John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Be happy


MISH MOSH..................

Mish Mash: noun \ˈmish-ˌmash, -ˌmäsh\ A : hodgepodge, jumble “The painting was just a mishmash of colors and abstract shapes as far as we could tell. Origin Middle English & Yiddish; Middle English mysse masche, perhaps reduplication of mash mash; Yiddish mish-mash, perhaps reduplication of mishn to mix. First Known Use: 15th century

Theodore Roosevelt addressing a crowd in front of the Congress Hotel during the Progressive National Convention - August, 1912


I'm a big big Fan of Bukowski


Sculpture this and Sculpture that



Philip Booth

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you. 

Old Fashioned Garden, 1984, Samuel Barber

Dog not interested in Coltrane by Guy Le Querrec



THE ART OF WAR............

AND HERE'S SOME ANIMALS FOR YOU...................

hn William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washi
ngton DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.
He is the author of No Time to Say Goodbye: Memoirs of a Life in Foster Care and Short Stories from a Small Town. He is also the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
Contact John:


We were lucky enough to spend a weekend this past summer as guests at a friends the beach house in Groton Point Connecticut, just beautiful, really, just beautiful 


The CIA and Abstract Expressionist Art

The Abstract Expressionists emerged from obscurity in the late 1940s to establish New York as the centre of the art world – but some say they became pawns of US spies in the Cold War. Alastair Sooke investigates.

By Alastair Sooke

In the immediate aftermath of World War Two, something exciting happened in the art world in New York. A strange but irresistible energy started to crackle across the city, as artists who had struggled for years in poverty and obscurity suddenly found self-confidence and success. Together, they formed a movement that became known, in time, as Abstract Expressionism. It is currently the subject of a major exhibition, featuring 164 artworks by 30 artists (including Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko), at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

One of the most remarkable things about Abstract Expressionism was the speed with which it rose to international prominence. Although the artists associated with it took a long time to find their signature styles, once the movement had crystallised, by the late ‘40s, it rapidly achieved first notoriety and then respect. By the ‘50s, it was generally accepted that the most exciting advances in painting and sculpture were taking place in New York rather than Paris. In 1957, a year after Pollock’s death in a car crash, the Metropolitan Museum paid $30,000 for his Autumn Rhythm – an unprecedented sum of money for a painting by a contemporary artist at the time.

The following year, The New American Painting, an influential exhibition organised by New York’s Museum of Modern Art, began a year-long tour of European cities including Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Milan, Paris, and London. The triumph of Abstract Expressionism was complete.

Unwitting helpers?

Before long, though, the backlash had begun. First came Pop Art, which wrested attention away from Abstract Expressionism at the start of the ‘60s. Then came the rumour-mongers, whispering that the swiftness of Abstract Expressionism’s success was somehow fishy.
The art critic Max Kozloff examined post-war American painting in the context of the Cold War. He claimed to be reacting against the “self-congratulatory mood” of recent publications such as Irving Sandler’s The Triumph of American Painting (1970), the first history of Abstract Expressionism. Kozloff went on to argue that Abstract Expressionism was “a form of benevolent propaganda”, in sync with the post-war political ideology of the American government.

In many ways, the idea seemed preposterous. After all, most of the Abstract Expressionists were volatile outsiders. Pollock once said that everyone at his high school in Los Angeles thought he was a “rotten rebel from Russia”. According to David Anfam, co-curator of the Royal Academy exhibition, “Rothko said he was an anarchist. Barnett Newman was a declared anarchist – he wrote an introduction to Kropotkin’s book on anarchism. So here you had this nexus of non-conformist artists, who were completely alienated from American culture. They were the opposite of the Cold Warriors.”

Despite this, however, Kozloff’s ideas took hold. A few years before they were published, in 1967, the New York Times had revealed that the liberal anti-Communist magazine Encounter had been indirectly funded by the CIA. As a result, people started to become suspicious. Could it be that the CIA also had a hand in promoting Abstract Expressionism on the world stage? Was Pollock, wittingly or not, a propagandist for the US government?
Soft power

A number of essays, articles and books followed Kozloff’s piece, all arguing that the CIA had somehow manipulated Abstract Expressionism. In 1999, the British journalist and historian Frances Stonor Saunders published a book about the CIA and the “cultural Cold War” in which she asserted: “Abstract Expressionism was being deployed as a Cold War weapon.” A synthesis of her argument is available online, in anarticle that she wrote for the Independent newspaper in 1995. “In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years,” she wrote.

