Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 1st, 2009

American Dietetic Assn endorses vegetarian diets

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It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12. A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients. An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential. In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

The firefighters in New Haven

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The NY Times editorial:

On Monday, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to diversity in the American workplace.

The court ruled, 5-to-4, that New Haven acted illegally when it threw out a promotion test on which minority firefighters had done poorly. In doing so, it put a new, narrower definition on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is intended to root out discriminatory policies.

The case is already being used as ammunition against Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, who sided with New Haven at the appeals court level. If the Monday ruling says anything about Judge Sotomayor, however, it underscores the reasonableness of her views.

Many black and Hispanic firefighters took New Haven’s promotion exam, but few passed. This sort of racial disparity often makes an exam illegal. Concerned that it would be sued by minority firefighters, New Haven threw out the test. A group of white firefighters sued, alleging that their civil rights had been violated.

A three-judge panel of the New York-based Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which included Judge Sotomayor, ruled in favor of New Haven. The full Second Circuit declined to reconsider that decision.

The Supreme Court reversed the panel’s ruling. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said throwing out the promotion exam was a race-based decision that hurt the white firefighters. It was permissible under Title VII, he wrote, only if the city could demonstrate a “strong basis in evidence” that if it had kept the test it would have been liable in a lawsuit by minority firefighters. New Haven failed to show that, he said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the dissenters, provided the larger context. There is a long history of discrimination in the firefighting ranks. Although New Haven is nearly 60 percent black and Hispanic, few minorities are in command positions. She noted that New Haven’s test was flawed, and that other cities used better tests, with less racially skewed results.

Justice Ginsburg argued convincingly that when New Haven threw out the test it did not discriminate. The motivation of the civil service board that made the decision was to avoid discriminating against minority applicants and being sued by them under Title VII.

Cases like this, even the dissenters concede, pose difficult questions of fairness. New Haven’s decision to reject a test on which one group did poorly hurt other firefighters, who studied hard and were not to blame for the test’s flaws. But in the end, as Justice Ginsburg noted, New Haven was within its rights not to use a flawed, possibly illegal, test to make its promotions.

Judge Sotomayor’s critics wasted no time in calling the ruling a rebuke to her and arguing that it provided reason to oppose her confirmation to the Supreme Court. It does nothing of the sort.

Even the majority noted that its opinion “clarifies how Title VII applies” — hardly an indication that the Second Circuit ignored well-established law. Four of the nine justices — including David Souter, whose seat Judge Sotomayor would take — agreed with the result she reached. The ruling suggests that if Judge Sotomayor joined the court, in cases like this she would be likely to vote with the more liberal bloc — no great surprise.

On another point, the ruling underscored the emptiness of the “judicial activist” label that Republicans like to use in debates over nominees to the federal courts, including Judge Sotomayor. In the firefighters’ case, she actually refused to second-guess the city’s decision — an act of judicial restraint. It was the court’s conservatives, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted to overturn the decision of an elected government.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

The complete story on dry-rubbed ribs

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Via a post at Kafeneio, this post on Smitten Kitchen telling all about how to cook ribs. Very informative. Check it out.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Cold Noodles With Sesame Sauce, Chicken and Cucumbers

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Mark Bittman provides this tasty-sounding recipe:

Cold Noodles With Sesame Sauce, Chicken and Cucumbers

Yield 4 servings
Time About 30 minutes

To make the noodles into a one-dish meal, you need some protein. Use leftover chicken, pork, beef or seafood, or poach some chicken in the water you use to cook the noodles. You can also use fresh tofu. You will also want crunch: cucumbers are my favorite, but bean sprouts are another possibility.

  • Salt
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or about 8 ounces boneless chicken breast
  • 1 pound cucumber
  • 12 ounces long pasta like linguine, or fresh Chinese egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini) or peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger, optional
  • 1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
  • Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more
  • At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish

1. Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. If your chicken is uncooked, poach it in water as it comes to a boil; it will cook in about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel cucumbers, cut them in half, and, using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Cut cucumber into shreds and set aside.

