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"Victory after all, I suppose!" Bilbo said, feeling his aching head.  "Well, it seems a very gloomy business." Ch 18, The Hobbit
The Last Two Minutes of Fighting
From the History of Veterans Day article:  Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.

Welcome to Overnight News Digest Sunday, where the OND crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, ScottyUrb, and BentLiberal, guest editor annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with today's news.

Tonight, I started with a comprehensive Veterans Day section, then built the main diary with several tweeted articles.  And filled in with some regular news sources I use.  Oh, and I did some commenting/editorializing, when I couldn't restrain myself.  Also I noticed I used some opinion and analysis pieces beyond pure news, so I am experimenting with labels.  

Veterans Day

History/Background: History of Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

History/Analysis/Opinion: A Veterans Day Remembrance
On this Veteran’s day I am thinking of a question I get over and over again while I am traveling the country on book tour. What, if anything, should the U.S. Military do to officially acknowledge the men and women of color who served in the armed forces under onerous segregation codes. Is an apology in order? Is it instead prudent to thank them for serving their country at a time when their skin color dictated how or even if they could serve?

The U.S. Military is now in many ways a model of equal opportunity. Would acknowledging past racism in the ranks undermine morale, or instead provide a measure of the institution’s amazing transformation? Based on what I have learned while working on my book, The Grace of Silence, I hope someone at the Pentagon is giving this some thought. And I hope others in power are also thinking about the marginalization, and in some cases, the brutalization those men and women of color faced when they left the service and returned to civilian life.

1945-Veterans-Birmingham001-300x238

Veteran’s day is also called the day of remembrance and I will be thinking today about the men in a picture I uncovered while researching my book. On a January morning in 1946, a large group of black veterans in Birmingham stepped outside of the roles prescribed for them by Alabama segregation and marched through the downtown streets on their way to the courthouse. It was the 23rd of January, eleven days after New York’s famous Canyon of Heroes parade where the 82nd Airborne led thirteen thousand men through a blinding blizzard of swirling ticker tape. An estimated four million people lined the streets to celebrate America’s victory in World War II.

News:  Lost to History: Missing War Records Complicate Benefit Claims by Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans
A strange thing happened when Christopher DeLara filed for disability benefits after his tour in Iraq: The U.S. Army said it had no records showing he had ever been overseas.

DeLara had searing memories of his combat experiences. A friend bled to death before his eyes. He saw an insurgent shoot his commander in the head. And, most hauntingly, he recalled firing at an Iraqi boy who had attacked his convoy.

The Army said it could find no field records documenting any of these incidents.

DeLara appealed, fighting for five years before a judge accepted the testimony of an officer in his unit. By then he had divorced, was briefly homeless and had sought solace in drugs and alcohol.

DeLara's case is part of a much larger problem that has plagued the U.S. military since the 1990 Gulf War: a failure to create and maintain the types of field records that have documented American conflicts since the Revolutionary War.

Opinion:  What Obama's re-election means for the military, veterans
Even though Barack Obama has served as commander in chief for the last four years, his re-election Tuesday will mean significant changes for the military in coming months, especially in terms of defense spending.

Where his challenger in the presidential campaign promised big increases in military budgets in coming years, Obama has planned almost $500 billion in spending reductions for the military over the next decade, calling it a responsible post-war plan. Republicans in Congress fiercely oppose the effort, but the president’s re-election blunts their hopes of increasing or even holding steady defense spending.

Those cuts would come on top of the $500 billion in automatic defense spending reductions slated to start in January. The president in recent weeks has stepped up his pressure on Congress to find an alternative plan, declaring in the final presidential debate that the cuts “will not happen.”

Sandy Updates

News: Ali Forney Center

Drop-in Center has temporally relocated to the LGBT Center located at 208 West 13th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues). Our hours of operation are 10:00am-5:30pm and our phone number is 646.358.1755.
News: International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Twenty-two years of history of LGBT movements worldwide - trashed - due to Hurricane Sandy. Today, IGLHRC learned that the 8 ft of water and gasoline that filled the basement of our NY office destroyed our on-site archives and publications. We fight to memorialize LGBT communities every day, and with your support, we will re-build our history and present.
Activity: Sew for Sandy
Many families remain devastated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the recent Nor'easter hasn't helped one bit. That's why we are continuing our Sew For Sandy initiative to collect as many handmade warm items from our crafty readers to donate to those in need.

