Sabtu, 28 Mei 2016
Jumat, 27 Mei 2016
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and State Comptroller Joseph Shapira.
The state comptroller's report on the funding of the Netanyahu couple's travel abroad is the final chord in a long process of procrastination, and further testimony to the damage caused to Israeli society when a prime minister is able to choose those who are meant to oversee him.
The parties to this calculated procrastination were State Comptroller Joseph Shapira (who was chosen after an audition at the royal residence) and former attorney general Yehuda Weinstein, who was previously Netanyahu's private attorney.
On taking office in 2012, Shapira received a highly incriminating report about the Netanyahu family's penchant for receiving favors from his adviser on issues of corruption, retired police major general Nachum Levy.
Instead of jumping at the opportunity and publishing the report immediately, Shapira decided to fire Levy. "Corruption in the country is declining rapidly," he told Levy during a private meeting. "I don't need an adviser for it."
A few months previously, the Netanyahu family lawyer David Shimron had asked that Levy be removed as an investigator in the "Bibi-Tours" affair, on the grounds that he had served as head of the police investigation into another affair involving the Netanyahus and had recommended that the couple stand trial.
Shimron, by the way, was the one who recommended that Netanyahu support Shapira for the comptroller position.
During the course of 2012, Shapira transferred all the raw documents gathered by his office to Weinstein. The excuse: Suspicion of criminality.
The comptrollers who preceded Shapira had not run from their obligation to confront power-brokers, even when they discovered signs of criminality that obliged them to collaborate with the attorney general and the police. They didn't wait for someone else to do the dirty work for them.
Shapira's panicked sprint to Weinstein achieved its purpose. The two agreed in 2013 that Shapira would freeze his work and refrain from sending the investigative material to Netanyahu until Weinstein ruled on the fate of the investigation. That agreement was documented in a letter that Shapira sent to Weinstein, a letter that was carefully phrased to serve their common interest in avoiding incriminating Netanyahu if the letter was ever revealed. Before sending the letter, Shapira asked Shimron to approve it.
At that point, the most serious phase of the procrastination apparently began. Only in 2014, almost two years after he had been asked to look into the prime minister's integrity, did Weintsein announce that he had found no basis for a criminal investigation of Netanyahu.
"The attorney general killed the case in the manner that characterized all his activities," a legal expert knowledgeable about the case told Haaretz. "He postponed meetings, scheduled them months apart, dealt with the case sluggishly in order to deprive it of oxygen."
From the moment Weinstein buried the criminal investigation, the hot potato rolled back to the comptroller ahead of publication of the long-awaited report. For the first time, the comptroller's investigators began to dive into the material. They took testimony from others involved in the case and discovered deep discrepancies.
The picture that was revealed to them was very worrying: Serious suspicion regarding false reports in the documentation of Israel Bonds regarding Netanyahu's travel (for example paying for security while the state security detail was on the job,) frequent payments of cash from a mysterious source to cover the costs of flights by the family, false claims (an extravagant cash claim to fund a flight which really went towards paying a hotel bill, for example) and other evidence pointing to the existence of something systematic.
At that point the comptroller's staff initiated meetings with prosecutors and showed them documents which, in their view, required the opening of a criminal investigation. However, they were still hoping that the attorney general would agree to be the bad guy and change his ruling.
In December 2015, Shapira even wrote a letter to Weinstein in which he said that the Bibi-Tours material aroused "suspicion of criminality." Those meetings and the letter led to the resumption of the police investigation.
The two guardians of the law played an embarrassing game of ping-pong just to avoid directly confronting the man to whom they owed their jobs. It led to an unprecedented result: The publication of the report after a delay of almost four years.
The report published on Tuesday was devoid of content compared to the raw material collected by the investigators. The names of the tycoons who funded the couple remain redacted and the report makes no real effort to refute Netanyahu's responses which seem to lack all basis or internal logic.
Nor is there any mention in the report of other activities that came to light in the course of the investigation: Deception, false reports, the ostensible use of cash.
Nevertheless, parts of the report tell a bitter story about Netanyahu, a story which, with variations, we first heard 20 years ago.
At the center of the plot is a man who is almost pathologically unable to use his own wallet and who searches for alternative ways of getting others to pay for his own expenses and those of his family.
Netanyahu has not been involved in heavy-duty investigations like his predecessors Sharon and Olmert. With him it's the same pattern of getting gifts without reporting them. And, perhaps because he's aware of his personality problems and the damaging influence of his close surroundings, Netanyahu appointed two watchdogs to look after his back, rather than saving us from him.
Rabu, 25 Mei 2016
CINCINNATI — The players are usually the last to know in these situations. So in the mid-morning hours of Saturday in the visitor's clubhouse of Great American Ball Park, most of the Mariners players were unaware of proposed rule changes for 2017 that would affect every one of them in some way.
"They're doing what?" said one of the pitchers, still not fully awake or understanding why.
Well, per an ESPN report, the Major League Baseball competition committee met last week during the owners' quarterly meetings in New York. From that meeting, the committee agreed to two proposals — changing the definition of the strike zone as well as the procedure for intentional walks.
There are multiple steps before the changes go into effect, but the plan is for both to be implemented for the 2017 season.
Let's start with the change for the intentional walk. Instead of a pitcher tossing four balls outside of the plate with the catcher standing, a manager could signal to the umpire that he wanted an intentional walk and the hitter would just take his base. The lull of the four balls process would be alleviated.
"I'm fine with just putting up four (fingers) and having the guy go to first base," manager Scott Servais said. "I think they do that in high school and in college."
Changing the rule also removes the possibility of a pitcher throwing wildly past the standing catcher. It usually happens at least once a season.
"We are so geared to throw everything down in the zone and it's a completely differently feel to throw it up to a guy standing there," Steve Cishek said. "Some pitchers have a real problem with it."
Servais has seen it happen first-hand.
"I actually lost a game on a walk-off intentional walk wild pitch," he said. "It was in Triple A at the time, at the end of my career. Runners on second and third and we were going to walk a guy and the first pitch, it wasn't even close. I had to dive back toward the plate and I missed it and the game was over. I'm 35 years old thinking, 'well I've never had that happen before.'"
While there were chuckles and stories of intentional walks gone bad, the subject of the strike zone being changed was not met with much enthusiasm.
"No comment," said a Mariners' pitcher, who preferred to remain nameless. "I'm just sick of Major League Baseball always making changes like this."
What elicited such a response?
The proposed change is to make the strike zone smaller, raising it from just below the kneecaps to the top of the knee. It's a response to a trend of strikes even below the rulebook specifications being called.
"It would be tough for sinkerballers," Cishek said. "I'll just have to adjust."
On the surface, it would seem to help hitters. It would mean less groundballs and more balls in the air. The lower zone is blamed for increased strikeouts, fewer walks and lower run production.
"In general, it becomes an advantage to the hitters," said Hisashi Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "The higher the ball is in the zone, the farther it goes. That doesn't just apply to me."
But Iwakuma admitted that strike zone can vary from umpire to umpire. It's something that he's found different in MLB compared to his time in Japan.
"The strike zone is firm in Japan," he said.
While most pitchers disagreed with the concept of the new zone, they were still skeptical of significant changes. They've heard talk like this before.
