Monthly Archives: July 2017

Watch “Arrow Willa Holland & Katrina Law Interview MCM Comic Con London” on YouTube

Watch “Russia orders US embassy in Moscow to cut staff by 755” on YouTube

BBC News: Mike Pence reassures Baltic states over Russia ‘threat’

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Mike Pence reassures Baltic states over Russia ‘threat’ –

France 24 : US can include Russians among the cut of 755 diplomats in Moscow

US can include Russians among the cut of 755 diplomats in Moscow

The United States can include its local employees among the 755 diplomatic staff it must cut in Russia, a Kremlin spokesman said on Monday, tempering the impact of an ultimatum issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The clarification from the Kremlin means that there will not necessarily be a mass expulsion of U.S. diplomats as part of Moscow’s retaliation for new sanctions that are to be imposed on Russia by the United States. The vast majority of the United States’ roughly 1,200 embassy and consulate staff in Russia are Russian citizens. Reducing their numbers will affect embassy and consular operations, but that step does not carry the same diplomatic impact as expelling U.S. diplomats from the country.

Still, slashing the U.S. embassy and consular staff by about 60 percent amounts to the most dramatic diplomatic demarche between the two countries since the Cold War. Commenting on which diplomatic staff would have to go, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call: “That’s the choice of the United States.” “(It’s) diplomats and technical employees. That is, we’re not talking purely about diplomats – obviously, there isn’t that number of diplomats – but about people with non-diplomatic status, and people hired locally, and Russian citizens who work there,” he said. As of 2013, the U.S. mission in Russia, including the Moscow embassy and consulates in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, employed 1,279 staff, according to a State Department Inspector General’s report that year. That included 934 “locally employed” staff and 301 U.S. “direct-hire” staff. Forcing the United States to scale back its diplomatic presence will reinforce Putin’s reputation at home as a resolute defender of Russia’s interests. That will help burnish his image before next year’s presidential election, when he is expected to seek another term. But the consequences of the Russian retaliation are not so stark that it would permanently alienate U.S. President Donald Trump, according to Alexander Baunov, a senior fellow at the Moscow Carnegie Center, a think tank. By announcing his counter-measures before Trump signed the sanctions legislation into law, “Putin is sending a message that he is punishing Congress’s America, and not Trump’s America,” Baunov wrote in a Facebook post. “(Putin) has taken Trump out of the direct line of fire and spared his ego.” Counter-measures The Russian measures were announced after the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Russia. The White House said on Friday that Trump would sign the sanctions bill. The new U.S. sanctions were partly a response to conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Trump win it, and to punish Russia further for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

BBC News: ‘Today I climbed Kilimanjaro’ says girl, aged 8

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‘Today I climbed Kilimanjaro’ says girl, aged 8 –

France 24 : Time for talk ‘over’ on North Korea, US tells United Nations

Time for talk ‘over’ on North Korea, US tells United Nations

The United States said Sunday the time for talk over North Korea was “over,” spurning a UN response to Pyongyang’s latest ICBM launch in favour of bomber flights and missile defence system tests.

Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, said there was “no point” in holding a fruitless emergency Security Council session, warning that a weak additional council resolution would be “worse than nothing” in light of the North’s repeated violations. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un boasted of his country’s ability to strike any target in the US after an intercontinental ballistic missile test Friday that weapons experts said could even bring New York into range — in a major challenge to Trump. US strategic bombers on Saturday flew over the Korean peninsula in a direct response to the launch, and on Sunday American forces successfully tested a missile interception system the US hopes will be installed on the Korean peninsula. Under Kim’s leadership, North Korea has accelerated its drive towards a credible nuclear strike capability, in defiance of international condemnation and multiple sets of UN sanctions. The US Senate passed new bipartisan sanctions on Pyongyang on Friday. Haley urged China, Japan and South Korea to tighten the screws on Pyongyang. “An additional Security Council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value,” she wrote. “It sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him. “China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step. The time for talk is over.” ‘They do NOTHING’ Earlier, US President Donald Trump warned that he would not allow China — the impoverished North’s sole major ally and economic lifeline — to “do nothing” about Pyongyang.

