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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #88
—A cease fire has tentatively been agreed to in Syria. Earlier this week in Munich, Germany, the United States Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov helped to spearhead the peace talks to end the fighting in Syria. The “cessation of hostilities” will begin next week, and while only a pause, the hope is that it will allow aid to be given to those Syrians who are in desperate need of help. While it is not guaranteed that the Syrian army and the opposing rebel forces will allow for the assistance to take place, it will indeed be a test as it was reported 11% of the Syrian population has been killed or injured since the conflict began more than five years ago.
National: United States
—Malheur County Wildlife Refuge standoff has concluded. On Thursday, the final four militants who had been occupying the southern Oregon federal refuge surrendered to authorities without incident. All in total 25 people have been arrested and charged with federal felonies in connection with the 41 day stand-off just outside of Burns, Oregon.
—In somber news, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is said to have died in his sleep and found dead yesterday morning at the age of 79 at a private residence in West Texas after a day of quail hunting. Scalia, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, was a conservative justice of the court, self-described as an originalist who interpreted the US Constitution as it was intended upon its adoption. He was a a highly respect jurist and a close personal friend of fellow jurist Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. His death has come as a shock to the political world as he had just returned to the states after a 12 day trip to Asia and appeared to be in fine health. Scalia’s death opens up a scurry of speculation regarding who will fill his seat on the nine person US Supreme Court bench, and with the Republican majority leading Senate being the gatekeepers of confirmation, many speculate if President Obama will be able to confirm a replacement before his second term is up. Scalia is survived by his wife Maureen, nine children and 28 grandchildren. He was the first Italian-American justice on the highest bench in the country.
—The first primary of the United States Presidential election took place on Tuesday, and the results flip-flopped from the Iowa Caucuses the week prior. In the New Hampshire primaries, Donald Trump scooped up the Republican side decidedly with former Ohio governor John Kasich taking second and Ted Cruz, third, with Jeb Bush fourth. The results prompted Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina to announce they would be stepping out of the race. On the Democratic side, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders proved the pollsters right and beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The next state in line will be South Carolina’s primary on February 20th and Nevada’s Caucuses on February 23rd. To see the entire calendar of primaries and caucuses for the 2016 election, click here. And to get a brief overview of how the US elects its President, tune in to last week’s Au Courant Weekly (episode #86)
—And the debates continue so long as there are multiple candidates in each party still in the race. The Democrats held a debate this past Thursday February 11th in Milwaukie, Wisconsin, hosted by PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodroof and Gwen Ifill who made history as they for the first time two women solely moderated a Presidential debate. And last night, the Republicans held a debate in Greenville, South Carolina hosted by CBS. The six top Republicans still in the race were present; Jim Gilmore from Virginia did not meet CBS’ criteria. The event was moderated by “Face the Nation” host and CBS News political director John Dickerson, and he was flanked by two panelists: CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett and The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel.
Health & Science
—A study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has found that what you eat can either help or hurt your chances of getting a sound, restorative nights sleep. A diet high in fiber, leafy greens, legumes, select fruit, and whole grains prompts a deeper and quicker to fall asleep nights rest, while a diet high in saturated fats and sugars found in bread, cookies, crackers, etc. resulted in delayed sleep and was far less restful.
—And speaking of the benefits of sleep, The New York Times New Service reported that a better nights sleep leads to better health when it comes to catching a cold or flu. Reported in the journal Sleep this past September, “adults who slept less than five or six hours a night were four times more likely to catch a cold than those who slept at least seven hours.”
—Einstein was right! It was reported this week, more than 100 years after Albert Einstein said it was true (in 1915), the theory of relativity has shown itself to be the real deal. Scientists heard a chirp this past September signifying that indeed space and time are intertwined and events that occur in the universe can cause “time to move, to bob and jiggle, to stretch and ripple” as shared by NPR.
—Have you ever wondered what the average height was for women around the world? Well, now with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can know for certain. A simple graphic is available in Women’s Health magazine that reveals the women in the Netherlands top the list averaging 5’7″. Women in Iceland and Russia are just behind them at 5’6″ and 5’5″ respectively and the United States is fourth with an average height of 5’4″. Interesting health findings have been attributed to height. Be sure to read more. here.