"I think it just varies from umpire to umpire," Cishek said. "It seems the umpire's interpretation."
Both Cishek and Chris Iannetta mentioned the MLB Players' Association stepping into the discussions on the rule change. The report said it will be brought up during the labor negotiations this offseason.
"It's like every other change that's come down, we've thought about it, we've bargained it back and forth and we left it open for testing," Iannetta said. "Nothing is wrong with tossing ideas back and forth. Whether it actually happens, we'll see."
But ultimately, the decision comes down to MLB's rules committee, which is led by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. That group of baseball executives can only approve the changes. And that committee isn't subject to players' union approval to make those changes.
With the addition of replay and the changes to the slide rule at home and second base generating plenty of past debate, adjustments to the strike zone will be met with plenty of vocal opinions from all sides.
And players will do what they've always done, the key to baseball success: adjust.
"That's been the game the last 150 years," Iannetta said. "A pitcher's job is to keep the ball down and keep it out of hitters wheelhouse. Hitters' job is to hunt mistakes and try to get a ball up. No matter where the strike zone is, that's never going to change. Pitchers are still going to throw to the most advantageous spots and we are still going to look for the best pitches to hit."
Selasa, 24 Mei 2016
By Megan Boehnke of the Knoxville News SentinelUpdated: Yesterday 6:25 p.m. 0
When victims of stabbings and shootings from high-crime ZIP codes in Louisville, Ky., arrive at local hospitals, a social worker usually shows up shortly afterward.
"We don't have a hard time finding kids who aren't in trouble. We have a hard time finding kids who are in trouble — so we go right to the hospital," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday during his keynote address at the Mayor's Luncheon at the Knoxville Convention Center.
The social worker helps to prevent retribution crimes and provides options to help victims escape their situation. It's part of a program called Pivot to Peace, which aims to reduce the number of homicides through intervention.
Homicide rates "unfortunately seem to be a problem that seems to be increasing in every American city," Fischer said.
After the high-profile murders of two boys in the last six months in gang-related drive-by shootings, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said she wants to learn more about what Louisville is doing.
"That's something we're going to follow up on and get more information on," Rogero said after the luncheon. "Figuring out how and when to reach people is critical, it's part of the intervention."
The Kentucky city has also had success with programs that offer opportunities to its young people. Code Louisville is a free program that matches mentors to those interested in coding software to help them learn.
The tech training program received accolades from President Barack Obama and spawned a website design company founded by seven teens from one of the city's roughest public housing complexes.
Meanwhile, the initiative is helping the city address its need for more programmers, Fischer said.
The city has joined with nearby Lexington, a former rival, to begin marketing the region to businesses. They've had success creating a 70-mile corridor of 2.5 million residents and industries that include advanced manufacturing, automotive, appliances, translation software and, of course, bourbon.
Rogero said she sees similarities between that partnership and the one being cultivated in East Tennessee. Knoxville and Oak Ridge have teamed up to form Innovation Valley, a development partnership managed by the Knoxville Chamber.
"Seeing yourself as a region and recognizing everybody wants every new business and every new job in their own political boundary, but we know that if it's in our region, we're all going to benefit," Rogero said.About Megan Boehnke
Megan Boehnke covers Knoxville city government for the News Sentinel.
Minggu, 22 Mei 2016
Sabtu, 21 Mei 2016
Cast: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Randeep Hooda , Richa Chadda, Darshan Kumaar, Ankita Shirvastav
Director: Omung Kumar
" Sarbjit " is a biopic of Sarabjit Singh Aitwal, a farmer from Punjab's Bhikhiwind, arrested in Pakistan for crossing the border on August 28, 1990. But in reality, it is the 23-year-old journey of his sister, Dalbir Kaur , depicting her trials and tribulations in the course of her endeavour to bring back, from Pakistan, her brother, who is convicted for a series of bomb blasts and charges of terrorism.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Dalbir Kaur puts her heart and soul into her character. She delivers a fairly robust performance and evokes sympathy, not merely on the strength of her performance, but because of the powerful character she depicts. Unfortunately, even after modulating her voice and emulating the mannerisms of a Punjabi, by no stretch of imagination, can she pass of as a "Sikhni" one is made to believe she is.
Randeep Hooda as Sarbjit steals the show. His transition, physically and mentally from a happy-go-lucky man to an anguished imprisoned soul, is palpable.
Richa Chadda, in a fairly restrained manner, manages to make her presence felt as Sarbjit's wife Sukhpreet, whom he fondly called "Sukhia. So does Darshan Kumaar as Owais Sheikh, Sarbjit's lawyer in Pakistan. The rest of the cast too is natural and convincing.
Director Omang Kumar who had earlier delivered " Mary Kom ", has handled the film fairly adroitly. Scripted in a non-linear fashion, the film starts off on an uneven note and gradually as the narration progresses, it settles on an even keel to unravel the compelling drama.
By avoiding the controversies that surround Dalbir Kaur and the existence of her other siblings, scriptwriters Utkarshini Vashishtha and Rajesh Beri's screenplay skilfully manoeuvres the narration, to stir a sense of patriotism among the audience.
The film is emotionally draining. It brings tears to your eyes. The dialogues are everyday speech, but there are instances when the lines are dramatic and uplift the scenes. This is obvious in the scene where Sarbjit speaks to his lawyer Owais in the prison.
Some of the scenes in the film, seem inspired by classics. This is particularly evident. when Sarabjit breaks down emotionally and cries, "Save me sister, save me." This particular shot reminds you of a scene in Ritwik Gathak's "Meghe Dake Tara", where the heroine pleads to her brother to save her. Here the scene may not be as dramatic as in Ghatak's film but is eventually effective.
With excellent production values, the film is well-mounted. The cinematography by Kiran Deohans is steady and remarkable. With brillian t lighting, his frames are atmospheric. With his wide-angle lenses and tight close-ups, he brilliantly captures the claustrophobic space and the fine nuances of Randeep's haunting performance.
The sets are realistic and transition of the colour palette, is evident in the costumes of the ladies, which from bright colourful clothes gradually turn into muted hues.
The songs mesh seamlessly into the narration and the background score effectively heightens the viewing experience.
The film is evenly paced with a few lengthy and unwarranted scenes but overall, Sarbjit Aitwal's story is worth a watch, as it touches the right emotional chord.
Also read: B-Town goes gaga over 'Sarbjit', praises cast for impactful performance
Also read: ' Sa rbjit' trailer out, Aishwarya steals the show with stellar performance
Jumat, 20 Mei 2016
Do Re Mi Fa No! Michael BublÃ© Reveals Upcoming Vocal Chord Surgery After Canceling Scheduled Performances - E! Online
Do Re Mi Fa No! Michael Bublé Reveals Upcoming Vocal Chord Surgery After Canceling Scheduled Performances
by Samantha Schnurr |
Michael Bublé is not feeling good.
The longtime big band crooner announced Wednesday that he won't be taking the stage at a handful of scheduled performances because of a crucial surgery.
"I wanted to let you know that I am bowing out of some upcoming events due to pending vocal cord surgery which will require a period of time for me to rest and recover. No talking or singing for awhile," he revealed in a Twitter statement to his fans.
Among the canceled gigs are the Canadian Governor General Performance Arts Award Gala on June 11 and the Marvin Gaye Tribute at the Kennedy Center on June 5.
