Later On

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

More local spirits from the Odd Society

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The Odd Society makes interesting spirits. I’m having a Prospector Manhattan and it’s quite good. Their Wallflower Gin and Bittersweet Vermouth are superb.

I made chicken shawarma for dinner and for the toppings I use: broken up sheep-and-goat-milk feta, slicked San Marzano cherry tomatoes (very elongated so I cut across twice), endive (terrific because of the slight bitterness), halved Kalamata olives, and diced Persian cucumbers. Served atop steamed cauliflower “rice.”

Pretty damn tasty, If I say it myself. (The chicken shawarma, but also the Prospector Manhattan.)

The Wife is sitting across from me, laughing out loud as she watches The Big Fat Quiz of Everything 2019 on YouTube. (Earlier years available if you search.)

Written by LeisureGuy

20 January 2019 at 5:51 pm

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

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Spencer Hsu reports in the Washington Post:

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convict’s guilt. Defendants and federal and state prosecutors in 46 states and the District are being notified to determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were previously exonerated.

The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.

In a statement, the FBI and Justice Department vowed to continue to devote resources to address all cases and said they “are committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance. The Department and the FBI are also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis testimony, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”

Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, commended the FBI and department for the collaboration but said, “The FBI’s three-decade use of microscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster.”

“We need an exhaustive investigation that looks at how the FBI, state governments that relied on examiners trained by the FBI and the courts allowed this to happen and why it wasn’t stopped much sooner,” Neufeld said.

Norman L. Reimer, the NACDL’s executive director, said, “Hopefully, this project establishes a precedent so that in future situations it will not take years to remediate the injustice.”

While unnamed federal officials previously acknowledged widespread problems, the FBI until now has withheld comment because findings might not be representative.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a former prosecutor, called on the FBI and Justice Department to notify defendants in all 2,500 targeted cases involving an FBI hair match about the problem even if their case has not been completed, and to redouble efforts in the three-year-old review to retrieve information on each case.

“These findings are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system, not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongly imprisoned and even executed, but for prosecutors who have relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law,” Blumenthal said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), urged the bureau to conduct “a root-cause analysis” to prevent future breakdowns.

“It is critical that the Bureau identify and address the systemic factors that allowed this far-reaching problem to occur and continue for more than a decade,” the lawmakers wrote FBI Director James B. Comey on March 27, as findings were being finalized.

The FBI is waiting to complete all reviews to assess causes but has acknowledged that hair examiners until 2012 lacked written standards defining scientifically appropriate and erroneous ways to explain results in court. The bureau expects this year to complete similar standards for testimony and lab reports for 19 forensic disciplines.

Federal authorities launched the investigation in 2012 after The Washington Post reported that flawed forensic hair matchesmight have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people since at least the 1970s, typically for murder, rape and other violent crimes nationwide.

The review confirmed that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of “matches” of crime-scene hairs to defendants, backing their claims by citing incomplete or misleading statistics drawn from their case work.

In reality, there is no accepted research on how often hair from different people may appear the same. Since 2000, the lab has used visual hair comparison to rule out someone as a possible source of hair or in combination with more accurate DNA testing.

Warnings about the problem have been mounting. In 2002, the FBI reported that its own DNA testing found that examiners reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time. In the District, the only jurisdiction where defenders and prosecutors have re-investigated all FBI hair convictions, threeof seven defendants whose trials included flawed FBI testimony have been exonerated through DNA testing since 2009, and courts have exonerated two more men. All five served 20 to 30 years in prison for rape or murder.

University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results reveal a “mass disaster” inside the criminal justice system, one that it has been unable to self-correct because courts rely on outdated precedents admitting scientifically invalid testimony at trial and, under the legal doctrine of finality, make it difficult for convicts to challenge old evidence.

“The tools don’t exist to handle systematic errors in our criminal justice system,” Garrett said. “The FBI deserves every recognition for doing something really remarkable here. The problem is there may be few judges, prosecutors or defense lawyers who are able or willing to do anything about it.”

Federal authorities are offering new DNA testing in cases with errors, if sought by a judge or prosecutor, and agreeing to drop procedural objections to appeals in federal cases.

However, biological evidence in the cases often is lost or unavailable. Among states, only . . .

Continue reading. There are interesting state-by-state graphics at the link.

