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Carson McCullers at 100: a century of American suffering

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, her debut novel of desolate southern lives, made McCullers an instant star – something she never fully recovered from

“She found me a cheap boarding house somewhere on the west side, where there, cut off and lonely, I passed the day my first book was published,” wrote Carson McCullers in her memoir Illumination and Night Glare, describing the day her classic novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was published.

Then 23, McCullers and her husband Reeves McCullers were penniless, awaiting the last portion of the advance on the book so that they, both aspiring writers, could move to New York City. Reeves had gone off to work on a boat on Nantucket island and McCullers had little premonition of the literary sensation the book would become – or how completely it would transform her life.

American author and playwright Carson McCullers, pictured around 1955.

‘Cut off and lonely’ Carson McCullers, pictured around 1955. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Turmoil was in the air that fervid summer in 1940.

Despite Roosevelt’s New Deal, the depredations of the Great Depression had sucked hope from America’s bones, birthed a generation that had only known want and that was sceptical of the possibility of change.

In small crowds around newsstands on city corners, uncertain Americans read about the war raging in Europe, but remained unsure as to whether it was “their” problem. Everyone, it seemed, wanted change and no one seemed to know how to hasten it, direct it or evaluate it. In this last sense, and possibly many more, America then was not so different from America now.

Where truth fails, fiction flourishes. In The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers, who would have turned 100 years old on Sunday, distilled all of these consternations, enabling in literature the self-reckoning that had been avoided in reality. Set in a southern mill town much like her own Columbus, Georgia, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter traces the hapless lives of five townspeople, all of whom are inexplicably drawn to a deaf-mute named John Singer.

There is the young Mick Kelly, a teenage girl who dreams of making it big; Biff Bannon, the middle-class owner of a local cafe; Jake Blount, the most overtly political character and Dr Benedict Copeland, the town’s African American doctor who rails against the inequities of a racist society, but is helpless against them. As they all interact with Singer, they fail to notice his pain or that he is mourning a loss of his own: the banishment of his friend Spiros Antonapoulos to an insane asylum.

It is a mad mix, but also an ingenious one. Some, like critic Nancy Rich, writing a decade after McCullers’s death in 1967, have declared it a political parable. Singer represents government and its ineffectuality, the vague dimensions of his character permitting the projections of all the rest. It’s a sad little bunch, each an iteration of the insoluble problems of that time: race, inequality, gutless conformity and the apathy of a silent and self-centred majority.

Can all of this come together to make up a country, a polity? The answer seemed elusive then, as it is in the US’s riven present, but The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter posed the questions, presented the problem.

McCullers was rewarded for her ingenuity. The glamour of becoming an overnight literary phenomenon brought with it new and famous friends – among them a Swiss heiress whose face, McCullers declared, “would haunt her for the rest of her life”. Not long after the book’s publication, McCullers moved in to the famous February House: a Brooklyn brownstone that became a salon and refuge for a gaggle of literary celebrities.

Parking her husband elsewhere – he had blossomed into an alcoholic – McCullers became housemates with the likes of WH Auden, Salvador Dali, Harper’s Bazaar editor George Davis and burlesque performer and author Gypsy Rose Lee.

The war had not yet begun, but McCullers had arrived. Everyone wanted to know her, to talk to her, to live with her. All the magazines – Harper’s, the New Yorker, Story and scores of others who had once rejected her work – now clamoured to see what she would produce next.

Great success births great expectations and it may well have been this burden that shattered McCullers. She kept writing, but none of her ensuing works would parallel the acclaim of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Some would be painful disappointments. Her second novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye, was set in a military base in peacetime and toyed with voyeurism and implied homosexuality.

While eagerly awaited, it met the fate of many second novels and was deemed an unworthy successor of a brilliant first. McCullers’ health also failed; the afflictions of her youth, among them misdiagnosed rheumatic fever, left her susceptible to strokes that eventually paralysed her. The writer could write no more but she persevered, dictating her autobiography until, in August 1967, the last stroke killed her. She was only 50 years old.