The other day we rounded-up lots of easy ideas for our four-legged friends, and in this edition, we have found some adorable crafts for children. Many of these projects need no sewing skills whatsoever and use materials you probably have around the house.

So click through the slideshow below to see ideas for pint-sized scarves, mittens, hats and blankets that you can whip up this weekend and help keep a child warm all winter long.

Aspects of Big News Stuff, USA

Analysis: The Sex Difference in Sex Scandals

Nearly two years ago, when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford admitted (finally, in a spectacularly embarrassing press conference) to having an extra-marital affair with an Argentine woman, a lot of questions were raised about why this kind of scandal so rarely happens with women politicians. One answer offered was simply that there aren't that many women politicians in office.

It's true, of course. Women only make up 16.4% of the current Congress, and 12% of the nation's governors. But in a 2009 Newsweek tally of political sex scandals since 1976, only one out of 53 instances involved a woman politician (former Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth, who admitted to having an eight-year affair with a married rancher in the 1980s). So women aren't even holding up their fair percentage of the scandals.

Married people from all walks in life have extra-marital affairs. According to a 2006 report on American Sexual Behavior as part of the General Social Survey (GSS), an average of 16-18% of all married people have had an extra-marital affair. That's a considerably lower number than is often bandied about in the popular press, of course, which Tom Smith, the report's author, attributes to the lack of scientific rigor in the studies reporting higher numbers. He cites a number of studies that mirror the GSS results. But even in the GSS results, almost twice as many men had had extramarital affairs than women.

This is a couple years old, yet good reflection.

Opinion/Analysis: How I Was Drawn Into the Cult of David Petraeus

When it came out that CIA Director David Petraeus had an affair with his hagiographer, I got punked. “It seems so obvious in retrospect. How could you @attackerman?” tweeted @bitteranagram, complete with a link to a florid piece I wrote for this blog when Petraeus retired from the Army last year. (“The gold standard for wartime command” is one of the harsher judgments in the piece.) I was so blind to Petraeus, and my role in the mythmaking that surrounded his career, that I initially missed @bitteranagram’s joke.

petraeus

But it’s a good burn. Like many in the press, nearly every national politician, and lots of members of Petraeus’ brain trust over the years, I played a role in the creation of the legend around David Petraeus. Yes, Paula Broadwell wrote the ultimate Petraeus hagiography, the now-unfortunately titled All In. But she was hardly alone. (Except maybe for the sleeping-with-Petraeus part.) The biggest irony surrounding Petraeus’ unexpected downfall is that he became a casualty of the very publicity machine he cultivated to portray him as superhuman. I have some insight into how that machine worked.

The first time I met Petraeus, he was in what I thought of as a backwater: the Combined Armed Center at Fort Leavenworth. It’s one of the Army’s in-house academic institutions, and it’s in Kansas, far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005, Petraeus ran the place, and accepted an interview request about his tenure training the Iraqi military, which didn’t go well. Petraeus didn’t speak for the record in that interview, but over the course of an hour, he impressed me greatly with his intelligence and his willingness to entertain a lot of questions that boiled down to isn’t Iraq an irredeemable shitshow. Back then, most generals would dismiss that line of inquiry out of hand, and that would be the end of the interview.

Opinion, Personal Experience: premie
When Is It Right To Let Your Unborn Baby Die?
Twenty-two weeks into my pregnancy, my husband and I sat in one of the exam rooms at Mass General Hospital in Boston, talking with my ob about the possibility of a delivery in the next few weeks.

An ultrasound had showed that my baby was too small for the stage of my pregnancy and that levels of amniotic fluid were low, likely because of a deteriorating placenta that would soon fail. But according to the “preemie calculator” on the National Institutes of Health website, which I had been checking for several days, most babies as small as mine, born before 26 weeks, either die in neonatal intensive care, or survive with a moderate to severe impairment as a result of their prematurity. Reading Internet message boards, I had come across an alternative, one that seemed to be publicly discussed only in the safety of those anonymous forums: to do nothing and let the fetus miscarry.

I did not know if this would be ethical, even legal, but I told my doctor that I thought our priority was the baby’s quality of life. He got it, nodded, and asked me to name a target birth weight and gestational age after which I would choose to deliver rather than lose the pregnancy.

