Vanessa White on life after The Saturdays – BBC News

Image copyright Vanessa White

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.

Image copyright Vanessa White

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.”

Image copyright Vanessa White

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.”

Image copyright Vanessa White

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!”

Image copyright Salute The Sun Records

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.”

Image caption Born in 1989, the star was just 17 when The Saturdays formed

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.”

Image copyright Vanessa White
Image copyright Vanessa White
Image copyright Vanessa White

Vanessa White’s Chapter Two EP is out now on Salute The Sun Records.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-39479581

Billionaire bunkers: How the 1% are preparing for the apocalypse

(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.”

    Doomsday demand

    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.

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    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.

    Designer ark

    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.

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    The units will be delivered empty and each owner will have the space renovated to suit their own tastes and needs, choosing from options that include screening rooms, private pools and gyms.
    Vicino compares the individual spaces to underground yachts, and even recommends that owners commission the same builders and designers that worked on their actual vessels.
    “Most of these people have high-end yachts, so they already have the relationship and they know the taste, fit, and finish that they want,” he explains.
    The vast complex includes a tram system to transport residents throughout the shelter, where they can visit its restaurants, theater, coffee shops, pool and game areas.
    “We have all the comforts of home, but also the comforts that you expect when you leave your home,” Vicino adds.

    Nuclear hardened homes

    Developer Larry Hall’s Survival Condo in Kansas utilizes two abandoned Atlas missile silos built by the US Army Corps of Engineers to house warheads during the early 1960s.

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    “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.

    Long-term luxury

    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.
    While many might see the luxury amenities at these facilities as unnecessary, the developers argue that these features are critical to survival.
    “These shelters are long-term, a year or more,” Vicino says. “It had better be comfortable.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/20/luxury/doomsday-luxury-bunkers/index.html

    Author who wrote heartbreaking ‘dating profile’ for her husband dies

    (CNN)Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the prolific children’s book author who wrote a devastating “Modern Love” column about her soon-to-be-widower husband, died in her home in Chicago on Monday from ovarian cancer. She was 51.

    “Everything Amy did was life and love affirming,” Amy Rennert, her longtime literary agent and friend, said in a statement to CNN. “She was such a bright light with a great sense of wonder.”
    Rosenthal was best known for her many children’s books, including “Duck! Rabbit!” “I Wish You More,” and “Uni the Unicorn,” among others. She also wrote two memoirs for adults, the highly-praised “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life” and its follow-up “Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal.”
      But one of her most powerful works was a column she wrote for The New York Times’ recurring “Modern Love” feature in early March, titled “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”
      In the article, Rosenthal wrote that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had little time left to live. Knowing these were her last days, she praised the loving virtues of her husband, making the column into a kind of a “dating profile” to help him find a new love after her death.
      “He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day,” she wrote. “I have never been on Tinder, Bumble or eHarmony, but I’m going to create a general profile for Jason right here, based on my experience of coexisting in the same house with him for, like, 9,490 days.”
      Her husband Jason is a lawyer, a good cook, a painter, and, most importantly, a thoughtful and dedicated partner, she wrote.
      “I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights,” she wrote. “But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet.”
      Her reason for writing the column? “I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day, and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins,” she wrote.
      Readers reacted to the selfless love story with an outpouring of emotion and plenty of tears.
      Rennert, Rosenthal’s agent, said the essay was the “ultimate gift” to us all.
      “Amy’s final essay, written under the most difficult of circumstances, a love letter to her husband Jason, was the ultimate gift to him and also to the rest of us,” she said.
      John Green, the bestselling author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” praised Krouse Rosenthal in a series of tweets as a “brilliant writer” and “what I wanted to be when I grew up.”
      HarperCollins said in a statement the company was “privileged and honored” to have published 11 of Rosenthal’s books.
      “She was one of our most brilliant, creative, passionate authors who had an amazing way of turning ideas upside down in wonderful ways, and a gift for taking a handful of words and putting them together in a creative, unexpected way,” the publisher said.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/13/health/amy-krouse-rosenthal-author-modern-love-death-trnd/index.html

      23 literary journeys with the world’s great writers

      (CNN)Writers sometimes travel far from home to find inspiration, or even the freedom to express themselves.

      Others are so closely associated with a place that it’s hard to know whether the city left its mark on an author, or if it was the other way around.
      Here are 23 writers whose words helped define a particular place.
      Some places have returned the love with museums and monuments. Others simply allow readers to walk in a writer’s footsteps and experience sites of great inspirations.

