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Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second child

Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second child

By Gordon Rayner

Prince George with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 

The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second child, Kensington Palace announces.

The Duchess and the Duke of Cambridge were "very pleased to announce" the happy news, their spokesman said.

It means Prince George will have a brother or sister in the spring of 2015. The new baby will replace Prince Harry as the fourth in line to the throne.

As with her first pregnancy, the Duchess is suffering from pregnancy sickness, for which she is being treated at her home in Kensington Palace.

The Duchess has not yet reached the 12-week stage of her pregnancy, but the couple took the "difficult decision" to announce the pregnancy now because they did not think they could keep it under wraps.

 
Sanchez: 'Disappointed' in Obama

House Homeland Security Committee member Rep.  Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., is pictured. | AP Photo

Sanchez: 'Disappointed' in Obama

By KENDALL BREITMAN

Rep. Loretta Sánchez (D-Calif.) said Monday she was disappointed in President Barack Obama for delaying action on immigration, adding that the president didn’t give the Hispanic Caucus any word ahead of time that there was a change of plans.

“The president said he would address [immigration reform] with us,” Sánchez explained on CNN’s “New Day” after describing a list of suggested immigration reforms that the caucus sent to the president. “He has delayed it to after the election, [we] had no heads up on that.”

 
The 3 most importan numbers in the new Senate polls

The 3 most importan numbers in the new Senate polls

FILE - In this June 29, 2014 file photo, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, and Kentucky Democratic Senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes wave to supporters at at rally in Louisville, Ky. Warren is quickly becoming a top Democrat fund-raising and campaigning powerhouse. Since March, she has stumped for candidates in Ohio, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Kentucky and has trips planned in July for West Virginia and Michigan. It’s a hefty schedule for a freshman senator who not long ago was teaching law at Harvard. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Aaron Blake THE FIX

Or, why candidates matter

New NBC News/Marist College polls released Sunday in three key Senate races are largely good news for Republicans.

The trio of surveys shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) building leads in some key races that will decide the majority. McConnell leads by eight percentage points, while Cotton leads by five. Both leads are the largest each candidate has shown to date and -- if accurate -- would be huge for the GOP's hopes in races it must win to capture the majority.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, some better news for Democrats: Sen. Mark Udall (D) has maintained a six-point lead over Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The common thread running through each of these races? According to the polls, the underdog has taken a hit when it comes to his or her personal image. Since May, this candidate has seen his or her unfavorable ratings increase by 17, eight and seven points in the three races.

 
Morgan Freeman Brings New Movie to Toronto Film Fest

Morgan Freeman Brings New Movie to Toronto Film Fest

Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman brought his new film, "Ruth and Alex," to the Toronto International Film Festival. He spoke with the Wall Street Journal about his latest role, and his job as the film's producer.

 
A Pipeline From Minnesota to Militancy

Riverside Plaza in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, which is home to the country’s largest Somali population. Credit Tim Gruber for The New York Times

A Pipeline From Minnesota to Militancy

By JACK HEALY

The journeys of two friends toward militancy offer an example of how the allure of Islamist extremism has evolved, enticing young Americans to conflicts around the world.

As Minnesota teenagers growing up in the 1990s, Troy Kastigar and Douglas McAuthur McCain shared almost everything. They played pickup basketball on neighborhood courts, wrote freewheeling raps in each other’s bedrooms and posed together for snapshots, a skinny white young man with close-cropped hair locking his arm around his African-American friend with a shadow of a mustache.

They walked parallel paths to trouble, never graduating from high school and racking up arrests. They converted to Islam around the same time and exalted their new faith to family and friends, declaring that they had found truth and certainty. One after the other, both men abandoned their American lives for distant battlefields.

“This is the real Disneyland,” Mr. Kastigar said with a grin in a video shot after he joined Islamist militants in Somalia in late 2008. Mr. McCain wrote on Twitter this past June, after he left the United States to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, “I’m with the brothers now.”

Today, both are dead. While their lives ended five years and over 2,000 miles apart, their intertwined journeys toward militancy offer a sharp example of how the allure of Islamist extremism has evolved, enticing similar pools of troubled, pliable young Americans to conflicts in different parts of the world. The tools of online propaganda and shadowy networks of facilitators that once beckoned Mr. Kastigar and Somali men to the Horn of Africa are now drawing hundreds of Europeans and about a dozen known Americans to fight with ISIS, according to American law enforcement and counterterrorism officials.

“Troy and Doug fit together in some ways,” Mr. Kastigar’s mother, Julie Boada, said at her home here. “They’re both converted Muslims. They both have had struggles.” She added, “They’re connected through that.”