Emphasis added. Prosecutors will probably not agree. Prosecutors (e.g., Kamala Harris, now a US Senator) have fought tooth and nail to keep innocent people in prison. See this post.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 January 2019 at 4:05 pm

What happens when your doctor blames you for your own cancer?

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Monica Bhargava, a pulmonary/critical care physician in Oakland, California, writes in the Washington Post:

Not long ago, I was working in a busy teaching hospital’s intensive-care unit, poring over EKGs, examining X-rays and reviewing medication orders, when I received a phone call. Results were in for the lung biopsy of one of my patients, Ms. X. She had cancer.

The news shook me. Ms. X hugged us at the end of every visit. She had worked for decades as a seamstress and hoped to retire soon. A resident overheard my conversation. “Did your patient smoke?” she asked. “No,” I said. The trainee sighed and shook her head. “When a person who doesn’t smoke gets lung cancer — that’s just unacceptable.”

I was stunned by the implication — that a cancer diagnosis in a patient who used tobacco was acceptable. It is a tragedy when any patient develops lung cancer. They will undergo surgeries, toxic infusions and lonely nights in the hospital. Many will face crushing financial pressures and be forced to confront their mortality in unimaginable ways. Why would we mute our sympathy at this moment?

As a pulmonologist practicing in a disadvantaged community in Oakland, Calif., I screen patients for lung cancer every day. About half a million Americans alive today have been diagnosed with this disease at some point in their lives. Though treatments evolve, there’s an old standby that the medical establishment keeps dishing out to these patients: shame and blame.

The hard-working resident was just echoing what she had been taught in medical school. Her conclusion was drawn from American medicine’s hidden curriculum: the assumption that individual will is destiny and that patients who behave imperfectly can be blamed for their illness. At hospitals across the country, I’ve seen health-care providers use language that separates “deserving” from “undeserving” patients.

As a trainee at an academic medical center, I observed weekly conferences where the care plans of new cancer patients were determined by a large team of expert physicians. The words “lung cancer” — followed by “nonsmoker” — often elicited murmurs of sympathy. I wondered whether this sympathy would lead to longer and more meaningful clinic visits with the patient in question, and whether the opposite would be true for the Vietnam veteran who had smoked for 40 years. The tight link between tobacco and lung cancer has hardened into stigma, and the potential for care disparities is real.

There is little research measuring how physicians’ biased attitudes affect outcomes for smoking lung cancer patients, but a number of studies point to its likely negative impact. One questionnaire-based study revealed that physicians were less likely to offer advanced lung cancer treatments to patients who were smokers as compared with similar nonsmokers. Scientific reviews have shown that physicians who harbor biased attitudes toward their patients often ask fewer questions during visits, order fewer tests and offer suboptimal therapies. Over the past decade, I’ve seen hundreds of tobacco-using patients who were treated this way at some point in their care journey — their coughs ignored, their symptoms minimized, their stories unprobed.

The stigma goes far beyond the medical community. Lung cancer accounts for 25 percent of our nation’s cancer deaths but receives only 10 percent of cancer research dollars. Some in the field believe that donors give less to lung cancer research because of the perception that the disease is self-inflicted.Research and anecdotal data show that lung cancer patients receive less support from their friends and neighbors than those with other cancers, making their disease more difficult to bear. A 2004 study from the BMJ notes that some patients hid the illness because of stigma, at times resulting in worrisome financial consequences and increased emotional distress.

Smokers, in particular, are shamed more vocally than other patients who develop diseases with a strong behavioral correlate. When a well-known person dies of a heart attack, the obituary seldom notes their sedentary lifestyle or dietary choices. But when a brilliant former colleague, the late physician and writer Paul Kalanithi, was being treated for lung cancer, newspaper articles made it a point to mention that he didn’t smoke . He wasn’t one of those who had brought cancer on himself, the stories implied.

Stigma isn’t limited to lung cancer patients, of course. Our culture’s tendency to frame certain illnesses as character defects, as opposed to complex phenomena with genetic and psychosocial components, is widespread and carries serious consequences. The group that suffers most is the obese, a classification that applies to nearly 40 percent of American adults. Research shows that obese patients are more likely to be considered lazy or undisciplined by health-care providers; they are also viewed as more likely to disregard treatment recommendations and insufficiently committed to their health. These attitudes erode patient-doctor communication, and physicians tend to spend less time with patients who are obese. This means these patients have more limited interactions with the health-care system and miss many opportunities. For instance, data shows that morbidly obese women are often under-screened for cervical and colorectal cancer.