        Mark Twain’s Mississippi River (Missouri)

        Reading through “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” or “Huckleberry Finn” today, the landscape around the Mississippi River feels almost unrecognizable.
        When he wrote in the 1800s, the river was frontier land, not the powerful transport network that links half the United States, lined with farms and dotted with major cities.
        However, his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri has preserved some of the sights that the boy Samuel Clemson explored before he become famous — including the caves that became the scene of Tom and Huck’s escapades.
        A riverboat called the Mark Twain plies the river and takes visitors to Jackson’s Island, where Huck and the escaped slave Jim first realized a manhunt was after them.

        Amy Tan’s San Francisco (California)

        San Francisco’s Chinatown is the setting, and arguably a character, in many of Amy Tan’s novels.
        In her breakthrough “The Joy Luck Club,” which was also made into a successful film, the main character Waverly Place Jong was named after the street that her family lived on.
        Parts of the traditional Chinatown are now more Vietnamese, or even Russian. But Waverly Place is still home to the oldest Chinese temple in the United States, Tin How Temple.
        Waverly is known as the “street of the painted balconies,” because of the brightly painted shops and restaurants.

        James Joyce’s Dublin (Ireland)

        The

        One of the great writers of 20th-century China, Lu Xun occupies a peculiar place in the country.
        A leftist who never joined the Communist Party, his blistering critiques of tyranny still shape political thought today.
        Because the party embraced him, his presence in Shanghai has been enshrined. There’s a Lu Xun Memorial Hall (200 Tian’ai Rd, LuXun GongYuan, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai; +86 21 6540 2288), a Lu Xun Park (2288 Sichuan N Rd, LuXun GongYuan, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai; +86 21 6540 1561), and the Lu Xun Memorial Tomb.
        The selections of his works on display are, needless to say, carefully selected to avoid any possible critique of the current government.
        While the park is beautiful, it’s more interesting to wander through what used to be foreign concessions where he set up his League of Leftist Writers. The league’s building is on Duolun Road, now a popular tourist and shopping area.

        Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm (Sweden)

        The global publishing success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy — not to mention the films made from them — has given Stockholm a new appeal for fans of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
        The Stockholm City Museum runs a walking tour that takes fans into the world of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, or at least into their trendy neighborhood of Sodermalm.
        It’s a chance to see where Larsson placed the fictional sites in his books, from journalist Blomkvist’s favorite caf to Salander’s favorite tattoo parlor.

        JRR Tolkien’s Birmingham (England)

        The film versions of “The Lord of the Rings” made New Zealand synonymous with the novels, a role the country has eagerly embraced. (The national airline featured the characters in a safety video).
        But the actual inspiration for the books more likely draws from Tolkien’s life in England. Born in South Africa, his family moved outside of Birmingham when he was four years old.
        His childhood centered on the bucolic hamlet of Sarehole, where the pastures, streams and woods are widely considered as the inspiration for the Shire and Hobbiton.
        Nearby, the towers of Perrott’s Folly (44 Waterworks Rd, Birmingham) echo “The Two Towers.”
        When Tolkien was a boy, the clanking engine and steam from the Edgbaston Waterworks would have sounded like Mordor’s Barad-dr, the Dark Tower.
        The city of Birmingham maintains a Tolkien Trail to help visitors find the sites.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/06/travel/literary-journeys/index.html

        ‘Biggest Loser’ host Bob Harper ‘feeling better’ after heart attack

        (CNN)Bob Harper, personal trainer and host of the NBC show “The Biggest Loser,” shared on Instagram that he had a heart attack two weeks ago.

        “I am feeling better. Just taking it easy,” the 51-year old celebrity trainer posted with a photo of himself in bed, wearing a hospital gown. “I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of messages and support. It feels good to be cared about. I’ve been home for 8 days now.”

        Well I guess you all heard what happened. Two weeks ago yesterday I had a heart attack. I am feeling better. Just taking it easy. KARL has been a great nurse. I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of messages and support. It feels good to be cared about. I've been home for 8 days now. Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I'm lucky to have such good friends and family to take care of me right now.

        A post shared by Bob Harper (@trainerbob) on

        Harper has said in the past that his family has a history of heart problems. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart problems and help you live longer, but family history also plays a key role in heart health. Your genes can elevate your risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Although the risk is low, exercise itself can also increase your risk of a heart attack. Most of that risk, though, is in the hours following a workout.

          See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

          The experienced fitness trainer and TV star has appeared on 17 seasons of the NBC show “The Biggest Loser” show since 2004. He has helped a number of contestants lose weight by working out and eating healthier. Harper has also written three best-selling books on the topic.
          Harper has more than 20 years of experience helping people get fit and lose weight.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/health/bob-harper-biggest-loser-heart-attack-bn/index.html

          City Book Review Shows You Why You Should Get Your Book Reviewed (cool video)

          The folks at City Book Review have been doing book reviews since 2008, more than 20,000 reviews over the years. If you’re an author and need a review, give them a try.

          Now that your wrote and published your book, next up is how to get your book reviewed by a professional organization. Many bookstores won’t carry a book that hasn’t been reviewed by someone, and there are fewer and fewer local newspapers that review books any more. So your chances to get reviewed are harder each year. Luckily places like San Francisco Book Review and their sister publications have stepped up to help authors with book reviews, marketing, cover design and SEO.

          Rep. Jordan confronts protesters but finds no common ground

          Fremont, Ohio (CNN)Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan acknowledged protesters outside two events in his home district Monday — a break with many other Capitol Hill colleagues who have largely avoided such scenes — but was met with shouts of disapproval.

          The Ohio Republican, a 10-year veteran of the House and one of its most ardent conservatives, spoke with what his staff and protesters estimated were upward of 150 demonstrators in Marion, Ohio, at the historic home of former President Warren G. Harding.
          He then headed about an hour north where he talked briefly with a much smaller group of protesters at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library in Fremont, Ohio, before heading into a presidential trivia contest for children (which prompted his former Democratic opponent to claim he was using the kids as “human shields”).
            Jordan’s tour of his sprawling Ohio district Monday showed the dilemma for lawmakers eyeing up a repeat of the tea party protests which swept Democrats out of power in Congress in 2010 — but with the fire and the threat coming from the left this time.
            And it also shows how deep the anger has bled into staunchly conservative territory. Jordan beat his Democratic opponent 68%-32% last year and President Donald Trump won the district by a similar margin. The first hint of trouble for Republicans came two weeks ago, when Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz was confronted by hundreds of angry protesters at his town hall.
            Since then, Republican lawmakers have canceled town halls, while others have split town entirely — heading on Congressional delegation trips to spots like the Mexican border and Europe. Meanwhile, some Republicans have fully embraced the fury: Rep. Mark Sanford huddled hundreds of protesters at his South Carolina town hall this past weekend, even walking outside to address an overflow crowd.
            Jordan didn’t give it the “Full Sanford” Monday, but he did attempt some outreach — with varying success.
            “They may not agree with me, we may share different perspectives,” Jordan said, as a group of protesters laughed outside the Hayes Library. (“No, we don’t agree with you,” yelled one woman, interrupting Jordan.)
            “But they’re allowed under the first amendment to speak up, and my job is to listen and tell them where I’m at,” Jordan said, which resulted in one man mocking him: “Listen and give the party line, no real reasons, no in-depth analysis.”
            The sight of hundreds of protesters packed outside the Harding presidential home earlier in the day was compelling enough, Jordan said, for him to take questions from the angry crowd. But protesters claimed they had to force him to address them.
            As Harding Home director Sherry Hall attempted to read through a history of Harding from the wraparound porch, with Jordan by her side, angry protesters chanted at the “Stop Reading!” and yelled “Hold a town hall!” according to video of the event taken by one group of protesters.
            Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell implored his Republican colleagues last week to face protesters and address them (even though he isn’t hosting any town halls himself — opting instead for a trio of closed-door fundraisers).
            But the House of Representatives’ chief security officer urged House lawmakers to coordinate police protection for their public events while they were back in their home states. (A pair of Fremont police cars pulled up to Jordan’s second event, but the small number of police just watched while a few dozen protesters milled around outside.)
            The showdowns are likely to be a common sight this week — with town halls in Arkansas, New Jersey and Florida acting like magnets for irate Democrats and even some independents who stayed out of politics until Trump took the White House.
            Cheryl Laugherty, 62, a retired librarian from Fremont, Ohio, said she didn’t get active in protesting until Trump emerged as a force last year. Since his election, she’s been organizing with other women in northwest Ohio, and stood with a small group protesting Jordan in Fremont.
            “It’s been off and on through the years, but his (Trump’s) behavior on the campaign trail this year just clinched it for me. I could not tolerate the way, like he made fun of the handicapped columnist, just things he said,” Laugherty said. “And it hasn’t changed, the belittling of people and the nicknames. It’s juvenile. It’s juvenile bullying.”
            Jordan said Monday that it’s up to other Republicans to decide what they want to do, but suggested they honor the First Amendment and hear out the protesters. But Laugherty and others gathered outside the Hayes home Monday quickly pointed out that Jordan has yet to schedule any town halls himself.

