Unsung heroes and murderous villains, hidden forever in ancient shadows, now leap to life – blazing onto the pages of revelation. Gideon, a lowly woodcutter, is blessed by an angel to be the savior of all Israel. He does not know why or how and shrinks from this dangerous mission. The commandment to conquer the Midian Empire as one man seems all but impossible. But Gideon’s confidence grows as God guides his every step until he stands fearless and faithfully fulfills his destiny as, “A mighty man of valor.” The fierce warriors, burning towers and devastated cities contained in Gideon’s Journey, are but silver threads that weave into a sweeping tapestry of ancient intrigue. Running through and stitching together the entire saga is The Lord of the Covenant, or The Baal-Berith, also known as Gideon’s mysterious Ephod of Gold.
Seattle Book Review – 4 Stars
Warriors and violent battles are present throughout Biblical times and beyond. Fueled by hatred of other tribes, the struggles for land, treasure, and resources permeate the landscape. The warrior Barak wages a vicious battle to take the village of Ophrah. With a little help from a female warrior named Jael, the tide of the battle turns. He is successful, but casualties are many. The casualties include the brothers of Gideon, a smart, unassuming woodcutter. Nothing much is expected of him; he is married to a woman who his father picked out. He is enamored of a young woman he encounters in his village named Drumah. She is set to be sacrificed to the God Baal. Gideon is visited by an Angel with a message from God. Gideon destroys the altar and saves Drumah from certain death. Gideon is chosen to fight for the Israelites. Gideon assumes command of his fellow people in battles against the people from the East such as the Midianites, who have fought for land in many pitched battles. Gideon is motivated by his brothers’ brutal deaths. He fights despite hunger and refuses help from cowering tribes. Gideon and his rag-tag group emerge victorious in their skirmishes. He takes vengeance on those who refused to help, emerging as a hero in his village. He takes Drumah as his concubine, along with many women he saved as well as widowed. He also sires many offspring, but his victory comes at a price that will echo throughout the coming years and decades with the Ephod of Gold. The worship of a new idol curses the family of Gideon, where one son engages in tyrannical rule. The son’s reign is typified by fear and power plays which include the wholesale slaughter of many brothers. By the time of the emergence of the underdog David, will the curse of this idol be broken?
Gideon: The Sound and the Glory is a vivid and violent take on the religious strife that spanned the BC era. Greed, paranoia, jealousy, and lust are the overwhelming characteristics running through the veins of the men who highlight this book. Violence is seen as a necessary means to an end, whether in war or in power-grabs. The false idol that is worshiped only brings about doom and destruction to the worshiper. An interesting historical fiction read that will make a companion read to the Bible. A-!
As-yet untitled novel will tell the story of Hillary Rodham and her life after she turns down marriage proposal from Bill Clinton once and for all
Curtis Sittenfeld has signed a book deal to write a novel about Hillary Clinton that will imagine how the former secretary of states life would have panned out if she had not married Bill Clinton.
According to publisher Random House, the as-yet-untitled novel is told from the point of view of Hillary Rodham, in which (as she did in real life) she turns down marriage proposals from Bill Clinton, then ultimately turns him down once and for all, and how her life spins out from there.
A spokeswoman for the publisher said the book would be out in 2019. The novel is part of a three-book deal for Sittenfeld.
Sittenfeld has form when it comes to writing about the lives of former first ladies. In 2008 she penned the acclaimed and bestselling novel American Wife, a fictionalised account of the life of Laura Bush.
Meanwhile Hillary Clinton is writing her own collection of essays that will reflect on her life and the presidential election. The book will include quotations she has used to get through battles with political opponents including Donald Trump, the media, her husbands high-profile sex scandals. It is due in out September from Simon & Schuster.
Canadian study finds taking the drugs raises chances of having a miscarriage by between 60% and 100%
Many common antibiotics may double the risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy, research has shown.
A Canadian study has found that taking the drugs raised the chances of having a miscarriage by between 60% and 100%.