Investigators are looking into what led a handful of other people from Minnesota to follow the same path, said Kyle Loven, an F.B.I. spokesman in Minneapolis. American intelligence and counterterrorism officials say Mr. McCain, 33, and a second American believed to have been killed while fighting for ISIS traveled in the same circles in Minneapolis and knew each other.

 

 Cedar Avenue in the Cedar-Riverside district. Leaders in the Somali community say they are losing a battle to keep new waves of young men and women from turning to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

 
CIA 'tortured al-Qaeda suspects to the point of death'

CIA 'tortured al-Qaeda suspects to the point of death by drowning them in water-filled baths'

By Peter Foster, Washington

The description of the torture meted out to at least two leading al-Qaeda suspects including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Telegraph Exclusive: As the US Senate prepares to release a report documenting US torture programme after 9/11, Telegraph reveals new details about the scope of CIA excesses.

The CIA brought top al-Qaeda suspects close “to the point of death” by drowning them in water-filled baths during interrogation sessions in the years that followed the September 11 attacks, a security source has told The Telegraph.

The description of the torture meted out to at least two leading al-Qaeda suspects, including the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, far exceeds the conventional understanding of waterboarding, or “simulated drowning” so far admitted by the CIA.

“They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,” said the source who has first-hand knowledge of the period. “They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”

A second source who is familiar with the Senate report told The Telegraph that it contained several unflinching accounts of some CIA interrogations which – the source predicted – would “deeply shock” the general public.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee that authored the report has promised that it will expose “brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation”. The Senate report is understood to accuse the CIA of lying and of grossly exaggerating the usefulness of torture.

It is being angrily opposed by many senior Republicans, former CIA operatives and Bush-era officials, including the former US vice president Dick Cheney, who argue that is it poorly researched and politically motivated.

The CIA has previously admitted that it used black sites to subject at least three high-value al-Qaeda detainees to “enhanced interrogation” – namely Mohammed, the alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and alleged senior Bin Laden aide Abu Zubaydah.

 
Class Issues, Not Race, Will Likely Seal the Next Election

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Class Issues, Not Race, Will Likely Seal the Next Election

Race is always a hot button topic in the U.S., but rising and rampant economic inequality will likely be the issue that propels people to the voting booth.

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and along the U.S.-Mexico border may seem to suggest that race has returned as the signature issue in American politics. We can see this already in the pages of mainstream media, with increased calls for reparations for African-Americans, and expanded amnesties for the undocumented. Increasingly, any opposition to Obama’s policies is blamed on deep-seated white racism.

Yet in reality, race will not define the 2014 election, or likely those that follow. Instead the real defining issue—class—does not fit so easily into the current political calculus. In terms of racial justice, we have made real progress since the ’60s, when even successful educated minorities were discriminated against and the brightest minority students were often discouraged from attending college. Today an African-American holds the highest office in the land, and African Americans also fill the offices of U.S. attorney general and national security advisor. This makes the notion that race thwarts success increasingly outdated.

But at the same time that formal racial barriers have been demolished, the class divide continues to grow steeper than in at any time in the nation’s recent history. Today America’s class structure is increasingly ossified, and this affects not only minorities, who are hit disproportionately, but also many whites, who constitute more than 40 percent of the nation’s poor. Upward mobility has stalled under both Bush and Obama, not only for minorities but for vast swaths of working class and middle class Americans. Increasingly, it’s not the color of one’s skin that determines one’s place in society, but access to education and capital, often the inherited variety.

 
Obama disappoints, again

Barack Obama is pictured. | Getty

Obama disappoints, again

By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE

President Barack Obama has one person to blame for looking indecisive, dithering and cowed by bungled political calculations: Barack Obama.

He’s the one, after all, who strode into the Rose Garden on June 30 to announce that America couldn’t wait forever on immigration reform and pledging to move forward with a set of executive actions “before the end of summer.” He’s the one who spent that afternoon lighting into Republicans in Congress for punting and punting and punting again.

Now he’s the one punting.

Obama, appearing on “Meet the Press,” attributed his decision to punt immigration reform action until after Election Day to making “sure that the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted,” or “getting all our ducks in a row,” on the legal side and needing to spend some more time explaining himself to the American public.

This is a reoccurring theme for Obama: repeatedly delivering bold speeches that set dazzlingly high bars for action, then slowly backpedaling into a muddle and letting the issue — and his poll numbers — fade away.

