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February 11

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New York Times (February 4): "Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.'

USA Today: "Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they're using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. 'Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,' said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 'About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking.'"

New York Times (January 14): "Federal health officials are debating whether to warn pregnant women against travel to Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in newborn babies. Officials say it could be the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women to avoid a specific region during an outbreak." ...

     ... NYT Update (January 15): "Federal health officials on Friday advised pregnant women to postpone traveling to 13 Latin American or Caribbean countries and Puerto Rico where mosquitoes are spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in babies." ...

... The Washington Post reports on the crisis in Brazil.

New York Times: "... 21-year-old [Arthur Ashe] toppled the tournament’s top-seeded tennis player in a stunning upset on July 30, 1964. We published two photographs of Dennis Ralston, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, who walked off the court in defeat. But we didn’t run a single photograph of the winner.... On that day in 1964, he was ranked sixth in the nation and had yet to win a national title. ...

... The 1964 Times story is here. The page has blown up the above photo, worth viewing just to feast your eyes on that gorgeous young man. ...

... The Times is publishing previously unpublished photos of black historical figures & events every day this month. You can see those published to date here.

CW: Not sure if the movie is any good, but Ron Howard's intro is primo. Here's the trailer:

... The New York Times story, by Brooks Barnes, is here. "Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary."

New York Times: The leader of a group of "aging thieves" who last year pulled off "the largest burglary in England’s history" may have been an ex-policeman. The others have been captured, but "Basil" is still at large & his identity is unknown to investigators. Surely there will be a movie.

Washington Post: "Media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as board chairman at CBS Corp. after a court battle raised questions about the 92-year-old executive’s mental competence. He was replaced by Leslie Moonves, the longtime CBS president and chief executive, CBS announced Wednesday. The transition took effect Tuesday when Redstone was appointed to the role of CBS chairman emeritus, CBS said."

... New York Times: "A small 16th-century oil on panel largely kept in storage at a Kansas City, Mo., museum is a work by the Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch, researchers [in the Netherlands] said on Monday, a finding that, if accepted by other scholars, would add to the tiny list of about 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The painting, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' dated 1500-1510, had previously been attributed to the workshop of Bosch or to a follower of Bosch, known for his comic and surreal images of heaven and hell and the earthly moral purgatory in between."

Radio host Diane Rehm discusses her "retirement" plans with Karen Heller of the Washington Post.

Washington Post: "A lost story by famed British children’s author Beatrix Potter — the Tale of Kitty-in-Boots — has been discovered among her memorabilia and will be published this year more than a century after she wrote it. Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House who made the discovery at London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013, called the story the biggest Potter discovery in generations and almost certainly the last, the London Times Newspaper reported Tuesday."

Boston Globe: "Late Night host (and New Hampshire native) Seth Meyers stars in this trailer for his fake movie, Boston Accent, which just laughs at all the devices used in every movie ever made in Boston":

Tim Egan's Confession: "I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone."

Planet Nine. Caltech: "Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly." ...

... CW: Planet Nine, my ass. I will never abandon Pluto! But this is a mighty thrilling development. ...

... UPDATE. Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post interviews Mike Brown, one of the discoverers of Planet Nine. It turns out, as certainly every astronomer knows, that Mike Brown was also the guy who killed Pluto! Even his daughter is mad at him for that.

New York Times: "Five planets will parade across the dawn sky early Wednesday[, January 20,] in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month. Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It will be the first time in more than a decade that the fab five will be simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York."

Los Angeles Times: "The backlash against this year's Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of color in all four acting categories for the second year in a row. If other prominent entertainment industry figures join the boycott, it has the potential to spoil Hollywood's annual showcase event."

Donald Trump playing Donald Trump in movies & on teevee shows:

New York Times: "#OscarsSoWhite, that damning hashtag that made the rounds last year, can again, unhappily, be revived for this year’s Oscar nominations, which were announced Thursday morning.... The only Academy nods for two of the year’s biggest films about African-American characters went to white people.... In all the lead categories — best director, picture, and all four acting categories — only Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican auteur who won best director and picture last year, for 'Birdman,' adds a note of diversity. This year he was nominated for 'The Revenant.'”