The glib and ruthless pronouncements of her lost literary genius were likely not an easy burden to bear. The pages of McCullers’ unfinished memoir are laden with accounts of her associations with celebrities (including Marilyn Monroe) – a small antidote, perhaps, to the torment of being labelled a one-hit wonder.

The sharp girl who had cast such an unforgiving eye on the world around her became a woman imprisoned by her own initial success and her inability to replicate it. The transformation from an outsider who cast her acid gaze on ordinary America and squeezed from it caustic truths, to a member of New York’s literati, came at too dear a price.

McCullers, who had so adeptly captured the desolation of her moment and constructed from a grim reality a distinctly American political parable, was left a famous author but a lesser writer.

 

The 63 differences between British and American English

Posted 3 days ago by Jessica Brown

America and Britain have a lot more in common than their special relationship. Remember when our leaders held hands that one time?

One thing that’s vastly different though, is how we implement the English language.

It was perhaps best summed up by the comedy god Eddie Izzard:

 

Here’s the infographic, put together by Grammar Check.

3d326a5100000578-4226540-image-a-17-1487155280247.jpg

Picture: Grammar Check

 

Some are obvious, like autumn and fall, but others are a lesser known – such as cooker and stove, lorry and truck and queue and line.

 

3d326a5100000578-4226540-image-a-16-1487155271152.jpg

Picture: Grammar Check

 

Memorise (or memorize) these before any holidays to one country or the other in order to avoid any confusion – because there’s a lot of potential for that to happen.

Then you can sit and enjoy your biscuits/cookies in the privacy of your rented flat/apartment after you’ve hit the pavements/sidewalks and visited the shops/stores.

 

3d326a5100000578-4226540-image-a-15-1487155232392.jpg

Picture: Grammar Check

 


More: The difference between the US and UK – in 20 photos

 

Chronic fatigue syndrome? Disease doctors can’t diagnose?

Five years ago, TED Fellow Jennifer Brea became progressively ill with myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating illness that severely impairs normal activities and on bad days makes even the rustling of bed sheets unbearable.

Brea describes the obstacles she’s encountered in seeking treatment for her condition, whose root causes and physical effects we don’t fully understand, as well as her mission to document through film the lives of patients that medicine struggles to treat.

Jennifer Brea. Filmmaker. PhD student at Harvard when, one night, she found she couldn’t write her own name. Full bio

 [Jennifer Brea is sound-sensitive. The live audience was asked to applaud ASL-style, in silence.]

0:24 Five years ago, this was me. I was a PhD student at Harvard, and I loved to travel. I had just gotten engaged to marry the love of my life. I was 28, and like so many of us when we are in good health, I felt invincible.

Then one day I had a fever of 104.7 degrees. I probably should have gone to the doctor, but I’d never really been sick in my life, and I knew that usually, if you have a virus, you stay home and you make some chicken soup, and in a few days, everything will be fine.

But this time it wasn’t fine. After the fever broke, for three weeks I was so dizzy, I couldn’t leave my house. I would walk straight into door frames. I had to hug the walls just to make it to the bathroom.

That spring I got infection after infection, and every time I went to the doctor, he said there was absolutely nothing wrong. He had his laboratory tests, which always came back normal.

All I had were my symptoms, which I could describe, but no one else can see. I know it sounds silly, but you have to find a way to explain things like this to yourself, and so I thought maybe I was just aging. Maybe this is what it’s like to be on the other side of 25.

 The neurological symptoms started. Sometimes I would find that I couldn’t draw the right side of a circle. Other times I wouldn’t be able to speak or move at all.

I saw every kind of specialist: infectious disease doctors, dermatologists, endocrinologists, cardiologists. I even saw a psychiatrist. My psychiatrist said, “It’s clear you’re really sick, but not with anything psychiatric. I hope they can find out what’s wrong with you.”

