Fabulous Performances: Sayaka Shoji – Tchaikovsky : Violin Concerto in D major op.35 (YouTube Viral – 2,429,203 [posted: Oct 14, 2011]


Sayaka Shoji is the first Japanese and youngest winner at the Paganini Competition in Genoa in 1999.
She was born into an artistic family and spent her childhood in Siena, Italy. She studied at Hochschule für Musik Köln under Zakhar Bron and graduated in 2004. Her other teachers have included Sashko Gawrillow, Uto Ughi and Shlomo Mintz.

Zubin Mehta has been her strong supporter. When Shoji auditioned for him in 2000, he immediately changed his schedule in order to make her first recording with the Israel Philharmonic possible in the following month, then invited her to perform with Bavarian State Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


New at euzicasa: Valentina Lisitsa – Franz Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody No 12

[Quelle: Servus TV]

“The summer has finally arrived to Paris: balmy 30 degrees, sweaty tourists…. It is even more amazing that the moment music begins sounding all those people who a minute ago were hurrying along busily , those people suddenly stop in their tracks and dive into the magic of sound, like it was a cool pool. Enjoy this short report for http://www.streetpianos.com and next time you suddenly hear piano sounds on a hot summer day on a street – it’s not an aural mirage , it’s for real – come and join in !” Continue reading


WordPress.com: Should “Settings” Be Your Choice? (Please take part in this important survey)


I have recently experienced some unwanted activity on my website. To be more specific, some of the followers have associated with you too, my very welcome and followers.

In today’s world ,  I should think that the most fundamental right as a blog administrator would be to decides, upon revising the content who will, or not be approved to become your blogging family.
As I requested several times and through different avenues, WordPress.com so far dismissed my requests to implement Setting choices, allowing us to decide who will, or will not follow us, based upon subject matter, interests, language, and so many other valid criteria in existence here at WordPress.com.  

At this time WordPress.com has no way to allow us the choice of moderating access, compared to Twitter, or even Facebook.

I think that Twitter services have a direct, easy to use, friendly way of empowering a member to freedom of association, and everyone of us is entitled to, without having o ask WordPress.com administration to do that for us upon request (which as I said earlier does not work, or even worse to have to directly contact such followers, which is beneath me (at least).

Here is how Twitter deal with this issue, at a immediate action of the twitter user (highlighted in yellow): 

Twitter v. WordPress Settings

Twitter v. WordPress Settings

Following is a Poll (my first) asking for your input in this issue, and the question is:

“Should the administrator of a WordPress.com be allowed to decide upon the membership at their site?”

Should you need further clarification on this matter, please feel free to comment, before voting! 

Thank you Friends! (as you can see this is NOT about you, it is about us all, I am sure you can too see why

Following is one example for the reasons I requested that word.press.com, allow for administrators’ settings. It would save time, and allow one the peace and tranquility of not having to interact with unwitty profane and vulgar characters!

Phylospher's Stone


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Hello World!

Air bridge overheadWelcome to: euzicasa.wordpress.com 

        This website is about art, artists and the way some of them  have influenced my whole life.
If at times the content may seem nostalgic, is only when it resonate in quality, in message and in power to influence human knowledge of one’s feelings.
        I am reminded of the little time we have to meditate upon the beauty around us, in an infinity of forms.
It is a duty, I think to share values, like leaflets over a monotonous life, and troubled civilization, away from the roll of coins that cannot buy neither a soul, nor that which makes us human.
        So happy trails, and I hope you too will find something in theses pages that you’ll like to share with others.

Thank You Friends,

George. Continue reading


Danee Robinson – Debussy’s 1883 “Mandoline”, L 29 (The poem of Paul Verlaine)

Danee Robinson is gifted with a pure, soprano angelic voice. She is an evolving presence in the world of classical music, and is getting more and more attention in the world of music, from an ever larger audience. 

How to describe in words her presence in the universe that’s larger than any imagination, the universe of music:

‘I am therefore I sing’

I feel  her  message  throughout her musical career, in her album “Canto di Gioia” (Song of Joy) on stage, and in this beautiful interpretation of “Mandoline”, composed by Claude Debussy, in 1883, for piano and soloist on the poem of Paul Verlaine. A composition exuding youth, and its capacity of playfulness, freedom and happyness…Of love everlasting. Continue reading


Today’s Holiday: Camp Fire Founders’ Day

Today’s Holiday:
Camp Fire Founders’ Day

The organization originally known as the Camp Fire Girls was founded on March 17, 1910, around the same time that the Boy Scout movement was getting its start in Great Britain. Now it is coeducational and is known as Camp Fire. The organization stresses self-reliance, and membership is divided into five age levels, from Sparks (pre-school) to Horizon (grades 9-12). Interaction with adults is also emphasized as a way of learning about career choices, hobbies, and other interests. Camp Fire’s founding is observed by members as part of Camp Fire Boys and Girls Birthday Week. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Today’s Birthday: Gottlieb Daimler (1834)

Today’s Birthday:
Gottlieb Daimler (1834)

The mechanical experiments of German engineer, inventor, and pioneer automobile manufacturer Gottlieb Daimler aroused so much suspicion that, at one point, the police raided his workshop in Stuttgart, Germany, expecting to find a counterfeiting operation. They found only engines, as Daimler had been working on improvements to the internal combustion engine that would play a major role in the development of the automobile industry. He sold his first automobile in 1892. What was his famous motto? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


This Day in History: The Richard Riot (1955)

This Day in History:
The Richard Riot (1955)

Maurice Richard was a star ice-hockey player for the Montreal Canadiens and a hero of the French-Canadian population. After he was involved in a violent confrontation during a game with the Boston Bruins, Richard was suspended for the rest of the season as well as the playoffs. Many fans in Montreal believed the penalty to be overly severe and motivated by prejudice against French-Canadians. At a game just days later, the fans rioted. Who did the mayor of Montreal blame for inciting the riot? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Quote of the Day: Booker T. Washington

Quote of the Day:
Booker T. Washington

Assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Article of the Day: The Great Smog of 1952

Article of the Day:
The Great Smog of 1952

Early in December 1952, a cold fog caused Londoners to burn more coal than usual. When the resulting pollution was trapped by the dense mass of cold air, concentrations of pollutants built up dramatically. By the time it lifted, the smog had caused or advanced the deaths of thousands of people—most of whom were very young or elderly or had pre-existing respiratory problems—leading to a new focus on the dangers of air pollution. Even indoor events were cancelled during the Great Smog; why? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Idiom of the Day: make (someone’s) ears burn

Idiom of the Day:
make (someone’s) ears burn

To make someone uncomfortable, embarrassed, or disconcerted by what is being said. Alludes to the ears growing red from blushing. Watch the video…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Word of the Day: unornamented

Word of the Day:

Definition: (adjective) Lacking embellishment or ornamentation.
Synonyms: unembellished, plain, spare, bare
Usage: Strangers, who saw her for the first time, saw a lady in the prime of her life—a lady plainly dressed in unornamented white.: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Rio Hondo (California): From Wikipedia


The Rio Hondo bicycle path along the channelized Rio Hondo (creek) by the city of Rosemead — in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County, Southern California. Above the confluence of the Rio Hondo with the Los Angeles River.

The Rio Hondo (Spanish translation: “Deep River”) is a tributary of the Los Angeles River in Los Angeles County, California, approximately 16.4 miles (26.4 km) long. As a named river, it begins in Irwindale and flows southwest to its confluence in South Gate, passing through several cities (though not the city of Los Angeles). Above Irwindale its main stem is known as Santa Anita Creek, which extends another 10 miles (16 km) northwards into the San Gabriel Mountains where the source, or headwaters, of the river are found.

Quick facts: Country, State …
Rio Hondo

Country United States
State California
– right Santa Anita Creek, Arcadia Wash, Eaton Wash, Alhambra Wash
Source Santa Anita Creek
– location Irwindale, San Gabriel Valley
– elevation 320 ft (98 m)
– coordinates 34°05′51″N 118°01′16″W
Mouth Los Angeles River
– location South Gate
– elevation 79 ft (24 m)
– coordinates 33°55′56″N 118°10′30″W
Length 16.4 mi (26 km)
Basin 143 sq mi (370 km2)
Discharge for below Whittier Narrows Dam
– average 165 cu ft/s (5 m3/s)
– max 38,800 cu ft/s (1,099 m3/s)
– min 0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
The Rio Hondo has sometimes been described as a second channel of the San Gabriel River. For much of its length, the rivers flow parallel to each other about two miles (3 km) apart. Both rivers pass through the Whittier Narrows, a natural gap in the hills which form the southern boundary of the San Gabriel Valley. Here, both rivers are impounded by the Whittier Narrows Dam, which the Army Corps of Engineers describes as, “the central element of the Los Angeles County Drainage Area (LACDA) flood control system”. During major storms, the outlet works at Whittier Narrows Dam can direct water to either channel, or runoff can be stored.

The Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River have both been part of a revitalization program called the Emerald Necklace. The goal of this program is to create a “necklace” of parks and reclaimed wild spaces with the two rivers. They are connected by a narrow strip in Irwindale and by Whittier Narrows to give them the appearance of a necklace if viewed from above. The project garnered broad support from organizations such as the Sierra Club along with the governments of the many cities the rivers pass through.

Most of the Rio Hondo is a concrete-lined channel to serve its primary flood control function, but in two places the river flows over open ground: the Peck Road Water Conservation Park, and the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. Large spreading grounds for water conservation surround much of the river, and its bike paths are very popular.

The river passes through the location of the Battle of Rio San Gabriel, fought on January 8, 1847, and which resulted in a U.S. victory. Although the battle was actually fought on west bank of the present-day Rio Hondo near where it is crossed by Washington Blvd, the battle is named after the San Gabriel, which at that time flowed along these banks. A flood in 1867 caused the San Gabriel to change course, which it retains at present. The old San Gabriel was renamed the Rio Hondo after this flood. In Downey, California, the Rio Hondo was once known as the “Old River”, because it was the old course of the San Gabriel River. The Old River School was named for it, and Old River School Road was named for the school. The “New River” is the present course of the San Gabriel River.

The Rio Hondo College and Rio Hondo Preparatory School were named after the river.

From mouth to source (year built in parentheses):

Garfield Avenue (1957)
Southern Avenue (1951)
Firestone Boulevard (1933)
Rio Hondo Bicycle Path
Florence Avenue (1953)
Suva Street (1954)
Interstate 5 – Santa Ana Freeway (1953)
Telegraph Road (1951)
East Slauson Avenue (1954)
Railroad:BNSF Railway Former Santa Fe Railway Amtrak / Metrolink Orange County Line
Washington Boulevard (1941)
Bridge to Rio Hondo Bicycle Path
Railroad: Union Pacific Railroad ex-LA&SL, Metrolink Riverside Line
Whittier Boulevard (1921)
East Beverly Boulevard (1952)
Whittier Narrows Dam
San Gabriel Boulevard (1982)
State Route 60 / Pomona Freeway (1966)
Garvey Avenue (1936)
Rosemead Boulevard / CA-164 (1937)
Interstate 10 / San Bernardino Freeway (1956)
Rio Hondo Busway (1972)
Railroad Metrolink San Bernardino line
Valley Mall
Valley Boulevard (1956)
Railroad Union Pacific Railroad former Southern Pacific Railroad
Lower Azusa Road (1959)
Santa Anita Avenue (1959)
Rio Hondo Bicycle Path at Peck Road Park Lake
See also
Eaton Wash
Rio Hondo College


Kurdistan – From Wikipedia


For other uses, see Kurdistan (disambiguation).