The link was seen with several classes of antibiotic including macrolides, quinolones, tetracyclines, sulphonamides and metronidazole. However, nitrofurantoin, often used to treat urinary tract infections in pregnant women, had no effect on miscarriage risk. Nor did the widely used antibiotic erythromycin.
The researchers looked at data from almost 9,000 cases of miscarriage at an average time of 14 weeks into pregnancy, involving girls and women aged between 15 and 45.
The study leader, Dr Anick Brard, from the University of Montreal in Quebec, said: Infections are prevalent during pregnancy. Although antibiotic use to treat infections has been linked to a decreased risk of prematurity and low birth weight in other studies, our investigation shows that certain types of antibiotics are increasing the risk of spontaneous abortion, with a 60% to two-fold increased risk.
Women who miscarried were more likely to be older, living alone, and to have multiple health issues and infections. But all these factors were accounted for in the analysis, whose findings are published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Dr Brard added: The increased risk was not seen for all antibiotics, which is reassuring for users, prescribers and policymakers.
The researchers identified a total of 182,369 pregnancies from the Quebec pregnancy cohort, a large population group from the province providing data for ongoing studies. Of these, 8,702 (4.7%) ended with an early miscarriage.
Writing in the journal, the team concluded that there was a link between some antibiotics and an increased risk of miscarriage, but added: However, residual confounding by severity of infection cannot be ruled out.
What happens when a troubled young woman dares to follow the stirrings of her soul in turbulent times? Elmina begins life with a troubled childhood in a medieval French town―a childhood that turns her into a spiritually seeking young woman who dares to follow the stirrings of her soul. Her idealism and love lead her to leave a Cathar school and follow the man who will become Saint Dominic. As the world around her erupts into the Albigensian Crusade, Elmina finds herself complicit in its horror, and her spiritual and emotional life begins to unravel. With the aid of the counsel of her wise prior, Brother Noel, Elmina learns to paint her experiences within a sacred circle―a practice that helps her discover the origins of her lifelong fears and wrestle with questions that are as divisive today as they were eight centuries ago: the nature of God, the purpose of creation, the nature of evil, and the possibility of reincarnation.
Peter Hubbard, executive editor of his publisher William Morrow & Co, said in a statement that Pirsigs wife Wendy had confirmed his death at his home in Maine after a period of failing health.
Published in 1974 after being rejected by more than 100 other publishers, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was the father-son story of a motorcycle trip across the western United States. Loosely autobiographical, it also contained flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic.
The book quickly became a best-seller. Pirsig said its protagonist set out to resolve the conflict between classic values that create machinery, such as a motorcycle, and romantic values, such as experiencing the beauty of a country road.
Born in Minneapolis, Pirsig had a high IQ and graduated high school at the age of 15. He earned a degree in philosophy and also worked as a technical writer and instructor of English before being hospitalised for mental illness in the early 1960s.
His philosophical thinking and personal experiences during these years, including a 1968 motorcycle trip across the US West with his eldest son, Christopher, formed the core of the narrative of the novel.
Pirsig worked on the sequel, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals for 17 years before its publication in 1991. The story traced a sailboat journey taken by two fictitious characters along Americas eastern coast.
Pirsig lived the last 30 years in South Berwick, Maine and is survived by his wife Wendy, two children and three grandchildren. His son Chris died in 1979.
Story Summary: After a stirring dream, Courtney Lindberg was inspired by the voice of God to go to Africa and adopt a baby. This is the story of a family’s evolution, beginning with a decision to push the boundaries of their comfort zone out of the country-literally. But She Came From Afar is much more than a tale of international adoption. It’s about trusting that God will lead you out of the desert and fill you with purpose, ultimately fulfilling the deepest desires of your heart. This book tells the story of their inspirations and challenges, their search for answers, and the loving family they created in the process.
Each family is different, and this is especially true for families who have adopted children. Not only do they have to deal with all the typical struggles of raising a child (sometimes from infancy), but they also need to face questions from the people around them and from their own children. It is a trial, but a common enough one that there are many adoption stories, several of which are beautiful and filled with the grace of parents who manage to pass through the trials and keep their heads held high. She Came From Afar is one such story.