However, while the Grammy winner offered few specifics about the future procedure, he and his doctors remain hopeful that all will go well.
"My doctors expect a complete recovery," he added.
"Thank you in advance for your prayers and good wishes. I'll keep you up to date on my progress."
The "Best Is Yet to Come" singer has kept mostly out of the limelight over the past year, though in May 2015, he shared on Facebook that he was in the process of writing music for his ninth studio album.
While that full album has not come to fruition yet, another one of his creations was born this year—his second son, Elias. He and his wife, Luisana Lopilato, announced the birth in late January.
While he alluded to a lengthy recuperation time, Bublé has nothing to worry about—he has three loved ones at home ready to hold his hand through a full recovery.
Rabu, 18 Mei 2016
It's on the desks of four-star generals and junior naval officers, and it has found its way on to the recommended reading lists for every branch of the American military. Ghost Fleet, a novel about a future world war pitting China and Russia against a complacent United States, has become fodder for training sessions and seminars at bases across the United States, as well as briefings for national security council staff at the White House.
At a time when commanders and intelligence officials are worried about retaining America's technological edge against resurgent great power rivals — crystallized in Friday's release of the Defense Department's annual report on China — the book has captured imaginations and sparked debate inside the Pentagon. Ghost Fleet has landed at an auspicious time: After 15 years of grinding ground wars against elusive insurgents armed with homemade bombs, the U.S. military is both yearning to get back to its roots in high-end conflict and wondering how to counter old adversaries with new hi-tech tools.
An unabashed, 21st century update of the Tom Clancy thrillers that won a huge following in the 1980s and '90s, the novel's action ranges from space, where Beijing has disabled America's satellite network; to cyberspace, where Chinese digital warriors have penetrated sensitive U.S. networks through the cell phone of a gardener at the offices of the Defense Intelligence Agency; to Japan, where Russian fighter jets and drones stage a terrifying air raid on American bases on Okinawa.
The geopolitical premise of the story is drawn in broad brushstrokes; the book's meat, and the reason military leaders at all levels can't put it down, lies elsewhere. In the not-too-distant future, the novel posits, China's Communist Party has been ousted after cracking down on riots by urban workers. A "Directorate" of military officers and business magnates then launch a pre-emptive attack on Hawaii — with some help from Russia — to ensure control of a lucrative natural gas field discovered deep on the Pacific Ocean floor in the Mariana Trench. The U.S. troops left behind in occupied Hawaii take a page from their former enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq and organize an insurgency, dodging lethal, robotic quad-copters on mountain bikes as they plant explosives and stage ambushes.
What's struck a chord among both soldiers, spies and scholars in the United States and overseas is the interplay of old and new weapons, how troops react to them, and how they could revolutionize warfare. Most importantly, the story games out just how America's latest, high-tech revolution in military affairs could leave the country vulnerable to increasingly skilled foes.
The book illustrates "the potential vulnerabilities of the way we're building the force today, and maybe that we need to be watchful about," said Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and a big fan of the novel.
With its depictions of troops using medical stimulants to extend physical endurance and Google glass-like goggles, Neller says Ghost Fleet offers a fresh look at how warfare could look in the very near future. "If you haven't been thinking about this, it kind of opens up the aperture and makes you realize that the future is here. It's not five to 15 years from now."
Over the years, other books about war have become "must reads" for Washington's strategists and decision makers. During the height of the debate inside President Barack Obama's administration over the war in Afghanistan, opponents of a troop surge cited Gordon Goldstein's Lessons in Disaster to bolster their argument. And during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus and other proponents of a retooled counter-insurgency doctrine sought inspiration from The Centurions, the 1960 novel by French writer Jean Larteguy set during the France's war in Algeria.
Previously, other fiction writers have helped shape public and official thinking about wars before they'd begun. A pair of H.G. Wells tales predicted elements of World Wars I and II. "Invasion literature," including The Riddle of the Sands, was an English staple as the British-German naval race heated up at the turn of the 20th century.
Ghost Fleet, which debuted last year, was written by a military analyst and non-fiction writer, Peter W. Singer, and a former Wall Street Journal defense reporter, August Cole, and will come out in paperback later this month. Unusual for a work of fiction, it's loaded with nearly 400 footnotes meticulously documenting the real-world roots of the fictional fights.
"It's fiction, but it's grounded in hardcore research. Our rule was every single technology, every single trend had to be pulled from the real world," Singer said.
The book's account of crippling attacks on U.S. satellites and computer networks, malware infecting the military's supply chain and Chinese long-range missile assaults — as well as robotic craft operating in tandem with manned vessels or aircraft — reflect the real-world worries and priorities of Defense Department officials.
The Pentagon's No. 2 official, Robert Work, who has read the book, has repeatedly warned that America's high-tech superiority could erode without crucial investments in research and development in cyberwar, space, missile defense, and other new technologies. The latest Pentagon report on China stresses that the U.S. technology edge is steadily eroding, even as China makes great strides in creating its own version of "net-centric," IT-heavy warfare. Meanwhile, even as Ghost Fleet features an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire coming to the rescue of the U.S. war effort, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has made high-profile appeals to tech firms to work on joint projects with the Pentagon.
But unlike the often mind-numbing non-fiction reports generated inside the Pentagon or at think tanks, the novel allows officers and analysts to discuss some uncomfortable scenarios in a more free-ranging way.
"If it had been presented as nonfiction, a lot of people would have deemed it unlikely or unthinkable," Cole told FP.
Yet the co-authors said the novel is not meant to stir up fears of an imminent war with China, but instead to provoke fresh thinking in Washington about how to build a military force for the future.
"As we make clear in the book, the story is a work of fiction, not an act of prediction," Cole said. "Neither of us want a war with China or Russia. We want to avoid that. But you can't avoid it if you don't squarely address it. In a sense, the bigger risks for the U.S. are believing that a conflict in the next decade is not possible because of Pacific trade ties, or assuming that we will automatically prevail militarily in a conflict with China."
If fiction turned to fact and the U.S. found itself in a conflict with China, the four-star admiral at the center of the storm would be Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command.
While Harris has been a blunt critic of China's assertive tactics in the South China Sea, calling its massive island-building operation a "great wall of sand," the admiral has repeatedly said that he does not expect a conflict with China and doesn't think Beijing is seeking one either. But he is clearly fascinated by Ghost Fleet.
"Just like people don't read Moby Dick because it's about whaling, no one should conclude that people are reading Ghost Fleet because it involves a war with China," Harris told FP in an email.
"Rather, warfare novels like Ghost Fleet help us to question assumptions and prevent complacent thinking that inhibits innovation. How can we take action today to improve our war-fighting readiness for tomorrow?"
U.S. lawmakers and defense industry executives have often cited the threat of China's military buildup as a rationale for an array of big-ticket weapons. And skeptics will likely view the novel as feeding the sometimes overheated rhetoric about China. But the authors are unflinching about the shortcomings of the American military and some of its high-profile weapons, castigating the F-35 fighter jet and Littoral Combat Ships as costly disappointments. And unlike a Clancy novel, the American-made weapons sometimes malfunction.
The book does not glorify the prospect of a global war, and there is death and destruction on all sides. Although the Americans eventually manage to bounce back thanks to a combination of Wal-Mart logistics, Silicon Valley pluck, and a makeshift fleet of retired warships called out of mothballs — hence the title Ghost Fleet — there is no triumphant ending.
The stealthy USS Zumwalt, the Navy's new model destroyer that is now going through sea trials, plays a starring role in the story as one of the ships called out of retirement, along with its electromagnetic railgun. And one of the unlikely protagonists is not a soldier but a small robot dubbed "Butter" that crawls out of the ocean on eight legs. The black "lobster" bot sneaks up on a Chinese soldier at nightfall on an Oahu beach, knocking him out with a poisonous dart in the leg. That allows commandos to swim in unseen, part of an advance guard for a counter-offensive to liberate Hawaii.
The lobster bot scene was inspired by a bona fide nanotechnology project carried out by researchers at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. And the novel seems to suggest that devices like the black lobster — agile and innovative but also cheap and disposable — represent the way forward for a U.S. military that has often been too wedded to huge, expensive weapons that take years to build and which are often obsolete soon after they're fielded.
Although the book has gained traction among military officers, it's not winning any literary awards. The authors say they weren't out to emulate Jonathan Franzen, but rather fast-paced technology-driven thriller writers like Clancy and Michael Crichton.
Perhaps the highest compliment the book gets is within Pentagon corridors. When one U.S. Army general recently wanted office memos written with more flair, he instructed his staff to "ghost fleet" their reports.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy/General Dynamics Bath Iron Works via Getty ImagesShare +
Selasa, 17 Mei 2016
Joe Nerssessian, Press Association
15 May, 2016 19:00
UKRAINE'S Eurovision victory will send a message of hope to the minority Tatars in Crimea, a leading member of the Ukrainian community has said.
Fedir Kurlak, chief executive of the Association of Ukrainians in Britain, said he "jumped for joy" after Saturday's win which he watched at home with his family in London.
Mr Kurlak said Jamala's song, 1944 – which was a tribute to her great-grandmother and referenced Stalin, Crimea and claims of ethnic cleansing – will remind those living in the annexed region that "people are there for them".
Jamala, who is a Tatar, pushed Russia into third place with her song that opens with the English lyrics: "When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say, 'We're not guilty'."
Mr Kurlak (55) said he was unsure whether the song was a political statement on the current conflict.
He said: "People are afraid to express their thoughts in Crimea at the moment. There is a group billed as a self-defence organisation that raid houses and take people away at their own will.
"The fact she was able to express what she felt in her heart may give those people hope," he added.
"The UK gave Ukraine five points in the public vote and that happened all over Europe, and I'm not sure if it was political votes or cultural votes but it may remind that people are there for them in the Crimea."
The British-born Ukrainian, whose parents fled after being deported to Germany as forced labourers in the 1940s, said he was hopeful the winners would be able to host next year's competition as is customary.
"I saw someone post online they should hold it in Crimea with the Crimean flags, but that's not going to happen.
He added: "I hope it can take place."
Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 was condemned by the West and strongly opposed by Crimea's Tatar minority, which faces persecution in the Moscow-ruled Black Sea peninsula.
Other Ukrainians in London celebrated the country's triumph with 'vodka and wine' according to Roman Kosysky, a restaurant owner in Twickenham, west London, which was screening the competition.
"There was a wonderful atmosphere... a party atmosphere. Everyone was shouting and celebrating. It was a surprise. People were dancing."
"People were shouting Viva Ukraine."
Mr Kosysky (23) director of Ukrainian restaurant Prosperity, said customers were given free drinks after the victory.
"It was started as a joke but then we won and everyone got a free drink."
"All the ladies were drinking sparkling wine, the men were drinking Ukrainian vodka... no mixer."
Members of the Ukrainian society at Exeter University watched the show together and praised the political nature of Jamala's song.
Student at the university and society member Roman Davymuka, said: " We know how Tatar people have been struggling recently, as during the annexation they mainly had a pro-Ukrainian position, so Jamala is likely not to just draw attention to the deportation during and after the Second World War but to the situation now and raise the question of Crimea again in the world."
"It is a pleasure for Ukrainians to win and to show our support to Tatar people," he added.
"We are very happy as well that this song is on a serious matter rather than just a fun song that happened to win, like it happened in Eurovision before."
Senin, 16 Mei 2016
'Bones' Season 11 Episode 16 Spoilers 'The Strike in the Chord': Pentatonix Guests in an A Cappella Murder Mystery - Celebrity Dirty Laundry
'Bones' spoilers for Season 11 Episode 16 'The Strike in the Chord' on Thursday May 19 reveal that Grammy award winning a cappella sensation Pentatonix guests as Booth and Aubrey find themselves caught in a musical investigation that leaves the FBI agents irritated.
Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and James Aubrey (John Boyd) interrupt a college a cappella rehearsal as Booth flashes his badge and tells them to 86 the songbirding. The episode centers on an a cappella murder mystery and then a secret comes out that blows everything up.
It turns out that Aubrey actually sang a cappella in college but begs Angela Montenegro (Michaele Conlin) to keep his dirty secret. She says okay but seems underwhelmed at his subterfuge. The team investigates the murder on campus and things seem a little "off key."
Looks the victim is one of the warblers and Pentatonix singer Kirstin Maldanodo says it's a "perfect" murder for them to guest on Bones. She's playing Liz Dervan in Episode 16 and other Pentatonix members Scott Hoying and Mitchell Grassi play Ted Gibbs and Julian Klein.
There are two rival groups – Julian and Ted sing on the guy's team, the Whippersnaps, and the Gingersnaps is the girl group led by Kirstin. Aubrey brings in Ted and Julian to the FBI for interrogation and they are freaking out over being considered murder suspects.
Aubrey tells Ted and Julian that they know the two of them were at the place where Scott, the victim, was killed and they tell Aubrey that they are there every day and they start babbling about a show they have and how they can't miss rehearsal or lose their voices.
Aubrey is overwhelmed with their agitated drama and gives them the musical hand gesture to zip it. Also guesting as the rest of the guys and girls a cappella teams are two UCLA singing teams Bruin Harmony and Random Voices.
If you are a fan of Pitch Perfect, then Bones Season 11 episode 16 is for you! Don't miss any of the aca drama as the Squints track down the killer who took out one of the Whippersnaps. Was it another guy singer jealous of his pipes or did one of the Gingersnaps snap and took out one of the competition?
Don't miss this very musical episode of Bones and be sure to share your comments below. Come back to CDL for a LIVE recap of 'Bones' Season 11 Episode 16 'The Strike in the Chord' on Thursday May 19.
Minggu, 15 Mei 2016
JOSH Arnold grew up on the Darling Downs learning about farming and music and attending a small Catholic school in Tara.
It was fertile ground for a singer-songwriter inspired by the wide open spaces and endless skies, and who has just released a song titled Catholic Schools in Queensland.
The song is a celebration of the work and achievements of Queensland's 300 Catholic schools, and Mr Arnold has recorded it with the backing of a choir from All Saints' Parish Primary School, Albany Creek.
"When I was asked to write the song I was just so passionate and enthusiastic and I worked really hard on this song and recording," he said.
"And I feel that the meaning of the chorus in the song is about life. School is life.
