Archive for February 6th, 2012
I am still not 100%, but I am so tired of food I didn’t cook myself. So
1 Tbsp EVOO
3 chopped shallots
1 bunch scallions, sliced including green part
1/4 large sweet onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped (this is the prepeeled, which tends to be weak)
smidge of salt and pepper
I do love the alliums, as you see. I got that sautéing at low heat, then added:
6 oz skinless chicken breast, chopped
2 handfuls chopped celery
8 sliced domestic white mushrooms
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 bunch red dandelion greens, chopped
1/3 c sake
Brought to boil, reduced heat, covered, and I’m simmering it for 20 minutes. I already cooked a cup of smoked rice I got after reading about it on Kafeneio.
Feels good to be hitting the profile again, and without the heavy salt.
UPDATE: I added some ponzu sauce and some fish sauce. I don’t know that I care for the ginger. Not a great success so far as taste, but right on target nutritionally. I’ll get the taste better next time. :)
Dashka Slater reports in Mother Jones:
Darnell lives deep in the basement of a life sciences building at the University of California-Berkeley, in a plastic tub on a row of stainless steel shelves. He is an African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, sometimes called the lab rat of amphibians. Like most of his species, he’s hardy and long-lived, an adept swimmer, a poor crawler, and a voracious eater. He’s a good breeder, too, having produced both children and grandchildren. There is, however, one unusual thing about Darnell.
Genetically, Darnell is male. But after being raised in water contaminated with the herbicide atrazine at a level of 2.5 parts per billion—slightly less than what’s allowed in our drinking water—he developed a female body, inside and out. He is also the mother of his children, having successfully mated with other males and spawned clutches of eggs. Recently he was moved to an atrazine-free tank and has turned lanky, losing the plump, pincushion look of a female frog. But last March, when UC-Berkeley integrative biology professor Tyrone B. Hayes opened him up to take a look, Darnell’s insides were still female. “He still has ovaries, but there’s no eggs in them,” Hayes told me the next day as we stood watching the frog, who swam over and inspected us soberly, then turned and flopped away.
Hayes is a 5-foot-3 fireplug of a man with a gentle voice and an easy grin who favors black suits when he’s on the lecture circuit and sweatshirts and running shorts the rest of the time. He is an unusual breed. You will find few other faculty members who keep their money and identification in a child’s Spider-Man sock rather than a wallet, or run their daily 12-mile commute, or compose raps about their research and perform them at scientific meetings. The pool of endocrinologists and herpetologists who might casually mention lunching on homemade raccoon curry is also minuscule. And most scientists, upon discovering that trace amounts of one of the nation’s top-selling herbicides cause gender-bending abnormalities in frogs, would have been content to publish their results and let the regulators and manufacturers fight it out.
But Hayes is not like other scientists. To be sure, he publishes in all the right journals and presents his work at the key scientific meetings, but he has also spearheaded a public outcry against atrazine, testifying at government hearings, appearing in all forms of media, and even launching AtrazineLovers.com, an anti-atrazine website.
“Atrazine isn’t killing the frogs,” Hayes explains. “But if they’re reproductively impaired, that’s killing the population.”
All of this has earned Hayes something approaching rock-star status. He has been the subject of a children’s book (The Frog Scientist), travels the world giving lectures, and by his estimate has appeared in a dozen documentaries. And while scores of researchers have described atrazine’s worrisome effects, it is Hayes’ knack for drama that has brought attention to the problem. Without him, atrazine might not be undergoing its third Environmental Protection Agency review in less than a decade, and Syngenta, the chemical’s Swiss manufacturer, might not be facing lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs from 40 Midwestern water districts who claim atrazine has contaminated their drinking water. “He’s a remarkable person,” says David Skelly, a Yale ecologist who has served on two of the advisory panels that help the EPA vet atrazine research. “And he’s become the personality associated with this issue because he’s a remarkable person.”
Yet over the years, Hayes has become engaged in a remarkably antagonistic sort of symbiosis with Syngenta. Company reps trail him from one speaking engagement to the next; Hayes, in turn, bombards Syngenta with a steady flow of emails laced with profane verses, academic taunts, and even accounts of his dreams. When a batch of these emailsbecame public in 2010, Hayes’ supporters and critics alike were stunned. Here was one of the top scientists in his field, provoking one of the world’s largest agrichemical companies with crude sexual innuendos and LL Cool J-inspired raps:
tyrone b hayes is hard as hell
battle anybody, i don’t care who you tell
you object! you will fail!
mercy for the weak is not for sale
“It hasn’t been productive in the debate, and it hasn’t helped him,” Skelly says. “I mean, why do that?”. . .
No surprise, really: the US grows to resemble the terrorists it’s fighting/creating:
On December 30 of last year, ABC News reported on a 16-year-old Pakistani boy, Tariq Khan, who was killed with his 12-year-old cousin when a car in which he was riding was hit with a missile fired by a U.S. drone. As I noted at the time, the report contained this extraordinary passage buried in the middle:
Asked for documentation of Tariq and Waheed’s deaths, Akbar did not provide pictures of the missile strike scene. Virtually none exist, since drones often target people who show up at the scene of an attack.
What made that sentence so amazing was that it basically amounts to a report that the U.S. first kills people with drones, then fires on the rescuers and others who arrive at the scene where the new corpses and injured victims lie.
In a just-released, richly documented report, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, on behalf of the Sunday Times, documents that this is exactly what the U.S. is doing — and worse:
The CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals, an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times has revealed.
The findings are published just days after President Obama claimed that the drone campaign in Pakistan was a “targeted, focused effort” that “has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties”. . . .
A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.
Although the drone attacks were started under the Bush administration in 2004, they have been stepped up enormously under Obama.
There have been 260 attacks by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan by Obama’s administration – averaging one every four days.
As I indicated, there have been scattered, mostly buried indications in the American media that drones have been targeting and killing rescuers. As the Bureau put it: “Between May 2009 and June 2011, at least fifteen attacks on rescuers were reported by credible news media, including the New York Times, CNN,Associated Press, ABC News and Al Jazeera.” Killing civilians attending the funerals of drone victims is also well-documented by the Bureau’s new report:
Other tactics are also raising concerns. On June 23 2009 the CIA killed Khwaz Wali Mehsud, a mid-ranking Pakistan Taliban commander. They planned to use his body as bait to hook a larger fish – Baitullah Mehsud, then the notorious leader of the Pakistan Taliban.
“A plan was quickly hatched to strike Baitullah Mehsud when he attended the man’s funeral,” according to Washington Post national security correspondent Joby Warrick, in his recent book The Triple Agent. “True, the commander… happened to be very much alive as the plan took shape. But he would not be for long.”
The CIA duly killed Khwaz Wali Mehsud in a drone strike that killed at least five others. . . .
Up to 5,000 people attended Khwaz Wali Mehsud’s funeral that afternoon, including not only Taliban fighters but many civilians. US drones struck again, killing up to 83 people. As many as 45 were civilians, among them reportedly ten children and four tribal leaders.
The Bureau quotes several experts stating the obvious: that targeting rescuers and funeral attendees is patently illegal and almost certainly constitutes war crimes: . . .
Continue reading. I despair for what the country is becoming and where Obama is leading us.
The NY Police Department is not doing well. John Farley has an article in Salon:
Some politicians and policy analysts are calling for a new independent agency to oversee the NYPD — something Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city won’t do.
MetroFocus looked at the problems with the NYPD’s current monitoring system and, for comparison, at how other cities have used independent government watchdogs to reduce corruption.
A Troubled Run for the NYPD
The most recent scandal emerged last week, when NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne admitted that Kelly had participated in the filming of the highly controversial police training movie, “The Third Jihad” — a claim Browne had denied just a day before.
In response to the controversy, Bloomberg said the NYPD used “terrible judgment” in showing the video to 1,500 officers.
