These early female astronomers shattered the ‘glass universe’

“And then instead of a dot, there’d be a little smear of a strip for each star, with shades of black, white   and gray.”
“When they were looking at the spectra, they were really looking at the pattern of the lines and trying to figure out which patterns made a logical category,” Sobel says. Sobel credits him with hiring many of the earliest female staff at the observatory — although not the first ones. “Her discovery helped establish how far they were and then how big the Milky Way was. “They just looked different. And they were trying to figure out how much they could learn from starlight about the content of the stars, their evolutionary history, their distances.”
In “Glass Universe,”   Sobel writes that the women led the way here for decades, and even today, their legacy remains intact. “This was a new thing in astronomy, to be able to take long-exposure photographs and discover things that couldn’t be seen even through the most powerful telescopes,” Sobel says. The plates, some as large as 11 inches by 17 inches, contained images of thousands of stars, each appearing as a little black dot on the glass. “The monumental work of stellar classification known as the Henry Draper Catalogue and Extension, begun under Williamina Fleming in the 1880s and continued through 1940 by Annie Jump Cannon, is still in regular use.”
Sobel says that the classification system led to the understanding that different categories of stars signified different temperatures. And then Edwin Hubble used her discovery to show that the Milky Way was only one galaxy among many. So, it was pretty important.”
For Sobel, the work of Harvard’s early female astronomers is nothing short of a launch through the glass ceiling, as the title, “The Glass Universe,” suggests. “So, they were actually making discoveries. “And people needed those different categories to be able to get a taxonomy of the stars.”
If it sounds laborious, it was. “They knew they were doing something unusual, that they’d been given a remarkable opportunity, and they ran with it,” says Dava Sobel, who charted the astronomers’ story in her new book, “The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars.”                           
Studies of the glass photographic plates were led by Edward Pickering, who directed the Harvard College Observatory from 1877 to 1919. “At the beginning of this story almost nothing was known about what stars were made of, how they created their heat and light,” she says. Decades before American women gained the right to vote, the astronomers of the Harvard College Observatory shattered the “glass universe,” analyzing delicate photographic plates to discern patterns in the cosmos. Another knockout astronomer at the observatory, Henrietta Leavitt, studied relative distances in space. And later he used it again to show that the universe was expanding. Sobel explains that the female astronomers worked in pairs, with one woman examining the plate and speaking aloud what she was seeing. Other women followed, leading to a research setting that was unusually open for the times. She went on to become a top figure in the stellar classification project, cataloging thousands of stars over a long career that also included the discoveries of tens of nebulae and novae   and hundreds of variable stars. Now we know there are different stellar temperatures because stars have different lifestyles. “Or, for some pictures, the light got passed through a prism,” Sobel says. “By 1896, when Annie Jump Cannon came to the observatory, she was allowed to make her own observations,” Sobel says. And they also helped show the life stage of the star.”
Sobel adds that the Harvard   astronomers also studied stellar brightness and constitution, contributing research that showed the abundance of hydrogen in the stars. But how do we know that?Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. Looking up at the night sky, we know that a star’s brightness can tell us something about how far away it is, and even what it’s made of. “And by the end, just about everything was known.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s   Science Friday. According to Sobel, Leavitt’s work changed our conception of the universe’s size — and laid the groundwork for major 20th-century discoveries about the cosmos. “That first led to an understanding of how far away from us the satellite galaxies and the Milky Way [are],” Sobel says. So, there was a precedent,” she says, adding, “They also cost less to hire, an evergreen theme.”
One of the first women Pickering hired to analyze the plates was his own maid, Williamina Fleming. “At the beginning, it wasn’t known what they signified,” she says. PRI.org

As it turns out, our system for classifying stars comes from work done by a group of female astronomers at Harvard more than a century ago. “He found some women there when he got there because the resident astronomers’ wives, daughters, sisters, had already been put to work. But Sobel adds that at the time, the glass plates were cutting-edge technology. Read an excerpt from “The Glass Universe” on Science Friday’s website.

Singer George Michael has died at 53

British pop singer George Michael, who rose to fame with the band Wham! This dreadful year goes on and on. All our love and sympathy to George Michael’s family,” the band Duran Duran, which were 1980s contemporaries of Wham!, said on their official Twitter account. In 2011, he spent several weeks in hospital in Vienna after contracting pneumonia, later saying he had been close to death. Former BBC Radio One disc jockey Tony Blackburn said: “Unbelievable, George Michael has died at the age of 53. Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou to a Greek Cypriot father and English mother in north London in 1963. “It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period,” his publicist said in a statement. He was best known for his “Club Tropicana,”   “Last Christmas,”   “Careless Whisper” and “Faith.”

“2016 — loss of another talented soul. There will be no further comment at this stage,” the publicist said. RIP. Michael was due to release a documentary in 2017 after years of   living as a virtual recluse in which he hit the headlines for a series of bizarre incidents linked to drugs. So sad, a real talent.”
Several iconic British musicians have died in 2016 including David Bowie in January and Status Quo guitarist Rich Parfitt, who died in a Spanish hospital on Saturday. With their good looks, perma-tans, highlighted hair and hedonistic image, the duo captured the go-getting spirit of the age and fast became one of Britain’s biggest pop acts. He met Andrew Ridgeley at high school and the pair went on to form Wham! and sold more than 100 million albums in his career, has died aged 53, his publicist said on Sunday. “The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. in 1981.

Russian army singers died in a plane crash en route to a Syria base

Among the plane’s 84 passengers were Russian servicemen as well as 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the army’s official musical group also known as the Red Army Choir, and its conductor Valery Khalilov. Mourners laid flowers and candles throughout the day in front of the Moscow concert hall where the Red Army Choir usually performs in the Russian capital. A list of passengers published by the defense ministry also included Elizaveta Glinka, a doctor and charity worker who serves on the Kremlin human rights council. There were also nine journalists and eight crew onboard. By AFP’s Vassili Maximov with Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber. There were also nine journalists and eight crew onboard. Moscow has been conducting a bombing campaign in Syria in support of Assad since September 2015. The plane had been on a routine flight to Russia’s Hmeimim air base in western Syria, which has been used to launch air strikes in Moscow’s military campaign supporting its ally President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s devastating civil war. (0225 GMT). President Vladimir Putin told state television that Russia will observe a day of national mourning on Monday. Indefinite deployment
Investigators are currently questioning the technical personnel responsible for preparing the plane for take-off, the committee said. The defense ministry said the searches would go on round-the-clock with the help of ships equipped with searchlights. When asked if a terror attack could have been behind the crash, Sokolov said: “It is premature to speak of this.”
He added that the aircraft’s black boxes had yet to be located. They were headed to Syria to participate in New Year celebrations at the air base. The plane last underwent repairs in December 2014 and was serviced in September, he said. The transport ministry said the bodies recovered from the crash site would be sent to Moscow for identification. A Syria-bound Russian military plane crashed into the Black Sea Sunday, with no sign of survivors among the 92 on board, including Red Army Choir members traveling to celebrate New Year with troops. “Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defense ministry were found 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 meters (165 to 230 feet),” the ministry said. According to Konashenkov, the aircraft had been in service since 1983 and had flown some 7,000 hours since. In April 2010 many high-ranking Polish officials, including then president Lech Kaczynski, were killed when a Tu-154 airliner went down in thick fog while approaching Smolensk airport in western Russia. Russia’s Investigative Committee said a criminal probe had been launched to determine whether violations of air transport safety regulations had led to the crash. Pictures from the scene showed rescue workers carrying bodies on stretchers on a pier in Sochi. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin was being kept updated on the search operation and was in constant contact with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Russian army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that more than 3,000 people, 32 vessels, about 100 divers and five helicopters were taking part in the search operation. Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, in charge of a government probe into the crash, said on state television that investigators were looking into a “whole spectrum” of theories on the cause of the crash. It disappeared from radar just two minutes after it took off at 5:25 a.m. But Sergei Bainetov, the air force head of flight safety, said the plane was “in good condition technically”. The ministry told agencies there was no sign of any survivors at the crash site and that 10 bodies had been recovered off the coast of the resort city of Sochi, as authorities pledged to dispatch an additional 100 divers to aid in the search. Probing cause of crash
The US joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in expressing condolences over the crash. Tu-154 aircraft have been involved in a number of accidents in the past. The Tu-154 plane went down shortly after taking off from the southern city of Adler where it had been refueling, defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