The gist of her case goes something like this. We know that the CIA bankrolled cultural initiatives as part of its propaganda war against the Soviet Union. It did so indirectly, on what was called a “long leash”, via organisations such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an anti-Communist advocacy group active in 35 countries, which the CIA helped to establish and fund. It was the CCF that sponsored the launch of Encounter magazine in 1953, for instance. It also paid for the Boston Symphony Orchestra to travel to Paris to participate in a festival of modern music.

According to Saunders, the CCF financed several high-profile exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism during the ‘50s, including The New American Painting, which toured Europe between 1958 and 1959. Supposedly, the Tate Gallery couldn’t afford to bring the exhibition to London – so an American millionaire called Julius Fleischmann stepped in, stumping up the cash so that it could travel to Britain. Fleischmann was the president of a body called the Farfield Foundation, which was funded by the CIA. It is therefore possible to argue that important British abstract painters, such as John Hoyland, who were profoundly influenced by the Tate’s exhibition in ’59, were shaped by America’s spymasters.

Saunders also highlighted links between the CIA and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which was instrumental in promoting Abstract Expressionism. Nelson Rockefeller, the president of MoMA during the ‘40s and ‘50s, had close ties with the US intelligence community. So did Thomas Braden, who directed cultural activities at the CIA: prior to joining “the Company”, he was MoMA’s executive secretary.

‘Shrewd and cynical’

Even today, however, the story of the CIA’s involvement with Abstract Expressionism remains contentious. According to Irving Sandler, who is now 91, it is totally untrue. Speaking to me by phone from his apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village, he said: “There was absolutely no involvement of any government agency. I haven’t seen a single fact that indicates there was this kind of collusion. Surely, by now, something – anything – would have emerged. And isn’t it interesting that the federal government at the time considered Abstract Expressionism a Communist plot to undermine American society?”
David Anfam is more circumspect. 

He says it is “a well-documented fact” that the CIA co-opted Abstract Expressionism in their propaganda war against Russia. “Even The New American Painting [exhibition] had some CIA funding behind it,” he says. According to Anfam, it is easy to see why the CIA wished to promote Abstract Expressionism. “It’s a very shrewd and cynical strategy,” he explains, “because it showed that you could do whatever you liked in America.” By the ‘50s, Abstract Expressionism was bound up with the concept of individual freedom: its canvases were understood as expressions of the subjective inner lives of the artists who painted them.

As a result, the movement was a useful foil to Russia’s official Soviet Realist style, which championed representative painting. “America was the land of the free, whereas Russia was locked up, culturally speaking,” Anfam says, characterising the perception that the CIA wished to foster during the Cold War.

This isn’t to say, of course, that the artists themselves were complicit with the CIA, or even aware that it was funding Abstract Expressionist exhibitions. Still, whatever the truth of the extent of the CIA’s financial involvement with Abstract Expressionism, Anfam believes that it was “the best thing the institution ever paid for”. He smiles. “I’d much rather they spent money on Abstract Expressionism than toppling left-wing dictators.”
Alastair Sooke is art critic of The Daily Telegraph.

The 10 Things You Should Tell Your Spouse Every Day for a Happier Marriage

The 10 Things You Should Tell Your Spouse Every Day for a Happier Marriage
Are you in less of the honeymoon phase and more of the “don’t forget paper towels on your way home” part of your marriage? Saying these little phrases daily to your husband or wife could help you stay close.


"Good morning" (and "good night")
Make it a habit to start your day saying good morning and ending your evening with a good night. A simple “Good morning sweetie” can start your both of your days on a slightly brighter note. Climbing into the bed after a long day and saying goodnight lets your partner know that the relationship and the connection you two have are a priority. Even if your schedules don’t allow the both of you to wake up and go to sleep at the same time, you can still make a quick call or text letting your other half know that they are on your heart. These little tips can strengthen your marriage in a single day.

