Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 07 June 2017

11 Top Positive Psychology Books That Will Improve Your Work and Life

By Marcel Schwantes 

The "positive psychology" field has been around for decades, but in the past several

years, thanks to some notable research, we recognize its profound impact on society.

What scientists of the movement have discovered is that practices like compassion,

gratitude, positive thinking, resilience, meditation, and kindness in corporate settings

are good for business.

It means creating an environment that is enjoyable and productive; one that protects its

most valuable resource--its people--daily from the emotional and physical effects of stress,

burnout, fear (from power-based and oppressive leaders), and job insecurity.

As I researched the field for practical resources to give my readers, I stumbled into a gold mine

by one of the top purveyors of the movement.

Enter the Positive Psychology Program, quite possibly the best positive psychology resource on

the Web. Co-founders Seph Fontane, an entrepreneur with a background in online marketing,

and Hugo Alberts, professor of psychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, teamed up

to gift us with a one-stop shop that includes blogs, courses, exercises, quotes, conferences,

and a database of top positive psychology researchers.

The Mother of All Positive Psychology Book Lists

In this outstanding blog, Fontane offers up a comprehensive "living list" of positive psychology

books for newcomers, hardcore fans of the movement, and anyone in between.

Since Fontane's list is multifaceted and continues to grow, I am highlighting my favorites below

(in no particular order), focusing less on scholarly works and more on accessible material that

people can apply in broad work and entrepreneurial settings.

1. Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness (3rd edition), by Ilona Boniwell

If you're just being introduced to the field, this is your book. Fontane says, "We recommend this

book for absolute beginners because it describes positive psychology as it is rather than attempting

to influence future research directions, so it is an excellent way to just learn about the field."

2. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Csikszentmihalyi is an expert on getting into a state of "flow," and one of the pioneers of positive

psychology. What exactly is flow? Fontane says, "(F)low is a state of focus that not only helps

you with whatever you are working on but also helps you be happier with your work." For added

perspective, I wrote on flow here.

3. Authentic Happiness, by Martin E. P. Seligman

Seligman, commonly known as the founder of positive psychology and a leading authority in the field,

wrote this seminal book as a "handbook aimed at introducing people to positive psychology concepts

that they can use to increase their own well-being."

4. Positivity, by Barbara L. Fredrickson

This handbook is a great option for people struggling to achieve greater positivity in their life, or just

anyone looking for actionable ways positive psychology research can help them. A life of positivity is a

thriving, flourishing, appreciative life--in which someone looks for what's good and what's right in each

person and situation.

5. Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, by Tal Ben-Shahar

Ben-Shahar is an author, serial entrepreneur, and lecturer who taught two of the largest classes in

Harvard University's history--Positive Psychology and the Psychology of Leadership. He ingeniously

combines scientific studies, scholarly research, self-help advice, and spiritual enlightenment

and weaves them together into a set of principles that you can apply to your daily life to feel more

fulfilled, more connected, and, yes, happier.

6. Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, by Ed Diener and Robert


This book describes the new concept of psychological wealth, which extends beyond material

riches and popular concepts like emotional intelligence and social capital. Psychological wealth

includes your attitudes toward life, social support, spiritual development, material resources, health,

and the activities in which you engage.

7. Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance, by Kim Cameron

The author's goal in writing this book "is to help the reader reach 'positively deviant performance'--a

level of performance way higher than average," states Fontane. It's a great resource for business l

eaders looking for tips on positive leadership--for example, how encouraging compassion in

employees (and themselves) can greatly improve overall happiness and organizational health.

8. Profit From the Positive: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business,

by Margaret H. Greenberg and Senia Maymin

According to Fontane, "The authors will teach you several actionable ways to start being a more effective

leader, whether it is by retooling your hiring process or reconfiguring how you think about employee performance.

" Overall, this is a good resource for leaders looking to increase workplace happiness and productivity.

9. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, by Shawn Achor

My favorite book on this list. In it, TED talk sensation Shawn Achor uses stories and case studies from his work

with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries to explain how we can reprogram our brains to

become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work. A good choice for bosses or employees.

10. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth

From Fontane: "The author interviews people in several high-stress situations, from spelling bee participants

to soldiers training for the military to football coaches to CEOs, and identifies the common traits and

mindsets that make them all successful. Anyone looking to find career success (or any type of success, really)

with the teachings of positive psychology should find value in this book."

