Martha Stewart in Jail


Martha Stewart in jail    BBC   Thursday 31 July 2014

Image result for martha stewart photosImage result for martha stewart photos

Rich and influential woman cleaned offices and organized activities for inmates.

Click blue to LISTEN   11 minutes      

In July 2004, the American TV  and publishing  celebrity was convicted of lying to federal prosecutors and sent to jail for five months. Famous for her cookery and home-making books, Stewart had many fans in prison and even managed to make friends. One of them, Susan Spry, talks to Witness.

Keep an Eye on Liz !


With her call to action, Warren cuts sharp contrast to Clinton

By MAEVE RESTON   July 18m 12014   LA       Source

Elizabeth WarrenDemocratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks to a group of supporters at a rally in June for Kentucky Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. (Timothy D. Easley / AP)


As the 2016 presidential race approaches, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren may be entering a different phase of her career — one in which she’s beating back lots of unwanted attention.

On Friday morning in Detroit, a crowd of liberal activists roared, “Run, Liz, run! Run, Liz, run!” as she took the stage to address the Netroots Nation conference.

“Sit down. Come on, let’s get started. Sit down,” Warren said, attempting to quiet the crowd with the tone of an appreciative schoolteacher.

Warren, a former law professor, then delivered the kind of call to action that has endeared her to her fans,who are actively trying to draft her to run for president through the Ready for Warren organization.  She cited her experience trying to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the behest of President Obama after the financial crash as an example of how ideas can triumph if enough people get involved.

As she began looking for ways to prevent banks from “cheating” families seeking mortgages and credit cards, she said, experts told her she would lose, and the banks spent “more than a million a day for more than year lobbying against financial reforms,” she said.

“We fought back and we won. That’s what we did,” Warren said, uttering a mantra that she would repeat dozens of times during Friday’s speech. “We won because you and a zillion other people across this country got in the fight. We won because you got out there. You broke news; you wrote opinion pieces; you organized petitions; you built coalitions; you kept that idea alive. You called out sleazy lobbyists and cowardly politicians. You said, we the people will have this agency and you are the ones who won.”

Warren noted that in its third year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has forced financial institutions to return more than $4 billion to consumers. She argued that the bureau was evidence of how democracy can work in the 21stcentury.

“It is proof that if we push back against the biggest, strongest, most ruthless lobbying effort in the country — that if we push back hard, we can win,” Warren said.

“We have united our voices and when we unite our voices we can win,” she said, citing her 2012 run for the Massachusetts Senate. (Ironically, that race was made possible after a permanent role for her as head of the consumer bureau was blocked by opposition from Republicans in Congress and business lobbyists.)

With a note of outrage, she pointed out that if a youth is caught with a few ounces of pot, he or she can go to jail, but a big bank “launders drug money and no one gets arrested. The game is rigged and it isn’t right. It’s rigged,” she said defiantly, as the crowd thundered its approval.

Warren has highlighted those issues throughout her career, but the themes of her speech offered a striking contrast to recent appearances by Hillary Clinton, who will decide whether she is running for president by early next year.

In comfortable settings that often involve a moderator and an armchair, Clinton frequently talks about her concerns for the younger generation and their struggle to find jobs or pay for college. But she has yet to outline a fist-pumping cause or coherent argument that would define a run for president. While Warren can fire up crowds with her populist call to rally against the powerful, Clinton is viewed by many Warren supporters as too close to Wall Street with a career that has been built by a proximity to power.

In an interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose this week, Clinton was asked what one big idea she would carry forward if she decides to run for president.

“We would have to make a campaign about what we would do,” Clinton responded. “You have to run a very specific campaign that talks about the changes you want to make in order to tackle growth, which is the handmaiden of inequality.”

Even Clinton’s advisors have acknowledged that she improved as a candidate during her first presidential run in 2008 when she faced a dynamic competitor in Barack Obama. Polls show now that the vast majority of liberals back a Clinton run in 2016, but even if Warren remains out of the race, her supporters hope to pressure Clinton to more forcefully plead their case.









Air Line Plane Shot Down


John KassJohn Kass,0,3687168.column

Rhetoric escalating, but maybe it shouldn’t

In similar tragedy 26 years ago, U.S. faced international outrage      John Kass  July 18, 2014

By now you know of the tragic story of the jetliner carrying nearly 300 souls.

