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Prince Andrew addresses Jeffrey Epstein scandal for first time while Sarah Ferguson publicly supports him

Prince Andrew has spoken out about his links to convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, in an interview with BBC Newsnight‘s Emily Maitlis, which was aired on Saturday night. Speaking at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s son “categorically” denied having any sexual contact with American woman Virginia Giuffre, one of Jeffrey’s accusers, who was aged 17 at the time. The royal told Emily: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.” Andrew also said that he would testify under oath if “push came to shove” and that his lawyers advised him too. Addressing Jeffrey’s attendance at Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle in 2006, Andrew said that he was unaware of an arrest warrant against the American financer at the time. The royal answered: “At the time, I certainly wasn’t aware when the invitation was issued, what was going on in the United States. And I wasn’t aware until the media picked up on it because he certainly never said anything about it.”

When asked if he feels regret over his relationship with Jeffrey, Andrew said that it was the wrong decision to visit him in December 2010. He said: “Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? yes.” He added that he now regrets going to stay with Jeffrey. “I stayed with him and that’s.. the bit that… as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the Royal Family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.”

Andrew said that the allegations have been a “constant sore” in the royal family. “We all knew him, and I think that if we have a conversation about it, we are all left with the same thing, what on earth happened? Or how did he get to where he was, what did he do, how did he do it? And so it’s just a constant ghaw. I mean this first came out in 2011 and it was a surprise to all of us because the photographs were published at a separate time to when I was there, and then we sort of questioned what was going on and discussed it.”

The Duke also said that the Queen and the wider royal family have been nothing but supportive. Andrew told Emily at the end of the interview: “I think you’ve dragged out most of what is required and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity that you’ve given me to be able to discuss this with you.” The royal’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, publicly shared her support for Andrew after the interview was aired. She took to Instagram to share a series of photos of him, which were accompanied by a statement. Sarah wrote: “It is so rare to meet people that are able to speak from their hearts with honesty and pure real truth, that remain steadfast and strong to their beliefs. Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty but also his kindness and goodness of always seeing the best in people. I am deeply supportive and proud of this giant of a principled man, that dares to put his shoulder to the wind and stands firm with his sense of honour and truth.”

The mother-of-two added: “For so many years he has gone about his duties for Great Britain and The Monarch. It is time for Andrew to stand firm now, and that he has, and I am with him every step of the way and that is my honour. We have always walked tall and strong, he for me and me for him. We are the best examples of joint parenting, with both our girls and I go back to my three C’s ..Communicate, Compromise, Compassion.”

 

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Jack Osbourne Victim of Identity Theft … Someone Jacked Me for $30,000!!!

Jack Osbourne felt something was amiss while poring over his credit card statements … and he was proven right when he discovered he’d been the target of identity theft. Law enforcement sources tell TMZ … the red flags started flying for Jack when he saw just a few odd charges, and it prompted him to start looking back at previous months’ statements. Good thing he did, ’cause lo and behold … he found a slew of charges he never made.

We’re told Jack contacted law enforcement and reported the unauthorized charges totaled around $30k. It appears the charge to his card came from an employee of a monthly service Jack has scheduled at his house. The LAPD is now investigating the case, though no arrests have been made. We know getting hit for five figures worth o’ cash flat-out sucks … but it beats the last time Jack fell victim to a crime.

TMZ broke the story … Ozzy and Sharon’s son was brutally attacked back in April after an apparent homeless man walked up to him on a coffee shop patio and sucker punched him. The attacker was tracked down and arrested for battery and assault. We’ll see if Jack has justice on his side again with the credit card scammer.

Where Did the Tradition of the Christmas Tree Come From?

Each year, when the weather gets colder and December approaches, many Americans who celebrate Christmas will get together to decorate a Christmas tree. But why in the world do we decorate these (often artificial) fir trees in the first place?

It turns out, the meaning behind Christmas trees as holiday decor goes back further than you might realize.

Both the ancient Egyptians and Romans saw the bright hue of plants that remained green all year, such as palm rushes and evergreen boughs, as a way to give warmth and hope to people during the winter, according to History.com.

Ancient people would mark the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year, which typically falls on December 21 or December 22) by using evergreens. These plants served as a sunny reminder that other greens would grow again once spring and summer returned.

People in some countries believed evergreens stood for everlasting life and even had the ability to ward off evil spirits and illnesses—another reason for the tradition of hanging evergreen boughs above doorways and inside homes.