2. When water comes to a boil, cook pasta until tender but not mushy. (If chicken is not done, you can still add pasta; remove chicken when it is done.) While pasta is cooking, whisk together sesame oil and paste, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, hot oil and pepper in a large bowl. Thin sauce with hot water, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream; you will need 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Stir in cucumber. When pasta is done, drain it and run pasta (and chicken, if necessary) under cold water. Drain. Shred chicken (the easiest way to do this is with your fingers).

3. Toss noodles and chicken with sauce and cucumbers. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (the dish may need salt), then garnish and serve.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Creamy feta vinaigrette

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From The Bitten Word, which got it from Food & Wine:

Creamy Feta Vinaigrette

    Total time: 5 min
    Servings: Makes 3/4 cup

3 ounces feta cheese, preferably French, crumbled (3/4 cup)
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse the crumbled feta with the red wine vinegar, water, oregano and olive oil until the vinaigrette is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Great with grilled vegetables or shrimp, cucumber salad, spinach salad, tomato salad, potato salad.

My own preference is for sheep-milk feta.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Good guidance on grain salads

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Good post at Culinate giving some general advice on making grain salads.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

More on the contaminated cookie dough

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Marion Nestle at Food Politics:

The story thus far:

From January to June 2009, at least 69 people from 29 states have gotten sick with E. coli O157:H7.  Many of them confessed to eating Nestlé’s raw cookie dough.

On June 19, the FDA warned the public not to eat Nestlé’s raw cookie dough.  Nestlé issued a “voluntary’ recall.

Everyone is baffled about how E. coli O157:H7 could have gotten into cookie dough.  They wonder if cookie dough really is the cause.

The voluntary recall isn’t working (most don’t).  Obama Foodorama has no trouble finding plenty of recalled cookie dough on Washington DC shelves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that since 2006, Nestlé has consistently refused to allow FDA investigators to look at their safety records.  The company doesn’t have to.  All those pesky regulatory requirements are voluntary (that word again).

But now, in a spirit of someone more enforced cooperation, Nestlé lets the FDA in.  Bingo.  On June 29, the FDA says it finds E. coli O157:H7 in one batch of cookie dough.    But conversations with FDA officials leave many questions unanswered.

Nestlé is understandably concerned.   The company says it “deeply regrets” what happened and is fully cooperating with the FDA.

OK.  So if we didn’t know it before, we know it now: “voluntary” is a euphemism for not having to do anything.  Doesn’t this suggest the need for some real regulations?

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:03 pm

The Nestlé cookie-dough recall: stop blaming the victims

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Bill Marler on his blog has an excellent post:

“It was not the failure of the cookie dough manufacturer for not keeping cattle feces (E. coli) out of cookie dough that sickened the child, it is the fault of the parent who allowed the child to eat the dough.”

I have received several calls and emails like the above over the last few days as the country has been ensnared once again in a nationwide recall – this time cookie dough – that has sickened at least 69 in 30 States – mostly people (girls) under the age of 18.

At first I calmly tried to respond that a company that makes a profit off of selling a product that it knows is eaten raw can not blame the consumer if the product actually contains a pathogen that can severely sicken or kill a child. The reality is that cookie manufacturers know that they sell a product that is eaten raw.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune – “Long known to satisfy a certain longing of the brokenhearted and the children-at-heart, the dough is nearly as popular raw as it is baked. There are more than 40 cookie dough groups on Facebook — one with more than 1.3 million members — complete with photos and postings that read like love notes.”

From the Washington Post – “Nestle’s cookie dough is packaged with labels warning consumers not to eat it raw. But people tend to disregard the warning — 39 percent of consumers eat raw cookie dough, according to Consumer Reports. It has become such a popular snack that many ice cream makers have developed a cookie dough flavor.”