Patsy Z shared this link· 23 hrs ·
ted.com|By Jennifer Brea

The next day, my neurologist diagnosed me with conversion disorder. He told me that everything — the fevers, the sore throats, the sinus infection, all of the gastrointestinal, neurological and cardiac symptoms — were being caused by some distant emotional trauma that I could not remember. The symptoms were real, he said, but they had no biological cause.

I was training to be a social scientist. I had studied statistics, probability theory, mathematical modeling, experimental design.

I felt like I couldn’t just reject my neurologist’s diagnosis. It didn’t feel true, but I knew from my training that the truth is often counterintuitive, so easily obscured by what we want to believe. So I had to consider the possibility that he was right.

That day, I ran a small experiment. I walked back the two miles from my neurologist’s office to my house, my legs wrapped in this strange, almost electric kind of pain. I meditated on that pain, contemplating how my mind could have possibly generated all this.

As soon as I walked through the door, I collapsed. My brain and my spinal cord were burning. My neck was so stiff I couldn’t touch my chin to my chest, and the slightest sound — the rustling of the sheets, my husband walking barefoot in the next room — could cause excruciating pain. I would spend most of the next two years in bed.

How could my doctor have gotten it so wrong? I thought I had a rare disease, something doctors had never seen.

And then I went online and found thousands of people all over the world living with the same symptoms, similarly isolated, similarly disbelieved.

Some could still work, but had to spend their evenings and weekends in bed, just so they could show up the next Monday. On the other end of the spectrum, some were so sick they had to live in complete darkness, unable to tolerate the sound of a human voice or the touch of a loved one.

 I was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis. You’ve probably heard it called “chronic fatigue syndrome.” For decades, that’s a name that’s meant that this has been the dominant image of a disease that can be as serious as this.

The key symptom we all share is that whenever we exert ourselves — physically, mentally — we pay and we pay hard. If my husband goes for a run, he might be sore for a couple of days. If I try to walk half a block, I might be bedridden for a week.

It is a perfect custom prison. I know ballet dancers who can’t dance, accountants who can’t add, medical students who never became doctors. It doesn’t matter what you once were; you can’t do it anymore. It’s been four years, and I’ve still never been as well as I was the minute before I walked home from my neurologist’s office.

It’s estimated that about 15 to 30 million people around the world have this disease. In the US, where I’m from, it’s about one million people. That makes it roughly twice as common as multiple sclerosis.

Patients can live for decades with the physical function of someone with congestive heart failure. Twenty-five percent of us are homebound or bedridden, and 75 to 85 percent of us can’t even work part-time. Yet doctors do not treat us and science does not study us. How could a disease this common and this devastating have been forgotten by medicine?

When my doctor diagnosed me with conversion disorder, he was invoking a lineage of ideas about women’s bodies that are over 2,500 years old. The Roman physician Galen thought that hysteria was caused by sexual deprivation in particularly passionate women.

The Greeks thought the uterus would literally dry up and wander around the body in search of moisture, pressing on internal organs — yes — causing symptoms from extreme emotions to dizziness and paralysis. The cure was marriage and motherhood.

These ideas went largely unchanged for several millennia until the 1880s, when neurologists tried to modernize the theory of hysteria. Sigmund Freud developed a theory that the unconscious mind could produce physical symptoms when dealing with memories or emotions too painful for the conscious mind to handle. It converted these emotions into physical symptoms. This meant that men could now get hysteria, but of course women were still the most susceptible.

When I began investigating the history of my own disease, I was amazed to find how deep these ideas still run. In 1934, 198 doctors, nurses and staff at the Los Angeles County General Hospital became seriously ill.

They had muscle weakness, stiffness in the neck and back, fevers — all of the same symptoms I had when I first got diagnosed. Doctors thought it was a new form of polio. Since then, there have been more than 70 outbreaks documented around the world, of a strikingly similar post-infectious disease. All of these outbreaks have tended to disproportionately affect women, and in time, when doctors failed to find the one cause of the disease, they thought that these outbreaks were mass hysteria.