America’s new 21st Century Cures Act will speed up drug approvals. Is that a good thing?

Critics also say that despite its wide net, the legislation does little to alleviate the rising cost of drugs. “There’s a backlog at the FDA for generic drug approvals [that’s] at about four years right now,” LaMattina says. “All Trump has to do is authorize the FDA to hire more people and get this backlog down a year or two, and you’d see the prices of these drugs — which should be very cheap — come way down.”
Despite the law’s controversial aspects, LaMattina and Lupkin say another of its provisions — $5 billion   in annual funding for the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s biomedical research agency — will likely be a good thing. But according to LaMattina, the clearest way to lower drug prices doesn’t require action on the 21st   Century Cures Act. Critics say that this also opens the door to unsafe approval.”
John LaMattina, the former head of Pfizer research and development   who now writes about the pharmaceutical industry for Forbes, isn’t convinced   the measure is a neat win for drug companies and device makers, either. “There are more than 1,400 registered lobbyists on this bill, representing more than 400 different organizations,” says Sydney Lupkin, who wrote about the act   for Kaiser Health News. It   also includes the   “cancer moonshot” initiative for new cancer therapies — which   Vice President Joe Biden proposed   after his son Beau Biden   died of cancer last year. 13, President Barack Obama signed the 21st   Century Cures Act into law, after the bill received wide bipartisan support in Congress.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. “If more lenient rules were put into play … that drug might have been approved a few years ago based on early clinical trials which were very favorable, early safety studies that were very favorable, and some trends toward impressive efficacy,” LaMattina says. “That’s one of the reasons that hospitals and universities seem to be lobbying in favor of this bill,” Lupkin says, “even as some of them had people — doctors on their payroll — writing in medical journals that actually, the FDA changes in this bill could open the door to these unsafe approvals.”
The downside to the new funding? One of the law’s big changes is to inject more flexibility into the Food and Drug Administration’s drug- and device-approval process, in some cases allowing other types of evidence to stand in for expensive, time-consuming clinical trials. That sum represents “a lot of money,” he says, noting, “They can use five times that amount, 10 times that amount.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s   Science Friday. And as LaMattina adds, the agency could always use more of it. She adds that the lobbying organizations are diverse — from pharmaceutical and device companies to universities, hospitals, patient groups and advocacy groups. Payers would be upset that they were paying for something that’s ineffective,” he says. On Dec. Patient advocates say the new standards could get lifesaving new treatments to patients more quickly, but critics worry that looser regulations will endanger patients with unsafe or ineffective measures. “It’s going to save them money, but where are the price controls?”
The critique is timely, especially given President-elect Donald Trump’s recent promise to “bring down drug prices,” sending shivers through pharmaceutical stocks. “Now picture being on a drug for three years and having the long-term studies come back saying, ‘Well, never mind, doesn’t work, it’s like a placebo.’ Patients would be upset. Lupkin explains that the money will fund the cancer moonshot, as well as genetics and brain research initiatives. Instead, he points to the FDA’s hefty backlog of drugs waiting for approval — a list which he says numbers in the hundreds, just for generics. “All of those approvals will lead to competition and much, much cheaper drugs,” he reasons. Filling workforce openings to clear the backlog and get more drugs on the market. “If there’s a drug that’s already been approved and you want to get an additional use approved for it, [the bill] allows something called ‘real-world evidence,’” Lupkin says, “which is anecdotal evidence, research from observational trials, insurance claims data — things that are different from the traditional phase one, two and three clinical trials, which are very expensive.”
“So this could stand to save the pharmaceutical companies and device companies money. Before the bill passed the   House vote, several groups wrote,   “‘you know, this is going to be a lot of things that the pharmaceutical companies like,’” Lupkin says. Citing the example of solanezumab — an Alzheimer’s drug made by the company Eli Lilly, which recently failed in phase three clinical trials — LaMattina adds that the new standards may even have drawbacks for   manufacturers. Lupkin points out that the NIH’s $5 billion will need to be appropriated each year. But not everything about the law is a   salve for health experts, some of whom have raised concerns about the interests it represents. PRI.org

The sprawling legislation   addresses the opioid epidemic, mental health research   and genetic medicine. The solution?

An unexploded World War II bomb forced 54,000 Germans to evacuate on Christmas

Emergency shelters had been set up in schools and gymnasiums to handle those displaced, especially the elderly who had been unable to find accommodation at relatives or friends. Look out for one another.”
All clear given
But pictures later showed the bomb disposal team calmly standing around the cylinder shaped bomb, around two metres long, smiling after their task had ended. Some 45,000 people had to leave their homes   on that occasion. German authorities estimate there are 3,000 sunken bombs in the Berlin area alone. The 1.8-ton   explosive was found on Tuesday during work at a construction site in the Bavarian city, but authorities waited until Sunday to coordinate the logistics necessary to make it safe. About 100 buses and trams were deployed for the evacuation. Citizens were then given the all clear to return to their homes. Augsburg, the third-largest city in Bavaria, was targeted several times during the war. He had earlier urged “everyone concerned to leave the area, if possible by themselves,” in a video message posted on the city’s Twitter account. An unexploded British bomb from World War II forced 54,000 people out of their homes in Germany on Christmas Day, the country’s biggest such evacuation since the end of hostilities. The biggest previous evacuation caused by the dismantling of an unexploded bomb in Germany took place in December 2011 in Koblenz, in the west of the country. The effort to defuse the bomb only started around 1400 GMT due to a larger than expected number of bedridden or disabled people that had to be removed from the area, said Augsburg mayor Kurt Gribl. Admittedly this was an unusual Christmas day in Augsburg, a city spokesman told TV channel n24, adding that hopefully people would voluntarily leave their homes given the expected “force of the explosion” that could occur during the defusing of the bomb. More than 70 years after the end of the war, unexploded bombs are regularly found buried on German land, legacies of the intense bombing campaigns by the Allied forces against Nazi Germany. Two experts defused the explosive, which was described as a “mega bomb” according to police spokesman Manfred Gottschalk cited by DPA news agency. A 1,500-meter exclusion zone was created for the operation in case the bomb exploded while engineers were trying to deactivate it and sandbags were set up all around. The huge operation on Sunday in the southern city of Augsburg took 11 hours, involved 900 police officers and   it ended successfully around 1800 GMT, local authorities announced. Ambulances were called in to transport the infirm to a safe location. Gribi also called for “each person to verify that their relatives, parents and friends have found places to stay outside the (security) zone… Police checked house by house to ensure they were clear of residents before giving the go ahead. Bombs are often found during digging work at construction sites.