So, the reply to my calm response has been, “the consumer should know that cookie dough may contain bacteria and they are told to cook it.”

My calmness has now faded. Think about the little labels on cookie dough that you buy in the store – the ones that tell you “cook before eating” – wink, wink. However, the labels do not say:


I wonder why the Cookie Industry would not want a label like that on your tub of dough. It knows that the label is truthful…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:01 pm

10 surprising health foods

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The first one is bacon, so I knew I’d like the list. And it’s a good one—and gave me some ideas for meals. :) Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 11:56 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Yet another beef recall: over 210 tons of the stuff

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All contaminated with E. coli. Culinate:

The most recent beef recall, which was issued on June 24 and increased on June 28, includes 421,000 pounds of beef processed on April 21, 2009. The recalled meat, tainted with E. Coli 0157:H7, comes from JBS-Swift, of Greeley, Colorado, and was shipped nationally and internationally.

(For one analysis of JBS and its meat, read Tom Philpott’s lengthy skewering of the company over at Grist.)

The blogging world has reacted to the recall with advice: “Avoid Beef Like It’s The Plague: Massive Class 1 Recall of Beef Products — 421,000 Pounds” warned Obama Foodorama. Sam Fromartz, of Chews Wise, offered other good suggestions:

Follow government advice and cook burgers until 160F (like a hockey puck?) or reduce risk by getting hamburger from a butcher who grinds meat in the shop.

That last idea, to entrust your butcher with the job of grinding your burger, is worth considering, and is repeated by cookbook author and blogger Jeanne Kelley in this video from the new site, Good Eats; for her burger, Kelley buys a chuck roast and has it ground to order.

The nice thing about grinding to order is that you can pick out the chunk of meat that will be ground.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 11:39 am

Is "free" the future of journalism?

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Interesting article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell:

At a hearing on Capitol Hill in May, James Moroney, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News, told Congress about negotiations he’d just had with the online retailer Amazon. The idea was to license his newspaper’s content to the Kindle, Amazon’s new electronic reader. “They want seventy per cent of the subscription revenue,” Moroney testified. “I get thirty per cent, they get seventy per cent. On top of that, they have said we get the right to republish your intellectual property to any portable device.” The idea was that if a Kindle subscription to the Dallas Morning News cost ten dollars a month, seven dollars of that belonged to Amazon, the provider of the gadget on which the news was read, and just three dollars belonged to the newspaper, the provider of an expensive and ever-changing variety of editorial content. The people at Amazon valued the newspaper’s contribution so little, in fact, that they felt they ought then to be able to license it to anyone else they wanted. Another witness at the hearing, Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post, said that she thought the Kindle could provide a business model to save the beleaguered newspaper industry. Moroney disagreed. “I get thirty per cent and they get the right to license my content to any portable device—not just ones made by Amazon?” He was incredulous. “That, to me, is not a model.”

Had James Moroney read Chris Anderson’s new book, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” (Hyperion; $26.99), Amazon’s offer might not have seemed quite so surprising. Anderson is the editor of Wired and the author of the 2006 best-seller “The Long Tail,” and “Free” is essentially an extended elaboration of Stewart Brand’s famous declaration that “information wants to be free.” The digital age, Anderson argues, is exerting an inexorable downward pressure on the prices of all things “made of ideas.” Anderson does not consider this a passing trend. Rather, he seems to think of it as an iron law: “In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.” To musicians who believe that their music is being pirated, Anderson is blunt. They should stop complaining, and capitalize on the added exposure that piracy provides by making money through touring, merchandise sales, and “yes, the sale of some of [their] music to people who still want CDs or prefer to buy their music online.” To the Dallas Morning News, he would say the same thing. Newspapers need to accept that content is never again going to be worth what they want it to be worth, and reinvent their business. “Out of the bloodbath will come a new role for professional journalists,” he predicts, and he goes on: …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 10:27 am

"Our dangerous defense policy addiction"

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An interesting column by Peter Singer in the Washington Examiner:

From the Super Big Gulps that we love to slurp down to the gargantuan sport utility vehicles that we park in our McMansions, we are a nation that loves to go “big” in all the meanings of the term. Indeed, this “bigger is better” mentality even permeates all aspects of our defense acquisitions.

Take the size of our weapons. We specialize in buying systems that aren’t just big, but supersized, from the Navy’s Ford class aircraft carrier that weighs 112,000 tons and is staffed by a crew half the size of our nation’s diplomatic corps to the Marines’ planned Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, tasked to nimbly navigate urban combat zones, even though it’s bigger than a city bus.

We certainly don’t think small when it comes to cost either. On the ground, the Army’s signature Future Combat Systems program was officially priced at $160 billion, but projected to reach as much as $300 billion. But this is peanuts compared with the F-35 fighter program, which is currently projected to reach almost $1 trillion over its lifetime.

But it is not just the systems themselves where bigger is seemingly better; it’s also the companies that make them. Over the last 20 years, the number of Pentagon prime contractors that could compete on major programs went from 20 to six. The result is that we now have mega-sized defense oligopolies and are trending toward monopolies in areas like jet fighter production and shipbuilding.

Declining competition has helped expand another “big” area, cost overruns. The Government Accountability Office found that overall Pentagon weapons purchasing is $295 billion over budget. The F-22 fighter jet, for instance, started out as a program to buy 648 aircraft for $149 million each. We ended up getting 187 aircraft for about $350 million each.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recently committed to buying a supposedly more “affordable” alternative, the F-35. That aircraft was originally planned to cost $79 million apiece, but is already up to $153 million for the next buy — before flight testing is even completed.

The bloat also covers the time required to take these systems from concept to reality. For instance, …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 10:10 am

Posted in Business, Congress, Military

ACLU will argue against use of evidence obtained through torture

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Daphne Eviatar:

The American Civil Liberties Union will file a brief tomorrow urging the federal court to suppress evidence gathered using torture, which the government wants to rely on in the case of Mohammed Jawad, the boy who “confessed” to throwing a grenade at U.S. soldiers after being arrested and tortured by Afghan authorities in 2002, then turned over to U.S. authorities for more abuse.

Also tomorrow, after numerous delays, the Obama administration is expected to produce a much-anticipated 2004 CIA inspector general’s report with more details and criticism of the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics.

As I explained in my last post on the Jawad case, the Obama administration is trying to keep holding Jawad — who’s been in U.S. custody without charge for almost seven years — based on those tortured confessions, which even a military judge previously deemed too unreliable to use in his military commission case.

The ACLU will argue tomorrow that the federal judge in Jawad’s habeas corpus case should rule that evidence gathered through torture is still too unreliable — and therefore inadmissible — to be the basis for continuing to keep him in prison indefinitely.

Although the Jawad case appears to be the first in which the Obama is seeking to rely on evidence obtained through torture, it’s just one of many examples of the government’s refusal to acknowledge the legacy of torture under the Bush administration — and its consequences.

There are, of course, the now-notorious photographs of detainee abuse that the Obama administration has kept from being released, despite the orders of a federal court to turn them over. And then there’s the fact, which Glenn Greenwald, Marcy Wheeler, Daily Kos and John Sifton have been writing about, that there are a whole lot of unsolved murders and mysterious autopsy reports concerning the brutal deaths of detainees in U.S. custody, for which almost no one has been held accountable.

In many cases, these deaths weren’t the result of waterboarding or some other act that Obama administration officials have admitted are torture; they seem to have been the result of ordinary “enhanced” interrogations:  beatings, stress positions, food and sleep deprivation and the like.

According to a report from Human Rights First, about 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody since August 2002, but only 12 deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for U.S. officials.

The ACLU has embarked on an important campaign for accountability for the torture and abuse that U.S. officials have inflicted on detainees. That includes ongoing efforts to unearth more information, to press for prosecutions of those who authorized the abuse, and to compensate the victims, many of whom, like Jawad, still remain in U.S. custody.

Tomorrow’s brief arguing that tortured evidence shouldn’t be the basis for continuing to hold detainees is a small but important step.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 10:07 am

A tin ear for ethics

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Here’s another example, a Democrat. The story is Paul Kiel, ProPublica, and Binyamin Appelbaum, Washington Post, and begins:

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s staff contacted federal regulators last fall to ask about the bailout application of an ailing Hawaii bank that he had helped to establish and where he has invested the bulk of his personal wealth.

The bank, Central Pacific Financial [2], was an unlikely candidate for a program designed by the Treasury Department to bolster healthy banks. The firm’s losses were depleting its capital reserves. Its primary regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., already had decided that it didn’t meet the criteria for receiving a favorable recommendation and had forwarded the application to a council that reviewed marginal cases, according to agency documents.

Two weeks after the inquiry from Inouye’s office, Central Pacific announced that the Treasury would inject $135 million.

Many lawmakers have worked to help home-state banks get federal money since the Treasury announced in October that it would invest up to $250 billion [3] in healthy financial firms. But the Inouye inquiry stands apart because of the senator’s ties to Central Pacific. While at least 33 senators own shares in banks that got federal aid, a review of financial disclosures and records obtained from regulatory agencies shows no other instance of the office of a senator intervening on behalf of a bank in which he owned shares.

Inouye (D-Hawaii) declined a request for an interview but acknowledged in a statement [4] that an aide had called the FDIC to ask about Central Pacific’s application. Inouye said he was not attempting to influence the outcome. The statement did not address Inouye’s personal role in the inquiry, including whether he directed the aide to make the call or knew at the time that it had been made.

Even if Inouye were directly involved, it would not violate the rules the Senate sets for itself, experts said.

Both the FDIC and the Treasury said the decision was not affected by the involvement of Inouye’s office.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 10:06 am

American healthcare

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Three-quarters of those pushed into bankruptcy from medical expenses actually had healthcare insurance. Bad, eh? But it gets worse. Reed Abelson in the NY Times:

Health insurance is supposed to offer protection — both medically and financially. But as it turns out, an estimated three-quarters of people who are pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually had insurance when they got sick or were injured.

And so, even as Washington tries to cover the tens of millions of Americans without medical insurance, many health policy experts say simply giving everyone an insurance card will not be enough to fix what is wrong with the system.

Too many other people already have coverage so meager that a medical crisis means financial calamity.

One of them is Lawrence Yurdin, a 64-year-old computer security specialist. Although the brochure on his Aetna policy seemed to indicate it covered up to $150,000 a year in hospital care, the fine print excluded nearly all of the treatment he received at an Austin, Tex., hospital.

He and his wife, Claire, filed for bankruptcy last December, as his unpaid medical bills approached $200,000.

In the House and Senate, lawmakers are grappling with the details of legislation that would set minimum standards for insurance coverage and place caps on out-of-pocket expenses. And fear of the high price tag could prompt lawmakers to settle for less than comprehensive coverage for some Americans.

But patient advocates argue it is crucial for the final legislation to guarantee a base level of coverage, if people like Mr. Yurdin are to be protected from financial ruin. They also call for a new layer of federal rules to correct the current state-by-state regulatory patchwork that allows some insurance companies to sell relatively worthless policies.

“Underinsurance is the great hidden risk of the American health care system,” said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who has analyzed medical bankruptcies. “People do not realize they are one diagnosis away from financial collapse.”

Last week, a former Cigna executive warned at a Senate hearing on health insurance that lawmakers should be careful about the role they gave private insurers in any new system, saying the companies were too prone to “confuse their customers and dump the sick.”

“The number of uninsured people has increased as more have fallen victim to deceptive marketing practices and bought what essentially is fake insurance,” Wendell Potter, the former Cigna executive, testified.

Mr. Yurdin learned the hard way…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 9:52 am

Wal-Mart on healthcare

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From the Center for American Progress:

Yesterday, Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the country, joined the SEIU and the Center for American Progress, sent a letter to President Obama voicing support for an employer mandate to be included in health care reform. "We are for an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage," the letter states, adding, "From a business perspective, health reform could not be more critical." The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky notes that an employer mandate makes sense from a business perspective because "all firms would benefit from the reduction in unpaid medical bills incurred by the uninsured, increased productivity through improved worker health and labor force participation, and the savings due to a reduced rate of health-care cost growth." The Hill’s Jeffrey Young writes that Wal-Mart’s departure from the ideological stance favored by the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups "marks the first visible crack in the business coalition on health care reform." However, Wal-Mart argues that if expected gains don’t materialize, the legislation should include certain "triggers" that "automatically enforces reductions" in their health care costs. Nevertheless, the shift is a win-win for reformers because the "nation’s largest employer has embraced a mechanism that enhances the existing system of employer-based coverage" and "levels the playing field between employers and preserves the employer contribution." In fact, the willingness of the business community, first climate change and now over health care, to depart from the Chamber’s conservative ideology "is an important sign of change in the air."

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 9:49 am

Interesting post from Aspen

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James Fallows:

After 12+ hours of talking, listening, interviewing, note-taking, absorbing, and finally movie-watching, I have two containable bits of info from this day’s activities at the Ideas Festival.

On energy, a disturbing factlet. (And obviously not the only disturbing observation on the energy-and-climate front.) I heard three people separately observe that when it comes to future sources of "clean" energy, there is not a single field in which U.S. companies are the technical or market leaders. One person gave an informal ranking of the leaders this way:

Solar-powered electricity (i.e., photo-voltaic systems): Norway, Japan, China
Solar-thermal systems (for heating water or buildings) Spain the leader in getting systems deployed
Wind power: Holland, Denmark, China
Geothermal power: nobody
Nuclear power ("clean" in the carbon-footprint sense): France, Japan
CCS, "Carbon capture and sequestration" (stripping out CO2 and burying it): Norway, Australia, Canada.

  This person said that his list was rough and ready, and that US firms were in a close second place in some fields. But the main point, he said, is that "American firms are acting as if there is not going to be a vital, profitable, globalized clean-tech industry a decade from now, and as if they don’t care about competing in it." He had some other more hopeful things to say about how sustained investment could help close the gap. But the list itself was news to me.

On food, public health, and modern life in general, Robert Kenner’s new movie Food, Inc, screened here this evening, really has the potential to move public opinion in the way Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed did two generations ago.

Corby Kummer did the definitive review of the movie earlier this month at the Atlantic’s Food Channel. This evening he led a discussion with Kenner after the screening. Considered strictly as narrative or logical exposition, the film is a somewhat shaggy collection of stories rather than a relentlessly coherent presentation of a case. But the stories are so powerful, and so convincing, and in most cases so affecting in their humanity, that together they have a big effect. Most impressive to me is that while the movie was alarming, it was not discouraging. I think it will leave viewers with a sense of what they can do, as individuals and as citizens, to address the problems it lays out.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 9:47 am

Special 218

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Today is special—Happy Canada Day!—so I rolled out the Special 218, still a favourite (spelling in honour of Canada Day).  Wonderful fragrance and a fine lather with the Rooney Style 2. The Edwin Jagger Lined Chatsworth did a fine job with a previously used Swedish Gillette, and New York remains a favourite aftershave.

One should note, from a comment on an earlier post on this blog as well as this post at Kafeneio, that alcohol-based aftershaves don’t work for everyone. If your skin is telling you that it doesn’t like aftershave, then pay attention and find a good aftershave balm.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 7:39 am

Posted in Shaving


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