Why has this idea had such staying power? I do think it has to do with sexism, but I also think that fundamentally, doctors want to help.

They want to know the answer, and this category allows doctors to treat what would otherwise be untreatable, to explain illnesses that have no explanation. The problem is that this can cause real harm.

In the 1950s, a psychiatrist named Eliot Slater studied a cohort of 85 patients who had been diagnosed with hysteria. Nine years later, 12 of them were dead and 30 had become disabled. Many had undiagnosed conditions like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, brain tumors.

In 1980, hysteria was officially renamed “conversion disorder.” When my neurologist gave me that diagnosis in 2012, he was echoing Freud’s words verbatim, and even today, women are 2 to 10 times more likely to receive that diagnosis.

The problem with the theory of hysteria or psychogenic illness is that it can never be proven.

It is by definition the absence of evidence, and in the case of ME, psychological explanations have held back biological research.

All around the world, ME is one of the least funded diseases. In the US, we spend each year roughly 2,500 dollars per AIDS patient, 250 dollars per MS patient and just 5 dollars per year per ME patient. This was not just lightning. I was not just unlucky. The ignorance surrounding my disease has been a choice, a choice made by the institutions that were supposed to protect us.

We don’t know why ME sometimes runs in families, why you can get it after almost any infection, from enteroviruses to Epstein-Barr virus to Q fever, or why it affects women at two to three times the rate of men.

This issue is much bigger than just my disease. When I first got sick, old friends were reaching out to me. I soon found myself a part of a cohort of women in their late 20s whose bodies were falling apart. What was striking was just how much trouble we were having being taken seriously.

I learned of one woman with scleroderma, an autoimmune connective tissue disease, who was told for years that it was all in her head. Between the time of onset and diagnosis, her esophagus was so thoroughly damaged, she will never be able to eat again. Another woman with ovarian cancer, who for years was told that it was just early menopause. A friend from college, whose brain tumor was misdiagnosed for years as anxiety.

 Here’s why this worries me: since the 1950s, rates of many autoimmune diseases have doubled to tripled.

Forty-five percent of patients who are eventually diagnosed with a recognized autoimmune disease are initially told they’re hypochondriacs. Like the hysteria of old, this has everything to do with gender and with whose stories we believe.

Seventy-five percent of autoimmune disease patients are women, and in some diseases, it’s as high as 90 percent.

Even though these diseases disproportionately affect women, they are not women’s diseases. ME affects children and ME affects millions of men.

And as one patient told me, we get it coming and going — if you’re a woman, you’re told you’re exaggerating your symptoms, but if you’re a guy, you’re told to be strong, to buck up. And men may even have a more difficult time getting diagnosed.

 My brain is not what it used to be.

Here’s the good part: despite everything, I still have hope. So many diseases were once thought of as psychological until science uncovered their biological mechanisms.

Patients with epilepsy could be forcibly institutionalized until the EEG was able to measure abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Multiple sclerosis could be misdiagnosed as hysterical paralysis until the CAT scan and the MRI discovered brain lesions. And recently, we used to think that stomach ulcers were just caused by stress, until we discovered that H. pylori was the culprit.

ME has never benefited from the kind of science that other diseases have had, but that’s starting to change. In Germany, scientists are starting to find evidence of autoimmunity, and in Japan, of brain inflammation. In the US, scientists at Stanford are finding abnormalities in energy metabolism that are 16 standard deviations away from normal. And in Norway, researchers are running a phase-3 clinical trial on a cancer drug that in some patients causes complete remission.

What also gives me hope is the resilience of patients. Online we came together, and we shared our stories. We devoured what research there was. We experimented on ourselves. We became our own scientists and our own doctors because we had to be.

And slowly I added five percent here, five percent there, until eventually, on a good day, I was able to leave my home. I still had to make ridiculous choices: Will I sit in the garden for 15 minutes, or will I wash my hair today? But it gave me hope that I could be treated. I had a sick body; that was all. And with the right kind of help, maybe one day I could get better.

