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U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro accepting the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge." Soon after, the State Department warned that participation by high-profile diplomats was a violation of internal policy. (YouTube)

U.S. Diplomatic Cable Puts Chill On ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Aug 21, 2014

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Don't expect Secretary of State John Kerry to accept the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" anytime soon: lawyers at the State Department have banned high-profile U.S. diplomats from participating in the fundraising phenomenon that has swept social media in recent weeks.

In an unclassified cable issued earlier this week, the department lauded the unique effort to raise money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, but said it violates internal policy.

"There are firmly established rules preventing the use of public office, such as our Ambassadors, for private gain, no matter how worthy the cause. Thus, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge," the cable sent to all U.S. diplomatic missions reads. "We sincerely wish the ALS Association continued success in its ice bucket campaign, and in its fight against Lou Gehrig's disease."

The ice bucket challenge has raised nearly $42 million and attracted such notable participants as former President George W. Bush, director Steven Spielberg, Lady Gaga and Bill Gates.

The cable notes that choosing worthy charities is a difficult personal decision that is made "even more difficult when high-ranking State Department personnel with high-profile positions are asked to participate in charitable fund-raising, and concerns about preference and favoritism always arise."

"There are firmly established rules preventing the use of public office, such as our ambassadors, for private gain, no matter how worthy a cause," the cable said.

The Associated Press notes: "By the time the cable was sent at least one high-ranking diplomat, Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, had already participated and had challenged U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power to douse herself with ice water for the cause. But by then, Power and the other ambassadors got the memo."

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GlobalPost co-founder and CEO Phil Balboni says what he'll remember about Foley (above) is the way he showed "such incredible courage" as his captors took his life. (AP)

Drawn To Conflict, Journalist James Foley 'Loved Telling These Stories'

Aug 21, 2014 (Fresh Air)

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American journalist James Foley was covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria, in November 2012. He was kidnapped later that month.

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During the nearly two years that journalist James Foley was held hostage in Syria, before he was killed by the Islamic State this week, Phil Balboni worked hard to get him released.

Balboni is the co-founder and CEO of the online international news company GlobalPost, which Foley was freelancing for at the time of his capture, in November 2012. Foley also was freelancing for GlobalPost when he was captured in Libya by dictator Moammar Gadhafi's forces, in 2011, and held for 44 days.

The video of Foley's beheading, which was posted Tuesday on YouTube, shows another U.S. journalist being held hostage, Steven Sotloff, who was freelancing for Time magazine. The militant in the video who carries out the beheading threatens that Sotloff might be next, depending on what President Obama does.

Phil Balboni talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about James Foley's captivity and what Balboni tried to do to secure his release.


Interview Highlights

On deciding whether to pay a ransom

It's very easy to have these theoretical policies about not paying a ransom until you're faced with the real life-and-death situation. Personally — and I know I speak for the Foleys as well — we would've paid a ransom. We were working very hard to raise the money. We had extensive conversations about this with branches of the United States government, with legal counsel. We were well schooled in the law and what was permissible for the family to do. So I had no problem with it. I can understand, giving money to these evil people is a very hard thing to do. I would judge no one who felt that it was entirely improper. But speaking for myself and for John and Diane Foley, we were prepared to do it if we could raise the money.

On communication with Foley's captors

The original demand from the captors was November of 2013. At that moment we'd never had a communication from Jim, and we'd never had an official "proof of life," as it's called. During that communication with the kidnappers, they offered us the opportunity to get proof of life, and the Foleys drafted a series of questions that only Jim could answer. They were extremely difficult — obscure family events that only Jim could know. When those proof-of-life questions came back answered correctly, perfectly, it was a hair-raising moment for all of us because we knew definitively, with certainty, that we were dealing with the people who were holding Jim.

On learning of Foley's kidnapping

I have such a clear mental picture of this. I was sitting in my home in Cambridge, Mass., it was Saturday morning following the Thanksgiving holiday, and I got an email on my Blackberry from a freelance journalist who was a friend of Jim's who was on the Turkish-Syria border saying that she feared that Jim had gone missing.

It was kind of déjà vu for me because I had the same experience when Jim was abducted by Col. [Moammar] Gadhafi's fighters in Libya during the civil war there in the spring of 2011. I immediately called one of the senior people at an international security firm that specializes in kidnap and ransom cases whom I'd worked with in Libya in 2011, and I hired him to work on the case, and from that day, literally, every single day for almost two years we have worked on Jim's case.

We've had, at one time, as many as three or four people in the field in Turkey, sometimes in Syria itself, in Lebanon and other places gathering information. We didn't know where Jim was. We didn't know who took him. We knew nothing. And it took an immensely long time to find out where he was. And, as so often is the case, it was luck that brought the first word that Jim was alive and where he was being held. And it came from a young Belgian, who had gone to pursue jihad in Syria and had been brought home by his very brave father. And he had befriended Jim and had been held in captivity with Jim in northern Syria. And that was the first we had detailed information and knew that Jim was alive and that he was being held by a jihadist group.

On how he will remember Foley

When I see Jim in my mind's eye, which I will for the rest of my life, at his final moment, showing such incredible courage, never flinching just before his executioner put the knife into his throat, that needs to be honored, and we are proud of what we do. Sure, we'd all like more resources to do it with — hopefully as we grow stronger we will — but the importance of the mission, I think, is what Jim's life is all about. He loved telling these stories, and he was drawn to conflict. It's where he really came alive.

On what other hostages, who have been released, have said about Foley

It was universal among all of the released hostages that we talked to that Jim was their favorite, the person whose spirits — no matter what punishment was inflicted on him, and he was regularly singled out for very harsh treatment; I won't go into the details, but he was regularly subject to abuse — but he always kept their spirits up. He always kept them believing that they would get out, and he tried to be a spokesperson with the captors for the other hostages and to keep their morale up. It was so wonderful to hear that and to know that Jim was strong and that he could bring that strength to others.

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GlobalPost co-founder and CEO Phil Balboni says what he'll remember about Foley (above) is the way he showed "such incredible courage" as his captors took his life. (AP)

Nostalgic For Noir? Feiffer's 'Kill My Mother' Is A Toxic Treat

Aug 21, 2014 (Fresh Air)

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American journalist James Foley was covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria, in November 2012. He was kidnapped later that month.

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GlobalPost co-founder and CEO Phil Balboni says what he'll remember about Foley (above) is the way he showed "such incredible courage" as his captors took his life. (AP)

A Sleek And Busy Walk With Jean-Luc Ponty

Aug 21, 2014 (Fresh Air)

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American journalist James Foley was covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria, in November 2012. He was kidnapped later that month.

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French jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty played the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1967, which led to his getting an American record contract, and playing with George Duke, Frank Zappa, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Then he started his own jazz-rock fusion bands. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead says before Ponty came to the States, he already had his concept.

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Recipes To Make The Most Of Summer Tomatoes

Aug 21, 2014 (Here & Now / WBUR-FM)

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Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst joins hosts Jeremy Hobson and Meghna Chakrabarti with the summer’s bounties from her garden — tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. She has all sorts of ideas for how to cook with them, and shares these recipes:

Related Segments & Recipes

See more cooking segments and recipes from Kathy Gunst here.

Herbed Ricotta Toasts with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Kathy's Note: This is like the most delicious open-faced grilled cheese and tomato sandwich imaginable. You can slow roast the tomatoes and mix the ricotta beforehand and then assemble just minutes before you want to serve the toasts. These grilled toasts are delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner—or as a first course with sparkling wine.

Cherry tomatoes are particularly abundant this season. They are naturally sweet as candy. I love slow roasting them in a low oven with olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs. You can also serve with crusty bread, on top of pasta, grilled fish, chicken or meat, or as a room temperature topping for pizza or an accompaniment to cheese.

Serves 6-12.

Ingredients:

The Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

3 cups cherry tomatoes, yellow and red and orange varieties if you can find them

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Ricotta:

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Toasts:

12 thin slices of crusty baguette, about 1/2-inch thick

About 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Make the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.

Place the tomatoes, oil, garlic, basil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large ovenproof skillet or gratin dish. Gently toss to coat all the tomatoes with the oil, garlic and herbs. Roast on the middle shelf for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the tomatoes are beginning to burst and are very softened. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Make the ricotta blend: in a small bowl gently mix the ricotta, thyme, basil, chives, salt, pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble: preheat the broiler.

Place the toasts on a cookie or baking sheet. Brush lightly with half the oil. Broil for 2 minutes, or until just golden brown and toasted. Flip the bread over and brush with the remaining oil. Divide the ricotta mixture on top and arrange several roasted tomatoes and a little drizzle of the juices from the bottom of the dish on top. Broil for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until the cheese just begins to bubble. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Garden Salsa

Kathy's Note: This is tomato, pepper, onion, and cilantro season so that makes it's time to make the salsa. Serve with chips, vegetables or spoon onto tacos, burgers, and salads.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters, depending on the size

2 large ripe tomatoes, cubed

1 sweet green, red or yellow pepper, cut into cubes

1 small red or white onion, finely chopped

2 scallions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped, optional

1 jalapeño, cut in half, seeded, and finely chopped*

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice from 1 large lime

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

*Remove seeds if you don't want a spicy salsa or add a few for a moderately spicy salsa and keep them all for a hot hot salsa

Instructions:

In a medium bowl gently mix all the ingredients. Taste for seasoning adding more lime juice, oil, salt, pepper or jalapeño as desired. The salsa will keep for about 2 hours. Serve with chips.