Kurdistan (/ˌkɜːrdɪˈstæn/ or /ˌkɜːrdɪˈstɑːn/) (Kurdish: کوردستان‎‬; [ˌkʊɾdɯˈstɑːn] (About this sound listen); lit. “homeland of the Kurds”)[4] or Greater Kurdistan is a roughly defined geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population[5] and Kurdish culture, languages and national identity have historically been based.[6] Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges.[7]

Kurdish-inhabited area by CIA (1992) box inset removed.jpg
Kurdish-inhabited areas (1992)
Upper Mesopotamia, and the Zagros Mountains, including parts of Eastern Anatolia Region (Armenian Highlands) and southeastern Anatolia, northern Syria, northern Iraq, and the northwestern Iranian Plateau.[1]
Northern Kurdistan
Southern Kurdistan
Eastern Kurdistan
Western Kurdistan
Area (est.)
190,000–390,000 km²–500,000 km²
74,000–151,000 sq. mi[citation needed]
36.4 million (2016 estimate)[2][3][original research?]
Largest cities
Erbil (Hawler)
Diyarbakır (Amed)
Kermanshah (Kirmashan)
Kirkuk (Kerkuk)
Sulaymaniyah (Slemani)
Urfa (Riha)
Sanandaj (Sine)
Van (Wan)
Internet TLD
Contemporary use of the term refers to the following areas: southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan).[8][9] Some Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.[10][11]

Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005.[12] There is a province by the name Kurdistan in Iran; it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria as government forces, loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, withdrew to fight elsewhere. Having established their own government, they called for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.[13]

See also
Further reading
External links
Last edited 26 days ago by Turkishhistorian
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted.


Everliving music: Watch “Mozart – Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 626” on YouTube


Watch “Tino Rossi – AMAPOLA” on YouTube


Watch “Tino Rossi y Moineau – Arrivederci Roma” on YouTube


Watch “Arrivederci Roma – Renato Rascel -” on YouTube


Understanding Blood Sugar | Rocket Facts


What Is Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar is the glucose that your blood transports to your body’s cells to give them energy. Your blood sugar can be measured. This measurement indicates the amount of glucose carried by the blood during one moment of time.

This glucose comes as a result of the foods that we consume. In the normal human body, the level of blood glucose is regulated so that it is neither too high nor too low.

Blood sugar is different than the sugar that we normally eat. Table sugar is sucrose. The sugar in the bloodstream is glucose.

Your blood glucose level changes depending upon what you are doing. When you eat, the level rises. It returns to a lower level after about an hour’s time. Your glucose level is at its lowest point when you first awake, before eating.

How Sugar Enters the Cells of the Body If you eat carbohydrate, your body will break it down into glucose. Glucose can simply be converted into energy. However, glucose can only gain entrance to cells via insulin. The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin. After you eat, your blood sugar rises. As the cells absorb the glucose, the level in the blood returns to normal.

Excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. If you don’t eat for a certain period of time, then your blood glucose level drops. The pancreas will then release a hormone called glucagon. Glucagon causes the breakdown of glycogen into glucose. This elevates blood glucose back to where it needs to be.

Normal Blood Sugar Levels The normal person has a fasting glucose level below 99 milligrams per deciliter. People with diabetes have elevated glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association advises that diabetics maintain their glucose level between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating and less than 180 mg/dL two hours after eating.

Hyperglycemia Elevation in blood sugar levels is known as hyperglycemia. People with diabetes have generally elevated glucose levels when they are untreated. Hyperglycemia occurs either because the body does not have enough insulin, or the body does not properly use the insulin. When the body doesn’t properly use the insulin, it is called insulin resistance.

Symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

Dry mouth
Frequent urination
Increased thirst
Long-term complications of diabetes include:

Kidney disease
Erectile dysfunction
Nerve damage
Hypoglycemia Hypoglycemia occurs when glucose levels go below normal. If you have diabetes, then you have a higher risk of both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

Pale face
Things that Influence Blood Sugar Levels In terms of what you eat, your glucose level is influenced by the amount and type of carbohydrates that you eat. Simple carbohydrates, such as unrefined sugar, are broken down quickly by your system. Therefore, they enter the bloodstream rapidly and can cause spikes in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, take longer to enter the bloodstream. They, consequently, don’t cause spikes in blood sugar.

The exercise that you do can also influence your blood sugar levels. To maintain normal blood sugar levels, diabetics combine diet, exercise, and medication. Some diabetics can control their illness with diet and exercise alone.

Measuring Blood Sugar Diabetics measure their sugar a few times a day with a device called a glucometer. The targets for the glucose levels have already been mentioned.

Another test which is useful in the diagnosis and maintenance of diabetes is the hemoglobin A1C. This test measures the average sugar levels over the last three months.

An A1C below 5.7 is considered normal. An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 signals pre-diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the result is over 6.5 percent. The goal for diabetics is to lower this reading.

Your A1C goal is specific to your case. Several factors come into play that determine your target. A typical goal for people with diabetes is less than seven percent. Keeping your reading below your target is a good way of stemming the tide of possible long-term complications of diabetes.

Ways of Controlling Blood Sugar If you have diabetes or are concerned about your blood sugar levels, then there are changes in lifestyle that you can take on to control blood sugar.

Get more exercise.
Eat a balanced diet with appropriate portion sizes.
Stick to a schedule.
The science of blood sugar is relatively easy to understand. So are the tips that have been mentioned to regulate blood sugar. For those with diabetes, a treatment plan must be developed under the care of a doctor. The truth is that everyone can use the advice of a good dietitian to optimize their diet plan.


Putin is stoking the hellish conflict in Syria and no one is stopping him (opinion) – CNN

Putin is stoking the hellish war in Syria and no one is stopping him
Gayle Lemmon

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a CNN contributor and adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the author of “Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

Russia’s efforts to sow chaos in the US elections is now well-documented. As is its ability to foment unrest in Ukraine. And Estonia. And Western Europe. And to harm people who defy it, whether at home or in the United Kingdom.

But what is less discussed is Russia’s role as instigator-in-chief in Syria. Sitting at the center of the “Axis of Mistrust” — Syria’s Assad regime, Iran, and, on occasion, Turkey — Russia is playing all sides of the board and then rearranging the pieces — in its own favor. As one writer on the Middle East recently noted, Turkey, Russia and Iran “do not want to allow potential strains among them to work to the United States’ advantage, not only in Syria, but in the region as a whole.”
If American policymakers are to focus on Russia’s efforts to expand its influence, they will have to engage with what Russia is up to in Syria, and the implications in the country and the region. As Turkey attacks the US-backed Kurdish forces in Afrin, the same forces who led the fight against ISIS, Russia is there, viewing the Turkish operation, as one analyst put it, “as a chance to deepen the wedge between the US and Turkey.”
In congressional testimony this week, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, noted that, “Russia does play a role in here; they are trying to instigate tension among partners in the region and then trying to play a role in trying to be an arbiter in that.” He added, “I am concerned about this role that Russia plays in northern Syria and how it impacts all our relationships, especially the relationship between US and Turkey.”
Russia has been all-in on the side of the Syrian regime from the start of the conflict and its air campaign in Aleppo reshaped facts on the ground. It has blocked close to a dozen UN resolutions condemning the Syrian regime’s crimes against civilians, even blocking resolutions that would have allowed humanitarian relief to reach besieged moms and dads trying to pull their children through this hellish conflict. The latest UN effort to stop the bombardment and poisoning of Syrians in Eastern Ghouta ended in a ceasefire that existed only on paper in New York. It failed entirely to take hold on the ground.
As Votel noted of the ceasefire, Russia’s “inability to enforce it means either they lack the ability to do that or they are choosing not to do that … one of the things we do have to do is hold them accountable for the actions they are taking and the humanitarian disaster they are perpetuating.”
Indeed, the White House issued an unusual statement this month noting that “between February 24 and 28, Russian military aircraft conducted at least 20 daily bombing missions in Damascus and Eastern Ghouta. … Pro-regime forces must immediately cease targeting medical infrastructure and civilians as part of the brutal campaign in Eastern Ghouta.”
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned only this week that the United States would “act” against any nation that “is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime.” Russian military leaders threatened to strike the United States in Syria if the United States launched strikes against Damascus.
Right now there is no accountability. And the deaths of Russian mercenaries who launched attacks on US and US-backed forces February 7 remain shrouded in mystery. US military leaders say they remained in contact with Russia during the attack and received assurances that Russia wouldn’t engage with coalition forces in the Deir el-Zour area. Nevertheless, the mercenaries attacked a US-backed coalition position.
Russia’s actions in Syria present a challenge to America: How do you rein in a power that feels no check is in the offing? The first step is to encourage America’s leaders to pay attention to reality on the ground.
Assad may win Syria’s war, but his victory will ring hollow
The West should stop feigning heartbreak over Syria
How seven years of war turned Syria’s cities into ‘hell on Earth’
Think the War in Syria Is Winding Down? Think Again.
The Nation
Syria’s civil war has been raging for 7 years and no end in sight


Russian Ambassador Says ‘Sherlock Holmes Is Needed’ In Extraordinary Spy Poisoning Denial At United Nations


14/03/2018 21:33 GMT | Updated 15/03/2018 10:02 GMT
Russian Ambassador Says ‘Sherlock Holmes Is Needed’ In Extraordinary Spy Poisoning Denial At United Nations
Russia condemned as British authorities compared to ‘hapless’ Inspector Lestrade.
By Graeme Demianyk

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Russia has likened the British government to the “hapless” police inspector in the Sherlock Holmes books as it made an extraordinary denial of involvement in the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.

Addressing the United Nations Security Council after Theresa May announced Russian diplomats are to be thrown out of the UK following the attempted murder, the Russian permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, insisted on “material proof” of Russia’s use of a nerve agent on British soil.

Russia faced universal condemnation from members of the council after a summit was called to discuss the incident in Salisbury.

Notably, US Ambassador Nikki Haley called for “immediate concrete measures” to hold Russia accountable as she said the country shared the UK’s assertion of Russian responsibility. A statement from the White House issued later said the US “stands in solidarity with its closest ally” over the decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia.
Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, Jonathan Allen, told the meeting the government is asking the international chemical weapons watchdog to independently verify its analysis that a military-grade nerve agent from the former Soviet Union was used to poison the pair.

But in an extraordinary response, Nebenzia cited the Arthur Conan Doyle series of stories, and highlighted the “hapless character” Inspector Lestrade, who is “not particularly smart” and comes up with “banal conclusions, only to be overturned by Sherlock Holmes”.

He said: “I am not trying to say that those who work in Scotland Yard are not professional. But I do think that we could all stand to benefit from having Sherlock Holmes with us today.”