 I came together with patients around the world, and we started to fight. We have filled the void with something wonderful, but it is not enough. I still don’t know if I will ever be able to run again, or walk at any distance, or do any of those kinetic things that I now only get to do in my dreams. But I am so grateful for how far I have come. Progress is slow, and it is up and it is down, but I am getting a little better each day.

I remember what it was like when I was stuck in that bedroom, when it had been months since I had seen the sun. I thought that I would die there. But here I am today, with you, and that is a miracle.

 I don’t know what would have happened had I not been one of the lucky ones, had I gotten sick before the internet, had I not found my community. I probably would have already taken my own life, as so many others have done. How many lives could we have saved, decades ago, if we had asked the right questions? How many lives could we save today if we decide to make a real start?

15:56 Even once the true cause of my disease is discovered, if we don’t change our institutions and our culture, we will do this again to another disease.

Living with this illness has taught me that science and medicine are profoundly human endeavors. Doctors, scientists and policy makers are not immune to the same biases that affect all of us.

16:22 We need to think in more nuanced ways about women’s health. Our immune systems are just as much a battleground for equality as the rest of our bodies. We need to listen to patients’ stories, and we need to be willing to say, “I don’t know.” “I don’t know” is a beautiful thing.

“I don’t know” is where discovery starts. And if we can do that, if we can approach the great vastness of all that we do not know, and then, rather than fear uncertainty, maybe we can greet it with a sense of wonder

Architects make great lovers: Rumors can be a hit, occasionally

Valentine’s Day brings with it mixed emotions for architects. Love is supposedly in the air, but with all those projects on the go, who has the time to date in the design world?

It’s hard enough finding time to sleep, let alone to find romance.

Hope persists in the shape of some very creative couples that managed to build not only architectural masterpieces, but also a great relationship together. From Charles and Ray Eames, to Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, there are plenty out there who have transcended the trials of architecture and made it work.

As it turns out, your architect friend might just make for the perfect partner — or a great date for Valentine’s Day, at the very least.

Here are just a few reasons an architect could be the perfect match for you, and we’re sure there are many more besides …

Architects, let us know your most attractive qualities in the comments below!

1. Their attention to detail means date night will be perfectly planned every time.

2. They have the patience of a saint (except when the plotter breaks down).

3. They will make you the best gifts ever using the laser cutter and the 3D printer in the office.

4. They’re good with their hands … and their minds

5. They love to travel — they’ll show you the world!

6. They have GREAT commitment (they got through architecture school, after all).

7. They’re great at conflict resolution (with the help of lawyers).

8. They know all the best honeymoon spots (the architectural ones, at least).

9. They know how to make the best coffee.

10. They have the best taste in music.

11. They have the best taste in holiday gifts.

12. They have amazing dress sense.

13. They will enjoy playing awesome video games and movies with you.

14. They know culture like no one else.

15. They won’t fall asleep on you.

16. If they do fall asleep on you, it’s for very good reason

17. They have a great sense of humor (although you might not understand all their jokes).

18. They will never clash with you because they always wear black.

19. They know all about Romanticism.

20. They understand the importance of stability — emotional and structural!

21. They are great listeners (to professors, clients, contractors and you … ).

22. They know that form is nothing without function.

23. They are passionate about what they do.

24. They can make good conversation — about politics, about economics, about pop culture … and about architecture, of course.

25. They are considerate of the needs of others (clients, contractors, professors and engineers … sometimes!).

26. They value honesty and integrity (in building materials, and in life).

27. They know how to have a good time (once the project deadline has passed).

28. If everything works out, they’ll design a dream home for you and your future architect children.

29. If it doesn’t, refer back to No. 7.

 Architects make great lovers
architizer.com

Mistinguett of The Moulin Rouge:  Biggest star insured legs for 500,000 francs in 1919

Mistinguett  was a French actress and singer, whose birth name was Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois. She was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world.

