THE SEX SECRETS OF INSECTS
By Marlene Zuk
Prostitution is supposedly the oldest profession, which means that sex itself must be one of the oldest behaviors, a conclusion underscored by the recent discovery of two bugs fossilized as they coupled 165 million years ago. Simply being ancient doesn’t make a sex act interesting, but this one was noteworthy in part because behavior is generally so ephemeral, leaving none of the preserved remains we rely upon to tell us about how early forms of life ate, or ran, or saw the world.
The fossil also showed in breathtaking detail the positioning of the pair in flagrante delicto. While the finer points of the orientation of this particular duo may have been affected by the pressure of the sediment that caused their preservation, the finding underscores the unlikely seeming importance of sexual habits in evolution. Scientists care about the intricacies of how insects mate not out of a desire to create a bestial Kama Sutra, but for two reasons.
The first is that we can use such aspects of sex as mating position and the shape of genitalia to reconstruct evolutionary history and see how species are related to one another. Evolution is all about reproduction. What happens at the business end of an animal is essential to whether eggs are fertilized and genes passed on, and nowhere is the variation in sex organs more breathtaking than in insects. Illustrations of the private parts of insects look like something produced by the love child of Hieronymus Bosch and M. C. Escher, with a hefty measure of Rube Goldberg thrown in. How similar the sexual apparatus of two species looks is often a key to how recently they shared a common ancestor, or indeed to whether they are really two species at all.
The elaboration of insects’ genitalia also has a more diabolical side. We may see two damselflies forming a heart shape with their bodies as they couple, abdomens elaborately curled as they perch on a stem, but if you could look inside them, you would see what appears to be a minuscule Swiss Army knife with its attachments unfolded. That would be the male’s penis. A female damselfly may mate with more than one partner, but from each male’s perspective, the more of her eggs he can keep from rivals and fertilize himself, the better. The spines and scoops on his penis serve to remove the prior male’s sperm so he can replace it with his own. Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but she is utterly ruthless when it comes to genitalia.
But back to mating position, and to the second reason scientists care about bug sex. Sexual position dictates whether males or females have control over the outcome of mating, which in turn has a host of repercussions on the evolution of other aspects of behavior. The side-by-side position of many bugs, including the family of which the fossil duo is a member, is common, but so is a female-on-top version. In the crickets I study, for example, once a female has been wooed by the song of a male, she has to clamber onto his back and orient herself just so. Once she is securely situated, the male reaches up with his nether regions and proffers a tiny aliquot of sperm, neatly contained in a vessel of chitin. The end of the vessel has a long stem that must be threaded skillfully into the reproductive opening of the female, after which the sperm drains into her body for several minutes. The process is incredibly painstaking, and requires the full cooperation of the female.
Contrast this with mating in water striders, those leggy inhabitants of streams and ponds that skitter on the water’s surface. A water strider male simply leaps unceremoniously onto a passing female, sometimes clinging to her back with specialized hooks. The female usually attempts to dislodge him, sometimes successfully but often not; either way, the process is time-consuming and risks attracting the attention of predators.
People sometimes think animals, insects included, follow a kind of 1950s lifestyle, with subservient females and macho males, but the truth is much more unconventional. In some species of crickets and their relatives the katydids, for example, where females have the upper hand, so to speak, males offer females nutritious globs weighing up to 30 percent of their own body weight that they have manufactured from their body fluids. The female eats these during mating, and usually, the larger the nuptial gift, the more of the male’s sperm fertilizes her eggs. As you might imagine, however, a male does not produce such gifts easily, and, contrary to the stereotype of the indiscriminate lothario, tends to be rather picky about which female he chooses to be the recipient.
One last word about mating positions, this time in every New Yorker’s favorite insect, the cockroach. Cockroaches use an ancient pose, one that predates the missionary position by many millions of years. After emitting courtship pheromones and other seductive behavior, male and female back up to each other and join hind ends, each facing away. The procedure is oddly clumsy and almost touching, relying as it does on blind trust in the cooperation of one’s unseen partner. It would be easier if the two insects could glance over their shoulders to ensure they were backing up in the right direction, but since they lack necks, that is not possible. Perhaps a fossil a few hundred million years hence will show us an improvement. That is, if we humans are still around. The roaches are bound to be.
