Saturday, January 31, 2015

Second Japanese hostage 'beheaded' by ISIS in video

Kenji Goto

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has released a video purportedly showing the killing of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, a monitoring service has said.  The video, released online by the armed group on Saturday, shows the journalist who was abducted while reporting on Syria's civil war last year being beheaded with a knife by a black-clad masked fighter. Japan on Sunday said it was "highly probable" the video is authentic.

Addressing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the ISIL member in the video said: "Because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin."
Abe addressed the nation shortly after the release of the footage, condemning the "horrendeous" and "despicable" killing and saying that the government tried its best to save the hostage.
"Japan will not be defeated by terrorism," he said.

President Obama also condemned "the heinous murder" of Goto and praised Japan.
"We applaud Japan's steadfast commitment to advancing peace and prosperity in the Middle East and globally, including its generous assistance for innocent people affected by he conflicts in the region," Obama said in a statement on Saturday.

ISIL continue to hold another hostage, Jordanian pilot First Leutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh. In an interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday, Kasasbeh's mother urged ISIL to release her son.
"I call upon the Islamic State group, I appeal to our brothers among them, one Muslim addressing another, from a distressed mother's heart who is in sorrow from missing her beloved son," said Om Jawad al-Kasasbeh
"I appeal to you tell us about Moaz's wellbeing and I ask you to be kind in how you treat him and to release him. I beg you, I ask you to show him mercy."

Japanese hostage
Goto was a freelance journalist who had reported from war zones for more than 20 years, in Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East. He travelled to Syria, at least in part, to attempt a rescue of his friend Haruna Yukawa, who was captured by ISIL in August.
Haruna was a self-styled military consultant who went to Syria to set up a security company, despite little experience.
In October, Goto was captured by ISIL and was held captive alongside his friend. ISIL demanded a $200m ransom for the two men.

Last week, the armed group released a video with an image of Goto, chained by the wrist and with a photograph of Yukawa in his hand, with audio of Yukawa being killed.
The video said Goto had "only 24 hours left to live" and Kasasbeh "even less". The footage later gave a deadline of sunset on Thursday, for Goto to be freed in return for Jordan releasing the Iraqi woman Sajida al-Rishawi.
The group also beheaded US hostages James Foley and Peter Kassig, Israeli-American Steven Sotloff and British captives David Haines and Alan Henning,
ISIL has beheaded and shot dead hundreds of captives - mainly Syrian and Iraqi soldiers - during its
sweep across the two countries, and has celebrated its mass killings in extremely graphic videos.

The World's Greatest Lost Treasures.... Still Waiting To Be Found

Jean Metzinger, 1913, En Canot (Im Boot), oil on canvas, 146 x 114 cm (57.5 in × 44.9 in), exhibited at Moderni Umeni, S.V.U. Mánes, Prague, 1914, acquired in 1916 by Georg Muche at the Galerie Der Sturm, confiscated by the Nazis circa 1936, displayed at the Degenerate Art show in Munich, and missing ever since

These days, thanks largely to Google Earth, it seems not an inch of this planet is left unexplored or a single treasure left undiscovered. But that’s just not true. Some of the world’s most incredible riches, from pirate treasures to royal jewels, are still out there somewhere, lost, waiting to be found.
Some of them are legendary and a mere mention spurs the imagination: the Holy Grail, sought after for centuries by devout men hoping to find the cup that once held the blood of Christ. Or El Dorado, the mythical Incan city paved with gold and unimaginable treasure that drove waves of conquistadores mad with greed.
Today still, the art of treasure hunting survives, and few treasures are more appealing than shipwrecks. Probably the largest treasure among them is La Flor de la Mar — The Flower of the Sea — a Portuguese frigate that set sail from Malacca, Malaysia, in 1511 carrying the largest treasure ever assembled in Portugal’s naval history. The ship was caught in a violent storm in the Strait of Malacca and shipwrecked on the reefs of Sumatra, splitting in two and spilling its precious contents into the waves.
Spain’s 1715 Treasure Fleet is also a dream trophy. At the height of its empire, Spain assembled one of the richest treasure fleets ever seen: 11 ships, all filled to the gunwales with silver, gold, pearls and emeralds from the New World. The ships left Cuba just before hurricane season in the hope of deterring pirates. It worked, but a few days later a storm sank all 11 ships, sending thousands of sailors and tons of treasure to the bottom of the sea. Seven of the ships have been located, but only a small percentage of the bounty has been recovered.
Another, more macabre, form of treasure hunting is the quest to discover the resting places of history’s greatest figures. The graves of Egyptian queen Nefertiti and the Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan have never been found, though they are both believed to hold great riches. Another much-sought-after tomb is that of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor. It’s actually been found — protected by the famed Terracotta Army — and is thought to contain priceless artifacts. But excavation is slow because the soil surrounding the burial area has a high concentration of toxic mercury that could poison the water supply if mishandled.

The Nefertiti bust is pictured during a press preview of the exhibition 'In The Light Of Amarna' at the Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, pool)

When we think about long-forgotten treasure we imagine one thing: jewels. Take King John’s Crown Jewels. This corrupt ruler of England truly loved ostentatious displays of wealth. But in 1216, his majestic crown jewels were lost when a flood washed away carts transporting them. John died several days later, and the jewels were never found.
When the Bolsheviks stormed the czar’s palace in 1918, eight priceless Fabergé eggs — made with precious stones, expensive metals and precise engineering — went missing from a collection of 50. While they have never been found, rumor has it that several of them made it to the U.K. and the U.S.