11. The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, by Ron Friedman

My second favorite book on this list. Award-winning psychologist Ron Friedman uses the latest research

on motivation, creativity, behavioral economics, neuroscience, and management to reveal what really makes

us successful at work. Highly entertaining and full of anecdotes and scientific evidence.

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The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

  • Published in Tech

What’s new in iOS 11? Hands-on with 100+ features and changes [Video]

Jeff Benjamin/9 to 5 Mac



We’ve been playing with iOS 11 for the last 12 hours or so, and have been able to experience a plethora of the new features offered by the release. As you might expect, iOS 11 is quite buggy at this stage, but it’s a truly promising release that’s littered with so many new features that it’s hard to keep count of them all.

In this hands-on video walkthrough, we showcase over 100 of the new items and changes found in iOS 11. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, so stay tuned for more hands-on coverage in the days and weeks to come.

Some of the items covered in this video

  • New iPad Dock can hold 15 apps
  • Continuity and Proactive support on the Dock
  • How to invoke the new App Switcher
  • How to remove apps from the App Switcher
  • No Home screen on multitasking view
  • How to multitask
  • How to multitask with Split View
  • New Split View proportions
  • Persistent app pairings
  • Drag and drop URLS, photos, text, etc
  • Select multiple items for drag and drop
  • Drag and drop app icons on Home screen
  • QuickType Keyboard Flick
  • iPad Pro 12.9″ Widgets now only occupy one center column


  • Instant Notes
  • Instant Markup
  • Markup as PDF
  • Inline Drawing
  • Scan Documents
  • New passcode interface
  • New Lock screen fade in animation
  • New Unlock animation
  • New Home screen animation when launching apps
  • New bold text in Spotlight searches
  • New signal bars for cellular
  • Redesigned Now Playing on Lock screen
  • Tweaked battery status bar icon
  • Apps in Dock no longer show names
  • New Combined Siri & Search
  • Type to Siri
  • You can disable press for Siri and only use Hey Siri
  • New Siri Interface
  • New Siri Voice
  • Siri Suggestions list of permissions
  • Siri translation
  • Customizable AirPods controls
  • One handed keyboard mode
  • Smart invert color option in accessibility
  • New location bar when apps access location
  • Health Data now saved in iCloud
  • No longer use 32-bit apps
  • Hidden volume HUD
  • Switch between keyboards when dictating
  • Flac Playback support
  • Quick share screenshots
  • Easily convert and markup to PDF
  • New Calculator icon
  • New Calculator UI
  • New iTunes Store icon
  • New App Store icon
  • New redesigned App Store
  • New redesigned app pages
  • New purchase overlay
  • 10 taps to refresh no longer works
  • New Files app
  • iCloud file sharing now possible
  • Set seconds for Timers
  • Messages on iCloud
  • New QuickReply Keyboard
  • New interface for iMessage apps
  • Two new message effects
  • Slightly redesigned Weather app UI
  • Redesigned Podcasts app to match Apple Music
  • New Music app sharing features
  • Slightly redesigned Safari app UI
  • New video playback control UI
  • Safari View Controller UI tweaks
  • Safari: Updated scrolling behavior
  • Notes: New table options
  • Notes: Updated Swipe option UI
  • Notes: Pinning
  • Notes: change Paper Style
  • Notes: New typeface
  • Notes: New formatter UI
  • Search handwritten notes
  • Take Live Photo while on FaceTime call
  • Tap on your PiP while on a FaceTime call to switch cameras
  • Live Photos: Adjust Key Photo
  • Trimming Live Photos
  • Live Photo effects
  • Photos app supports GIFs
  • Watch Memories in Portrait mode
  • Create custom watch faces
  • Phone app UI changes
  • Auto-Answer phone calls
  • Mail app UI changes
  • New Settings app heading
  • Background refresh options
  • Backing up warning message when erasing iPhone
  • New Shut Down option in Settings → General
  • New Accounts and Passwords
  • Prevent cross-site tracking
  • New Emergency SOS option
  • New wallpaper
  • New Touch ID and Passcode PIN interface
  • Offload Unused apps
  • New Phone storage settings pane
  • Auto-join option in Wi-Fi Settings
  • New persistent banner notification option
  • New customizable Control Center
  • New Cellular Data toggle
  • New Personal Hotspot toggle
  • New Screen recording feature
  • Control Center Apple TV Remote

Have you found any new features that we didn’t discuss in this initial walkthrough? Sound off down below in the comment section with your findings, along with your general thoughts on iOS 11 as a whole. We’ll be back with more in-depth specialized coverage of many of the major new features found throughout iOS 11 in the coming days and weeks.