Marlene Zuk is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota and the author of “Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language From the Insect World.”
ON DYING AFTER YOUR TIME
By Daniel Callahan
Hastings-On-Hudson, N.Y. — This fall Google announced that it would venture into territory far removed from Internet search. Through a new company, Calico, it will be “tackling” the “challenge” of aging.
Of course, the dream of beating back time is an old one. Shakespeare had King Lear lament the tortures of aging, while the myth of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth in Florida and the eternal life of the Struldbrugs in “Gulliver’s Travels” both fed the notion of overcoming aging.
For some scientists, recent anti-aging research — on gene therapy, body-part replacement by regeneration and nanotechnology for repairing aging cells — has breathed new life into this dream. Optimists about average life expectancy’s surpassing 100 years in the coming century, like James W. Vaupel, the founder and director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, cite promising animal studies in which the lives of mice have been extended through genetic manipulation and low-calorie diets. They also point to the many life-extending medical advances of the past century as precedents, with no end in sight, and note that average life expectancy in the United States has long been rising, from 47.3 in 1900 to 78.7 in 2010. Others are less sanguine. S. Jay Olshansky, a research associate at the Center on Aging at the University of Chicago, has pointed out that sharp reductions in infant mortality explain most of that rise. Even if some people lived well into old age, the death of 50 percent or more of infants and children for most of history kept the average life expectancy down. As those deaths fell drastically over the past century, life expectancy increased, helped by improvements in nutrition, a decline in infectious disease and advances in medicine. But there is no reason to think another sharp drop of that sort is in the cards.
Even if anti-aging research could give us radically longer lives someday, though, should we even be seeking them? Regardless of what science makes possible, or what individual people want, aging is a public issue with social consequences, and these must be thought through.
Consider how dire the cost projections for Medicare already are. In 2010 more than 40 million Americans were over 65. In 2030 there will be slightly more than 72 million, and in 2050 more than 83 million. The Congressional Budget Office has projected a rise of Medicare expenditures to 5.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2038 from 3.5 percent today, a burden often declared unsustainable.
MODERN medicine is very good at keeping elderly people with chronic diseases expensively alive. At 83, I’m a good example. I’m on oxygen at night for emphysema, and three years ago I needed a seven-hour emergency heart operation to save my life. Just 10 percent of the population — mainly the elderly — consumes about 80 percent of health care expenditures, primarily on expensive chronic illnesses and end-of-life costs. Historically, the longer lives that medical advances have given us have run exactly parallel to the increase in chronic illness and the explosion in costs. Can we possibly afford to live even longer — much less radically longer?
This rise in chronic illness should also give us pause about the idea, common to proponents of radical life extension, that we can slow aging in a way that leaves us in perfectly good health. As Dr. Olshansky has tartly observed, “The evolutionary theory of senescence can be stated as follows: while bodies are not designed to fail, neither are they designed for extended operation.” Nature itself seems to be resisting our efforts. (Swift’s Struldbrugs, it is often forgotten, had immortal life but with it all the afflictions of aging, and so were declared legally dead at 80.)
What’s more, an important and liberating part of modern life has been upward social and economic mobility. The old retire from work and their place is taken by the young. A society where the aged stay in place for many more years would surely throw that fruitful passing of the generations into chaos.
The fundamental difficulty here is that we cannot proceed in the usual way with this medical research, taking small steps, seeing the results and then, if they are positive, moving further. It will take decades for the changes in length of life to play out to allow assessment of their benefits and harms. By then it may be too late to reverse the damage. One likelihood, even in just a few years, is that older people who stay longer in the work force, as many are now forced to do, will close out opportunities for younger workers coming in.
And exactly what are the potential social benefits? Is there any evidence that more old people will make special contributions now lacking with an average life expectancy close to 80? I am flattered, at my age, by the commonplace that the years bring us wisdom — but I have not noticed much of it in myself or my peers. If we weren’t especially wise earlier in life, we are not likely to be that way later.
I have often been struck, at funerals of the elderly, of the common phrase that while the deceased will be missed, he or she led a “full life.” Adding years to a life doesn’t necessarily make it any fuller.
We may properly hope that scientific advances help ensure, with ever greater reliability, that young people manage to become old people. We are not, however, obliged to help the old become indefinitely older. Indeed, our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.