"How was your day?"
 Many times couples will get so settled in their marriage, and that is when you tend to forget that before you met the person you’re with, you probably talked all the time. Don’t let this habit die. The sharing of the events that transpired throughout the day is to great way to ensure that you and your spouse share each others’ lives. Asking them also how their day was will let you know what kind of mood they are in, so if maybe they need some extra support you are there to give it. You can always try one of these small ways to make your spouse feel loved.

"I’m proud of you"
Letting your spouse know that you are their biggest cheerleader is very important for a happy marriage. You don’t have to wait for them to do something grand to let them know how proud you are; letting them know when it’s the littlest of things—finally helping your kid to grasp that tricky math problem or fixing the paint job in the downstairs bathroom—will show them that you support all of their goals and achievements. It lets them know that see you them working hard every day and their being supported and loved. Also remind them that you are proud to call them your wife or husband, and in the same breath you’re proud to be their wife or husband.

"You make me happy"
Of course your spouse knows that you’re happy being with them, because if you weren’t then most likely you would not be in the relationship. But letting them know how they make you feel shows how much you value the relationship the two of you have, as well as how much you love and appreciate them and all they do. When you express this happiness to your spouse they will take notice much more to the moments that really make you happy. Don’t miss this surprising advice from the most happily married couples.

"What do you think?"
A marriage is not a dictatorship, but a democracy—and asking your spouse’s input on a daily basis is important. You want them to feel and know that this is a partnership, and that you value their opinions and want to know how they feel about decisions big or small, from where to go to dinner Saturday night to where your kids should attend college.

"You are hot/gorgeous/handsome"
 If you don’t compliment your spouse how can you expect them to feel appreciated or wanted? Even if you tend to see the no-makeup or sweats-wearing version of your partner way more than the all-dolled-up one, it’s very important to let your spouse know that you’re just as attracted to them today as you were in the beginning. This will make them feel confident and amazing as they go on with their day. We all like to feel sexy and desirable, so if you’re spouse still gives you those warm and tingly feelings inside let them know! Even just flirting with them or having some playful banter will do wonders for your relationship.

"What are we doing tonight?"
 Couples can easily get stuck in a rut with their daily routines and may forget to take the time out to spend some quality time together. Having date night is a great way to get out the house and have some alone time, but remember you don’t have to do much to enjoy each other’s company. Just making time for one another to hang out and relax with no phones, laptops, tablets, etc. is a great way to connect at the end of the workday. Here are 20 things happy couples do after work.

"I’m sorry"
Hopefully you won’t have to say this every day, but you should be humble enough to say “I’m sorry” and take responsibility when you’ve done something to upset or hurt your spouse. Nobody’s perfect and you’re going to make mistakes, but what’s harmful more than anything to your relationship is when you refuse to admit to your mistakes and become defensive, or make excuses, or worse get angry. Avoid these phrases that can make any fight worse.

"Please" and "thank you"
 You say please and thank to everyone you come across on a daily basis, so your spouse should hear those words from you as well. Wouldn’t you rather have your spouse say, “Honey, can you please take the dog out? I’m on a call. Thanks—I appreciate it” or “Why haven’t you taken the dog out?” Gratitude speaks to one’s heart and the love of your life will know how appreciative you are and that you really value them and their efforts.

"I love you"
You can pretty much never say this enough. Say these three words as often as possible no matter how long you’ve been with your partner. “I love you” will never lose its meaning. Don’t think that just because they know you love them that they don’t want to hear it. Some people don’t like to overstate it, but this is the easiest—as well as the most important—thing you can tell your spouse. However you like to say or show it, you should make sure your spouse knows how much you love them every day.

Bart and I snooze it up in a hotel room in Baltimore (otherwise he's not allowed up on the bed, so this is a big deal for him)



At about 1 a.m. on July 17, 1918, in a fortified mansion in the town of Ekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains, the Romanovs—ex-tsar Nicholas II, ex-tsarina Alexandra, their five children, and their four remaining servants, including the loyal family doctor, Eugene Botkin—were awoken by their Bolshevik captors and told they must dress and gather their belongings for a swift nocturnal departure. 