 
David Remnick: World-Weary

World-Weary

By David Remnick

After six years in office, Obama broadcasts his world-weariness with wan gestures and pauses, with loose moments in the White House press room. The world has stubbornly denied him his ambition to transcend its cruelties, pivot smartly to the East, and “do some nation-building here at home.” Obama’s halting cool at the lectern now reads too often as weakness, and when he protests against the charges of weakness he can seem just tired. As the Middle East disintegrates and a vengeful cynic in the Kremlin invades his neighbor, Obama has offered no full and clarifying foreign-policy vision.

His opponents and would-be successors at home have seized the chance to peashoot from the sidelines. What do they offer? Unchastened by their many past misjudgments, John McCain and Lindsey Graham go on proposing escalations, aggressions, and regime changes. Rand Paul, who will likely run for President as a stay-at-home Republican, went to Guatemala recently and performed eye surgeries as a means of displaying his foreign-policy bona fides. Was Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s ophthalmologist-in-chief, impressed?

Chris Christie insists on the efficacy of big men and tough talk—the Great Jersey Guy theory of history. Recently, he suggested that Vladimir Putin would not dare sponsor the bloody destabilization of Ukraine were Christie in charge. “I don’t believe, given who I am, that he would make the same judgment,” Christie said at a meeting of Republican activists. “Let’s leave it at that.” Christie is trying to bone up on world affairs by reading Kenneth Adelman’s book on Ronald Reagan. Adelman was the cheerful adviser to Donald Rumsfeld who insisted that the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, would be a “cakewalk.” Rick Perry, another 2016 hopeful, took a more parochial view of the geostrategic crisis when he suggested that Obama had blithely overlooked the “very real possibility” that the black-hooded executioners from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham had already infiltrated the United States by way of the Mexican border. (According to Michael Barbaro, of the Times, this piece of intelligence elicited “eye rolls” from Pentagon officials.)

A more punishing critique came from Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former Secretary of State, who, hoping to win herself some distance from an unpopular President, told the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Clinton had a point: “Don’t do stupid stuff”—a mantra in the West Wing—does not have quite the analytical penetration of the Long Telegram. Nor does it account adequately for Obama’s thinking on when American force should and should not be used. But the admonition isn’t without value. Think of the “stupid stuff” in the history of American postwar misadventure: Eisenhower backing C.I.A.-led or -abetted regime change in Iran and Congo; Kennedy sanctioning an invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs; Johnson’s colossal escalations and failures in Vietnam; Nixon’s covert efforts to depose Allende in Chile and conduct a war in Cambodia—the beginnings of a list that culminates in George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. To be mindful of such episodes, with all their unintended and far-reaching consequences, does not make one a weak-kneed fool.

 
“No Backbone” - Activists Bitterly Disappointed With Obama

“No Backbone”

Activists Bitterly Disappointed With Obama, Dems After Delay On Slowing Deportations

Adrian Carrasquillo and Evan McMorris-Santoro

Immigration advocates were working with community members on how the coming executive actions would affect them. Now, stunned activists are scrambling to figure out next steps in the coming weeks. 

Stunned immigration activists lashed out Saturday at the Obama administration over the White House decision to delay executive actions on deportations until after the election. But beyond anger, the decision has left activists scrambling to figure out what to do next.

“We feel very intensely that that these decisions that are made affect people’s lives,” said Lorella Praeli, director of advocacy and policy at immigrant rights organization United We Dream (UWD), while at a UWD retreat to decide how the group will respond. “People were saying, ‘now I have to talk to my mom, now I have to tell my dad.’ That’s what drives our work. This is clearly a political move and politics over families again.”

“It makes me really upset — we had a forum with the moms and parents to prepare them for these actions,” DREAMer Erika Andiola said. “Now it’s not gonna happen and some of them have to go to court. It makes me so angry that he’s fully throwing Latinos under the bus.”

 
Biscuit Sandwich Recipes for Breakfast and Beyond

Biscuit Sandwich Recipes for Breakfast and Beyond

The Southern biscuit has migrated. Across the U.S., chefs are using it to make sandwiches that aren't just for breakfast

I WASN'T EXPECTING a culinary epiphany as I browsed Baltimore's 32nd Street Farmers' Market & Bazaar one Saturday earlier this year. I was just looking for breakfast. The friend I was visiting guided me to the queue for Blacksauce Kitchen, a mobile food operation established in 2010. The day's offerings included free-range egg and fried kale; maple sausage gravy; roasted apples with arugula and smoked mozzarella; beef belly and potato hash—all served on biscuits. I watched as Damian Mosley, Blacksauce's chef and founder, calmly expedited the orders. When at last I bit into my roasted-apple sandwich—right through the pillowy biscuit to the delectable intersection of tart and peppery, crisp and creamy within—I couldn't speak (one shouldn't with her mouth full). But I wanted to scream: Oh my sweet biscuit lord!