Daniel Callahan is the president emeritus of the Hastings Center and a co-director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy.
LBN-SITE OF THE DAY:
Spotify: “Soundtrack your life”
LBN-THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
Lauren London (29)
Nikki Tyler (41)
Kevin Sussman (43)
Fred Armisen (47)
Marisa Tomei (49)
Chelsea Noble (49)
Cassandra Wilson (58)
Gary Rossington (62)
Patricia Wettig (62)
Jeff Bridges (64)
Gemma Jones (71)
Wink Martindale (79)
MOMMY, THE DRONE’S HERE!
By Maureen Dowd
Washington — The novelty of flying cars never materialized. But flying novels are right around the corner.
If you aren’t nervous enough reading about 3-D printers spitting out handguns or Google robots with Android phones, imagine the skies thick with crisscrossing tiny drones.
“I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not,” Jeff Bezos told Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes” Sunday, unveiling his octocopter drones.
The Amazon founder is optimistic that the fleet of miniature robot helicopters clutching plastic containers will be ready to follow GPS coordinates within a radius of 10 miles and zip around the country providing half-hour delivery of packages of up to 5 pounds — 86 percent of Amazon’s stock — just as soon as the F.A.A. approves.
“Wow!” Rose said, absorbing the wackiness of it all.
The futuristic Pony Express to deliver pony-print coats and other Amazon goodies will be “fun,” Bezos said, and won’t start until they have “all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood.’ ”
So if they can’t land on my head, why do they make my head hurt? Maybe because they are redolent of President Obama’s unhealthy attachment to lethal drones, which are killing too many innocents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and our spy agencies’ unhealthy attachment to indiscriminate surveillance.
Or maybe they recall that eerie “Twilight Zone” episode where a Brobdingnagian Agnes Moorehead fends off tiny spaceships with a big wooden stirrer — even though these flying machines would be dropping off the housewares.
Or maybe it’s because after “60 Minutes,” “Homeland” featured a story line about a drone both faulty and morally agnostic. The White House chief of staff, wanting to cover up a bolloxed-up covert operation on the Iraq-Iran border, suggested directing the drone to finish off its own agent, Brody.
“I will not order a strike on our own men,” the acting C.I.A. chief, played by Mandy Patinkin, replied sternly. “Hang it up.”
Or maybe I am leery that Bezos, who is also dabbling in space tourism, was looking for a Cyber Monday p.r. coup by playing to Americans’ ranker instincts, hooking our instant gratification society on ever more instant gratification. Do we really need that argyle sweater plopped in our hands in half an hour as opposed to the next day? What would Pope Francis say?
And won’t all the other alpha moguls want their own drone fleets? Howard Schultz will want to drop your half-caf, bone-dry, ristretto, venti, four-pump, sugar-free, cinnamon dolce, soy, skinny Starbucks latte on the front step at 7 a.m., and Tim Cook will want to deliver the latest Apple toys the soonest, and Disney’s Robert Iger will want his drones gussied up like Mary Poppins.
It will be interesting to watch The Washington Post cover new owner Bezos as he takes on the F.A.A. over drone regulations. The agency is drafting rules to let larger commercial drones and airlines share the sky, with an eye toward issuing licenses in 2015, but a handful of states are passing restrictions of their own.
Lobbying for private unmanned drones, Bezos will be aligned with the Motion Picture Association of America, which is working to get directors the right to use drones for aerial shots.
It’s a business taking flight. Experts say there may be as many as 30,000 unmanned private and government drones flying in this country by 2020, ratcheting drones into a $90 billion industry, generating 100,000 jobs. A degree in drone management can’t be far off.
Politico writes that the logistics of drone delivery will be dizzying: “It’s easy enough to drop a package on someone’s front steps, but what if the person lives in a fifth-floor apartment? Amazon wants to launch the service in large urban areas — could a drone collide with a skyscraper?”
Drones are less restricted abroad. Irish filmmaker Caroline Campbell used one to shoot film of Google and Facebook offices in Dublin, telling Wired, “We feel that it is no more intrusive than something like Google Street View.”
Journalists, police and paparazzi jumped on the drone trend. One photographer dispatched a drone over Tina Turner’s Lake Zurich estate to snap shots of her wedding last summer — before police ordered it grounded.