Los Angeles Times: "Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have been announced, and 'The Revenant' is leading with 12, including for best picture. Other nominees for best picture are 'The Big Short,' 'Bridge of Spies,' 'Brooklyn,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight.' All the snubs, surprises and reactions from nominees coming below." Full coverage via the linked page.

Christian Science Monitor: "... thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University, the lowly incandescent bulb is getting a jolt of new life. The six-researcher team says it has found a way to boost the bulb's efficiency twenty-fold, which would leave today's favored compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the dust, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology." ...

     ... CW: If these bulbs go into production, it should make Rand Paul very, very happy. If only MIT could do something about his big-shit problem. Science does have its limits.

Los Angeles Times: "A 21-year odyssey came to an end Tuesday when National Football League owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season and gave the San Diego Chargers an option to join the Rams in Inglewood."

** Washington Post: "In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms.... Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born." The paper is here. ...

... CW: Sorry, fundies, this is a lot more exciting than a trip to the Noah's ark amusement park or whatever it is.

The Los Angeles Times' Golden Globe coverage is here.

New Yorker: More Pluto!

New York: "Lumosity is one of these 'brain training' programs, and yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission, many of those claims aren’t backed up by science. On Tuesday, Lumos Labs — the company behind Lumosity — agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2 million for misleading consumers on claims that playing these mental games would help with cognitive performance and prevent mental decline as we age. 'Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,' Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. 'But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.'”

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Euro-African Trip - July 2009

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New York Times report on the President's day in Ghana.

President Obama speaks after he & his family toured Cape Coast Castle, a slave-holding & -trading fort on the Ghanian Coast:

AFP: President Obama and his family visited the Cape Coast, Ghana, castle that was once a slave-trading fort.

 

President Obama's speech before the Ghanaian Parliament. The audio here, which I obtained from the White House, is MUCH BETTER than the audio on the satellite videos. However, President Obama doesn't begin speaking until 24 minutes in. You can click the audio forward (pause between clicks) -- this was a wonderful speech & well worth the effort.

Reuters reports on President Obama's speech before the Ghanaian Parliament. Politico's report is here. And here's the BBC's transcript of key excerpts from the speech. The Washington Post has the full transcript.

AP: Presidents Obama & Mills speak during a joint press availability.

Here's a very newsy pool report.

BBC News report on the President Obama's visit to Ghana with updated video.

BBC News reports on the Obamas' arrival in Ghana & their schedule for Saturday. AP story here. South Africa Mail & Guardian story here. London Telegraph story here.

This one's pretty good, too; the voiceover is in Italian, but the announcer is just relating what's going on, most of which is self-evident. The documents on the tray are copies of the Pope's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" -- "True Charity":

The Obamas give the Pope a stole belonging to Bishop John Neumann, sainted in 1977, and they also brought him a letter from Sen. Edward Kennedy. Pool report here.

Washington Post: in the "frank" and "cordial" discussion, Pope Benedict stressed his opposition to abortion & stem-cell research; a spokesman for President Obama said the President "was eager to listen to the Holy Father."

AP: President Obama has concluded his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI; the First Lady joined them toward the end of the meeting.

More Catholic than the Pope. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, writing in Newsweek: "Obama's agenda is closer to [American Catholics'] views than even the pope's."

President Obama held a press conference following the G-8 meetings. AP report here.

President Obama's full remarks at the end of the G-8 summit:

Reuters: in the final G-8 session, African leaders ask the developed nations to honor their past pledges of aid; also request new funding for an agricultural program. AP Update of this story: G-8 leaders launch $15 billion global food initiative.

President Obama discusses the results of G-8/G-5 talks on energy & climate control:

Here's the G-S Leaders' statement on energy & climate.

New York Times: developing nations, led by China & India, refuse to commit to heat-trapping emission standards. Without the participation of the developing countries, "no climate deal will be effective."

