembers first reading Brodsky’s poetry at 16, just arrived in Leningrad from Riga, Latvia, to study ballet. “The magnetism was there,” Mr. Baryshnikov said recently in a room at the Baryshnikov Arts Center lined with prints of St. Petersburg; his poetry “respected man’s brain and heart and dignity.” This was a year after Brodsky’s trial, in 1964, for “social parasitism,” a Kafkaesque exercise. The trial transcript had circulated secretly, and Brodsky’s sang-froid on the stand turned him into a symbol of resistance and artistic freedom. (He was imprisoned, and spent a year and a half in internal exile.) The two were introduced at a party in New York, soon after Brodsky’s forced departure from the Soviet Union (in 1972) and Baryshnikov’s 1974 defection; they immediately became close. During their 22-year friendship — Brodsky died at 55 in 1996 — they spoke often, opened a restaurant, drank and took walks along the Hudson. Last year, Mr. Baryshnikov, who has made increasingly frequent forays into theater, teamed with the Latvian director Alvis Hermanis, director of New Riga Theater, for “Brodsky/Baryshnikov,” a one-man show, which opened in Riga in October and comes to the Baryshnikov Arts Center, starting Wednesday, March 9. It’s not really a play, or a poetry recital, but something in between. Mr. Hermanis has layered together poems from throughout Brodsky’s career. On Skype from Milan, he explained his concept: “I said to Misha, you have to imagine you are not alone onstage. There are two people, and there’s something going on between them, some secret.” Mr. Baryshnikov recently talked about Brodsky and the show. Here are edited excerpts from that conversation. At several points, you perform dreamlike dances accompanied by the recorded sound of your voice, or Brodsky’s voice. I don’t really dance in the show, but I move quite a bit. Hermanis and I decided there shouldn’t be any choreography per se but reaction, emotion, like a body language or electricity running through the body. There are references to Butoh and to flamenco. In a poem about flowers, I suggested using an element of onnagata [female impersonation] from Kabuki. Because, what can be closer to a beautiful flower than that? You talked to him every day? Almost every day, even when I was traveling. We talked about mundane things. He liked to walk. From Morton Street where he lived up the Hudson or East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, the East Village. He was fascinated by the light and proximity to the water. What do you miss the most about him? Some kind of internal security of friendship. The first years after he went, I felt, even though I have some very close friends, many of whom he introduced me to, very lonely, practically alone, though I had children and my wife and my family. With him, I always felt security if I wanted to talk about something private. International New York Times Amazon BAC

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Greenpoint’s Culinary Ghosts via Eat By Francis Lam