(CNN)In 2011, when the revolution swept through Egypt, Bahia Shehab stood on the streets of Cairo with a spray-can in her hand determined to deliver one message: No. A thousand times no.
No to military rule. No to violence. No to dictatorship. And no to beating women.
On walls across Cairo she spray painted a series of quotes objecting Egyptian authorities.
The Egyptian artist, designer and Islamic art historian became interested by how the word “no” is portrayed in Arabic calligraphy in 2010 when she was invited by theKhatt Foundation to participate in an exhibition commemorating 100 years of Arabic art in Europe.
She created a series of graffiti images that were inspired by 1,000 different ways “no” — which is written as ” in Arabic — had been stylized.
Established in 1998, the prize rewards two laureates each year who have used their work to “disseminate a greater knowledge of Arab art and culture.” The other winner this year is French artist eL Seed.
Its international jury says Shehab’s street art “plays as a fresh tool for the young to build networks for active change and to voice their objections.”
Prior to the award ceremony, CNN caught up with Shehab.
What inspired your project “No, A Thousand Times No”?
I looked through a very big database (of) material to come up with a thousand nos. I looked through museum archives, buildings, books, materials from different places around the world to be able to collect that data. It took me a year.
It was actually surprising. I thought it was going to be really difficult to find a 1,000 (nos) in different forms, but then you stop at 1,000 and then you’re surprised that there’s so much more — and this is what was amazing for me.
Can you remember the first time you spray-painted in the streets of Cairo?
It was one of the best moments of my life. It’s still vivid now in my head. It felt so liberating. I felt like I was actually screaming.
I really admire these strong women who would stand in rallies and raise their call and be the first ones to call. I was so jealous because I could never do that and then I had the spray can and I said “Yes! This is my place, this is my medium.”
(It) was extremely liberating as a form of expression.
For somebody who doesn’t have a very loud voice, my voice was my spray can.
How does it feel to win the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture?
I didn’t think (“No, A Thousand Times No”) would get me a UNESCO prize, I wasn’t expecting that.
(The work) was important to me as a cultural bank … and it made me feel very proud of my heritage. (But) I feel like we still have a lot of work to do. I am honored, of course, but what I’m really happy about is that they’re honoring street art and I’m receiving it with a very, very dear friend of mine, eL Seed (which) is an even a greater honor as we both work on the street.
It’s a form of recognition of street art in the Arab world as an important art form.
What do you say to people or governments who try to prevent you spray painting?
We are finding other outlets. If Cairo is not my canvas, then the world is. There are other cities that will welcome my message (and) we have the internet now — the physical space is no longer important.
When I don’t get a visa, I go on Skype and I give my presentations and the idea gets there. I don’t need to physically be in a place anymore.
What are you working on?
I am still painting in different cities. I’m painting poetry and I think this is what’s helping me deal with our current situation. Many activists are either in prison or exile or they’ve committed suicide and this is unfortunately the state of events. So for me to deal with the trauma of our current state I paint words all around the world, of poetry (and) of our dreams.
What walls have you painted?
The first wall I painted was in Vancouver and (the text is) all by the same Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, and says “stand at the corner of the dream and fight” and then I painted in New York, Madison, in Marrakesh, Tokyo, Istanbul and Beirut and each poem has a different message — either related to the city where I’m painting or just about the state of the Arab world, in general.
For example on Kefalonia — the Greek island — I painted for the refugee crises of the people who are drowning and I painted the poem “Those Who Have No Land Have No Feet.”
Art Cullen owns the 3,000-circulation Storm Lake Times with his brother John. His wife and son also work at the paper
A small-town Iowa newspaper with a staff of 10 people – most of whom are related to each other has won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on powerful agricultural companies over farm pollution.
Art Cullen, who owns the Storm Lake Times with his brother John, acknowledged it wasnt easy taking on agriculture in a state like Iowa where you see hundreds of miles of farm fields in every direction. The Cullens lost a few friends and a few advertisers, but never doubted they were doing the right thing.
Were here to challenge peoples assumptions and I think thats what every good newspaper should do, he said.
Among the other staff members at the Storm Lake Times is John Cullens wife Mary, Arts wife Dolores and their son, Tom. The familys dog, Mabel also hangs out at the newspaper offices most of the time, Poynter reports.
Cullens writing was lauded by the Pulitzer committee for editorials fuelled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.
Cullen told the Washington Post that he knows what readers like. We strive to have a baby, a dog, a fire and a crash on every front page, so, yes, we do pander, he said.
But it was the papers dogged coverage of farming issues affecting the state that won them the coveted journalism prize.
Buena Vista county, where the 3,000-circulation, twice-weekly newspaper is based in north-west Iowa, was one of three counties sued by Des Moines Water Works for allowing too much nitrogen to be released through farm drainage systems into rivers from which the utility draws its drinking water. The counties fought the federal lawsuit using money provided by undisclosed sources.
The newspaper worked with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council to force the release of documents showing funding came from the Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups.
Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his gut that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America, Cullen wrote in a March 2016 editorial.
It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is causing oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lakes. It has caused us to spend millions upon millions trying to clean up Storm Lake, the victim of more than a century of explosive soil erosion.
Cullen, 59, says he feels vindicated that the information was released. A judge, however, dismissed the water utilitys lawsuit last month, giving the farm groups and counties a clear victory.
Cullen is proud that the Pulitzer committee recognised his small newspapers efforts alongside those of larger papers. The two other finalists in the editorial writing category were from the Houston Chronicle and The Washington Post.
Weve always believed that the Storm Lakes Times should be as good at covering Storm Lake as the New York Times is at covering New York, he said. Theres no reason why an editorial written in Iowa shouldnt be as good as an editorial written in Washington.
She made her name as the youngest member of girl band The Saturdays – but Vanessa White has ditched the squeaky clean pop of All Fired Up and What About Us for an altogether more intriguing foray into sultry and infectious R&B.
It’s two o’clock on a crisp November day and Vanessa White saunters up to the gates of Ealing Studios in west London.
The film studio has played host to Shaun Of The Dead, Bridget Jones and the entire “downstairs” set of Downton Abbey – but she’s not here to film a cameo (“Can you imagine?” she giggles).
Instead, the 27-year-old climbs the fire escape of a dilapidated high-rise building, enters a propped-open door and navigates the corridors to a small back room that’s been converted into a recording studio.
Like all such facilities, it’s painted black and littered with empty liquor bottles. The walls are haphazardly decorated with polaroids of previous occupants – including US hitmakers The Chainsmokers – and, in the corner, there’s a tiny figurine of Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
Inside, Vanessa’s producers are ready and waiting, sorting through various tracks they’re hoping she might choose for her forthcoming EP.
But first, the singer has a confession: “I’ve got a sore throat and I’m a bit hung over.”
It doesn’t seem to matter. If anything, the consensus is that a husky voice is better for the material – a sultry and sumptuous serving of downtempo R&B; all heavy breathing and soaring harmonies.
Staving off the hangover with a “nourishing” lunch box, Vanessa explains her musical state of mind to the team.
“Everything I’m doing now is so dark,” she says, cueing up a song on her phone. “Not like I-want-to-kill-myself dark, but it’s quite angry.”
One of the tracks – tentatively called Trust – is seething with vitriol.
“I won’t stroke your ego,” she spits. “I’m onto you, I’m onto you. Don’t underestimate my intelligence.“
The song was inspired by encounters with “snaky people” in the music industry, she explains.
Specifically, it tackles a toxic situation in her immediate team that ended up “with the lawyers” last year.
She can’t discuss the details, but says her solo career was significantly delayed as a result: The EP she’s working on today was originally due last summer.