How any government regulation can help this personal situation, and thousands like it, is beyond me.  My son had a great birth weight, and was very health, thankfully.  I've had several girlfriends with difficult pregnancies and babies in NICU, and it is heartbreaking.  Scientific information on success rates for treatments, quality of life issues, risk to mother's health would all be so much more useful than the anti-choice crazies.  Given that women have the right to choose, we deserve the best information available.  

Background: How America Became a Country That Lets Little Kids Go Homeless

An interesting fact about family homelessness: before the early-1980s, it did not exist in America, at least not as an endemic, multi-generational problem afflicting millions of poverty-stricken adults and kids. Back then, the typical homeless family was a middle-aged woman with teenagers who wound up in a shelter following some sort of catastrophic bad luck like a house fire. They stayed a short time before they got back on their feet.

In the 1980s, family homelessness did not so much begin to grow as it exploded, leaving poverty advocates and city officials stunned as young parents with small children overwhelmed the shelter system and spilled into the streets. In New York City, the rate of homeless people with underage kids went up by 500 percent between 1981 and 1995. Nationally, kids and families made up less than 1 percent of the homeless population in the early 1980s, according to advocate and researcher Dr.  Ellen Bassuk . HUD estimates put the number at 35 percent of  people sleeping in shelters in 2010.

I know this is just a tumblr, but it put things together for me, has links, and is good writing.

Election Follow Up

News/Analysis: Pew Study

n his re-election victory, Democrat Barack Obama narrowly defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the national popular vote (50% to 48%)1. Obama’s margin of victory was much smaller than in 2008 when he defeated John McCain by a 53% to 46% margin, and he lost ground among white evangelical Protestants and white Catholics. But the basic religious contours of the 2012 electorate resemble recent elections – traditionally Republican groups such as white evangelicals and weekly churchgoers strongly backed Romney, while traditionally Democratic groups such as black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated backed Obama by large margins.

Vote Choice by Religion and Race

Religiously unaffiliated voters and Jewish voters were firmly in Obama’s corner in 2012 (70% and 69%, respectively). Compared with 2008, support for Obama ticked downward among both Jews and religiously unaffiliated voters in the exit polls, though these declines appear not to be statistically significant. Both of these groups have long been strongly supportive of Democratic candidates in presidential elections. Black Protestants also voted overwhelmingly for Obama (95%).

I noted that Protestant, White, Non-Evangelical is my category.  I see it was 44% Obama and 54% Romney and thought, "what the heck?".  In the footnotes, I see that Protestant includes "Protestant, Mormon, or other."  Which seems to me to defeat the purpose of separating out white protestants non-evangelical.  Which I think of as Methodists, Angelicals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc.  

News: Vote suppression. HB1355. And Florida's latest election debacle

Edgar Oliva waited to vote at Shenandoah Elementary School and fretted.

The line was too long. The clock was ticking. He had to get to work across town.

Twice before, during in-person early voting, he tried to vote but he had to leave because lines were even longer. Tuesday was his third try at voting in between one of his two jobs, cleaning carpets in Doral and working at an airport hotel.

About 4 p.m. on Election Day, he gave up.

The experience played out across the state. Data show the 71.13 percent turnout percentage in 2012 fell well short of the rates in 2008 (75 percent) and 2004 (74 percent).

I chatted with a few friends from Florida.  Apparently, in addition to the normal candidate section of the ballot, there were 11 statewide amendments.  Printed in full text on each ballot.  Perhaps in multiple languages, color-coded.  The Florida voting was so rigged in so many ways.  Hours, machines, ballot, registration, everything.  Do we have a federally guaranteed right to vote or what?

Opinion/Analysis: 10 Females Who Cost Mitt Romney the Presidency

Holey moley catfish. Well, thank god that’s finally over. Further thanks that the climax was quick and clean. Almost surgical. Not as long a night as many first thought it might be. Except for Karl Rove that is, who for all we know is still scribbling numbers to prove the call on Clinton’s re- election win in 1996 was premature. And as usual, Florida did all it could to gum things up, but was eventually rendered irrelevant. And long may it remain so.

In the end, President Barack Obama trounced, er, battered, um, eked out a victory, or to be more precise, Mitt Romney lost. Or shall we say, found a thousand ways to lose. Except for one brief shining moment in the first debate, virtually carrying with him a defeat diviner.