My Chakra today

My Chakra today

Today’s Holiday: Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola St. Ignatius Loyola

Today’s Holiday:
Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola
St. Ignatius Loyola

(1491-1556) founded the Society of Jesus, the Roman Catholic religious order whose members are known as Jesuits. The Feast of St. Ignatius is celebrated by Jesuits everywhere, but particularly in the Basque region of Spain where he was born. The largest Basque community in North America, located in Boise, Idaho, holds its annual St. Ignatius Loyola Picnic on the last weekend in July—an event often referred to as the Basque Festival. More…:

Today’s Birthday: Milton Friedman (1912)

Today’s Birthday:
Milton Friedman (1912)

Friedman was an American economist and a leading US advocate of monetarism, the belief that a nation’s money supply is the chief determinant of its economy. He wrote numerous books and was a frequent television commentator and magazine columnist, which made him one of the most publicly familiar US economists. Friedman served as an adviser to US presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. To what South American country did he provide economic advice following a military coup? More…:

This Day in History: Pulp Fiction Hero “The Shadow” Debuts on the Radio (1930)

This Day in History:
Pulp Fiction Hero “The Shadow” Debuts on the Radio (1930)

The fictional, crime-fighting vigilante known as The Shadow originally debuted as the announcer of Detective Story Hour, a radio program that was quickly eclipsed by the popularity of its own narrator. The following year The Shadow got his own magazine and became one of pulp fiction’s most enduring heroes, entering film and television. The radio show was re-named The Shadow and ran for more than 25 years. What comic book hero refers to The Shadow as his biggest inspiration? More…:

Quote of the Day: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Quote of the Day:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

As a man without forethought scarcely deserves the name of a man, so forethought without reflection is but a metaphorical phrase for the instinct of a beast. More…:

Article of the Day: Paperweights

Article of the Day:

Appreciated more for their aesthetic value than their practical aspects, paperweights are collected as examples of fine craftsmanship by approximately 20,000 enthusiasts worldwide. Produced both by sole artisans and in factories where artists and technicians collaborate, paperweights come in many different varieties, and their value is determined based on their design, rarity, and condition. What was the record sum once paid for an antique French paperweight? More…:

Idiom of the Day: (something) won’t get (someone) anywhere

Idiom of the Day:
(something) won’t get (someone) anywhere

Something, typically a certain behavior, will not help someone progress or succeed in any way. Watch the video…:

Word of the Day: irreverent

Word of the Day:

Definition: (adjective) Characterized by a lightly pert and exuberant quality.
Synonyms: impertinent, pert, saucy
Usage: Sally’s irreverent gaiety and ease of manner drew people to her and made her immediately likeable.:

My Duck today

My Duck today

My birds on the wire today

My birds on the wire today

My Chakra today

My Chakra today

De pe la Breaza: Sfârșit de iulie …

De pe la Breaza

Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.

Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.

Today’s featured article : from Wikipedia

Reconstructed Giganotosaurus carolinii skeleton, Natural History Museum, Helsinki.Giganotosaurus (“giant southern lizard”)

is a genus of theropod dinosaur that lived in what is now Argentina, around 99.6 to 97 million years ago. It was one of the largest known terrestrial carnivores, but the exact size has been hard to determine from the incomplete remains found so far. The holotype specimen, discovered in Patagonia in 1993, is almost 70% complete, and indicates a length of 12 to 13 m (39 to 43 ft), a skull 1.53 to 1.80 m (5.0 to 5.9 ft) in length, and a weight of 4.2 to 13.8 t (4.6 to 15.2 short tons). A length of 13.2 m (43 ft) has been extrapolated from another individual’s dentary bone. Some researchers believe the animal to have been larger than Tyrannosaurus, generally considered the largest theropod. The skull was low, with a ridge-like crest in front of the eye. The teeth were serrated, and the front of the lower jaw was flattened. Giganotosaurus is thought to have had a homeothermic metabolism, between that of a mammal and a reptile, which would have enabled rapid growth but not fast movement. It was probably the apex predator of its ecosystem, feeding on juvenile sauropod dinosaurs. (Full article…)

France 24 : Candidate in Venezuela’s Constitutent Assembly vote shot dead

Candidate in Venezuela’s Constitutent Assembly vote shot dead

Deadly violence erupted around a controversial vote held in Venezuela on Sunday, with a candidate to the all-powerful assembly being elected shot dead in his home and troops firing weapons to clear protesters in Caracas.