“There were certain songs I loved that I couldn’t use any more,” she explains. “So I’ve basically had to start again, which is why it’s taken this long.
“The silver lining is it’s given me something to write about. I’m in a much better position now, mentally.
“I used to get so scared of going in the studio with people I didn’t know but now, you could put me anywhere and I’d be fine.”
Vanessa certainly takes charge in the studio. Having brought the producers up to speed, she sits cross-legged on a sofa as they scroll through a few skeleton songs, looking for “an uptempo track with a dark heart”.
One by one, Vanessa dismisses them. “That’s too light,” she says of one. “I’m not instantly drawn to it,” is her verdict on the next.
After half a dozen tracks are waved off, engineer Day Decosta brings up a simple loop built around a gooey, pulsing bass groove.
Vanessa instantly sits up, alert. “Oh, I like this.”
She starts ad-libbing vocal riffs over the top, trading ideas with co-writer Celetia Martin, a former vocalist for Groove Armada whose credits include Skepta, Conor Maynard and, yes, The Saturdays.
Within minutes, she heads to the vocal booth. “I don’t really know what I’m doing right now,” she laughs. “I’m just going to sing loads of random nonsense.”
Slowly, painstakingly, the song takes shape. Some of the improvisations stick and are pieced together into a coherent melody. Every so often, Vanessa emerges from the booth to kneel on the floor with Celetia, and the pair go back and forth over lyrics and harmonies.
When inspiration dries up, they scroll through Instagram, gossip about TV box sets, and goof off doing the Mannequin Challenge for Vanessa’s Instagram page.
Conversation eventually turns to the singer’s upcoming holiday, a “juice retreat” in Portugal, where solid food is forbidden for an entire week.
It sounds awful (although photos from the journey suggest otherwise) – but it’s apparently the standard sort of torture female pop stars endure before the promotional round of video and photo shoots begin.
“It sounds worse than what it was,” laughs the singer when we catch up four months later.
“Honestly, if you were hungry it wasn’t like they starved you. They added more to the smoothies or they’d give you a piece of fruit. It was actually fine.
“I feel like I need another one now, that’s the problem!”
In any case, the 27-year-old counts dressing up and being photographed as a perk of her job… although it wasn’t always that way.
“When I was in The Sats, it actually got a bit boring having to be made up every single day,” she says. “I stopped appreciating it.
“Now I can come to the studio looking like this and it’s fine. Dressing up has become more of a treat again.”
Back at Ealing Studios, work continues late into the night – long after the BBC has left the building, having contributed precisely zero to the writing process.
The song is ultimately destined for the scrapheap, but Trust (completely overhauled and re-titled Trust Me) makes it onto Vanessa’s Chapter Two EP, which was released last Friday.
As she predicted, it set the tone for a collection of brooding neo-soul that’s surprisingly candid about anger, lust and sexuality. Fans of The Saturdays’ chirrupy chart fodder are in for quite a surprise.
“I guess people are going to question it,” she admits of her new direction. “But I feel pop is not very me at the moment.
“It took a bit of time to find a sound that was completely right for me. Now I feel like I’ve really nailed it, and it’s obvious it’s coming from me. Once people believe that, you’re half-way there.”
Certainly, the sophisticated harmonies and complex ad-libs reflect the US singers she grew up idolising – Janet, Alliyah, Brandy and Mariah – without sounding like a cheap, plastic counterfeit.
“We’ve had a problem with that in the UK in the past,” she acknowledges. “I don’t know why we haven’t really got the sounds right before – but this is what I listened to for years and years, so I guess that’s where it’s come from.”
The EP has been well-reviewed on the sort of music sites that would have given The Saturdays a wide berth. But it’s hard to see where the music fits in the current charts, crammed full of Ed Sheeran’s acoustic pop and The Chainsmokers’ emo EDM.
“To be honest with you, I’m not even thinking about that,” says the singer. “With everything that’s happened this year, including the label stuff, I’ve ended up doing this on my own – and at this point I’m preferring it, to be honest.
