Berlin, Jan 2 (AP/UNB) — Edgar Hilsenrath, a German-Jewish writer whose fictional account of the Holocaust from the perspective of a Nazi perpetrator became a best-seller, has died at 92.
The German news agency dpa quoted Hilsenrath's second wife, Marlene, as confirming Tuesday that the author died Dec. 30 in western Germany after battling pneumonia.
Born in Leipzig in 1926, Hilsenrath moved to Romania at 12 to escape Nazi persecution, and was later deported to Ukraine.
His first novel, "Night," recounting the horrors of trying to survive in a Jewish ghetto, was published in 1954.
Hilsenrath gained international fame with his 1971 novel "The Nazi and the Barber" — a grotesque story about an SS member who pretends to be Jewish after the war to escape prosecution — that sold millions of copies worldwide.
New York, Jan 1 (AP/UNB) — If you're planning to try to lose weight in 2019, you're sure to find a fierce debate online and among friends and family about how best to do it. It seems like everyone has an opinion, and new fads emerge every year.
Two major studies last year provided more fuel for a particularly polarizing topic — the role carbs play in making us fat. The studies gave scientists some clues, but, like other nutrition studies, they can't say which diet — if any — is best for everyone.
That's not going to satisfy people who want black-and-white answers, but nutrition research is extremely difficult and even the most respected studies come with big caveats. People are so different that it's all but impossible to conduct studies that show what really works over long periods of time.
Before embarking on a weight loss plan for the new year, here's a look at some of what was learned last year.
Fewer carbs, fewer pounds?
It's no longer called the Atkins Diet, but the low-carb school of dieting has been enjoying a comeback. The idea is that the refined carbohydrates in foods like white bread are quickly converted into sugar in our bodies, leading to energy swings and hunger.
By cutting carbs, the claim is that weight loss will be easier because your body will instead burn fat for fuel while feeling less hungry. A recent study seems to offer more support for low-carb proponents. But, like many studies, it tried to understand just one sliver of how the body works.
The study , led by an author of books promoting low-carb diets, looked at whether varying carb levels might affect how the body uses energy. Among 164 participants, it found those on low-carb diets burned more calories in a resting state than those on high-carb diets.
The study did not say people lost more weight on a low-carb diet — and didn't try to measure that. Meals and snacks were tightly controlled and continually adjusted so everyone's weights stayed stable.
David Ludwig, the paper's lead author and a researcher at Boston Children's Hospital, said it suggests limiting carbs could make it easier for people to keep weight off once they've lost it. He said the approach might work best for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Ludwig noted the study wasn't intended to test long-term health effects or real-world scenarios where people make their own food. The findings also need to be replicated to be validated, he said.
Caroline Apovian of Boston University's School of Medicine said the findings are interesting fodder for the scientific community, but that they shouldn't be taken as advice for the average person looking to lose weight.
Do I avoid fat to be skinny?
For years people were advised to curb fats , which are found in foods including meat, nuts, eggs, butter and oil. Cutting fat was seen as a way to control weight, since a gram of fat has twice as many calories than the same amount of carbs or protein.
Many say the advice had the opposite effect by inadvertently giving us license to gobble up fat-free cookies, cakes and other foods that were instead full of the refined carbs and sugars now blamed for our wider waistlines.
Nutrition experts gradually moved away from blanket recommendations to limit fats for weight loss. Fats are necessary for absorbing important nutrients and can help us feel full. That doesn't mean you have to subsist on steak drizzled in butter to be healthy.
Bruce Y. Lee, a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins, said the lessons learned from the anti-fat fad should be applied to the anti-carb fad: don't oversimplify advice.
"There's a constant look for an easy way out," Lee said.
So which is better?
Another big study this past year found low-carb diets and low-fat diets were about equally as effective for weight loss. Results varied by individual, but after a year, people in both groups shed an average of 12 to 13 pounds.
The author noted the findings don't contradict Ludwig's low-carb study. Instead, they suggest there may be some flexibility in the ways we can lose weight. Participants in both groups were encouraged to focus on minimally processed foods like produce and meat prepared at home. Everyone was advised to limit added sugar and refined flour.
"If you got that foundation right, for many, that would be an enormous change," said Chris Gardner of Stanford University and one of the study's authors.
Limiting processed foods could improve most diets by cutting down overall calories, while still leaving wiggle room for people's preferences. That's important, because for a diet to be effective, a person has to be able to stick to it. A breakfast of fruit and oatmeal may be filling for one person, but leave another hungry soon after.
Gardner notes the study had its limitations, too. Participants' diets weren't controlled. People were instead instructed on how to achieve eating a low-carb or low-fat in regular meetings with dietitians, which may have provided a support network most dieters don't have.
So, what works?