According to USA Today on Tuesday, all sorts of American businesses are eluding drone restrictions: real estate representatives are getting video of luxury properties; photographers are collecting footage of Hawaiian surfers; Western farmers are monitoring their land; Sonoma vintners are checking on how their grapes are faring. As Rem Rieder wryly noted in that paper, Bezos may eventually let his drones help with home delivery of The Washington Post, “but it’s bad news for kids on bikes.”
Law enforcement agencies are eager to get drones patrolling the beat. And The Wrap reported that in the upcoming Sony remake of “RoboCop,” Samuel L. Jackson’s character, a spokesman for a multinational conglomerate that has to manufacture a special RoboCop with a conscience for America (still traumatized by “The Terminator,” no doubt) scolds Americans for being “robophobic.”
Of course, for the robophopic, there is already a way to get goods almost immediately: Go to the store.
THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD
By Thomas B. Edsall
If you ask them, Americans will tell you that they want constructive compromise and a more conciliatory political regime, even though they are reluctant to reach agreement when it comes to the specific issues that they actually care about.
In “Why American Political Parties Can’t Get Beyond the Left-Right Divide,” three experts on voting behavior argue that proponents of a revival of a less divisive politics should keep their hopes down.
The core of the argument made at a conference last month at the University of Akron by the political scientists Edward Carmines of Indiana University, Michael Ensley of Kent State University and Michael Wagner of the University of Wisconsin lies in the graphic representation in Figure 1, which shows the distribution of political orientations in the United States.
According to their analysis of American National Election Studies poll data from the last 40 years, the electorate is divided into five ideological categories: liberals, who make up 19 percent of voters; conservatives, 27 percent; libertarians, 22 percent; populists, 11 percent; and, in the lighter gray center, moderates, at 21 percent.
Carmines’s five-group analysis produces more finely grained results than traditional analyses of political identification that focus on just three variables: conservative, liberal or moderate. These traditional surveys show a much larger bloc in the moderate center, generally 35 percent or more. This tripartite conservative-moderate-liberal approach results in what Carmine and his collaborators contend is far too large a group in the middle. Their method reveals a much weaker moderate core.
This finding undermines the prospect of basing campaign strategy or a third political party on an imaginary centrist coalition:
“Many of those self-identifying as ideologically moderate are actually polarized from each other – making a centrist third-party’s rise very difficult.”
Carmines expanded on this point by email:
“Analysts have been misled by the number of respondents in surveys who claim to be moderates or place themselves toward the middle of the ANES seven-point ideological self-identification scale question. These measures indicate that moderates are the largest ideological grouping in the U.S. But these estimates are misleading because the group of individuals who are moderates by this definition are actually not moderate according to their positions on economic and social issues. By this latter operational definition only 21 percent of the public were moderates in 2012 and only 13 percent in 2008. Moreover, many of those who self-identify as moderates are actually libertarians or populists — groups who have diametrically opposite sets of issue positions. Attempting to build a winning electoral coalition from such a diverse set of voters is unlikely to work. Having said this, if Democrats were to follow the recent behavior of the Republican Party and move leftward as much as the G.O.P. has moved rightward, then there would be a greater opening for a successful centrist third party.”
In a separate email to The Times, Wagner, one of Carmines’s co-authors, writes that most “moderates” are “not pure centrists, but a healthy mix of libertarians, populists and centrists.” Attempting to unite populists and libertarians under one new banner is virtually impossible because they are “just as different from each other as liberals are different from conservatives, making it hard for a centrist to appeal to them.”
In a follow-up email, Ensley – Carmines’s other co-author – provided an anecdotal example of the challenges faced by advocates of a centrist approach.
Ensley describes a “stereotype of a populist, an older, white male voter, who is probably of union family. He is worried about Social Security and Medicare being there for him. However, he is also probably uncomfortable with issues like gay marriage. He is probably uncomfortable with abortion on demand. He is probably a church-going fellow.” Ensley argues that if this hypothetical voter is given a chance to cast a presidential ballot for Michael Bloomberg (sometimes mentioned as a possible third party candidate), he “is probably indifferent between Bloomberg and the Democratic and Republicans options. They are all equally unappealing.”
