Archive for January 2007
They actually look pretty good. Via Vegan Lunch Box. I think I’ll try them.
Travelers being “detained” and “questioned”—increasingly the US is becoming like the old Soviet Union. I commented earlier about the Political Commissars the US is putting into place. Now, “Your papers, please.”
“Why are you travelling so often to Canada?” the tough U.S. border guard barked. I was on Amtrak, going from New York to Montreal, as I’d done dozen of times before over several decades. This was my first experience (summer 2006) of the increasingly standard and intrusive “U.S. Exit Interviews” on trains crossing the border.
I’ve been hassled on every train crossing since then, most recently January 2007. The U.S. now has a combined FBI-compiled file of all arrests and charges at all government levels for millions of Americans, and this is instantly viewable by police in many jurisdictions, including border officials of the U.S. and most other countries. In some cities, local police can access this file via one’s license plate. The files do NOT show the favorable disposition of arrests that did not lead to charges or of dismissals and findings of innocence. “And what’s this entry stamp from Canada, with no country of departure? Was that from Cuba? You know U.S. citizens may not travel to Cuba—you could be imprisoned and fined.”
This line of questioning has been part of every exit interview since. The first time, the guard took my passport and kept it for about 30 minutes. Others—Canadians and foreigners as well as U.S. citizens—were getting similar queries, but mine took much longer. “We’ll let the Canadians handle this,” the guard said as he handed back the passport. Moments later, across the border, I heard a Quebecois immigration agent tell her colleague, gesturing at me, “He’s the one.” She, too, took my passport for quite awhile. “She came back with information from my FBI file—I have a long record of political arrests from civil rights and anti-war actions. The Canadians said the FBI file showed a conviction in 1970 for a draft-board sit-in. The agent said I would be admitted only for two weeks and could not re-enter until my file was fully investigated. She told me she understood the conviction was for a political act with which “Canada agreed at the time,” but said the Canadians had an agreement with the U.S. to investigate such cases.
Two weeks after I returned from Canada, the Canadian immigration agent called me: “We have fully investigated your dossier—you have been approved and are welcome to return when you wish.” Since that time, I continue to be hassled by the U.S. “exit” police, but I am always dealt with quickly and politely by the Canadians. It is clear from my experience—as well as that of U.S. Green Party and peace activists barred from entering Canada during anti-globalization demonstrations two years ago, that a million or more former peaceniks and other radicals will now see more and more attempts to keep them at home.
Pointed out by reader DF, the blog T Ching looks like a very good blog about tea. The Younger Daughter is an avid tea drinker and will enjoy this.
One of the blog’s contributors is James Norwood Pratt, who has a regular post “Tuesday’s [sic] with Norwood.”
James Norwood Pratt published his first book on tea in 1982 and is widely acknowledged as an instigator and prophet of America’s present tea renaissance. With numerous columns, articles and interviews in overseas tea periodicals and books which have been translated into French, German, Czech and Chinese, he is perhaps the world’s most widely read author on the subject today. He was made Honorary Director of America’s first traditional Chinese tea house, was instrumental in creating APTI (precursor of the current Specialty Tea Institute), has been editor-in-chief of two tea magazines and leads tea tours to China and India. In 2005 he was chosen International Juror in India’s first-ever tea competition. His entertaining talks and tea classes reach growing audiences each year and James Norwood Pratt’s “New Tea Lover’s Treasury”, his now classic “bible of tea”, remains the most comprehensive compendium on tea in English. Besides his “International Tea Dictionary” for the tea trade, his works in progress include “All About Black Tea: For those who’ve given tea a thought but not a try.” T Ching will preview selected excerpts.
This story, for example:
A California lawmaker wants to make his state the first to ban incandescent lightbulbs as part of California’s groundbreaking initiatives to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
The “How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act” would ban incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
“Incandescent lightbulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications,” California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine said Tuesday.
“Meanwhile, they remain incredibly inefficient, converting only about 5 percent of the energy they receive into light.” Levine is expected to introduce the legislation this week, his office said.
If passed, it would be another pioneering environmental effort in California, the most populous U.S. state. It became the first state to mandate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, targeting a 25 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use about 25 percent of the energy of conventional lightbulbs.
Many CFLs have a spiral shape, which was introduced in 1980. By 2005, about 100 million CFLs were sold in the United States, or about 5 percent of the 2-billion-lightbulb market, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
That number could more than double this year. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Charts) alone wants to sell 100 million CFLs at its stores by the end of 2007, the world’s biggest retailer said in November.
While it will not give opinion on the possible California law, the EPA recommends CFLs.
From the redoubtable Gina Trapani:
The heavens opened and a bright warm light shone down today when I discovered the Firefox keyboard shortcut that re-opens the most recently closed tab: Ctrl-Shift-T. (Cmd-Shift-T for Mac users.)
This one ranks up there with Ctrl-T (new tab) and Ctrl+L (go to address bar). Our time together was short and clicky, but now it’s over between us, tab bar right-click menu. Fare thee well. — Gina Trapani
It sounds almost too good to be true, but Dr. Raylene Reimer, a researcher at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Kinesiology, believes she may have found an important weapon in the war against obesity.
Reimer and her colleagues are launching the first human trials anywhere to assess a promising natural fiber, which has already been shown to be effective in tests involving genetically obese rats.
“It may not be the magic bullet,” Reimer says, “but in all likelihood this will likely be one factor that people can change in their life to help achieve a healthy body weight. It won’t cure obesity or cause people to drop half their body weight — not even our strongest obesity drugs can do that — but we believe it could help.”
The fiber is called oligo fructose. “It’s not a chemical or a drug. In fact it’s a food product that is already being used in things like yogurt, cereal and baby food. We have found in a previous study with rats that the fiber increases the levels of a satiety hormone called glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) in the body and increases a gene in the intestines that helps the body to create more GLP-1.”
In a study with genetically obese rats, Reimer and U of C PhD Student Jill Parnell found that consuming the natural fiber helped the rats to significantly reduce their food intake and improved their blood lipid profile.
The new study will involve human subjects for the first time. The researchers are looking for 50 overweight, but otherwise healthy individuals living in Calgary, Canada. The subjects would be required to take a dietary supplement over a three-month period while making no other lifestyle changes. Participants’ body composition will be tracked using cutting-edge technology to determine their body fat ratios.
“What we have found so far in our animal studies has been very encouraging,” says Reimer. “Another short study done by some Belgian researchers also indicates that the fiber will work for people, but we really won’t know until we complete this detailed, long-term study.”