"It's about preparing kids for life. And through faith and learning together and then from school the hope is that they come out better people as well as educated … better human beings that can reach out to the world in a really positive way."
Arnold is a Golden Guitar winner at the National Country Music Awards, an accomplished musician and prolific songwriter, who draws his inspiration from the people he meets and the many places he has travelled.
He has just returned from the Northern Territory writing songs and producing videos with young Aborigines in the remote central Australian community of Ampilatwatja.
His face lights up as he talks about the experience of working with remote indigenous kids.
It's clear he is happiest in the bush and collaborating with youngsters on a creative songwriting path.
Mr Arnold began his schooling at St Joseph's School, Tara, and completed it at St Mary's College, Toowoomba.
His father taught him to play guitar – both acoustic and electric – and he had a wide variety of influences.
"I was listening to everything from Guns N' Roses, to Bob Dylan and Garth Brooks. And I took all of those influences and ran with them," he said.
"I think it is always important to keep an open mind and I don't stick in one musical genre."
Soon after school, Josh worked as a jackaroo on the Northern Territory cattle station, Avon Downs, and it was there that his songwriting talent sprang to life.
"It gave me a big wealth of songs and life experience. It got me on the road to writing music," he said.
"I realised it is not easy to write without life experience. You've got to live and you've got to experience things to write music."
In 2002, Josh won a Golden Guitar for an Aussie version of Thank God I'm a Country Boy, recorded with Lee Kernaghan.
A big career in country music beckoned and Josh went on to release three albums through ABC Music with songs featured on the TV shows Home and Away, Neighbours and Ghost Whisperer.
His songs received airplay on radio stations across Australia and he performed on Channel 7's Sunrise program.
There was also a hectic touring schedule and the volatility of the music industry took its toll.
Seven years ago Josh made a career change.
He settled back into his home town of Toowoomba, with his wife and three children, and he took a job as a teacher's aide.
It wasn't long before he was bringing his guitar into the classroom and using his musical talents to write songs with the kids.
"The first song I wrote was 'Talking about the kangaroo' with some Year 2s , just as an English class project," Mr Arnold said.
"But it grew and grew and I'd write school songs.
"I've written 60 school songs now and I've been to over 100 schools (so) that became a really big deal for me."
Mr Arnold said the school songs became "like treasures" to the children he worked with.
"It's something they plan to keep forever," he said.
"Sitting in the classroom with these kids I was trying to explain to them that this is a big job.
"If your grandkids go to this school they could be singing the song that we write today.
"So I took that really seriously. And then sometimes those songs would become town anthems as well, because there is only one school in that town."
Mr Arnold has written nine town anthems.
"That's an even bigger deal because you've got the whole community invested in it, and people who love their town to death," he said.
He said one of the most popular town songs he had written was for Thargomindah, in south-west Queensland, a community of 200 people.
"The response on social media was just huge. People just love that town and people who have had anything to do with that town love that song," he said.
While creating projects for schools, Mr Arnold started a production company Small Town Culture, to shoot music videos to accompany the school songs.
"So the kids help write the songs. But then they are the stars singing it. And it is their faces in front of the camera, and showing their way of life as well," he said.
"I am so much happier working with kids than working in the music business."
Under the banner of his production company, Mr Arnold now designs and produces projects for schools, communities and various organisations throughout regional Australia.
Catholic school authorities in each of the five Queensland dioceses, together with the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, engaged Mr Arnold to create the song Catholic Schools in Queensland.
It will form a central part of Catholic Education Week festivities during July 2016, with Mr Arnold introducing the song to students from Catholic schools around the state.
"The song reflects the ethos and values of Catholic schools, which provide a faith-based education, lifelong learning and a strong emphasis on student learning outcomes and pastoral care to almost 147,000 students in Queensland currently," Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry said.
"Much more than that, it is celebration of the positive contribution Catholic education has made to the lives of the thousands of Queenslanders who have attended Catholic schools over the years."
It just might be a song that this generation's grandkids will be singing.
By Mark Bowling
Sabtu, 14 Mei 2016
Former Senator George McGovern speaks at a 2008 campaign stop for then presidential hopeful Barack Obama at the Sioux Falls arena.(Photo: Elisha Page / Argus Leader Media)Buy Photo
If South Dakota Democrats back Bernie Sanders in the party's June 7 primary, it won't be the first time the state has supported a left-leaning populist with some unpopular political views.
George McGovern likely never would have called himself a socialist, but some political observers see parallels between Sanders and the late South Dakota senator and congressman.
"When you look at their tone, their appeal, their anti-establishment rhetoric, Sanders and McGovern are pretty similar," South Dakota State University professor David Wiltse said. "And that could give him a boost for many Democrats here."
Still behind in the delegate count but pushing on with his campaign, Sanders could benefit from the similarities in South Dakota, where the state's Democratic party was founded on strong populist roots.
Former Democratic Sen. James Abourezk served in Congress alongside McGovern for eight years. He said he sees comparisons between the two in terms of their willingness to take unpopular positions on policy. For McGovern, it was opposing the war in Vietnam, Abourezk said, for Sanders, it's civil issues.
"He's just like McGovern, he's tough on issues that require a lot of bravery and courage at this point," Abourezk said.
Political analyst Mark Plotkin wrote a column for The Hill last year asking "Is Bernie Sanders the next George McGovern?"
"All McGovern talked about in '72 was the war in Vietnam, that he would get us out, and fast," Plotkin wrote. "Sanders is on to something that grips the Democratic Party voter. He is their messenger. The issue of economic inequality and economic unfairness, of being left behind and ignored and forgotten, is a powerful message."
Tom Katus, former state lawmaker, a longtime friend of McGovern and South Dakota Democratic delegate backing Sanders, said both men aimed to dramatically change the direction of the party.
MORE coverage of Sanders' tour of South Dakota here.
Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson
Read or Share this story: http://argusne.ws/27ghWcj
Jumat, 13 Mei 2016
Chad Clifford gently strummed his guitar while asking a group of fifth-grade students for one last question. Several kids' arms shot into the air from the guitars they were learning to play.
The students all had the same question.
"Would you please play one more song?" one girl asked.
Clifford, a singer-songwriter who owns Front Porch Music in Valparaiso, smiled and began singing "In My Life," by the Beatles.
"There are places I remember…" Clifford sang as the kids sat perfectly still.
While listening from the back of the classroom, I wondered how many of the kids would remember the place they first learned how to play guitar – Cooks Corners Elementary School in Valparaiso.
Clifford was invited to the school on behalf of the Gary Webster Young Musicians Scholarship program. Webster was a beloved teacher at that school until his death from melanoma cancer Oct. 24, 2014. He was 62.
"He reluctantly stopped teaching," said his brother, Cory Webster. Officially a leave of absence, he said, Gary Webster died about a month later."
More than 1,000 students, parents and educators attended his memorial service at Valparaiso High School. He helped educate thousands of appreciative students, including Clifford, who also sings with the local band, the Crawpuppies.
"This scholarship program honors my grade school mentor," Clifford told me. "He encouraged me to follow my musical dreams. Now I can encourage these young students, too."
After Webster's death, his family honored his memory in several ways. There is a memorial bench and faceplate at Valplayso, where he volunteered to work just weeks before he died. And similar memorial benches at Cooks Corners, where Webster taught for the last half of his 40-year career.