“I feel like I have to run with this. I’m not going to be hard on myself and expect it to be [huge] at this point.
“Whatever happens will happen.”
Vanessa White’s Chapter Two EP is out now on Salute The Sun Records.
(CNN)Say “doomsday bunker” and most people would imagine a concrete room filled with cots and canned goods.
The threat of global annihilation may feel as present as it did during the Cold War, but today’s high-security shelters could not be more different from their 20th-century counterparts.
A number of companies around the world are meeting a growing demand for structures that protect from any risk, whether it’s a global pandemic, an asteroid, or World War III — while also delivering luxurious amenities.
“Your father or grandfather’s bunker was not very comfortable,” says Robert Vicino, a real estate entrepreneur and CEO of Vivos, a company he founded that builds and manages high-end shelters around the world.
“They were gray. They were metal, like a ship or something military. And the truth is mankind cannot survive long-term in such a Spartan, bleak environment.”
Many of the world’s elite, including hedge fund managers, sports stars and tech executives (Bill Gates is rumored to have bunkers at all his properties) have chosen to design their own secret shelters to house their families and staff.
Gary Lynch, general manager of Texas-based Rising S Company, says 2016 sales for their custom high-end underground bunkers grew 700% compared to 2015, while overall sales have grown 300% since the November US presidential election alone.
The company’s plate steel bunkers, which are designed to last for generations, can hold a minimum of one year’s worth of food per resident and withstand earthquakes.
But while some want to bunker down alone, others prefer to ride out the apocalypse in a community setting that offers an experience a bit closer to the real world.
The fortified structures are designed to withstand a nuclear strike and come equipped with power systems, water purification systems, blast valves, and Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) air filtration.
Most include food supplies for a year or more, and many have hydroponic gardens to supplement the rations. The developers also work to create well-rounded communities with a range of skills necessary for long-term survival, from doctors to teachers.
Vicino says Vivos received a flurry of interest in its shelters around the 2016 election from both liberals and conservatives, and completely sold out of spaces in its community shelters in the past few weeks.
One of those shelters, Vivos xPoint, is near the Black Hills of South Dakota, and consists of 575 military bunkers that served as an Army Munitions Depot until 1967.
Presently being converted into a facility that will accommodate about 5,000 people, the interiors of each bunker are outfitted by the owners at a cost of between $25,000 to $200,000 each. The price depends on whether they want a minimalist space or a home with high-end finishes.
The compound itself will be equipped with all the comforts of a small town, including a community theater, classrooms, hydroponic gardens, a medical clinic, a spa and a gym.
For clients looking for something further afield and more luxurious, the company also offers Vivos Europa One, billed as a “modern day Noah’s Ark” in a former Cold War-era munitions storage facility in Germany.
The structure, which was carved out of solid bedrock, offers 34 private residences, each starting at 2,500 square feet, with the option to add a second story for a total of 5,000 square feet.
“Our clients are sold on the unique advantage of having a luxury second home that also happens to be a nuclear hardened bunker,” says Hall, who is already starting work on a second Survival Condo in another silo on site.
“This aspect allows our clients to invest in an appreciating asset as opposed to an expense.”
The Survival Condo has several different layouts, from a 900-square-foot half-floor residence to a two-level, 3,600-square-foot penthouse that starts at $4.5 million.
Owners have access to their homes and the facilities at anytime, whether a disaster is imminent or they just want to get away from it all, and the complex features a pool, general store, theater, bar and library.
The condo association sets the rules for the community, and during an emergency, owners would be required to work four hours a day.
If you prefer to spend the end of days solo, or at least with hand-selected family and friends, you may prefer to consider The Oppidum in the Czech Republic, which is being billed as “the largest billionaire bunker in the world.”
The top-secret facility, once a joint project between the former Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia), was built over 10 years beginning in 1984.
The site now includes both an above-ground estate and a 77,000-square-foot underground component. While the final product will be built out to the owner’s specifications, the initial renderings include an underground garden, swimming pool, spa, cinema and wine vault.