The Faberge egg "The Coronation Egg", 1897, is displayed at an exhibition in the museum Bellerive in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Keystone, Alessandro Della Bella)

But many of the world’s most-sought-after treasures are much larger. This is the case of the legendary Amber Room, a room lined with panels of amber, gold and mirrors that was given to Peter the Great as a gift from Friedrich Wilhelm I in 1716.
How could a room go missing? Well, in 1943 German soldiers dismantled the room after invading Russia, packed it into 27 crates and shipped it to Kaliningrad. World War II Allied bombing raids are said to have destroyed it, though some evidence suggests that it was actually shipped out of the city in the following months and hidden along with other Nazi treasures.
More Nazi valuables could lie on the bottom of Lake Toplitz in the Austrian Alps. During a hasty retreat, Nazi officers dumped a handful of mysterious iron crates into the lake. So far the treasure has eluded divers trying to reach it because of a dense layer of sunken logs halfway to the bottom of the lake.
Of course, many treasure hunts are based on rumor and hearsay. And as the years go by, and facts mix with legends, it becomes hard to tell truth from tale. Yet recent examples show there’s still hope for the aspiring Indiana Jones.
In June 2011, billions of dollars worth of gold and priceless jewels were discovered beneath the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in India. And this year, the discovery of a 19th-century shipwreck off the coast of South Carolina uncovered millions of dollars worth of gold coins and ingots.
Granted, searching for Nefertiti’s tomb might not be a reliable retirement plan, unless you don’t need the money anyway and are just in it for the fun.

A June 27, 2011 photograph of the 16th-century Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum, the capital of the southern state of Kerala, India. (AP Photo)

Grisly Finds Aboard Black Beard's Ship

A urethral syringe used to treat syphilis found aboard Blackbeard's ship Queen Anne's Revenge, which wrecked off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. | North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

Ahoy! Archaeologists excavating pirate Blackbeard's sunken ship, named Queen Anne's Revenge, recently unearthed from the wreckage various medical devices--and some of them look pretty darn terrifying.Among the grisly finds were a urethral syringe that would have been used to treat syphilis, two pumps, and a porringer that would have been used in bloodletting, Live Science reported.
"We just have to understand that these people were suffering," Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, an archaeologist with the U.S. Department of Defense who volunteered on the excavation, told CNN.
"They were seeking relief for any kind of ailment, and certainly if there was warfare on the water, there were wounds among other ailments that needed treatment. It wasn't always a formally trained person in desperate times. That's probably more common than we know."

A mortar and pestle that was likely used to grind ingredients to make medicine

Supplies used to measure medicine.

Blackbeard lost his flagship when it ran aground off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. The ship was hidden by water and sand for more than 270 years until it was rediscovered in 1996. Now, the shipwreck is being closely studied as part of the Queen Anne's Revenge project of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.
Thanks to the medical artifacts found aboard the flagship, archaeologists are learning more about how Blackbeard's crew treated not only small wounds and ailments, but also chronic illnesses.
"Because his passion for piracy, I think he cared very much about keeping it going, and to keep it going, he had to have a healthy, functioning crew," Carnes-McNaughton told The Washington Post. She described the new findings at the Society for Historical Archaeology’s annual meeting on Jan. 8,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ukraine crisis sends a chill into orbit

Soyuz capsule

The latest Soyuz landing was a model of international co-operation 

A Soyuz capsule returned to Earth on Wednesday with its international cosmonauts. Russian Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Japan's Koichi Wakata had spent 188 days orbiting the planet on the International Space Station. As is customary, the trio were lifted out of their craft and put in chairs. Thumbs-up and smiles all round. The picture of co-operation.
But the space program is increasingly wearing a frown also, as the fallout from Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea touches all aspects of international relations.
At the moment, the orbiting platform continues to sail serenely around the globe at 27,000km/h, but on Earth things are a little bumpier.  A series of tit-for-tat gestures is raising tensions. The US put restrictions on its federal officials meeting with their Russian counterparts, and banned some technology exports.

The Russians and Americans depend on one another to operate the ISS

This could have had a major impact on the US space agency (Nasa) and its dealing with its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, but the White House said matters relating to the space station were exempt, and that’s where most co-operative activity between the pair takes place.
Now, the Russians have hit back by saying they will stop the export of rocket engines to the US if they're to be used to launch American military hardware – something they routinely do when attached to the first-stage of the Atlas rocket. Several of these vehicles a year will loft spacecraft for the US Air Force or the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
Russia is also threatening to shut down monitoring stations on its soil that support services based on American Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, although Moscow says this is more directly a response to Washington's refusal to allow stations to be built on US soil to support Glonass, the Russians' own sat-nav network.
There's talk, too, of Russia perhaps not agreeing to extend space station operations beyond 2020 – something the rest of the international partners on the project would like to do. Stirring the pot is Russia’s deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and defence industries.

Atlas rocket
US Atlas rockets currently use a dual-nozzle, Russian-built RD-180 engine to get off the pad

And he really likes to stir. When the US introduced its technology sanctions, he wrote: "After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry I suggest the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline. He entitled a twitter: 'US Lets Down Its ISS Astronauts By Sanctions Against Russian Space Program'. He even posted a picture of trampoline with a Nasa badge. It's a joke playing on the fact that the US must now buy seats in Russian Soyuz capsules if it wants to get its astronauts to the space station. After the retirement of the shuttles in 2011, there is currently no home-grown alternative. A lot of this is huff and puff, of course. But the Russians need to be careful.
They are currently earning a tidy sum out of the Americans. The export of RD-180 rocket engines for the Atlas vehicles is worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Russian space industry. And every one of those Soyuz seats to the ISS is bought for a ticket price that exceeds $60m. Sabre rattling risks these profitable endeavors.
Already, there are noises in the US Congress that money should be made available to American industry to help design and build an indigenous Atlas first-stage engine. And circling is Elon Musk of California’s upstart SpaceX company, which wants to sweep all before it by substituting both the Atlas and the Soyuz with the highly competitive Falcon rocket. All Musk's technology is US-built and a lot cheaper to boot.
The Russians therefore have much to lose, financially. But perhaps the saddest aspect of all this is that space endeavour should be touched at all. It was of course in orbit that the US and the Soviet Union first defrosted relations with the Apollo-Soyuz docking in 1975. That co-operation was then built on with the highly successful Shuttle-Mir program, which saw the American orbiters visit the old Russian space station throughout the 1990s.
And today we have the ISS - a shining star for international unity, with astronauts and cosmonauts of many nationalities – not just American and Russian - working very effectively side by side. That's not something anyone should want to sully. It's a beacon, leading us into a future we all desire.