The White armies, which supported the Tsar, were approaching; the prisoners could already hear the boom of the big guns. They gathered in the cellar of the mansion, standing together almost as if they were posing for a family portrait. Alexandra, who was sick, asked for a chair, and Nicholas asked for another one for his only son, 13-year-old Alexei. Two were brought down. They waited there until, suddenly, 11 or 12 heavily armed men filed ominously into the room.

What happened next—the slaughter of the family and servants—was one of the seminal events of the 20th century, a wanton massacre that shocked the world and still inspires a terrible fascination today. A 300-year-old imperial dynasty, one marked by periods of glorious achievement as well as staggering hubris and ineptitude, was swiftly brought to an end. 

For the better part of the 20th century the bodies of the victims lay in two unmarked graves, the locations of which were kept secret by Soviet leaders. In 1979 amateur historians discovered the remains of Nicholas, Alexandra, and three daughters (Olga, Tatiana, and Anastasia).

 In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the graves were reopened and the identities of the interred confirmed by DNA testing. In a ceremony in 1998 attended by Russian president Boris Yeltsin and 50 or so Romanov relatives, the remains were reburied in the family crypt in St. Petersburg. When the partial remains of two skeletons believed to be the remaining Romanov children, Alexei and Maria, were found in 2007 and similarly tested, most people assumed they would be reburied there as well.

Most of the family was still alive, wounded, crying and terrified, their suffering made worse by the fact that they were in effect wearing bulletproof vests.

Instead, events took a strange turn. Even though both sets of remains were identified by teams of top international scientists, who compared recovered DNA to samples from living Romanov relatives, members of the Russian Orthodox Church questioned the validity of the findings. More research was needed, they claimed. Rather than rebury Alexei and Maria, the authorities stored them in a box in a state archive until 2015 and then turned them over to the church for further examination.

Last fall the official state investigation of the tsar's murder was reopened, and Nicholas and Alexandra were exhumed, as was Nicholas's father, Alexander III. Since then there have been conflicting reports from government and church officials on when, or if, the entire Romanov family will be reburied and reunited, even if only in death.

Had Nicholas II died after the first 10 years of his reign (he came to power in 1894), he would have been regarded as a moderately successful emperor. Ultimately, though, his well-intentioned but weak personality—which also comprised duplicity, obstinacy, and delusion—contributed to the disasters that befell the dynasty and Russia.

He was handsome and blue-eyed but diminutive and hardly majestic, and his looks and immaculate manners concealed an astonishing arrogance, contempt for the educated political classes, vicious anti-Semitism, and an unshakable belief in his right to rule as a sacred autocrat. He was jealous of his ministers, and he possessed the unfortunate ability to make himself utterly distrusted by his own government.

His marriage to Princess Alexandra of Hesse only exacerbated these qualities. Theirs was a love match, which was unusual for the times, but both Nicholas's father and Alexandra's grandmother, Queen Victoria of England, regarded her as too unstable to succeed as empress. She brought to the relationship paranoia, mystical fanaticism, and a vindictive and steely will. Also, through no fault of her own, she brought the "royal disease" (hemophilia) into the family and passed it to her son, the imperial heir, Tsarevich Alexei, undermining the power of the family and distorting their interests.

Princess Alexandra brought to the relationship paranoia, mystical fanaticism, and a vindictive and steely will.

The personal inadequacies of Nicholas and Alexandra led them both to seek support and advice from Grigori Rasputin, a holy man whose notorious sexual promiscuity, hard drinking, and corrupt and inept political machinations in their name further isolated the couple from the government and people of Russia. 

The crisis of World War I placed the fragile regime under intolerable stress. In February 1917, Nicholas II lost control of protests in St. Petersburg (which had been renamed Petrograd during the war to sound less German) and was soon forced to abdicate, replaced by a republic under a provisional government.

The 1998 reburial of the Romanovs was a solemn state event meant to showcase the Russian nation's reconciliation with its past. In a televised procession, soldiers in dress uniform carried coffins down a red carpet, past Romanov descendants and assembled dignitaries, and into the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. President Yeltsin, a former Communist Party leader, told those gathered that the lesson of the 20th century was that political change must never again be enforced by violence.