In the short term you can probably lose weight by eating only raw foods, or going vegan, or cutting out gluten, or following another diet plan that catches your eye. But what will work for you over the long term is a different question.
Zhaoping Li, director of clinical nutrition division at the University of California, Los Angeles, says there is no a single set of guidelines that help everyone lose weight and keep it off. It's why diets often fail — they don't factor into account the many factors that drive us to eat what we do.
To help people lose weight, Li examines her patients' eating and physical activity routines to identify improvements people will be able to live with.
"What sticks is what matters," Li said.
Las Vegas, Dec 28 (AP/UNB) — Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Gwen Stefani are among the superstars who will be ushering in the new year with performances at venues on the Las Vegas Strip, while more than 300,000 people are expected to gather on the world-famous corridor Monday to watch eight minutes of fireworks.
At another celebration in the downtown Fremont Street entertainment district, 12 bands will play under a massive video canopy that will show the ball drop in New York's Time Square.
"The only thing that can top Las Vegas is Las Vegas on New Year's Eve," said Jacqueline Peterson of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. "The city continues to evolve itself. We never run out of things to do."
Gaga's New Year's Eve concert at Park Theater at Park MGM casino-resort will be the third of her long-anticipated residency, which will debut Friday. Veteran Las Vegas performer Celine Dion will be at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, and Maroon 5 will celebrate the holiday once again at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Stefani will take the stage at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort as part of the residency she kicked off this year. Calvin Harris, The Chainsmokers and J. Cole are among those performing at nightclubs.
While Las Vegas is known as a place for last-minute trips, tourists who want to ring in 2019 there should act fast. Tourism officials expect 318,000 people to travel to Sin City for the holiday and nearly all the city's more than 147,000 hotel rooms to be booked.
"Now is the time to do it," Chris Baldizan, senior vice president of entertainment booking and development at MGM Resorts International, said about booking a trip for the holiday. But "we'll always find a spot for somebody."
Las Vegas police are planning an "all-hands-on-deck approach" to security, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.
Authorities will deploy plainclothes officers, federal agents and police in and around the casino-resorts, along with rooftop snipers, Lombardo said.
New Year's Eve is worth an estimated $403 million to Las Vegas, according to the convention and visitors authority, which is responsible for promoting the destination.
In addition to concerts with tickets on sale for the general public, casino operators also host over-the-top private parties for their VIP guests.
Caesars Entertainment hosted nine of those last year, which included DJs, dancers, fireworks shows, thousands of bottles of champagne and performances by Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez and other stars. Five hangover brunches were served the next morning.
Unlike the two previous years, New Year's Eve falls on a weekday. Casino operators say the Monday celebration is a positive because it gives people a reason to stay beyond a typical weekend trip.
"It just means that more of our guests are coming in even earlier to spend more days celebrating in this great tradition," said Chris Holdren, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Caesars Entertainment. "So, they may come in, spend the weekend and extend it to encompass the great holiday."
Senegal, Dec 26 (AP/UNB) — The Museum of Black Civilizations in Senegal opened this month amid a global conversation about the ownership and legacy of African art. The West African nation's culture minister isn't shy: He wants the thousands of pieces of cherished heritage taken from the continent over the centuries to come home.
"It's entirely logical that Africans should get back their artworks," Abdou Latif Coulibaly told The Associated Press. "These works were taken in conditions that were perhaps legitimate at the time but illegitimate today."
Last month, a report commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron recommended that French museums give back works taken without consent, if African countries request them. Macron has stressed the "undeniable crimes of European colonization," adding that "I cannot accept that a large part of African heritage is in France."
The new museum in Dakar is the latest sign that welcoming spaces across the continent are being prepared.
The museum, with its focus on Africa and the diaspora, is decades in the making. The idea was conceived when Senegal's first president, internationally acclaimed poet Leopold Sedar Senghor, hosted the World Black Festival of Arts in 1966.
At the museum's vibrant opening, sculptors from Los Angeles, singers from Cameroon and professors from Europe and the Americas came to celebrate, with some in tears. "This moment is historic," Senegalese President Macky Sall said. "It is part of the continuity of history."
Perhaps reflecting the tenuous hold that African nations still have on their own legacy objects, the museum will not have a permanent collection. Filling the 148,000-square-foot circular structure, one of the largest of its kind on the continent, is complicated by the fact that countless artifacts have been dispersed around the world.
Both the inaugural exhibition, "African Civilizations: Continuous Creation of Humanity," and the museum's curator take a far longer view than the recent centuries of colonization and turmoil. Current works highlight the continent as the "cradle of civilization" and the echoes found among millions of people in the diaspora today.
"Colonization? That's just two centuries," curator Hamady Bocoum told the AP, saying that proof of African civilization is at least 7,000 years old, referencing a skull discovered in present-day Chad.