—Love to travel, but struggle with the jet lag? Stanford University researchers shared in a new study that exposure to flashes of light the night before travel might prevent jet lag. Published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the findings revealed that when exposing participants to one entire hour of a flash every 10 seconds, their circadian rhythms were capable of being adjusted up to two hours. Learn more details here.
—With today being Valentine’s Day, many may be wondering, what exactly ensures a happy, long-lasting relationship? Turns out it is communication, and it is communication which cultivates a satisfying sexual relationship. And as the researchers who conducted the study at Chapman University, California State University, Sonoma State University, and at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, found a connection revealing “that the men and women who said they were sexually satisfied were happier in their relationship”, it is yet another reminder the power and benefits of healthy communication. For more specific details on what sexually satisfied for men and women entails (which differed slightly), read more in The Wall Street Journal here.
Arts & Entertainment
—Monday marks the return of the annual Grammy Awards on CBS at 8pm. With stars like Adele, The Weeknd, Lamar Kendrick, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and many more performing, the evening is sure to be electric.
—NYFW begins! The fashion month officially kicked on this past Wednesday in New York City and will continue to London, followed by Milan and then Paris as the following weeks unfold. Much was hyped by Kanye West’s third collection reveal in the Garden, and while the idea of how to present one’s collection for each season is shifting, designers continued to reveal stunning collections. Click here to stay up-to-date on my favorite picks as the collections are unveiled.
—Lovers of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird looks like it will be adapted for a Broadway play. On Wednesday Aaron Sorkin, writer of television shows The West Wing, Newsroom, and films such as The Social Network and the recent bio-pic of Steve Jobs as well as other quick-paced political and news centered creations, announced he will be writing the screenplay for the well-known tale. Being produced by Scott Rudin and directed by The King and I‘s Bartlett Sher, productions are just getting off the ground and location and dates have not been announced. Sorkin has shared that his teenage daughter has warned him he “better not blow it”. Read more about how all of the details came together here from The New York Times.
Bendite Event of the Week
—While this is a Bend event, it is also a world event that many of you might be interested in. If you love TED talks, the TED ’16 Opening Ceremony will be broadcast for the first time in select cinemas in North America, Europe and Australia over the course of the next few weeks. The actual conference well be held in Vancouver, Canada, from February 15-22, but this will be the first time you and I will be able to enjoy the introduction (approx. 100 minutes) to the new season of thinkers and doers. Beginning in North America on February 15th, Europe on February 16th and Australia on March 2nd, pick up a ticket and discover new ideas and ways to be inspired. In Bend, the viewing takes place at Old Mill District theaters on February 15th at 5pm for $20. Purchase tickets here.
French Word of the Week
Bonjour, this is Géraldine from Comme une Française.com. I’m here to share the latest French Word of the Week: a simple very French word for your Simply Luxurious Life in France.
On February the 14th, we celebrate la Saint-Valentin. In France, it’s a day to be romantic with your loved one : votre fiancé(e), votre mari ou votre femme, votre copain ou votre copine, etc… And to say “je t’aime” : I love you.
Careful though, in France, Valentine’s Day is only for “les amoureux”. Not for teachers, children, colleagues, neighbours… If you offer a Valentine’s card to your son’s teacher, she will be extremely suprised and a tiny bit embarrassed.
Also, “je t’aime” is perfect on its own. No need to add more. “Je t’aime beaucoup” et “Je t’aime bien” are waaaaaay less engaging than a simple “je t’aime”. If you say “Je t’aime bien” to your French partner, he or she will start asking questions because it just means “I like you”.
At la Saint-Valentin, you can offer “des fleurs” or “des chocolats”, go out for un diner aux chandelles, or prepare une soirée romantique… Be imaginative.
And if you’re single, find “des amis célibataires” and go out for drinks and see a movie. Or just stay at home with your favorite book and “une tasse de thé” for a quiet evening.
A quick warning about la Saint-Valentin in France. It is not as big of a deal as it is in North America. So check how important it is to your significant other before expecting a big suprise.
Joyeuse Saint-Valentin !
If you want to add more French in your Simply Luxurious Life, join me on Comme une Française.com for weekly video tips to sound French, even to the French! And it’s free.
Thought to Ponder
~Au Courant Weeklys from the Archives: