Later On

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

Archive for November 14th, 2009

What’s the point of those military commissions?

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Daphne Eviatar in the Washington Independent:

Yesterday’s announcement that the Obama administration will try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 suspects in federal court has been hailed as everything from “an important step forward for justice” by Human Rights Watch) to “a step backwards for the security of our country [that] puts Americans unnecessarily at risk” by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Glenn Greenwald has pointed out the irony of Republicans now raising fears of another terror attack simply because the president has decided to prosecute terror suspects in a way that’s consistent with American values.

But some important points are being drowned out by the hysteria. Retired Adm. John Hutson, now the dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center, yesterday observed that “there’s no particular reason to believe that if terrorists are going to take vengeance on the US for prosecuting these people, that that’s going to happen at the location or at a hard target.” A federal supermax prison or high-security New York City jail is actually “the least likely place for vengeance to be taken,” given the obstacles presented by all the security, he said on a conference call organized by Human Rights First. “The logical consequence of that stream of logic is that we not prosecute them at all to avoid some form of retribution.”

The other point largely overlooked is that while Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to try the alleged 9/11 plotters in federal court, he also announced that the suspected USS Cole bomber, among others who’ve attacked U.S. soldiers or military targets, would be tried in the newly reconstituted military commissions. So are they getting a lesser trial?

“Despite the changes enacted by Congress this year, that untested system does not have the track record of fairness and justice that our criminal justice system has,” said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) yesterday, after praising the decision to try KSM and his alleged co-conspirators in federal court.

Col. Morris Davis, the former chief military prosecutor for the commissions, made this important point Sunday in The Wall Street Journal: having two different justice systems “establish[es] a dangerous legal double standard that gives some detainees superior rights and protections, and relegates others to the inferior rights and protections of military commissions. This will only perpetuate the perception that Guantanamo and justice are mutually exclusive.”

Another former military prosecutor, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 12:43 pm

Records altered to cover for Cheney

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Interesting post by Marcy Wheeler:

A senior Counsel for the 9/11 Commission, John Farmer, has written a book exposing the degree to which our response to 9/11 was disorganized and and outdated–geared to respond to an attack from Russia rather than from terrorists. Most significantly, Farmer reveals that FAA and NORAD altered their chronologies of the day only after a briefing at the White House.

Perhaps nothing perturbs Farmer more than the contention that high-ranking officials responded quickly and effectively to the revelation that Qaeda attacks were taking place. Nothing, Farmer indicates, could be further from the truth: President George W. Bush and other officials were mostly irrelevant during the hijackings; instead, it was the ground-level commanders who made operational decisions in an ad hoc fashion.


Yet both Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Dick Cheney, Farmer says, provided palpably false versions that touted the military’s readiness to shoot down United 93 before it could hit Washington. Planes were never in place to intercept it. By the time the Northeast Air Defense Sector had been informed of the hijacking, United 93 had already crashed. Farmer scrutinizes F.A.A. and Norad records to provide irrefragable evidence that a day after a Sept. 17 White House briefing, both agencies suddenly altered their chronologies to produce a coherent timeline and story that “fit together nicely with the account provided publicly by Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz and Vice President Cheney.”

We’ve know for a long time that the FAA records, in particular, were politicized. Given already documented proof that Cheney lied to hide the fact that he violated the chain of commend on 9/11 it’s not surprising that that politicization served Dick Cheney’s false narrative of leadership.

But we can add this book to the long list of proof that Cheney’s a big liar trying to hide his own incompetence.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 12:39 pm

Dark chocolate for stress

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I like dark chocolate, The Wife likes milk chocolate. But dark chocolate is where it’s at for stress. Jennifer Warner at WebMD:

Those stress-induced chocolate cravings may be justified after all. A new study shows that eating dark chocolate may lower levels of stress hormones in people feeling stressed out.

Researchers found that eating the equivalent of one average-sized dark chocolate candy bar (1.4 ounces) each day for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines in highly stressed people.

The findings add to a growing number of recently discovered potential health benefits of dark chocolate. For example, cocoa has been found to be rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which have been linked to a number of health benefits.

Researchers are also investigating other compounds in dark chocolate that may offer other health benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity, reduced blood pressure, and improved mood…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 12:36 pm

Veggies for The Wife

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Just back from Whole Foods. Some lovely fresh collards, which I think I’ll cook with bacon and onion. And a very nice fresh bunch of "rainbow" chard (i.e., red chard, green chard, Swiss chard all represented). Also I’m running out of pepper sauce, so this time I’m making it from jalapeños (green, no ripe available), habanero, and probably a couple of dried chipotles and a dried ancho.

I also go 2 lbs of ground turkey thigh meat for the little meatloaves. The new guy got some, weighed it: 1.75 lbs. He added some, weighed: 2.25 lbs. He took some off, and I was about to say whatever he got was okay, when the weight came up: 2.00 lbs. "My God!" I said. We made a couple of "close enough" jokes, then the big guy behind the counter (I think he’s the boss) told my guy, "You can go into the office for your peanut." 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 12:34 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

The Glacier Graph

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Another interesting graph from another interesting article:


While an individual glacier or two might be gaining mass, they are the exception, as the graph shows.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 11:02 am

Record highs and lows in the US

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Interesting graph from an interesting article:

Basic CMYK 


This graphic shows the ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows observed at about 1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States from January 1950 through September 2009. Each bar shows the proportion of record highs (red) to record lows (blue) for each decade. The 1960s and 1970s saw slightly more record daily lows than highs, but in the last 30 years record highs have increasingly predominated, with the ratio now about two-to-one for the 48 states as a whole.  (©UCAR, graphic by Mike Shibao.)

