Archive for December 8th, 2011
I have learned to take a bowl a size larger than I think I will need—I make salads relying strongly on the “why not?” approach to inclusion, though I generally restrict salad contents to the category “food” (possible exception: Bac’Uns). So we start with the theme—black and white, rice and lentils, complementary proteins—and fresh tuna. The rest I just made up:
8 oz split white lentils, cooked and drained
1 cup black rice, cooked and drained
12 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
10 sugar plum grape tomatoes, halved
2 handfuls chopped celery
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
4 red Fresno peppers, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped (including green)
1 small bunch spearmint, chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 Belgian endive, chopped
1 head radicchio, chopped
4 clementines, peeled, sectioned, sections halved
12-14 oz fresh albacore and ahi tuna, poached and cut into small chunks
1/2 c Bragg’s vinaigrette
2 Tbsp homemade Worcestershire sauce
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
freshly ground pepper
Toss and serve. Multiple meals. Keeps well, I hope.
Is Congress deliberately working to destroy the United States? It does sometimes seem like it. Take a look at a couple of things in the NY Times today, like the editorial:
Lawmakers from the House and Senate are working on provisions in the military budget bill that would take the most experienced and successful antiterrorism agencies — the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors — out of the business of interrogating, charging and trying most terrorism cases, and turn the job over to the military.
These new rules would harm the justice system and national security. They would hinder intelligence-gathering, make it harder to track down terrorists and make other countries less likely to cooperate.
Those are not our conclusions, although we strongly agree. They are the views of James Clapper, the director of national intelligence; Robert Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Lisa Monaco, the assistant attorney general for national security. The defense secretary, Leon Panetta, who used to run the intelligence services, has said that the military doesn’t want this responsibility. Lawmakers are ignoring them.
At issue are a series of amendments added by the House and the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual military budget bill. They mandate military detention for most terrorism suspects (although they focus especially on Muslims). The House version would bar trying these prisoners in federal court, while the Senate version would make that very unlikely.
This means civilian law enforcement agencies with greater experience would be cut out and intelligence-gathering would be hobbled. Countries would be less likely to turn over prisoners to American authorities if they would land in military detention. Both versions of the bill would make the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a permanent symbol of injustice and cruelty around the world. Both leave open the possibility of subjecting American citizens to military detention without charge or trial. . .
When President Obama came into office in 2009 he promised to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and end the extra-judicial system that his predecessor had created to imprison terrorist suspects without trial, often without even filing charges. He has broken that promise.
Mr. Obama failed to close down Guantanamo through a combination of inaction and political ineptness. His administration made significant changes to President George W. Bush’s military tribunals, but at the same time left the door open to the concept of indefinite detention.
Now, Congress seems to be on the verge of passing a law that would make indefinite detention a permanent part of the American way.
Here’s what’s going on:
The Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a series of provisions that mandate military interrogation and detention for any suspected member of Al Qaeda, and authorize indefinite detention of terrorist suspects without trial. (The law is written so broadly that parts of it could also cover U.S. citizens.)
The provisions were co-sponsored by Senators Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, both of whom should know better. Their excuse was that some Republicans had proposed worse rules. But the smart response to that situation would have been to block faulty legislation outright, not to make a really bad deal.
A deal, by the way, that Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, said was hashed out behind closed doors without consultation with his committee, or the Intelligence Committee, or the Defense Department, the F.B.I. or the intelligence community.
These new policies would all but remove the F.B.I., federal prosecutors, and federal courts from the business of interrogating, charging and trying suspected terrorists. Never mind that they have a track record of doing just that, legally and in the open. Instead, it would put those functions in the hands of the military, which is not very good at it, and doesn’t want to do it. . .
The US and China are doing all within their power to block any action to combat climate change, having come to a reasoned position that it’s better for our planet to be hotter, and with a significantly higher sea level. Once we reach that condition, we won’t be leaving it for thousands of years, so I certainly hope they’ve done their homework.
Who am I kidding? It’s a pack of ignorant, power-hungry fools who cater only to the wishes of big businesses, which believe that having lots of money makes everything okay, regardless of what happens to the world in which we live. They know that they will not be around for the suffering of later generations, so they simply don’t care: they have to power to stop effective action, and they get money from companies to do that, so that’s the way we’re going, regardless.
It’s hopeless, people. We’ve missed the windows. Our grandchildren will suffer, as will the generations to come.
We are a stupid species. I certainly understand that Old-Testament God.
Pat Reber reports in McClatchy:
Tempers flared Wednesday over the glacial pace of progress in climate talks taking place in Durban, with the European Union berating the United States and China for blocking the way forward.
“What is really frustrating is to see for the third time … that this U.N. conference is hijacked by the pingpong game between the U.S. and China,” said Jo Leinen, a leading environmental expert in the European Parliament.
Neither China nor the U.S. has agreed to start a new round of talks that would lead to a new, broader and legally binding treaty to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
But the EU will not commit to a second Kyoto Protocol after the first one expires in December 2012 unless the world’s two largest emitters get on board. The U.S. never ratified the first Kyoto agreement, and China was exempted as an emerging economy.
The EU commissioner on climate action, Connie Hedegaard, has insisted that not only the U.S. but also China, which produces 23 percent of carbon pollution, must legally pledge to reduce their emissions.
“The EU has put forth a significant offer,” Hedegaard said Wednesday. “Even if other countries are not ready to commit to a second period of Kyoto, we must be reassured that others will join us in a legally binding framework.”
The U.S. insists that a new agreement is already in place in the form of voluntary reduction pledges made in Cancun in 2010 by Washington, Beijing and many emerging economies now exempted under Kyoto. Those pledges run out in 2020, when the U.S. says it would be time to consider a new agreement.
The U.S., which accounts for about 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, was also lambasted by environmental groups on a separate issue, the Green Climate Fund, which is seen as the absolute minimum achievement for the South African talks.
“The U.S. actions to throw obstacles in the way of any discussion on sources of finance for the Green Climate Fund risks condemning the fund to kick off as an empty shell,” said David Waskow, policy adviser for Oxfam. . .
Congress increasingly seems to deserve its poor reputation. Despite having some really excellent members, the body as a whole simply cannot do a decent job. Phillip Smith reports:
Going in the face of an ever-increasing clamor to reform decades of failed drug policies, the US House of Representatives is poised to pass two bills that promise more of the same. The House is set to vote any day now—the vote was originally set until Wednesday night, but was pushed back—on HR 1254, the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, which would criminalize not only synthetic stimulants (“bath salts”), but also synthetic cannabinoids (“fake pot”) marketed under names such as “K2” and “Spice.”
“This is almost certain to pass,” said Grant Smith, federal affairs coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which has been lobbying to try to stop it. “We’re doing our best to try to block it, but it’s unlikely we will succeed,” he said.
The bill foresees prison sentences of up to 20 years for the distribution of small quantities of synthetic drugs. But despite an intense debate in the House Judiciary Committee last month over the bill’s implications, it is moving ahead.
At least 40 states have passed bans on the new synthetic drugs, and the DEA has placed both fake weed and bath salts under emergency bans. The bill would make both sets of substances Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, which would make them difficult to research. Scientists have warned Congress that placing synthetic drugs under Schedule I will have a chilling effect on research intended to explore treatments for a range of diseases and disorders. . .
Continue reading. Later in the article:
The second bill, HR 313, the Drug Trafficker Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011, introduced by veteran drug warrior Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) would make it a criminal offense to plan to engage in an activity in another country if that activity would violate US drug laws if committed in the US — even if that activity is legal in the country where it takes place.
While Smith and other bill supporters say the legislation is aimed at drug traffickers who conspire in the US, opponents point out that it could just as easily be applied to someone who makes plans to attend and partake at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, work at a safe injection site in Vancouver or any of the other 64 cities that have them, or work in a medical marijuana program in Israel. All of those activities are illegal under federal drug laws and thus subject to the purview of the bill.
“Since the war on drugs was declared 40 years ago, the US has spent more than one trillion dollars and arrested tens of millions of Americans for drug law violations, yet drugs are readily available in every community and the problems associated with them continue to mount,” said Bill Piper, DPA director of national affairs. “When you’re in a hole, you shouldn’t just keep digging,” he added.
“Facing massive budget deficits, policymakers from both parties should be searching for alternatives to prison for nonviolent drug law offenders, because locking them up is only making us poorer, not safer,” said Piper. “The US can’t incarcerate its way out of its drug problems and should stop trying. The only way out of the drug war mess is to start treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue.”
“By rushing to criminalize synthetic drugs, Congress is condemning more Americans to years in prison and ignoring warnings from the scientific community that this bill will hurt medical research,” said Smith. “Outright criminalization compromises both public health and safety by shifting demand for synthetic drugs into the criminal market. It would be more effective for Congress to pursue comprehensive drug education and create a regulatory framework to reduce youth access to synthetic drugs. This approach is working for tobacco, which has contributed to more deaths than alcohol and illicit drugs combined.”
An extremely pleasant shave today. I had to use my Rooney Style 2 Finest once more: a very fine brush. D.R. Harris shave sticks are excellent—The Son has an Almond one—and produce a very nice lather indeed. Start with brush sort of shaken out, and add driblets of water as you work up the lather on your beard.
My rhodium-plated (thanks to Razor Emporium) Gillette Super Speed did a very nice job with a previously used Astra Superior Platinum blade. I focused on keeping the cap’s edge in contact with my skin, and the stubble just slides off.
A splash of Marlborough aftershave, and I’m ready for a good day.