  • Published in Tech

Five things to watch: The Comey hearing

by By Tom LoBianco, CNN


Washington (CNN)The Senate intelligence committee hearing of former FBI Director James Comey was already going to be a blockbuster before it even started -- with Comey stating in pre-written testimony Wednesday that President Donald Trump urged him to drop his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. 

But while it may seem that Comey's decision to release his testimony a day early actually upstages his own appearance, in reality he gave senators a running start to come up with more pointed, probing questions for him when they all take the national stage Thursday morning.
Here are five things to watch for Thursday: 

1. The former FBI director will testify under oath that the President asked him to drop an investigation into one of his top allies

It's impossible to lose sight of the most important items to emerge from the Russia investigations thus far: Trump asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. 
If you're a Democrat, that sounds like obstruction of justice (and possible grounds for impeachment.) If you're a Republican, it may sound like a political novice asking his aide to help one of his friends. But it is one of the most important, and prominent, developments in the sprawling web of the Russia investigations. 
And Comey is poised Thursday to take that fact out of the realm of anonymous (and accurate) reporting and formally place it in the record publicly, under threat of perjury if it's not true. 
Comey, in detail, relays how Trump asked all of his top advisers to leave a February 14 meeting in the Oval Office -- one by one -- until he was alone with Comey. After explaining that he wanted to talk about Flynn, Trump said he wanted Comey to "let this go."
Comey writes, "He then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.'"

2. But is it obstruction of justice?

Watch for a battle between Democrats and Republicans over how to characterize Trump's request of Comey -- as well as Trump's other requests, like his repeatedly asking Comey for his loyalty. 
Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee were mum Tuesday, as they left a classified briefing after Comey's testimony went public. But their counterparts on the House Russia investigation clearly thought the testimony could prove obstruction of justice by Trump. 
Schiff: Comey overstepped role as FBI director
Schiff: Comey overstepped role as FBI director 01:11
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House probe, said he wants to know if Trump's request for loyalty and that Comey drop his Flynn investigation ultimately led to Comey's firing. 
"Congress must now determine whether the Director's refusal to do either -- or any other motivation to interfere with or obstruct any part of the Russia investigation -- led ultimately to Comey's firing," Schiff said in a statement.
Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richad Burr, who has taken a firm and methodical stance leading the Russia investigation, said Tuesday that his quick reading of Comey's testimony showed no wrongdoing, but that could change. 
"I don't think from what I've read there's any evidence of wrongdoing," Burr told reporters. "I will match that against his verbal testimony and weigh that against the evidence to date."

3. 'Trump was right'

That was the comment from the Republican National Committee after Comey's testimony was released and, for one very key point, it is dead on: Trump is correct that Comey told him multiple times the FBI was not investigating him personally.
The first (and only) comment from Trump's newly appointed spokesman and lawyer on all things involving Russia, Marc Kasowitz, hammered home that they feel "totally vindicated."
"The President is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russian probe. The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda," Kasowitz said in a statement. 
That fact is only one tree in a Siberian forest that is filled with bad news for Trump. But it's still a glimmer of good news in the story that has cast an omnipresent cloud over Trump's administration. 

4. Can senators extract more from Comey in public? 

Comey is a veteran at testifying before Congress -- having filled the role now held by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein more than a decade ago and testified regularly as the FBI director. He has frequently offered up important nuggets -- but also has a plethora of ways to say, ever so politely, that he will not answer a question. 
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a veteran member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and former chairwoman of the panel, hinted at this in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash Tuesday. 
"It's seven pages of very fine print and what it describes is a professional law enforcement person, who is Jim Comey, who comes up against a president who knows no limits in terms of a proper relationship," Feinstein said Tuesday of Comey's testimony. "It was really pretty remarkable that he put this in writing (the night before the hearing.) We will see how much he's prepared to do verbally."
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, meanwhile was scheduled to spend Wednesday afternoon and early evening preparing his questions for Comey. 