Hit by a powerful missile, it had no chance. Blown out of the air, the jet went down. All passengers and crew were killed.

Quickly, almost immediately, in the confusion of the immediate aftermath, with tempers up and the loved ones just learning of the tragedy, the politicians did what they do best.

They talked and made rhetorical fists. Some demanded revenge, and if not revenge, they called for swift, decisive action. Some were sincere, but others used the chaos to push their own agendas or those of their nations.

And who was to blame for the missile attack on the civilian jetliner and the deaths of all those people?

The United States of America.

Because it was one of two U.S. surface-to-air missiles fired from the USS Vincennes that destroyed Iran Air Flight 655 on July 3, 1988.

The Iranians were outraged. The Soviet Union pressed for advantage in the Middle East. Many nations expressed sympathy for the dead, and then they used the tragedy to leverage their agendas at our expense.

Our nation said it was an accident. Some in Iran refuse to believe that. And most of us have forgotten.

Now, 26 years later, another jetliner has been shot down. And there is another set of victims, another set of denials, another series of emotional responses and agenda-driven political accusations. More fists in the air, more attempts to escalate the conflicts.

We’re told that a Russian-made missile struck Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, killing 298 people. Americans reportedly were on board that jet.

Perhaps you thought of the Americans, and the others, while watching the TV footage that showed the bodies and the body parts in the wreckage on the ground. Some passengers were said to have been found strapped to their seats. The debris was scattered for miles.

Why am I comparing these two tragedies 26 years apart?

Because we Americans have a tendency to forget history, especially inconvenient history. And because superpowers pushing against each other with emotions up and rhetoric aflame over downed jetliners might make for good TV drama. But it isn’t smart or thoughtful policy.

That’s a hot-button approach. And we need caution and cold-mindedness now, not empty demands to put the Russian bear in a box.

Twenty-six years ago, Soviet leaders were angry and loud. They tried to use what happened to Iran Air Flight 655 to put pressure on American interests in the Middle East. And now American politicians are just as angry and loud, using Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to apply similar leverage on Russian interests in Ukraine.

So with all the emotion expressed by politicians on TV, all I’m suggesting is that we take a step back, to think and listen, and think some more, as political actors use Thursday’s tragedy to push various agendas.

We’re told it was a sophisticated Russian-made missile that brought the Malaysian airliner down, and analysts were rejecting the idea that untrained pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine could have worked the weapons system by themselves.

So who fired it? Did Russians inside the Russian border fire it? Or was it those separatists armed by Russian boss Vladimir Putin in Ukraine? Or others?

The thing is, we don’t know yet, and even if we do, is anyone prepared to go to war over it? No, but that didn’t stop Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona from saying there would be “hell to pay.”

“If it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing this was a Ukrainian warplane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay, and there should be,” McCain said.

The ones that do the hell-paying at times like these are uniformed Americans, directed by our commander in chief.

But President Barack Obama isn’t confrontational. Hours after the Malaysian airliner was shot down, some of his critics began to rip him for not being a man of action. But Obama played it cool, making a general statement about the tragedy and the need to determine if Americans were on board. Then he headed off to New York for two big Democratic political fundraisers closed to the media.

Meanwhile, his foreign policy seems overwhelmed. The shooting down of Malaysia Flight 17 is evidence that the Ukraine-Russia conflict is lurching dangerously out of control. And the same day, Israelis began a ground attack into Gaza targeting Iranian-backed Hamas. Iraq is in increasing turmoil, with Islamic State separatists controlling Fallujah and Mosul. And in Syria, the forgotten Christians who remain there are being terrorized by foreign fighters.

The ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, argued Thursday for more pressure against Putin by NATO.

“I think the equation has totally changed,” Engel said. “We are going into a new dimension when we start to talk about a passenger airliner. These are not warplanes. These are innocent civilians. It is an act of terror. That’s what it is.”

But innocent civilians were killed 26 years ago too. The best way to make sure that more innocents don’t die is to calm down and take a step back and think. Twitter @John_Kass


Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

Baby Talk and Their Brains


Even Among Babies, Practice Makes Perfect                                                           It’s especially interesting to listen to this. Click on   Source

Babies as young as 7 months old are already rehearsing the motions behind speech, even though they can’t talk yet. Robert Siegel speaks with the woman behind these findings — Patricia Kuhl, the co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at University of Washington.