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/20/politics/jim-jordan-town-hall-protesters-democrats/index.html

            Federal judge blocks travel ban for Virginia residents

            (CNN)As the Trump administration grapples with the Ninth Circuit’s refusal to reinstate the President’s travel ban, a federal judge across the country dealt another significant blow to the executive order in Virginia late Monday, writing in her opinion: “Maximum power does not mean absolute power.”

            US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema in Virginia granted a modified version of the state’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the travel ban, finding the state had the ability to sue, “is likely to prevail on the merits” of at least one of its constitutional arguments and the Justice Department would not suffer any harm from imposing the injunction.
            The judge declined to issue her injunction on nationwide basis “to avoid any claim that” it is “defective because of overbreadth.”
              At the hearing the judge also said that she was moved by a declaration signed by several former senior US officials, including former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, in support of a brief filed by the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota in the Ninth Circuit appeal.
              “We view the (executive) order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer,” officials wrote.
              “It could do long-term damage to our national security and foreign policy interest, endangering US troops in the field and disrupting counterterrorism and national security partnerships.”
              Brinkema said at last Friday’s hearing that the officials’ declaration was “clear as a bell.”
              “This is coming from people with first-hand direct knowledge” of national security issues, Brinkema added — whereas the government had failed to offer even a “scintilla of evidence” that counters it.
              Brinkema’s written decision on Monday further recounted the public comments made by then-Republican presidential candidate Trump, calling for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and more recent statements from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani that Trump wanted to find a way to implement the ban “legally.”
              “Defendants have not denied any of these statements or produced any evidence beyond the text of the (executive order) itself, to support their contention that the (executive order) was primarily motivated by national security concerns,” Brinkema explained.
              “Defendants have argued that the court may not go beyond the text of the (executive order) in assessing its purpose, or look behind its proffered national security rationale, but the Supreme Court has rejected that position,” she added.
              “The evidence in this record focuses on the president’s statements about a ‘Muslim ban’ and the link Giuliani established between those statements and the (executive order),” Brinkema wrote. “Based on that evidence, at this preliminary (stage) of the litigation, the Court finds that the Commonwealth has established a likelihood of success on the merits.”
              “I saw this unlawful, unconstitutional, and un-American ban for exactly what it is and I’m glad the Court has, too,” Virginia attorney general Mark Herring said in a statement following Brinkema’s ruling.
              The Justice Department declined to comment.

              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/13/politics/virginia-ruling-travel-ban-lawsuit/index.html

              Illuminating facts about the UK’s art collection – BBC News

              Image copyright other

              Horses are a more popular artistic subject than dogs – that’s one of 10 illuminating facts unearthed by BBC analysis of Art UK’s digital archive, which catalogues more than 200,000 of the nation’s oil paintings.

              1. Kew’s forgotten queen is the most prolific female artist

              Media captionVictorian pioneer Marianne North ‘most prolific female artist’

              The woman with the most paintings in the collection is the Victorian botanist Marianne North.

              Born in 1830, North devoted her life to travelling the world and painting plants.

              There is a gallery at Kew Gardens in south-west London dedicated to her work.

              North had no formal training, according to the Kew website. However, she put her natural talent to “prolific” use on her travels. During an eight-month stay in Brazil, she finished more than 100 paintings. Instead of painting individual plants, her work typically showed landscapes and natural habitats. The Marianne North Gallery contains 833 paintings by the artist, showing more than 900 species of plant.

              North approached Kew and offered to build the gallery in return for her life’s work being displayed in it. It opened in 1882.

              2. The most painted monarch is Charles I

              Image copyright Art UK
              Image caption Anthony van Dyck (b. 1599) Equestrian Portrait of Charles I, The National Gallery, Art UK

              The Stuart king’s execution in 1649 enshrined his status as an object of fascination for artists. There are more than 200 paintings of Charles in the collection, about 40 more than his son, Charles II, who was restored to the monarchy in 1660.

              Andrew Ellis, director of Art UK, said: “It does not surprise me that Charles I is the monarch with the most portraits.

              “Not only was he the greatest of royal patrons and collectors of art but he was also keenly interested in how art could promote the image of kingship. Some of the portraits date from after his death including one in King’s Lynn Town Hall, which was the subject of a sonnet written for Art UK by the poet John Fuller.”

              3. The paintings in the collection reflect our obsession with the sea

              Image copyright Tate
              Image caption JMW Turner (b. 1775), Sketch for East Cowes Castle, the Regatta Beating to Windward No.2, Tate, Art UK

              Maritime trade, sailing and naval power have long captured the imagination of artists.

              We counted up the words used to describe the paintings in the collection. Boat (12th), sailing (14th), mast (16th), ship (17th), wave (18th), sea (22nd), sail (25th) and rigging (42nd) all feature in the top 50.

              Pieter van der Merwe, the general editor of the National Maritime Museum, said the emergence of the seascape as an art form in England was imported from the Netherlands in the 17th Century.

              “It’s a British taste, but where did we get the taste for maritime art? We did not invent it ourselves, we got it from the Dutch,” he said.

              4. A dog is not an artist’s best friend

              Image copyright The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
              Image caption George Harvey (b. 1806), Horse, The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Art UK

              We may be a nation of dog lovers, but there are more horses than dogs in the collection, according to the list of the most popular tags.

              The horse is the most popular animal tag (49th), followed by dog (132nd), bird (138th), cow (140th), sheep (172nd) and fish (200th).

              Pictured is the Scottish painter George Harvey’s depiction of a horse from 1836.

              5. There are more paintings of men than women

              6. A forgotten wanderer is the most prolific male artist

              John Everett’s 1,058 oil paintings form the largest collection by a male artist.

              Dorchester-born Everett, a well-connected Edwardian, was a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art who lived his life according to his dual passions – painting and sailing.

              His life and work remained relatively unknown until art historian Gwen Yarker began researching his biography.

              The majority of his art lies in the storerooms of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, while his landscapes can be viewed at Dorset County Museum.

              Ms Yarker said Everett shunned fame, was ambivalent about exhibiting and reluctant to take the limelight.

              “Art history has not been kind to him,” she said.

              7. At least 1,800 paintings were donated to collections in lieu of tax

              Image copyright Bradford Museums and Galleries / Bridgeman Images
              Image caption Blasted Trees (blue version) by William Rothenstein (b 1872), Cartwright Hall Gallery, is one example of a painting donated in lieu of tax (Art UK)

              Works of art can be handed over instead of inheritance tax.

              Under the scheme, the government accepts the item at market value, and hands it over to a public museum or gallery.

              8. There are at least 28,000 paintings in the collection where the artist remains unknown

              Image copyright Astley Hall Museum
              Image caption It is not known who painted this image of a tiger hunt, from the Artley Hall Museum and Art Gallery, Art UK

              Andrew Ellis said: “We are aware that we are still missing key information for many of the paintings on the site. Who is the artist? Who is the sitter? Where is the landscape?

              “The Art Detective sub-site of Art UK is helping to fill in some of this missing information with the incredible help of the general public.”

              9. 1910 is slap bang in the middle (But with some caveats)

              Image copyright Bruce Castle Museum
              Image caption Beatrice Offor (b. 1864), Miss B.S, Bruce Castle Museum (Haringey Culture, Libraries and Learning), Art UK

              BBC News examined the dates of the paintings in the collection.

              The median year was 1910, meaning half of the paintings we have a creation date for came before that date, and half afterwards.

              However, we could only ascertain dates for about half of the 214,000 artworks. Some 74,000 paintings had no year at all, and another 27,000 used either date ranges or other descriptions.

              Earlier works are less likely to be dated as record-keeping was poor.

              10. The National Trust has the largest collection of oil paintings

              Andrew Ellis said: “At the other end of the scale, some 50% of the collections on the site have fewer than 10 paintings.”

              What is Art UK?

              Image copyright Museums Sheffield
              Image caption Charles-Louis-Auguste Cousin (b. 1807), A Venetian Byway, Museums Sheffield, Art UK
              • Art UK’s roots go back to 2002, when a charity, the Public Catalogue Foundation, was founded by Fred Hohler, who was determined to improve the public’s access to the art it owned.
              • The record started life as a series of hardback colour catalogues on a county-by-county basis.
              • In 2011, the BBC and Public Catalogue Foundation launched the Your Paintings website to catalogue the collection online. Five years later, this became Art UK.
              • The website was built with funding from Arts Council England, the Scottish government and a private foundation.
              • More than 200,000 oil paintings by nearly 40,000 artists are available to view online

              The data analysed relates to the artwork in Art UK’s digital archive.