Nebenzia added the inspector today is the “high level members of the UK government” who have made “unsupported accusations, which have far-reaching consequences”.

Russia are genuinely talking about how useless Lastrade was in the Sherlock Holmes books as if this is somehow a reflection on police and the conclusions. If I wasn’t hearing it I would think it was being made up.

— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) March 14, 2018
The US ambassador to the world body, Haley, said: “Let me make one thing clear from the very beginning, the United States stands in absolute solidarity with Great Britain.

“The United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent. Dozens of civilians and first responders were also exposed.

“No two nations enjoy a stronger bond than that of the United States and the United Kingdom. Ours is truly a special relationship. When our friends in Great Britain face a challenge, the United States will always be there for them. Always.”

Allen said that without any alternative explanation from Russian authorities about the nerve agent “we have no choice but to conclude this was a state-sponsored act against the prohibition and use of chemical weapons and in defiance of international law.”

He said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been informed about the use of the nerve agent and the UN “are inviting them to independently verify our analysis.” He said: “We are making every effort to expedite this process.”

The British Prime Minister announced that 23 diplomats have a week to leave the country, making it the single biggest expulsion of diplomats for over 30 years.

The Prime Minister added the UK was suspending high-level contacts with Russia and that dignitaries, including members of the royal family, will not attend this summer’s World Cup.

US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
London had given Moscow until midnight on Wednesday to explain whether it was behind the attack or had lost control of the nerve agent used.

Government sources indicated that plans were in place for further action if Russia responds in a “disproportionate” way to the expulsion of its diplomats.

May’s “calibrated, calm and firm” announcement was designed to impress on the international community the seriousness of the situation and Britain’s robust response to it, while leaving her the flexibility to take more steps if necessary.

“Although we’ve announced this response, further options remain on the table,” said one senior Government official. “Economic, diplomatic, legislative and security capabilities can all be brought to bear if needed.

“If we don’t feel that what we have done thus far is having the required effect in the short, medium or long term – a change of behaviour from the Kremlin – we will look at them again and revise them.”

The are also a range of options which the UK could pursue which cannot be made public, including investigations which might lead to legal action, the official said.

It is understood that the list of 23 undeclared intelligence officers was carefully drawn up in order to keep some channels of communication open.

Russia has been refusing to co-operate unless it was given access to samples of the Novichok poison used.

Ahead of May’s statement, all 29 countries in Nato – including the US – backed a statement demanding Russia provides a “full and complete disclosure of the Novichok programme” and answers the UK’s questions.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry earlier said May’s statement is “an unprecedentedly crude provocation that undermines the foundations of a normal interstate dialogue between our countries.”

The statement added: “We consider it categorically unacceptable and unworthy that the British government, in its unseemly political aims, further seriously aggravated relations, announcing a whole set of hostile measures, including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the country.”

Russian Diplomats To Be Thrown Out Of The UK In Response To Salisbury Chemical Attack
Labour Cites Iraq ‘History’ As Corbyn Demands Spy Evidence
‘I Don’t Know Where’s Safe And Where’s Not’: Salisbury Residents Fearful After Nerve Agent Attack

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Graeme Demianyk Night News Editor and US-Based Reporter, HuffPost UK
Email us corrections or feedback
RussiaUnited NationsNerve agentUnited Nations Security CouncilSherlock HolmesNikki Haley
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Friend of dead Putin critic was strangled, British police say

Friend of dead Putin critic was strangled, British police say
Corky Siemaszko

British police launched a murder investigation Friday after an autopsy revealed that a Russian exile who was critical of Vladimir Putin was strangled in his home.

Nikolay Glushkov, whose body was found Monday, died as a result of “compression to the neck,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Metropolitan Police / Metropolitan Polic via Reuters
Glushkov’s death was a eerie echo of his friend Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Russian oligarch and an outspoken critic of Putin who was found in 2013 with a rope around his neck — and whose death was initially a suspected suicide. It was reclassified as unexplained.

“Boris was strangled,” Glushkov said afterward in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. “Either he did it himself or with the help of someone. [But] I don’t believe it was suicide.”

So far, police said, there is no link between the death of Glushkov and “the attempted murders in Salisbury, nor any evidence that he was poisoned.”

That was a reference to the attempted assassinations of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were found unconscious last weekend on a bench in the city of Salisbury — and who police later said were poisoned with a nerve agent.

They remain in crucial condition and British Prime Minister Theresa May has said it was “highly likely” they were the victims of an attempted hit by Russian military intelligence.

The Russian ambassador in London insisted the British were keeping diplomats in the dark about Glushkov’s murder.

“The embassy has no information about the launch of the probe into Glushkov’s murder,” Alexander Yakovenko said. “The British side is not responding to the embassy’s inquiry. It is unacceptable and we consider this situation as a failure of the U.K.’s international liabilities under the Vienna convention of consular access.”

Nikolay Glushkov’s home in southwest London.
Glushkov also once testified in court against the billionaire Roman Abramovich, a Putin ally who owns the Chelsea Football Club, an English soccer team.

Berezovsky was a close friend of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died from radioactive poisoning in 2006. An inquiry by British investigators concluded that his death was the work of the Russian state and was probably green-lighted by Putin himself.

Following the poisonings of the Skripals, Yvette Cooper, a British lawmaker, wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd and asked her to look into 14 other deaths highlighted in an investigation by BuzzFeed last year.

Citing U.S. intelligence sources, BuzzFeed reported that the deceased were suspected of being assassinated on British soil by Russian security services or mafia groups, “two forces that sometimes work in tandem.”

Nikolai Glushkov, who had links to Putin critic, dies in London
NBC News
Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter poisoned with nerve agent, police say
NBC News
Another Russian with links to Putin found dead in London
NBC News
Putin Critic Nikolai Glushkov Found Strangled To Death In London
Another Putin critic has just been found dead in London


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From Wikipedia: El Camino Real (California)


El Camino Real (Spanish for The Royal Road, also known as The King’s Highway), sometimes associated with Calle Real (within the US state of California), usually refers to the 600-mile (965-kilometer) road connecting the 21 Spanish missions in California (formerly Alta California), along with a number of sub-missions, four presidios, and three pueblos, stretching at its southern end from the San Diego area Mission San Diego de Alcalá, all of the way up to the trail’s northern terminus at Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, just above San Francisco Bay.

For other roads of the same name, see El Camino Real (disambiguation).
Quick facts: Reference no., Highway system …
The meaning of the term “Camino Real” has in fact changed over time. In earlier Spanish colonial times, any road under the direct jurisdiction of the Spanish crown and its viceroys was considered to be a camino real. Examples of such roads ran between principal settlements throughout Spain and its colonies such as New Spain. Most caminos reales had names apart from the appended camino real.

Once Mexico won its independence from Spain, no road in Mexico, including California, was a camino real. The name was rarely used after that and was only revived in the American period in connection with the boosterism associated with the Mission Revival movement of the early 20th century.

The original route begins in Baja California Sur, Mexico, at the site of Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, present day Loreto, (the first mission successfully established in Las Californias). Today, many streets throughout California that either follow or run parallel to this historic route still bear the “El Camino Real” name. Some of the original route has also been continually upgraded until it is now part of the modern California freeway system. The route is roughly traced by a series of commemorative bell markers.

Spanish and Mexican periods

A map produced in 1920 shows the earliest origination of “El Camino Real in Baja California as it existed in 1769 before its later extension into Alta California.
Between 1683 and 1834, Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries established a series of religious outposts from today’s Baja California and Baja California Sur into present-day California.

In Alta California (now the US state of California), El Camino Real followed two alternate routes, established by the first two Spanish exploratory expeditions of the region. The first was the Portolá Expedition of 1769. The expedition party included Franciscan missionaries, led by Junípero Serra. Starting from Loreto, Serra established the first of the 21 missions at San Diego. Serra stayed at San Diego and Juan Crespí continued the rest of the way with Gaspar de Portolá. Proceeding north, Portolá followed (as much as possible) the coastline (today’s California State Route 1), except where forced inland by coastal cliffs.

Eventually, the expedition was prevented from going farther north by the entrance to San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate. Crespí identified several future mission sites which were not developed until later. On the return trip to San Diego, Gaspar de Portolá found a shorter detour around one stretch of coastal cliffs via Conejo Valley.

Portolá journeyed again from San Diego to Monterey in 1770, where Junipero Serra (who traveled by ship) founded the second mission (later moved a short distance south to Carmel. Carmel became Serra’s Alta California mission headquarters.

The second Juan Bautista de Anza expedition (1775–76), entering Alta California from the southeast (crossing the Colorado River near today’s Yuma, Arizona) picked up Portolá’s trail at Mission San Gabriel. De Anza’s scouts found easier traveling in several inland valleys, rather than staying on the rugged coast. On his journey north, de Anza traveled the San Fernando Valley and Salinas Valley. After detouring to the coast to visit the Presidio of Monterey, de Anza went inland again, following the Santa Clara Valley to the southern end of San Francisco Bay and on up the east side of the San Francisco Peninsula. This became the preferred route (roughly today’s U.S Route 101), and more closely corresponds to the officially recognized El Camino Real.

To facilitate overland travel, mission settlements were approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) apart, so that they were separated by one long day’s ride on horseback along the 600-mile (966-kilometer) long El Camino Real (Spanish for “The Royal Highway,” though often referred to in the later embellished English translation, “The King’s Highway”), and also known as the California Mission Trail. Heavy freight movement was practical only via water. Tradition has it that the padres sprinkled mustard seeds along the trail to mark the windings of the trail’s northward progress with bright yellow flowers, creating a golden trail stretching from San Diego to Sonoma. The Camino Real provided a vital interconnecting land route between the 21 Spanish missions of Alta-California.

American period
In 1912, California began paving a section of the historic route in San Mateo County. Construction of a two-lane concrete highway began in front of the historic Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an inn in San Bruno that was built in 1849 and demolished exactly 100 years later. There was little traffic initially and children used the pavement for roller skating until traffic increased. By the late 1920s, California began the first of numerous widening projects of what later became part of U.S. Route 101.

History of commemorative bell-markers

A historical marker situated along El Camino Real.
In 1892, Anna Pitcher of Pasadena, California initiated an effort to preserve the as-yet uncommemorated route of Alta California’s Camino Real, an effort adopted by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1902. Modern El Camino Real was one of the first state highways in California. Given the lack of standardized road signs at the time, it was decided to place distinctive bells along the route, hung on supports in the form of an 11-foot (3.4 m) high shepherd’s crook, also described as “a Franciscan walking stick.” The first of 450 bells were unveiled on August 15, 1906, at the Plaza Church in the Pueblo near Olvera Street in Los Angeles.

The original organization which installed the bells fragmented, and the Automobile Club of Southern California and associated groups cared for the bells from the mid-1920s through 1931. The State took over bell maintenance in 1933. Most of the bells eventually disappeared due to vandalism, theft or simple loss due to the relocation or rerouting of highways and roads. After a reduction in the number of bells to around 80, the State began replacing them, at first with concrete, and later with iron. A design first produced in 1960 by Justin Kramer of Los Angeles was the standard until the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) began a restoration effort in 1996.

Keith Robinson, Principal Landscape Architect at Caltrans developed an El Camino Real restoration program which resulted in the installation of 555 El Camino Real Bell Markers in 2005. The Bell Marker consists of a 460 mm diameter cast metal bell set atop a 75 mm diameter Schedule 40 pipe column that is attached to a concrete foundation using anchor rods. The original 1906 bell molds were used to fabricate the replacement bells. The replacement and original bells were produced by the California Bell Company, and are most typically marked 1769 & 1906, and include a designer’s copyright notice. The two dates represent the date of the founding of the first Alta-California mission in San Diego, and the date of the setting of the first commemorative bell-marker, respectively.

Commemorative trail routing

The most visible mission as seen from the road while driving the current “commemorative route” of the Camino Real, the Mission San Miguel.
Today, several modern highways cover parts of the historic route, though large sections are on city streets (for instance, most of the stretch between San Jose and San Francisco). Its full modern route, as defined by the California State Legislature, is as follows:

Interstate 5, U.S.-Mexico border to Anaheim
Anaheim Boulevard, Harbor Boulevard, State Route 72 and Whittier Boulevard, Anaheim to Los Angeles
U.S. Route 101, Los Angeles to San Jose
State Route 87, within Santa Clara County
State Route 82, San Jose to San Francisco
Interstate 280, San Francisco
U.S. Route 101, San Francisco to Novato
State Route 37, Novato to Sears Point
State Route 121, Sears Point to Sonoma
State Route 12, Sonoma
East Bay route
State Route 87, within Santa Clara County
State Route 92
State Route 238
State Route 185, Hayward to Oakland
State Route 123, Oakland to San Pablo (continued to Martinez)
Some older local roads that parallel these routes also have the name. Many streets throughout California now bear the name of this famous road, often with little factual relation to the original; but Mission Street in San Francisco does correspond to the historical route. A surviving, unpaved stretch of the old road has been preserved next to Mission San Juan Bautista; this section of road actually runs parallel to the line of the San Andreas Fault, which can be clearly seen because the ground drops several feet. An unpaved portion of the original El Camino Real has been preserved just east of Mission San Juan Bautista in San Juan Bautista, California.

Today the route through San Mateo and Santa Clara counties is designated as State Route 82, and some stretches of it are named El Camino Real. The old road is part of the de Anza route, located a few miles east of Route 101.

Note that the official California El Camino Real route misses most of the original 21 missions. While driving along the official “commemorative route” of the Camino Real, the most visible Mission today would probably be the Mission San Miguel, located in the unincorporated village of San Miguel, just off Highway 101 on the Salinas River.

Historic designations
El Camino Real is designated as California Historical Landmark #784. There are two state historical markers honoring the road: one located near Mission San Diego de Alcalá in San Diego and the other one near Mission San Francisco de Asís in San Francisco.

See also
California Roads portal
El Camino Real de los Tejas
El Camino Real (disambiguation)
El Camino Viejo
History of California
Spanish missions in California
Spanish missions in Baja California
More information: Tap to expand …
“California Historical Landmark: San Diego County”. Office of Historic Preservation. California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
“California Historical Landmark: San Francisco County”. Office of Historic Preservation. California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-13.

Kurillo, M.; Tuttle, E. (200 Belfry of Mission San Miguel Arcángel. San Miguel, California, USA 0).

California’s El Camino Real and Its Historic Bells. Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA. pp. 53–57. ISBN 0-932653-37-5.
“Mission Bells”. Caltrans. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
Pool, Bob (August 16, 2006). “Saga of the Bells Comes Full Circle”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
California Streets and Highways Code, Chapter 2, Article 3, Section 635
California Highways: El Camino Real
San Mateo County Historical Society, San Bruno Herald


Have you heard of the Camino de Santiago? This famous pilgrimage route is actually a combination of many different trails through France, Portugal and Spain that, after many hundreds of miles, converge on the historic and beautiful town of Santiago de Campostela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Have you heard of the Camino de Santiago? This famous pilgrimage route is actually a combination of many different trails through France, Portugal and Spain that, after many hundreds of miles, converge on the historic and beautiful town of Santiago de Campostela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The quaint cobblestone streets, cafes and restaurants of Santiago welcome modern day pilgrims and travelers who continue to make this timeless journey. Whether motivated by life aspirations, bucket-lists or a simple desire to be immersed in some of most beautiful and historic corners of Europe, “The Way of St. James” is an experience that is treasured for a lifetime. Enjoy these photos and trivia about this special journey and the Backroads Taste of Camino de Santiago Walking & Hiking Tour. This is the trip! https://goo.gl/nLxLbX #caminodesantiago #spain #backroadstravel


A second Cold War is upon us: and we only have ourselves to blame

A second Cold War is upon us: and we only have ourselves to blame
Andy Martin

The fall of the Wall was a defining moment, creating an almost dream-like sense of optimism. It meant anything was possible
There is a story (which I believe to be true) about a wandering West Coast surfer, board bag over his shoulder, who accidentally landed in Berlin, back in the 1980s. Disappointed by the lack of a decent beach, he took an excursion to the Wall, gazed up at a well-armed border guard in one of the towers, festooned with barbed wire, and yelled out to him – in a mixture of abuse, protest and lament – “Man, you are bummed, because you will never know what true surfing really is.”

A reasonable remark at the time, of course, but history has proved the oracle wrong. “Charlie don’t surf!” said Lt Col Kilgore in Apocalypse Now. But Charlie – and specifically ex-East German ex-soldiers who used to man the ramparts – do surf (their exploits are documented in Michael Scott Moore’s Sweetness and Blood). Trabants out, Woodies in; and shorts on. Apocalypse was duly postponed. But not for long.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall, on the night of 9 November 1989, is probably a defining moment for all of us who were alive at the time. Probably for those too who weren’t alive yet. You didn’t need to be there, singing along with David Hasselhoff, to feel the almost dream-like sense of optimism. More than mere optimism: the real and empirically justifiable conviction that progress, in a very real and – no metaphor – concrete way could be and had been achieved. Anything, henceforth, was possible.

Read more
For a lot of us the wall had stood for much of our lifetime (since 1961) and now it was down. Deconstruction in action. The spy didn’t need to come in from the cold any more. John Le Carré was (so we fondly imagined) out of a job. The long Cold War was over and old-style spooks and moles, Smiley and his Moriarty-like KGB counterpart, Karla, could all go home and put their slippers on. The Iron Curtain had been drawn back for good.

Such was the gist of the brilliant yet flawed thesis put forward in Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the First Man, published in 1992 (based on a paper first written in the summer of 1989). Some of us cherish little chunks of actual rubble or bricks taken from the Wall (some of it no doubt genuine); I still have the Fukuyama sitting on my shelf. A symbol of an all too evanescent utopianism. Fukuyama was the voice of a generation. Now, perhaps, singing only in bare ruin’d choirs.

Fukuyama boldly – perhaps with a sense of humour – used Hegel’s nineteenth-century theory of history to articulate and validate (up to a point) his liberal-democratic vision of the future. The irony was that Hegel had previously been extensively mined by none other than Karl Marx to buttress his own notion of the historical dialectic. Hegel had watched Napoleon (“the world-spirit on horseback”) storm across the land that was not then Germany, on his way to the Battle of Jena, and saluted the French emperor for, in effect, triggering nationalism and thus inadvertently giving birth to German nationhood. That was good enough for Hegel; the rise of the German state. This was the world-historical ideal. The real had become rational. Mission accomplished.

Rubbish, said Marx. He got it all wrong, or as he neatly put it, Hegel had been standing on his head and it was Marx’s job to turn him upside-down and put him back on his feet again, making him less of an “idealist” and more of a “materialist”.

The essential structure that Marx extracted from Hegel’s history was the tripartite one of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. It was a neat idea. Maybe too neat. French school kids are still taught to write their essays in just this way. But, applied to history, the Hegelian logic said that one force would conjure up an opposite force and that out of some kind of miraculous, explosive fusion a superior force would emerge, combining the best of the two previous phases. Marx took over this narrative structure but converted it into his triadic history, feudalism followed by capitalism followed, definitively, by communism. The French Revolution would be echoed by a global revolution that would usher in the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Francis Fukuyama argued that the end of Soviet communism heralded the end of history
But Marx got it all back-to-front, said Fukuyama, who also sought to use Hegel to prove his point. Fukuyama had just witnessed the Fall of the Wall. In the brief interregnum in which we freely used words like glasnost and perestroika (just as, conversely, the droogs of Clockwork Orange have “horrorshow”, from the Russian for “good”, xorosho), it was perhaps natural that he should think in these terms. He was not alone. I can remember, in a speech at my own wedding, comparing my bride to Gorbachev (I regret that, but it was supposed to be a metaphor for a better world to come).

In the pages of The End of History, Hegel was this time around invoked to demonstrate that the final synthesis, and the end-point of history, was not some monstrous totalitarian regime; but rather, easy-going, surfer-friendly, liberal democracy taking over the entire planet. What we were seeing was “not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

It was a West Coast view of the world, seen through turquoise-tinted sunglasses. Hedonism was henceforth OK. There would be no further need for the old puritan work ethic (heralded by the sociologist Max Weber), because we were now post-industrial. By the same token the heavy-handed State of the past would (as Marx predicted) fade away and leave in its place a free-thinking parliamentary paradise. The idea that East is East and West is West had been wrong: the twain had met when the Wall fell. Perhaps there was a hint of Margaret Thatcher’s, “There is no alternative”. The only problem, Fukuyama maintained, was “boredom”.

Somehow 9/11 didn’t quite square with this basic assumption. The old East-West conflict was back with a vengeance, only in a new form. The rise of Al-Qaeda and Islamism shook Fukuyama’s thesis to its core. He responded heroically and tried to save his argument from the flames and maintained that this was a temporary misunderstanding. In the long-run (although it could be very, very long), his prediction would surely come true. As Popper argued of Hegel, Fukuyama’s thesis was essentially “unfalsifiable”, irrefutable only because it lacked empirical substance.

Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Centre after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a terrorist attack (Robert Giroux/Getty Images)
However, his feel-good, warm-hearted prophecy was soon enough supplanted by Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations (1996). According to Huntington, at least half-a-dozen quite distinct cultural entities would always remain locked into their ancient conflicts with one another. Huntington, not Fukuyama, was the essential playbook of the era of Osama bin Laden. Here was Fukuyama’s antithesis.

But there was one more writer of the post-Berlin Wall episode who not only derided Fukuyama but provides us with the script to our current malaise. He was not surprised by 9/11. And – had he still been alive – he might have been equally at home with “Novichok”. Oddly enough, he was also the guiding light of the Matrix movies and the “desert of the real”. Jean Baudrillard is perhaps better known as the architect or high priest of postmodernism. But when I met him in the 1990s in Oxford, he was speaking about “the Illusion of the End” (which would become a book with that title).

Baudrillard heaped scorn on the gospel according to Fukuyama and Hegel and Marx and anyone else espousing a linear narrative with a happy ending. Instead, he signalled the end of the end of history. “History,” he wrote, “has become interminable.”

Read more
In an arresting image of recycling, Baudrillard reckoned that when the Wall came down all the bricks were taken away and used to build new walls in other places. That was, in effect, the Huntington argument.