And now news about language development.


SIEGEL: In babies. Most babies don’t utter actual words until after their first birthday. But according to a new study that’s out this week as early as 7-months-of-age babies brains are already working on the mechanics of how to form words. They are rehearsing how to speak months before their first words. Patricia Kuhl is the lead author of the study. She’s co-director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences and she joins us now. Welcome to the program.

PATRICIA KUHL: Hi Robert. Thanks for inviting me.

SIEGEL: Let’s first have you explain how you carried out this study about what’s going on inside the brains of 7-month-olds.

KUHL: Well, first of all we had to have one of these wonderful new machines magnetoencephalography – MEG for short – what it allows is for the first time we can see inside the baby brain as the baby’s doing something interesting – like listening to language.

SIEGEL: And you played them sounds over headphones. What did you see going on when you did that?

KUHL: As the brain listens to sound the baby’s auditory areas aren’t the only areas lighting up. It’s also the areas that they use to talk – their motor-planning areas. It’s as though the baby’s rehearsing their next moves. They’re trying to join the community of people who use their mouths in these funny ways to create sounds. And so here we see the babies at 7-months where on the outside you don’t see anything – they’re wide-eyed and they’re looking at you and they love to listen to you. But what’s going on in their little brains is the attempt to do it to, they want to be one of us. And that means they have to rehearse the mechanics of this pretty difficult signal to produce.

SIEGEL: You also write that exaggerated speech is helpful. Why?

KUHL: Well, we’ve been studying for some time this phenomenon that we call mother-ese or now parent-ese because both parents and everyone seems to do it. If I had a 2-month-er in my hand I’d be saying something like, hi cutie let’s open those big blue eyes, you know, using these stretched out vowels and big excursions and pitch contour – and speaking quite slowly. Babies not only love to listen to that – their language development is zooming forward at a much more rapid rate. Languages at 2-years-of-age if you’re exposure at 11 and 14-months is quite high, you have twice the number of words that you know when compared to children who are not hearing much mother-ese and not hearing that in face-to-face communication.

SIEGEL: I was just wondering – perhaps we could bring back little Zosha (ph) whom heard a few seconds of a moment ago. And you could tell us what would you say to this?


KUHL: First of all, I’d smile and say, you’re adorable. I mean, that is such a wonderful sound. You can help but smile when you hear that. And you can see that that’s, you know, those aren’t clear words coming out – but that’s just pure joy and the attempts to do what you’re doing – which is to talk. And I think that drive that deep, deep social drive to communicate, to talk back, to volley when you serve, to go back and forth is really strong. And you can see it in their eyes but to see it in their brains – it was astounding to see that practice as the brains getting ready to make its next move.

SIEGEL: Well, I think you’ve helped make several people’s ride home a little bit more fun this evening. Thanks for talking with us.

KUHL: Well, I hope so and thanks for having me Robert.

SIEGEL: That’s professor Patricia Kuhl who is co-director of the University Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. Her study, by the way, was published this week in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Running of the Bulls (parts 1-3)


(1)  More people gored in Spain bull-running  Seattle Times  July 10, 2014

In annual Pamplona festival, hundreds of people run in the streets with a pack of bulls.  By Associated Press                     


Revelers run ahead of ''Garcigrande'' fighting bulls before they come into in the bull ring, during the running of the bulls, at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, on Thursday.

Enlarge this photoALVARO BARRIENTOS / AP  Revelers run ahead of ”Garcigrande” fighting bulls before they come into in the bull ring, during the running of the bulls, at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, on Thursday.

PAMPLONA, Spain — A fighting bull gored two Spaniards and tossed several others into the air in a frantic fourth running of the bulls Thursday at Spain’s San Fermin festival in Pamplona.

A Navarra regional government statement said the two men were gored in the leg and another five people were taken to Pamplona hospitals for minor injuries sustained in the dash Thursday morning

The gorings were caused by a lone bull that raced ahead of the pack, raising panic among the hundreds of screaming runners along the 930-yard course from a holding pen to Pamplona’s bull ring.

The morning runs are the highlight of the nine-day street-partying festival, which was immortalized in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” and attracts thousands of foreign tourists.

Dozens of people are injured each year in the runs, most of them in falls.

Fifteen people have died from gorings since record-keeping began in 1924.

Four Spaniards and one American have been gored so far in this year’s festival but only one, a Spaniard, was said to be in serious condition.

The six bulls used in each run are invariably killed in afternoon bullfights in the ring.


(2) In Spain we left the highway to visit Uncastillo, not far from Pamplona, probably to see the castle for which the place is named.   We found that the town rose up a big hill from a pretty river and that this was a special day, lots of people walking around, kind of excited.

Parking was tight but we found a place along the river which a policeman confirmed was legal. We saw portable barricades at some intersections and were told this was for the running of the bulls, part of the celebration of Uncastillo’s patron saint. People were standing around waiting for the bulls with pointed sticks apparently for goading them.

Someone suggested that we cross the river to a restaurant or club where we could watch the event.  We found ourselves pretty much alone on the second floor at a big window.  There were several bulls (steers?) none much interested in running, with people jumping around pretending to be frightened.

We walked up through the town and enjoyed the castle at the top. I remember that along the way we encountered a grouchy bartender who didn’t like me or my Spanish or something and a church that was closed for fumigation.  Alice says that was in another town.   Looking down, we saw one tired bull walking along a street.

There are lots of castles in Spain left from the centuries of war between Christians and Muslims for control.  Jews were often safer and more prosperous under Muslim rule.  In 1492 the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled from Spain all the Jews who refused to become Christian.

We once stayed in a parador, government-run hotel, in a wonderful restored castle.



 (3)  The Great Bull Run is coming to Hawthorne Race Course in the Chicago area on July 12th, 2014!  Grab life by the horns and experience the rush of a lifetime as you dodge eighteen 1,500-pound bulls as they run a quarter-mile course.  Not up for running with REAL bulls?  No problem!  You can watch all the action as a spectator or join in the fun as a participant in our insanely fun tomato food fight, Tomato Royale!  Don’t miss out on a massive festival featuring great music, tasty food, cold beer, mechanical bulls, foam dance pits and more!




A crowd of would-be matadors test their grace under pressure Saturday in the Great Bull Run at Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney. Organizers said 3,600 people ran with the bulls in a total of six heats. Rob Dickens, an executive with The Great Bull Run LLC, said one person was hit on the leg by a horn and suffered swelling and another was thrown to the ground. “Obviously, the closer you get to the bulls, the more exciting it’s going to be,” he told runners.



Brazilian Women Win at World Cup


Want To Eat Brazilian Food At The World Cup? Please Step Outside.

Weekend Edition Saturday  National Public Radio     Source

Acaraje are a regional food in Brazil made from fried balls of mashed-up beans, onions and salt. The balls are sliced in half, slathered with a spicy pepper sauce and cashew paste, and then topped with shrimp.

Acaraje are a regional food in Brazil made from fried balls of mashed-up beans, onions and salt. The balls are sliced in half, slathered with a spicy pepper sauce and cashew paste, and then topped with shrimp.  Russell Lewis/NPR

The stadiums of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are all different, constructed to reflect the region. Natal’s arena has a wavy beach dune style, while the stadium in Manaus looks like a woven basket.

Inside those stadiums, however, you’d never know you’re in Brazil. Budweiser is an official beer seller and Coke has the soda market cornered. Other menu items include hot dogs, cheeseburgers and turkey sandwiches. It’s almost impossible to find any Brazilian fare on the menu.

FIFA puts on the World Cup and is often criticized for lavishness and the high cost of staging the games, not to mention what’s seen as its unwillingness to compromise, especially when protecting sponsors. But then, FIFA met Rita Santos and her passion.

On any given day, she and her friends are in a lovely part of Salvador called the Pelourinho, making the popular street food, acaraje. She uses a large spoon to mash up beans, onions and salt to create a dough ball which gets deep fried. Then it’s sliced in half, slathered with a spicy pepper sauce and cashew paste and topped with shrimp.

Acaraje was first brought to Brazil centuries ago by African slaves. Today it’s almost exclusively made by women known as baianas, who wear flowing, all-white cotton dresses and headscarves.

