Later On

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

Archive for January 21st, 2009

Why the GOP is holding up Eric Holder’s confirmation as Attorney General

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In a nutshell, they are afraid that he will investigate and prosecute people who broke the law. The GOP doesn’t like that.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 12:48 pm

Kevin Drum on unionization

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Excellent post. Go read and you’ll not regret it.

Over at the Washington Monthly, T.A. Frank tells the story of workers at a Rite-Aid distribution center in the Antelope Valley, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. At first, things were great. Then new management came in, conditions went from bad to worse, and finally the center’s workers decided to unionize:

The Rite Aid organizers filed their union authorization cards with the NLRB, setting the ground for an election. And then things got ugly—and illegal, too….Eventually, the NLRB racked up so many complaints that it planned to take Rite Aid to trial on forty-nine violations of federal labor law. In the summer of 2007, though, Rite Aid chose to settle instead, agreeing to rehire two fired union supporters with back pay and to post a notice in a common area promising not to engage in thirteen types of illegal anti-union activity.

….[ILWU] won the March election, becoming the sole bargaining representative of the warehouse employees. And yet, the day after, things got worse….By August, thirty-nine more employees had been dismissed….Today, nine months later, Rite Aid and the ILWU have not yet come up with a contract. At meetings, Rite Aid has been pushing aside contract negotiations in order to discuss other things. Legally, Rite Aid is supposed to bargain “in good faith,” but such terms are highly subjective and difficult to litigate. Work conditions for the warehouse workers remain much as before, perhaps even worse. And that works to Rite Aid’s advantage — for when a union fails to deliver, its members may lose faith in it and vote it out.

The whole thing is worth reading to get some insight into how unionization drives really work as opposed to the civics class version of how they work. In the end, Tom argues that “card check,” which allows unions to organize merely by getting 50% of a site’s workers to sign authorization cards, may be the least important of card check legislation. The more important parts of the Employee Free Choice Act, he says, are …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 11:41 am

Antarctica is warming faster than previously thought

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New data bring some bad news:

Scientists studying climate change have long believed that while most of the rest of the globe has been getting steadily warmer, a large part of Antarctica – the East Antarctic Ice Sheet – has actually been getting colder. But new research shows that for the last 50 years, much of Antarctica has been warming at a rate comparable to the rest of the world. In fact, the warming in West Antarctica is greater than the cooling in East Antarctica, meaning that on average the continent has gotten warmer, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences and director of the Quaternary Research Center at the UW.

“West Antarctica is a very different place than East Antarctica, and there is a physical barrier, the Transantarctic Mountains, that separates the two,” said Steig, lead author of a paper documenting the warming published in the Jan. 22 edition of Nature.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 11:38 am

White bean salad

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This is from The Kitchn [sic]:

Cauliflower, Fennel, and White Bean Winter Salad
Adapted from Bon Appétit
serves 6
1/3 cup olive oil
2 long sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 small head of cauliflower
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed (can substitute 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans)
1 fennel bulb
Handful fresh chives
Handful fresh parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the thyme sprigs and then slide them through your fingers to remove just the thyme leaves. Cook in the hot olive oil just for a few moments, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Zest the lemon and set aside the zest. Juice the lemon and whisk the juice and vinegar together.

Chop or shred the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Drain and rinse the beans. Chop and shave the fennel bulb using a mandoline or a chef’s knife. Mince the chives and parsley. Combine cauliflower, beans, fennel, chives, parsley, and thyme oil in a large bowl and toss. Mix in cheese. Add lemon juice mixture and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

Here’s the original version:

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Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 11:16 am

Tasty sounding dip

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From Andrea’s Recipes:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (I used white.)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup (227 g) sour cream (I used light.)
4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, at room temperature (I used light.)

1. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Stir in the onions, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Remove the lid and raise the heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. In the medium bowl, combine the sour cream and the cream cheese. Beat until smooth. Stir in the cooked onions will all the juices.

4. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

5. To serve, stir again and allow the dip to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Variations

Substitute Greek yogurt for the cream cheese. The end result will not be as thick, but will still be rich with flavor.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 11:10 am

iPhone sniper app

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Amazing.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 10:26 am

Future historians finally speak up

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Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 10:19 am

Ezra Klein makes an important point

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Transparency in government has many guises, and Klein points out one:

peaking of White House technology, have you checked out the new White House web site? The new White House blog? Spiffy! And functional! Kottke points out that the Bush White House site had almost 2400 lines of code barring search engines from indexing. and thus searching, the site. The new Whitehouse web site has no such lines of code. This stuff is small, yes, but it matters. It also bespeaks an administration that, at this point, doesn’t think it needs to hide its words and actions from the people it governs…

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 10:03 am

Animal rights terrorists sentenced

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Terrorism in a good cause is still terrorism, as some in the UK recently discovered:

Seven animal rights activists who blackmailed companies that supplied Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing laboratory based in the UK, were sentenced today (Jan. 21) to between four and 11 years in prison.