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My parents are getting divorced after 22 years of marriage and it seems to be strongly affecting my mother in a terrible negative way .
Mom has told me that she has contemplated suicide twice . Once, she even held my brother's gun to her head . Everyone in the family, even my grandmother, my aunts and even my boyfriend , think mom needs counseling . 
So how do I suggest it without making her think I am calling her "crazy" ? And another problem is the cost . Mom may refuse to go because it's too expensive . Do you have any suggestions that may help ? 
Concerned Daughter 
Dear Concerned Daughter,
All mentions of sucide  should  be taken seriously . You are right  that your  mother  could  benefit from professional  help  and it  doesen't  need  to be expensive . Tell her  you are worried  about  her  and  it might help if  she  talks  to  someone  about  her  feelings . Free  and low-cost help  is  available  through local  churches, graduate  school  counseling  departments, medical school psychology departments , United Way , the  YWCA, and the YMCA. The Samaritan Institute ( ) . Nami   ( ) and  the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( ) and through support  groups  such as  the Depression  and Bipolar Support Alliance  ( ) and Recovery International ( ) . Do a little  research on her behalf  and  make  a suggestion, including  a website  or  phone number so she  can get the help she needs.

Dear Maxy ,
I am noticing a new behavior in my tween daughter that is driving me nuts . Pretty much anything I say to her she rejects as if I don't know what I'm talking about . We are constantly bickering over every little thing . I asked her one day how she became an expert on everything at such a young age , trying to add some levity to the situation . What can I do to stop getting caught up in the arguments .
Stressed Out 
Dear Stressed Out,
According to Dr. Laura Markham, an 11/12 year old girl's hormones are going crazy and their brains are rewiring, so they are famous for their mood swings. They often don't even know why they're having an angry or tearful outburst. They often are ambivalent about "growing up" and resist the bodily changes and societal expectations that are thrust upon them. They begin experimenting with being sassy. It's pretty normal. But you can change the dynamic of the relationship:
1. Reconnect: Hug her more, spend time alone with her, listen more and find out what's going on in her world. Do something she likes....maybe go shopping or out to lunch.
2. Stop criticizing and start appreciating: Consciously remind yourself -- and her -- of all things you love about her. Give her more positive reinforcement and help her build her self esteem.
3. Try to see it from her point of view: Cultivate empathy for her. You may think she is over-reacting or over-dramatizing but girls this age have big feelings. She will learn to moderate them if she feels she is understood by you. 
 Focus on what really matters -- how people in your home treat each other, rather than being a disciplinarian. That doesn't mean you don't set limits. It means you do it in a patient, respectful, calm way, so your child internalizes calmness and respect and the ability to set limits for herself. If you respond to her upsets by getting upset yourself, it's like throwing a match on kindling.
Of course she won't become perfect. So you will need to cultivate the patience of a saint. Is that fair? No. But since when has parenthood been fair? A sense of humor really helps and it can break a tense moment. The bond you build now will last the rest of your life.
Here are some books you can get from the library.... The Everything Tween Book: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Turbulent Pre-Teen Years - by Linda Sonna......How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years - by Julie A. Ross......Six Ways to Keep the "Little" in Your Girl: Guiding Your Daughter from Her Tweens to Her Teens - by Dannah Gresh .
Good luck, Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I get so many emails these days that it is hard to keep track of them . It has become a problem for me because I have missed following up on key messages from my family and work . One of my clients got mad and threatened to take his business elsewhere . It that isn't bad enough , one of my friends got upset because I didn't respond to his invitation to go to his birthday party . I didn't see any of these messages . I feel overwhelmed by technology and really wish I didn't have to manage email . What should I do .
Out of Control
Dear Out  of  Control ,
You need to "make friends" with technology and  figure out  how  to use it  to  your  advantage . Start by  separating  your work  from your  personal life . Create  a new  email  address  specifically  for  your  friends  and  family . Send  a message  to all of  them  from that address  requesting that they use  that one . Next , clean out  your  other email  address . Delete  everything  that is  old  and unneccesary  . Review  everything   and respond  to anything  that is  outstanding . If  you are  late  in your  reply , be sure  to apologize  for  your  tardiness . Being  organized  will help you  stay on top  of  your responsibilities .

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Otzi's Tattoos....For Jonny and Chris

intro image

Dear Jonny and Chris The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology also agrees with the pain theory. They said the following:

The Iceman’s body is covered with over 50 tattoos in the form of groups of lines and crosses.
Unlike modern tattooing methods, the tattoos were not produced with needles but by means of fine incisions into which charcoal was rubbed. Interestingly, Ötzi’s tattoos are located at points where his body was subjected to considerable strain during his lifetime and very probably caused him a lot of pain due to wear.
The tattoos were therefore probably intended as therapeutic measures rather than as symbols.

One or several groups of vertical lines are located to the left and right of the spinal column, on the left calf, on the right instep and on the inner and outer ankle joint. Two lines cross the left wrist. A cross-shaped mark appears on the back of the right knee and beside the left Achilles tendon.
The Iceman had therefore undergone pain-relieving treatment on multiple occasions.

Astonishingly, the tattooed areas correspond to skin acupuncture lines. Before Ötzi it was thought that this treatment had only originated two thousand years later in Asia.