5. Other Comey surprises

Comey's recent hearings on the Hill -- before he was fired -- had offered some very stunning revelations. 
On March 20, he revealed publicly that the FBI had been investigating the Trump campaign since last July -- in a House hearing which prefaced the House investigation almost spiraling out of control. 
And just a week before he was fired -- Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he decided to publicly announce his findings in the Clinton email investigation after watching Bill Clinton board a plane with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch. (However, later reporting revealed that Comey actually acted based on Russian misinformation alleging collusion between the Clinton campaign and the Obama Justice Department.) 
In short: Comey's public hearings tend to be explosive news-fests. 
He already uncorked a few big surprises in his testimony -- be on the lookout for more Thursday.
  • Published in U.S.

Increased risk of ozone loss over the United States in summer, evidence shows

Central United States vulnerable to ozone erosion from severe storms

Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
The protective stratospheric ozone layer above the central United States is vulnerable to erosion during the summer months from ozone-depleting chemical reactions, exposing people, livestock and crops to the harmful effects of UV radiation, research shows.
In the context of climate?chemistry coupling globally, the central United States in summer represents a combination of factors specific to both the geographic region and the season. Northerly flow of warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico in combination with heating and convergence over the Great Plains frequently triggers powerful convection that injects water vapor into the stratosphere, where the upper level anticyclonic flow associated with the NAM can sequester the injection for up to a week or more over the United States. These conditions, in combination with cold stratospheric temperatures, can lead to heterogeneous catalysis on ubiquitous sulfate water aerosols that converts inorganic chlorine to ClO and can initiate ozone loss through an array of gas-phase catalytic cycles. Potential future enhancements in sulfate from volcanic injection or geoengineering increase the likelihood of halogen activation and ozone loss.
Credit: Harvard University

A new study out of Harvard University reveals that the protective stratospheric ozone layer above the central United States is vulnerable to erosion during the summer months from ozone-depleting chemical reactions, exposing people, livestock and crops to the harmful effects of UV radiation.

Powerful storm systems common to the Great Plains inject water vapor that, with observed temperature variations, can trigger the same chemical reactions over the central United States that are the cause of ozone loss over the polar regions, according to a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper, led by James G. Anderson, the Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), found that stratospheric ozone concentrations over the United States in summer are vulnerable to both increases in water vapor and observed variations in temperature from storm systems over the Great Plains. Increased frequency and intensity of these storm systems, as well as longer-term decreases in stratospheric temperatures, are expected to accompany climate change.

Using extensive aircraft observations in the Arctic stratosphere from the early 2000's, researchers established the chemical framework defining enhanced ozone loss rates with respect to temperature and water vapor. Then they employed recent NEXRAD weather radar observations to demonstrate that on average 4000 storms each summer penetrate into the stratosphere over the central United States, which is far more frequent than was previously thought.

This combination of circumstances puts the stratosphere over states including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, the Dakotas and states that border the Great Plains, at risk for chemical reactions that deplete ozone during summer, potentially leading to higher levels of exposure to damaging UV light from the sun.

"These developments were not predicted previously and they represent an important change in the assessment of the risk of increasing UV radiation over the central US in summer," said Mario J. Molina of the University of California San Diego, the 1995 Nobel Prize winner in stratospheric chemistry, who was not involved in this research.

Stratospheric ozone is one of the most delicate aspects of habitability on the planet. There is only marginally enough ozone in the stratosphere to provide protection from UV radiation for humans, animals and crops. Medical research specific to the United States has determined that a 1 percent decrease in the amount of ozone in the stratosphere corresponds to a 3 percent increase in the incidence of human skin cancer. There are now 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer each year reported in the US alone. Thus, for each 1 percent reduction in ozone, there would be an additional 100,000 new cases of skin cancer annually in the United States.

"Thunderstorms that hydrate the stratosphere can have significant local and regional impacts on Earth's radiation budget and climate," said Cameron R. Homeyer of the University of Oklahoma, a co-investigator on the paper. "This work demonstrates our increasing knowledge of such storms using ground-based and airborne observations and evaluates their potential for depleting stratospheric ozone now and in the future. The results strongly motivate the need for increased meteorological and chemical observations of such storms."

"Every year, sharp losses of stratospheric ozone are recorded in polar regions, traceable to chlorine and bromine added to the atmosphere by industrial chlorofluorocarbons and halons," said Steven C. Wofsy, the Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science at SEAS and co-author of the study. "The new paper shows that the same kind of chemistry could occur over the central United States, triggered by storm systems that introduce water, or the next volcanic eruption, or by increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. We don't yet know just how close we are to reaching that threshold."