 
What Happened to Love at First Sight?

What Happened to Love at First Sight?

By Mack R. Hicks, Ph.D.

Is there such a thing as logical love? Is romance caught up in the battle between the left brain and the right brain? Only fools rush in.

 
Obama's broken pledge: How election politics made 'pawns' out of illegal immigrants

Obama's broken pledge: How election politics made 'pawns' out of illegal immigrants

By Patrik Jonsson

 

President Obama had said he’d use executive authority to bypass Congress on immigration law 'without further delay.' Now, with some Democratic Senate seats in danger, aides say Obama will wait until after the November elections.

President Obama’s decision to break a promise and delay any executive orders from the Oval Office on immigration until after the midterm elections is a pure political play that has its roots in tough lessons learned by Democrats after they passed an assault weapons ban in 1994, insiders and political analysts say.

Facing a tough mid-term election that could swing the Senate to Republicans and give the White House full congressional headwinds, Obama called allies on Saturday to let them know he plans to break his promise to act on immigration “without further delay” after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder returned recommendations by the “end of summer.”

“The reality the president has had to weigh is that we’re in the midst of the political season,” a White House aide told reporters. “Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections.” The official set “end of the year” as the new deadline.

 
Biggest Midterm Issue? The Obamaphant in the Living Room.

Biggest Midterm Issue? The Obamaphant in the Living Room.

Voters agree with the Democrats on nearly every issue, and the GOP is offering nothing. But none of that matters. It’s all about POTUS.

The 2014 election should have really been spectacular for Democrats.  They have so many key issues on their side, and the Republicans are offering just about nothing. (Unless you count saying “no” as something.) If not for one person, election night 2014 could’ve been marked by Democrats dancing for joy-maybe even twerking.

So who is this person? No, it’s not Reince Priebus, Ted Cruz, or even the right’s favorite duck hunter/policy advisor, Phil Robertson.  It’s none other than the leader of the Democratic Party:  Barack Obama.

Why? Because of Obama’s alarmingly low job approval ratings.  Sure, in midterm elections the president’s political party tends to lose seats in Congress.  But as John Sides, a political science professor at George Washington University told me, “There’s certainly a systematic relationship between the president's approval rating and the fortunes of his party's congressional candidates in midterm elections.”

 
Did Israel Execute Jihadists in Gaza?

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Did Israel Execute Jihadists in Gaza?

While official investigations are stalled, The Daily Beast reveals important new details about the apparent summary execution of Palestinian combatants.

More than a month after The Daily Beast reported evidence suggesting Israeli soldiers carried out the summary execution of six men amid fierce combat in late July, there are no signs that the Israeli government is investigating the matter. It has declined to respond to repeated inquiries. The independent organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which the Israeli authorities have barred from Gaza, are unable to follow up in detail. And a United Nations investigation of abuses on both sides is barely under way.

The Daily Beast has continued its own investigation, however. And the picture that’s emerging tends to confirm the story of a summary execution, on the one hand, while undermining subsequent reports by some in the international press who suggest the dead men, left to rot in the bathroom of a battered house, were merely innocent bystanders. Instead, they appear to have been hardened guerrilla fighters from Islamic Jihad who were trying to ambush Israeli soldiers when they themselves were caught, captured, herded into an abandoned bathroom and gunned down in an incident that, if confirmed, would be a war crime.

 
Capital Journal: The Strategy of Islamic State

Capital Journal: The Strategy of Islamic State

The extremist group known as Islamic State has become extremely successful at taking and delegating power in its newly acquired territories in Iraq and Syria. WSJ national security reporter Siobhan Gorman explains the strategy behind their actions.

 
Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks in Washington

 

Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks in Washington

By ERIC LIPTON, BROOKE WILLIAMS and NICHOLAS CONFESSORE

The agreement signed last year by the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs was explicit: For $5 million, Norway’s partner in Washington would push top officials at the White House, at the Treasury Department and in Congress to double spending on a United States foreign aid program.

But the recipient of the cash was not one of the many Beltway lobbying firms that work every year on behalf of foreign governments.

It was the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit research organization, or think tank, one of many such groups in Washington that lawmakers, government officials and the news media have long relied on to provide independent policy analysis and scholarship.

More than a dozen prominent Washington research groups have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

.........................................