Big hugs, Aunt Jeannie

Iceman's Tattoos (Joann Fletcher - Smithsonian Institute)

The tattooed right hand of a Chiribaya mummy
The tattooed right hand of a Chiribaya mummy is displayed at El Algarrobal Museum, near the port of Ilo in southern Peru. The Chiribaya were farmers who lived from A.D. 900 to 1350. (Joann Fletcher)
What is the earliest evidence of tattoos?
In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old.
Can you describe the tattoos on the Iceman and their significance?
Following discussions with my colleague Professor Don Brothwell of the University of York, one of the specialists who examined him, the distribution of the tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints correspond to areas of strain-induced degeneration, with the suggestion that they may have been applied to alleviate joint pain and were therefore essentially therapeutic. This would also explain their somewhat 'random' distribution in areas of the body which would not have been that easy to display had they been applied as a form of status marker.

Read more:
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

To Jonny and Chris....Aunt Jeannie

Monday, January 26, 2015

Strange New Tattoo Discovered On 'Ötzi The Iceman' Mummy

Researchers in Italy announced this week that they had discovered a strange new tattoo on the ribcage of the 5,300-year-old mummy known as Ötzi the Iceman.
The find raises to 61 the number of Ötzi's known tattoos, and it came as a big surprise.

"We didn't expect to find a tattoo on the thoracic, as all the other tattoos are mainly close to joints and on his lower back and legs," Dr. Albert Zink, director of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano and one of the scientists behind the discovery, told The Huffington Post in an email.

Ötzi's newly discovered tattoo, on the lower right side of the mummy's chest.
Ötzi was discovered in 1991 by a pair of German hikers in the Otztal Alps, near the border between Austria and Italy. Since then, researchers have conducted many studies on the remarkably well-preserved mummy. In addition to finding scores of tattoos, they've determined that the Iceman was likely about 45 years old at the time of his death and that he suffered from heart disease, Lyme disease, tooth decay, and joint pain.
For the new research, Zink and his colleagues used a non-invasive photography technique to study Ötzi's skin from different angles and in multiple wavelengths. 
The analysis revealed the new tattoo hidden in deeper layers of Ötzi's dark-colored skin.
The tattoo consists of four parallel lines measuring 20 to 25 millimeters, RedOrbit reported. The researchers believe these markings were made by incisions into which charcoal was rubbed.
Since many of the Iceman's tattoos correspond to classic acupuncture points, the researchers previously thought that they were applied as part of a treatment for joint pain. But the new tattoo throws that theory into question, since it isn't located near a joint, according to Zink--though it may have been used as some sort of treatment for chest pain.
Whatever its purpose, the tattoo brings a sense of closure to Zink and his collaborators.
"For us, it was important to have finally (after more than 20 years) the exact number and location of all tattoos," Zink said in the email. "This work can now be used for further studies that will focus on the reason why the tattoos were made."

A paper describing the new found tattoo was published online Jan. 20, 2015 in the Journal of Cultural Heritage.

Aunt Jeannie , we asked  mama  to post  this  for  you ,  we  are  studying  it  in Nasa  class .  We  are  studying  the  tattoos , how  and  why .  A mystery  we  think  .
We  love  you 
Jonny and  Chris 

US East Coast Braces For Historic Blizzard Monday

Man grabs one of the few snow shovels left in New Jersey, just outside New York City, as the East Coast of the United States prepares for a blizzard on Sunday, January 25, 2015.Photo by David Handschuh/Yahoo News
Yahoo News - Man grabs one of the few snow shovels left in New Jersey, just outside New York City, as the East Coast of the United States prepares for a blizzard
(Reuters) - A swath of the U.S. East Coast from Philadelphia to New York City to Maine is bracing for a potentially historic blizzard on Monday that is expected to dump as much as 3 feet  of snow and snarl transportation for tens of millions of people.
The National Weather Service on Sunday issued a blizzard warning for the northern section of the East Coast from Monday afternoon until Tuesday, placing states from New Jersey to Indiana under winter storm watches and advisories. Airlines were already canceling hundreds of flights ahead of the storm.
"This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference, saying snowfall could reach up to 3 feet.
De Blasio told residents of America's financial capital and most populous city to stay off the roads and to "prepare for something worse than we have seen before."
The biggest snowfall on record in New York City was the storm of Feb. 11-12, 2006, that dropped 26.9 inches according to the city's Office of Emergency Management.
The NWS called the approaching system a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard," with many areas along the East Coast expected to see between 12 to 24 of snow. The New York City area could be the hardest hit from the storm with lashing winds and snowfall of 30 inches or more in some suburbs.
Delta said on Sunday it was canceling 600 flights because of the blizzard warning for the East Coast. Southwest Airlines said it had canceled about 20 flights and American Airlines had so far canceled a handful.
Cities along the heavily populated East Coast had snowplows and trucks to dispense road salt on standby. Stores have seen a rush of shoppers stocking up on essentials.
"People have been coming in since this morning, buying rock salt and shovels," said Michael Harris, who works at Ace Hardware in Wading River, New York.
The Philadelphia Streets Department said on its Facebook page that crews were preparing for a "messy Monday morning commute." The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation told travelers to postpone travel if necessary and carry emergency kits if they do go out.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation will have its entire fleet of snowplows, including 12 loader-mounted snowblowers, prepared to deploy, the governor's office said.
The NWS expects as much as 8 inches of snow for western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, while parts of New Jersey through eastern Massachusetts may get 6 to 12 inches of snow by Tuesday morning.