The unrest highlighted the tensions over the vote called by beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro despite months of demonstrations and fierce international criticism. He is gambling his four-year rule on the 545-member citizens’ “Constituent Assembly” empowered to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and change laws as it reforms the nation’s constitution. A candidate for the new body in Venezuela’s southeastern town of Ciudad Bolivar, 39-year-old lawyer Jose Felix Pineda, was killed from multiple shots fired by assailants who broke into his home overnight, prosecutors said. He was the second candidate to be murdered, after the July 10 death of another, Jose Luis Rivas, as he was campaigning in the northern city of Maracay. In the west of Caracas, national guard troops fanning out to put down any disruption to the election used armored vehicles and fired shots to disperse protesters blocking roads.

BBC News: Venezuelan officials killed as voting starts

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Venezuelan officials killed as voting starts –

BBC News: Trump responds to N Korea with missile defence test and B-1 drills

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Trump responds to N Korea with missile defence test and B-1 drills –

Biserica fortificată din Biertan

Biserica fortificată din Biertan

Watch “First Aid Kit – Emmylou” on YouTube

Watch “Supernatural – Don’t you cry no more” on YouTube

” The Ghent Altarpiece ” 1432 detail face of the Virgin by Jan Van Eyck

” The Ghent Altarpiece ” 1432 detail face of the Virgin by Jan Van Eyck

Period: Northern Renaissance At Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent

France 24 : Men under 50 banned from Friday prayers at Jerusalem holy site

Men under 50 banned from Friday prayers at Jerusalem holy site

The main prayer session at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque ended more quietly on Friday than expected with Israel setting an age limit on who could attend after two weeks of violent protests over tougher Israeli security measures.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in a move that has never been recognised internationally. Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, sits on a tree-lined plateau in the heart of the Old City. It is also the holiest place in Judaism – the venue of two ancient temples, the last destroyed by the Romans. Jews pray under heavy security at the Western Wall at the foot of the elevated plaza. The dispute, like many in the Holy Land, is about more than security devices, taking in issues of sovereignty, religious freedom, occupation and Palestinian nationalism. In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a Palestinian armed with a knife charged at Israeli soldiers and was shot dead, the military said. (REUTERS)

France 24 : EU takes legal action against Poland over reform of judiciary

EU takes legal action against Poland over reform of judiciary

The European Union said Saturday it has launched legal action against Poland’s right-wing government over a new law it fears will undermine the independence of the country’s common courts.

The action taken by the European Commission, the EU executive, could lead to Poland being hauled before the 28-nation bloc’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, and eventually given a fine. The commission is now coming down hard on Warsaw to prevent what it says is not just an increasing threat to Poland’s democratic standards but those across the 28-nation bloc. “The European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Poland by sending a letter of formal notice, following the publication in the Polish Official Journal of the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation on Friday 28 July,” the European Commission said in a statement. It said Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party (PiS) had one month to respond to Commission concerns, including that “the independence of Polish courts will be undermined” by increased powers for the justice minister. Other concerns, it said, include “discrimination on the basis of gender due to the introduction of a different retirement age” for female and male judges.