The scientific community has observed the chemical reactions that attack ozone over the polar regions in winter, but the important combination of observations that define the cause and the rate of stratospheric ozone loss have never been made over the central US in summer. This represents a major shortcoming in researchers' ability to forecast increases in UV radiation that might result from a volcanic event or climate change now and in the years to come.

"Rather than large continental-scale ozone loss that occurs over the polar regions in winter characterized, for example, by the term Antarctic ozone hole, circumstances over the central US in summer are very different," said Anderson. "In particular, because of the very frequent storm-induced injection events detailed by studies at Texas A&M and the University of Oklahoma using advanced radar methods, this structure of highly localized but numerous regions of potential ozone loss requires carefully specified observational strategies and systematic surveillance in order to provide the basis for accurate weekly forecasts of ozone loss."

The researchers are calling for extensive characterization of the stratosphere over the central United States in order to forecast short-term and long-term ozone loss related to increasing frequency and intensity of storm systems, higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane, and other factors.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied SciencesNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


  • Published in U.S.

The United States Is Getting Dragged Into the Fight for Syria’s South


AMMAN, Jordan — In recent months, the Syrian war finally seemed to be tilting in the direction of Muhannad al-Talla, the commander of a U.S.-backed rebel force. His group, Maghaweer al-Thawra (Commandos of the Revolution), which has about 800 vetted fighters, had been instrumental in pushing the Islamic State from the desert around the city of Palmyra. He was hoping that would just be the beginning. Plans were underway to advance to the Euphrates River, cutting off the jihadi organization’s de facto capital of Raqqa from the Iraqi border.

But one thing threatened to derail al-Talla’s past successes and future ambitions. During the first week of May, Shiite militias fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began filling the vacuum left by the Islamic State’s departure around the southern garrison where his forces are based. For al-Talla’s rebels, these militias amounted to an existential threat — a rival force that aimed to kill them or run them out of the country.

It was al-Talla’s good fortune that the U.S. military seemed to share his concern. When the pro-regime Shiite militias were only 17 miles from the base at al-Tanf, U.S F-16s conducted airstrikes against their positions, destroying multiple vehicles, including tanks and bulldozers.

Al-Talla said he had warned the U.S. commander at the base only 10 days before the strike that the pro-regime militias were advancing on the base. “I told him face to face that those militias cannot come closer because they will scuttle our plans to expel ISIS and they will kill us all,” he said in a Skype interview from the garrison.

It was the first time the United States, which has been training and advising armed opposition groups at al-Tanf for the past 18 months, conducted airstrikes against regime militias to defend Syrian rebel forces. It was also the first time that the United States had used force to maintain the “de-confliction zones” that it helped establish to prevent uncontrolled clashes with Russia and Iran inside Syria. On June 6, the U.S.-led coalition launched another airstrike targeting pro-regime militias approaching al-Tanf, destroying two artillery pieces and an anti-aircraft weapon.


The two strikes have thrown the spotlight on a little understood part of the U.S. involvement in the Syrian war. Al-Talla’s group is part of a 2-year-old Pentagon project to train and equip vetted rebel forces. Maghaweer al-Thawra fighters were mostly recruited from the al-Rukban camp roughly 12 miles from al-Tanf, which lies in a demilitarized zone between two berms that straddle the Jordan-Syria border. The fighters were trained in Jordan for several months before they were deployed to al-Tanf 18 months ago. U.S. special operation forces now provide the rebel recruits air cover and take part in their land operations against the Islamic State. They also supply the rebels with weapons from their bases in Jordan.

Al-Talla credits his group’s cooperation with the United States for its success in driving back the Islamic State. In the past six months, their combined efforts were able to shove the jihadi group from areas near the Jordanian border, starting with the al-Tanf base and the crossing with Jordan. In the past 10 weeks, his forces have advanced farther, pushing nearly 50 miles to the north.

Last month’s airstrikes on Shiite militias represent a marginal increase of the U.S. government’s commitment. But that shift comes with significant new risks. Specifically, it threatens to put Washington on a collision course with Iran, which is the main patron of the Shiite militias and has been seeking to create a land corridor linking Tehran and Baghdad to Syria and Lebanon. This would allow them to move heavier missiles and weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It could also put American special forces in conflict with the Russian military, which provides the Assad regime and its allied militias with air cover.