NASA Mission About to Take First Pluto Pictures

The US space agency's mission to Pluto is about to take its first pictures of the mysterious icy world.
The encounter is being billed as the last great exploration of our Solar System. NASA's New Horizons probe set off nine years ago - before Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
 Please tell me when did alcoholism became a disease ? A disease is when the body is ill and not functioning properly .
According to Webster's dictionary , addiction is the quality or state of being addicted , and continues that it is a "compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance (as heroin , nicotine , or alcohol) characterized by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal .
So why do alcoholics have a disease and those who abuse drugs are addicts ? Why do we tolerate the double standard ? 
An Alcoholic's Wife 
Dear Alcoholic's Wife,
In 1956 the American Medical Association decided that alcoholism is a disease. Alcoholism, according to the AMA, is a progressive and terminal disease if no intervention occurs. It leads to the break down and failure of the liver, kidneys and heart and affects the brain. There are also genetic and biological markers. They feel that alcoholism fits the definition of both mental and physical disease.
Alcoholism is classified as a 'substance abuse disorder' in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). Mental and emotional symptoms of alcoholism exist long before the grave physical complications appear. They believe thinking of the condition as a disease diminishes the moral stigma of it and supports the idea that alcoholics aren't responsible for their behavior. And it doesn't cover social and cultural influences that may play a role in alcoholism development.

In 1988, the United States Supreme Court found that alcoholism is always the result of the alcoholics "own willful misconduct." The Supreme Court also listened to the arguments presented in favor of the 'disease' theory of alcoholism and concluded, "the inescapable fact is that there is no set agreement among members of the medical profession about the designation of alcoholism."
In conclusion, maybe the answer lies somewhere between disease and substance abuse (or addiction). They just haven't found a better term to define it.
I know it's hard to stay positive, but hang in there,

Dear Maxy , 
A dear aunt passed away about six weeks ago . Unforfortunately, I could not attend her out-of- town funeral dur to the expense and my own health issues . But I knew she loved a partular flower and I had the florist send some to the funeral home .I have heard nothing from the family , although even a short note would have been appreciated . How do I check to see whether the flowers arrived on time ? I am uncomfortable calling the family . Can I check with the florist ? Have we all lost our manners in this day and age . 
Dumfounded Niece 
Dear Dumfounded Niece ,
It can be difficult  for family  members  to put  aside their grief long enough  to send  thank-you notes  and  other acknowledgments, and it  helps  to have  friends  assist them . Yes , you can  check  with the florist . But  there is nothing  wrong with picking up the phone  to call your  relatives  and express your  condolences , share  memories  of your aunt  and in the course  of  conversation , find out whether  the flowers  were received .

DearMaxy ,
My husband and I will celebrate  our  40th anniversary soon. We've sent out 100 invitations  to a party , and  60 people have responded   saying they  will be in attendance . The final  40 people  have not  RSVP'd as of  yet . I am nervous because my wife  and I took time out  to invite our friends  and they will potentially cost us  time  and money if they don't  show  up . How  much time do you allow  for  guests  to respond  to an invitation ? 
Race Against  Time 
Dear Race Against Time ,
One of the biggest challenges  that party planners  have is  that  increasingly  these days  people  do not RSVP  for events . You are right to be concerned , but  there  are some things  you can do . Start with  checking  with your  caterer  to find out  when you have to give one final  head  count .
This is the number  that is key  for your  budget . When  you feel  you are getting  close  to that date , if  you still have  a large  number  of  people  who have not  responded , you may  want  to pick up  the  phone  or shoot them an email  to double check  their status . You can tell  the truth , that you have to give the caterer  a final count  and want  to know  if they are planning  to attend  your  party .  Do not pressure  them to come  . Simply be  kind  and direct . 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Loonie Tumbles as Bank of Canada Cuts Rate

A Canadian dollar or loonie is pictured in North Vancouver, on March 5, 2014. The Canadian dollar was at its lowest levels since April 2009 on Monday morning as oil prices continued to retreat amid a bearish price forecast from investment bank Goldman Sachs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
The Canadian Press - . The Canadian dollar or Loonie was at its lowest levels since April 2009 on Monday morning as oil prices continued to retreat amid a bearish price forecast from

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar plunged more than 1 1/2 U.S. cents Wednesday after the Bank of Canada surprised markets with a quarter-point cut to its key short-term rate. The central bank also trimmed economic growth expectations for Canada because of the collapse in oil prices.
The bank had been universally expected to leave its rate unchanged at one per cent, where it had been since September 2010. However, the bank dropped the rate to 0.75 per cent and said that "the oil price shock increases both downside risks to the inflation profile and financial stability risks."
The loonie tumbled 1.53 cents to 81.07 cents US — its lowest level since late April 2009. It was a second day of heavy losses. A combination of falling oil prices, a weak manufacturing report and an economic downgrade from the International Monetary Fund pushed the loonie down more than one U.S. cent on Tuesday.
Oil prices have plunged 55 per cent since last June amid a glut of supply and have fallen about 40 per cent just since the end of November after OPEC concluded its last meeting with a vow to leave production levels unchanged.
The Bank of Canada said it was projecting real gross domestic product growth will slow to about 1.5 per cent in the first half of this year.
It added that the negative impact of lower oil prices "will gradually be mitigated by a stronger U.S. economy, a weaker Canadian dollar, and the bank’s monetary policy response."
The bank added that it expects Canada’s economy to gradually strengthen in the second half of this year, with real GDP growth averaging 2.1 per cent in 2015 and 2.4 per cent in 2016.
It said that the economy is expected to return to full capacity around the end of 2016, a little later than was expected in October.
Crude oil prices were higher Wednesday ahead of the latest inventory figures from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Meanwhile, there was increasing clarity over what the European Central Bank may deliver in the form of another round of economic stimulus on Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the board of the European Central Bank is proposing a substantial program of quantitative easing, which involves a massive round of government bond purchases. The WSJ said the bank would spend about 50 billion euros monthly on the program. Markets had been speculating the central bank would announce a program involving spending between 500 billion and 700 billion euros annually.
Economic growth has been tepid and there have been worries that the region could fall prey to deflationary pressures, a situation where businesses and consumers hold off on purchases in the hope that items will just get cheaper.