Island Tomato, Basil & Grilled Bread Panzanella

Kathy's Note: This recipe comes from Susie Middleton, a farmer on Martha's Vineyard and author of Fresh From the Farm. See her original recipe here.

Serves 8.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the bread

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons good-quality sherry or red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

3 tablespoons chopped, drained sun-dried tomatoes

1 teaspoon minced fresh capers

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

1/2 small red onion, julienned

8 1-inch-thick slices ciabatta or other airy artisan bread

2 1/4 pounds ripe, juicy beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup (lightly packed) small whole fresh basil leaves or large leaves, torn into pieces

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine the 4 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, the garlic, the sun-dried tomatoes, and the capers. Add a few big pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper and stir well. Add the red onions and stir again.

Heat a gas grill to medium or a broiler to high. Brush the bread generously with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt.

Just before grilling or toasting your bread, go ahead and add the tomatoes to the oil mixture and toss gently. (If the tomatoes are very ripe, you don't want to let them sit in the dressing for much longer than 10 minutes.)

Put the bread slices directly on the grill grate or a few inches under the broiler element and cook until a light golden brown on the first side, about 1 minute. Flip and cook for 1 minute more until the other side is golden. Transfer the bread to a cutting board and cut into 3/4-inch cubes.

Add the bread cubes and half of the basil to the bowl of tomatoes and toss gently until well-combined. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing once or twice, to let the bread absorb some of the tomato juices. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if you like.

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining basil.

Mary Ann Esposito's "Tomato Sandwich My Way"

Kathy's Note: This is a recipe from Mary Ann Esposito, host of the popular television show "Ciao Italia.”

Mary Ann’s Note: Here is my favorite tomato “sandwich,” which I make in a bread pan to serve eight. The recipe could not be simpler to make and it is a refreshing lunch on a hot summer's day. Granted I only do this when my beefsteak tomatoes are ripe for the picking. The recipe is versatile too because you could add layers of mozzarella cheese to make it a “caprese” or how about some crisp bacon strips for an added crunch. Use a combination of tomatoes like yellow, green zebra and red if you like. It's a winner no matter what.

Ingredients:

The Dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon finely minced oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

1 large clove garlic, finely minced

The Sandwich:

Fresh whole basil leaves, stemmed, washed, and dried and left whole

5 lengthwise 1/4 -inch-thick bread slices cut from a 1-pound-4-ounce loaf white bread

1 large (about 4 ounces) red beefsteak tomato, cut into thin rounds

1 large (about 4 ounces) yellow beefsteak tomato, cut into thin rounds

Instructions:

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar, shake well and set aside. The dressing can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.

To prepare the filling and assemble the salad, make a design with a few of the basil leaves in the bottom of the mold. Save the rest to place between the layers.

Trim the bread slices to fit neatly in the bread pan (about 7 1/2 x 4 inches if using the called-for bread pan). Place one of the bread slices over the basil in the bottom of the bread pan. Brush the bread with some of the dressing. Make a layer of red tomato slices over the bread. Cut up a few slices to fill in any gaps along the sides. Brush the tomatoes with a little of the dressing. Place a layer of basil leaves over the tomatoes and brush them with a little of the dressing. Lay a second bread slice over the basil leaves and repeat brushing with the dressing. Add a layer of the yellow tomatoes, filling in any gaps with pieces of cut tomatoes and brush them with the dressing. Add another layer of basil leaves and brush with a little of the dressing. Continue to make three more layers in the same manner, ending with a bread layer. Brush the top of the bread with any remaining dressing.

Cover the pan tightly with a piece of plastic wrap and bring the overhanging edges over the top. Press on the loaf with your hand to make sure the loaf is compacted and even with the top edges of the pan. Refrigerate the loaf for several hours.

Unwrap the top of the loaf and place a platter over the top and invert the loaf onto the platter. Remove the plastic wrap and discard it. Use a tomato knife to cut the loaf into slices. Serve immediately.

Tip: A tomato knife has a serrated blade that cuts tomatoes without tearing them. Tomato knives are available from kitchen and cutlery stores.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA – BRINGING ITALY HOME by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin’s Press.

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