But Baudrillard went further and made a specific prophesy. History, he said, as the old millennium approached a close, was not marching inexorably forward to some rosy conclusion. On the contrary, according to Baudrillard’s rather poetic idea, history was more of a palindrome than a straightforward narrative. Just as you get to the end, or what you think and fervently pray could be the end, it starts to rewind, to go into reverse, and repeat itself all over again in a “catastrophic process of recurrence and turbulence”.

More recently Fukuyama has been quoted as saying, “twenty-five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward. And I think they clearly can.”

So a new Cold War is exactly what Baudrillard would have expected and predicted. We are back to the droogs and their horrorshow, except they are now in Moscow, and Salisbury. And that is without mentioning Beijing. Presumably World War is next on the horizon. “Nothing that one thought superseded by history has really disappeared,” as Baudrillard says. “All the archaic and anachronistic forms are there ready to re-emerge, intact and timeless, like viruses deep in the body.”

But could it have been any different? To most of us who were in situ the first time around, the new showdown between Western democracy and Russian infamy will seem not just familiar but almost reassuring. At least you know where you are with the Russian bear. Max Boot’s new book The Road Not Taken, suggests that Vietnam in particular could have been very different. Back in the 1960s in Asia, Edward Lansdale – the model for Graham Greene’s “Quiet American” – was beavering away to convert “hearts and minds” at the same time as the American military-industrial machine was gearing up to try to bomb the living daylights out of Vietnam and Cambodia. Guess who won. But it could, Boot maintains, have been different.

And perhaps in some parallel universe even now we are at peace with Moscow and there are regular Anglo-Russian pow-wows and exchanges and Putin is really up against some serious opposition in the forthcoming election rather than shoving most of them in prison, or worse.

There is a case for saying that in the all too brief honeymoon after the fall of the Wall we – and especially the USA – needed to be actively seeking partnerships and reconciliation, rather than rubbing the ex-Soviet nose in its own downfall. And above all offering financial incentives: a post-Cold War Marshall Plan.

Read more
Alas, we didn’t. The fact is – as per Putin’s current electoral strategy – there are always more votes to be garnered by playing the clash-of-states card. Sadly, the Cold War sells. Many Russians love the idea of the “strong” leader, even if that strength is only a “show of strength” against a background of increasing weakness. It’s not so much a personality cult as the celebration of the droog mentality.

To return to Hegel, the synthesis (and thus the end of history) is always receding, because we can never overcome our addiction to mere antithesis. We define ourselves by opposition. Is the EU, after all, not just another way of defining, by opposition, the UK?

Fukuyama was right about one thing though: our current crisis is, as he would say, “post-ideological”. All the old Marxist-Leninist facade has been taken down. Now it’s all about the exercise of pure naked power.

Salisbury is not collateral damage. Killing people is the ultimate calling card.

Andy Martin is the author of Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of “Make Me” and teaches at the University of Cambridge.

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Russia to expel UK diplomats as crisis over nerve toxin attack deepens | Reuters

Russia to expel UK diplomats as crisis over nerve toxin attack deepens
Reuters Editorial, Reuters Editorial and Reuters Editorial

ASTANA/LONDON (Reuters) – Russia is set to expel British diplomats in retaliation for Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to kick out 23 Russians as relations with London crashed to a post-Cold War low over an attack with military-grade nerve agent on English soil.

After the first known offensive use of such a weapon in Europe since World War Two, May blamed Moscow and gave 23 Russians who she said were spies working under diplomatic cover at the London embassy a week to leave.

Russia has denied any involvement, cast Britain as a post-colonial power unsettled by Brexit, and even suggested London fabricated the attack in an attempt to whip up anti-Russian hysteria.

Asked by a Reuters reporter in the Kazakh capital if Russia planned to expel British diplomats from Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov smiled and said: “We will, of course.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia could announce its response at any minute.

Britain, the United States, Germany and France jointly called on Russia on Thursday to explain the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump said it looked as though the Russians were behind it.

A German government spokesman called the attack “an immense, appalling event”. Chancellor Angela Merkel said an EU summit next week would discuss the issue, in the first instance to seek clarity, and that any boycott of the soccer World Cup, which Russia is hosting in June and July, was not an immediate priority.

Russia has refused Britain’s demands to explain how Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military, was used to strike down Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Britain has written to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, which monitors compliance with the global convention outlawing the use of such weapons, to obtain independent verification of the substance used.

Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence, and his daughter have been critically ill since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench.

A British policeman was also poisoned when he went to help them is, and is in a serious but stable condition.

British investigators are working on the theory that an item of clothing or cosmetics or a gift in the luggage of Skripal’s daughter was impregnated with the toxin, and then opened in Skripal’s house in Salisbury, the Daily Telegraph said.

A coat of arms is seen on a gate outside of the Russian embassy in London, Britain, March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB spy who is poised to win a fourth term in an election on Sunday, has so far only said publicly that Britain should get to the bottom of what has happened.

In a sign of just how tense the relationship has become, British and Russian ministers used openly insulting language while the Russian ambassador said London was trying to divert attention from the difficulties it was having managing Britain’s exit from the European Union.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain had no quarrel with the Russian people but that it was overwhelmingly likely that Putin himself took the decision to deploy the nerve toxin in England.

Slideshow (5 Images)
“We have nothing against the Russians themselves. There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening,” he said.

“Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision – and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision – to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK.”

The Kremlin’s Peskov called the allegation that Putin was involved “a shocking and unforgivable breach of the diplomatic rules of decent behaviour”, TASS news agency reported.

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson sparked particular outrage in Moscow with his blunt comment on Thursday that “Russia should go away, it should shut up.”

Related Coverage
Kremlin – Accusation of Putin role in poisoning is shocking: TASS
Britain says likely that Russia’s Putin made decision for nerve agent attack
Germany urges Russia to be transparent over nerve agent attack in Britain
Russia’s Defence Ministry said he was an “intellectual impotent” and Lavrov said he probably lacked education. Williamson studied social science at the University of Bradford.

“Well he’s a nice man, I’m told, maybe he wants to claim a place in history by making some bold statements,” Lavrov said. “Maybe he lacks education, I don’t know.”

In London, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn struck a starkly different tone to that of the British government by warning against rushing into a new Cold War before full evidence of Moscow’s culpability was proven.

Corbyn said Labour did not support Putin and that Russia should be held to account if it was behind the attack.

“That does not mean we should resign ourselves to a ‘new cold war’ of escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent,” he said.

Additional reporting by William James, David Milliken and Kate Holton in London, and Maria Tsvetkova, Jack Stubbs and Andrew Osborn in Moscow; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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Spy poisoning: Putin most likely behind attack – Johnson

Spy poisoning: Putin most likely behind attack – Johnson

Getty Images
The foreign secretary met his Polish counterpart at a Second World War bunker in west London
Russian President Vladimir Putin is “overwhelmingly likely” to have ordered the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy and his daughter, Boris Johnson has said.

The foreign secretary said “our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision” over the Salisbury incident.

Russia denies involvement and said the accusations against Mr Putin were “shocking and unforgivable”.

Meanwhile, the head of Nato told the BBC Russia has underestimated the “resolve and unity” of the UK’s allies.

Speaking during a visit to a west London military bunker with the Polish foreign minister, Mr Johnson said the UK’s “quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin”.

“We think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War,” he said.

‘UK is not alone’
Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital, after they were found unconscious on a bench in the Wiltshire city on 4 March.

The UK government says they were poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia called Novichok and PM Theresa May said she believed Moscow was “culpable”.

EPA/ Yulia Skripal/Facebook
Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, are in a critical condition in hospital
Mrs May has said the UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats as part of a “full and robust” response – prompting Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to say it will “certainly” expel British diplomats in response.

Conspiracy theories and denial in Russia
Why does UK think it was Russia?
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Russian spy attack: What we know so far
According to Russian news agency Tass, the Russian ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, said the UK claimed the nerve agent used was A-234, but this has not been confirmed.

Analysis: Was chemical A-234 used?
By Gordon Corera, BBC security correspondent

The implication of the ambassador’s comments is that the Russians have been told by the British the exact nerve agent deployed.

So far, British officials have not confirmed that they have communicated this to Moscow or that that the A-234 was the exact agent deployed.

Based on public sources, A-234 is one of the Novichok family of agents.

It has been reported that it is at least five to eight and possibly 10 times as strong as VX.

Little is known about it but the symptoms are very similar to those eyewitnesses attributed to Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

In military handbooks it is described as a “delayed casualty agent” – its persistence depends upon how it is used and the weather.

On Friday, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had “no reason to doubt the findings and assessments by the British government” which suggested Russian responsibility.

He said the “UK is not alone” and Nato allies gave “strong political support” to Britain, following a joint statement from the US, France and Germany backing Mrs May’s government and a pledge of support from Australia.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Stoltenberg said the incident was part of a “pattern of reckless behaviour” from Russia following allegations of cyber attacks and election meddling in recent years.

“It is important that Russia gets a clear signal that it costs to behave the way they behave,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

“I’m absolutely certain that Russia has underestimated the resolve and unity of Nato allies when we have implemented different kinds of sanctions over the last years,” Mr Stoltenberg added.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was not worried by international expressions of support for the UK and challenged Britain to “provide some confirmation”.

He said: “Sooner or later, the British will have to show some proof to those ‘colleagues’ who say they are with UK on this; sooner or later will have to stand up its accusations.”

Ahead of an EU leaders’ summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out discussions of a potential boycott of the World Cup in Russia.

It comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written in the Guardian warning against “hasty judgements”, and not to “rush ahead of the evidence”.

No symptoms
Wiltshire Police said 131 people had been identified as potentially being exposed to the nerve agent – but none has shown any symptoms.

Salisbury District Hospital has also assessed 46 people who came forward expressing health concerns but they were not admitted.

In a letter to the Times, Salisbury NHS Trust emergency medical consultant Stephen Davies said only three people – the Skripals and Det Sgt Nick Bailey – had needed treatment.

Det Sgt Bailey remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital after being contaminated with the chemical.

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Russia’s ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko claimed the UK had angled allegations against Russia to “divert attention from Brexit”.

He criticised the lack of transparency and said: “Nobody saw even the pictures of these people in a hospital, whether they are alive or maybe they are in good health. Nobody talked to the doctors.”

And Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had asked the UK to take action under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

He also responded to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson – who previously said Russia should “go away” and “shut up” – saying: “Maybe he lacks education.”

Some 220 police officers from 16 forces, 80 ambulance staff, 50 fire officers, 200 armed forces personnel and 250 specialist officers have so far been deployed as part of the investigation, Wiltshire Police said.

Police cordons remain in place in parts of Salisbury, 12 days on from the attack

Getty Images
Zizzi restaurant, the Mill pub and the bench where the Skripals sat are among locations taped off by police
On Thursday, Mrs May visited Salisbury to speak to emergency service workers, public health experts and local business owners who are affected by the police cordons.

Wiltshire Council has announced measures to help affected businesses including free park and ride journeys and waived business rates.

Mr Skripal is a retired colonel in the Russian military intelligence service.

