Archive for July 11th, 2009
An orchestra of Japanese high-school girls. Jack in Amsterdam. Just listen to this:
Last night I watched a dysfunctional-family comedy, Eulogy, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Quite funny. I mentioned earlier that I watched the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger film ‘I Know Where I’m Going!’, and I quite enjoyed that as well. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but I thought it was quite powerful, plus I was quite interested in the photos of the maelstrom. "A mythic romance" it was called, and I think that’s pretty accurate.
The romantic movie Happy Accidents I think I mentioned before, and I do recommend it. Quite satisfying as a small and interesting movie.
Interest in Go has returned, and I find myself studying at the board now that the table’s cleared off. :)
Lamb chops for lunch, and perhaps a duck breast for dinner, both with lots of veggies, of course.
Maybe this weekend. Mark Bittman:
Summer Seafood Salad
Yield 4 servings
Time At least 2 hours
You can make this salad ultrafast by starting with cooked shrimp or conch (sold frozen in many fish markets and some supermarkets). Or you can simmer conch or octopus until tender (this takes a while), or shrimp or scallops for just a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you can soak the seafood in citrus at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator until it becomes opaque and tender.
- 1 pound raw peeled shrimp, or scallops, conch or octopus
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 limes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 habanero pepper, seeded, stemmed and minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium red or white onion, finely chopped
- 1 avocado, diced
- 15 or more cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 medium mango or peach, peeled and diced, optional
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chopped
1. Cut shellfish into 1/2-inch dice and toss with citrus juice and some salt; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If you prefer, poach fish for a few minutes in simmering salted water until opaque, then proceed. You can reduce marinating time to 10 minutes, though more will not hurt.
2. In bowl, add seafood to remaining ingredients except lettuce; toss, then taste and adjust seasoning. Divide lettuce among 4 bowls; sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Spoon a quarter of the seafood mixture over each portion of lettuce; serve immediately.
Generally speaking, war crimes done by the US or by a US ally are perfectly okay and must not on any account be investigated. War crimes done by everyone else are horrible and must be swiftly punished. A hard position to maintain for most, easy for Obama and the US in general. Greenwald:
The Bush administration repeatedly sought to block investigations into alleged killings of up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners by a US-backed Afghan warlord in 2001, The New York Times reported Friday.
Top US officials discouraged separate probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the State Department and the Pentagon into the mass killings because it was conducted by the forces of General Abdul Rashid Dostam, a warlord then on the Central Intelligence Agency’s payroll, the Times said on its website. . . .
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the special US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, have told Karzai they objected to the recent reinstatement of Dostam as military chief of staff, the Times said, citing a senior State Department official.
"We believe that anyone suspected of war crimes should be thoroughly investigated," the official added, hinting the Obama administration is open to an inquiry.
President Obama disappointed a lot of health care advocates earlier this year when, contrary to campaign vows, he declined to include in his budget the elimination of a decades-old ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs, which have been shown to prevent blood-borne illnesses like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.
Enter the House Democrats.
A House Appropriations subcommittee today approved a massive $161 billion funding bill for the labor, health and education departments, including language to pluck the needle-funding ban that Obama didn’t.
Reuters has the money quotes that are indicative of the partisan debate that’s sure to loom, first from Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.):
Scientific studies have documented that needle exchange programs, when implemented as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy, are an effective public health intervention for reducing AIDS/HIV infections and do not promote drug use.
And on the other side, here’s Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kans.), the senior Republican on the Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee:
I am very concerned that we would use federal tax dollars to support the drug habits of people who desperately need help.
Earlier this year, we reported on how the Obama White House had bucked our European allies to oppose a nonbinding international resolution in support of so-called “harm reduction” measures, which include needle exchanges, safe injection facilities, drug substitution therapies and other programs designed to curb the damaging health effects related to illegal drug use. At the time, several House Democrats had raised eyebrows (and written letters) about the administration’s position, only to fall silent when it became clear that the White House was sticking to its guns.
In the eyes of many in the health care community, Congress redeemed itself today.
The real investigation is more likely to come now that Congress knows the CIA was not informing them (as Leon Panetta revealed). Greenwald comments on the IG report:
The Bush-era torture regime might have been that administration’s most flamboyant act of criminality, but its illegal NSA warrantless eavesdropping program (and other still-unknown surveillance programs) has always been the clearest. We had a law in place for 30 years that made it a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each offense to do exactly that which Bush got caught doing: eavesdropping on the communications of American citizens without warrants from the FISA court. The Inspectors General report (.pdf) on Bush’s NSA activities released on Friday afternoon — one that was mandated by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 in lieu of a real investigation — highlights how rampant and blatant was the lawlessness that pervaded the Bush administration.
Nonetheless, because the Obama administration is actively blocking any real investigation — Obama opposes all Congressional investigations into Bush-era crimes and, worse, is engaged in extraordinary efforts to block courts from adjudicating the legality of Bush’s surveillance activities by claiming that even long-obsolete and clearly criminal programs are "state secrets" — it is quite likely, despite how blatant is the lawbreaking, that there will be no consequences for any of it. In a Look-to-the-Future-Not-the-Past political culture, it’s irrelevant how severe is the lawbreaking by high government officials. They know they will face no consequences even when, as here, they deliberately commit felonies — which is precisely why criminality is so rampant in our political class.
(1) The IG Report is more notable for …
Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses to Life’s Burning Questions
by Thich Nhat Hanh
A review by Chris Faatz
Thich Nhat Hanh is a favorite at Powell’s. His many books, including the epochal Being Peace and Peace Is Every Step, fly off the shelves. Anyone interested in Buddhism, and many who are already experienced explorers of the path, eventually find their way to his work.
Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen master and social activist, has, in his way, changed the world. He’s brought the concept of mindfulness, of being totally aware and awake in each and every moment which we experience, to a mass audience. The example of his own life is almost as powerful as his words: he was an early peace activist in his homeland during the war there, and was eventually forced into exile. He worked with boat people and other refugees, and pioneered reconciliation work among veterans of the U.S. war. During that period he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. He’s founded a community, Plum Village, in France where his ideas are practiced and which serves as an example to countless people internationally.
Nhat Hanh pioneered the concept of Engaged Buddhism, an approach to living from a deeply spiritual perspective that’s not afraid to confront structures of power and oppression at all levels, from the personal to the societal. Engaged Buddhism recognizes that we are connected with everything that exists, and that there is a responsibility inherent in that connection. In Nhat Hanh’s terms, we "inter-are"; "interbeing" is the word he’s coined to encapsulate that understanding, and he’s founded a new Buddhist order rooted in this profoundly revolutionary and transformative worldview (the Tiep Hien Order; see his book Interbeing for more on this subject).
As well as all of that, he’s continued to write. And, now, with the publication of Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses to Life’s Burning Questions, he’s given us his best book in years.
Answers from the Heart is just that, a series of 50 questions and answers on a multitude of subjects. Chapter headings include …