Priests from the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church offered blessings, but, notably, the patriarch of the church was not in attendance. At that time the Orthodox Church, which had been an intrinsic part of the Romanov system of rule, was reestablishing itself as a national power. Many members of its hierarchy resented the fact that the burial ceremony had been directed almost entirely by Yeltsin's secular political agenda to promote a liberal democratic Russia.
A decade later scientists announced that the two bodies found in the second grave were Alexei and Maria. This time the church publicly objected to the findings of the "foreign experts" (many members of the forensic teams were American) and even questioned the earlier identifications of Nicholas and the others. The church had canonized the family in 2000, which meant that any physical remains were now holy relics. 

It was essential, the church maintained, that it have a role in making sure the bodies were correctly identified.

Yeltsin had resigned the presidency of the Russian Federation in 1999 and handed over power to a little-known ex-KGB colonel named Vladimir Putin. The young leader regarded the fall of the USSR as "the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century," and as soon as he took office he started centralizing power, reining in foreign influences and promoting a combination of nationalism, Orthodox faith, and aggressive foreign policy. It was an effective approach that, ironically, could have been taken from any number of Romanov tsars' playbooks.

Putin was no closet royalist, but he was an admirer of the autocracy perfected by the Romanovs. Though born under Soviet communism, he had a pragmatist's understanding of history, in particular the fact that the most forceful leaders of Russia, from Peter the Great to Catherine the Great to Joseph Stalin, had managed to personify the essence of not just the state but the Russian soul, and Russia's uniqueness in world history. Like the first Romanov rulers, Putin came to power during a time of troubles, and like his forebears he set about restoring the power of the state and the persona of its ruler.

Rejecting the findings of the international scientists was, of course, a power grab by the newly emboldened church, and it was supported by the growing anti-Western sentiment promoted by the Kremlin and shared by much of Russian society. By agreeing to the church's conditions, Putin was appeasing an important ally. 

But the move also reflected conspiracy theories (which often had anti-Semitic undercurrents) spreading among ultranationalists about the remains. One was that Lenin and his henchmen, many of whom were Jewish, had demanded that the heads of the saintly Romanovs be brought to Moscow as a sort of diabolical Hebraic-Bolshevik tribute. Was this the reason for the shattered state of the bones? Were these bones really the Romanovs? Or had someone escaped?

Putin was no closet royalist, but he was an admirer of the autocracy perfected by the Romanovs.

These questions might seem easy to dismiss, but there is long-established tradition in Russia of murdered royals suddenly reappearing. During the Time of Troubles, in the 17th century, there were not one but three impostor, known as the False Dmitris, who claimed to be Prince Dmitri, last son of Ivan the Terrible. And after 1918 more than 100 imposters claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia.

At first, during the spring of 1917, the ex-imperial family was allowed to live in relative comfort at a favorite residence, the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo, not far from Petrograd. Nicholas's cousin, King George V of England, offered him sanctuary, but then changed his mind and withdrew the offer. It was not the finest moment for the House of Windsor, but it is unlikely that it made any difference. The window of opportunity was short; demands for the ex-tsar to stand trial were growing.

Alexander Kerensky, first justice minister and then prime minister of the provisional government, moved the royals to the governor's mansion in Tobolsk, in distant Siberia, to keep them safe. Their stay there was bearable but depressing. Boredom turned to danger when Kerensky was overthrown by Lenin and the Bolsheviks in October 1917. Lenin famously said that "revolutions are meaningless without firing squads," and he was soon considering, along with lieutenant Yakov Sverdlov, whether to place Nicholas on public trial—to be followed by his execution—or just kill the entire family.

The Bolsheviks faced a desperate civil war against the Whites, counterrevolutionary armies backed by Western powers. Lenin responded with unbridled terror. He decided to move the family from Tobolsk closer to Moscow, to which he had relocated the Russian capital. A trusted Bolshevik factotum was dispatched to bring the Romanovs westward, and in April 1918 they endured a terrifying trip by train and carriage.