Once during a tour of the United States, Mistinguett was asked by Time magazine to explain her popularity. Her answer was, “It is a kind of magnetism. I say  ‘Come closer’ and draw them to me.

Mistinguett, born in poverty, was not particularly beautiful but had an undeniably quick wit. She wanted to build her own life and said “the poor suburbs, it’s not enough just to want to get out.

I had a talent: life. All the rest remains to be done, to be thought about. I couldn’t allow myself just to be a beautiful animal, I had to think of everything”. A peerless businesswoman, she first listened carefully then captivated.

Source
Source

 

 Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, Source
Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, Source

 

Source
Source

 

 Mistinguett and Josephine Baker in 1927. Source
Mistinguett and Josephine Baker in 1927. Source

At an early age Mistinguett.aspired to be an entertainer. She began as a flower seller in a restaurant in her hometown, singing popular ballads as she sold blossoms.

After taking classes in theatre and singing, she began her career as an entertainer in 1885. One day on the train to Paris for a violin lesson, she met Saint-Marcel, who directed the revue at the Casino de Paris.

He engaged her first as a stage-hand, and here she began to pursue her goal to become an entertainer, experimenting with various stage-names, being successively Miss Helyett, Miss Tinguette, Mistinguette and, finally, Mistinguett.

 

 Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge Source
Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge Source

Bourgeois made her debut as Mistinguett at the Casino de Paris in 1895 and went on to appear in venues such as the Folies Bergère, Moulin Rouge and Eldorado.

She was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world.

thevintagenews.com

Her risqué routines captivated Paris, and she went on to become the most popular French entertainer of her time and the highest paid female entertainer in the world, known for her flamboyance and a zest for the theatrical.In 1919 her legs were insured for 500,000 francs.

 Mistinguett in her Chrysler, Deauville, France, 1929 Source
Mistinguett in her Chrysler, Deauville, France, 1929 Source

 

 Mistinguett in the United States in 1924 Source
Mistinguett in the United States in 1924 Source

 

 Mistinguett poster, 1911 Source
Mistinguett poster, 1911 Source

 

 Mistinguett sitting on her Chrysler with a group of photographers in Deauville in 1929. Source
Mistinguett sitting on her Chrysler with a group of photographers in Deauville in 1929. Source

 

 Mistinguett Source
Mistinguett Source

 

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Source

 

 

Source
Source

Mistinguett died in Bougival, France, at the age of 80, attended by her son, a doctor.

She is buried in the Cimetière Enghien-les-Bains, Île-de-France, France.

Upon her death, writer Jean Cocteau observed in an obituary, “Her voice, slightly off-key, was that of the Parisian street hawkers—the husky, trailing voice of the Paris people.

She was of the animal race that owes nothing to intellectualism. She incarnated herself. She flattered a French patriotism that was not shameful. It is normal now that she should crumble, like the other caryatids of that great and marvelous epoch that was ours”.

More than 700 species facing extinction are being hit by climate change

Humans’ closest relatives, the primates, are among those worst affected because their tropical habitats have had a stable climate for thousands of years

  • Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent
  • Tuesday 14 February 2017

More than 700 mammals and birds currently threatened with extinction already appear to have been adversely affected by climate change, according to a major review of scientific studies.

Primates and marsupials are believed to have the most individual species suffering as a result of global warming, according to a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Only two groups of mammals, rodents and insect-eaters, are thought to have benefitted.

This is partly because they have fast breeding rates, tend not to be specialists suited to a particular habitat, and often live in burrows which provide insulation against changes in the weather.

The figures are much higher than previously thought, making up 47 per cent of land mammals and 23 per cent of the birds on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of species threatened with extinction.

According to the list itself, just seven per cent of the mammals and four per cent of the birds are described as being threatened by “climate change and severe weather”.

The researchers developed a model to compare the animals’ weight and other characteristics with changes in the climate, such as the temperature.