Those dealing with addiction and hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus often transmitted through sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs, face a similar stigma. A high percentage of health-care professionals exhibit negative attitudes toward patients with substance use disorders, perceiving them as morally deficient or lacking self-control, and leading to reduced access to care. Some hepatitis C patients, fearing biased providers, avoid medical care altogether, leaving the latest curative treatments on the table. When I worked in a primary-care setting, a patient asked me to remove his hepatitis C diagnosis from my clinic note. “If someone sees that, they’re going to treat me differently,” he said. “You all can’t help it.”

Why are doctors and nurses so judgy? In part, our culture of blame is an extension of American culture, which tends to hold the sick and impoverished personally responsible for their situations. We don’t feel comfortable invoking social structures, environments or even luck as powerful drivers of our fates. Physicians are also expected to be high-performing and deeply self-critical. This can easily spill over into our interactions with patients.

In my practice, I see how the culture of blame has altered the care that pulmonary patients receive. One lung cancer patient asked me if I felt less invested in his trajectory “because I smoked my way into this.” His fears were understandable. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 January 2019 at 2:27 pm

How oat milk can help farmland

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Tom Philpott writes in Mother Jones:

Move over, almond and soy milk: An oat milk boom, as I argued in a piece last year, could help the Midwest solve some of its most dire agricultural issues. And now there’s new research out this month to help support the case for covering the region with oats.

In states like Iowa, fertilizer runoff from corn and soybean farms pollutes drinking water and feeds algae blooms, fouling water from local lakes and rivers down to the Gulf of Mexico. These farms also lose soil to erosion at an alarming rate, compromising the region’s future as a crucial hub of the US food system.

Back in 2013, I reported on “one weird trick” that could go a long way toward solving these problems: biodiversity. When farmers add more crops to their dominant corn-soybean rotation, it disrupts weed and pest patterns and means they can use fewer pesticides. It also frees up space for planting legumes, which capture nitrogen from the air and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer. One great contender for this third crop is oats.

Earlier this month, researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota came out with a paper that adds more weight to the case for diversification. The paper reports on results from trial plots established in 2002 by Iowa State at a farm outside Ames. In one swath, the ground was planted in a two-year rotation of corn and soybeans, the standard recipe in the Midwest. In another, a three-year rotation held sway: corn, soybeans, and oats inter-planted with red clover, a legume. In the final one, the rotation was extended to four years, adding a round of alfalfa, another legume, and a forage crop for cattle.

The paper found that the longer rotations—the ones with the added crops—bring the following benefits:

Water pollution drops dramatically

Nitrogen fertilizer is a key crop nutrient, and when it’s washed away into the Midwest’s rivers and streams, it also supercharges algae growth, especially in salt water. That’s bad news for the Gulf of Mexico, where these waterways ultimately drain. Since Midwestern agriculture intensified in the 1970s, annual dead zones have been appearing in the Gulf, sucking oxygen out of the water and turning huge swaths of it into fetid dead zones. The annual Gulf dead zone fluctuates in size based on weather patterns. Last year’s turned out to be below average in area covered—but it was still the size of Delaware. In 2017, the dead zone set an all-time record, clocking in at a size four times larger than the federal target for a healthy Gulf ecosystem.

In the Iowa State farm study, the plots managed with three- and four-year rotations lost 39 percent less nitrogen to runoff than the corn-soybean control plots, partially because the presence of more nitrogen-fixing legumes in the mix reduces the need to apply synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

And on these plots, 30 percent less phosphorus leaked away as runoff.  Phosphorus is another key crop nutrient applied to farm fields, and it’s the main driver for blue-green algae blooms in freshwater bodies like lakes. These blooms produce toxins called microcystins, which, when ingested, cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe headaches, fever, and liver damage. Lakes downstream from farms throughout the Midwest have been increasingly saddled with these “harmful algae blooms” in recent years. Toledo struggles annually to keep microcystins out of its city water, which is drawn from algae-plagued Lake Erie. Freshwater blooms also generate massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas with 30 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide.