The teenage Alexei suffered an attack of bleeding and had to be left behind; he came to Ekaterinburg three weeks later with three of his sisters. The girls, meanwhile, were sexually molested on the train. But eventually the family was reunited in the gloomy, walled mansion of a merchant named Ipatiev in the center of the city, whose leaders were the most fanatical of Bolsheviks.

There is long-established tradition in Russia of murdered royals suddenly reappearing.
The mansion was ominously renamed the House of Special Purpose and converted into a prison fortress with painted-over windows, fortified walls and machine gun nests. The Romanovs received limited rations and were watched by hostile young guards. Yet the family adapted.

Nicholas read books aloud in the evening and tried to exercise. The eldest daughter, Olga, became depressed, but the playful and spirited younger girls, especially the beautiful Maria and the mischievous Anastasia, began to interact with the guards. Maria began an illicit romance with one of them, and the guards discussed helping the girls escape. When this was uncovered by Bolshevik boss Filipp Goloshchekin, the guards were changed, regulations were tightened. All of this made Lenin even more anxious.

By the beginning of July 1918 it was clear that Ekaterinburg was going to fall to the Whites. Goloshchekin rushed to Moscow to get Lenin's approval, and it is certain that he got it, though Lenin was clever enough not to put the order on paper: The killing was planned under the new commandant of the House of Special Purpose, Yakov Yurovsky, who decided to recruit a squad to murder the royals all together in one session and then burn the bodies and bury them in the woods nearby. Just about every detail of the plan was ill conceived and would be grotesquely bungled in practice.

Early on that July morning, the bleary-eyed Romanovs and their loyal retainers stood in the cellar as the heavily armed murder squad filed into the room. Yurovsky suddenly read out a death sentence. Then the men used their weapons. Each was meant to fire at a different family member, but many of them secretly wished to avoid shooting the girls, so they all aimed at the loathed Nicholas and Alexandra, killing them almost instantly.

The firing was wild; the killers managed to wound one another as the room filled with swirling dust and smoke and screams. When the first volley was done, most of the family was still alive, wounded, crying and terrified, their suffering made worse by the fact that they were in effect wearing bulletproof vests.

The Romanovs were famed for their collection of jewelry, and they had left Petrograd with a large cache of diamonds hidden their baggage. During the last months they had sewn the diamonds into specially made underwear in case they needed to fund an escape. 

On the night of the execution the children had pulled on this secretly bejeweled underwear, which was reinforced with the hardest material in existence. Tragically, ironically, the bullets bounced off these garments. Finally the murderers waded into the gruesome scene of wounded, bleeding children (one of the killers compared it to a slippery ice rink awash with blood and brains) and stabbed them manically with bayonets or shot them in the head.

The mayhem lasted 20 agonizing minutes. When the bodies were being carried out, two of the girls turned out to still be alive, spluttering and coughing before being stabbed into silence. This was surely the origin of the legend that Anastasia, the youngest daughter, had survived, a story that inspired so many impostors to impersonate the murdered grand duchess.

Now that the deed was done, drunken assassins and Bolshevik thugs argued about who was to move the bodies and where. They mocked the deceased royals, pillaged their treasures, and then failed to conceal or bury them. Eventually the bodies were piled into a truck, which soon broke down. 

Out in the woods, where the Romanovs were stripped naked and their clothing burned, it turned out that the mineshafts that had been selected to receive the bodies were too shallow. In a panic Yurovsky improvised a new plan, leaving the bodies and rushing into Ekaterinburg for supplies.

He spent three days and three nights, sleeplessly driving back and forth to the woods, collecting sulfuric acid and gasoline to destroy the bodies, which he finally decided to bury in separate places to confuse anyone who might find them. He was determined to obey his orders that "no one must ever know what had happened" to the Romanov family. He pummeled the bodies with rifle butts, doused them with sulfuric acid, and burned them with gasoline. Finally, he buried what was left in two graves.

Yurovsky and his killers later wrote detailed, boastful, and confused accounts for the Cheka, a precursor to the KGB. The reports were sequestered in the archives and never publicized, but during the 1970s renewed interest in the murder site led Yuri Andropov, the chairman of the KGB (and future leader of the USSR), to recommend that the House of Special Purpose be bulldozed.