“Our business is to influence policy with scholarly, independent research, based on objective criteria, and to be policy-relevant, we need to engage policy makers,” said Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings, one of the oldest and most prestigious think tanks in Washington.

“Our currency is our credibility,” said Frederick Kempe, chief executive of the Atlantic Council, a fast-growing research center that focuses mainly on international affairs and has accepted donations from at least 25 countries since 2008. “Most of the governments that come to us, they understand we are not lobbyists. We are a different entity, and they work with us for totally different purposes.”

In their contracts and internal documents, however, foreign governments are often explicit about what they expect from the research groups they finance.

“In Washington, it is difficult for a small country to gain access to powerful politicians, bureaucrats and experts,” states an internal report commissioned by the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry assessing its grant making. “Funding powerful think tanks is one way to gain such access, and some think tanks in Washington are openly conveying that they can service only those foreign governments that provide funding.”

The think tanks’ reliance on funds from overseas is driven, in part, by intensifying competition within the field: The number of policy groups has multiplied in recent years, while research grants from the United States government have dwindled.

 
Cruz to introduce bill to strip citizenship from Americans who join Islamic State

** FILE ** Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said he thinks an American jihadists fighting with Islamic State militants should be exiled from the country, but some conservatives say the militants should be stripped of their U.S. citizenship for joining the extremist group. (Associated Press)

Cruz to introduce bill to strip citizenship from Americans who join Islamic State

By Kellan Howell

“Americans who choose to go to Syria or Iraq to fight with vicious ISIS terrorists are party to a terrorist organization committing horrific acts of violence, including beheading innocent American journalists who they have captured,” Mr. Cruz said in a statement on Friday.

“There can be no clearer renunciation of their citizenship in the United States, and we need to do everything we can to preempt any attempt on their part to re-enter our country and carry out further attacks on American civilians,” he added.

 
Obama Visits Stonehenge: ‘How Cool Is This’

Obama Visits Stonehenge: ‘How Cool Is This’

By Jeffrey Sparshott

President Barack Obama on Friday made a surprise visit to Stonehenge, the iconic stone monument looming in the English countryside.

Mr. Obama toured the megalith, located in Wiltshire, England, for about 20 minutes after a two-day NATO summit in neighboring Wales.

“How cool is this,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s spectacular, it’s spectacular. It’s a special place.” He added that the trip mean he’s “knocked it off the bucket list!”

 
Dissed By Her Doctor for Wanting HIV Protection

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Dissed By Her Doctor for Wanting HIV Protection

A pill that can give women control over their bodies and sexual choice is coming under criticism for encouraging risky behavior. Sound familiar?

Poppy Morgan went to her primary care doctor in 2010 because she desperately wanted to take a risk. Specifically, she wanted to stop using condoms so she could have a baby the old-fashioned way with her HIV-positive husband.

As risks go, it wasn’t much of one, scientifically speaking. Her husband’s viral load—that is, the amount of virus circulating in his system—was so low that her husband’s doctor said it would be vanishingly difficult for her to contract the virus through unprotected sex.

But Morgan did want some protection. So she asked her doctor to prescribe Truvada, an HIV drug that research had begun to suggest could keep her from contracting the virus if she were exposed.

But Morgan’s doctor didn’t just say no; she told the now-39-year-old San Franciscan that she would no longer treat Morgan if she went ahead with her plan.

It wasn’t a waiting period to have an abortion, or a transvaginal ultrasound, but the message seemed the same to Morgan: It’s your body, but you don’t know best. It wasn’t until years later that she realized how crazy that was.

“I was being judged for my sexual choices, my maternal calling, for my own decisions about my own body,” she wrote on her blog, HIV-Negative Spouses. “That’s a bunch of bullshit.”

 
Parisians Embrace Le Workout

Parisians Embrace Le Workout

In the French capital, exercise is catching on as gyms offer more than just treadmills and bar bells

ASK A PARISIAN—any Parisian—and they will tell you the same thing: It is not OK to sport workout clothes around town. "Tracksuits are for the gym, not to be seen in the streets," says Anne Lepage, a Parisian lawyer who does gymnastics and Swedish Fit. "It may sound posh but it is true."

The French aversion to perspiration is nothing new and, like many stereotypes, it exists for a reason. In a country known for its preference for the gentler forms of exercise, "people think you're a bit mad when you do a lot of sport, as they think it's not necessary," says Paule de La Poype, a 19-year-old French-Australian student in Paris who rides, swims, runs and plays badminton.