The revelation prompted New York City Councilmember Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) to release a statement in which he demanded for the NYPD “a new set of accountability mechanisms that balance our need for security, appropriate confidentiality in criminal investigations, respect for civil liberties, and telling the truth.”
Public discontent with the NYPD’s practices seems to have reached its fever pitch with the “Third Jihad” episode, as New Yorkers emerge from a year already fraught with NYPD scandals, including:
- A marked uptick in the number of stop-and-frisks
- Collaboration with the C.I.A. to spy on Muslim communities
- Infiltration of Shiite mosques to gain information on Iranian terrorists.
- The cases of the so-called “rape cops” and “pimp cop”
- Allegations of rampant ticket fixing
- Reports of excessive force used on Occupy Wall Street protesters and thearrest of credentialed journalists covering them
- Drug planting and allegations of a widespread culture of corruption in the NYPD’s drug units.
- The racially charged detainment of City Council Member Jumaane Williams
- The arrest of five officers on gun trafficking charges
The idea that the NYPD has been militarized and turned into Bloomberg’s“own army” in the years since 9/11 was widely discussed in the press last year. The Brennan Center op-ed suggests that many of the aforementioned scandals are partially the result of that transformation, and the veil of secrecy that comes with it. The writers of the op-ed lay out the problems they see with the department’s current self-monitoring system:
- The Internal Affairs Bureau only investigates incidents of individual police misconduct and corruption, not department-wide problems.
- The other monitor of the NYPD, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, doesn’t have the power to subpoena police officers in order to expose corruption, and the NYPD is famously reticent to disclose information.
- City Council rarely uses its subpoena power to force the NYPD to disclose information, which the Brennan Center op-ed attributes to politicians being fearful of appearing soft on crime, but Lander says is due to the fact that the Council doesn’t have a system for closed-door hearings or the expertise to evaluate police activities.
- Additionally, the mayor’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption is underfunded and lacks many powers — such as the power to subpoena — necessary to do its job, reported the New York Times.
What Would an Independent Police Monitor Look Like?
Lander, who is currently fleshing out his proposal with the help of the Brennan Center, said he wants the new inspector general to be an “internal person, but somebody appointed by the mayor… who has access to confidential information who keeps that information confidential,” and reports to the Department of Investigations or the Council, reported Capital New York.
Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, has been thinking a great deal recently about what an independent agency might look like. At the end of last year, his criminal justice nonprofit published a report detailing the way police oversight agencies operate in America’s five largest cities. . .
But the real eye-opener is the NY Times article by N.R. Kleinfeld, Al Baker, and Joseph Goldstein:
The officers who stand sentinel over New York’s streets and run the station houses rarely intersect with the police commissioner. They see the man they call “boss” at Police Academy graduations, at promotions, on the news recapitulating the latest ugly crime or at police funerals. That is about it.
So it was jarring recently when some commanders got e-mails from the boss with photos of vagrants taken by his personal staff. The messages cited “a condition that requires your immediate attention.” They specified no action, but officers said those highlighted sometimes later wound up in handcuffs.
The e-mails reminded some precinct commanders of the blanket control the commissioner exerts — even the ceremonial unit of anthem singers and pallbearers reports directly to him — and of his thirst for arrests, of almost any sort. They also reminded them of something quite contrary: While his presence is always sensed, it is unusual to have contact with a commissioner who seems to have reigned for eons.
But that is Ray Kelly.
After years of undeniable success, Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly is going through turbulent times, confronted with a steady drip of troublesome episodes. They include officers fixing traffic tickets, running guns and disparaging civilians on Facebook, and accusations that the Police Department encourages officers to question minorities on the streets indiscriminately. His younger son has been accused of rape, though he has not been charged and maintains his innocence. On Thursday, in an episode that Mr. Kelly said concerned him, an officer killed an 18-year-old drug suspect who was unarmed.
At 70, Mr. Kelly has now run the 52,000-member department longer than any of the city’s 41 commissioners. Almost everything about him braids through the department’s interlocking workings. Yet many inside and outside the force wonder whether the pileup of scandals and his increasingly authoritarian use of power have diminished his once-towering stature.