From 2001 to 2007, members of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) group used inflammatory graffiti, false allegations of pedophilia, and bomb hoaxes to intimidate managers and staff with links to the Cambridge-based company.

Last month, the seven activists — who were described by the sentencing judge as “urban terrorists” — were found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail.

Heather Nicholson, 41, a founding member of SHAC, was sentenced today to 11 years in prison, while co-founders Gregg and Natasha Avery, 41 and 39 respectively, each received nine-year sentences. Four other leading members of SHAC were handed jail terms of between four and eight years. Another defendant, Trevor Holmes, 51, was cleared of the charges.

While passing the sentence, Judge Neil Butterfield described the campaign as a “relentless, sustained and merciless persecution” that had made the victims lives “a living hell,” according to the BBC. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 9:44 am

Evolution in action: dung beetle becoming dungless

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Interesting:

Deep in the Amazon jungle, researchers have discovered a dung beetle that doesn’t live up to its name, a sign the insect has undergone speciation.

A new study published today (Jan. 20) in Biology Letters reports a dung beetle that shuns its normal muck-eating habits in favor of feasting solely on live millipedes — the first non-dung-eating dung beetle, say the authors. But not everyone agrees with this claim.

Dung beetles are a worldwide group of insects that feed almost exclusively on animal droppings, which can be a rare commodity. Although certain dung beetles sometimes dine on rotting fruit or fungus, and two species have been spotted preying on ants, no obligate predatory dung beetle had ever been reported.

But now, Trond Larsen, a Princeton University biologist, and his colleagues have discovered a killer dung beetle that pooh-poohs its ancestral dung ball-rolling ways, opting instead to maim and often decapitate large, toxic millipedes.

“They’re not dung beetles anymore,” Dick Richardson, an ecologist at the University of Texas at Austin who was not involved in the study, told The Scientist. “They are morphologically, and that’s the way the taxonomist would categorize them,” but they’ve adapted to a new ecological niche by becoming predatory. “That’s a good way to get new species,” he added.

Larsen’s team captured …

Continue reading.  They also have a photo of the little guy.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 9:38 am

Pelosi supports investigating Bush Administration

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Chris Bowers has an encouraging post at Open Left. It begins:

HR 104, a bill by House Judiciary Chair John Conyers to create a commission to investigate Bush-era crimes, took a step forward yesterday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled her support. From the Young Turks:

Pelosi who famously remarked in 2006 after Democrats won control of both Houses of Congress that “impeachment is off the table” indicated during an interview with Fox News she was willing to support legislation proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers to create a blue-ribbon panel of outside experts to probe the “broad range” of policies pursued by the Bush administration “under claims of unreviewable war powers,” including torture and warrantless wiretaps.

But told by Fox News’ Chris Wallace that President-elect Barack Obama signaled his unwillingness to support efforts to investigate the Bush administration, Pelosi countered, saying, “I think that we have to learn from the past, and we cannot let the politicizing of the – for example, the Justice Department, to go unreviewed. Past is prologue. We learn from it. And my views on the subject – I don’t think that Mr. Obama and Mr. Conyers are that far apart.”(…)

Pelosi said issues related to the politicization of the Justice Department will require Congress to  “look at each item and see what is a violation of the law, and do we even have a right to ignore it, and other things that are – maybe time spent better looking to the future rather than to the past.”

The pre-season prediction of the House being more progressive than the Senate appears to be holding true to form. On Wednesday, the House will pass legislation to place increased transparency, oversight and conditions on TARP funds, even though the Senate, led in this case by Baking Chair Chris Dodd, is currently refusing to pass similar legislation. [Dodd, like Schumer, has been bought by the financial services industry and is totally in their pocket. – LG] The same can be said of HR 104 as there is currently no equivalent legislation in the Senate to investigate Bush administration crimes.

There is a glimmer of hope, however. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 9:30 am

300 human rights groups say Israel committed war crimes

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An important post at Firedoglake by bmaz. It begins:

As outside observers enter Gaza, we’re learning more about what has happened during the Israeli attack.  What they are seeing is devastating — and is leading to accusations of Israeli war crimes.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for investigations and prosecutions during his tour of Gaza:

Standing in front of the UN compound during a visit to the shattered Palestinian territory, a visibly angry Mr Ban said that he was “heartbroken” by the devastation he witnessed and appalled by the Israeli attack on the UN facility.

“It is an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack on the United Nations,” Mr Ban said, the warehouse still smouldering behind him.

“There must be a full investigation, a full explanation to make sure it never happens again. There should be accountability through a proper judiciary system.

“I have protested many times. I am today protesting again in the strongest terms. I have asked [for a] full investigation and [to] make those responsible people accountable.”