“The Trump administration wants to push back against Iran and put it on notice,” said Nicholas Heras, the Bacevich fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “Through the counter-ISIS campaign, the U.S. can capture territory in eastern Syria from ISIS to prevent Assad and Iran from advancing there.”

Since the airstrike, al-Talla said the pro-regime militias continue to test the waters, advancing and retreating near the base. In a separate effort, two other rebel groups staged a new operation this week to expel Shiite militias from the area and were attacked by Russian jets.
The pro-regime militias’ presence has delayed efforts to fight the Islamic State in the Euphrates Valley.


“We are now facing a two-front war,” al-Talla said. “We continue to target ISIS, but our main focus is directed toward [the militias] … 90 percent of whom are Shiites from Iran and Iraq and Lebanese Hezbollah. They are now close, and they threaten the region.”

Jordan, a key U.S. ally in the region, has been watching the developments nervously on its 230-mile-long border with Syria. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi recently warned in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that Jordan does not want to see “sectarian militias” along its border.

If the pro-regime militias test the United States again, Washington would no doubt face pressure from Arab allies, including the Jordanian government and its partners inside Syria, to strike again. But that could risk dragging the United States deeper into the country’s civil war.

“If the U.S. conducts another strike, it will send another signal that could risk an escalation chain,” Heras said. “The Shiite militia forces mobilized by Iran would not want to concede that area to the U.S.”

For the rebel forces near al-Tanf, the fight against the Islamic State and the pro-regime militias are linked. They want U.S. officials to understand that they can’t confront one enemy without confronting the other.

“[The Syrian regime] prevented us from fighting ISIS and is now bombing us,” said Tlass Salameh, the commander of the Lions of the East, while sipping tea in his house in Amman. “The Syrian regime is taking advantage of the deescalation zones and it’s rallying its militias.”

Saeed Saif, an official with the Forces of the Martyr Ahmad Abdou, was roughly seven miles from al-Tanf when he heard the coalition airstrikes. He saw the flags of the Iraqi paramilitary group Kata’ib Hezbollah in the distance. When describing the Syrian battlefield, he reached for a metaphor first used by Jordan’s King Abdullah — that of a “crescent” of Iran-backed forces stretching from Tehran, through Baghdad and Damascus, and on to Beirut.

“Daesh was a poisoned dagger stabbing the rebels,” he said. “But we were not prepared to see the regime and its militias advancing to the areas we cleared from Daesh.… Now with the Iranian project, the crescent has turned into a full moon.”


  • Published in U.S.

Where coyotes live across the United States

By  | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Orange County Register


More and more coyotes are being spotted within urban areas of Southern California. Here’s a look at how coyotes expanded across the United States.

Once confined mostly to the prairies of central North America, coyotes have expanded across much of the continent, moving into territory once controlled by wolves.  The species is spread across the lower 48 states, from New York City to the Midwest to Southern California.


Researchers say the once wild canines – indigenous to a variety of ecosystems in the southwestern United States – are flourishing near and sometimes within urban centers.

The University of California cooperative extension has created an interactive map where people can enter where and when they have encountered coyotes.  If you spot a coyote, you can report the sighting via their Coyote Cacher tool.

For coyote control, call your county animal control office or the United States Department of Agriculture, California Wildlife Services state office at 916-979-2675.

  • Published in U.S.

FBI: Fugitive Lawyer Likely Still in the United States


By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A fugitive Kentucky lawyer at the center of a nearly $600 million Social Security fraud case is believed to still be in the country, but "we're not sure how long that will be," an FBI official said Wednesday.

A $20,000 reward was offered for information leading authorities to Eric Conn, the flamboyant disability lawyer who disappeared last week, a month before his sentencing. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge. He had been ordered to pay the government tens of millions of dollars.

The FBI is working with multiple agencies and is pursuing numerous leads, said Amy Hess, special agent in charge of the FBI in Kentucky.


"We believe he is still in the country, but we are not sure how long that will be," she told reporters.

Conn's electronic monitoring device meant to track his whereabouts was found Friday evening along Interstate 75 in Lexington, and the FBI was notified soon thereafter, Hess said.

Authorities have no information to indicate that Conn was assisted in fleeing but have not ruled it out, she said. Hess warned that anyone helping Conn would be held accountable by law enforcement.

"It appears that he fled by his own free will, that he chose to do so," Hess said. "He knew what he was doing."