When American Deborah Keiser opened her multidisciplinary studio, Rituel, in the 6th arrondissement in 2011, she says that more people were outside watching than were in the class working out. "They would all be looking through the window, like, 'Oh they're working hard, the music is loud, and they are sweating!' " says Ms. Keiser, 51, who worked in the retail industry while teaching fitness courses in Los Angeles and Paris before opening the studio. "It literally was like animals in a zoo." It took some time, she says, but Parisians have gradually taken to the "sweaty" classes like ballet barre and gyrokinesis.

The number of runners in parks also seems to grow by the day, as exercise becomes more visible. "In Paris there is a trend of people doing more and more outside sports in groups," says Clément Lagom, a 32-year-old personal trainer.

Physical education is mandatory in France through high school—with some of the most consistently high number of hours of compulsory activity in Europe—and it's even evaluated in the baccalauréat. Despite this and the presence of after-school sports, things change for many French after graduation. As Meggy Pyaneeandee, a 20-year-old student, puts it: "Exercise serves as more of a diversion."

Which may explain why I couldn't find a gym in Paris with a morning rush hour. (They tend to be busiest around lunchtime and after 5 p.m. After all, as a receptionist at Usine gym said, "Why would anyone want to come to the gym early in the morning?") It also explains why almost all had a restaurant, bar or cafe. In fact, Klay Club, a fittingly trendy gym in the très cool Marais, hosts DJ-ed parties in its restaurant. And Ken Club, the crème de la crème of workout facilities found in the 16th arrondissement, has almost the same amount of lounge space as workout space.

 
Ten Companies That Control The World's Food

Ten Companies That Control The World's Food

According to a report by Oxfam International, “Behind the Brands,” these are the 10 companies that control the world’s food

 
Alibaba unveils largest tech IPO in history

Alibaba unveils largest tech IPO in history

 By Katherine Rushton, in New York

Jack Ma, chairman of China's largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group, performs Tai Chi as guests and visitors take pictures and videos, at a opening ceremony of a Tai Chi school in Hangzhou

Chinese online retail giant plans to raise up to $21.1bn in US flotation

Alibaba, the ecommerce giant hailed as China’s answer to Amazon, has unveiled the largest tech IPO in history, pricing its initial public offering at between $60 and $66 a share and valuing the business at up to $167bn.

The valuation is relatively conservative compared with some analysts’ predictions, but it still makes the Chinese technology giant larger than Amazon and Facebook.

The 15-year-old company aims to raise up to $24.3bn through its initial public offering, a figure which would put it ahead of Visa’s 2008 IPO which raised $19.7bn. It may also rank as the largest share sale America has ever seen.

Founded in Hangzhou by former school teacher Jack Ma, Alibaba operates a string of online marketplaces in China. They include the Amazon-style Tmall, eBay rival Taobao, and Juhuasuan, a discount sales website similar to Groupon. Together the three sites have amassed a huge audience, with 279m active buyers a year. They are also hugely profitable and growing at the pace of a start-up. Profits nearly tripled to 12.3bn yuan (£1.2bn) in the last quarter alone, while sales jumped 46pc to 15.77bn yuan.

 
Obama punts on immigration until after election

Obama punts on immigration until after election

President Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

President Barack Obama will delay plans to issue an executive order on immigration until the end of the year, heeding the warnings of Democratic senators who feared a voter backlash ahead of the November elections.

The decision is a major reversal from June, when the president stood in the Rose Garden and pledged to make fixes to the immigration system by the end of the summer. The delay reflected growing Democratic concerns that a sweeping executive order would further endanger the Senate majority.

White House officials had been locked in an intense debate over whether Obama should announce a program to defer deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants before Election Day — aware that whichever choice they make could be tagged as the reason that Democrats lost the Senate.
 
Inside 4chan 'the ninth circle of hell'

Inside 4chan 'the ninth circle of hell'  

How the sickest website on the internet is exploiting those naked selfies of celebs

 By Tom Leonard

Photographs of Jennifer Lawrence were shared on 4chan - the 'ninth circle of hell' where 12 million anonymous users a month can post and share photographs.

According to denizens of the darker corners of the internet, where criminality and vice thrive on private forums, the pictures had been around for months. A small group of hackers, linked by their obsessive interest in finding explicit images of female celebrities, would email each other stolen photos and videos they had obtained.

They would compete for ‘wins’ and see who could get the biggest ‘score’ — depending on the degree of a victim’s fame. To these internet perverts, women were just objects and trophies.