1444

Some say the first-ever Christmas tree was in London, near what is now Leadenhall Market. However, it seems it was a one-time trend, as Christmas trees wouldn’t be back in Britain until the 19th century.

1500s

Many believe Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, began the tradition of adding lighted candles to a tree, which is why we decorate trees with strands of lightbulbs today. The story goes that while Luther was walking home one winter evening, he saw twinkling stars among evergreens and wanted to re-create the magical moment for his family.

1771

While Christmas trees were appearing in Germany years earlier, the trend really caught on after writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited Strasbourg, near the German border, and included the concept in his novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther.

1820s

The first record of a decorated evergreen tree in America was that of German settlers in Pennsylvania.

1846

Queen Victoria, German Prince Albert, and their children were shown standing around a Christmas tree in the Illustrated London News. Because Victoria was very popular with her subjects at that time, the Christmas tree trend took off in both Britain and the East Coast of the United States.

Christmas with Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, their children and Queen Victoria’s mother, in 1848 as depicted in the Illustrated London News.  Getty Images

1882

When Edward H. Johnson, the vice president of Edison’s Electric Light company, decorated a tree with 80 red, white, and blue lightbulbs and displayed it in his New York City window, a newspaper in Detroit helped him earn the title “Father of the Electric Christmas Tree.”

1895

Some Americans were still skeptical about using electric lights on their Christmas trees, although apparently not President Grover Cleveland. He is said to have introduced the first electrically lit White House Christmas tree.

1903

General Electric began selling Christmas light kits so that people could decorate their Christmas trees more easily than ever.

1917

But it was Albert Sadacca who is believed to have really made Christmas tree lights mainstream. The New York teenager had heard about a candlelit tree that burst into flames and started stringing lights for his family’s novelty business. Painting the bulbs proved to be the ticket—and one day his business became NOMA Electric Company (National Outfit Manufacturer’s Association), the largest Christmas light manufacturer in the world for many years.

1931

The first Christmas tree went up in Rockefeller Center—only it was a lot smaller than the ones debuted these days. And instead of an official lighting before a crowd of spectators, this one was orchestrated by construction workers.

1933

Two years later, a lighted tree was placed in Rockefeller Center, sparking the city’s annual tradition.

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza on December 20, 1934.Getty Images

Today

After a rich history, Christmas trees (both real and artificial) have become the centerpiece of the season—and a classic Christmas tradition that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

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Winter Darkness, Season Depression

Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. But researchers agree that people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are particularly sensitive to light, or the lack of it.

 

A wistful feeling comes over us in late autumn, as the last remaining leaves drop, morning frosts cover the ground, and the sun sets earlier each day. Hot cider and the warmth of a favorite old coat may be all you need to face the coming winter with good cheer, but for many people, fall melancholy deepens to winter depression.

Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. Many things, including brain chemicals, ions in the air, and genetics seem to be involved. But researchers agree that people who suffer from winter depression — also known as “seasonal affective disorder,” a term that produces the cute acronym SAD — have one thing in common. They’re particularly sensitive to light, or the lack of it.

Many studies have shown that people with seasonal affective disorder feel better after exposure to bright light. It seems simple enough: In higher latitudes, winter days are shorter, so you get less exposure to sunlight. Replace lost sunlight with bright artificial light, and your mood improves. But it’s actually far more complex. Alfred Lewy, MD, a seasonal affective disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, says it’s not only a matter of getting light, but also getting it at the right time. “The most important time to get light is in the morning,” he says.

He thinks seasonal affective disorder is due to a “phase-shift” of the circadian rhythm. The wall clock may tell you it’s time to get up and at ’em, but your body’s internal clock says you should be resting. Bright light in the morning resets your circadian clock.

This is relevant to the “fall back” time change, which happens in places that observe Daylight Saving Time. You might think that setting back the clock one hour would make seasonal affective disorder symptoms worse, because the sun sets one hour earlier. “Actually, I think it’s the opposite,” Lewy says. “The problem is waking up before dawn.”

Lewy says he suspects that “true winter depressives,” the people whose problem is biological and not related to other factors, might feel better after the time change. But the improvement would only be temporary, as days continue to shorten.