Conversely, Ensley suggests, “a typical libertarian, Ron-Paul type voter looks at Bloomberg and celebrates the social liberalism (pro-gay marriage, pro-choice), which is the exact thing that the populist does not like about Bloomberg.” At the same time, however, the libertarian sees in Bloomberg “a nanny-state, pro-regulation, soda-taxing machine that repels” him.
What then, Ensley asks, is the poor hypothetical third party candidate to do? Any move to appease the populist side is likely to repel the libertarian side and vice versa. As soon as a centrist candidate starts to “take sides, then the grand coalition of populists, moderates and libertarians crumbles.”
The Carmines-Ensley-Wagner analysis helps explain the roiling nature of contemporary politics, what they call “the deep-seated ideological heterogeneity” of the American electorate. The heterogeneity lying just under the surface polarization has led to two seemingly divergent developments.
The relatively narrow voting groups that fit the traditional definition of liberal and conservative are entrenched in the two-party system — conservatives strongly sharing the policy preferences of the Republican Party and liberals strongly sharing the policy preferences of the Democratic Party — and the very depth of this belief creates the gap that defines political polarization. But there is another world of disaffection aswirl here too: Populists and libertarians are disconnected from both parties, often cross-pressured issue by issue, with libertarians gravitating toward the Republican Party on economics and to the Democrats on social issues, while populists are propelled in the opposite direction.
Voters clearly have issue positions that do not fall neatly into well-defined left-right categories. There are dozens of economic and social issues (as the tables in their paper show) on which a voter can fall into any one of Carmines’s five ideological categories. Complexity and seeming contradiction is the rule, not the exception.
Democrats and Republicans each have two alternative strategies available as they seek to build a majority coalition, according to Carmines and his collaborators.
On the one hand, the parties can focus on turning out core supporters. This would lead to more polarization and weaken the appeal to voters falling in the populist, libertarian and moderate camps.
On the other hand, the parties can try to boost support among libertarians, populists and those moderates who do actually exist. For libertarians, Democrats would have to move to the right on economic issues, and Republicans to the left on social issues. For populists, the opposite would be true. For moderates, both parties would have to move to the center on economic and social issues, weakening their core support among liberals for Democrats and among conservatives for Republicans.
In each case there is a tradeoff, further bolstering the argument that a successful centrist movement is unlikely to materialize.
At the same time, a separate trend appears to strengthen the Carmines thesis that centrism, as a free standing movement, is in trouble: the decline in the percentage of the electorate composed of swing voters.
As John Sides, a political scientist at Georgetown, told The Times’s Rebecca Berg: “There is so much pop psychology surrounding swing voters, but there is very little evidence that there are key demographics in the population that are inherently swing voters.”
It’s possible, Sides argues, to “drill down, down, down, down and identify a group of swing voters. But how big is that group really, and is that group a swing group in a chronic sense? Probably not.”
Carmines and his collaborators aside, populists and libertarians are now further subdivided into left and right populists, and left and right libertarians.
There are at least two scenarios that could result in a reduction of polarization. The first is that if presidential losses pile up, the business wing of the Republican Party will try harder to marginalize the Tea Party wing and move the party back toward the middle.
The other, and far less likely, scenario is that the economically disadvantaged wing of the Democratic Party — the downstairs in the Democrats’ upstairs-downstairs coalition — gains ascendance, forcing relatively affluent social liberals, fearful of higher taxes, into the arms of Republicans and shifting the balance of power back toward the historic center.
The lack of real moderates means that the most likely course of events is a continuation of partisan confrontation, with Republicans holding their own in off-year elections and Democrats maintaining a fragile edge in presidential contests. The vestigial idea of a center up for grabs will continue to play a marginal role in legislative calculations and campaign strategies, but the dream of a moderate revolt against the parties will remain out of reach, exposed as an illusion.
BIBI AND BARACK, THE SEQUEL
By Thomas L. Friedman
Could Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama share the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize?