Next year is the centennial of the Russian Revolution, and while the country will undoubtedly find many ways to mark the occasion, the unburied bones of its deposed ruling family present a dilemma. For a nation that aspires to regain its former influence and historic glory, coming to terms with complicated moments in its past is of paramount importance. But the protracted burial saga reflects issues that are universal and not easy to address.

Notions of birthright, bloodlines, and family power still have the ability to fascinate and resonate globally. Even though Britain, for example, is a constitutional monarchy in which the royal family has no power whatsoever, the E! channel is as obsessed with the elegant Duchess of Cambridge as with Taylor Swift and the Kardashians. And during the presidential election four years ago, a vocal "birther" movement tried to prove that Barack Obama did not have the right to be president of the U.S.

In 2015, the patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, in conjunction with an investigation committee set up by Putin, ordered the retesting of all the bones. Nicholas II and his family were discreetly exhumed and their DNA compared with that of living relatives, including England's Prince Philip, one of whose grandmothers was the Romanov Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna. The tsar's DNA was also compared to that of his father, Alexander III, and grandfather Alexander II. (For the latter, scientists were able to use blood caked on a tunic the tsar was wearing when he was assassinated.)

There were also plans to test Alexandra's DNA against samples from the preserved body of her sister Ella, who was also killed by the Bolsheviks and whose body is now displayed in a glass case in a Russian church in Jerusalem. Nicholas, Alexandra, and three daughters were returned to their tomb, but Alexei and Maria remain unburied.

A year later there have been vague reports that the tests have been completed but no new announcements about a final burial. This might seem a strange process, but it reflects the opaque way power has always worked in Russia—under tsars, Bolsheviks, and now its contemporary leaders. The church certainly has its own agenda, but it has historically been an arm of the autocracy.

Most Kremlin observers agree that the final decision regarding the remains of the Romanovs will be Putin's. Somehow he has to reconcile the 1917 Revolution, the slaughter of 1918, and contemporary Russia. Will there be ceremonies to commemorate both? A reburial ritual with royal honors or a religious ceremony to revere saints? No one knows exactly how he will try to pull it off.

Members of the Russian public, particularly those who are either ultranationalists or Orthodox believers, are fascinated by the story of the Romanovs. And almost everybody is willing to embrace the tsars as part of Russia's magnificent past. Stalin promoted a few of them, such as Peter the Great, as rigorous reformers, but Putin's new textbooks present many as heroic leaders. So, even if there's little support for a restoration of the dynasty, there is huge enthusiasm for the restoration of the glory and prestige and power that the dynasty represented.

Putin's view of Russian history, fueled by his regular reading of historical biographies, is organized by success and achievement, not ideology.

One thing is certain: Putin's view of Russian history, fueled by his regular reading of historical biographies, is organized by success and achievement, not ideology. The country's great "tsars" were Stalin and Peter the Great, the disastrous ones Mikhail G

The human brains being grown OUTSIDE the body: Lab making miniature 'organs in a jar' is revealed

•           In 2013, scientists used stem cells to grow 3D tissue that mimics a brain
•           Now researchers over the world are working on making these mini-brains
•           Skin cells are transformed into stem cells, which are grown into brain cells
•           The brains are being used for researching disorders unique to humans


From what makes us right or left-handed to why we develop autism, there are many mysteries about the human brain we are yet to solve.

Some of these questions can be answered by studying the brains of other animals like mice, for example.

But this isn't possible for other phenomena that are unique to human brains.
Researchers are now growing hundreds of tiny human brains in labs, in an attempt to understand what gives us unique disorders like autism and schizophrenia - and the method they use to create these brains is surprisingly simple.

Researchers are now growing hundreds of tiny human brains in labs, and the method they use to create these brains is surprisingly simple. A magnified picture of an organoid, three to four millimetres across, with a structure similar to that of a human brain is shown


'Organoids', three to four millimetres across, have a structure similar to that of an immature human brain.

Just like a normal brain, the organoids are divided into grey matter, made up of neurons, and white matter, a fatty tissue composed of their spindly 'tails'.

Each is also composed of specific regions, like the human brain.