Arctic Winters

In Fairbanks, Alaska, in the dead of winter, less than four hours separate sunrise and sunset. With so little sunlight, it seems like no one could escape winter depression; but in fact, many Alaskans fare just fine. One study found that about 9% of Fairbanks residents had seasonal affective disorder. That’s about the same percentage another study found in New Hampshire.

Mark D., who lives near Fairbanks, says he doesn’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder, even though he rarely sees the sun. He pulls 12-hour shifts working in a power plant.

He stays active in winter, so “cabin fever” isn’t a problem for him, either. “If you sit around the house and do nothing all day I suppose it could eat at you,” he says. “But there is always something for me to do — snow-machine, cut firewood … or just going into town and have a cup of coffee with friends at the cafe.

There are people, though, that will have a ten-yard stare in a five-yard room,” he says. Some seek comfort from a bottle, too. “In lots of the smaller villages, that does happen. Drinking is a big problem.”

Seasonal affective disorder researcher Michael Terman, PhD, at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, offers some possible explanations for why seasonal affective disorder isn’t more common in the arctic. For one, people with seasonal affective disorder may be genetically predisposed to clinical depression and light sensitivity. Most people, in any place, wouldn’t have both genetic traits. “Another way to look at it is that those are the people who are still in Alaska,” he says. People who can’t cope might not stay.

But not everyone affected by seasonal changes has full-blown seasonal affective disorder, so estimates of how many people do have it may be low. “Winter depression is a spectrum of severity,” Lewy says. You may have trouble getting up, have bouts of fatigue during the day, or feel compelled to overeat, without feeling depressed.

These symptoms can be treated with the same therapy given to seasonal affective disorder patients. Bright light — generated by a special light box that’s much brighter than a normal lamp — is the first option. It’s proven to work, but not for everyone. Also, the right time for it differs from person to person, Terman says. For a night owl, taking light therapy too early could make seasonal affective disorder worse.

New Ideas

om Wehr, researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, has proposed a new explanation for seasonal affective disorder: It may stem from too much melatonin. When the brain‘s pineal gland starts pumping out melatonin, we get sleepy. During winter, animals secrete melatonin for longer periods than they do at other times of the year. Wehr discovered that people do, too — but only those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

Light therapy would still work if melatonin were the main culprit, because light controls melatonin levels. Researchers are also testing a drug called propranalol, which they hope will improve seasonal affective disorder symptoms by curtailing melatonin flow in the morning hours. Lewy is studying the effects of small melatonin doses given in the afternoon, hoping that they will adjust circadian rhythms.

Raymond Lam, MD, researcher at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and others are studying the role of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. “We know there are interactions between the serotonin system and the circadian system,” Lam says.

Some antidepressants like Paxil and Prozac work for some seasonal affective disorder sufferers. But Lewy says he prefers light therapy to antidepressants, which he says “are probably more of a Band-Aid,” because they’re not specific to winter depression.

Terman has been testing yet another new way to treat seasonal affective disorder. This therapy involves aiming a stream of negatively charged ions at a person sleeping on a special conductive bed sheet. The discovery that high-density negative ions (not the same ions produced by home air filters) helped people with seasonal affective disorder came accidentally from a previous study. A second study, which will end later this year, has also found a beneficial effect.

The air is full of negative ions in springtime, and not in the winter. But that doesn’t explain how ion therapy works. “We don’t yet have an answer to that question,” Terman says; nevertheless, “We’re now convinced that it’s real.”

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Parenting with a Disability

Parenting can be a wonderful and challenging experience at the best of times. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, to giving birth, figuring out what’s the best diapers these days or for first time parents, OMG, can I do this? Are we ready?

Now keep in mind all those questions and lets add another layer. What kind of questions goes through the minds of those parents that may have a disability? My main focus will be on blind parents, but I am more than willing/happy to do research and answer questions or provide helpful tips for any parent with a disability.

Are you someone with a disability and wonder:
who can you go to for answers?
Is there anyone out there that will understand what I’m going through?
What my fears are?

Are you a first time parent and thinking:
Oh dear, how do I give medicine?
What’s the best way to change my child’s diaper?
Am I able to help my child with their school work?

These are just some of the things that come up in day to day life as a parent and I hope to be able to share some of my knowledge with you readers. Do you know anyone that is a parent with a disability? If so, make sure you tell them about this beginning article.