Soil stays in place

According to Iowa State agronomist Richard Cruse, Iowa farms lose topsoil at an average rate of 5.7 tons per acre annually, versus the natural rate of regeneration of 0.5 acres per year. As soil washes away, farmland doesn’t sponge up or hold water as well, making it more vulnerable to droughts. Erosion is already reducing crop yields in Iowa, Cruse’s research has found—an effect that will accelerate if the trend continues. On the Iowa State plots planted with oats, clover, and alfalfa, erosion rates decreased by 60 percent.

Crop yields improve—and so could the bottom line

The diverse plots in the study delivered higher yields of corn and soybeans (in the years when those crops are grown), and also required drastically lower amounts of off-farm inputs like fertilizers and herbicides. (A 2012 paper on the same group of test plots found that the diverse fields require 88 percent less herbicides because the addition of another crop disrupts weed patterns.) As a result, the authors found that the more diverse plots were slightly more profitable than the control ones.

Natalie Hunt, a University of Minnesota researcher and a co-author on the study, told me that the economic analysis assumed that the oats and alfalfa generated by the biodiverse plots would find a profitable use by being fed to cattle and hogs “on-farm or on neighboring farms.” That setup works best for diversified operations that include crops as well as livestock. A farm that planted alfalfa during its fourth year of rotation, for example, could “harvest” it by simply turning cattle loose on it for munching; and the resulting beef provides an income stream.

But such farms are increasingly rare in states like Iowa, which are made up mainly of huge corn and soybean farms, and separately, an ever-growing number of massive confined hog farms, highly geared toward consuming that corn and soy.

Another obstacle, Hunt says, are the “heavily taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance programs that keep farmers locked into a corn- and soybean-producing system year after year, even when market prices are poor,” as they have been for the past several years.

She adds, though, that if consumers demanded food from the Midwest that didn’t pollute water and damage soil, the “market would respond pretty quickly”—that is, if farmers could get a premium price for crops, meat, and milk “grown with biodiversity” or some such label, farmers would have incentive to add them to their rotations. And that was precisely the thesis of my oat milk piece. I calculated that turning grain into a beverage doesn’t require nearly enough product to create a demand surge sufficient to bring oats to millions of acres of Midwestern farmland; however, it could be a lever to raise consumer awareness of the ecological damage endemic in the Midwest. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 January 2019 at 2:06 pm

What is a recipe for? I think it’s to give ideas. Example: Shrimp Curry Impromptu

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When I write a recipe on the blog I am specific about the ingredients I use on the assumption that the reader will be making substitutions as required to fit his or her supplies on hand and/or his or her preferences. Thus I might say “1/2 red onion, chopped” because that’s what I happened to have on hand (leftover from previous cooking) and that’s what I used. I fully anticipate that the reader might just use a small yellow onion instead.

So look at my recipes as descriptions rather than instructions.

I put my No. 12. Field Company cast-iron skillet in the oven and turned it to 350ºF to load the skillet with heat, which takes a while. The cooking surface of this skillet is 11.5″ (292mm) in diameter, which gives a lot of room for things to cook.

I had two 342g (12oz) bags of frozen peeled raw wild Argentinian prawns. I filled a large (more than 1 gallon) bowl with cold water, added about 1/2-3/4 cup kosher salt, stirred to dissolve, and dumped in the shrimp to thaw. Virtually all shrimp you buy was previously frozen (though if you live in Monterey you can get fresh bay prawns from time to time and here we occasionally have spotted prawns, but that is not common). So buying frozen is fine, and by thawing them in brine they will be very tender and juicy when cooked, never dry or tough.

While those were thawing, I did the prep:

10-12 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 bunch thick scallions, chopped (including leaves)
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
3/4 cup chopped celery (including, luckily, some leaves: it was a leafy bunch)
1 carrot, diced.

That all waited, skillet in oven, shrimp in brine, chopped vegetables in bowls, until The Wife and Guest arrived, which was about an hour later. (I like to follow the injunction “Early!” The scallions and onions and carrot were in one bowl, garlic in a small bowl, and the pepper and celery just left on the prep station cutting block. After about 45 minutes, I check the prawns and they were fully thawed—it does take a while for them to thaw all the way through—I I poured the water and prawns into a sieve and let the prawns drain thoroughly, shaking them. You might even dry them on a dishtowel.