But they look nothing like a brain, instead they are watery blobs floating in pale liquid.
Scientists across the world are developing cerebral organoids, or mini brains, to solve a variety of problems.

Many of these groups are trying to understand other complex neurological diseases that are unique to humans, like autism and schizophrenia.

One such researcher is Madeline Lancaster, who works at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Medicine in Cambridge.

The brains are created using cells. The team uses skin cells but, they could start with any cell type.

'The brains develop in the same way you would see in an embryo,'Dr Lancaster told BBC Future.

They turn these cells into stem cells, using proteins, and as these grow, brain cells begin to develop.

The researchers starve the cells and, for an unknown reason, the brain cells seem to be the most robust ones, so they survive.

These brain cells are placed in a special jelly and put into an incubator.

The researchers in Dr Lancaster's lab are using these brains to study a variety of conditions.
'Our current interests focus on other neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and intellectual disability, by introducing mutations seen in these disorders and examining their roles in pathogenesis in the context of organoid development,' Dr Lancaster says on her project page.

Scientists created pea-sized brains from a patient's skin that could lead to cures for common neurological disorders such as schizophrenia


The brains are created using human cells as a starting point.

The team uses skim cells but, they could start with any cell type.

'The brains develop in the same way you would see in an embryo,'Dr Lancaster told BBC Future.

They turn these cells into stem cells, using proteins, and as these grow, brain cells begin to develop.

The researchers starve the cells and, for an unknown reason, the brain cells seem to be the most robust ones, so they survive.

These brain cells are placed in a special jelly and popped into an incubator.

The first 'brain in a bottle' was grown by stem cell scientists in 2013, who hoped it would lead to treatments for neurological and mental diseases.

The 'organoids', three to four millimetres across, have a structure similar to that of an immature human brain.

Just like a normal brain, the organoids are divided into grey matter, made up of neurons, and white matter, a fatty tissue composed of their spindly 'tails'.

Each is also composed of specific regions, like the human brain.

Professor Juergen Knoblich, of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, derived the iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) from the connective tissue of a patient with microcephaly.

This is a rare but devastating genetic disorder in which brain size is dramatically reduced, leaving the sufferer with severe mental disability.

Like many neurological conditions, the disease has been difficult to study in mice because they do not share the same brain complexity as us.

The team used a 3D matrix scaffold that mimics the environment of a human embryo and special lab devices, called spinning bio reactors, which produce nutrients and oxygen, to grow the brains.

'Ultimately, we would like to use them to study more common disorders like schizophrenia or autism as it has been shown the underlying defects occur during the development of the brain,' Professor Knoblich said at the time.

'We are satisfied - or we hope - we will be able to model some of these defects as well.'
The original goal was to produce a biological tool that can be used to investigate the workings of the brain, better understand brain diseases, and test new drugs.

The goal for many researchers is to develop a brain exactly like a human's.

But some researchers say this would be a step too far.

Dr Martin Coath, from the Cognition Institute at the University of Plymouth, questioned why anyone would ever want to create a 'real' human brain.

'A human brain that was 'fully working' would be conscious, have hopes, dreams, feel pain, and would ask questions about what we were doing to it,' he said.

'Something we have grown in the lab, but on a much simpler level than a human brain, might be hooked up to electronic eyes, ears, and hands and be taught to do something - maybe something that is as sophisticated as many simple living creatures.
'That doesn't seem so far off to me.' 

From what makes us right or left-handed to why we develop autism, there are many mysteries about the human brain we are yet to solve. Now researchers are growing hundreds of tiny human brains in labs, in an attempt to understand

The lady behind me in this photo works for the Virginia State Motor Vehicle office. She calling someone, somewhere about me. I was getting a West Virginia driver license and she was putting in all my information to the computer when she got a message to call someone about me. She wouldn’t tell me anything else except “Sometimes they flag people”…whose they? Why am I one those people?  
And this happens all the time.
I got that quick boarding thing from the airlines, yet every time I try to get on the plane using the pre-boarding thing THAT I PAID FOR…I somehow get “randomly selected” by security.  And I have a witness to all of this in my wife  Mary. 

I Love the Cold Weather but Winters Coming


No comments: