Later On

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

Archive for November 9th, 2010

Super-tasty dinner

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I made Braised Chard with Chicken and Steel-Cut Oats, and man! was it tasty!

My variations:

For the olive oil, I used Lucini Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil (and at Whole Foods it’s much cheaper than at the link).

I did watch the clock while browning the thighs, so they did get browner (and better) than I normally would have made.

I cooked the onions and garlic for quite a while, going in the direction of caramelization.

The sauce did not get so thick as I expected.

Simply dumping in the leaves (along with the 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar) at the end and covering for 5 minutes didn’t do a damned thing for me. I like my greens reasonably cooked, so I turned up the heat, stirred the leaves into the sauce, covered, and cooked them for 5-7 minutes. Then I let them sit.

Otherwise, I followed procedure and measures.

Man, is this stuff good!

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2010 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

US still strong in higher education for now

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The Eldest points out this interesting table.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2010 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Education

Of course, the GOP interest in spending cuts is like their interest in transparency in government

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Lee Fang at ThinkProgress:

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the leader of the House Republicans, tasked Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) as the party’s chief liaison to corporate lobbyists in early 2009 in preparation for the 2010 elections. Walden carefully courted business leaders by holding a series of meetings with trade associations and lobbyists to help shake the K Street “money tree” to support Republican candidates. After Republicans captured the House, Boehner appointed Walden to lead the Republican Office of Transition — which began meeting the day after the election, November 3.

The GOP Transition Office has widely publicized itself as a mechanism for guiding a “smoothand transparent transition into Republican majority.” Announcing the Transition Office, Walden said he would make Congress “more transparent, cost-efficient, and accountable to the people.” Just this morning, Roll Call published a story with the headline, “Walden: GOP Transition Focusing on Transparency.”

Given Walden’s promise of accountability and transparency, ThinkProgress traveled to the Transition Office today to request documents disclosing who has been attending the transition meetings, what ethics rules have been governing the meetings, and how things are actually being run differently. After asking Walden for a list of the transition meeting participants, he ducked back into the office. Later, a Republican staffer emerged to hand us a press release and a copy of a newspaper article about Walden’s leadership. None of the documents provided to ThinkProgress were actually official disclosures:

TP: Are there going to be any new ethics rules?

STAFFER: You are going to have to ask members of the committee that.

TP: Are lobbyists going to be allowed in these meetings?

STAFFER: You’ll have to ask members of the committee.

Watch it:

ThinkProgress witnessed dozens of men and women, none of them members of Congress, walk in and out of the room. Simply listing the members of Congress on the transition committee is nothing new. Since Republican transition meetings have been occurring since November 3, the public still does not know what has been discussed, which staffers or lobbyists have been involved, or if there are any actual new ethics rules.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2010 at 2:34 pm

More evidence of stupidity of legislators

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Pat Garofalo at ThinkProgress:

ThinkProgress has been documenting the struggles that House Republicans have been having as they attempt to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility without laying out any real spending cuts to which anyone might object. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) epitomized this dance, saying on PBS’ Newshour that he had a path to budget balance, and then outlined cuts that amounted to less than one half of one percent of the budget.

One program which House Republicans have consistently seized upon to bolster their budget-cutting bona fides is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund, a successful program that has created 250,000 jobs in 37 states via subsidized employment programs for low-income and unemployed workers. And according to National Journal, Republicans are once again railing against the program, selecting it as one of their first programs to cut:

House Republicans have targeted one of the first programs they would like to ax: the $25 billion emergency fund for people who lose their jobs, part of last year’s stimulus bill. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said the program encourages states to increase their welfare caseloads “without requiring able-bodied individuals to work, get job training, or make other efforts to move off of taxpayer assistance.”

As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out, Price’s characterization of the fund is completely inaccurate. The program has also earned the staunch support of many Republican governors, including Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), who said it provided “much-needed aid during this recession by enabling businesses to hire new workers, thus enhancing the economic engines of our local communities.”

But the crux of the issue is that eliminating the TANF emergency fund will not save any money because the program has already expired. It was funded at $5 billion for two years, and ended on September 30, 2010. There is no money left for Price to save.

As The Wonk Room has explained, advocates, as well as the Obama administration, have asked that Congress fund the program for an additional year for $2.5 billion. Price multiplied that over ten years to come up with his ludicrous pronouncement that he would save $25 billion by cutting the program.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2010 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Congress, Daily life, GOP

At last: US is #1!!!

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Unfortunately, the category is "stupidity of legislators":

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2010 at 2:24 pm

Buying silence, I presume

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A very bad decision not to bring charges (obstruction of justice is the obvious charge) against those at the CIA who protected themselves and their superiors by destroying evidence—namely, the video records of CIA interrogation of terrorists. Destroying such tapes is clearly contraindicated if one’s goal is to fight terrorism: the tapes would normally be kept and reviewed as more evidence is found and as events transpire. The fact that they were destroyed pretty much demonstrates that war crimes were indeed committed—crimes so horrific that viewing the tapes would shock the conscience as well as lead to indictments and convictions—and the fact that no charges will be brought pretty much demonstrates that some very highly placed and influential people are paying off a serious debt.

I think the US is pretty much over, as any sort of model. It’s true the evidence shows that the US was never as good as it proclaimed, but now it doesn’t even seem to try: our president cajoles other leaders to investigate potential past crimes in their countries while resolutely blocking any investigation of wrongdoing in the US. Indeed, our president launches investigations and indictments to protect wrongdoing, not to expose it. (I’m thinking here of the wrathful legal actions against whistleblowers who expose government waste and corruption.) And this is done quite openly: the US public no longer cares.

Here’s the latest writing on the wall, this time by Mark Mazzetti and Charlie Savage in the NY Times:

A federal prosecutor will not bring criminal charges against any of the Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in destroying videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of Al Qaeda detainees, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.

After an investigation spanning nearly three years, John H. Durham, the special prosecutor assigned to the case by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, has decided not to charge the C.I.A. undercover officers and top lawyers at the agency for their roles in the destruction of the tapes.

Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, said that since that appointment, “a team of prosecutors and F.B.I. agents led by Mr. Durham has conducted an exhaustive investigation into the matter.” He continued, “As a result of that investigation, Mr. Durham has concluded that he will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of the interrogation videotapes.”

Jose A. Rodriguez, the former head of the agency’s clandestine service, ordered his staff in November 2005 to destroy tapes of the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The tapes had been kept in a safe in the agency’s station in Thailand, the country where the interrogations were conducted in 2002.

Mr. Rodriguez took responsibility for the destruction of the tapes, according to current and former government officials, and said that C.I.A. lawyers had authorized his order. The agency withheld the fact that the tapes existed from , federal courts and the Sept. 11 Commission, which had asked the agency for records of the interrogations.

The destruction of the interrogation tapes was first reported by The New York Times in December 2007.

The announcement that there will be no charges in the destruction of the tapes leaves unanswered whether Mr. Durham will bring other charges related to the death or mistreatment of detainees in the hands of the agency, or to any false statements made by officials to investigators about harsh interrogations. The anti-torture act has an eight-year statute of limitations, and there is no time limit for murder charges.

Documents released earlier this year in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union showed that the C.I.A. destroyed the tapes on the morning of Nov. 9, 2005. The five-year statute of limitations for filing charges of obstruction of justice related to their destruction expired on Tuesday.

Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, condemned Mr. Durham’s failure to file charges. He noted that at the time the tapes were destroyed, they were pertinent to several pending legal cases, including a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the A.C.L.U. in 2004.

“It strains credulity that the conscious destruction of tapes depicting torture would not be a crime,” Mr. Romero said. “How the destruction of evidence in the middle of many pieces of litigation directly on point to what was captured on the videos is not seen as obstruction of justice is hard to imagine. The destruction of the tapes, and Durham’s conclusion, raise serious doubts about whether the government has the political will to police itself.”

But Robert S. Bennett, Mr. Rodriguez’s attorney, said in an interview that he was pleased that the Justice Department “did the right thing.”

Mr. Rodriguez is “a hero and a patriot, who simply wanted to protect his people and his country,” Mr. Bennett said [apparently without gagging – LG].

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2010 at 2:04 pm

Canada outlaws BPA; US continues to await permission from business

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I don’t understand why the US is so cavalier about the health of its citizenry—more of that rugged individualism, I suppose. Bryan Walsh reports in TIME:

It’s used almost everywhere. It’s in almost all of us. It does weird things to rodents and it may be doing weird things to us—but it’s tough to be certain. Bisphenol-A (BPA) has become a litmus test for how people view environmental health and the risks of common household chemicals—as I wrote in a long story for TIME earlier this year. The chemical has countless industrial uses, most often in the epoxy liner of cans and in plastic bottles. But BPA is also an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it has the capacity to mess with our hormones and potentially impact health—especially in developing fetuses—even at relatively low doses. (Because they can mimic hormones—which cause enormous changes in our bodies even at relatively low amounts—the dose-response relationship used to evaluate traditional toxins like lead may not work with BPA.)

Green advocates like the Environmental Working Group have pushed hard to restrict and even ban BPA, citing the potential risk to human health, while industry groups like American Chemistry Council have fought tooth and nail to keep the chemical in use, casting doubt on the animal studies that have shown harm from BPA. In the U.S. so far the result has been something of a stalemate—public worry about BPA is definitely on the rise, especially in the media, and professional groups like the Endocrine Society have raised their own warnings about the chemical, but there’s been no real change in regulation yet from the U.S. government.

Beyond our borders, however, governments are swinging into action. Yesterday Canada—with very little fanfare—declared BPA a toxic substance, both to the environment and to public health. The listing doesn’t mean that all BPA will need to be banned immediately—Canadian officials said that the declaration would be the first in a multi-step process to better regulate BPA. By listing the chemical as toxic, it’s easier for officials to ban the use of BPA in specific products through regulations, rather than amending laws or writing new legislation. Canada has already banned BPA in baby bottles, and this new listing will likely bring an end to food-related uses for BPA, in bottles and possibly cans as well. Here’s an excerpt from the Canada Gazette explaining the decision:

Concern for neurobehavioural effects in newborns and infants was suggested from the neurodevelopmental and behavioural dataset in rodents. Given that available data indicate potential sensitivity to the pregnant woman/fetus and infant, and that animal studies suggest a trend towards heightened susceptibility during stages of development in rodents, it was considered appropriate to apply a precautionary approach when characterizing risk to human health. Therefore, it was concluded that bisphenol A should be considered as a substance that may be entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.

The Canadian move was done in the face of intense opposition from the chemical industry, which was quick to respond to the decision. Here’s Steven Hentges of the American Chemistry Council: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2010 at 12:51 pm

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