My name is May and I am a blind parent with 2 adorable children. One girl age 10, and one boy age 15. My boyfriend and I now are getting ready to go through the adoption process and that will bring on all new challenges and questions. If you have topics you’d like for me to try and address feel free to let me know!

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Marilyn Monroe’s Menorah to be auctioned

Even before her 1956 conversion, Marilyn Monroe, was attached to Judaism.

One of the most famous photos of the screen legend, with her white skirt fluttering in a jet of subway exhaust, was snapped by Garry Winogrand. The picture was promotion for Billy Wilder’s “The Seven Year Itch” (1955). A year after the film’s debut, she married playwright Arthur Miller and became a Member of the Tribe. The union didn’t last long enough for the aforementioned itch to creep up on either spouse, but Monroe’s relationship with Judaism endured for the rest of her life.

Last year a siddur owned and annotated by Monroe sold at auction for $21,000. Now, another piece of Monroe’s spiritual life will be on the block: Her menorah, gifted to her by Miller’s parents, and among her belongings at the time of her death in 1962.

Kestenbaum & Company, a New York auction house specializing in Judaica linked to historical figures — including such unlikely subjects as Henry VIII to Mother Theresa — will take bids for the item on November 7.

The menorah, which is being sold by a private collector who snagged it at Christie’s 20 years ago, has been on view before, included as part of the Jewish Museum’s exhibit “Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn;” as well as an exhibit at the Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

As far as menorahs go (and it’s technically a hanukkiah), Monroe’s is a pretty standard metal affair — not at all glamorous. Her personal rabbi, Robert E. Goldburg opined that Monroe was attracted to “the rationalism of Judaism.”

“Marilyn Monroe’s spellbinding magnetism knows no bounds,” the auction house company director, Daniel Kestenbaum, noted. “The market for memorabilia from the Golden Age of Hollywood goes from strength to strength, as does Fine Judaica, and as such this extraordinary item has remarkable provenance.”

This Hanukkah, you can pay tribute to the woman who, per Elton John, lived her life like a “Candle in the Wind,” by lighting her hanukkiah. But you’ll have to pay up first. Kestenbaum & Company have listed a guide price of $100,000 – 150,000 for the Marilyn menorah. With that price tag, you may not have money left over for presents.



The Latest Report Brings Good & Bad News About House Prices

Why is the housing market important to the economy?

The housing market is closely linked to consumer spending. When house prices go up, homeowners become better off and feel more confident. Some people will borrow more against the value of their home, either to spend on goods and services, renovate their house, supplement their pension, or pay off other debt.

When house prices go down, homeowners risk that their house will be worth less than their outstanding mortgage.  People are therefore more likely to cut down on spending and hold off from making personal investments.

Mortgages are the greatest source of debt for households in the UK. If many people take out large loans compared to their income or the value of their house, this can put the banking system at risk in an economic downturn.

Housing investment is a small but unpredictable part of how we measure the total output of the economy. If you buy a newly built home, it directly contributes to total output (GDP), for example through investment in land and building materials as well as creating jobs. The local area also profits when new houses are built as newcomers will start using local shops and services.

Buying and selling existing homes does not affect GDP in the same way. The accompanying costs of a house transaction still benefit the economy, however. These can include anything from estate agent, legal or surveyor fees to buying a new sofa or paint.

Why do house prices change?

House prices have changed a lot over time.

The average house price was a little over £10,000 back in 1977. Roll forward 40 years and the average price has risen to £200,000. Even with the general increase in the prices of goods and services, house prices are now around three times as expensive as they were in the late 1970s.

For one thing, house prices tend to rise if people expect to be richer in the future. Normally that happens when the economy is doing well as more people are in work and wages are higher.

House prices also tend to rise if more people are able to borrow money to buy houses. The more lending banks and building societies are willing to provide, the more people can buy a house and prices will rise.

The Bank of England also affects house prices through setting the key interest rate in the economy. The lower interest rates are, the lower the cost of borrowing to pay for a house is, and the more people are able to afford to borrow to buy a house. That will also mean prices will tend to be higher.

There are also more fundamental reasons why house prices may change.

For instance, demand for housing may rise if the population is increasing or there are more single-person households. Growing demand usually means higher house prices.

Prices will also tend to be higher if fewer houses are built, reducing the supply of housing. The fewer houses that are built, the more people will need to compete by increasing the amount of money they are willing to spend to buy a house

There have also been times when house prices have increased a lot just because people think prices will continue to rise. This is called a housing market bubble. Bubbles are always followed by housing market crashes when house prices fall sharply.