“Using this model, we estimated that 47 per cent of terrestrial [non-flying] threatened mammals (out of 873 species) and 23.4 per cent of threatened birds (out of 1,272 species) may have already been negatively impacted by climate change in at least part of their distribution,” the article in Nature Climate Change said.

“Our results suggest that populations of large numbers of threatened species are likely to be already affected by climate change, and that conservation managers, planners and policy makers must take this into account in efforts to safeguard the future of biodiversity.”

Primates and marsupials are more at risk than other animals partly because they have lived mostly in tropical parts of the world which have had a stable climate for thousands of years.

“Many of these [animals] have evolved to live within restricted environmental tolerances and are likely to be most affected by rapid changes and extreme events,” the paper added.

“In addition, primates and elephants are characterised by very slow reproductive rates that reduce their ability to adapt to rapid changes in environmental conditions.”

One reason why climate change is causing a problem for animals is changes in the distribution of plants.

“In areas with reduced precipitation and/or temperature seasonality, it is likely that plant species may have narrower climatic tolerances, and therefore that these areas may have already experienced vegetation changes with consequential loss of habitat for animals living there,” the paper said.

“A more specialised diet was also associated with greater probability of negative responses in mammals.

“Our findings are in agreement with previous studies on the predictors of general extinction risk, in which species with narrower diet breadths were associated with lower ability to exploit resources and adapt to new environmental conditions and selective pressures.”

Birds living in the world’s cold mountain regions appear to be particularly at risk.

“Populations of species living at high altitudes and in colder places have fewer opportunities to move towards cooler areas or upslope to avoid increasing temperatures, and hence may have increased extinction risk,” the paper said.

Another problem is that higher temperatures are inducing birds to lay eggs earlier.

“For animals living in these environments the effects of temperature changes may have been exacerbated, potentially leading to disruption in synchronisation between the timing of chick-feeding and peak food availability,” the paper said.

Read more

One part of the Obama White House that will endure under Trump: Michelle’s vegetable garden

February 13, 2017

It was less than a year ago that Michelle Obama referred to it as “her baby.”

She wasn’t talking about her youngest daughter, Sasha, or the Obama’s pet dog Bo, but something undoubtedly dear to her during her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: the White House vegetable garden.

Her comments were made during her eighth and final spring planting, but “hopefully,” she added, “this will not be the last” one ever.

First lady Melania Trump confirmed that although the garden’s founder may have moved away, her beloved garden lives on. A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“As a mother and as the First Lady of this country, Mrs. Trump is committed to the preservation and continuation of the White House Gardens, specifically the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden and the Rose Garden,” Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, senior adviser to the first lady, said in a statement to CNN.

The White House vegetable garden was supposedly the first of its kind since Eleanor Roosevelt’s in 1943, The Washington Post’s Dan Zak reported in April.

The garden in the past has offered a varied menu that included “Churchill” brussels sprouts and “Kentucky colonel” spearmint, as well as garlic and fennel and shallots and endive. The garden was, at last count, 1,700 square feet in size, but for the past eight years it has occupied a much larger space symbolically, as Michelle Obama used her platform to fight childhood obesity and improve America’s eating habits.

Throughout that fight, health advocates said, the garden was a physical reminder of Obama’s message.

“The vegetables wind up in dinners for the first family,” Zak noted. “Almost 500 pounds of them have been shipped to homeless shelters. In 2010, they ripened into Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, for which the first lady danced with Elmo and Jimmy Fallon in order to get kids off the couch and to the crisper. She has also nudged corporations to trim salt, sugar and fat from food products.”

The garden — located on the corner of the South Lawn — more than doubled in area during the Obama presidency. The garden also includes an apiary and a pollinator garden for bees and other insects. A spokesman for Hillary Clinton told The Post that she intended to keep the garden if she were elected president, but Trump had not signaled whether the garden would survive until last week.

CNN reported that Trump toured the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla., with Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The visit gave the first lady — striking a Michelle Obama-esque tone — a chance to tout the health benefits and physical beauty that can be derived from a well-kept garden.


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