He was jailed by Moscow in 2006 for secretly working for Britain’s MI6 but was later released and allowed to come to the UK.

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THE GUARDIAN Romanian court tells man he is not alive Associated Press

Romanian court tells man he is not alive
Associated Press

A Romanian court has rejected a man’s claim that he is alive, after he was officially registered as dead.

A court spokeswoman said on Friday that 63-year-old Constantin Reliu lost his case in the north-east city of Vasului because he appealed too late. The ruling is final.

Media reported Reliu went to Turkey in 1992 for work and lost contact with his family in Romania. Hearing no news from her husband, his wife managed to get a death certificate for him in 2016.

Turkish authorities located Reliu this year with expired papers and deported him. When he arrived in Romania, he discovered he had been declared dead.

He was quoted as saying: “I am officially dead, although I’m alive, I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can’t do anything.”

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North Korea nuclear reactors show new signs of activity – CNN


North Korea nuclear reactors show new signs of activity
Tim Lister, CNN

New satellite imagery examined by Western experts suggests North Korea has begun preliminary testing of one of its nuclear reactors at the Yongbyon research facility. The disclosure comes as preparations get underway for the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in next month — and ahead of Kim’s planned meeting with President Trump in May.

A report by intelligence analysts Jane’s says the imagery indicates the experimental light water reactor, known as an ELWR, could become operational “with little warning” as early as later this year.
According to Jane’s, an image from February 25 shows an emission rising from the reactor’s stack that “implies testing of the machinery at the site.” The stack is “intended to vent noncondensable gases from the reactor’s primary circuit,” Jane’s says.
What is unclear at this stage is whether North Korea plans for the reactor to contribute to electricity generation or its weapons program.
Rob Munks, editor of Jane’s Intelligence Review, says the light-water reactor “could be used for civilian electricity generation — its stated purpose — or diverted towards the nuclear program.”
The reactor is linked to the power grid. Industry experts say that once operational, the ELWR would be able to produce about 25-30 megawatts, perhaps enough to power a town of some 50,000 inhabitants.
Munks said, “In theory, if the reactor comes online and if it were diverted towards plutonium and tritium production, it could enable North Korea to expand its stock.” By just how much is unclear, he said. Tritium is the most important thermonuclear material for weapons.
Over the last year Jane’s and other research groups have identified increased activity in several parts of the Yongbyon site, 40 miles (75 kilometers) north of Pyongyang. Analysts at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation observed the installation of power lines, a construction and dredging project to supply cooling water to the ELWR and movement of personnel and vehicles.
Construction of the ELWR was completed in 2013 and is optimized for civilian electricity production, but it has “dual-use” potential and can be modified to produce material for nuclear weapons.
An adjacent reactor at Yongbyon also appears to show signs of operation, according to 38 North, a project of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins. Satellite imagery from February shows “steam vapor plumes emanating from the generator hall and river ice melt” near the 5 megawatt reactor. The ice melt would likely indicate that the cooling water pipeline has been extended into the river “to conceal the reactor’s operational status,” 38 North said.
The reactor, which is just upriver from the ELWR, uses pumped-in water from the Kuryong River as its cold water intake and discharges heated water downriver.
“If the reactor is operating again, as the evidence suggests, it means North Korea has resumed production of plutonium presumably for its nuclear weapons program,” 38 North concluded.
Analysts say it has long been North Korea’s goal to construct a light-water reactor. After failing to source one internationally, it began an indigenous program nine years ago.
In the absence of international inspections (inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency were last at Yongbyon in April 2009), it’s very difficult to establish the role of such plants, or estimate how much fissile material and nuclear warheads North Korea has accumulated. Estimates published last year suggested North Korea had anywhere from 20 to 60 nuclear weapons.
So extensive and ambitious has the North Korean nuclear program been — both in terms of weapons and missiles — that the upcoming summits will, even if successful, be the beginning of a very long process.
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UK’s claims questioned: doubts emerge about source of Salisbury’s novichok


UK’s claims questioned: doubts emerge about source of Salisbury’s novichok
Ewen MacAskill

It was a historic moment largely ignored at the time by most of the world’s media and might have remained so but for the attack in Salisbury. At a ceremony last November at the headquarters of the world body responsible for the elimination of chemical weapons in The Hague, a plaque was unveiled to commemorate the destruction of the last of Russia’s stockpiles.

Gen Ahmet Üzümcü, the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which works closely with the UN, was fulsome in his praise. “This is a major achievement,” he said. The 192-member body had seemingly overseen and verified the destruction Russia’s entire stock of chemical weapons, all 39,967 metric tons.

The question now is whether all of Russia’s chemical weapons were destroyed and accounted for. Theresa May – having identified the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack as novichok, developed in Russia – told the Commons on Wednesday that Russia had offered no explanation as to why it had “an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law”. Jeremy Corbyn introduced a sceptical note, questioning whether there was any evidence as to the location of its production.

Jeremy Corbyn defies critics and calls for calm over Russia
Read more
The exchanges provoked a debate echoing the one that preceded the 2003 invasion of Iraq over whether UN weapons inspectors had overseen the destruction of all the weapons of mass destruction in the country or whether Saddam Hussein had retained secret hidden caches.

On social media, there were arguments that the novichok could have come from some part of the former Soviet Union other than Russia, such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan or Ukraine, or some non-state group, maybe criminals.

The years following the fall of the Berlin Wall were chaotic, with chemical weapons laboratories and storage sites across the Soviet Union abandoned by staff who were no longer being paid. Security was almost non-existent, leaving the sites at the mercy of criminal gangs or disenchanted staff looking to supplement their income.

“Could somebody have smuggled something out?” Amy Smithson, a US-based biological and chemical weapons expert, said to Reuters. “I certainly wouldn’t rule that possibility out, especially a small amount and particularly in view of how lax the security was at Russian chemical facilities in the early 1990s.”

It took almost a decade before order was restored, in part through stockpiles being transferred to Russia from other parts of the former Soviet Union and in part through help from US and other western experts.

Novichok was developed at a laboratory complex in Shikhany, in central Russia, according to a British weapons expert, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, and a Russian chemist involved in the chemical weapons programme, Vil Mirzayanov, who later defected to the US. Mirzayanov said the novichok was tested at Nukus, in Uzbekistan.

The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who visited the site at Nukus, said it had been dismantled with US help. He is among those advocating scepticism about the UK placing blame on Russia.

In a blog post, he wrote: “The same people who assured you Saddam Hussein had WMDs now assure you Russian ‘novichok’ nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil.”

A Russian lawyer, Boris Kuznetsov, told Reuters he was offering to pass to the British authorities a file he said might be relevant to the Salisbury case. It details an incident when poison hidden in a phone receiver killed a Russian banker and his secretary in 1995. The poison came from an employee at the state chemical facility who sold it through intermediaries – in an ampule placed in a presentation case – to help reduce his debts.

The UK government case rests not just on its argument that novichok was developed in Russia, but what it says is past form, a record of Russian state-sponsored assassination of former spies.

Murray, in a phone interview, is undeterred, determined to challenge the government line, in spite of having been subjected to a level of abuse on social media he had not experienced before.

“There is no evidence it was Russia. I am not ruling out that it could be Russia, though I don’t see the motive. I want to see where the evidence lies,” Murray said. “Anyone who expresses scepticism is seen as an enemy of the state.”

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The tallest trees in the world, the California Redwood trees

The tallest trees in the world, the California Redwood trees

The tallest trees in the world, the California Redwood trees


Sonoma is home ofthe northernmost and last Spanish-Mexican mission built along California’s historic El Camino Real.

Sonoma is home ofthe northernmost and last Spanish-Mexican mission built along California’s historic El Camino Real. It is also the location of the Bear Flag Revolt, which transferred ownership of California from Mexico to a short-lived independent California, and then to the United States. Many historic sites in the area are remnants ofthis important era in California’s history.


France, Germany, UK, US blame Moscow for ex-spy poisoning

France, Germany, UK, US blame Moscow for ex-spy poisoning

picture-alliance/dpa/PA Wire/A. Matthews
The leaders of France, Germany, the US and the UK jointly demanded “complete disclosure” from Russia on the Novichok nerve agent used in the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal, saying there is “no plausible alternative” to Moscow’s involvement.

“This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War,” they said in a statement on Thursday. The attack constitutes “an assault on UK sovereignty” that threatened “the security of us all.”

Read more: Nerve agent attack a ‘serious violation’ of international agreements, says Germany’s Von der Leyen

On March 4, Skripal, a 66-year-old former military intelligence agent who betrayed several Russian agents to British intelligence, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were targeted in the attack. Both remain unconscious in intensive care following the attack.

Nick Bailey, the first police officer on the scene, is also in stable but critical condition. Up to 21 other people were treated for exposure, according to police.

The joint statement called on Moscow to provide information on its nerve poison to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

‘Reckless behavior’
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said he backed a “proportionate” response from British authorities, adding that the incident must have “consequences.”

“The attack in Salisbury has taken place against a backdrop of reckless behavior by Russia over many years,” said Stoltenberg. “I fully support that there is a need for a response because it has to have consequences when we see actions like we have seen in Salisbury.”

Read more: Spy assassinations: The top 5 deadly poisons

The NATO chief noted that the UK had not invoked Article 5, the transatlantic alliance’s collective defense clause. It has only been invoked once in the alliance’s history, notably by the US in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks.

Stoltenberg is expected to meet with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson to further discuss the attack on British soil.

Russia responds
The UK on Wednesday announced a range of measures against Russia, including expelling 23 diplomats.

Moscow said it would retaliate soon. British actions “go way beyond the framework of basic decency,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the UK of taking a position that is “absolutely irresponsible,” saying “these are all signs of a provocation against our country.”

Read more: Bemusement in Salisbury as Russian ex-spy drama unfolds

‘Warlike’ actions
However, Tom Tugendhat, a British MP and chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the House of Commons, told DW that Russia’s actions were “warlike.”

“Had [this chemical] been opened on the London Underground, for example, it would have killed hundreds of people. And to use it next to a children’s playground, where, had the children been there, it would have killed 30 or 40 children,” said Tugendhat.