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 10:59 am

Republicans reap the whirlwind for voting against the anti-rape amendment

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Amanda Terkel at ThinkProgress:

Last month, 30 Republican senators voted against Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment that would punish defense contractors “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” His amendment was inspired by Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang-raped by her co-workers while working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad in 2005, and then had to fight her employer for justice.

The GOP senators who sided with defense contractors at the expense of women — such as John Thune (SD) — have been facing an intense backlash. David Vitter (LA) refused to give a rape victim a straight answer when she confronted him about his vote, claiming that he is “absolutely supportive of any [rape] case like that being prosecuted criminally to the full extent of the law.”

Politico reports that Republicans are now scratching their heads at why the public is so incensed about their “no” votes:

Privately, GOP sources acknowledge that they failed to anticipate the political consequences of a “no” vote on the amendment. And several aides said that Republicans are engaged in an internal blame game about why they agreed to a roll-call vote on the measure, rather than a simple voice vote that would have allowed the opposing senators to duck criticism.

As BarbinMD writes, “Seriously? They voted against an amendment that was prompted by the brutal gang-rape of a young woman by her co-workers while she was working for a company under contract for the United States government, after which she was locked in a shipping container without food or water, threatened if she left to seek medical treatment, and was then prevented from bringing criminal charges against her assailants. And they failed to anticipate the political consequences?”

Thune is also claiming that Franken doesn’t really care about Jones and other rape victims whose employers have blocked them from seeking justice; he and other Democrats just wanted to “create a vote which they could use to attack Republicans.”

So basically, the only lesson they learned is that next time, they have to hide their votes when they decide to screw over women’s rights. That way, they can support their allies in the contracting business and the public will never find out.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 10:55 am

Healthful Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

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Little individual servings of turkey meatloaf: how cute is that? And the recipe look quite easy (with lots of photos). Cook a batch on the weekend, and have them for lunch or dinner over the week. (The things in the meatloaf that look like raisins are dried cranberries.)

UPDATE: Just made it. Quite easy and very tasty indeed. I wondered about the absence of tomato (no ketchup or tomato sauce or tomato paste used), but in fact the taste is great the way it is. I got 12 little meatloaves from the recipe. Changes:

1 Tbsp thyme, not 1/4 tsp
I did use 1 c. dried cranberries
No Worcestershire sauce (it contains high-fructose corn syrup). Instead, I used about 1 Tbsp minced anchovies and 1 tsp soy sauce—the idea is to kick up the umami.
5 large cloves garlic, not 2.
I used about 1 Tbsp olive oil to sauté the onions, garlic, and minced anchovies.
I made 12 little meatloaves: filled the whole muffin tin.
They were easily done by 40 minutes at 360º  F.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 10:51 am

The GOP is carrying out the terrorists’ mission

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Interesting point.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 10:35 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Terrorism

Better Letters

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Kate Gladstone, who does Handwriting Repair, posted this comment:

BetterLetters has launched!

It’s already one of the 100 most downloaded medical apps (#94) in Apple’s USA App Store.

So far, its seven ratings by users average five stars out of five.

From the link:

BetterLetters was created to improve handwriting. It was inspired by the instructional handwriting font work of UK handwriting specialist Christopher Jarman. The app provides instructional lectures, both audio and written, along with practice fonts providing choices of writing style, guidelines, and directional arrows.
With BetterLetters, your iPhone or iPod Touch becomes a personal handwriting trainer.

Research shows that the fastest, clearest handwriters join some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins and skipping the rest. Also, the fastest and clearest writers tend to use the simplest letter shapes, avoiding the complex and accident-prone letter formations of conventional cursive.

In fact, the earliest published handwriting books (half a millennium ago) taught a semi-joined style of this type – called “Italic” in reference to the style’s origins in Renaissance Italy – well before today’s more complicated cursive came along.

Now, more and more of those who seek better handwriting – doctors, teachers, and ordinary people of all ages in every walk of life – are reviving the Italic style because its high-speed clarity and simplicity agree with the findings of modern handwriting research and meet today’s continuing need for fast, legible writing whether on paper or in a pen computing environment. BetterLetters puts an Italic handwriting class in your pocket!

Unlike other handwriting apps, BetterLetters takes you beyond the worksheets. Over and above a set of sample letters and numerals to trace and copy, the BetterLetters application includes:

  • User-selectable “ink” color. All letter and numeral examples display in black, but BetterLetters allows you to work with these on-screen examples in a color of your choice.
  • Two variations on the Italic style: you have a choice of letters with, or without, lower-case exit-strokes. (Choose according to personal taste, or choose whichever version feels easiest for you to write.)
  • A list of 299 practice words, chosen to include every letter combination in the English language. (You can also input your own practice words.)
  • Onscreen instructional essays and audio by our handwriting specialist (Kate Gladstone, known internationally as the “Handwriting Repairwoman”) covering such topics as joins, stroke order, handwriting history, and development of speed.
  • Built-in sketchpad for independent practice and application of handwriting skills.
  • Links to handwriting instruction web-sites selected by our handwriting specialist to provide further resources for the study and practice of rapid, readable handwriting. (REQUIRES INTERNET CONNECTION: Wi-Fi, 3G.)

There will also be an article in the issue of GQ that goes on sale 18 November.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 10:32 am

The Toronto Cheese Boutique

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I want so much to go to this place. (Here’s their website.)

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 10:10 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Koh-I-Noor again

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I like the Koh-I-Noor boar brush, so I’m eager to get it broken in. Woods of Windsor shaving soap again—a good soap that I like for my new boar brushes because the container helps in getting them loaded with lather. The Mühle razor did another great job—I’m growing fond of that razor. Then Woods of Windsor aftershave. (The print on the bottle was removed by a leak in shipment.) Very fine start to the weekend.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2009 at 10:03 am

Posted in Shaving

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