A Trump-filled Christmas in cartoons

#Trump cartoon by Norwegian cartoonist Christian Bloom #DonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/uZ5RHetFcO
— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) December 12, 2016
[evening] Happy TrumpMas pic.twitter.com/h7TDFUXDzL
— tOad (@t0adscroak) December 22, 2016
#Trump https://t.co/5Jl2jDVEon pic.twitter.com/HAG8mAnSgW
— carlos amorim (@amorimail) December 13, 2016
#art #painting @realDonaldTrump #trump pic.twitter.com/9UZ6SaiatW
— Yegonizer (@YegonizerArt) December 14, 2016
Class and crass… #Hiroshima #NuclearProliferation @TheBuffaloNews https://t.co/pTE1RJzNqQ pic.twitter.com/xtN6xkAoYq
— Adam Zyglis (@adamzyglis) May 28, 2016
My cartoon Wednesday @TheTimes on the new West Wing #Trump #Tillerson #Putin pic.twitter.com/CAmVyWOlcL
— Peter Brookes (@BrookesTimes) December 14, 2016
.@PatChappatte on Christmas morning at Trump Tower https://t.co/LpbxXqDFpH pic.twitter.com/rnUncrva3w
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) December 23, 2016

Puppies for Putin. Here’s a roundup of visual comments from cartoonists around the globe on where we find ourselves this holiday season. It’s Christmas time, 2016 is coming to an end, and a new year and new US president are nigh. Credit:

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com, USA

Dreaming of a white Christmas and a nuclear winter… #christmas #trump #cartoon pic.twitter.com/rX8oI09VBQ
— Eoin Kelleher (@EoinKr) December 23, 2016

 
This Yuletide is going to be yuge! #Christmas #Trump pic.twitter.com/Q7kjp8U78L
— Eoin Kelleher (@EoinKr) December 22, 2016

 

My #Xmas #political #Trump #cartoon #LastMinuteGifts2016 @CNN @ABC @CBSNews @HuffingtonPost @thehill @nytimes @USATODAY pic.twitter.com/FNQfMc9H6q
— Hector Curriel (@HectorCurriel) December 22, 2016
Make Christmas Great Again #MerryChristmas #DontBePC https://t.co/rpmCsoo0nW pic.twitter.com/JDYjLq6Bpn
— Political Cartoons (@PolToons) December 23, 2016

A strong earthquake hits Chile on Christmas morning

ONEMI and the USGS both issued a tsunami alert. Chile is in a quake-prone region, lying on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire of frequent seismic activity. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, said in a bulletin that “hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts.”
The quake had a depth of 15 kilometers (9 miles) according to the PTWC. A coastal evacuation order had limited the number of casualties. Chile’s capital Santiago was around 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from the epicenter. The quake registered 7.7 on the Moment Magnitude scale according to seismologists at the US Geological Survey, and 7.6 for the Chilean government’s national emergencies office ONEMI. The closest population center was Castro, a town on the island of 40,000 inhabitants. The epicenter was on the southern part of Chiloé   island, in a zone of several national parks. The last big quake to shake Chile was on Sept. 16, 2015, when an 8.3 temblor followed by a tsunami hit the north of the country, killing 15 people. Chilean officials called for coastal areas nearby to be evacuated. A powerful Christmas Day earthquake hit southern Chile on Sunday, triggering tsunami warnings and an evacuation order. We’ll update this story with information as we get it.

Netanyahu: Obama failed to protect Israel against UN ‘gang-up’ and ‘colluded behind the scenes’

It is Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion each year in defense aid. But the Obama administration has grown increasingly frustrated with settlement building in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied for nearly 50 years. They are also worried it could encourage some countries to impose sanctions against Israeli settlers and products produced in the settlements. After the resolution passed, Israel recalling its ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand for consultations. By deciding not to veto the move, the US took a rare step that deeply angered Israel, which accused Obama of abandoning its closest Middle East ally in the waning days of his administration. — Donald J. “We cannot stand in the way of this resolution as we seek to preserve a chance of attaining our longstanding objective of two states living side by side in peace and security,” said Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN. Settlements are built on land the Palestinians view as part of their future state and seen as illegal under international law. “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called the resolution a “big blow for Israeli policies.”
The move was “an international and unanimous condemnation of settlements and strong support for the two-state solution,” Nabil Abu Rudeina said. “Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms,” read a statement from his office. “The settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is now putting at risk the very viability of that two-state solution.”
But she also said in Israel’s defense, “the simple truth is,   as long as Israel has been a member of this institution, Israel has been treated differently from other nations at the United Nations.”

Speculation has mounted that Obama would allow such a resolution to pass before he leaves office on Jan. Saeb Erekat, a former peace negotiator and the No. The resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution.”
Friday’s vote was scheduled at the request of New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela, who stepped in to push for action after Egypt put the draft resolution on hold. Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 Israelis live in annexed east Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state. The text was passed with support from all remaining members of the 15-member council, with applause breaking out in the chamber. David Friedman, his nominee for ambassador to Israel, favors moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has voiced support for settlement building. Where is America?” And the answer is “Beating up on the Middle East’s only democracy”
— Michael Oren (@DrMichaelOren) December 24, 2016
Trump reacted after the vote by promising change at the UN. While the resolution contains no   sanctions, Israeli officials are concerned it could widen the possibility of prosecution at the International Criminal Court. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the resolution and criticized Obama in especially harsh language. The landmark vote came despite intense lobbying efforts by Israel and calls from US President-elect Donald Trump to block the text. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2016
Threat to two-state solution
The US has traditionally served as Israel’s diplomatic shield, protecting it from resolutions it opposes. “Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”
Michael Oren, the deputy minister for diplomacy in the premier’s officer and a former Israeli envoy to Washington, said he saw the resolution as “a lot like anti-Semitism.”
“Of all the conflicts in the world, just one party’s being singled out, and that’s the Jewish party,” said Oren. There have been growing warnings that settlement expansion is fast eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the basis of years of negotiations. The council passed the measure Friday after the United States abstained, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy. Trump has signalled he is likely to be far more favorable to Israel. 20. Millions in Syria cry out “where is the UN? As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. It has no diplomatic relations with Venezuela or Malaysia. Israel scrambled Saturday to contain the fallout from the UN Security Council vote to halt settlements in Palestinian territory after lashing out at US President Barack Obama over the “shameful” resolution. 20th,” he tweeted referring to the date of his inauguration. 20th. 2 in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, spoke of a “historic day.”
By AFP’s   Mike Smith in Jerusalem. “The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes,” it said.