“This is a completely unacceptable, warlike act by a violent, deranged regime that is weakening and lashing out. This is a corrupt dictatorship that has to stop.”

ls,dj/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

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My Chakra today

My Chakra today

My Chakra today


Today’s Holiday: Anna Parenna Festival

Today’s Holiday:
Anna Parenna Festival

Anna Perenna was a Roman goddess who represented the circle or ring of the year—Anna being the feminine form of annus (meaning “year”) and March, the month her festival was observed, being the first month of the Roman calendar. On the day of her festival, the plebs of Rome went to the Campus Martius, a large field outside the walls of the city, and lay about on the grass, often constructing simple huts out of stakes and branches with togas stretched across the top. They spent the day drinking, dancing, and singing, returning to the city at night in a state of deep intoxication. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Today’s Birthday: Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (1852)

Today’s Birthday:
Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (1852)

Although she was born a member of the upper class, which traditionally identified with British rule in Ireland, Gregory embraced Irish cultural nationalism and became an extremely important figure of the Irish literary revival. She collected and published several volumes of Irish folk tales, wrote and translated dozens of plays, and directed multiple theater companies. The name of Irish author Denis Johnston’s play The Old Lady Says No! refers to what incident involving Gregory? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


This Day in History: Russian Settlers Establish Fort Ross, California (1812)

This Day in History:
Russian Settlers Establish Fort Ross, California (1812)

Located in what is now Sonoma County, California, Fort Ross was in operation from 1812 to 1841 as a trading outpost for the Russian-American Company. The southernmost settlement in the Russian colonization of North America, it was established as an agricultural base to supply Alaska. Fort Ross was the site of California’s first windmills and shipbuilding yards, and Russian scientists there were among the first to record California’s cultural and natural history. How did the Fort get its name? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Quote of the Day: Jerome K. Jerome

Quote of the Day:
Jerome K. Jerome

Clothes alter our very nature. A man could not help being fierce and daring with a plume in his bonnet, a dagger in his belt, and a lot of puffy white things all down his sleeves. More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Article of the Day: Cymothoa Exigua

Article of the Day:
Cymothoa Exigua

Cymothoa exigua is a parasitic crustacean that attaches itself to the tongue of the spotted rose snapper and feeds on its blood. Eventually, the organ atrophies, and then something remarkable happens: C. exigua replaces the fish’s tongue with its own body by attaching to the muscles of the tongue stub. The fish is able to use the parasite just like a normal tongue, apparently without any further damage. Are there any other cases of a parasite functionally replacing a host organ? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Idiom of the Day: make like a banana and split

Idiom of the Day:
make like a banana and split

humorous slang To depart or leave, especially at once or in a hurry. (A pun on “to split,” a slang term meaning to leave or depart, and a “banana split,” an ice-cream-based dessert featuring a banana halved lengthwise.) Watch the video…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Word of the Day: snigger

Word of the Day:

Definition: (verb) Laugh quietly.
Synonyms: snicker
Usage: The rude tourists snigger at the locals’ outdated ways and dress.: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch


Watch “BBC Radio: The Medical Detectives – Death in the Parish” on YouTube


Hell with the system…it’s disfunctional anyway

Hell with the system...it's disfunctional anyway

Hell with the system…it’s disfunctional anyway


UK ‘Tit-For-Tat’ Row With Russia Will Escalate Within Days, Reveals Cabinet Source


UK ‘Tit-For-Tat’ Row With Russia Will Escalate Within Days, Reveals Cabinet Source
Comedy Style What’s Working Parent Voices
Downtime Sourced
14/03/2018 18:39 GMT | Updated 2 hours ago
UK ‘Tit-For-Tat’ Row With Russia Will Escalate Within Days, Reveals Cabinet Source
UK diplomats are expected to be thrown out of Russia on Friday
By Owen Bennett
Mikhail Metzel via Getty Images
The UK’s “tit for tat” row with Russia is set to escalate, a senior Cabinet source has warned as neither country “wants to be the first not to retaliate”.

Speaking just hours after Theresa May announced 23 Russian diplomats would be expelled from the UK, the source predicted tensions would rise further in the next few days.

The source predicted Vladimir Putin would sling out UK diplomats from Russia on Friday, to give himself a popularity boost ahead of the country’s presidential election on Sunday.

May announced the expulsion of the diplomats – the largest act of its kind in more than 30 years – after Russia refused to provide a “credible” explanation for why a nerve agent it produced was used in attack on former Moscow spy and his daughter in Salisbury.

The source confirmed the UK had further measures available to it if Russia wanted to get into a diplomatic war.

The source said: “It’s tit for tat now – it will escalate so we had to have other options open to us.”

Warning of the increase in actions between the two states, the source said: “No one wants to be the first not to retaliate.”

In an insight to Cabinet thinking, the source revealed ministers were analysing whether the Russians carried out the attack because of “operational necessity”, or the Kremlin wanted to send “a message”.

Such a message could be electoral positioning ahead of Sunday’s vote; a reminder to the UK that Russia had the capability and will to carry out the attack; or a warning to Russian dissidents that the cost of betrayal could be a murder attempt.

In a swipe at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the source questioned the notion he was acting out of principle in refusing to directly condemn Russia for the attack.

“What’s the principle? Russia is a criminal state,” said the source.

Announcing the expulsion of Russian diplomats, May told MPs they were “undeclared intelligence officers”.

The Prime Minister added the UK was suspending high-level contacts with Russia and that dignitaries, including members of the royal family, will not attend this summer’s World Cup.

London had given Moscow until midnight on Wednesday to explain whether it was behind the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, or had lost control of the nerve agent used.

With the midnight deadline passed, May told MPs today: “No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom; no explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law.

“Instead they have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.”

She added: “There is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter – and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.

“This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.”

A statement from the Russian embassy in London said: “We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted.

“All the responsibility for the deterioration of the Russia-UK relationship lies with the current political leadership of Britain.”

Full UK response to Salisbury attack:

23 Russian diplomats expelled.

Creating new power to detain those suspected of Hostile State Activity at the UK border.

Increase checks on private flights, customs and freight.

Freeze Russian State assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents.

Suspend all planned high level bi-lateral contacts between the UK and Russia, including revoking the invitation to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit to the UK.

No attendance by Ministers – or indeed Members of the Royal Family – at this Summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Russian Diplomats To Be Thrown Out Of The UK In Response To Salisbury Chemical Attack
Labour Cites WMD ‘History’ As Corbyn Demands Spy Evidence
Donald Trump Says US Will Accept Russia Behind Salisbury Poisoning ‘If We Agree’ With UK Findings
Owen Bennett Deputy Political Editor, HuffPost UK
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SalutFagaras „Ce ai lua cu tine, dacă ar fi să pleci?“ – SalutFagaras


NOUTATIProbleme la Brașov cu apa potabilă!„Ce ai lua cu tine, dacă ar fi să pleci?“De Paști, membrii nonagenari înscriși la CAR Pensionari primesc cadouriLocalitatea Paltin, sub apeJudețul Brașov: Unde intervine ISU în acest moment pentru evacuarea apei din curțiProbleme la Brașov cu apa potabilă!„Ce ai lua cu tine, dacă ar fi să pleci?“De Paști, membrii nonagenari înscriși la CAR Pensionari primesc cadouriLocalitatea Paltin, sub apeJudețul Brașov: Unde intervine ISU în acest moment pentru evacuarea apei din curți
„Ce ai lua cu tine, dacă ar fi să pleci?“
Mar 14, 2018SFCultura0

arca„Ce ai lua cu tine, dacă ar fi să pleci?“ este tema unui proiect, la care lucrează cu mult drag mai mulți copii, tineri, dar și vârstnici din Făgăraș și Țara Făgărașului.

Asociația Jugendzentrum Seligstadt, în colaborare cu Biserica Evanghelică, Fundația Culturală „Negru Vodă“ și Primăria Făgăraș prezintă proiectul Arca Noastră. Este vorba despre un proiect de pedagogie a artei în spațiul public. Artistul Edin Bajric, originar din Bosnia, împreună cu oameni de toate vârstele din Țara Făgărașului, va încărca o arcă – ridicată în centrul orașului, în părculeț, timp de o săptămână, cu idei, imagini, cuvinte și desene.

atelier arca2„Am invitat un artist, originar din Bosnia, Adin Bajric. El a fost nevoit, atunci când era copil, să plece din Bosnia, din cauza războiului. Ca și artist, și-a dedicat multe dintre lucrări acestei teme – ce ai putea lua cu tine, dacă vei fi nevoit să pleci din țară? Cam aceasta este și tema proiectului nostru. În acest sens, am invitat elevii, tinerii, dar și cei de vârsta a treia, să aștearnă pe hârtie ceea ce cred ei că ar putea lua cu ei dacă ar fi nevoiți să își părăsească țara. Tema proiectului este Arca lui Noe, am și construit-o, în părculețul din centrul orașului, este un obiect din lemn. Cu ajutorul celor implicați, dorim să umplem această arcă cu ceea ce cred ei că le-ar folosi dacă ar pleca. În acest sens organizăm mai multe ateliere, tinerii fie pictează, fie desenează, fie scriu. Iar la sfârșit totul se va transforma într-o expoziție, pe care sperăm să o arătăm întregii comunități“, ne-a spus Cornelia Hemmann, de la Biserica Evanghelică.

atelier arca„Am primit invitația de a participa la acest proiect cu mare drag. Ni s-a părut foarte interesant ca acești copii să aibă puterea să își exprime sentimentele în culori și în desene, pentru o temă de suflet: Ce ai lua cu tine, dac ar fi să pleci undeva? Copiii sunt foarte creativi și au foarte multe idei, lucrările lor sunt ample și reprezintă tot ceea ce ne-am putea gândi, de la lucruri materiale, la sentimente și trăiri. Ceea ce face ca acest proiect să fie unul foarte frumos și complex, totodată“, ne-a spus Raluca Muntenuș, profesor de limba engleză la Școala Gimnazială „Ovid Densușianu“.

Vernisajul expoziției va avea loc joi, 22 martie, de la ora 12.00. Însă atelierul va fi deschis în centrul orașului duminică, 18 martie, între orele 14.00 – 17.00.



10 Health Benefits of Yerba Mate Tea (Better Than Coffee) | Be Brain Fit

Be Brain Fit

10 Health Benefits of Yerba Mate Tea (Better Than Coffee)
By Deane Alban

The health benefits of yerba mate go beyond mental stimulation and energy boosting. With a powerful nutrient profile, yerba mate is more than just caffeine.

yerba mate tea

What you’ll learn about yerba mate in this article:

What makes yerba mate a popular substitute for coffee
The 1o top health benefits of yerba mate
How to prepare yerba mate tea
A look at bottled and canned yerba mate drinks
Potential yerba mate side effects
Billions of people start the day with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

But in some parts of the world, people wake up with a drink you may not be familiar with — yerba mate.

Yerba mate is a traditional South American brew that’s been said to offer the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one beverage.

It was called “the drink of the gods” by many indigenous South Americans and later “the green gold of the Indios” by European settlers.

First, let’s take a look at the many evidence-based benefits of yerba mate.

Then we’ll explore how to prepare and drink yerba mate tea for maximum health and enjoyment, and the fewest side effects.

What Is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is a traditional drink made from the dried leaves of an evergreen holly, Ilex paraguariensis, a native plant of South America.

This plant is found in the wild but is also cultivated on plantations similarly to familiar kinds of tea.

In countries where yerba mate is widely consumed, it assumes the cultural importance exemplified by coffee cafés and Japanese tea ceremonies.

Drinking yerba mate tea is often a social event.

Sharing this drink from a traditional gourd is a sign of friendship and bonding.

Mate drinking has its own vocabulary, not unlike ordering a coffee at Starbucks!

It’s wildly popular in Uruguay, where it’s not unusual to see people walking down the street sipping mate while carrying a thermos of hot water to refresh their drink.

It’s officially the national drink of Argentina where 500 million dollars worth of it is consumed every year. (1, 2)

Pope Francis drinking yerba mateAccording to one survey, it’s consumed in 92% of all Argentinian households.

Pope Francis, the first pope from Argentina, has been photographed sharing mate with his followers.