BBC News: North Korea says missile test shows all US within range

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North Korea says missile test shows all US within range –

Today’s Holiday: Ghanafest

Today’s Holiday:

Ghanafest is a one-day, annual event held on the last Saturday of July and sponsored by the Ghana Club of Chicago and other associations representing Ghanians in the Chicago area. The festival celebrates the history and culture of the west African nation and recognizes the bond of unity between Ghana and the United States. The festival includes a Ghanian Durbar, or gathering of the royal court. Entertainers from Ghana perform in a variety of musical styles, and marketplace vendors offer wares ranging from textiles, fine art, and jewelry to foods, including fried fish, Jollof-rice, and okro-soup. More…:

Today’s Birthday: Ken Burns (1953)

Today’s Birthday:
Ken Burns (1953)

Burns is an acclaimed American director and producer of lengthy historical documentaries. Known for his extensive use of archival footage and photographs, he is considered one of the most influential documentarians in the US. His films have been among public television’s most-watched programs, and include The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The War, and The National Parks. The Civil War is considered to be his masterpiece. What is the “Ken Burns Effect”? More…:

This Day in History: Discovery of Dwarf Planet Eris Is Announced (2005)

This Day in History:
Discovery of Dwarf Planet Eris Is Announced (2005)

Though Eris was first photographed in 2003, scientists working at the Palomar Observatory did not realize that they had captured pictures of a previously unknown planet until re-analyzing the images in 2005. That year, news of the newly discovered planet was announced. Slightly larger than Pluto, the icy dwarf planet has its own moon, Dysnomia, and is one of the most distant objects in the solar system. Before its official naming in 2006, it was popularly known by the name of what TV character? More…:

Quote of the Day: Ambrose Bierce

Quote of the Day:
Ambrose Bierce

Connoisseur, n.: A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else. More…:

Article of the Day: Autostereograms

Article of the Day:

Autostereograms are optical illusions of depth that are designed to trick the brain into perceiving a three-dimensional scene in a two-dimensional image. The simplest type, known as a wallpaper autostereogram, consists of horizontally repeating patterns that appear to float in the air above the background. In order to perceive the 3D shapes, the brain must overcome the normally automatic coordination between focusing and convergence. What are the two ways that an autostereogram can be viewed? More…:

Idiom of the Day: junkyard dog

Idiom of the Day:
junkyard dog

An especially nasty, vicious, or savage person or animal (especially a dog). Of a person, often used in the phrase “meaner than a junkyard dog.” Watch the video…:

Word of the Day: tenuity

Word of the Day:

Definition: (noun) Relatively small dimension through an object as opposed to its length or width.
Synonyms: thinness, slenderness
Usage: She marveled at the tenuity of the cotton threads delicately woven together to create a durable fabric.:

Watch “Jethro Tull – Locomotive Breath – Live in USA 1977” on YouTube

France 24 : US Senate approves new Russia sanctions

US Senate approves new Russia sanctions

The Senate voted decisively on Thursday to approve a new package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, sending the popular bill to President Donald Trump for his signature after weeks of intense negotiations.

Never in doubt, however, was a cornerstone of the legislation that bars Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees. The provisions were included to assuage concerns among lawmakers that the president’s push for better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from the Kremlin. The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both are veto proof numbers as the White House has wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law. The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the bill’s passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug. “Over the last eight months what price has Russia paid for attacking our elections?” McCain asked. “Very little.” Trump had privately expressed frustration over Congress’ ability to limit or override the power of the president on national security matters, according to Trump administration officials and advisers. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations. But faced with heavy bipartisan support for the bill in the House and Senate, the president has little choice but to sign the bill into law. Trump’s communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, suggested earlier Thursday on CNN’s New Day that Trump might veto the bill and “negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that would be a serious mistake and called Scaramucci’s remark an “off-handed comment.” If Trump rejected the bill, Corker said, Congress would overrule him. “I cannot imagine anybody is seriously thinking about vetoing this bill,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s not good for any president — and most governors don’t like to veto things that are going to be overridden. It shows a diminishment of their authority. I just don’t think that’s a good way to start off as president.” Still, signing a bill that penalizes Russia’s election interference would mark a significant shift for Trump. He’s repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia sought to tip the election in his favor. And he’s blasted as a “witch hunt” investigations into the extent of Russia’s interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. The 184-page bill seeks to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports. The bill underwent revisions to address concerns voiced by American oil and natural gas companies that sanctions specific to Russia’s energy sector could backfire on them to Moscow’s benefit. The bill raised the threshold for when U.S. firms would be prohibited from being part of energy projects that also included Russian businesses. Lawmakers said they also made adjustments so the sanctions on Russia’s energy sector didn’t undercut the ability of U.S. allies in Europe to get access to oil and gas resources outside of Russia. The North Korea sanctions are intended to thwart Pyongyang’s ambition for nuclear weapons by cutting off access to the cash the reclusive nation needs to follow through with its plans. The bill prohibits ships owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions against it from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports. Goods produced by North Korea’s forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States, according to the bill. The sanctions package imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country’s Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the sanctions bill. (AP)