The thought sounds ludicrous on its face, I know. The two do not like each other and have radically different worldviews. But as much as they keep trying to get away from each other, the cunning of history keeps throwing them back together, intertwining their fates. That will be particularly true in the next six months when the U.S.-led negotiations to defuse Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities and the U.S.-led negotiations to reach a final peace between Israelis and Palestinians both come to a head at the same time. If these two leaders were to approach these two negotiations with a reasonably shared vision (and push each other), they could play a huge role in remaking the Middle East for the better, and — with John Kerry — deserve the Nobel Prize, an Emmy, an Oscar and the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Let’s start with the Iran talks. After his initial and, I believe, wrongheaded outburst against the U.S.-led deal to freeze and modestly rollback Iran’s nuclear program in return for some limited sanctions relief, Netanyahu has quieted down a bit and has set up a team to work with the U.S. on the precise terms for a final deal with Iran. I hope that Bibi doesn’t get too quiet, though. While I think the interim deal is a sound basis for negotiating a true end to Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities, the chances of getting that true end are improved if Bibi is occasionally Bibi and serves as our loaded pistol on the negotiating table.
When negotiating in a merciless, hard-bitten region like the Middle East, it is vital to never let the other side think they can “outcrazy” you. The Jews and the Kurds are among the few minorities that have managed to carve out autonomous spaces in the Arab-Muslim world because, at the end of the day, they would never let any of their foes outcrazy them; they did whatever they had to in order to survive, and sometimes it was really ugly, but they survived to tell the tale. Anyone who has seen the handy work of Iran and Hezbollah firsthand — the U.S. Embassy and Marine bombings in Beirut, the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Lebanon, the bombing at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires — knows that the Iranians will go all the way. Never negotiate with Iran without some leverage and some crazy on your side. Iran’s leaders are tough and cruel. They did not rise to the top through the Iowa caucuses.
While you need some Obama “cool” to finalize a deal with Iran, to see the potential for something new and to seize it, you also need some Bibi crazy — some of his Dr. Strangelove stuff and the occasional missile test. The dark core of this Iranian regime has not gone away. It’s just out of sight, and it does need to believe that all options really are on the table for negotiations to succeed. So let Bibi be Bibi (up to the point where a good deal becomes possible) and Barack be Barack and we have the best chance of getting a decent outcome. Had Bibi not been Bibi, we never would have gotten Iran to the negotiating table, but without Barack being Barack, we’ll never get a deal.
Just the opposite is true on the Israeli-Palestinian front. Had Kerry not doggedly pushed Bibi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table, Bibi would not have gone there on his own. As Stanley Fischer, the widely respected former Bank of Israel governor, told a New York University forum on Tuesday: “The approach that we have to be strong, because if we’re not strong we will be defeated, is absolutely correct but it is not the only part of national strategy. The other part is the need to look for peace, and that part is not happening to the extent that it should,” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
I believe Europeans, in particular, would be more sympathetic to a harder-line Israeli position on Iran if they saw Israel making progress with the Palestinians, and if some of them did not suspect that Bibi wants to defuse the Iranian threat to make the world safe for a permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Moreover, if Israel made progress with the Palestinians, it could translate the coincidence of interests it now has with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs — which is based purely on their having a common enemy, Iran — into a real reconciliation, with trade and open relations.
On the Iran front, Netanyahu’s job is to make himself as annoying as possible to Obama to ensure that sanctions are only fully removed in return for a verifiable end to Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities. On the Israeli-Palestinian front, Obama’s job is to make himself as annoying as possible to Netanyahu. Each has to press the other for us to get the best deals on both fronts.
This is a rare plastic moment in the Middle East where a lot of things are in flux. I have no illusions that all the problems can be tied up with a nice bow. But with a little imagination and the right mix of toughness and openness on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Israeli prime minister and American president could turn their bitter-lemon relationship into lemonade.
LBN-R.I.P.: Peter Graf, who as the coach and manager of the tennis great Steffi Graf acquired the nickname Papa Merciless for his stern control of almost every aspect of her life, died on Saturday in Mannheim, Germany. He was 75.
Steffi Graf announced the death on her website. News reports said the cause was pancreatic cancer.
LBN-R.I.P.: Judy Rodgers, a chef whose San Francisco restaurant, Zuni Café, helped transform the way Americans think of food through its devotion to local, seasonal ingredients meticulously prepared, died on Monday in Berkeley, Calif. She was 57.
The cause was appendix cancer, said Gilbert Pilgram, her friend and partner at Zuni.