For 60 years, the baianas sold acaraje at the old soccer stadium. So when FIFA told the women they couldn’t sell acaraje within a mile of the new World Cup arena on game days, that didn’t go over so well. Santos blames the Brazilian government for not standing up to FIFA.

Acaraje vendor Rita Santos and many like her fought FIFA, the World Cup's governing organization, to continue selling the traditional food outside Brazil's stadiums.Acaraje vendor Rita Santos and many like her fought FIFA, the World Cup’s governing organization, to continue selling the traditional food outside Brazil’s stadiums.  Russell Lewis/NPR

“So they left it open for them to do what they wanted; for them to be able to take over Brazil and do whatever they thought should be done,” Santos says.

So the baianas took control and protested in the streets. Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition. FIFA, which is not known for compromise, eventually backed down and allowed the baianas to sell acaraje in the “fan zone” outside Salvador’s stadium.

“We showed that … we are strong, and that there are other battles we can fight and win as well,” she says.

Other World Cup cities in Brazil were emboldened by the victory. In Recife, local leaders got FIFA to allow the sale of their delicacy, a flat-pancake called tapioca. Elias Sampaio, an economist who serves on the state budget commission, says the World Cup should showcase more local culture.

“It would be better than the situation now … if all our food in the arena would be our food, our drinking, it would be very good,” Sampaio says.

And for Rita Santos, this may be the most important outcome of her fight with FIFA: that future host countries will speak up. She’ll be watching to see what happens in Russia at the 2018 World Cup.

How Tibetans Adapted to the Mountains


BBC News Science and Environment   2 July 2014 

Tibetan altitude gene inherited ‘from extinct species’

By Paul RinconScience editor, BBC News website


A gene that allows present-day people to cope with life at high altitude was inherited from an extinct species of human, Nature journal has reported.

The variant of the EPAS-1 gene, which affects blood oxygen, is common in Tibetans – many of whom live at altitudes of 4,000m all year round.

But the DNA sequence matches one found in the extinct Denisovan people.

Many of us carry DNA from extinct humans who interbred with our ancestors as the latter expanded out of Africa.

Both the Neanderthals – who emerged around 400,000 years ago and lived in Europe and western Asia until 35,000 years ago – and the enigmatic Denisovans contributed DNA to present-day people.

The Denisovans are known only from DNA extracted from the finger bone of a girl unearthed at a cave in central Siberia. This 40,000-50,000-year-old bone fragment, as well as a rather large tooth from another individual, are all that is known of this species.


Denisovan finger boneA tiny finger bone provided a high-quality DNA sequence for a new species – the Denisovans

The tiny “pinky” bone yielded an entire genome sequence, allowing scientists to compare it to the DNA of modern people in order to better understand the legacy of ancient interbreeding.

Now, researchers have linked an unusual variant of the EPAS1 gene, which is involved in regulating the body’s production of haemoglobin – the molecule that carries oxygen in the blood – to the Denisovans. When the body is exposed to the low oxygen levels encountered at high elevations, EPAS1 tells other genes in the body to become active, stimulating a response that includes the production of extra red blood cells.

The unusual variant common among Tibetans probably spread through natural selection after their ancestors moved onto the high-altitude plateau in Asia several thousand years ago.

“We have very clear evidence that this version of the gene came from Denisovans,” said principal author co-author Rasmus Nielsen, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Read the rest of the story.

Cool in Summer, Warm in Winter


With Dirt And A Vision, Palestinian Architects Break The Mold

by  National Public Radio     Morning Editiion    

ShamsArd, a Palestinian architecture firm, uses packed earth to construct its environmentally friendly homes.

The city of Jericho sits in the hot, flat Jordan Valley down the hill from Jerusalem. Jericho has bragging rights as one of the oldest towns on Earth. But one of its newest homes looks like it might have arrived from outer space.

Ahmad Daoud hired a firm of young Palestinian architects to build this house. Like Jericho’s original homes, it is built of dirt. This one has a contemporary twist, though: It’s constructed with earth compacted in bags that are then stacked and plastered over.

Daoud loves the domed rooms, the nod to the past and the environmental advantages.

“It’s an environmentally friendly house,” he says. “I can tear it down and nothing will remain. In the summer, I don’t need air conditioning, and in the winter, I don’t need heat.”

Click for the rest of the story.