It isn’t clear what these men ultimately intended to do with their haul of celebrity porn — amounting possibly to thousands of images of more than 100 actresses, performers and even Olympic athletes. But making money was clearly a possibility and so was blackmail.

So far, though, these cyber-thieves have not got much more than a couple of hundred dollars for their sordid activities, and now have the FBI on their tail into the bargain, after one of their number broke rank and started leaking them on to a controversial picture-sharing website last Sunday.

 
Nearly 1 in 5 Women in the U.S. Have Been Raped

Nearly 1 in 5 Women in the U.S. Have Been Raped

By Jessica Roy

Today the CDC published the results of its 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, and they're pretty startling. After polling over 12,000 participants in a randomized, nationally representative telephone survey, the CDC found that an estimated 19.3 percent of women and 1.7 percent of men have been raped during their lifetimes. 

19.3 percent — nearly 1 in 5 American women — have been raped. Just let that sink in.

 
Republicans are still trying to destroy Obamacare, and they're still losing

mitch mcconnell finger

Republicans are still trying to destroy Obamacare, and they're still losing

Scott Lemieux (correct for byline)

Scott Lemieux

Conservatives want to protect your right a totally avoidable death due to a lack of health insurance. It's the principle of the thing

The Republican party’s effort to deny any (if not all) access to affordable healthcare for as many people as humanly (though not humanely) possible took a major blow on Thursday, when the full DC circuit court of appeals decided to review the anti-Obamacare decision issued by two Republican-appointed judges earlier this year.

Since that opinion made Bush v Gore look like a model of thoughtful jurisprudence, the Obama administration asked the full court to reconsider. It will, and their pending ruling is bad news for conservatives who want to preserve Americans’ precious freedom to die totally avoidable deaths because they lack health insurance.

“Today’s decision by the DC Circuit to grant en banc review of Halbig v. Burwell is unwise and unfortunate. It has the appearance of a political decision,” sniffed Michael Cannon of the conservative-libertarian Cato Institute. The chutzpah it takes for one of the architects of the case to accuse the judges who voted to re-hear it of being “political” is like the Atlantic Ocean accusing the creek running behind your house of having too much water.

 
A Football Star in the End Zone of Life

Paul Hemphill’s indelible portrait of aging, alcoholic football legend Bob Suffridge is as beautiful as it is sad—and it is very, very sad.

“When you start drinking that stuff, Bob?” he asked.

“Since the last time I woke up and didn’t know what month it was,” said Robert Lee Suffridge, inspiring a doleful exchange about his drinking exploits. It was concluded that cheap wine at least puts you to sleep before you have a chance to do something crazy. Paying for the $1.39-a-quart bottles he trudged back out the door into the dry late-afternoon July heat and nursed the bleached twelve-year-old Mercury back to his apartment.

It is an old folks’ home, actually, a pair of matching six-story towers on the outskirts of Knoxville, Tennessee. At fifty-five he isn’t ready for an old folks’ home yet, but a brother who works for the state arranged for him to move in. Most of the other residents are well past the age of sixty-five, and to the older ladies like Bertha Colquitt, who lives in the apartment next to his and lets him use her telephone, he is their mischievous son. More than once they have had to call an ambulance for him when he was either drunk or having heart pains, but they don’t seem to mind. “Honey, if I was about ten years younger you’d have to watch your step around me,” he will say to one of them, setting off embarrassed giggles. God knows where he found four portable charcoal grills, but he keeps them in the dayroom downstairs and throws wiener roasts from time to time. He grows his own tomatoes beside his building, in a fiberglass crate filled with loam and human excrement taken from a buddy’s septic tank.

Getting off the elevator at the fourth floor, he thumped across the antiseptic hallway. The cooking odors of cabbage and meatloaf and carrots drifted through doorways. Joking with an old woman walking down the hall with a cane, he shifted the sack of wine bottles to his left arm and opened the door to his efficiency apartment. A copy of AA Today, an Alcoholics Anonymous publication, rested atop the bureau.

A powder-blue blazer with a patch reading “All-Time All-American” hung in a clear plastic bag from the closet doorknob. The bed, “my grandmother’s old bed,” had not been made in some time. Littering the living room floor were old sports pages and letters and newspaper clippings.

“Not a bad place,” he said, filling a yellow plastic tumbler with wine and plopping down in the green Naugahyde sofa next to the wall.

“Especially for forty-two-fifty a month.”

“What’s your income now?”

“About two hundred a month. Social Security, Navy pension.”

“You don’t need much, anyway, I guess.”