Like others, Bocoum is eager to see artifacts return for good. The exhibition includes 50 pieces on loan from France, including more than a dozen from the Quai Branly museum in Paris.
More than 5,000 pieces in the Quai Branly come from Senegal alone, Bocoum said.
"When we see the inventory of the Senegalese objects that are found in France, we're going to ask for certain of those objects," Bocoum said. "For the moment, we have not yet started negotiations."
He brushed off concerns that African institutions might be unable to care for their own heritage, pointing to the new museum's humidified, air-conditioned storage space.
The history of some of the objects in the opening exhibition is grim. Pointing to the saber of El Hadj Umar Tall, a 19th-century West African thinker who fought against French colonialism, Bocoum described how French troops fighting him stripped local women of their elaborate jewelry by cutting off their ears.
Contemporary works in the exhibition touch on both triumph and tragedy. There are black-and-white photographs of African nightclubs in the 1960s shot by famous Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, and a stark mural by Haitian artist Philippe Dodard depicting African religions and the middle passage.
Works by Yrneh Gabon Brown, based in Los Angeles, reference slavery and contemporary race relations in America.
"Sometimes I feel like a motherless child," Brown told the AP. "And here, as a member of Africa's English-speaking diaspora, I am proud, reaffirmed."
France, whose president in recent weeks has pledged to return 26 pieces to Benin, is just one of many countries loaning works for the new museum's opening exhibition. Bocoum now is working with dozens of institutions around the world to plan future exhibits.
"This museum is celebrating the resilience of black people," professor Linda Carty, who teaches African American studies at Syracuse University, told the AP at its opening. "This is a forced recognition of how much black people have brought to the world. We were first. That's been taken away from us, and we now have reclaimed it."
Sandringham, Dec 26 (AP/UNB) — Queen Elizabeth II wove personal reflections into the latest edition of her annual Christmas message, saying she hoped her long life brought a measure of wisdom and noting her grandchildren's contributions to Britain's royal family.
The 92-year-old queen, the world's longest-reigning living monarch, also included the customary tribute to military personnel and wishes for world peace in the message, which was pre-recorded at Buckingham Palace and televised Tuesday.
"Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom," Elizabeth said in the recording. "I'd like to think so. Perhaps part of that wisdom is to recognize some of life's baffling paradoxes, such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good and yet a capacity for evil."
On a lighter note, the queen listed the House of Windsor's 2018 milestones with the same unabashed pride of someone writing their yearly Christmas letter for friends and far-flung relatives.
"It's been a busy year for my family, with two weddings and two babies, and another child expected soon. It helps to keep a grandmother well occupied," Elizabeth said, not forgetting to mention her own firstborn,
"We have had other celebrations too, including the 70th birthday of The Prince of Wales," otherwise known as heir to the throne Prince Charles.
The annual message was broadcast to many of the 53 Commonwealth countries. Elizabeth recalled that her father, King George VI, welcomed eight former British colonies at the first meeting of Commonwealth leaders in 1948.
"Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding," she said.
The queen mentioned her father, from whom she inherited the throne when he died in 1952, again while expressing gratitude for soldiers and sailors past and present. During World War I, two decades before his own unexpected ascension to the throne, he served with the Royal Navy and saw friends killed in battle, Elizabeth said.
"At Christmas, we become keenly aware of loved ones who have died, whatever the circumstances. But, of course, we would not grieve if we did not love.
Earlier in the day, Elizabeth and her family received cheers from a Christmas crowd when they arrived for a church service in the English countryside. A chauffeured limousine delivered the queen, while her descendants and their spouses walked from a nearby estate of the monarch's.
Prince Charles led the way, followed by his sons: Prince William and his wife, Catherine, and Prince Harry and his pregnant wife, Meghan. Harry and the former American actress known as Meghan Markle married in May and are expecting their first child in the spring.
The couple walked arm in arm next to William and Catherine. Many in the crowd wished them "Merry Christmas" as they strolled to the church in the English countryside on a cold, wintry morning.
After the 45-minute service, people gave them flowers as they headed back for a traditional Christmas lunch.
The queen's husband, Prince Philip, who is 97 and largely retired from public life, did not attend the service. Charles' wife Camilla, who is recovering from flu, also missed church.
William and Catherine's three children — Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and 8-month-old Prince Louis, also stayed home.
Britain's royals usually exchange small gifts on Christmas Eve, a practice popularized by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The queen typically frowns on extravagant gifts, and many of the presents are novelty items.
When the queen was younger, Christmas meant a brisk family walk through the woods on Christmas or an excursion on horseback.
Elizabeth delivered her first Christmas Day message when she took the throne in 1952. The seasonal addresses aired on the radio until she made the transition to television in 1957.
They have been broadcast during every year of her reign save one. In 1969, the queen decided her family had received enough exposure from giving a TV crew unusual access for a documentary.
That year, she issued the message in writing.