State of the Union Victory Lap

President Barack Obama winks during the State of the Union address.

On Tuesday night President Barack Obama faced a vexing challenge. How can he give a policy speech to a Congress that has little interest in what he has to say?
With the present effectively off the table, Mr Obama spent his time looking back - and forward.
Although the president said early in his 2015 State of the Union address that "tonight, we turn a page", it became obvious early on that he wasn't going to touch the book until he got in a few last words.
"America, for all that we've endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this," he said, "the shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.
The words "victory lap" were bandied about by numerous commentators, as the president basked in the glow of an economy that is showing signs of life and approval ratings that, albeit ever so slightly, are on the rise. And although all this is happening as Republicans take over both houses of Congress for the first time since 2007, it did little to darken his mood.
"He asserted that the brightening economic picture - including accelerating job growth, more people with health insurance and lower gas prices - had proved that he was right, and his adversaries misguided, all along," writes the Washington Post's David Nakamura.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  David Frum says Barack Obama is trying to 'box in' Hillary Clinton
"More than anything," says the Christian Science Monitor's Linda Feldmann, "the speech was a consummate display of political bravado."
It was an attitude that liberals enjoyed, but it left some conservatives grousing that the president's speech was more appropriate as "fantasy fiction for tweens", in the words of the New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.
CNN analyst Ruben Navarrette writes that the whole premise of the speech is "ridiculous".
"The president has just suffered a clear repudiation of his policies, and, instead of backing up and recalibrating his strategy for getting things done in a landscape that has changed dramatically, he's doubling down on his bet," he writes. "That's not leadership. It's hubris."
After painting a rosy picture of the nation's current condition, leavened with a few I told you so's, the president proceeded to launch into a more traditional State of the Union list of Democratic policy priorities - minimum-wage increases, addressing climate change, greater funding for education and tax reform that includes closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy.
He labelled his program "middle-class economics", and said policies like these will "continue to work, as long as politics don't get in the way".
This, then, was the president's pivot to the future - his attempt to define terrain for the campaigns of 2016, when control of the presidency and both houses of Congress will be up to the voters.
"When Obama proposes progressive policies like these, he's playing a longer game - guiding Democrats on the Hill as they battle against Republican budgets, or laying out a menu of policies for his successor, who might have better luck with Congress," writes the New Republic's Brian Beutler.
He continues: "Seven years into Obama's presidency, the US economy is finally growing rapidly enough to boost his popularity and to sell the country on the idea that Obama's brand of - building out and improving existing institutions, directing resources through them to the middle class- has worked, and should serve as a beacon not just for liberals, but for conservatives aspiring to recapture the presidency."
Of course it's impossible to talk about 2016 presidential politics without acknowledging the looming presence of as-yet-unannounced-candidate Hillary Clinton. Given that she would be the prohibitive favourite for the Democratic nomination should she decide to run, was Mr Obama's speech a boost or a shot across the bow?
By proposing policies he has no hope of passing in this Congress, writes the Atlantic's David Frum, Mr Obama's "intent, pretty obviously, is to box in his presumptive successor as head of the Democratic Party". Obama's priority over the next two years seems to be to encourage Hillary Clinton to campaign and govern on his terms."
Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer and Margaret Talev say that the president's speech "gives a major boost" to members of the Democratic Party's populist wing, led by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Even if Ms Warren doesn't run for president - and so far she's been adamant that she is not - Mr Obama's speech was a warning to Ms Clinton that she needs to watch her left flank during the primary voting.
Beutler says that talk of friction between Ms Clinton and Mr Obama are overblown, however. He notes that key members of the president's inner circle are quietly moving into the former secretary of state's incipient campaign.
Instead, he says, Mr Obama's speech is laying the groundwork for Ms Clinton's campaign - one that will address income inequality and the lack of wage growth.
Although a lot can happen in two years, it appears that both parties are acknowledging that the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of US society resonates with the voting public. Ms Clinton has given speeches on the subject, and possible Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have also addressed it.
Will 2016 be the income inequality election? If it is, Mr Obama made clear in his State of the Union that he wants to be part of that debate.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ISIS Threatens to Kill Two Japanese Hostages

Jihadi John
A man resembling 'Jihadi John' is in the video threatening the two Japanese men

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, escorts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. An online video released Tuesday purported to show the Islamic State group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive a $200 million ransom in the next 72 hours. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
The Canadian Press - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, escorts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the Palestinian Authority headquarters

The Islamic State group threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive $200 million in 72 hours, directly demanding the ransom, Tuesday, from Japan's premier during his visit to the Middle East. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to save the men, saying: "Their lives are the top priority."
Abe and other Japanese officials declined to discuss whether they'd pay the ransom for captives Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, though their armed forces generally only operate in a self-defence capacity at home. Their kidnapping also immediately recalled the 2004 beheading of a Japanese backpacker in Iraq, carried out by the Islamic State group's predecessor over Japan's involvement in the U.S.-led war there.
Tuesday's video, identified as being made by the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm and posted on militant websites associated with the extremist group, mirrored other hostage threats it has made. Japanese officials said they would analyze the tape to verify its authenticity, though Abe offered no hesitation as he pledged to free the men while speaking to journalists in Jerusalem.
"It is unforgivable," said Abe as he wrapped up a six-day visit to the Middle East. He added: "Extremism and Islam are completely different things."
In the video, the two men appear in orange jumpsuits with a rocky hill in the background, a masked militant dressed in black standing between them. The scene resembles others featuring the five hostages previously beheaded by the Islamic State group, which controls a third of Iraq and Syria.
"To the prime minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,000 and 500 kilometres (5,280 miles) from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade," says the knife-brandishing militant, who resembles and sounds like a British militant involved in other filmed beheadings. "You have proudly donated $100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims ... and in an attempt to stop the expansion of the Islamic State, you have also donated another $100 million to train the (apostates)."
The militant's comments likely refer to money Abe pledged while in Egypt to help Iraq's government and aid Syrian refugees.