"Gary had a tremendous love for music and the arts," Cory Webster said. "He never missed a musical program, and he incorporated music into his teaching style."
To create a tangible legacy, Webster's family established the scholarship program with the Porter County Community Foundation and Valparaiso Schools. Funded by proceeds from Webster's estate, his family purchased 24 guitars for the school's music program and invited Clifford and the school's music teacher, Karen Zappia, to host the guitar lesson program.
On the day I visited, Zappia sat in the front row of the classroom, helping kids learn how to strum a guitar and which chords to play. The school's principal, Elaina Miller, also showed support by joining the class.
"It's a wonderful program and we're happy to host it here," she told me.
Students learned simple guitar essentials, such as how to hold a guitar, string notes, finger placement and simple chords. After the classes, they could apply for two scholarships for free guitar lessons at Front Porch Music, lasting several months.
The application included these questions: Why do you want to take guitar lessons? What does music mean to you? Will you be committed to practicing the skills taught to you in your lessons?
"The guitar is an amazing instrument," Clifford told students. "You can play it the rest of your life."
Gary Webster would have loved the idea of using music to educate kids, in his name.
In his classroom, Webster would ask students to write stories based on song lyrics, or he would associate songs that had the current week's spelling words in their titles or lyrics. He understood that music played an unforgettable role in teaching, from learning the ABCs to finding a child's purpose in life.
This is what happened with Clifford, who Webster mentored at Hayes-Leonard Elementary School. When most kids in Clifford's fifth-grade class played sports during recess, he played music, starting with the drums.
Webster also gave Clifford his first "rock star moment" when he lined up his classmates outside the music room after recess and had them shout, "Chad! Chad! Chad!" as he exited the room.
Webster and Clifford both enjoyed Beatles' songs, which is likely why Clifford used the song "Yellow Submarine" to teach the Cooks Corners' kids how to play guitar.
"We… all… live… in a yellow submarine!" they sang loudly while trying to change chords.
The beauty about songs is that they largely remain the same, submerged in our collective memory, generation after generation. There's something special about watching three generations of fans singing the same Beatles' song, joining in the melody of familiarity.
"Everyone gets a chance to participate with hands-on experience," Cory Webster said. "Many of these children have never picked up a guitar before, so who knows. This experience might help set the next Chad Clifford onto a career in music."
Clifford agreed, pointing out how fun it is to watch kids create music within minutes.
"It's also a nice introduction to what we do at Front Porch Music," he said. "It allows the child to try a guitar in a comfortable group setting, which may be more appealing for the beginner than a private lesson."
At the completion of the in-class guitar lessons, two lucky students were chosen by a school committee to receive 12 weeks of free guitar lessons, sponsored by the scholarship fund. Those students are Mackenzie Jones and Jimmy Dillabaugh.
"Right now the program is in its infant stages, but we hope to expand it next year to at least one more school with, perhaps, more schools in years to follow," said Webster, who accompanied the students in his brother's absence.
But not entirely. In the front of the classroom rested a photo of Gary Webster, watching over the students learning, laughing and singing.
"He would have loved this program," his brother said.
For more information about the Gary Webster Young Musicians Scholarship program, visit http://garywebster.org/2016/04/gary-webster-young-musicians-program-underway-at-cooks-corners/.
To make a donation to keep it in operation, visit: https://www.portercountyfoundation.org/give-now.html
Kamis, 12 Mei 2016
There is a duality in desktop 3D printing: if you want to have an eco-friendly material you need to use PLA, which is fragile and brittle. If you want to use ABS you have to consider that it is derived from hydrocarbons and thus not so good for the planet. Los Angeles-based 3D Printlife has carved out a niche for itself in the desktop 3D printing market by offering both functional and eco-friendly ABS and PLA solutions
Apparently the solution proposed by 3D Printlife is perfectly suited for desktop 3D printing's mass market ambitions, as several of the largest online big box stores are already offering 3D Printlife products, with Walmart (May) and Target (mid-June) soon joining a growing list of vendors.PLAying with the Big Boxes
Online giants such as Amazon and Best Buy already carry both products on their sites, and many other mainstream manufacturers have turned to 3D Printlife for their supply chain. The LA company's two main product lines are the ENVIRO ABS, which is the currently the world's only eco-friendly ABS filament, and PLAyPHAb, a polyester enhanced PLA filament.
ENVIRO is 100% pure ABS, made in the USA. The difference from other non-biodegradable ABS filament is that it is extruded with a bio-additive that allows the filament to break down to CO2 and methane in an energy re-capture landfill setting. This breakthrough filament has set the standard in "green" 3D printing when using ABS filament. 3D Printlife did not stop its eco-friendly forward thinking at just the filament either.Back to the Earth
Packaged in a colorful spool made of 100% recycled cardboard with a tin flange that is also recyclable, ENVIRO is shipped with a wildflower seed insert that when planted grows perennial and annual wildflowers. The company even donates a $1 from the sale of every spool sold to plant a tree.
PLAyPHAb starts from PLA and enhances its polyester in order to provide the superior strength and durability of ABS. Although the exact blend may differ, this approach is not as entirely unique (colorFabb also uses PHA in some of its PLA): it is essential in strengthening the PLA while still allowing for the biodegradability of PLA. PLAyPHAb is also packaged in the same colorful 100% recycled cardboard spool allowing for zero carbon footprints.
3D Printlife's claim, "Feel great about your prints. Feel great about your world," apparently struck a chord with many users and, perhaps even more importantly, with retailers that will be strategic in 3D printing adoption by the larger public. Sure, it is still mostly a matter of long tail, for now, but it is already paying off. Perhaps the use of environmentally friendly filament will never have a huge impact on global CO2 emissions, but desktop 3D printing is just at the beginning of its evolution and it is better to pick up good habit from the start.
Rabu, 11 Mei 2016
Geraldine Brooks is a former Middle Eastern war correspondent who turned to writing novels. Her on-the-ground experiences have infused her fiction with the gritty realism of history in the making, including her novels "People of the Book" and the Pulitzer-Prize-winning "March."
Now she's written a bloody and compelling novel based on the life of the Bible's King David. Called "The Secret Chord," it vividly recreates the tribal society that David's ambition was forged in, and the brutal methods he used to rise to power.
Brooks discusses her book at 12:30 p.m. Sunday May 8 on KTCS Channel 9 on the books and authors interview show, "Well Read". Here's a preview, below – for more information, here's the Seattle Times review.
Selasa, 10 Mei 2016
Minggu, 08 Mei 2016
Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" strikes a chord in deeply divided Gaza Strip - Berkshire Eagle (subscription)
GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP >> Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" has opened to audiences in the Gaza Strip, albeit with a distinctly Palestinian twist.
Instead of the forbidden love story of Renaissance-era European aristocracy, the star-crossed young couple in Gaza's version of the play is divided by politics stemming from the deep internal Palestinian split between two rival movements.
Yousef, a son of a member of Gaza's ruling Islamic militant group Hamas, falls in love with Suha, the daughter of a fanatical member of the rival Fatah party, rather than Shakespeare's feuding Montagues and Capulets.