Asked if he was considered dangerous, she said: "He is desperate to escape punishment and be held accountable for his crime, and desperate people do desperate things."

Conn started his law practice in a trailer in 1993 and built it into one of the most lucrative disability law firms in the country.

He portrayed himself as "Mr. Social Security," a persona fueled by outlandish TV commercials and small-scale replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial at his office in eastern Kentucky.


His empire crumbled when federal investigators uncovered he had been bribing a doctor and judge to approve disability claims based on fake medical evidence.

As part of his plea deal in March, he agreed to pay the federal government $5.7 million and to reimburse Social Security $46 million. A federal judge ordered Conn to pay $12 million in damages and $19 million in penalties to the government and two former Social Security employees who tried to expose the scheme. Conn also is facing a liability judgment from a class-action lawsuit brought by his former clients.

Conn was a frequent world traveler as he built his law firm. Hess declined comment Wednesday when asked if authorities found any signs he had transferred money outside the country to set up a refuge.

Scott White, Conn's attorney, said he has not heard from Conn.

"Let's hope Eric does the right thing and reaches out to surrender," White said in an email Wednesday.

Hundreds of Conn's clients in the impoverished coalfields of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have been fighting to keep their disability checks. Ned Pillersdorf, who represents Conn's former clients, has said the anger toward Conn "is overwhelming."

"We need Eric Conn to face justice," Hess said. "We need him to come back and be accountable for his actions in defrauding not only the government, (but also) the U.S. taxpayer."


This story has been edited to clarify that authorities believe the lawyer is still in the country, but don't know for sure.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Published in U.S.

Valverde: Beating Froome in Dauphine time trial is pretty big

Spaniard looking strong as he begins second phase of his season


By  /Cycling News

  • Published in Sports

French Open Women’s Semifinals: What the Statistics Tell Us


Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, who has a solid backhand that could help her hold off the surging Jelena Ostapenko and her powerful forehand. Credit Christian Hartmann/Reuters..
How do you protect a weakness, or hide a strength? Certainly not on a stat sheet.



The Roland Garros women’s semifinals are set, with two high seeds clashing in one match and two delightful surprises battling it out in the other. We have spent almost two weeks watching these four players advance through the draw. What do they do well? Where are they susceptible?

The statistics have the answers.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. No. 30 Timea Bacsinszky

Through five matches, the unseeded Ostapenko has amassed 195 winners. That equates to 13 per set. That’s simply preposterous. Ostapenko hit 34 return winners in reaching the semifinals. Rafael Nadal has four. Bacsinszky has 116 winners in 11 sets, which is right at 10.5 per set. Advantage Ostapenko.

Ostapenko’s biggest weapon is her forehand. She has hit 104 forehand winners while committing 142 forehand errors. Those are actually a lot better numbers than they appear to be, as points in tennis generally run around 30 percent winners and 70 percent errors. Ostapenko’s forehand is only running around 57 percent. That’s a bonus.

How is Bacsinszky going to counter such offense? With a better backhand. Bacsinszky actually has more backhand winners than forehand winners, 49 to 44. But she has only 89 backhand errors to Ostapenko’s 141. Ostapenko’s forehand will be the biggest shot hit in the match, and it will naturally go after Bacsinszky’s backhand. Whoever wins that battle almost certainly will win the match.

Simona Halep’s Comeback at French Open Preserves Hopes of a Top Ranking JUNE 7, 2017
No. 3 Simona Halep vs. No. 2 Karolina Pliskova

Halep really shouldn’t even be here. She was down by 3-6, 1-5 in her quarterfinal against the No. 5 seed, Elina Svitolina, and saved a match point at 5-6 in the second-set tiebreaker before sweeping through the third set.

The major theme in this match will be rally length. Halep feels more comfortable in longer rallies, while Pliskova wants the point over almost as soon as it begins. Halep has played 127 rallies of nine-plus shots, while Pliskova has played only 47. In the shorter rally length of four shots or fewer, Pliskova has played 581 points, while Halep is at just 353.

These two are chalk and cheese, which creates a simple dynamic. Shorter rallies with an emphasis on the serve and return will heavily favor Pliskova. Once the rally length of a point reaches double digits, Halep becomes the clear favorite to win it.

One might think, in fact, that approach and volley is a losing proposition for all four semifinalists on the red clay of Roland Garros, but the statistics throw that logic out the window, too. Over all, the four semifinalists are winning 48 percent of their baseline points, but a significantly higher 62 percent at net.