Abe said he would send Yasuhide Nakayama, a deputy foreign minister, to Jordan to seek the country's support and to resolve the hostage crisis. The premier also said the Israeli government, which Japan promised Sunday to co-operate with on counterterrorism, are sharing information to aid in the hostage crisis. The Israeli prime minister's office declined to comment.
Speaking in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also declined to say whether Japan would pay the ransom.
Yukawa, a 42-year-old private military company operator, was kidnapped in Syria in August after going there to train with militants, according to a post on a blog he kept. Pictures on his Facebook page show him in Iraq and Syria in July. One video on his page showed him holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle with the caption: "Syria war in Aleppo 2014."
"I cannot identify the destination," Yukawa wrote in his last blog post. "But the next one could be the most dangerous." He added: "I hope to film my fighting scenes during an upcoming visit."
Nobuo Kimoto, an adviser to Yukawa's company, told Japanese public television station NHK that he had worried "something like this could happen sooner or later."
"I was afraid that they could use Yukawa as a card," Kimoto said.
Goto, 47, is a respected Japanese freelance journalist who went to report on Syria's civil war last year.
"I'm in Syria for reporting," Goto wrote in an email to an Associated Press journalist in October. "I hope I can convey the atmosphere from where I am and share it."
The Islamic State group has beheaded and shot dead hundreds of captives — mainly Syrian and Iraqi soldiers — during its sweep across the two countries, and has celebrated its mass killings in extremely graphic videos. The group also beheaded American hostages James Foley and Peter Kassig, Israeli-American Steven Sotloff, and British captives David Haines and Alan Henning.
The group still holds British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in other extremist propaganda videos, and a 26-year-old American woman captured last year in Syria while working for aid groups. U.S. officials have asked that the woman not be identified out of fears for her safety.
Japan's military has been constrained by the country's commitment to pacifism in the constitution drafted during the American occupation following World War II. Abe is seeking to raise Japan's military capabilities and expand its reach, but he has ruled out sending troops overseas. It remains unclear whether Japan would ask the U.S., which has launched previous operations to free hostages in Syria, to attempt a rescue.
Tuesday's video marks the first time an Islamic State group message publicly has demanded cash. The extremists requested $132.5 million (100 million euros) from Foley's parents and political concessions from Washington, though neither granted them during months of negotiations before his killing, U.S. authorities say.
The Islamic State group has suffered recent losses in airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition, and with global oil prices being down, their revenue from selling stolen oil likely has dropped as well. The extremists also have made money from extortion, illicit businesses and other gangland-style criminal activity.
Its militants also recently released some 200 mostly elderly Yazidi hostages in Iraq, fueling speculation by Iraqi officials that the group didn't have the money to care for them.
Japan relies on the Middle East for most of the crude oil it needs to run the world's third-largest economy. It also has been working to build wider economic ties in the region, as with Abe's current Mideast tour.
This is Abe's second Mideast hostage crisis since becoming prime minister. Two years ago, al-Qaida-affiliated militants attacked an Algerian natural gas plant and the ensuing four-day hostage crisis killed 29 insurgents and 37 foreigners, including 10 Japanese who were working for a Yokohama-based engineering company, JCG Corp. Seven Japanese survived.
In 2004, followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq beheaded Japanese backpacker Shosei Koda and wrapped his body in an American flag because of Japan's troops in Iraq doing humanitarian work. A video by al-Zarqawi's group, which later became the Islamic State group, showed Koda begging Japan's then-prime minister to save him. I guess the question is, will Japan pay the ransom or call upon the US and allies to carry out a rescue?

Thanx to the Canadian Press

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kudos to Cosmo....Powerful Message

Cosmopolitan's UK edition deserves a standing O for their powerful message about honour killings.
For February this year, they have produced a limited edition front cover, depicting a distressed women, shrouded in a grey, steamy mist and enveloped in a plastic sheath.

The honour killings cover mock-up [Cosmopolitan/Leo Burnett Change]
The honour killings cover mock-up [Cosmopolitan/Leo Burnett Change]

The plastic wrapper on the magazine has been used to represent the suffocation that was inflicted upon Shafilea Ahmed, at the her parents, in front of her siblings.
Reportedly, she had committed no crime, save turning down a suitor for an arranged marriage.
Shafilea had previously also swallowed bleach in a presumed suicide attempt.
According to Cosmopolitan, around 5,000 honour killings are carried out each year globally, which they produced in connection with charity Karma Nirvana, which supports victims of honour crimes and unwanted arranged marriages.
Sadly, according to a Cosmo post, this is not the front cover, but the back and won't be available for sale, meaning it won't have quite the reach and visibility that we would have hoped for.
It is, nonetheless, still a powerful image and is being circulated among the British press, which is great.
According to a new report by Emily Dyer, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, the majority of honour killings are carried out on women, by members of their family, for "crimes" that can include refusing arranged marriages, or for being in a relationship with someone that has not been approved by the family.
Due to the nature of the issue, the true scale of these crimes is unknown, but the report states that at least 29 of these honour killings or attempted killings have been reported in the British press within the last five years.
The worst part of the research is the section that explains that these sorts of murders are still being carried out by second and even third generation immigarants, born in the UK, suggesting that it is not a dying trend. This is a custom I can't begin to comprehend. There is virtually nothing we can do to discourage this practice. So tragic.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

George Zimmerman Arrested For Aggravated Assault With Weapon

Image: George Zimmerman seen in his Friday, January 9 booking photo

George Zimmerman seen in his Friday, January 9 booking photo - SEMINOLE COUNTY SHERIFF''S
George Zimmerman was arrested late Friday for aggravated assault and domestic violence with a weapon after allegedly throwing a wine bottle at his girlfriend, Florida police and his lawyer said.
The 31-year-old was detained at 10 p.m in Lake Mary, near Orlando, his booking record shows. At a Saturday morning court appearance, Zimmerman was granted a $5,000 bond, which he posted. He was released from jail a short time after noon and was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim or travel to Volusia County, where she lives.

Zimmerman's attorney, Don West, said the woman is his girlfriend, and the incident involved him allegedly tossing a wine bottle at her earlier this week at his Lake Mary home. West said he did not want to "speculate" about the situation that led to the alleged assault, adding that Zimmerman "has not been lucky with the ladies."

He also must surrender any firearms he owns — even though the judge said there was no indication he used one in this case. He is expected to appear in court again Feb. 17. West said Zimmerman will plead not guilty. "Anyone who has been through what he has would have a rough time," West said.
Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury in 2013 of second-degree murder in connection with the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
He filed a defamation suit against NBC News but a judge dismissed that claim last summer. He has appealed the judge's decision.

Zimmerman is slowly unraveling. All that bottled up hostility will burst out some day and he will go postal on someone . If that someone is packing heat, Mr Zimmerman may get his just reward. What goes around......       

Friday, January 16, 2015

Slightly Funny Jokes

goat,fabulous,gif,giraffe,Goat simulator,glorious

A duck walks into a post office and asks the man behind the counter: 'Do you have any corn?' The man answers politely: 'No, we don't have any corn here.' The next day, the duck enters again and asks: 'Do you have any corn?' Annoyed, the man answers: 'No! We don't have any corn.' This goes on for a couple of days until finally, when the duck asks 'Do you have any corn?', the man gets so upset he yells: 'NO! For the last time we don't have any corn, and if you ask again I'll nail your beak to the counter!' The next day, the duck returns and asks: 'Do you have any nails?' The man answers: 'No.' Then the duck asks: 'Do you have any corn?

A magician was working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The audience was different each week so he did same tricks over and over.
The problem was, the captain's parrot saw all the shows and began to understand how the magician did every trick.
He started shouting in the middle of the show: 'Look, it's not the same hat. Look, he's hiding the flowers under the table. Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?' The magician was furious but, as it was the captain's parrot, he could do nothing. Then one day the ship sank and the magician found himself floating on a piece of wood with the parrot.  For an entire week they just bobbed in the water, silently glaring at each other.  Finally the parrot said, "Okay,  I give up. Where's the boat"?

Mini Quiz

Nominations for this year's Oscars have been announced. Among the contenders for best supporting actress is Meryl Streep, who receives a record 19th nomination. For what film did she receive her first? The answer in in the comments below the article.

Question Image

Thursday, January 15, 2015

50 lashes every Friday

A liberal minded blogger is being flogged repeatedly in Saudi Arabia for "insulting Islam".
Last week he was whipped 50 times, and this week he will be flogged 50 more times. Raif Badawi has been sentenced to a total of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison. The punishment has been carried out for offences ranging from cybercrime to disobeying his father and insulting Islam on his "Saudi Liberal Network" website.
Badawi's name was trending again on Twitter as authorities in Jeddah prepared to carry out a second round of punishment. His wife Ensaf Haidar told the BBC her family was living in "perpetual anxiety".

 Thanx BBC

Journalism After # CharlieHebdo

By Olivier Knox
News organizations must “recalibrate” how they cover violent conflicts or terrorists in the aftermath of the Jan. 7 massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the latest in a series of bloody incidents showing that Islamist extremists increasingly view reporters as legitimate targets.
That’s just one of the stark conclusions Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric drew from a panel of experts convened for an unprecedented live-stream show to discuss the aftermath of the attack last week on the French satirical newspaper.
“We've gone from being in the crossfire to being ... right in the crosshairs,” said Charlie Sennott, executive director of the GroundTruth Project and the co-founder of Global Post,  the news outlet James Foley was working for when he was abducted and later killed by the so-called Islamic State. “This is a new front that has been opened up by Islamic extremists in the last few years, where they are going out and targeting journalists.”
Robert Mahoney, the deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, agreed. “You used to need a journalist to tell a story,” he said. But the rise of social media has made that less true, while “capturing a journalist” generates either coverage or, in some cases, much-needed cash from ransom payments.
Emma Beals, a multimedia journalist who has covered Syria since 2012 and Iraq since 2013, said some of her Muslim friends reacted with puzzled anger at Charlie Hebdo’s decision to put a cartoon of Muhammad on the cover of its first issue since the attack.
Some expressed “quite a bit of outrage,” while others wanted to work through “why would that be something that we thought would be a good idea,” she said.
Should news outlets publish the new cartoon?
“It’s a decision to be made by each and every newsroom,” said Beals, who rejected the argument that not publishing it amounts to betraying freedom of expression. “Just because you have the right to publish it doesn’t mean you have to exercise that right to the fullest extent all of the time. With rights come responsibilities, and part of that responsibility is thinking about tolerance.”
“These organizations that published as part of the reporting on this story made the right decision in publishing the cartoon from their point of view because they’re telling a story,” said Mahoney. “But the right to publish or not to publish is part of freedom of expression, so each editor has the right to decide what goes on his or her website.”
Columbia professor and independent journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, who drew fire from some in the Muslim world when he posted a picture of himself holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign on Twitter, said some will try to take advantage of the newspaper’s new cover.
Shihab-Eldin underlined that Muhammad was “only sacred to Islam” and suggested that a kind of “religious nationalism,” rather than faith, fueled the outrage.
“People are going to capitalize on” the cover, he predicted. It may serve as fuel “for those who are extremists, who are radicals, to say, ‘See, this is a perpetual clash between Islam and the West, this is a war between Islam and the West.’”

Thanx Yahoo