              Photo credits for collage picture: City of Edinburgh Council, Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Tate, Jersey Heritage, Budleigh Salterton Town Council, Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage, Ferens Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery

              Reporting team: BBC England data unit: Pete Sherlock, Paul Bradshaw

              Related Topics

              Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38340015

              The 100 best nonfiction books: No 53 The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902)

              This revolutionary work written by Henry Jamess less famous brother brought a democratising impulse to the realm of religious belief

              The United States is a society, first described in Thomas Jeffersons revolutionary words in 1776, that constantly rewrites its narrative in law, philosophy, economics and belief, as well as through poetry, drama and fiction. In moments of change, its finest writers have often found new forms of expression and ideas that both illuminate the American story and help to redefine it.

              William James, brother of the more famous Henry, was a classic American intellectual, a brilliant New Englander and renowned pragmatist a celebrity in his time who coined the phrase stream of consciousness. He responded to the cultural and social ferment of the late 19th century with the Gifford lectures, given in Edinburgh during 1900-02. When he turned these talks into a book, James, a Harvard psychologist and the author of The Principles of Psychology, placed himself at the crossroads of psychology and religion to articulate an approach to religious experience that would help liberate the American mind at the beginning of the 20th century from its puritan restrictions by advancing a pluralistic view of belief inspired by American traditions of tolerance. Like his brother, he was obsessed by the problem of expressing individual consciousness through language; this is just one of the principal themes of The Varieties of Religious Experience.

              Psychology aside, this is an odd book in many ways, especially for its unorthodox approach to the precepts of organised religion. One commentator has described it as a classic that is too psychological to have shaped most religious inquiry and too religious to have influenced much psychological research. And yet, in the words of Psychology Today, it remains the most notable of all books in the field of the psychology of religion and probably destined to be the most influential book written on religion in the 20th century.

              The James family, who were originally Scots-Irish, like many of the first Americans, exerted a powerful influence on William James in the genesis of this text. His father, Henry Snr, was not just an unorthodox Calvinist, he was also (with Emerson and Jung) a disciple of the cult mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, who was determined to find a theory which would explain how matter relates to spirit. Swedenborgs desire to understand the order and purpose of creation had led him to investigate the structure of matter and the process of creation itself: his ambition was intoxicating and his teachings inspired a democratisation of religious impulses that appealed to the unorthodox Jameses, father and son.

              The idea that all citizens were equally and independently close to God sponsored among the James family the conviction that religious experience should not become confined within the narrow prison of a denomination. The same irreverence towards categories encouraged William James to adopt a high-low style that gives his writing a fresh and populist character thats rather different from the mature style of his brother the novelist. William used his populism to suggest that any religious experience was true if the consequences of holding it were pleasing to the individual concerned. This restatement of the American pursuit of happiness gave his audiences a new appreciation of human dignity grounded in everyday reality.

              In his approach to religious experience, William James writes that he had to face a hard problem: first, to defend experience against philosophy as the real backbone of the worlds religious life; and second, to make the reader believe that [the life of religion] is mankinds most important function.

              James begins his argument with the assertion that religion answers basic human needs. From here, he separates belief from its tribal origins. Religion, he says, has become a consumer item for individuals. His only concern about religion is what it tells us about what goes on in the single private man. Then he comes up with a famous definition:

              Religion shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.

              Using potted biographies of well-known writers and thinkers, including Tolstoy and John Bunyan, William James concludes a long and fascinating exploration of the healthy mind, the sick soul, and the divided self, with closing chapters on mysticism, saintliness, atonement and conversion. Here, too, he presented an account of God as a finite being, inextricably caught up in world affairs, and linked to human activity and ambitions. He closes with a witty question: Who knows whether the faithfulness of individuals here below to their own poor over-beliefs may not actually help God in turn to be more effectively faithful to his own greater tasks?

              A signature sentence

              And the moment we renounce the absurd notion that a thing is exploded away as soon as it is classed with others, or its origin is shown; the moment we agree to stand by experimental results and inner quality, in judging of values who does not see that we are likely to ascertain the distinctive significance of religious melancholy and happiness, or of religious trances, far better by comparing them as conscientiously as we can with other varieties of melancholy, happiness, and trance, than by refusing to consider their place in any more general series, and treating them as if they were outside of natures order altogether?

              Three to compare

              William James: The Principles of Psychology (1890)
              William James: Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (1907)
              Louis Menand: The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (2001)

              Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/06/100-best-nonfiction-books-53-the-varieties-religious-experience-william-james