This novelist riffs off the fact that Albert Einstein was a ‘true outsider’

“I think another reason that Einstein has become such a popular and enduring icon is that, when he began to publish his theories, and even to this day, a lot of people are a little bit frightened by science,” Wray says. Credit:

johnwray.net

“He’s the name that must not be spoken,” Wray says, adding that in the book, it was a comic decision to keep Einstein on the outskirts. “Einstein was completely alone in his resistance to the implications of his own earlier work.”
For Wray, that closing epoch brings a certain symmetry to Einstein’s career trajectory. “Einstein’s scientific career evolved almost in parallel with various forms of modern media, with you know, the newsreel and radio and then later film,” he says. The writer John Wray learned a thing or two about Albert Einstein while researching his new novel, “The Lost Time Accidents.” For one, he says that despite Einstein’s fame and charming persona, the physicist always had a surprising quality — a lack of interest in popularity.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. And then after that relatively brief period of a decade or two, he moved farther and farther out of relevance, essentially.”
“And he ended up in a very similar position to that in which he began — that of a total outsider.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s   Studio 360. PRI.org

“He really truly had no interest in the trappings of fame or fortune,” Wray says. “He truly was an outsider, even in Princeton. But he notes that in Einstein’s lifetime, science had an aura of mystery to it. “And the implications of science seem to be very cold and forbidding, and they seem to be negating a lot of the things that people hold dear, their spirituality and their religion. “Suddenly, he became the absolute, utter, total insider in the sense that his ideas and work could not have been more central to every aspect of physics. And that I think caused him to be very effectively transmitted worldwide as this kind of concept.”
But even as Einstein became globally synonymous with “genius,” his controversial ideas about quantum theory once again placed him in the fringes of his field. Listen to the full interview. … “The very … willingness on Einstein’s part to tilt at windmills and risk the disapproval and sort of incredulity of his colleagues in the last third of his life became this truly quixotic quest to disprove various innovations and discoveries and theories that had directly sprung from relativity,” Wray says. “And he was very well-suited to these forms of media   because you couldn’t possibly reduce his theories to a sound bite, but you could certainly reduce his persona to a tidy little caricature. You know, he spent most of his time alone, and he truly had a remarkable sense of humor — about himself, as well as the society he was in.”
This is something that Wray plays with, in his novel, centered on an Eastern European family in the early 1900s, who are convinced that they’ve discovered the secret to time travel. “He began as a complete outsider who was not taken seriously,” he says. And as a public figure, Einstein, despite his reserve, was in some ways a messenger for that mystery. The protagonists also believe that Einstein is their archenemy, so much so that they refuse to mention the physicist by name, referring to him instead as “the patent clerk.”

Novelist John Wray, a US and Austrian citizen living in New York City. And here comes Einstein, who’s so warm and generous and modest and almost saint-like in a certain way.”
That helped cement   him as a pop-culture icon, despite the complexity — or controversy — of his theories.

A new Ebola vaccine may be ‘up to 100 percent effective’

Initial tests last year did not include children, while the most recent trials covered those over six years old. It is slated to be submitted by Merck to health authorities in the United States and Europe sometime next year under a fast-track approval process. “With the Canadian Merck vaccine, you have a protection very early after vaccination, but we don’t know if it will last after six months,” Kieny said. “If we compare zero to 23, this strongly suggests that the vaccine is very effective, that it could be up to 100 percent effective,” Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director-general and lead author of the study, told AFP. If all goes well, the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process, it said. China and Russia have also developed vaccines, with the Russian one having just finished the second phase of three-step clinical trials. The new vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck. “We may have a vaccine which is registered in 2018,” Kieny told journalists at a press conference Thursday, noting that the standard approval process for a new drug takes a decade, if not more. In a major clinical trial, nearly 6,000 people in Guinea were given the test vaccine last year, at the tail end of a lethal epidemic of Ebola. “That might be better suited to immunise health workers in advance of an outbreak,” Kieny said. ‘Compassionate use’
First identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ebola virus   erupted periodically in outbreaks of up to a couple hundred cases, mainly across west and east Africa. Her team of three dozen researchers calculated a 90 percent likelihood during a full-fledged epidemic that the vaccine, dubbed rVSV-ZEBOV, would work in more than 80 percent of cases. Health officials also point to the fact that other strains of the virus — including one in Sudan — will require the development of separate vaccines. In early 2014, however, a handful of infections in southern Guinea mushroomed rapidly into an epidemic. A prototype vaccine for Ebola may be “up to 100 percent effective” in protecting against the deadly virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday. It causes violent and painful symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhoea, organ failure and internal bleeding. British firm Glaxosmithkline and Johnson & Johnson, based in the United States, each have experimental products in the pipeline. Other Ebola vaccines under development — some of which have been tested in humans — could prove more effective over a longer period. “After 40 years, we appear to now have an effective vaccine for Ebola virus disease to build upon,” Thomas Geisbert, a scientist at Galveston National Laboratory in Texas who did not take part in the study, wrote in a commentary, also in The Lancet. With a mortality rate above 40 percent, the disease — one of a category of so-called hemorrhagic fevers — has an incubation period of up to three weeks. Some 11,300 died. Another unknown is how long innoculation lasts. But in a control group of volunteers that did not receive the vaccine, 23 Ebola cases occurred, researchers reported in The Lancet medical journal. Both recovered fully. Some of these vaccines require two doses three weeks apart, and may confer a longer immunity. Of the more than 6,000 people injected with the Ebola vaccine only two showed serious adverse effects, the study reported. In the meantime, Merck has committed to ensuring that 300,000 doses of the vaccine are available for emergencies under a protocol called “compassionate use.”
“They will be able to produce a million in very short period of time,” Kieny noted. But it is still unknown if the vaccine is safe for children 6 and under, pregnant women, or people with the AIDS virus — all groups that were excluded from the most recent trials. Over the next two years, more than 28,000 people fell ill, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Unanswered questions
There are still questions to be resolved concerning the vaccine, including side effects. Not one of the 6,000 contracted the disease.

A new book explores how to survive the ‘Age of Accelerations’