In Mr. Kelly’s two tenures — 16 months in the early 1990s under Mayor David N. Dinkins, and since 2002 under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — he has now served 11 ½ years. Lewis Joseph Valentine presided for just shy of 11, from 1934 to 1945, during monstrous times, when organized-crime groups sanctioned hundreds of murders.
Mr. Kelly has many fans. His public approval numbers after years of low crime remain high: two-thirds of the city’s voters were pleased with his job performance in a December poll by Quinnipiac University.
Mr. Bloomberg continues to affirm his unbending faith. Asked if he had considered replacing Mr. Kelly, he said, “With God as my witness, never once.” While waving off interest, Mr. Kelly has been promoted as a 2013 mayoral candidate; political soothsayers are dubious he will run, however, and the suggestion is heard less often these days.
But even some of those who admire Mr. Kelly wonder if his prolonged tenure has changed him. And they wonder something else more ominous: Has it begun to damage the department? . . .
UPDATE: Here’s a partial explanation: President Obama appointed former Monsanto vice president and lobbyist Michael Taylor as senior advisor to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner.
The FDA really has reached a low-water mark. Bob Grant reports in The Scientist:
Six people who had served on scientific review committees for the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health have filed a lawsuit against the government agency, claiming that the FDA used spyware to take screenshots of their personal emails and fired some of the plaintiffs for leaking information on potentially unsafe medical devices to the US Congress and the press.
FDA officials allegedly approved some cancer-screening devices—among them tools for detecting breast and colon cancer—even after members of the review committees advised against doing so. When the plaintiffs, who include doctors, researchers, and a statistician, complained to Congress in 2008, the FDA began “ordering, coercing, and intimidating FDA physicians and scientists to recommend approval, and then retaliating when the physicians and scientists refused to go along,” according to a letter written to then President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team in 2009.
The plaintiffs also allege that the FDA used spyware to capture screenshots of their emails, monitoring that they say continued for 2 years. According to Stephen Kohn, the complainants’ lawyer and director of the National Whistleblowers Center, the lawsuit was triggered when his clients learned of the email monitoring this past December. “It’s the first time we’ve seen heightened surveillance for health and safety issues,” he told ScienceInsider. “And it will have a chilling effect. Maybe the public doesn’t need to know about how many spies we have in Iran, but they do need to know if a device will increase cancer risks.”
The Wife points out that now I probably understand why people try to put off eye surgery. But I still don’t: better to get it over with.
Still, I have to admit that this has not been pleasant. Each morning, though, the pain seems more localize, more limited to one spot. But it’s still pretty bad. Vicodin has been a godsend. But day by day, it gets better and on 2 March I’ll get new Rx for glasses.
I’ve not felt like cooking, so I’ve bought some ready-to-eat foods. Man, if you don’t cook, you’re screwed so far as food quality’s concerned: the ready-to-eat stuff seems uniformly high fat and high salt, and I’ve put on 8 lbs. Today I’m returning to cooking with a light chicken stir-fry using dandelion greens. I suppose a private chef is an alternative, but not one I can afford. But other than cooking yourself or having a private chef, you can pretty much forget about eating well, day in and day out.
I’ve seen some discussion on wicked_edge regarding Hermès Eau d’ Orange Vert Moisturizing Face Balm. The Wife scored some samples on eBay, so I was able to test it: very nice balm with unusual and pleasing fragrance. So I used it as an aftershave this morning and it is indeed nice. Men who shave can often arrange matters so something like this balm ($65 for 2.5 oz, though you do indeed use only a tiny amount: the tube at the link uses a little pump to dispense the drops) to be a Valentine’s Day present. It would be a good one, but it may be a little much.
As a fallback consider I Coloniali Softening Shaving Cream Tube with Rhubarb, just $22 and this lathers much better than their Mango Oil Shaving Soap. Both have a fragrance I like a lot, but I can’t get good lather from the soap so far. I do like the shaving cream, and I used it this morning with my Blonde Badger Morris & Forndran brush.