And each and every one of his failures can be traced directly to females. The distaff of life. Single women. Married women. Old women. Young women. Ladies and divas and flappers and baby mamas; duchesses, priestesses, shorties and floozies. So here they are, the top ten females who cost Mitt Romney the presidency, each of them representing one of the myriad factors that helped construct the unelectable mosaic that became Bain’s Captain of Industry

Plus the 55% of women who voted for Obama.  And the 67% of single women who voted for Obama.  Women are not a special interest group.  We are the majority of voters now.  

Analysis: 13 things that would have passed the Senate if there were no filibuster  

The filibuster in recent years has allowed the Senate minority to block routine legislation by requiring 60 votes to end debate. Here are 13 significant bills or nominations that received more than 50 votes — a majority — but failed to overcome the 60-vote filibuster.
That does not mean these bills would have all become law. They would still have had to pass the House and be signed by the president. However, passing the upper chamber would have put more pressure on the House to act in some cases.  
Also, when regular votes in the Senate are 50-50, the vice president votes to break the tie.
This burns.  We improved the Senate somewhat.  Improved the House too.  Let's get a better House.  

News: Barber ahead again, Sinema lead keeps growing

Two Arizona congressional races remained too close to call Sunday.   

The hand-picked successor of former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was ahead again in his race to win a full term in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District.   

Results posted early Sunday show Democrat Ron Barber pulling ahead of Republican Martha McSally by 289 votes out of more than 250,000 cast in the 2nd Congressional District race. The district covers parts of Pima and all of Cochise County. Pima County expects no vote tallies Sunday and Cochise County officials were unavailable.   

Counting, counting, counting.  Keep those offices counting.

International News

News: Afghan peace negotiator to visit Pakistan

The head of the Afghan council for peace talks with the Taliban will visit Islamabad to discuss reconciliation efforts, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Sunday.

Salahuddin Rabbani, chairman of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, will lead the three days of talks starting Monday with Pakistani political and military leaders, said the Foreign Office statement.

Rabbani was invited by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for the visit, during which he will call on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, said the statement. The peace council chief will also hold formal talks with Foreign Minister Khar as well as the country’s military leadership, it added.

The announcement of the peace council chief’s visit comes two days after a senior Afghan official was reported to have said Kabul’s bid to secure direct talks with the Taliban had failed.

This seems hopeful.

News: 26/11 attackers trained at LeT camps

Pakistani officials have informed an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi the details of training received at Lashkar-e-Taiba camps by the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman on Saturday recorded the statements of five inspectors of crime
investigation department who are prosecution witnesses, the daily Dawn reported on Sunday.

They informed him about the training received by the accused, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, alleged mastermind, at LeT camps in Karachi, Mansehra, Thatta and Muzaffarabad.

Lakhvi, a resident of Okara district, is an expert in using improvised explosive devices.

He also served as LeT commander in Pakistani Kashmir, the court heard.

News: RPT-'Conflict-free' tags help revive Congo minerals trade
Miners clustered in a muddy riverbed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo watch as a bag of tin ore is weighed on scales hung from a shovel and then sealed with a small plastic tag.

The simple "bag and tag" initiative could allow mineral exports from Congo's violent east to flow legally again for the first time since a U.S. law targeting conflict minerals largely brought the trade, a mainstay of the economy, to a standstill.

The tag certifies the tin ore is conflict-free to ensure it will not fall foul of the Dodd Frank Law. Under rules only finalised this year, the law requires U.S. companies buying from a region rich in minerals to ensure their supply does not come from areas controlled by armed groups or corrupt soldiers.

News: EU Budget Battle Berlin and Brussels Demand More from London and Paris
The European Commission and top German politicians are becoming increasingly exasperated with both France and Britain as the summit in Brussels to determine the EU budget for the seven-year period from 2014 to 2020 approaches.

Both countries have been insistent on getting their way as member states position themselves for what promise to be difficult talks -- and both London and Paris have threatened to veto the budget if it doesn't meet their expectations. In response, European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, Germany's representative on the EU's executive body, has harshly criticized the two countries.

In a speech before the German association representing magazine publishers in the country, Oettinger warned against "cheap populism" when reporting on Greece, before saying "my problem children are France and Great Britain." By way of explanation, he said that with its anti-EU course, London has "taken leave of its senses." He added that tabloids such as The Sun appear to be trying to force Britain out of the EU. Turning to France, he said the country had too little industry and innovation.

Der Spiegel has a full slate tonight, including a couple articles about Obama & the election, in case you need any more.