Friedman says that Arab world was at its height when it was the greatest polyculture on Earth, in Moorish Spain. Monoculture crop fields — corn, wheat and soybeans, for example — were wiped out. Strength comes from patience. The king said, “How can I reward you?” And the man said, “I just want to feed my family.” The king said, “It shall be done. “As I thought about that, I realized we’re not just in the middle of one climate change. Wherever I see an opening in nature, a blank space, I fill it with a plant or animal or both, perfectly adapted to that niche. What would you like?” And the man said, “Your highness, I’d just like you to take one grain of rice and put it on the first square of this chessboard, then put two on the second, four on the next, eight on the next, then 16 on the next, 32, and just keep doubling it, and my family will be fine.” The king said, “Of course. Thomas Friedman’s latest book, “Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving In the Age Of Accelerations,” is a manifesto for how to cope with our changing planet.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. “What Andy and Eric argue is that, in terms of Moore’s Law, we just entered the second half of the chessboard, where the doubling starts to get very big, and the result is you get some very funky stuff,” Friedman says. You don’t want to be just curled up in a ball.”
Friedman came to understand that, in nature as well as in human society, polyculture (or diversity) is the key to resilience. So, Friedman asked himself what the world most needs to survive in the face of such rapid change. I believe things should coevolve — the right plants with the right soils, the right bees with the right flowers. I kill all my failures, return them to the great manufacturer in the sky, and take their energy to nourish my successes.”
“So, the argument I make in the book is that the countries, communities and companies that most closely [and] consciously mirror Mother Nature … are the ones that are going to thrive in what I call the Age of Accelerations,” Friedman concludes. This is what she told him:
“First of all, I’m incredibly adaptive through natural selection, in a very brutal way. I love diversity. “Basically, the story I tell in my book is that we’re in the middle of three nonlinear accelerations all at the same time, with the three largest forces on the planet,” Friedman says. Nothing is wasted in my world. “Second, I love pluralism. In their book, Brynjolfsson and McAfee cite the ancient story   of the man who invented the game of chess and gave it to a king. You need to be able to take a blow, because you don’t know when the disruption is going to come, but there will be disruptions. Eat, food, poop, seed, eat, food, poop, seed. You want to be able to move ahead. It needs two things: “You want resilience. “Third, I’m incredibly sustainable, in a very circular way. We’re in the middle of a change in the climate of the climate, we’re in the middle of the change of the climate of globalization, and we’re in the middle of a change in the climate in technology.”
Friedman’s book was inspired, in part, from an insight   in a book called, “The Second Machine Age,” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The book examines the exponential acceleration in technology based on Moore’s Law, which states that the speed and power of microchips will double roughly every 24 months. What’s happened today in the Arab world is that al-Qaeda   and these Islamist groups are trying to wipe out that polyculture and replace it with a monoculture that is enormously susceptible to diseased ideas,” he says. PRI.org

Right now, three powerful forces — technology, globalization and climate change — are accelerating exponentially — and “one of the hardest things for the human mind to grasp is the power of an exponential,” says the columnist for the New York Times. I’m very heterodox. “Fourth, I’m incredibly entrepreneurial. It shall be done” — not realizing that when you double something 63 times, the number you get is more than 18 quintillion,   more rice than existed in the world. We’re in the middle of three climate changes at once. “Lastly, I believe in the laws of bankruptcy. I understand you can’t speed up the gestation of an elephant or the growth of a thousand-year-old Baobab tree. “I’m a big believer in biomimicry.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood. Friedman says he “consulted” Mother Nature directly to understand how to build resilience and move forward in the midst of great changes. Listen to the full interview. Everything is food. At the same time, you want propulsion. “Sixth, and this is very important, I’m very hybrid in my thinking. The Arab world was never more prosperous than then. During the 1930s Dust Bowl, for example, only fields that were natural polycultures, like native prairies, survived. This has been happening now for over 50 years, Friedman says. My most diverse ecosystems are my most resilient, and I love trying 20 different species and see who survives. 

“Fifth, I’m very patient. “It was a polyculture of ideas, of people, of Christians, Muslims and Jews.

For this Venezuelan, Christmas isn’t Christmas without hallaca

Pork, chicken, raisins, olives, capers, onions and pimentos are folded into corn dough, and then wrapped in a banana leaf, says Mora, who now lives in Phoenix. “But I was able to get away with a lot of things. I didn’t like washing them, so I only did 10 leaves and then ran off and played with friends,” he admits, with a laugh. In our search for holiday traditions outside the US, we came across a Venezuelan tradition: Hallaca. Resembling tamales, hallaca is a staple of Venezuelan Christmas. Preparing it is an all-day affair. The leaves are brought in from fields with   bird droppings and other contaminants, so they must first be soaked and cleaned. “Looking at the bag, [the flour]   used to be made in Venezuela and now it says it’s manufactured in the US.”
We’re talking more about hallaca, and all the other wonderful things you can make with banana leaves, in the Global Nation Exchange group on Facebook. It’s that time of year when many Americans turn to time-honored traditions of Christmas carols, eggnog and kissing under the mistletoe. By tradition, family and friends   gather in the morning to chop and prep the ingredients — including   banana leaves. “My mom asked me if I wanted to make hallacas [here] and the answer was ‘of course.'”
This Christmas, hallaca may be hard to find on tables in Venezuela. It’s only made during the holiday, says Juan Freitez Mora, a Venezuelan documentary filmmaker. “That was my job,” says Mora, of the chore handed to the youngest member of his family. Mora says he was lucky enough to bring his mother and father to the United States from Venezuela, where living conditions have become tough. “It’s really interesting because it’s easier to find the ingredients in the US than in Venezuela, where long lines form to buy the flour,” says Mora. Venezuelans are struggling with shortages of basic food items, making many of the hallaca ingredients scarce.

Why Gimli Manitoba is the place to enjoy Icelandic cake

But each cake is time-consuming. It was a self-administering “Icelandic reserve” with its own government, directly responsible to the Canadian government in Ottawa. Credit:

Carrie Arsenault

She makes an apricot version, too. “It took a while. “We still grind the prunes with Amma’s old meat grinder and I roll every layer. Icelandic Vinarterta with apricot filling. Icelandic settlers arrived in what is now Manitoba in   the 1870s and established “New Iceland” in what became Gimli. Between 1870 and 1915 about one-quarter of the population of Iceland left their homeland because of tough economic and environmental conditions, including the 1875 eruption of   Mount Askia. I’ve been in the family for 20 years.”
Now that Arsenault has perfected the cake, she makes about 1,200 of them every year. So you can imagine seven layers for every cake.”
Vinarterta is traditionally made with prune filling, but Arsenault has modernized it a little. Enough about the history —   back to the cake. If you’re celebrating Christmas this weekend, you’re probably starting to stock up on   cookies and cakes.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. Her husband’s family is Icelandic and she learned the technique of making it from her mother-in-law. The local specialty is a delicious treat called a “Vinarterta.”
But this cake didn’t originate in Manitoba. Today Gimli (named for the home of the Norse Gods) has become known as the cultural heartland for the largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland. PRI.org

And if you live in Gimli, Manitoba, your holiday favorite may involve seven   layers of cookie dough with prune filling in between. A vinarterta wedding cake. Many get shipped to Icelandic Canadians throughout the country. “I learned about six years ago,” explains Arsenault. It’s actually an Icelandic dessert. Credit:

Carrie Arsenault

Vinarterta is made by hand by bakery owner Carrie Arsenault.

This woman was attacked for speaking Swahili. In court she forgave her attacker.

Asma Jama’s face still bears the scars from the   attack that took place in October 2015. We’re fighting for the same rights.”
Jama says   this was her chance to follow the teachings of her faith, Islam, which encourages forgiveness. Jama was left with deep gashes on the lower part of her lip, which   needed 17 stitches. It’s not that they don’t know English. It happened at an   Applebee’s restaurant in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The woman, Asma Jama, spoke after the hearing: “I’m not going to be the first victim, nor will I be the last if things don’t change.” pic.twitter.com/pefIkwE0Ji
— Hannah Covington (@Hannah_Cov) October 17, 2016
The attacker, Jodie Burchard-Risch, ran away, but Applebee’s employees chased her and later police took her   into custody. She wanted to forgive. at the end of all this to understand that we’re all the same,” she said. She didn’t like that they were speaking Swahili and not English. She was having dinner with her family and they were speaking in their native language: Swahili. “It doesn’t matter what’s on my head, it doesn’t matter … This week, Jama and   Burchard-Risch faced each other in court. Join our on-going discussion about Asma Jama on the   Global Nation Exchange Facebook page. “She said ‘speak English or get out of the country,'” Jama recalls. the color of my skin. Her nose and eye were left bloodied as well. When her family gets together, they speak Swahili instead of English. Jama   got the chance to speak directly to her attacker. “I just want you to … We’re all the same human beings. So much   that she smashed a beer mug in Jama’s face. “She continued to say the same thing,” Jama says, “and I had to turn around and tell her ‘ma’am, we can speak English, we choose not to when we’re with family.'”
But she got more aggressive. I used to be a care-free person and now I can’t go anywhere by myself.”
But for Jama this wasn’t a day for revenge. As they were chatting, another customer   who was sitting at the next table got agitated. In fact, she is a US citizen and her kids were born here. “What happened to me on that day is unacceptable,” an emotional Jama told the court, “it shouldn’t happen to anybody else. Burchard-Risch was sentenced to six months in prison and   up to five years of probation.