When I moved to Brooklyn in 1999, I’d never heard of Greenpoint — a working-class Polish community out past Williamsburg with questionable subway access — before the apartment broker sold me on it. My landlords lived upstairs, among clear vinyl tablecloths and a shrine to Pope John Paul II. I ate bigos, a savory, tart stew cooked so long that its many meats fell to nearly spreadable shreds, and incredibly cheap pirogi in fluorescent restaurants, where I would laugh in amazement at how much pork and potatoes five bucks could get you. I walked around my new neighborhood, looking into shops filled with sacks and sacks of rye bread and hundreds of sausages dangling in the windows, wondering how long it would take me to learn all their names. I wanted to be a part of the community, to integrate, but I never became anything more than an interloper. The cold looks I sometimes got on the street confused and bothered me, until I realized that I wasn’t just a new neighbor, that by paying more in rent than the families around me, I’d made living in Greenpoint just that much more expensive for them. I realized those fluorescent dining rooms were populated mostly by single men, men who’d left their families back in Poland while they tried to make some money in America. I realized that, when I was amused by those massive plates of food, I’d never really thought about how hungry I’d be if I spent the day building furniture, or moving it, as many of them did. By the time I moved away a couple of years later, I hadn’t learned the names of any of the sausages. So I was glad, a few weeks ago, when Monika Woods showed me how sweet her life in the old neighborhood had been. Woods also landed in Greenpoint when she first arrived in New York City, about half a dozen years after I left. With her stylish, oversize glasses, she might also be taken for an outsider. But she moved to the neighborhood because she was born in Poland and missed hearing strangers talk to one another in Polish; because the first restaurant she went to used the same plates her grandmother kept in Poland. Woods agreed to show me how to make her mom’s bigos, and we ambled to her favorite meat market. Walking the main drag of Manhattan Avenue, she pointed out the places that always transported her back to Poland: an entire shop devoted to her favorite brands of Polish candy; a storefront completely obscured by its selection of Polish bottled waters; a store that carried Polish beers that are hard to find even in Warsaw. She pointed to a liquor store that once featured live bunnies and chicks in an adorable Easter window display. She’d come back a few weeks later and asked what happened to them. ‘‘To eat,’’ she remembers the owner saying, with Old World matter-of-factness. But her Greenpoint is changing, in the way I think my old neighbors feared. The candy shop now sits empty, for rent. The restaurant that had her grandmother’s plates closed; next door is a new location of an Anthony Bourdain-approved Chinese noodle shop. When we walked by a hip new restaurant, the kind whose dishes feature swooshes of purées and swipes of sauce, we noticed an odd postscript on the menu: ‘‘Owned and operated by residents of Greenpoint.’’ The story of gentrifying communities is always about the dynamic between the new and the old, the outsiders and the insiders, but that friction is palpable when you feel as if you need to stake your claim to the neighborhood on your restaurant’s menu. ‘‘It’s funny,’’ Monika said. ‘‘I moved away a few years ago, but now, when I come back with my baby and go to a cool coffee shop, the people look at me like: ‘Great. Here come the stroller people. There goes the neighborhood.’ ’’Inside the Polam International Meat Market, though, you could easily be convinced that nothing had changed on these blocks for decades, and that nothing should. There were curtains of smoked sausages, tray upon tray of unidentified cured, smoked, roasted, poached, emulsified, rolled, cased, cubed, caul-fatted meats. It’s a museum of meats, and just 20 minutes inside the store will leave your clothes smelling of salt and smoke for hours. That old pang of wanting to know what all this stuff was hit me, and when the kindly counterwoman offered to slice some chicken-and-parsley sausage for me, I thought it might not be too late to start finding out. We bought ribs and wonderfully smoky kielbasa, and, back in my kitchen, Woods showed me her mother’s method for a bigos that marries butter-soft cabbage with the tense pop of sausage in its skin. Hours later, I supped on silky broth rich with fat and gelatin, kept lively by tart sauerkraut and the sweet, almost floral taste of caraway. What should have served eight was just enough for my brother and me. Woods didn’t have any, though — it turns out that she doesn’t eat meat. But she wanted to show me what a proper bigos is like, from the inside. The New York Times Magazine

Op-Ed. Back home near Chicago, we have the best Polish Bakery, "Olympia Bakery", and Polish Deli's. I'm in search of more than one Polish Restaurant, although the one I think of is the Prime Rib of Sunday Brunch. A Banquet Hall catering to the whole population. What's especially appealing about the Polish is their work ethic. And everything they set their hearts on is successful. Including, most importantly, their families. My parent's church is home to three Polish Masses every Sunday, with people travelling up to 15 km to be at Mass. The Bakery is one of my first stops when I arrive in my hometown. And although the Polish candies are tempting, it's more about the Kolackies and sweet & nutty coffee cakes. As I'm not the biggest fan of pork, I do instead love a meal of Polish Kraut and Pierogi's made with potato. Chicago can be proud of its Polish Community as they are meticulous in their business endeavors and never cause a fuss for anyone. And yep, the Millennials are pushing strollers now. Maybe the Polish moved out of New York City to be with their compatriots in Chicago. As per my take on bigos I would prepare the dish with a Beef Chuck Roast with Kraut, simmered with a lil wine and onions, and served with a German Spätzle. To the Polish, I'd say, "Nazdarovya", to a great many years of Polish neighbors, businesses and cuisine. Eat your hat Greenpoint NYC. Our Chicago Polish are here to stay. Photo