News: More homeless despite $1 billion funding

The rate of homelessness in Australia rose eight per cent between 2006 and 2011, despite public funding of $1.1 billion as part of a Federal Government promise to halve homelessness by 2020.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Monday showed that there were 105,237 people who were homeless on August 9, 2011, or 0.49 per cent of the population, with 60 per cent of those people under the age of 35.

In 2006, there were 89,728 homeless people in Australia, or 0.45 per cent of the population.

Groups that provide support to the homeless said the figures highlight how the federal and state governments must urgently renew their commitment to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH).

News: Philip Roth Retires
Philip Roth has retired. He told a French magazine that, at 79, he was ‘done’. There will be no more books. For the little it is worth, I think he ought to be a Nobel Laureate – American Pastoral stands as one of the best books written since the war about, among other things, the failings and failure of the post-war era, and The Human Stain and Portnoy’s Complaint aren’t too bad either. Roth is an obvious choice for the Nobel committee; but it is simply perverse of them to be scared of his renown, or even to mistrust it.
News: Syrian rebels show united front
Qatar and Turkey, two of the Syrian opposition's biggest international backers, have called for other states to endorse an umbrella deal signed on Sunday night that unites feuding anti-Assad groups and paves a way for funding to resume.

The formation of the group had been a key demand of the US and the Gulf states, which have sidelined the original political body, the Syrian National Council, and urged that a broader and more representative group be established.

After a week of wrangling in the Qatari capital, Doha, the chance of such a group being enshrined had nearly evaporated. However, an agreement was finally reached that absorbed the SNC and nominated a new leadership.

Newsish: Lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy says UN chief
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has highlighted the world body’s challenges, responses and lessons learned from the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean and along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

“Storms and emergencies pose great tests and challenge. They may bring out the best in people who work beyond the call of duty in trying and even heroic circumstances,” Ban said. “But emergency situations can also lay bare where we may have been operating on flawed assumptions and must do better.

“Such was the case over the past two weeks. The United Nations continued to provide its vital global services despite major disruptions,” he added. “At the same time, where there were mistakes – there must be lessons. We are determined to work with all of you to learn and move forward.”

Partners In Health They're in Haiti, and now they're somewhere in NYC.

Opinionish: China's make or break decade

China's ruling Communist Party is in the process of installing the country's fifth generation of leaders. But Peter Phillips says president Hu Jintao has offered a stern warning to his anointed successor Xi Jinping: the coming decade will make or break China; don't stuff it up.

Amidst the symbolic reassurance sustained by 2,270 heads of uniformly gleaming black hair, the sighs of relief were almost audible in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has finally convened its 18th Party Congress, signalling an end to modern China's uniquely agonising annus horribilis and, the Party must fervently hope, the beginning of a new generation of reform, balanced economic and social growth, and stability.

On a day and in a setting replete with symbols, outgoing Party General Secretary and President Hu Jintao stiffly welcomed his predecessor, head of the powerful "Shanghai Gang" Jiang Zemin. Jiang's sharply focussed endorsement of Hu's 10 years of dour rule stood as a stern reminder to heir apparent Xi Jinping that his "Princeling" status alone was not enough to ensure the integrity of the party's heritage and the blessing of the Party hierarchy.

Events
Petition for Don Siegelman
Dear Friends,

Five years ago, my dad, Don Siegelman, was taken away in handcuffs and shackles.  Many came to see his case as a travesty of justice (see 60 Minutes).  Though released pending appeal, he is now back in federal prison for another five years and nine months.  It has been a tumultuous struggle within the court system and a huge blow to our faith in government.  He has lost his reputation, practically all his assets, and his freedom, all for something the New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox Business News, MSNBC, CBS, Harper's, Time Magazine, The American Trial Lawyers, Huffington Post, The Guardian, 113 former state Attorneys General, top Constitutional Law Professors, and many others say has never been a crime in America!  I desperately need your help to free my father.  Please sign this petition to President Obama asking him to restore justice and pardon my dad!

I am not a fan of internet petitions in general.  However, this situation is teh suck.  Karl Rove's work.  

24 HOURS OF REALITY: The Dirty Weather Report

A lot can change in a day. This November 14, we hope you can help us make big change happen.

Join The Climate Reality Project for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. This will be our second annual, online event showing how global climate change is connected to the extreme weather we experience in our daily lives. The entire 24-hour event will be broadcast live over the Internet.