Dubbed "Romeo and Juliet in Gaza," the performance has brought a rare taste of foreign culture to this conservative and isolated territory. But it is even more noteworthy for its critical look at the political rift that has crippled life in Gaza for nearly a decade.
"It's a call for love; to give a space for love and for youths to dream of a beautiful future away from the current state in Gaza, especially the youths and their suffering," said director Ali Abu Yassin.
In 2007, Hamas routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and ousted his Fatah party in a week of deadly street battles. Since then, Abbas' rule has been confined to the West Bank, while Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza. The measures, which Israel says are needed to prevent Hamas from importing arms, have brought Gaza's economy to a near standstill.
Attempts by Hamas and Fatah to reconcile, meanwhile, have repeatedly faltered. The rift is so deep that today some families may reject a marriage proposal based on the political affiliation of the suitor.
The "great resemblance" between the feuding families in Shakespeare's original tragedy and "the reality of Gaza" inspired Abu Yassin and Atef Abu Saif, a renowned novelist, to come up with play, Abu Yassin said.
The play was performed eight times last month — just as the Hamas-controlled police prevented academics and national figures from holding a conference calling for unity with Fatah.
On a recent evening at Al-Mis'hal Cultural Center in Gaza City, the audience laughed and clapped — and on occasion, even got up on its feet in appreciation of the 70-minute performance on the theater's modest stage.
After the Palestinian national anthem was played, the black curtains opened to a scene of a cafe shop in a refugee camp neighborhood where youths were talking and playing cards.
To the 350 spectators, it was an accurate depiction of Gaza's reality: in a territory where unemployment is over 40 percent, cafes are often crowded with idle young men who have little else to do.
The same cafes are also packed with Fatah members, who continue to collect salaries from the West Bank government under the condition that they not work in Hamas' administration.
In the play, as Suha's father, a local doctor, enters the cafe, it is clear from his shaven face that he is from Fatah.
Yousef's father Awni, a bearded merchant representing Hamas, also frequents the cafe, where he quarrels with the Fatah doctor. At times they scuffle, prompting the cafe owner to kick them out.
"Don't reconcile! Keep cursing at each other" the owner yells at them.
"We will leave this land to you and go," he adds, drawing a burst of applause from the audience.
Then, laughter erupted when the doctor asked the cafe owner if he was following the reconciliation news between Hamas and Fatah. The two parties have held dozens of negotiation rounds and announced several agreements, but none has been implemented.
Abu Yassin, the 54-year-old director, said the warm reception reflects public discontent with the situation.
"They feel the play represents them, expresses what they can't express. They live with the story because it's exactly like them," said Abu Yassin.
Knowing the consequences, the old cafe owner advises Yousef to change his mind and not to fall in love with Suha because their families won't accept each other.
However, in the Gaza take on Shakespeare's famous story, the ending is different.
Yousef, like hundreds of young Gaza men, flees to board an illegal migrant boat promising a better life in Europe, as Suha screams for him to return. His fate is never revealed, a reminder of dozens of Gazans who disappeared when a migrant boat sank in 2014.
The European families in the original tragedy reconciled after the death of the star-crossed lovers, but in the Gaza version, they remain enemies.
Mohammed Zoghbor, a doctor who watched the play, says the ending reflects the lack of hope in the bitterly divided Palestinian society.
"The home remains divided, the families remain divided, the youths are divided and talks take place for the sake of talks without results," he said.
Abu Yassin said it is a coincidence that the play is being performed around the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. He said the play would be performed again soon as part of a series of activities organized by the British Council, a U.K.-backed cultural organization, to mark the anniversary.
Abu Yassin has directed dozens of plays and other arts in Gaza, which lacks a national theater, but "Romeo and Juliet in Gaza" was the most important and most successful, he says.
"What makes Shakespeare's work distinguished is that it fits all the times and all the places. It's universal," he said. "The theater here of course is not like the theater Shakespeare used to perform in, but it's still important to try to keep it operating."
Jumat, 06 Mei 2016
(Newser) – A 42-year-old woman has become the "talk of Sweden" after striking a defiant pose against neo-Nazi marchers, reports the Local. Tess Asplund stood in the path of the marchers with her fist raised in a photo captured by David Lagerlof of the anti-racism group Expo. "It was an impulse. I was so angry, I just went out into the street," she tells the Guardian. "I was thinking, 'Hell no, they can't march here! I had this adrenaline." The incident took place in the city of Borlange between Asplund and members of the Nordic Resistance Movement, and police quickly hustled her away. The image, however, has resonated on social media in the country, notes the Independent. "Tess has captured one of the conflicts of our time," says another member of Expo.
The Local notes that many are comparing the image to an iconic photo from 1985 of a woman hitting a neo-Nazi demonstrator with her handbag, though "I really don't want to go that far," says photographer Lagerlof. He recalls the scene: NRM leaders are "slowly walking towards her, and it looks like hers and the leader's eyes meet, that they are staring at each other," he says. "When they are quite close to each other the police come along and push her away." For her part, Asplund says she hopes the image leads to positive change, though she admits being a little unnerved by the attention. "These guys are big and crazy," she says. "It's a mixed feeling, but I am trying to stay calm."
Kamis, 05 Mei 2016
When I was growing up in Montreal, British rock music introduced me to London from a distance. The Who sang about Soho, the Rolling Stones about Knightsbridge, the Kinks about Muswell Hill. Now that my family has moved to the city, music is helping us get in tune with London on a firsthand — though less rock 'n' roll — basis, and we've come to know that a hobby like music can be a brilliant way for expat families to connect with the local community, and each other.
My wife, Beth, my 10-year-old son Nicholas, and I moved to a borough in southwest London from just outside New York City about 17 months ago. We knew no one in the area. The key to connecting with both the people and the place was, for us, to "keep it local." I scoured magazines and websites and signed up for as many email newsletters as I could find to get in touch with local activities, especially for my son. We had to sell our car before we moved, so we chose a home near plenty of public transport. We would have to rely on buses, trains, the Tube and walking until we bought a car.
We explored and found out that a lot of businesses we needed on a day-to-day basis were within walking distance: One block alone provided a post office, pharmacy, dry cleaner, barber and news agent.
Nestled between these shops, like a musical fill between chords, was a black storefront with gold lettering spelling out Ritz Music. One day, I stepped through the doorway between the arched windows displaying guitars and picked up a Ritz handbill. My wife and I had talked for years about wanting our son to learn an instrument and, now that he was 10, we thought it might be a good time for him to pick up a guitar, largely because he was now big enough to hold one comfortably. Ritz offered beginner guitar lessons for kids, so we signed him up and rented an acoustic guitar.
We told him he could quit anytime he felt like it, but he stuck with it. It didn't hurt that everyone was unfailingly friendly and helpful every time we walked into Ritz. We returned the rental guitar and bought him his own natural-wood-colored model. At home, he looked up song tabs on the Internet or in his Beatles songbook and thrashed away at his guitar strings.
My son learned about music, but he also met local children his age. Ritz offered a jam session where children played guitar, keyboards, drums and bass under the tutelage of an adult musician/teacher/bandleader, and our son tried that, too. When we picked him up after the first session, he asked, "When's the next jam?"
A pleasant repercussion of his new hobby was the chance for us to bond through music, not just with the locals but with each other. When London native David Bowie died, I revisited his music by buying a few of his CDs and, much to my surprise, my son, the alien from abroad, took to "the man who fell to Earth." Nicholas learned "Starman" at the jam session and taught himself a bunch of other Bowie songs.
About six months after my son started playing, the bandleader for the kids' jams debuted an adult jam session, so I signed up as a drummer. I was pretty rusty, but the music also offered me a chance to meet some locals. As it turned out, a couple of my bandmates were parents of a few of my son's bandmates. The impact of music reverberated further when my wife courageously came to hear my band in concert at a local pub. Long ago, it hosted the likes of U2 and Elvis Costello, but my wife had to settle for listening to me, introduced as the guy "on drums, all the way from across the pond." Since the gig was on a Sunday afternoon, it became a family affair where my son saw children from his jam session.
The pub was only one player in our area's rich musical heritage. We ate dinner one night at a restaurant on the former site of another local club where the Beatles once came to watch Mick Jagger and co. perform. We visited a nearby island in the River Thames where musicians including the Who and Bowie played early in their careers before becoming world-famous. We took a "Swinging '60s" tour on a classic, bright-red Routemaster double-decker bus, on which a guide recited musical tales accompanied by a soundtrack of bands that once played in the neighborhood.
Our family is blessed with a city accompanied by a lively music scene and history. But this pastime can work anywhere the universal language is played, and it can bring you more in harmony with the community, wherever you are.
My son and I recently took the Tube to fabled Denmark Street in London—where many musicians sold and recorded their early songs—to visit the row of guitar shops. Nicholas by now was able to distinguish a Fender from a Gibson guitar and asked afterward if he could return to Denmark Street to choose his next instrument. Music had helped rewrite two-dimensional lyrics about a faraway city into a more familiar place.
Christopher Harder is a freelance writer and editor. He is based in London, where he moved with his family in 2014, after many years in the U.S.
Email us at email@example.com. Follow us @WSJexpat. Join our Facebook group.
Rabu, 04 Mei 2016
Selasa, 03 Mei 2016
The music of Richard Wagner marked a growing "crisis" in Romantic harmony marked by the so called, "Tristan Chord". This is the opening harmony of the prelude to Wagner's 1859 opera Tristan and Isolde. Never before has one group of four notes rocked the musical world so completely.
The Tristan chord is spelled, from the bottom, f – b – d# - g#. It is sometimes called a half-diminished 7th chord or a French augmented 6th with a long appoggiatura, but don't worry… those names aren't important. What is important is that theorists, musicians and composers have argued about these names, this chord and its significance for over a hundred and fifty years. It absolutely defies convention.
This wasn't the first time this harmony was used. You can find examples of it in the works of Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, J.S. Bach and even all the way back to the Renaissance in the music of Guillaume de Machaut. What makes Wagner's Tristan chord so unique is that he had no intention of using it correctly. It's not meant to resolve from dissonance to consonance, according to the rules. It's just meant to be there; a moment of tension without the expected release. In other words, the Tristan chord marked the first time that a harmony's sound became much more important than its function.
For Wagner, this sound was about longing, an existential cry for peace. In his writings he talks about his feelings of isolation and disquiet and also a deep spiritual longing in his soul for what he called Nirvana. All of these feelings, everything came back to Tristan and that sound of unhinged, unrealized desire. From the moment these four notes are heard together they become tied to Wagner, the character of Tristan and the story of the opera and this is true even after the opera is long over. Today every time we hear this harmony it is forever tied to this one moment in history.
You can hear the Tristan chord quoted in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, Debussy and Benjamin Britten. It has been parodied countless times, but the power of this chord goes beyond just parody. Composers of the next generation saw the Tristan Chord as a license to explore sound for its own merit. They began to explore the boundaries of functional harmony that governed music for centuries and then eventually, discarded those rules altogether.
Timeline is an exploration into the development of Western music. Take a journey into the events, characters and concepts that shaped our Western musical tradition.
Minggu, 01 Mei 2016
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—The Blue Jays, the team baseball fans in Toronto fell in love with last season, on Friday overcame the strikeout curse that has staggered them thus far this season.
The Jays' offence has been whiffing at a prolific rate and has been a punchless version of the homer-happy crew of 2015. But those big bats came to life in a 6-1 win over Tampa at Tropicana Field.
Four Toronto homers sunk a Rays team that didn't quite let the Jays forget about all those strikeouts — Toronto batters still went down swinging eight times, but that was actually better than the per game average (9.5) entering the game.
Michael Saunders led the homer barrage, clipping two of them, showing an excellent all-around game that was taken from him a year ago when his season was prematurely ended in early May by the lingering effects of a freak knee injury suffered in spring training.
Saunders is also hitting over .350 in nine games since manager John Gibbons placed him atop the batting order. This is shine time for the Canadian-born left-handed hitter, and it's part of the good news that surfaced in Friday's win, which also broke a three-game losing streak.
Josh Donaldson, the only player in the majors to lead his team in hits, homers, RBI and runs, tagged a Drew Smyly fastball for a tape-measure homer that got Toronto rolling and feeling like it was 2015.
Donaldson's homer struck the catwalk above the outfield at Tropicana Field and would have travelled an estimated 445 feet had it not done so.
More promising signs came from Ryan Goins' first homer of the year and a return to domination for starter Aaron Sanchez, who answered up a sub-par outing in his previous start with seven shutout innings (six hits, six strikeouts and no runner advanced past second after the first inning.)
Strikeouts, though, are not exactly a fading trend for the Jays. They managed eight more Friday, including two by Russell Martin, which extended his streak to a near-record tying nine in a row (he snapped it with a single in his third at-bat of the game.)
But Toronto's lineup is all about power, all about steam rolling the opposition. The strikeout rash appears to the result of the club's 'all-power, all-pull' swing mentality tied to their gaudy stats the past few seasons. They'll ride it out, believing their post-season worthy lineup from 2015 will bounce back in short order, which is still a good bet for now.
"Hitting in front of our guys (Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki) helps me a lot," said Saunders, who now has 55 career homers — 18 of them off left-handed pitching. "One through nine in our order, I really believe we'll get it going this year, I'm sure of it."
Martin came within one punchout of tying the major-league record of 10 consecutive strikeouts set by Rick Ankiel in his reincarnation as a hitter with Houston in 2013.
Also from Elias Friday night: Cincinnati's Adam Duvall had reached eight consecutive strikeouts Friday night, one shy of the National League record of nine shared by Mark Reynolds (2007), Eric Davis (1987) and Adolfo Phillips (1966).
Toronto entered the game having reached double digits in strikeouts in 11 of their first 23 games. Friday marked game No. 24, and the additional eight Ks put them at 225 so far this season.
The 225 strikeouts are the most Toronto has boarded through 24 games, and that's a staggering reality for a team that finished last season with 127 more runs than any other team in the majors.
Toronto also entered Friday's outing averaging 9.5 strikeouts per game. When they hit a major-league leading 232 home runs a year ago, they registered the fifth-lowest strikeout total (1,151) in the majors.
NOTE: Jays second baseman Devon Travis, out with a shoulder injury, took five at-bats in an extended spring training game Friday and said he "felt good." Travis may play his first full game next week but does not have a definitive timetable for a return to the Jays.