A President Who Can Handle More than One Summit at a Time. CBS News: from the G-8 Summit in Italy, President Obama phones the Flu Preparedness Summit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

BBC News: President Obama chairs a key session Thursday morning in which G-8 leaders will try to push leaders of emerging nations to take steps to limit global warming.

AP: G-8 leaders open up their meeting Thursday to the "Group of Five" fastest developing market countries — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- to try to secure their cooperation in dealing with global economic problems.

Jake Tapper of ABC News: President Obama & Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva -- a/k/a Lula -- take time out in their one-on-one meeting to rib each other, Lula concentrating on his country's defeat of the U.S. in a big soccer match.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: G-8 issues a weak statement against Iran, little different from earlier statement....

... BUT that's not the party line: Carol Lee of Politico on Wednesday's G-8 dinner meeting & Alexander Burns on Robert Gibbs' remarks.

AP: at the G-8 summit, leaders are drafting an agreement aimed at lowering trade barriers.

The G-8 leaders relax before dinner Wednesday. (CW: I can hear Sarkozy tell Obama, "Don't flatter yourself," which is what gets the laugh, but I can't hear what President Obama said that inspired Sarkozy's quip.):

 

AP: the Obama administration voices support for G-8 greenhouse gas emission control goals.

The G-8 leaders at the roundtable:

White House statement on the L'Aquila Earthquake Zone: U.S. is helping victims. Pool report on President Obama's tour, with PM Berlusconi, of the quake zone.

NBC News on President Obama's tour of earthquake-ravaged l'Aquila.

ANSA: Italian First Lady Clio Napolitano & Rome's First Lady Isabella Rauti Alemanno speak highly of Michelle Obama.

G-8 first spouses dined on a terrace of the Capitoline Museum as the guests of Isabella Rauti Alemanno, the wife of Rome's mayor. Here's the pool report by the Washington Post's Robin Givhan, & it's pretty funny.

Also, here's some dish on the first ladies' itinerary from Nick Squires of the London Daily Telegraph.

Herding cats world leaders; raw video:

Here's the pool report on President Obama's arrival in L'Aquila.

Time: President Obama sidesteps Berlusconi scandals by beginning his visit to Italy with a call on Italy's "largely ceremonial" president, Giorgio Napolitano.

Politico summarizes President Obama's brief remarks at a joint press availability with President Napolitano. I couldn't find a transcript or a video except this one with an Italian translator speaking over the President. Here's the pool report.

Raw video of the Obamas arriving at the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome:

AP: the three-day G-8 meeting in l'Aquila, Italy, will tackle climate change, global economy. BBC News report here; China's President Hu Jintau leaves the summit because of civil unrest in Western China.

New York Times: the Obamas dined at Moscow's Ritz-Carlton last night, enjoying some downtime before traveling to Italy.

Here's an informative pool report on the President's meetings with the Civil Society group & the oppo leaders.

Transcript: President Obama's opening remarks at a meeting with Russian opposition leaders (partial).

Transcript: President Obama's remarks at the Parallel Civil Society Summit.

Transcript: President Obama's remarks at the Russian Parallel Business Summit.

Clifford Levy & Ellen Barry of the New York Times: President Obama isn't a rock star in Russia.

President Obama speaks at the New Economic School in Moscow:

The text of the President's speech at the New Economic School.

Michael Shearer of Time: President Obama gets personal in his comments on democracy & universal rights.

New York Times: in a speech at Moscows's New Economic School, President Obama says the U.S. & Russia share many common interests.

Interfax: President Obama met with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, & Gorbachev attended the speech President Obama gave at the New Economic School.

 

President Obama comments during a photo-op with Russian PM Putin. Raw video:

Here's the full joint press conference called by Presidents Obama & Medvedev.

Here's the transcript.

AP: Presidents Obama & Medvedev agree to preliminary guidelines for reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles. New York Times story here.

AP: Michelle Obama & daughters Malia & Sasha tour the Kremlin.

Presidents Obama & Medvedev meet in the Kremlin:

CBS/AP story on President Obama's arrival in Moscow. New York Times story here.

President & Mrs. Obama at the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

BBC: President Obama has arrived in Moscow.