Will a new nuclear arms race undo decades of teamwork between the US and Russia?

But in both places, there’s still hope for collaboration. “You are very vulnerable right now.”
Lugar had long been conscious of the risks that nuclear weapons posed. “The lessons are, very clearly, the need for members of Congress to be able to work together,” he said. “To form bipartisan coalitions where national defense and the security of the world is at stake.”
As tensions between the US and Russia again take center stage, Lugar emphasized the importance of coalitions not only across party lines but also across the Atlantic. When the Soviet Union started to fall apart, a group of Russian officials flew to Washington to meet with him. He hopes that a sense of shared interests will one day help Russia and the US to further reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals. He once visited a Soviet missile silo   and learned that even small cities like his hometown of Indianapolis had been considered targets. “We always considered ourselves rivals,” said Esin. Viktor Esin, the Russian general, remembered that when he visited American missile silos more than two decades ago, he was surprised by how much the two sides had in common. In November of 1991, the two of them convinced members of both parties to support a partnership with the Soviet Union. Although that spirit of teamwork eroded, particularly after Russian actions in Crimea and Ukraine, Lugar said it’s possible to learn from the past. But the two powers eventually found a way to reduce their arsenals through a series of treaties and partnerships that continued into recent years. “It never occurred to me during that period of time that we might have been a target, that one or two of those warheads could have obliterated the whole city.”
With that sense of vulnerability in mind, Lugar found an unlikely ally in former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn. “But after the cooperation began, we understood that we weren’t enemies.” Soon afterward, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”
For anyone who remembers the rhetoric of the Cold War, this sort of exchange will seem familiar. “They said, ‘Well, essentially, you are the targets of our nuclear weapons,'” Lugar recalled. According to the officials, disunity in the military had left Soviet nuclear weapons insecure: “The people that have been guarding the weapons have been deserting,” they told Lugar. “There is a feeling of nostalgia,” said General Viktor Esin, former commander of Russia Strategic Rocket Forces. It specifically targeted “loose nukes,” or weapons that were poorly secured after the Cold War ended. Today, nuclear experts in the two countries don’t talk very much with one another. Looking back, many lamented the breakdown in US-Russia relations. This month, the architects of one of those partnerships, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, met in Washington for a 25th-anniversary conference. “I really wish that the times when the US and Russia cooperated would come back.”
Richard Lugar, who served as a Republican senator for 36 years, remembered how the project began. After more than 20 years of teamwork between the US and Russia on nuclear arms control, experts are worried that the two countries could face another nuclear arms race — leaving some Russians and Americans nostalgic for the years after the Cold War. Read more:   America’s missileers stand ready to launch nuclear weapons — and pray they won’t have to  
The latest flare-up in US-Russia relations began when Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Russia should upgrade its nuclear arsenal. “I had been mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana, for eight years,” Lugar said. The US and the Soviet Union spent decades threatening each other with nuclear destruction.

This millennial activist has been fighting her entire life, and isn’t backing down now

“The power of the people is greater than the people in power — but we must mobilize, act concretely   and put change into motion. I’ve Just Never Said That Publicly Until Today,” the 25-year-old   connected her own experience of being sexually assaulted to Trump’s statement to Billy Bush that he liked to grab women by the pussy. “What I admire most about Erin is her willingness to walk up to the greatest injustices on our planet, meet them head on, and ask what she can do to help — from pulling Syrian refugees out of sinking boats in Greece to getting shot with a rubber bullet at Standing Rock. Credit:

Erin Schrode

Combating this sense of powerlessness has been a key point in all the work Schrode has done, especially in recent months. Stacy Malkin, 48, the co-founder and co-director of US Right to Know and author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry,” met Schrode during this formative time   and remembers how inspired she was.  
She wrote: “It is up to us to recognize, name and denounce hate speech and discrimination when we see it, to drive out a wave of darkness that has the power to poison hearts and minds, bring down institutions and society, and reverse centuries of progress and victories — while posing imminent danger to the safety and wellbeing of millions of human beings.”

This article is part of   The UnConvention, coverage and conversation that highlights the issues   and voices of young voters, in partnership with   92Y and Mic. Credit:

Erin Schrode

In a climate where millennials are often painted as apathetic, many might consider Schrode an outlier — but she doesn’t see it that way. The following spring, she launched a campaign in her hometown of Marin County, aiming to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, noting that there are no people under 30 currently serving in Congress, and no woman under 30 has ever been elected to office. She believes young people are more informed, more concerned   and more active than ever before. We need to build up alternative legal, financial   and advocacy frameworks to protect and defend the most vulnerable among us.”
A graduate of New York University, Schrode has been involved in some form of activism her entire life. In another article, “This Filthy Jewess Is Done With ‘Alt-Right’ B******t,” Schrode cataloged the myriad ways she had been harassed online, particularly for being a Jewish female activist. Schrode hopes this inspires people to take action themselves   and not wait around for a hero. In September, she was interviewing one of the protesters at Standing Rock when police shot her in the back with a rubber bullet. “People make assumptions about my motives or abilities based upon what they see — but I stay the course,” she says. She seems fearless, but I think it’s more that she is committed to doing what needs to be done, even if it’s scary.”

Erin Schrode with a young Syrian girl rescued by the Greek coast guard when her family’s ship sunk while making the refugee crossing into Europe (Lesvos, Greece). This sentiment has been at the core of Schrode’s work — to call things as she sees them, to be present and active at all times. And she leads by example: In the fall of 2015, Schrode was in Lesvos, Greece, helping refugees off of lifeboats. “The decisions being made today will disproportionately affect us, yet we have no place at that decision-making table.”
READ MORE:   Millennial activist Blair Imani is fighting for equality, and wants all generations to join her
While she lost in the primary to a much older male incumbent, Schrode’s platform of increasing eco-awareness and economic justice for women and minorities struck a chord with many millennials, as well as older folks looking for a change. During the 2016 election   and the weeks that followed, millennial activist Erin Schrode wrote a series of pointed articles addressing her concerns over the looming administration of President-elect Donald Trump. “[Over the next four years], local and state government will be more important than ever before,” Schrode says. “I ran for Congress earlier this year to redefine civic engagement, to reinvigorate a culture of public service   and to expand the definition of who can be a politician,” says Schrode. In “I’m a Survivor of Sexual Assault. I found it so inspiring to see teen girls speaking out with powerful voices against an industry that has made so many girls feel so powerless.”

Erin Schrode leads a panel discussion at a Whole Foods in New York City. When this story was spread across social media, particularly in the darker corners of the internet, Schrode took it upon herself to ensure the focus wasn’t on her, but rather on the broader issue of the Dakota Access Pipeline   and the ways   Native communities have been disrespected. “I see Standing Rock as the movement of our times — the convergence of the fights for our environment, human rights, peace and justice   and so much more,” says Schrode. “I have been a proud activist for over a decade, taking on issues that are relevant to a far wider demographic than youth or women, collaborating with diverse stakeholders, making a tangible difference — and I have no plans on ceasing anytime soon.” “Technology has provided us with such a powerful platform with which to organize and connect — and we are and will use it for good in the real world.”
And for those who want to discount her because of her youth, she reminds them that the proof is in the pudding — she’s out there doing the work every day. “About 10 years ago, Erin invited me to attend an event she helped organize, Project Prom, at Union Square in San Francisco,” says Malkan. “It was an honor to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, side by side with my fellow water protectors and brave brothers and sisters on the frontlines.”
READ MORE:   Across the US on Monday, women and allies gathered to protest Donald Trump
“Erin was raised to believe that one person can change the world,” says Malkan. “We are the most well-connected, collaborative generation to date,” she says. When she was in her early teens, she and her mother began Teens for Safe Cosmetics, which later became Turning Green   — a nonprofit aimed at getting young people to reconsider the toxic chemicals in many of their household and personal care products. “I arrived to find a bunch of teen girls standing onstage wearing prom dresses and combat boots, vowing to wage war on the $50 billion beauty industry until they get toxic chemicals out of products.

With US abstaining, UN Security Council demands Israelis end West Bank settlements

In a rare step, the United States instead abstained, allowing the measure to pass by a vote of 14-0   in the 15-member council. The UN Security Council on Friday demanded that Israel halt its settlement activities in Palestinian territory, in a resolution adopted after the United States refrained from vetoing the measure condemning its closest Middle East ally. The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal, but UN officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months. Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as the capital of their future state. The resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution” that would see an independent Palestine co-exist alongside Israel. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said his government had expected a US veto of “this disgraceful resolution.”
“I have no doubt that the new US administration and the incoming UN secretary general will usher in a new era in terms of the UN’s relationship with Israel,” said Danon. Israeli settlements are seen as a major stumbling block to peace efforts, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. Applause broke out in the council chamber after the adoption of the resolution, the first measure on the Middle East passed at the council in eight years. The vote was scheduled at the request of four countries — New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela — who stepped in to push for action after Egypt on Thursday put the draft resolution on hold. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had backtracked on the move to condemn Israel’s settlement policy after receiving a phone call from US President-elect Donald Trump, who spoke out in favour of a US veto.

These were our favorite albums of 2016

Fonseca wrote or co-wrote most of the tunes, so they’re new, but   with a vintage twist. Joe Driscoll is a rapper and songwriter from Syracuse, New York, while Sekou Kouyate is a master kora player from Guinea. Nigerian Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen was invited to Haiti to give a one-off concert with local musicians back in 2014. 3. They met as roommates and soon discovered they both loved to write songs, and sing them together. But the British-born, Sri Lankan rapper writes songs that are innovative and make a point, whether it’s exposing what it’s like to really be on the run as a refugee, or creating new language and sounds to express herself. Cocofunka is an indie band from Costa Rica, and here they’ve released an album that’s high in energy, polish and production. Now, you may think this is a retrospective — some best-of   1950s/60s Cuban music — but it’s not. Their   backgrounds may be worlds apart, but their   music shows what can happen   when two worlds collide. At 79 years old, she can do what she wants. 4. M.I.A. They enlisted local producer Mario Miranda and Felipe Álvarez, who produced last year’s release from Bomba Estereo, to help with the production. M.I.A, “AIM”

M.I.A.’s “AIM” is protest music for the new century (and protest music isn’t always pretty to listen to). 4. Cocofunka, “Chúcaro”

This is hands-down my favorite release of the year. Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra, “AHEO”

The Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra released their self-titled album this year. He recorded “Azel” in Woodstock, New York. This album is truly “world rock.”
2. You can listen here to our tribute to Toussaint, who passed away in November 2015. Roberto Fonseca, “Abuc”

A celebration of Cuban music from the island nation’s jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca. Now I can relive the moment with this   release. Bombino, “Azel”

Bombino’s a terrific guitarist from Niger in West Africa. 5. Allen Toussaint, “American Tunes”

We play a lot of music that is not American on the show, but when I got this posthumous release from the great New Orleans pianist, singer and composer Allen Toussaint, I just had to include it. It was hard to narrow down our favorites to a Top 20   list, but here it is. When they harmonize the sound is delicate and soothing. Kate Bush, “Before the Dawn (Live)”

Fans from around the globe flew to London to catch Kate Bush in concert back in 2014. Together they are the compelling duo My Bubba. It was her first series of concerts in 35 years, and   I was lucky to catch one of those shows. Each of us picked five of our favorites to highlight. April wants you to check out these albums, too:  
Michael Kiwanuka, “Love & Hate”
Leyla McCalla, “A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey”
Leonard Cohen, “You Want it Darker”
Harold López-Nussa, “El Viaje”
Case/Lang/Veirs, “Case/Lang/Veirs”
Listen to a selection of the songs from our favorite albums on Spotify: After several releases, he’s cemented a reputation in rock circles with his inexhaustible guitar licks. 5. It’s been a trying year for many of us, and Toussaint’s music helped make things a little better. is unique and more articulate than most artists on the pop scene today. Elza Soares, “A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo”

Elza Soares is a national icon in Brazil. There was a lot of great music released in 2016. 3. Marco’s picks:  
1. 2. Marco doesn’t want you to miss these albums, either:  
La Yegros, “Magnetismo”
Blitz the Ambassador, “Diasporadical”
Gaby Moreno, “Ilusión”
Lakou Mizik, “Wa Di Yo”
Hannah Williams and the Affirmations, “Late Nights and Heartbreaks”
April’s picks:  
1. And as a “woman at the end of the world,” as the   name says, she’s released a bold and brash album. My Bubba, “Big Bad Good”

Gudbjörg Tómasdóttir is from Iceland and My Larsdotter is from Sweden. Allen and the Haitian musicians had just five days to rehearse for the show — and the results can be heard on the group’s one and only album. I love it. Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate, “Monistic Theory”

This is the second album from a dynamic duo.