Craig O’Shannessy is the strategy expert for Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the ATP World Tour. He runs Brain Game Tennis, a website specializing in tennis strategy.

  • Published in Sports

Defending champ Djokovic in ‘whole new situation’ after Paris loss

Associated Press

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic falls as he plays Austria’s Dominic Thiem during their quarterfinal match the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium. AP

PARIS — His French Open title defense nearing an end, Novak Djokovic stumbled and tumbled to his knees on the red clay, his racket flying from his right hand as his opponent’s backhand zipped past.

Even Djokovic found it hard to fathom how far he’s fallen, only a year removed from leaving Roland Garros as a player nonpareil, the first man in nearly a half-century to win four consecutive Grand Slam titles.

That he departed this time with a surprisingly lopsided 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-0 quarterfinal loss to sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria on Wednesday left everyone, including Djokovic, pondering the answers to difficult questions.

Did he give up in the last set? What has happened to his once-impervious play? Can he summon that again? Does he need a break from the grind of the tour?

“It’s a fact that I’m not playing close to my best, and I know that,” Djokovic said after his first straight-set loss at a major since the 2013 Wimbledon final. “For me, it’s a whole new situation that I’m facing.”

Since completing his career Grand Slam at the French Open 12 months ago, Djokovic has participated in four majors in a row without earning a trophy. He also lost his No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray.

Djokovic was runner-up at the U.S. Open but lost in the third round at Wimbledon, the first round at the Rio Olympics and the second round at the Australian Open.

“The win here last year has brought a lot of different emotions. Obviously, it was a thrill and complete fulfillment, I guess,” Djokovic said during an expansive and frank news conference. “I have lived on that wave of excitement, I guess, ’til the U.S. Open or so. And at the U.S. Open, I just was emotionally very flat and found myself in a situation that I hadn’t faced before in (my) professional tennis career.”

The 23-year-old Thiem next faces nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who advanced when No. 20 Pablo Carreno Busta stopped while trailing 6-2, 2-0 after injuring an abdominal muscle late in the first set.

“I mean, it’s a joke how tough it is to win a Slam,” said Thiem, the only player who beat Nadal in one of his 23 clay-court matches this season. “Now I beat Novak. On Friday, (it’s) Nadal. In the finals, there is another top star.”

In the other semifinal, 2016 runner-up Murray will face 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in a matchup of three-time major title winners. Murray eliminated No. 8 Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (0), 6-1 on Wednesday, while No. 3 Wawrinka won 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 against No. 7 Marin Cilic.

With the wind whipping at more than 15 mph (25 kph), and the temperature in the low 50s (low teens Celsius), Djokovic was out of sorts in so many ways even before that 20-minute third set in which he won only 8 of 34 points. It’s only the second time Djokovic lost a final set by the score of 6-0 in his 937 career tour-level matches.

“It’s hard to comment (on) the third set. Obviously, nothing was going my way and everything his way,” Djokovic said. “Just pretty bad set.”

But both men thought the match was decided in the first set, when Djokovic held two set points at 5-4, 15-40 on Thiem’s serve. Thiem erased the first with a forehand volley and the other with a service winner that prompted Djokovic to roll his eyes.

Djokovic’s backhand really let him down in the tiebreaker: All seven points won by Thiem ended with that stroke.

In all, Djokovic made nearly twice as many unforced errors, 35, as winners, 18.

“More or less, all the parts of my game are kind of going up and down. I’m feeling like I’m missing consistency,” Djokovic said. “I play a great match or two in a row, and then I play a completely opposite match. That’s what happened today.”

Still, how unlikely was this result? Djokovic had won all five previous matches — and 11 of 12 sets — against Thiem, including in the French Open semifinals a year ago.

Plus, Djokovic had appeared in a record six consecutive semifinals in Paris.

Now he is at a crossroads of sorts. He just turned 30. He split from coaches Boris Becker and Marian Vajda and other members of his team, bringing aboard Andre Agassi for Week 1 of the French Open.

On Wednesday, he wouldn’t rule out some time off.

“It’s obviously tough to get out of it and figure out the way how to move ahead. At least I’m trying,” Djokovic said. “I know that I have achieved the biggest heights in this sport, and that memory and that experience gives me enough reason to believe that I can do it again.”

  • Published in Sports
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