This happened in the 1980s. Between 1984 and 1989 house prices doubled, which was much higher than the growth in people’s earnings. The unsustainable rise was followed by over five years of falling house prices. It then took until 1999 before house prices had recovered to the level they were in 1989.

© Bank of England

Legend of the month – Saana Eishou

When it comes to stories of inspirational women, you can now add the name Saana Eishou to that list. One of the many thousands of individuals displaced by the trouble in Iraq, Saana managed to find a way through the turmoil. Suffering heart-breaking loss, Saana came out the other side and her story captured hearts, so much so that Saana received the Woman Of The Year Award from the Linda George Foundation in February. Linda is a fellow Assyrian who has found a new life in the US, mirroring Saana’s story.

Speaking to MUMSRU from her new home in Michigan, Saana’s story is one of tragedy and hope of a better life, coming out the other side to where she is now.

Born and raised in Baghdad, Saana lived with her parents, brothers and sisters in the bustling city. As she got older Saana found love, getting married and welcoming a child into the world. She and her husband continued to live happily in Baghdad with their little one. Their joy would soon double once they realised a second child was on the way and a little girl was born in 2005 to complete their happiness. Unfortunately that joy was short-lived as, not long after her daughter’s birth, Saana’s husband got kidnapped.

“One Monday night in 2005, not long after my daughter was born my husband was kidnapped by one of the criminal gangs that were rampant in Baghdad at the time. It was a horrifying experience which made me feel scared and lonely. Thankfully my in-laws, who were living with me at the time, were on hand to help when they could. Having lost two sons to the conflict, one of whom was my husband, they understood my pain and the need to stick together in these dark times.” To this day Saana still has no idea what has become of her husband, whether he is alive or not, but still holds out hope that they can be reunited one day as a family.

Saana made the decision she was going to leave Baghdad in order to make a new life in the US. While getting ready to make her way out of Iraq, Saana strove to make sure her children’s lives remained as normal as possible, a normality which still exists.

“I experienced great support from my husband’s side of the family as well as mine. My brothers and sisters and my mother are always there for me always checking up on me to see how I’m doing. My husband’s cousins are also very good to me and I’m so blessed to have such beautiful souls around me to keep me motivated.”

Despite being a single mother, Saana’s determination nor resolve ever waivered thanks to one thing – her kids.

“My kids keep me strong. I always look at them and see how they are growing and how they need a good role model in their life. I would like to say no matter the situation, and how hard times may be, you have to find hope. You have to seek something and it may be only one thing, but find what encourages you. Something or someone that will be proud of you. In my case, my hope was my kids. I never wanted them to feel any different from other kids so I always tried my hardest to be there for them.”

Saana and her children undertook the perilous journey out of Baghdad and, after much travelling, they came out the other side and have settled in a suburb of Michigan, Detroit where they have been happily living for the past fifteen years, where Saana has been working as a cosmetologist, handling business life and ‘mummy life’ as best she can, but admits it’s now easier than it was.

“It was hard for me to take care of the kids when they were younger, but has gotten easier as they have grown up and gotten older. The simple tasks they couldn’t perform as younger children are now second nature to them, giving them a sense of independence. I now can go to work and simply call them to see how they’re doing and how everything is going.”

Earlier this year, Saana received an award which recognises her story and the courage and determination it took for her to achieve her goal, an achievement made all the sweeter because it was made possible by her favourite singer, fellow Assyrian Linda George. Like Saana, Linda left Baghdad for a better life, having already achieved success from a young age as a singer. This success has grown since, with Linda recording fourteen albums and having worked also as a model. She was awarded the Golden Voice by the Assyrian American National Federation in 1997. Speaking of her pride at becoming Woman Of The Year, Saana had this to say;

“Linda George has always been my favourite singer so to be recognised by her is such an honour. I was going through a very rough time and her music has always been an inspiration to me. She has made me feel so proud of what I have accomplished and encouraged me to push further for bigger and better things.”

Finally, asked if she had a message for those still enduring difficult times, both in her homeland and all over the world, Saana has a clear message. “No matter how difficult things get and no matter the situation, never lose hope. Seek that thing which encourages you and hold on to it. In my case it was my kids who inspire me daily. It makes me proud every day to see how they have grown and honoured I have been a good role model for them.”