BBC News: North Korea conducts new ballistic missile test

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North Korea conducts new ballistic missile test –

BBC News: Russia orders US to cut embassy staff in retaliation for sanctions

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Russia orders US to cut embassy staff in retaliation for sanctions –

BBC News: Using cheap magnet, hacker beats protections on a “smart” handgun.

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Using cheap magnet, hacker beats protections on a “smart” handgun. –

BBC News: Republicans ‘frustrated’ after healthcare fiasco

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Republicans ‘frustrated’ after healthcare fiasco –

Today’s Holiday: Crop Over

Today’s Holiday:
Crop Over

This harvest festival in Barbados was originally celebrated in the 1800s by slaves at the end of the sugar-cane harvest. Today, Crop Over is a civic celebration which takes place during the last three weeks of July and usually ends on the first Monday in August. There are historical displays, craft shows, fairs, open-air concerts, calypso music and dancing, and “stick licking”—a self-defense sport similar to fencing. The first Monday of August is the finale, known as the Kadooment, which includes the judging of costumed bands at the National Stadium and a grand calypso procession. More…:

Today’s Birthday: Malcolm Lowry (1909)

Today’s Birthday:
Malcolm Lowry (1909)

Lowry was an English writer known for his articulation of the spiritual desolation of the modern individual. His reputation rests on the semi-autobiographical 1947 novel Under the Volcano. Set in Mexico—from which Lowry was once deported—it recounts the last day of a dispirited, alcoholic, former British consul. Though critically praised, it received popular recognition only after Lowry’s death—probably from the effects of alcoholism—at 47. What rumors surround his cause of death? More…:

This Day in History: Thomas Cromwell Is Executed (1540)

This Day in History:
Thomas Cromwell Is Executed (1540)

Arguably the architect of the Reformation, Cromwell was an English statesman who gained nearly complete control of the government as the closest advisor of King Henry VIII of England. Cromwell abused his power but only fell from Henry’s favor after convincing him to marry Anne of Cleves, whom Henry found unattractive. After the marriage fizzled, Anne was sent away with a generous pension, but Cromwell was beheaded—on the same day that Henry did what? More…:

Quote of the Day: Miguel de Cervantes

Quote of the Day:
Miguel de Cervantes

It ill becomes you to assail one who cannot defend himself. More…:

Article of the Day: The Great Book of Saint Cyprian

Article of the Day:
The Great Book of Saint Cyprian

Purported to have been taken from a manuscript written by early Christian martyr Saint Cyprian of Antioch, The Great Book of Saint Cyprian is an occult work that first appeared in 1849 and has since spawned several editions with varying titles. Written in Portuguese and Spanish, the book contains a mixture of Christian prayers and pagan spells, and many consider it a sin to possess or even touch it. Some even believe that reading the book from back to front will do what? More…:

Idiom of the Day: jungle telegraph

Idiom of the Day:
jungle telegraph

An informal means of communication or information, especially gossip. Used most commonly in the phrase “hear (something) on the jungle telegraph.” (Analogous to “hear (something) through the grapevine.”) Primarily heard in UK. Watch the video…:

Word of the Day: juxtaposition

Word of the Day:

Definition: (noun) The act of positioning close together (or side by side).
Synonyms: apposition, collocation
Usage: The juxtaposition of the skyscraper and the brick townhouse had a curious effect, and from a distance the cozy home looked like a dollhouse.: