Queen Elizabeth II riffs on wisdom, family’s busy year
By GREGORY KATZ and FRANK AUGSTEIN
Wednesday, December 26
SANDRINGHAM, England (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II wove personal reflections into the latest edition of her annual Christmas message, saying she hoped her long life brought a measure of wisdom and noting her grandchildren’s contributions to Britain’s royal family.
The 92-year-old queen, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch, also included the customary tribute to military personnel and wishes for world peace in the message, which was pre-recorded at Buckingham Palace and televised Tuesday.
“Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom,” Elizabeth said in the recording. “I’d like to think so. Perhaps part of that wisdom is to recognize some of life’s baffling paradoxes, such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good and yet a capacity for evil.”
On a lighter note, the queen listed the House of Windsor’s 2018 milestones with the same unabashed pride of someone writing their yearly Christmas letter for friends and far-flung relatives.
“It’s been a busy year for my family, with two weddings and two babies, and another child expected soon. It helps to keep a grandmother well occupied,” Elizabeth said, not forgetting to mention her own firstborn,
“We have had other celebrations too, including the 70th birthday of The Prince of Wales,” otherwise known as heir to the throne Prince Charles.
The annual message was broadcast to many of the 53 Commonwealth countries. Elizabeth recalled that her father, King George VI, welcomed eight former British colonies at the first meeting of Commonwealth leaders in 1948.
“Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding,” she said.
The queen mentioned her father, from whom she inherited the throne when he died in 1952, again while expressing gratitude for soldiers and sailors past and present. During World War I, two decades before his own unexpected ascension to the throne, he served with the Royal Navy and saw friends killed in battle, Elizabeth said.
“At Christmas, we become keenly aware of loved ones who have died, whatever the circumstances. But, of course, we would not grieve if we did not love.
Earlier in the day, Elizabeth and her family received cheers from a Christmas crowd when they arrived for a church service in the English countryside. A chauffeured limousine delivered the queen, while her descendants and their spouses walked from a nearby estate of the monarch’s.
Prince Charles led the way, followed by his sons: Prince William and his wife, Catherine, and Prince Harry and his pregnant wife, Meghan. Harry and the former American actress known as Meghan Markle married in May and are expecting their first child in the spring.
The couple walked arm in arm next to William and Catherine. Many in the crowd wished them “Merry Christmas” as they strolled to the church in the English countryside on a cold, wintry morning.
After the 45-minute service, people gave them flowers as they headed back for a traditional Christmas lunch.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who is 97 and largely retired from public life, did not attend the service. Charles’ wife Camilla, who is recovering from flu, also missed church.
William and Catherine’s three children — Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and 8-month-old Prince Louis, also stayed home.
Britain’s royals usually exchange small gifts on Christmas Eve, a practice popularized by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The queen typically frowns on extravagant gifts, and many of the presents are novelty items.
When the queen was younger, Christmas meant a brisk family walk through the woods on Christmas or an excursion on horseback.
Elizabeth delivered her first Christmas Day message when she took the throne in 1952. The seasonal addresses aired on the radio until she made the transition to television in 1957.
They have been broadcast during every year of her reign save one. In 1969, the queen decided her family had received enough exposure from giving a TV crew unusual access for a documentary.
That year, she issued the message in writing.
Katz reported from London.
Respite in Paris; Fewer protesters take to the streets
By SAMUEL PETREQUIN
Saturday, December 22
PARIS (AP) — France’s yellow vest protesters, who have brought chaos to Paris for weeks with their economic demands, turned out in sharply reduced numbers Saturday at the start of the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Still, some violent incidents in the French capital marred the end of a largely peaceful day.
The number of protesters on the French capital’s elegant Champs-Elysees Avenue was down sharply. Paris police said only 2,000 protesters took to the streets, compared to 4,000 a week before and 10,000 the prior week. Police arrested 142 people and detained 19, compared to the several hundred arrested two weeks ago when the protests turned violent.
Tensions arose at nightfall when protesters gathered on the Champs-Elysees and police fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse some demonstrators. A video circulating on social media showed three police on motorcycles surrounded and attacked by protesters. At some point, one of the policemen appeared to pull his weapon out on charging protesters. Paris police told The Associated Press the officer pulled out it to deter the assailants but did not use his weapon.
Earlier in the day, in stark contrast to the last few weekends, tourists strolled down the avenue near the Arc de Triomphe monument, holiday shoppers were out in force and the grandest of Parisian boulevards remained open for traffic.
Protesters appeared disorganized, with scattered groups walking randomly across the capital. A few hundred protesters cordoned by police marched toward the Madeleine Church near the presidential Elysee Palace but were stopped in a small adjacent street. Tempers frayed and police with batons fired tear gas to repel a few demonstrators trying to break through a police line.
The protests, which have morphed from an outcry against a fuel tax hike to incorporate a wide array of economic concerns, are still having a knock-on effect across France.
The palace of Versailles just outside Paris was shut down for the day Saturday after yellow vest protesters said they will demonstrate there. The famous chateau was home to a succession of French kings until the French Revolution in 1789.
But only a few protesters showed up in Versailles. Most gathered peacefully at the foot of the Sacre-Coeur basilica in the picturesque Paris neighborhood of Montmartre.
The French capital’s other big tourist hotspots such as the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower, which had closed for an earlier protest this month, both remained open.
French President Emmanuel Macron appears to have taken some of the anger out of the protests by offering concessions like tax-free overtime for workers and a freeze on gas and electricity prices this winter. The measures are expected to cost an estimated 10 billion euros ($1.14 billion).
Much of France, but particularly Paris, has endured weeks of protests that at times descended into violence. Ten people have died since the start of the yellow vest movement in November, mostly in traffic accidents. French media said a man died Friday night near the southern city of Perpignan after his car slammed into a truck that had stopped near a group of protesters.
Protesters take their name from the fluorescent yellow vests that French motorists must keep in their vehicles.
Outside Paris, around 200 traffic roundabouts remained occupied by protesters across the country. In southern France near the Spanish border, dozens of demonstrators blocked trucks and chanted “Macron, resign!”
In central France near the city of Saint-Etienne, protesters blocked a major road and set fires but shops remained open.
In the Belgian capital of Brussels, police scuffled with some protesters during a march inspired by France’s yellow vest movement.
Honoring Earth and Your Home with a Minimalist Kitchen
By Leah Nelson December 23, 2018
The kitchen is the traditional centerpiece of a home and has been since ancient times. The Ancient Greeks even worshipped the goddess Hestia, who they believed represented hearth and home. In those days, the kitchen fire doubled as an altar as well as a place to prepare food.
But in today’s hectic, fast-paced digital world, kitchens are no longer revered, and cooking has become almost a lost art. And the widespread lack of cooking skills means that people rely on single-use-package-heavy fast food, meal services, and takeout for sustenance.
However, that could change in the coming years, as natural resources continue to be depleted and food becomes more scarce. The burgeoning minimalism movement could help shift humanity back towards cooking and overall sustainability. Here’s how.
The Concept of Minimalism
Living minimally means committing to a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle, with less waste and fewer possessions. Minimalism is radical at its core, as it’s essentially a protest against the capitalistic ideals that are central to modern life.
However, cultivating a minimalist lifestyle isn’t only about getting rid of unnecessary possessions. It’s about simplicity, treading lightly, and making mindful decisions.
Back when Hestia was still worshipped, kitchens were much simpler. So was food. Minimalism honors those ancient ideals while also embracing modern, eco-friendly technology and products. Incorporating minimalism into your life is a process that shouldn’t be rushed, and your kitchen is a great place to start.
Kitchen Essentials for the Minimalist
Your minimalist kitchen is the center and hearth of the home, and you need it to be functional as well as sustainable.
In your journey from a clutter-filled lifestyle to a simpler one, it’s best to begin with a purge. Get rid of all excess items, such as duplicate serving utensils and small kitchen appliances that are used only sporadically. Next, determine if you’re lacking any kitchen tools or components, and seek out those items.
It’s important to avoid sacrificing quality for the sake of saving a few dollars. Rather than purchasing a low price, low quality product that will need replacement after a few years, splurge on well-crafted kitchen items that can be utilized over the long-term.
That advice goes along with other aspects of your eco-friendly kitchen. A sustainable, minimalist kitchen literally starts from the ground up, with your flooring choices. Eco-friendly bamboo floors are much more sustainable than any type of hardwood and serve as an ideal base for your minimalist kitchen.
When compared to traditional hardwood floors, bamboo flooring truly stands out as a champion of sustainability. It takes hardwood trees 40-80 years to re-grow, while bamboo regenerates in five years. Bamboo also beats out hardwood flooring in regards to water resistance, price, and even durability. The material is more resistant to denting than hardwood, despite the latter material’s name.
Minimalist Kitchen Pantry Staples
As far as ingredients go, keep it simple. Stock up on staples such as rice, grits, beans, and pasta, which can be used in a variety of dishes.
Menu planning is one area where you can put aside your commitment to reducing excess possessions. In fact, the key to menu versatility in a minimalist kitchen is having a well-rounded collection of spices and seasonings on hand. A fully stocked spice rack gives every home-based chef infinite versatility, using just a small portion of kitchen pantry space.
If you’re not quite ready to fully commit to minimalism, you can still incorporate minimalist ideals into your home and life, including the reduction of clutter and learning to cook at home. Since your kitchen serves as your home’s centerpiece, it makes an ideal jumping off point towards a sustainable, more peaceful lifestyle.
Kasich veto sets up Ohio showdown over abortion limit
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
Friday, December 21
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has moved again to impose some of the most far-reaching abortion restrictions in the nation, after Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a ban Friday on dilation and evacuation terminations and set up a showdown with lawmakers over his veto of the so-called heartbeat bill.
Kasich had previously signed 20 abortion-limiting proposals into law in this politically divided state since taking office in 2011, including a 20-week ban that both sides agree is unconstitutional. The number of full-service Ohio abortion clinics has shrunk from 16 to seven since he took office.
But the heartbeat bill has twice proven too extreme for Kasich, a potential 2020 presidential candidate who’s spent the past two years in a quest for bipartisan consensus.
The measure calls for banning the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Kasich vetoed a similar bill two years ago and did so again Friday.
In a veto message, he said the heartbeat bill is likely to be struck down as unconstitutional — but only after a costly court fight.
“The State of Ohio will be the losing party in that lawsuit and, as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers,” he wrote.
Ohio lawmakers return to Columbus on Thursday to consider overrides of several Kasich vetoes, although it’s unclear whether they’ll have enough votes to override the heartbeat bill veto. Among factors are vacation schedules and the fact that Kasich’s successor, Gov.-elect Mike DeWine, has said he would sign a heartbeat bill once he takes the helm.
Kasich signed the ban on dilation and evacuation terminations, a procedure known as D&E that is a common second-trimester abortion method. Similar laws have been rejected by the courts.
Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action and the heartbeat bill’s author, said she believes Ohio is more conservative today than it was when her effort began nearly eight years ago. Advances in medical technology that have allowed fetal heartbeat detection earlier in pregnancy have also helped her make her case, she said.
“To deny a heartbeat is basically to deny science,” Porter said. “So, these people who are ranting and raving, they’re basically science-deniers. To ignore a heartbeat is heartless; that’s basically the message.”
Many Republican lawmakers initially looked askance at Porter’s lobbying tactics, which included teddy bear and balloon deliveries to legislators’ offices, an ultrasound conducted during a committee hearing and a Statehouse flyover. But now she said anti-abortion activists in other states, including Mississippi and Alabama, are looking to Ohio as a model.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, rejects the suggestion that Ohioans are clamoring for the heartbeat bill any more today than they were in 2011. She said term-limited lawmakers elected from safe legislative districts redrawn in Republicans’ favor are pushing measures that are not necessarily in step with the state as a whole.
“Those of us around at the Statehouse have increasingly become accustomed to the theatrics and the antics of the anti-choice organizations,” Copeland said. “That doesn’t make their policy positions any better or any more in line with public health.”
Opponents of the heartbeat bill include the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Ohio Medical Association. Ohio Right to Life, the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion organization, remains neutral.
Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a policy group that supports abortion rights, said the heartbeat bill may have won vetoproof majorities for the first time in the Ohio House and Senate as the latest class of conservative lawmakers looks to make their mark on one of the last remaining wedge issues.
“Ohio has added so many abortion restrictions that this was just about the only thing left to pass. Ohio has the 20-week ban, waiting period, counseling, ultrasound, clinic regulations,” she said. “So Ohio has every single abortion restriction on the books. This is what’s left.”
No longer unified around previous wedge issues like gay marriage or gun rights, “Republicans or the conservatives have taken to considering abortion restrictions as the way to prove your conservative bona fides,” she said.
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said the ban on D&E that opponents call “dismemberment abortion” was more successful because his group built up to it over time. About 17 percent of abortions performed in Ohio last year used this method.
“If we could just introduce a bill that banned abortion at the moment of conception and have it signed by the governor and upheld in the courts, we would have done that eight years ago,” he said. “Our problems lie in the federal court. So that’s why the incremental approach works best. If you ask for everything, the courts never say yes.”
But Porter, the heartbeat bill champion, said Brett Kavanaugh’s recent appointment to the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court means half-measures are no longer necessary to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
“It takes away every excuse that Right to Life has had, the governor’s had,” she said. “You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to count to five.”
Kasich signs prison law changes named for slain OSU student
Saturday, December 22
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Criminal sentencing law changes named for a slain Ohio State University student have been signed into law in Ohio.
Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) signed a bill containing part of the Reagan Tokes Act Friday. It gives state prison officials greater discretion in offenders’ release dates from prison.
The 21-year-old Tokes’ body was found in a Columbus-area park in February 2017. Her attacker, Brian Golsby, then 29, was released two months earlier from prison, where he had amassed 45 citations for rules violations while serving a set six-year sentence for attempted rape.
Golsby now is serving multiple life sentences for Tokes’ kidnapping, rape and murder.
Tokes’ family had sought several other provisions that weren’t included, including workload limits for Ohio parole officers and an expanded GPS tracking program for offenders.