AFP reports that “300 human rights groups” are “planning to submit a 37 page dossier” to the International Criminal Court on Wednesday…

Continue reading. Israel has much to answer for. Note to commenters: I do not condone the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, but Israel’s response was over the top. If someone wrongly insults you, you’re in the wrong if you shoot them in the leg. Their wrong is small compared to yours.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 9:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Mideast Conflict

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Hilzoy on race since the 80s

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Hilzoy has an excellent post on the issue of race and its recent history. It begins:

Matt Cooper has a really interesting post at TPMDC, on the difficulty of explaining to people who weren’t around (or old enough) at the time just how different, and more troubled, race relations were like in the 80s and early 90s. He asks: “Why is America’s racial atmosphere less poisonous than it was then?” And he offers a few answers: the drop in black crime and teen pregnancy, the disappearance of issues like school busing,the mainstreaming of hip-hop, Bill Clinton’s ease with African-Americans and Bush’s cabinet picks. Josh Marshall adds: “American mass culture found a more useful scary other: Arabs and Muslims. That’s a key thing that isn’t pretty but I think is also true.”

Since I seem to be around the same age as Cooper, I thought I’d offer a few more possibilities…

First, whatever welfare reform’s impact on poverty, I think it’s hard to overstate the political effects of removing welfare from the list of perennial campaign issues. Despite the fact that the majority of welfare recipients were white, debates about welfare always seemed to devolve into debates about such topics as whether inner-city blacks actually deserved to be helped at all, whether welfare perpetuated social pathologies in black communities, and other topics guaranteed to reinforce any suspicion anyone might have had that there was something wrong with a whole lot of black people, something that people in Washington seemed to think meant that we (and the subtext of these debates was “we”) should fork over large sums of money to “them.” I think that the simple fact that we are not talking about this all the time has helped a lot (though the fact that we are not talking much about poverty either is a very serious problem.)

Second, I think that people, most especially white people, often imagined that the legacy of racism would be much easier to correct than it actually was — as though as soon as legal obstacles to, say, voting were removed, everything would be OK, if not immediately then in a few years. They had, in other words, an unreasonable view of how long it takes to undo centuries of institutionalized injustice. By the mid-eighties, a lot of those legal obstacles had been removed — but the problems hadn’t all gone away! I think that the simple fact that time passes has helped here: the early eighties through mid-nineties were, I think, the time at which the discrepancy between people’s unreasonable expectations and actual progress was likely to be sharpest. Since then, that progress has continued, and so the discrepancy has gotten smaller.

More importantly, though, I think …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 9:10 am

Posted in Daily life

Got a cold? Try honey-lemon-ginger

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Over at Slashfood, Marisa McClellan has a soothing suggestion for winter’s ills:

… Whip up a quick infusion of honey, lemon and ginger. Simply grate a half inch chunk of ginger into a large mug. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in on top (you can also add the zest if you’re feeling daring) and add a heaping teaspoonful of honey (feel free to adjust the sweetness level to your personal taste). Fill the cup with boiling water and stir to combine. Drink while still warm and repeat as necessary.

It will soothe a sore throat, help with the cough (truly, honey has been found in scientific studies to calm a cough nearly as well as cough syrup) and taste good to boot!

My family’s method was to make a large mug of hot tea and add juice of a lemon, honey, and good shot of bourbon. The bourbon will make you sleepy so you can nap. But I like the idea of the grated ginger in addition.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 9:02 am

Good to see on White House Web site

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Take a look, and scroll down to the initiatives to support the LGBT community. Quite a change.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 8:58 am

CARB still trying to kill electric cars

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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) was one of those implicated in the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? and their contribution to its death was undeniable. Now they seem to be moving to kill a new generation of electric vehicles. From Treehugger:

Plug-In Hybrids to be Regulated Out of Existence in California?
The movie Who Killed the Electric Cars? wasn’t very tender on the California Air Resources Board (CARB). They were instrumental in the ‘murder’ of electric cars such as the GM EV1 and Toyota RAV4 EV in California, and now they might be about to do it again with companies that turn hybrid cars into plug-in hybrids.

Two-Part Death Warrant
Small companies such as 3Prong Power mostly take regular Toyota Prius hybrids and modify them to extend their electric-only speed and range. They do this by added a new battery pack and a way to plug the car in to recharge it (instead of only recharging with energy coming from the gas engine).

These companies operate on a small scale and probably don’t have lots of money in the bank. What CARB wants them to do, if the new regulation is signed into law, is the following:

1) Put their technology through a series of rigorous and expensive smog tests that could cost between $20,000 and $125,000, depending on how many cars the agency decides must be examined.

2) Require the new companies to provide consumers with warranties for the changes they make to hybrids for up to ten years or 150,000 miles.

These tests might be peanuts for big automakers, but they are too costly for these small startups. And the warranty requirement is just plain ridiculous: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 8:14 am

Photoshop makeover of Angela Merkel

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Via Kafeneio this video showing what you can do with Photoshop.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Photoshop makeover of Angela Merkel", posted with vodpod

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 8:07 am

Posted in Daily life

Sandalwood shave

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Sandalwood all the way. The Gillette Diplomat held a Treet Classic blade on its last legs, and I discarded the blade after the shave. So not a perfect shave, but a perfectly enjoyable shave. The Harvard 3 Best worked up an excelloent lather from QED’s Sandalwood, and the TOBS Sandalwood aftershave was a great finish.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2009 at 8:05 am

Posted in Shaving

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