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—The Simple Sophisticate, episode #78
—On Wednesday morning, South Korea reported a detection of seismic activity, measuring a 4.8 earthquake provoked by what North Korea claims to have been a successful test of a hydrogen bomb in the upper northeastern region of the country. Unilaterally condemned by the international community, including China, critics and experts looking at initial reports have revealed North Korea’s claims are unfounded. However, since they may have detonated an atomic bomb, this news reveals that they continue to make nuclear advancements.
—Earlier this week 30 men were arrested in Germany after being suspected of being part of the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults on women in the city of Cologne. Twenty-two of the men are believed to be asylum seekers fueling riots and protest in the city on Saturday as a pushback to Chancellor Merkel’s refugee policies. With a reported 1.1 million seeking asylum having entered Germany last year, primarily from the middle east, Africa and Afghanistan, right-wing groups made it clear they would protest. The New Years Eve incidents prompted more than 170 complaints, primarily for sexual assault, and with the initial response by Cologne police being unacceptable, the chief of police has since been removed from his post.
National: United States
—In southeastern Oregon, Ammon Bundy from Nevada along with an estimated 20 others have broken in and taken command of the Mahleur County Wildlife Refuge. Located approximately 30 miles from Burns, Oregon, the group of militants calling themselves the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom have repeated their demand of being in opposition with federal land-use policies. Commandeering the facility on Saturday, the local sheriff met on Thursday with Bundy offering a safe and peaceful escort off the property. The offer was declined. While many citizens of Burns and the surrounding area have voiced understanding and the plight of the militia, they have repeatedly stated they do not agree with the means or tactics which the group has employed.
—President Obama issued executive orders on Tuesday after hearing recommendations from the Director of the FBI, James Comey, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Focusing on reducing the loopholes and flaws when it comes to background checks, online gun dealers will now have to be licensed and do a background check with every purchase. As well, as pertaining to a current federal law, the privacy limitations of sales to those identified with mental illnesses will be made more readily available to those conducting background checks. As well more funding was requested to hire 200 ATF (alcohol tobacco firearms) agents and 230 more FBI agents to help process more efficiently the background checks. On Thursday, President Obama held a town hall hosted by CNN and moderated Anderson Cooper at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The event focused on “Guns in America” and included advocates from both sides of the issue. The conversations and exchanges are worth having a listen to.
—For the eighth time in President Obama’s presidency he has used his veto pen. On Friday, for the first time, after more than 50 attempts by Republicans and the House of Representative to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare law, the bill, having cleared the Senate in late December (52-47) and the House (240-180) with only four members crossing party lines on Wednesday, was repealed by President Obama. Not having enough votes to override the veto, the bill would have also defunded Planned Parenthood.
Health & Science
—Britain’s government’s chiefs of health released for the first time in 20 years startling warnings about drinking too much alcohol as it relates to cancer. Even warning against the glass of wine a day and suggesting a glass of tea instead, the chief medical officer Sally Davies appears to have put her foot down on drinking too much. As reported by The New York Times, “the new health guidelines say that to reduce health risks, men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week, roughly the equivalent of seven glasses of wine, six pints of beer, or half a bottle of whiskey.”
—A simple way to eat better in the new year, place a mirror at the table. A study by the University of Central Florida revealed that when we observe ourselves eating something we define as unhealthy, the tastiness of the item decreases, and we eat less. Published in the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research, watching ourselves eat cake diminished the satisfaction and “enhanced the discomfort of the failure.”
—On Tuesday, Federal regulators with the Federal Trade Commission fined the brain training app Lumosity $50 million. While a deal was struck for $2 million, should Lumos Labs break the agreement, the original fine would be enforced. Having claimed to have a program that had “the ‘proven’ ability to enhance brain function, ward off degenerative brain diseases, and improve academic and athletic performance”, the FTC backed by multiple brain studies from highly respected institutions such as Stanford were able to find no evidence to back up their claims. Accusing Lumosity of preying on the fears about age-related cognitive decline, the FTC is requiring Lumosity to refund its more than 70 million customers from 182 different countries.
—U.S. Federal Dietary guidelines were released on Thursday as they are every five years, and the word is sugar needs to be reduced and while red meat does too, due to the negative effect it may have on the farming industry in the states, it received a kinder reduction in dietary recommendations. With a wealth of research demonstrating that high levels of sugar consumption increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease even in people who are not overweight, the recommendation is to limit sugar to no more than 10% of one’s daily caloric intake (based on a 2000 calorie a day diet). On the red meat and processed meats front, the suggestion is to turn to other sources of protein such as more nuts and seeds and at least 8 ounces of seafood a week.
Arts & Entertainment
~The 73rd Golden Globes hosted by Ricky Gervais will take place today on NBC at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Yes, this is the one were the stars seem to be enjoying themselves a bit more and both television and film are honored. For a complete lists of the nominees, click here. The show begins at 8pm (EST) and 5pm Pacific. If you are someone who enjoys the red carpet arrivals, be sure to set your DVRs for 6pm/3pm.
Bendite Event of the Week
Opening January 15th and running through the 24th, Samuel French’s 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is set in 1956 in a community center basement. The annual meeting of Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein has gathered for their annual quiche breakfast, but when Communists threaten to disrupt their idyllic town, the women struggle to keep their cool. Tickets for adults are $19 and students and seniors $16 at the Second Street Theater.
French Word of the Week
~brought to you by Geraldine of Comme Une Française
Thought to Ponder
~AU COURANT episodes from the Archives:
~What is Au Courant all about? Find out HERE.