We’ll move between our home studio in New York City and into each region of the world, bringing voices, news and multimedia content across all 24 time zones. We’ll feature videos from around the globe, man-on-the-street reports, music, and most importantly, stories from communities moving forward with solutions.

Rounding Out
News: When Mindfulness Meets Compassion: Close Encounters in Contemplative Science
At the world's first International Symposia on Contemplative Studies held this April in Denver, it seemed as if the emerging field of meditation research had finally come of age. The gathering brought together research pioneers Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richie Davidson, John Teasdale and Marsha Linehan with groundbreaking contemplative teachers Sharon Salzberg, Roshi Joan Halifax, Matthieu Ricard and Brother David Stendl-Rast. In fact, as the nearly 750 participants convened for what could have been just one more hi-tech conference, the event felt not just historic but oddly unearthly, like a real-world version of Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

A philosopher of science might explain that remarkable feel in light of the history behind the meeting. An unlikely array of individuals and teams -- exploring dozens of converging paths around the nation and world, after decades of patient progress -- suddenly find themselves assembled as one global community embodying a breakthrough field. A science journalist might explain the event's uncanny feel by the fact that a once-obscure Buddhist contemplative practice called mindfulness, introduced in the late 1970s into pain management by Kabat-Zinn, has defied all the skeptics and all the odds by becoming one of the hottest topics in mainstream clinical research today.

Clues: 7 Surprising Habits That Boost Your Brain
Around the time we hit 30, our brains begin a slow, steady downward trajectory, or so popular wisdom would have it.

But cognitive decline is by no means an inescapable side effect of aging. In fact, according to a flurry of new reports, you can counteract age-related changes in the brain with a surprisingly simple regimen of activities guaranteed to nurture and fortify your mental musclepower. Here are seven easy ways to keep your brain quick, sharp, and bristling with youthful vigor.

1. Google often
2. Work up a sweat
3. Brush and floss
4. Drink sparingly
5. Eat blueberries
6. Do puzzles
7. Meditate

Recipe of the Week: Root Veggies w/ Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
The Rutherford Grill is a landmark restaurant in the Napa Valley town of Rutherford. The specialty is grilled food. The restaurant can have a wait of over an hour on busy days, but the outdoor fireplace and wine bar make the time go by quickly.

This recipe for roasted root vegetables with a balsamic vinegar glaze was inspired by a recent lunch at the Rutherford Grill. This side dish is a popular choice on their menu. The dish is rustic, but can be made elegant by using truffle oil and black garlic. These can be found in the gourmet department of the grocery store, or through online grocers.

roasted_root_vegetables(1)

Root vegetables are a staple in the winter months. They include turnips, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, and other vegetables that are less well known.  Root vegetables, so named because they grow underground, are nutritious and filling. Make this root vegetable recipe as the main attraction in a meal, or as a side to chicken, beef roulade or other meat main dishes. Pair it with a light white wine such as a fume blanc or pinot grigio.

First-world problem: Wool-Free Cardigans
I have serious cardigan envy. I cannot wear wool, not even cashmere, so each year I gaze longingly at the cozy sweaters other people wrap themselves in. This year I decided I needed a big, enveloping Vince-like sweater coat. (A note to Vince: I will pay your Vince-prices if you make me a wool- and yak-free sweater to buy. Please?) I need this sweater so I have something appropriate to snuggle into when I am inevitably seated too close to the front door of a restaurant where the oh so cold air keeps getting let in, my current plan of many layers of fleece and multiple scarves is getting old. Here is what I’ve found so far:
My answer would be to knit one, linen silk blend.  
nosweaterlol

News: What the world can learn from Denmark’s failed fat tax

“The fat tax and the extension of the chocolate tax, the so-called sugar tax, has been criticized for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies’ administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk,” the Danish tax ministry said in a statement Saturday.

donutsralphgoings

The country’s fat tax added 16 kroner ($2.7) per kilogram of saturated fats in a product, and was levied on everything containing saturated fats, including raw ingredients like butter and milk to prepared foods like pizzas.

The price of a half-pound of butter, for example, rose by 2.20 kroner, or 37 cents, but apparently the larger problem was the administrative headache food companies had to endure in order to set the new prices.

In Closing
Opinion, Mostly: 10 Things to Know for Monday
Some of these things are relevant.  Others, not so much.  
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