 
When Websites Peek into Private Lives

When Websites Peek into Private Lives

Using personal data for research has vast benefits, says OkCupid founder Christian Rudder

This summer, a dating site I helped to found, OkCupid, announced that it had tested the effectiveness of its matching algorithm on a small number of users. We run tests on the site all the time, and we were particularly careful with this one because we were tinkering with something fundamental to the user experience. The test was brief, and everyone affected was made aware of it soon afterward. 

But the reaction to our test was explosive, largely negative and, in retrospect, understandable given the way we presented the results. We announced the test in a post on our blog, and we explained what we found without fully explaining the test's purpose. The collection and interpretation of consumer data is sensitive and complex. Our lighthearted analysis of an important issue rang sour, and it appeared to many that we were secretly toying with our users' love lives. That's an unsettling idea, even if incorrect. While we can apologize for the way we presented our test, the outcry around it broached a larger issue that transcends OkCupid or any one company.

We found that overlapping interests did indeed predict whether two people would end up hitting it off, but we also discovered that the perception of that overlap was an important part of the effect. That is, people can't just "have a lot in common" and expect success on our site—we need to call attention to that commonality. We altered OkCupid's interface accordingly, and we now emphasize very high compatibility scores.

Along with making that change, we filed this "perception" finding into our mental archives, alongside the hundreds of other things we've learned about people over the past 10 years. For instance, women judge men about twice as harshly as the other way around. Beauty, as a physical property, behaves exponentially, like the Richter scale. Politics doesn't matter in dating as much as you'd think. White people like to talk about their hair.

 
The Future of Dreaming

The Future of Dreaming

By Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D

We may think of dreaming as a kind of innate technology of the mind, a latent tool for cultivating self-reflective consciousness. This means the future of dreaming will be driven by a single key question: How can we use this tool better? How can we refine it, improve it, and amplify its power?

     Dreams have powerfully influenced the lives of individuals and communities throughout human history.  Yet people today often assume that modern science has proven dreaming is nothing but random nonsense.  In fact, over the past 100 years researchers have discovered that dreaming is a profoundly complex mode of brain-mind activity devoted to emotional processing, adaptive preparation, and playful meaning-making. It is inherently creative, not only in producing life-worlds of astonishing realism but also in stretching our minds to make surprising connections between disparate ideas, feelings, and impressions.  When we dream we tap into a deep inner wellspring of creative thinking that leads us beyond what is to imagine what might be

 
Blackwater trial approaches verdict

Blackwater trial approaches verdict

 Dan Roberts in Washington

blackwater iraq

Jury in Washington expected to deliver verdict on 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians as early as next week

Though some elements of the 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad road junction by Blackwater private security guards remain shrouded in mystery even after a trial that lasted 10 weeks, prosecutors provided overwhelming evidence that the tragedy was one of the most one-sided encounters of the US occupation.

The civilian vehicles caught up in the incident were so riddled with bullets and explosives that their contents could barely be identified, yet the convoy of four armoured vehicles in which the guards were riding was marked only by a handful of tiny dents and scratches of indeterminate origin.

And while the four Blackwater guards on trial for the deaths of 14 of the victims claimed they believed they were under attack by an insurgent car-bombing attempt, no weapons or explosives were found on any of the dead Iraqis, despite an extensive FBI investigation. Instead, the official US investigation led to three men facing manslaughter charges, one accused of murder, and a fifth admitting manslaughter of other victims and testifying against his former colleagues.

But the 12 jurors who sat through harrowing evidence from victims and their relatives were not asked to assess the proportionality of the response. Like so many controversial encounters with security forces the world over, the crux of case is not whether the dead Iraqis posed a threat to the Blackwater convoy, but whether the guards’ belief that they did was a reasonable one.

From the perspective of soldiers working in hostile environments – whether as contractors or in the military – the distinction is a crucial protection and something that will have weighed heavily on the minds of a jury that included several veterans and US government employees. Other Blackwater employees – also working as guards for the US State Department – had been hit by a roadside bomb elsewhere in the city earlier that day.

Yet remarkably little evidence was presented to justify the guards’ ultimately false belief that the vehicles in Nisour Square posed a similar threat.

Both the prosecution and defence teams agreed that the primary reason for the guards thinking the convoy was about to be blown up was they had seen a white Kia sedan rolling toward them in what they claimed was a suspicious manner.

Defence lawyers allege the car was moving relatively fast and the guards shot at its engine block first to disable it, before killing the occupants. Prosecution lawyers allege the occupants – who turned out to be a medical student and his mother – were shot first and the car rolled forward slowly once the driver was dead because it was an automatic and his foot was off the brake.

 
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