When it was time to cook, I first heated the large burner and once it was hot (medium high), I removed the skillet from the oven, put it on the burner, and put the handle glove over the handle (otherwise I’m sure at some point I would burn my hand by unconsciously grabbing the bare, hot handle).

I put into the skillet

2 Tablespoons coconut oil (13 WW points—but this is serving 3)

When that melted, I added the bowl of onions and carrot and cooked those for a while, roughly 5 minutes. Then I added the little bowl of finely chopped garlic and cooked, stirring, for a minute, then add the red pepper and celery. (I would probably have also used a jalapeño if The Wife were able to eat spicy food.)

Once that had cooked a few minutes, I added:

1.5 Tablespoons Penzey’s Sweet Curry Powder

I stirred that, then added the prawns. I cooked those until they were done, around 7 minutes.

In another skillet and on another burner I cooked a bag of cauliflower “rice” in 1 Tablespoon coconut oil. That is 7 WW points, so 20 WW points for the dinner = 7 WW points each for 3 servings).

I had hit upon the idea of coconut oil since it seemed to go with the curry thought I had. However, note this:

3 Tbsp coconut oil = 20 WW points
3 Tbsp olive oil = 12 WW points

So had I used olive oil, each serving would have been 4 points instead of 7. If you’re aiming at a 23-point day, that’s a big difference. This is how WW Smart Points gradually shifts your eating habits and preferences. And since seafood is 0 points, we tend of have seafood more often.

It was a lovely dish. Wish I had taken a photo. I guess I’ll make it again and this time take a photo to post here. But next time I’m using extra-virgin olive oil.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 January 2019 at 8:03 am

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

The Horror of Trump’s Wounded Knee Tweet

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Alyssa Mt. Pleasant and David A. Chang report in Politico:

On Sunday, President Donald Trump took aim at one of his favorite targets: Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is hoping to unseat him in 2020. Responding to a video Warren posted on Instagram in which she drinks a beer in her kitchen and introduces her husband, Trump tweeted:

“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!”

Trump has long attacked Warren for claiming Cherokee and Delaware ancestry, belittling her as “Pocahontas” and, more recently, challenging her to prove her claims using a DNA test. But his invocation of Wounded Knee—one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history—is a new low.

On December 29, 1890, the U.S. 7th Cavalry massacred hundreds of Lakota near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. It was hardly the largest settler massacre of Native peoples, but it is the most infamous. To Native peoples it has long been a symbol of U.S. brutality, a reminder of the immorality of a nation that claimed it was bringing civilization but instead brought a slaughter.

Wounded Knee was the culmination of decades of tension and conflict on the Plains as Native peoples resisted American efforts to expropriate their lands and confine them to reservations. The U.S. government forced unfair treaties on tribal nations, wrenched away their land, failed to live up to its own treaty obligations, and failed to stop settler squatters from invading Native lands. In the late 1880s, a politically potent spiritual movement that Americans called the Ghost Dance grew from the teachings of the Paiute prophet Wovoka and caught fire among the Native peoples of the Plains. As historian Tiffany Hale recounts, it was a complex movement of beliefs and practices offering solace, hope and courage, but American fears fixated on one notion within it: that the proper practice of a prayerful dance would hasten the departure of the whites and the return of lands to Native control and Native ways of life.

The movement spurred American fears of an “Indian uprising,” and in December 1890, President Benjamin Harrison ordered the Army to suppress the Ghost Dance and arrest its leaders. When the U.S. Indian police arrived to arrest the Hunkpapa Lakota holy man Sitting Bull, a Lakota shot a policeman, and the police shot and killed Sitting Bull. Fearing further violence, the Miniconjou Lakota Chief Spotted Elk (also known as Big Foot) decided it was time to move. Under his leadership, a group of Lakota set out across 200 miles of frozen prairie from the Cheyenne River Reservation to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Other Hunkpapa Lakota fleeing the Ghost Dance crackdown joined him and their numbers swelled to around 400 people—mostly women and children.

Members of the 7th Cavalry intercepted the Lakota refugees on December 28, 1890. Ordering them to make camp at Wounded Knee Creek, Army officials demanded they give up their guns. This made Lakota people, who were hunters, vulnerable to violence and hunger. The next morning, after giving up their rifles, the Lakota were subjected to a destructive search operation. Soldiers scoured the camp for hidden guns, tearing apart the women’s bundles, smashing dishes and seizing knives, awls, tent stakes—anything with a sharp edge. During the search, according to several accounts, a man named Black Coyote either did not understand the order to surrender his rifle (he was deaf and did not speak English) or resisted because it was valuable to him. A scuffle broke out, and someone (it is unclear who) fired a shot. Then, the Americans unleashed their firepower.