If you haven’t tried it, the best way to describe the taste is grassy and similar to green tea.

If you weren’t raised on it, you might find it an acquired taste.

But even if you don’t love it, you may want to drink it anyway.

Yerba mate consumption is increasing in many parts of the world, but not because of the way it tastes.

It’s gaining in popularity because of the way it improves how people feel.

Health Benefits of Yerba Mate
The obvious and immediate benefits of yerba mate are increased energy and enhanced mental clarity, alertness, focus, and concentration.

Some of the health benefits that follow are less widely known, at least to those of us not living in a mate-drinking part of the world.

  1. Yerba mate provides a smooth increase in energy.
    Yerba mate is well known for providing an energy boost that’s been described as gentle, clean, and calm.

Compared to the other most commonly used stimulants in the world — coffee, tea, kola nut, cocoa, and guarana — yerba mate reportedly delivers the most balanced energy boost.

Yerba mate drinkers experience a state of alert wakefulness similar to that of coffee, but without coffee’s side effects.

It rarely interferes with sleep and doesn’t cause caffeine jitters.

Athletes use it to enhance physical performance. (3)

✓ Yerba Mate Tea
See Amazon.com for best selection and value

Related article —
Why Natural Energy Drinks Are Better for Your Brain

It’s useful for people suffering from mental or physical fatigue, or from chronic fatigue syndrome. (4)

You may have come across the claim that yerba mate contains no caffeine, but this is not true.

It contains 85 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup, which is more than tea but less than coffee. (5)

You may hear that yerba mate contains mateine instead of caffeine.

While the caffeine-like effect of yerba mate may feel different than that of coffee, a unique compound has not yet been discovered.

One theory is that mateine is probably just caffeine bound to a tannin or phenol in the raw leaf.

At least for now, mateine is simply another name for caffeine. (6)

  1. Yerba mate boosts mental functions of all kinds.
    Everyone wants to be as smart, productive, focused, and creative as possible and yerba mate may just help you do that.

Yerba mate contains a moderate amount of caffeine, the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. (7)

The brain enhancing benefits of caffeine are commonly known.

It enhances memory, mood, and alertness. (8)

It makes you more motivated and productive by stimulating production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. (9)

But besides caffeine, yerba mate contains two related compounds, theobromine and theophylline.

✓ Matcha Green Tea
See Amazon.com for best selection and value

Related article —
Powerful Brain and Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea

These three alkaloids work together to provide unique, mild stimulant effects, as they also do in green tea. (10)

Yerba mate has found a niche following among brain hackers seeking to optimize mental performance with anything that gives them an edge.

Bestselling author Tim Ferriss is among the most famous biohackers.

He admits he’s experimented extensively with brain enhancing substances of all kinds, including smart drugs.

And, in the end, his all-time favorite brain enhancing substance is yerba mate.

He prefers it over coffee since he experiences no crash and finds it non-addictive.

And unlike smart drugs, it has no “payback time.”

He makes a special brew of yerba mate with ginger and turmeric that he calls “titanium tea.”

On his blog The Tim Ferriss Show, he reveals that yerba mate is part of his personal recipe for creativity on demand and that his favorite brand by far is Cruz De Malta Yerba Mate.

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  1. Yerba mate is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
    Yerba mate is so loaded with nutrition that it contains practically all the micronutrients needed to sustain life. (11)

Each serving of mate contains the following vitamins and high concentration of these minerals: (12, 13)

vitamin A
vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5
vitamin C
vitamin E
It also contains other beneficial phytonutrients such as tannins, trace minerals, chlorophyll, flavonoids, and 15 amino acids.

Yerba mate contains 11 polyphenols and exhibits more antioxidant power than any other tea-based drink. (14)

  1. Yerba mate has a long history of traditional medicinal uses.
    illustration of yerba mate plant
    Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Dr. Leslie Taylor is an herbalist and naturopath who has dedicated her life to exploring the healing properties of native, medicinal plants of the Amazon rain forest.

In her book The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs, she lists dozens of uses for yerba mate including:

as a stimulant
as an overall tonic and digestive aid
as part of a weight loss regime
as a general nerve tonic for pain, fatigue, and depression
for allergies and sinusitis
You can learn more about traditional yerba mate benefits and uses in her tropical plant database.

There you’ll find close to 100 scientific references to studies that support the health claims of traditional yerba mate.

  1. Yerba mate can boost the immune system.
    Yerba mate is high in compounds called saponins.

Saponins are natural emulsifiers that boost the immune system and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. (15)

✓ Green Tea
See Amazon.com for best selection and value

Related article —
EGCG and L-Theanine: Unique Brain Boosters in Green Tea

Yerba mate also contains potent antioxidants known as polyphenols. (16)

These plant-based compounds modulate the overactive immune response which contributes to seasonal allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. (17)

  1. Yerba mate tea can help you lose weight.
    Yerba mate got a big boost in awareness as a weight loss aid after Dr. Oz included it in a segment on his TV show about teas that can help you lose weight.

But can it really help you lose weight?

There’s some evidence that yerba mate can aid weight loss by reducing appetite, increasing energy expenditure, improving insulin sensitivity, and burning stored fat. (18, 19, 20)

  1. Yerba mate has a long history as a digestive and elimination tonic.
    One traditional yerba mate benefit is for treating constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion.

It’s naturally antibacterial against E. coli, one of the most common causes of food poisoning. (21)

At least one saponin found in yerba mate destroys intestinal parasites. (22)

It’s also useful for both preventing and treating urinary tract infections and bladder and kidney stones. (23)

Related article —
All About Caffeine Addiction and Withdrawal & How to Quit

  1. Yerba mate can build strong bones, even without exercise.
    Drinking yerba mate tea increases bone density, even in people who don’t exercise.

This was a somewhat surprising discovery since caffeine is associated with bone mineral loss and exercise is deemed critical for building strong bones.

This study found that post menopausal women, a group particularly at risk for osteoporosis, who regularly drank mate had almost 10% greater bone density in their spines than women who didn’t drink it. (24)

Neither group of women exercised.

  1. Yerba mate helps keep your heart healthy.
    Yerba mate is useful for heart-related conditions including heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and low blood pressure. (25)

Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties protect the heart and cardiovascular system. (26)

The theobromine in mate relaxes blood vessels allowing for better blood flow.

  1. Yerba mate extract kills cancer cells.
    We’ve saved this benefit for last since it’s the most controversial.

Yerba mate contains several known anti-cancer compounds such as saponins, ursolic acid, rutin, tannin, chlorogenic acid, and chlorophyll. (27)

When yerba mate extract is added to human colon cancer cells in a test tube, the cancer cells self-destruct. (28)

Conversely, there’s some concern that yerba mate may cause some kinds of cancer, mainly esophagus, lungs, mouth, pharynx, and larynx. (29)

However, there’s evidence that the real cause is that mate is traditionally consumed scalding hot.

Frequent exposure to extremely hot liquids is known to cause these kinds of cancers. (30)

Another theory is that mate drinkers in certain areas of South America often smoke tobacco and drink alcohol in excess which may be contributing factors. (31)

Related article —
Cognitive Enhancers Compared: Brain Supplements, Smart Drugs & Nootropics

How to Prepare Yerba Mate Tea
There are many ways to prepare yerba mate that range from super simple to a little more involved.

To start, you might want to prepare it in a way that requires no special equipment.

The easiest way is to brew it like tea using yerba mate tea bags.

yerba mate gourdThere’s no need to feel guilty that you’re taking a modern shortcut.

Kids in mate-drinking countries are introduced to it this way since mate made with tea bags is less potent.

You can also make it from loose mate leaves just like you would any loose tea using a strainer or infuser.

If you’ve got a French press, you can make yerba mate in it just as you would coffee.

✓ Yerba Mate Tea
See Amazon.com for best selection and value

When you are ready for a more authentic experience, you can upgrade to drinking yerba mate from a gourd (calabash) with a silver straw (bombilla).

If you’d like a visual demonstration, there are many videos online that show how to brew yerba mate in various ways.

Here’s a short video that shows how it’s traditionally brewed.

A Word About Yerba Mate Drinks in Bottles and Cans
Unlike coffee or tea, yerba mate is not readily available in most parts of the world.

So if you’re a fan, you may be tempted to try a canned or bottled yerba mate drink.

Here’s a quick look at what’s right — and wrong — about these drinks.

Yerba mate purists would shudder at popping open a bottle or can and taking a swig of a sugar-laden, fruity “mate drink.”

But if you are trying for a healthy upgrade from soda or typical energy drinks, these drinks could be a step in the right direction.

If you are concerned about sugar or caffeine, read all labels carefully.

The amount of both in these drinks varies greatly.

The most popular brand of prepared yerba mate drinks in the United States is Guayaki.

Here’s a quick look at what you can expect to find in some of their drinks.

Guayaki Energy Shot contains 140 mg of caffeine per 2-ounce shot.

This is less than the 200 mg in a 2-ounce Regular Strength 5-hour Energy shot.

Guayaki’s bottled teas contain 140 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce bottle compared to 80 mg in an 8-ounce can of Red Bull.

The exception is the peach flavor (Peach Terere) which contains only 80 mg.

Both the lemon mint and hibiscus lime bottled teas are unsweetened, while Guayaki canned drinks (a can is 15.5 ounces) contain about 28 grams of sugar per can.

If you want the convenience of yerba mate ready-made drinks but don’t want sugar or flavorings, another option is to add yerba mate liquid extract or powder to hot water to make instant yerba mate when you are on the go.

Yerba Mate Side Effects
Just because people in South America drink mate all day long doesn’t mean you should!

Some people may experience the typical symptoms of excess caffeine — anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations, and insomnia.

And since it’s great at keeping you regular, too much can have a laxative effect.

Due to its caffeine content, yerba mate is not recommended if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have anxiety issues. (32)

And keep in mind that if you smoke or drink alcohol heavily, these combined with mate might increase your risk for certain cancers.

One comprehensive study conducted in Argentina found an increased risk of bladder cancer in yerba mate drinkers, but only in those who also smoked. (33)

Related article —
15 Links Between Caffeine and Anxiety

There are several medications that should not be mixed with yerba mate.

These include drugs used to treat heart disease, asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, or any drugs that work by stimulating the nervous system. (34)

In almost every case, the problem is not unique to yerba mate but is due to ingesting moderate amounts of caffeine.

It’s not just a matter of overstimulation — in some cases caffeine can alter a drug’s effectiveness.

If you regularly consume other caffeinated drinks with no problem, you should have no problem with yerba mate.

But if you have any doubt, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

In the meantime, you can check RxList.com to see if your prescription is on a list of drugs contraindicated with yerba mate.

Yerba Mate Benefits: The Bottom Line
Yerba mate is one of the healthiest drinks on the planet.

It provides an energy and productivity boost similar to coffee, but with less caffeine and more nutrients.

It is generally less stimulating than coffee and rarely causes caffeine jitters or insomnia.

It offers a multitude of health benefits from improved cognition to stronger bones.

If you are looking for a healthy replacement for caffeine-laden energy drinks or soda or just want a change of pace from coffee, yerba mate is an excellent alternative.


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