Archive for July 2012
In this case, the “military” part of the military-industrial-Congressional complex is not involved: they don’t want the tanks, but the industry wants to build and sell them, and the industry controls Congress, which makes the decisions. But Congress, of course, is determined to slash spending, so industry doesn’t have a chance… well, no: that’s not the way it works. Aaron Mehta and Lydia Mulvaney report for McClatchy:
The M1Abrams tank has survived the Cold War, two conflicts in Iraq and a decade of war in Afghanistan. No wonder: It weighs as much as nine elephants and it’s fitted with a cannon that’s capable of turning a building to rubble from two and a half miles away. But now the machine is a target in an unusual battle between the Defense Department and lawmakers who are the beneficiaries of large campaign donations by its manufacturer.
The Pentagon, facing smaller budgets and looking toward a new global strategy, wants to save as much as $3 billion by freezing refurbishing work on the M1 from 2014 to 2017, so it can redesign the vehicle from top to bottom. Its proposal would idle a large factory in Lima, Ohio, as well as halt work at dozens of subcontractors in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states.
Abrams manufacturer General Dynamics, a nationwide employer that’s pumped millions of dollars into congressional elections over the past decade, opposes the Pentagon’s plans. The tank’s supporters on Capitol Hill say they’re desperate to save jobs in their districts and concerned about undermining America’s military capabilities.
So far, the contractor is winning the battle, after a well-organized campaign of lobbying and political donations involving the lawmakers on four key committees that will decide the tank’s fate, according to an analysis of spending and lobbying records by the Center for Public Integrity.
Sharp spikes in the company’s donations – including a two-week period last year when its employees and political action committee sent the lawmakers checks for their campaigns that totaled nearly $50,000 – roughly coincided with five legislative milestones for the Abrams, including committee hearings and votes and the defense bill’s final passage last year.
After putting the tank money back in the budget then, the House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees have authorized it again this year – allotting $181 million in the House and $91 million in the Senate. If the company and its supporters prevail, the Army will refurbish what Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno described in a February hearing as “280 tanks that we simply do not need.” . . .
Continue reading. I understand the importance of keeping people working, but the same government money could be spent instead on infrastructure projects, employing people to improve the state of the country instead of paying them to build tanks we simply do not need and the military does not want. If Congress wants to spend that money, infrastructure repair and maintenance is a better target—but of course infrastructure repair and maintenance is not giving members of Congress vast sums of money. The reason for the decision is obvious.
I sent this recipe link to The Eldest, who’s a fan of Ethiopian cooking, and she reports that it is delicious. She made thighs rather than drumsticks, and she reports that the spiciness level is mild. Obviously, you can kick it up with some cayenne if you want. It seems to be one of those recipes where you can cook some extra for later lunches.
- 3-4 pounds chicken legs, thighs or wings
- 2 Tbsp peanut oil, or melted butter (or ghee)
- Lemons or limes for serving
- 2 Tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 Tbsp hot paprika, or 1-2 teaspoons cayenne
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Recipe is at the link above.
Today I decided to use one of several compact travel razors I have, all of the same general design: fitting into compartments n a small metal box (this one seems to have a leather-covered top and bottom, with the handle in two sections, the smaller top section nestling inside the larger bottom section for storage. Screw the handle together, load the head and attach the handle, and you have a full-size razor, somewhat light in heft but feeling quite solid nonetheless. As I recall, they run generally to the open-comb design, as shown in the photo.
First I washed my beard with a high-glycerin soap, as usual, then used the Simpson Case, itself a good size for travel, to work up a good lather from the Klar Seifen shave soap—which in its compact tin is another travel-oriented shave product.
A surprisingly comfortable three-pass shave—very pleasant, in fact: the little razor has its merits, and the Swedish Gillette blade, though previously used, was still sharp and enjoyable. A rinse, followed by a splash of Alpa 378, and the day begins.
It certainly seems easy to experiment: give up all dairy products for a month and see what happens. Apparently for some, what happens is quite good and surprising. Bittman writes in the NY Times:
Not surprisingly, experiences like mine with dairy, outlined in my column of two weeks ago, are more common than unusual, at least according to the roughly 1,300 comments and e-mails we received since then. In them, people outlined their experiences with dairy and health problems as varied as heartburn, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, eczema, acne, hives, asthma (“When I gave up dairy, my asthma went away completely”), gall bladder issues, body aches, ear infections, colic, “seasonal allergies,” rhinitis, chronic sinus infections and more. (One writer mentioned an absence of canker sores after cutting dairy; I realized I hadn’t had a canker sore — which I’ve gotten an average of once a month my whole life — in four months. Something else to think about.)
Although lactose intolerance and its generalized digestive tract problems are well documented, and milk allergies are thought to affect perhaps 1 percent of the American population, the links between milk (or dairy) and such a broad range of ailments has not been well studied, at least by the medical establishment.
Yet if you speak with people who’ve had these kinds of reactive problems, it would appear that the medical establishment is among the last places you’d want to turn for advice. Nearly everyone who complained of heartburn, for example, later resolved by eliminating dairy, had a story of a doctor (usually a gastroenterologist) prescribing a proton pump inhibitor, or P.P.I., a drug (among the most prescribed in the United States) that blocks the production of acid in the stomach.
But — like statins — P.P.I.s don’t address underlying problems, nor are they “cures.” They address only the symptom, not its cause, and they are only effective while the user takes them. Thus in the last few days I’ve read scores of stories like mine, some of which told of involuntary or incidental withdrawal of dairy from the diet — a trip to China (where milk remains less common), or a vacation with non-milk-drinking friends or family — when symptoms disappeared, followed by their return upon resumption of a “normal” diet.
Others abandoned dairy for animal cruelty reasons, or a move towards veganism, and found, as one reader wrote, “My chronic lifelong nasal congestion vanished within a week, never to return.” Still others (I’m happy to report) read my piece and, like one writer, “immediately gave up dairy … and quit taking my medications. After nine days … I have had no heartburn, despite the fact that I have eaten many foods that would normally bring it on…. It feels like a miracle.”
There is anger as well as surprise, because . . .
Continue reading. I actually haven’t had milk in a long time, though I do have yogurt and a pat of butter each morning with an egg. But no milk.
Quite fascinating series of articles—for example, the evolutionary heritage of humanity has been egalitarian societies: the hunter-gatherer humans were highly egalitarian because of the chanciness of their food supply: anyone could come back empty-handed, so sharing was the (socially enforced) norm—the way to survive. But with the introduction of agriculture and surpluses there arose a manager class, and inequality became the rule. The interesting thing is that inequality results in instability, so that societies with high inequality quickly spread, looking for additional resources, pushed by internal conflicts (and competition), etc., and ended up wiping out egalitarian societies.
At any rate, a fascinating collection of articles looking at inequality from various points of view—for example, societies with high inequality are better for the environment.