The first cousin of the English language is alive and well in the Netherlands

And increasingly, young people write in Frisian, especially when using social media. The offenses and the punishments are remarkably similar in the two sets of documents. 29:30 Why novelist Willem Schoorstra never corrects people’s written Frisian on Facebook. 4:02 Frisian in America. 30:30 “In 100 years, our language will be very different.”
31:00 Willem Schoorstra’s first novel is being made into a film. Credit:

Patrick Cox

14:52 Frisian-speaking Dutch MP Lutz Jacobi gets cute with the new king of the Netherlands.  
It’s less clear today. “The list goes on and on,” says Nijdam. You can follow The World in Words stories on   Facebook   or subscribe to the podcast on   iTunes. 29:10 Standard written Frisian may not remain standard. It’s now making a comeback, partly thanks to the European Union and Dutch government support (sometimes begrudgingly) for Frisian language schools, news media and performance arts. The Norman invasion of England in 1066 resulted in a French invasion of English, while Dutch has rubbed off on Frisian, or at least the version of Frisian that is spoken in the Netherlands. The language too. Credit:

Patrick Cox

25:20 Learning in three languages. Ira Judkovskaja is the artistic director of Frisian-language theater company Tryater. it has managed to hang on, against the odds. 27:08 Weirded out at the very idea of writing in Frisian. Not what you think. Credit:

Patrick Cox

Podcast Contents
00:30 The Kentish Laws and the Frisian connection
1:05 Soundtrack provided by “Furious Frisian folk” band   Baldrs Draumar. There are sections that deal with compensation for acts of violence —   eye-gouging, nose-piercing (“one nostril or two”) and beard-burning. Frisian teacher Anna Marije Bloem discusses an essay topic with students. Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. The Kentish Laws are the oldest surviving documents in Old English. So what about that connection with English? Credit:

Courtesy of Han Nijdam

Medievalist scholar Han Nijdam of the Frisian Academy in the Netherlands has studied both these and a similar set of laws written in Old Frisian. I spoke with Nijdam and many others in Friesland about the Frisian language: writers, artists, teachers, students   and just plain old speakers of a language that has refused to die. People who study the evolution of the English language have always had a fascination with Frisian. 28:10 Social media is reintroducing Frisians to written Frisian. Non-Frisians in the Netherlands sometimes characterize this as stubbornness. 12:26 Clubbing Friday. You can hear it, if you’re lucky. Novelist Willem Schoorstra at his home in Ternaard, Friesland. And Frisian … The English king Ethelbert   oversaw the establishment of the so-called Kentish laws, the first laws that we know of written in any Germanic language. It was sold by Sotheby’s in 2014 and bought by a private collector in Belgium. Subscribe

Many children’s books are translated into Frisian. Dutch MP Lutz Jacobi raised eyebrows when she pledged allegiance in Frisian at the coronation of Dutch King Willem-Alexander in 2013. Credit:

Omrop Fryslân/Annet Huisman

20:46 Theater director Ira Judkovskaja: “There are some people who call me ‘Our Frisian Russian.'”
21:52 A play about Friesland’s epic speedskating race. It goes back at least 1,400 years. Frisians themselves are more likely to say their language has   survived because of the determination of the Frisian people. Credit:

Patrick Cox

English has become the world’s premier language. 19:30 Why Frisian today sounds so similar to Dutch. The words for “hairpulling” for example are almost identical in Old English and Old Frisian. This is the oldest fragment of Old Frisian, circa   1100-1125. Whatever it is, people in villages across the province of Friesland still speak Frisian. PRI.org

In their older forms, the two languages shared vocabulary and grammar patterns that differed from other Germanic languages. 6:22 The Frisian view: “Dutch people can really be so stuck up.”
7:20 The Dutch view: “I get a bit tired by Frisians going on about how special their language is.”
8:50 Teaching and language activist Anna Marije Bloem: “Do you think we are stubborn?”
9:30 I am on Frisian TV. 17:30 English and Frisian are grammatical bedfellows. Catch our podcast: The World in Words

Each week on The World in Words, Patrick Cox and Nina Porzucki tell stories about languages and the people who speak them.

Merkel orders security review after botched Amri case

Peter Neumann, professor of security studies at the King’s College, pointed to “a systemic failure”, as security services lacked the manpower for around-the-clock surveillance of Germany’s 550 known radical Islamists considered potentially violent. Anger has also focused on the investigation since Monday’s truck attack. Merkel — already under fire from right-wing populists over her liberal migrant policies —   can now expect the security debate to heat up ahead of an election expected in September. Justice Minister Heiko Maas meanwhile pledged to examine “how to improve surveillance of potentially dangerous persons” and concrete steps to speed up deportations of illegal migrants. “The Amri case raises questions — questions that are not only tied to this crime but also to the time before, since he came to Germany in July 2015” from Italy, she said. Amri’s asylum request was denied in June but because Tunisia refused to take him back, denying he was a citizen, he was issued a stay of deportation paper — the document that police found in the mangled truck cabin. “We will now intensively examine to what extent official procedures need to be changed.”  
Merkel said she had ordered justice and interior ministers at the federal and state level to “analyse every aspect of the case and present their conclusions as soon as possible” so that reforms, where needed, could be agreed and implemented quickly. Amid the fierce criticism, Merkel pledged a “comprehensive” analysis of what went wrong. “Once the dust settles, it will be important to have a fundamental rethink.”
German police can point to several attacks they have, or may have, prevented this year. They did nothing.”
Conservative lawmaker Stephan Mayer said the case “held up a magnifying glass” to the failings of Merkel’s migration policy, and Christian Lindner, head of the Free Democrats opposition party, charged that “catastrophic mistakes” had been made. Germany has repeatedly accused Tunisia and other north African states of stalling on the repatriation of their nationals. “Germany’s anti-terrorism structure is failing to match the scale of the problem,” he said. German police had monitored Amri since March but dropped the surveillance in September thinking he was primarily as a small-time drug dealer. And last month Germany’s domestic spy service unmasked a Spanish-born agent in its own ranks as a suspected Islamist. On Friday they said they detained two Kosovo-born brothers on suspicion they planned to attack a shopping centre in Oberhausen near the Dutch border. Media reports said he was also a former gay porn actor. Criticism has also focused on Germany’s over-burdened asylum and immigration services. A law to designate Tunisia, as well as Morocco and Algeria, as “safe countries of origin”, to raise the bar for asylum requests, has been held up for months in Germany’s upper house, over human rights concerns in the North African countries. Critics have also pointed to a two-day delay before authorities issued a public wanted notice for the fugitive, as well as the fact the rejected asylum seeker should have been deported long ago. Berlin’s B.Z. Politicians and newspapers have deplored the fact that Amri had slipped through the net of security services, who knew he had been in contact with Islamist “hate preachers” and, according to news weekly Der Spiegel, that he had offered himself for a suicide mission. Days after his arrest, he was found hanged in his cell. In October, Syrian bomb plot suspect Jaber al-Bakr escaped a police raid and was only caught thanks to the help of other refugees who apprehended and bound him. tabloid charged in a blistering headline this week: “They knew him. Anger has mounted since it emerged chief suspect Tunisian Anis Amri, 24 — who was shot dead Friday by police in Milan —   was a known radical Islamist and criminal who had long been under counter-terrorism surveillance on suspicion he was plotting an attack. The German leader said she had also spoken with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi by telephone to discuss anti-terror efforts and inform him that Germany would be “significantly accelerating” deportation of rejected asylum seekers. The new Tunisian travel document only arrived on Wednesday, two days after the attack. After following an initial false lead, police only found Amri’s identity papers in the lorry’s cabin a day after the attack, and authorities took another day before issuing a Europe-wide public wanted notice. Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday ordered a sweeping review of Germany’s security apparatus, which has drawn withering criticism after a known jihadist killed 12 people in a Berlin Christmas market. But the security services have also suffered a number of embarrassing failures.