The women and children ran, but many were gunned down by bullets and cannon shells fired by U.S. soldiers as they fled. Those who made it past the firing lines could find little shelter in the flat and denuded December prairie, and many were murdered by cavalry troops who hunted them down. While a few Lakota men managed to grab a gun or a knife, they were no match for the Army’s strafing and shelling. The slaughter was relentless. American Horse, an Oglala Lakota who spoke to many survivors of the carnage, reported that as little boys emerged from the ravines, they were immediately surrounded and “butchered.” Powder-burns on the dead made a clear case for atrocity: Only guns held close to the body in point-blank executions leave such marks. Historian Jeffrey Ostler concludes, “By the late afternoon, when the firing finally subsided, between 270 and 300 of the 400 people in Big Foot’s band were dead or mortally wounded. Of these, 170 to 200 were women and children, almost all of whom were slaughtered while fleeing or trying to hide.” At least 20 American soldiers received the Medal of Honor for their part in the massacre.

Wounded Knee was an atrocity on such a scale that, in a way, it became a symbol for all the other atrocities. It is no coincidence that Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is one of the most influential popular books on the larger atrocity that is American policy toward Native peoples, or that Wounded Knee, South Dakota, became the site of militant Native resistance in 1973. So when Trump made light of Wounded Knee, he invoked an episode that still remains raw and powerful in Native memory today.

Not only does his tweet joke about a massacre, his continued taunts reinforce insidious stereotypes about Native peoples, and especially Native women. The popular story of “Pocahontas”—about an Indian maiden in love with a settler man—is itself a Disney fantasy, and one that, as historian Honor Sachs argues, “props up white supremacy.” There’s more. To Trump, real Indians are clearly a defeated remnant of the past, frozen in time at Bighorn and Wounded Knee, wearing “Indian garb.”

Here’s the thing: In 2019, there are over 570 tribal nations in the United States that are recognized by the federal government, in addition to scores of nations that are recognized by state governments or are seeking recognition. Native Americans are modern people living in urban, suburban, reservation and rural communities. As citizens of sovereign tribal nations, Native peoples have rights and responsibilities that are determined by their nations’ distinct governance practices. Tribal governments, for their part, have laws and policies to address the needs of their citizens: Some nations issue passports for their citizens; they run schools, health care facilities, child welfare offices, libraries and museums. The list goes on and on, undermining antiquated ideas about Native peoples that continue to circulate in pop culture.

While Trump’s tweets rely on stereotypes evoking the Disney character and hypersexualized women dressed up as “Poca-hotties” at Halloween, the reality for modern Native Americans, and for Native women in particular, is different. Earlier this month Indian Country celebrated as Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) and Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) entered the U.S. House of Representatives. At the same time, Native Americans are all too familiar with depressing statistics about Native women who face appalling rates of domestic violence, rape and murder. As Amnesty International reported in its 2007 study Maze of Injustice, Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the general population in the U.S., and over 34 percent of Native women will be raped in their lifetime. More recently, researchers reported the shocking number of Native women who have disappeared: According to statistics compiled by the Urban Indian Health Institute, 5,712 Native American and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing in 2016 alone. Native women are also four times more likely than non-Native women to see their children removed from their custody, and Native children are 14 times more likely to be held in state foster care. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

The article concludes:

. . . If Warren really wants to counter Trump and his gleeful invocation of genocidal violence she should denounce the use of Pocahontas as a racist and misogynist slur. She should use her platform to shift the narrative about Native peoples in the United States, pointing to their enduring sovereignty and the imperative that the American government rectify the harm it has done them. She can draw attention to the recently lapsed Violence Against Women Act, redouble efforts to renew this important legislation and advocate for practical solutions to gaps in jurisdiction and funding that will help Native American women and tribal nations pursue justice. It should go without saying she should abandon and apologize for her talk about her undocumented family lore of Indian ancestry, but she has to go beyond that. It’s time Elizabeth Warren uses this as an opportunity to defend Native women, and not just herself.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 January 2019 at 9:43 pm

What Life Is Like When Corn Is off the Table

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Sarah Zhang writes in the Atlantic:

When Christine Robinson was first diagnosed with a corn allergy 17 years ago, she remembers thinking, “No more popcorn, no more tacos. I can do this.”

Then she tried to put salt on her tomatoes. (Table salt has dextrose, a sugar derived from corn.) She tried drinking bottled iced tea. (It contains citric acid, which often comes from mold grown in corn-derived sugar.) She tried bottled water. (Added minerals in some brands can be processed with a corn derivative.) She ultimately gave up on supermarket meat (sprayed with lactic acid from fermented corn sugars), bagged salads (citric acid, again), fish (dipped in cornstarch or syrup before freezing), grains (cross-contaminated in processing facilities), fruits like apples and citrus (waxed with corn-derived chemicals), tomatoes (ripened with ethylene gas from corn), milk (added vitamins processed with corn derivatives). And that’s not even getting to all the processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, xanthan gum, artificial flavorings, corn alcohol, maltodextrin—all of which are or contain derivatives of corn.

“It’s such a useful plant,” Robinson says of corn. “It can be made into so very, very many things that are, from my perspective, trying to kill me.”

Read: Drowning in corn ]

Corn allergies are relatively rare, and ones as severe as Robinson’s are rarer still. (Many people unable to eat whole corn can still tolerate more processed corn derivatives.) But to live with a corn allergy is to understand very intimately how corn is everywhere. Most of the 14.6 billion bushels of corn grown in the U.S. are not destined to be eaten on the cob. Rather, as @SwiftOnSecurity observed in a viral corn thread, the plant is a raw source of useful starches that are ubiquitous in the supply chain.

It’s not just food. Robinson told me she is currently hoarding her favorite olive-oil soap, which she had been using for 17 years but recently went out of stock everywhere. (A number of soap ingredients, such as glycerin, can come from corn.) She’s been reading up on DIY soapmaking. A year ago, the brand of dish soap she liked was reformulated to include citric acid, so she had to give that up, too. And navigating the hospital with a corn allergy can be particularly harrowing. Corn can lurk in the hand sanitizer (made from corn ethanol), pills (made with corn starch as filler), and IV solutions (made with dextrose). A couple years ago, she went to see a specialist for a migraine, and her doctor insisted she get an IV that contained dextrose.

“And while in the midst of a migraine I had to argue with a doctor about the fact [that] I really could not have a dextrose IV,” she said. In the moment, she realized how absurd it was for her to be telling a world-class specialist to change her treatment.

Read: The allergens in natural beauty products ]

Because corn allergies are rare, many doctors are not familiar with the potential scope. Robinson said she was the first case her original doctor had ever seen in 38 years of practice, and he didn’t know to advise her against corn derivatives. Even official sources of medical information can be confusing, telling corn-allergy patients that they do not need to avoid cornstarch and high-fructose corn syrup. Misinformation abounds in the other direction, too, because corn allergies can be easy to misdiagnose and easy to self-diagnose incorrectly. All this means that corn-allergy sufferers encounter a good deal of skepticism. But Robert Wood, president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and a pediatric allergist at Johns Hopkins, told me that derivatives such as corn syrup can indeed cause problems for certain people.

People with corn allergies have naturally been finding one another on the Internet. A Facebook group called Corn Allergy & Intolerance (Maize, Zea Mays) now has nearly 8,500 members. Becca, a tech worker in Washington State, writes a fairly prominent blog called Corn Allergy Girl. (She asked I not use her last name because she doesn’t want her health status to affect her professional life.) The blog collates years of Becca’s research into corn allergies, as well as resources inherited from other, now-defunct corn-allergy blogs.

Members of the Facebook group have also forged ties with individual farms. Once a year, Robinson said, a farmer in California sends members of the group a big box of avocados that have not been exposed to corn-derived ethylene gas or waxes. “It’s a great month when you’re trying to get through all of them,” she said. For the rest of the time, she gets most of her food from a CSA with a local farm in Pennsylvania.

Becca, who writes Corn Allergy Girl, also gets a lot of her produce from local farms. The rest she grows. She goes to a specific butcher and meat processor who will custom-process whole animals for her without using lactic acid or citric acid. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 January 2019 at 4:41 pm

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