September 2012 archive

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert

Yom Kippur & Aporkalypse

Yom Kippur comes to a close, and bacon lovers will die much later than they thought thanks to reduced salt and nitrates in their diets.

Pork and bacon shortage ‘unavoidable’ as record drought raises feed costs

Record droughts in the US and Russia are threatening to curtail the world’s bacon supply, farmers in the US and Europe are warning.

So dire is the situation that a world shortage of pork and bacon is “unavoidable” next year, according to Britain’s National Pig Association. And in the US farmers predict pork prices will hit new highs in 2013 as farmers cut back on production due to soaring feed costs.

Across Europe swine herds are shrinking. Ireland’s farmers cut their herd 6.6% in the 12 months to June 2012, Denmark’s fell 2.3%, Germany, Europe’s largest pork producer, cut back 1.3% and there were cuts in countries including Spain, France, Italy, Hungary and Poland.

In the US the cost of bringing home the bacon has almost doubled since 2006, according to economist Steve Meyer at Paragon Economics, and an adviser to the National Pork Producers Council. Consumption is falling as less pork is produced and prices rise, down from 50.8lbs per person per year in 2007 to a predicted 44.16lbs in 2013.

What’s Cooking: Roast Pork

One of the mainstays of many a Sunday dinner is Roast Pork. A favorite is one crusted with garlic and sprigs of rosemary and sage, served with roasted potatoes and carrots. Recent news that because of this Summer’s drought and the rising cost of corn feed, pork will initially be plentiful and inexpensive but the price will rise later. For those lucky enough to have a large freezer, buying a whole pork loin and other cuts, cutting the loin into 2 1/2 to 3 pound roasts and freezing would be an economical idea.

I’ve used this recipe for Roast Pork many times, preparing it both indoors and out on the grill over indirect heat. Hickory charcoal imparts a special flavor to pork. I also like to start the roasting at a high heat, 425ºF, for about 30 minutes to sear in the juices and impart a golden color to the roast.

Roast Pork Loin with Garlic, Rosemary and Sage

Roast PorkEquipment:

   Temperature probe

   Butcher’s twine

   13 x 9 x 2-inch roasting pan

   Aluminum foil


   4 large garlic cloves, sliced thin

   4 sprigs fresh rosemary

   4 sprigs fresh sage

     Vegetable oil, preferably canola

   1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, Kosher is good

       ground black pepper

   1 2 1/2 to 3 pound boneless pork loin roast, well trimmed


Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch roasting pan with foil.

Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Cut 4 to 6 lengths of Butcher”s twine, long enough to tie around the roast, excess twine can be trimmed, so better too long than too short. Space the ties under the roast but don’t tie them yet. Rub the roast with about a table spoon of vegetable oil. Sprinkle lightly with the salt and pepper. Place the garlic slices over the top of the roast, then lay the sage and rosemary sprigs over the garlic. Carefully tie it all into place, as snug as possible.

Place the roast in the foil lined pan and into the oven. Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Roast until thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 155°F, about 45 to 55 minutes longer. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6 to 8, or 4 with leftovers for sandwiches.

To make this a one pot meal add red skinned potatoes and carrots to the pan with the roast.

Cut 4 medium potatoes and 4 carrots into 1 1/2 inch pieces tossed with a little vegetable oil, chopped garlic, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper. Add to the pan after temperature after the first 30 minutes of cooking. Or, place in a separate foil lined pan and roast during the last 45 to 55 minutes.

The roast can be served with some of extra Calvados Applesauce that was made for the Apple Tart.

On This Day In History September 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 92 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1791, The Magic Flute, Die Zauberflote, an opera in two acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder, premiered in Vienna at the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart conducted and Schikaneder played Papageno, while the role of the Queen of the Night was sung by Mozart’s sister-in-law Josepha Hofer. This was Mozart’s last opera.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Chris’ guests this Sunday are Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy), activist and award-winning columnisr. Eltahawy was arrested on Tuesday night after spray-painting over one of the controversial “anti-jihad” ads appearing in New York City subway stations; Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin), author of “The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court,” senior legal analyst at CNN and staff writer at “The New Yorker“; Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, which she founded in 1979.; Barbara Arnwine, President and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Equal Justice Works; Akhil Amar, Sterling Professor of law and political science at Yale University where he teaches constitutional law at both Yale College and Yale Law School, author of “America’s Unwritten Constitution: the Precedents and Principles We Live By“; and Elise Boddie, director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Guests on “This Week” are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and White House senior adviser David Plouffe discuss the 2012 presidential race.

The roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with former Mississippi governor and RNC chair Haley Barbour; former Vermont governor and DNC chair Howard Dean, founder of Democracy for America; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; and POLITICO senior political reporter Maggie Haberman.

Where in the world is George Will?

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Scheiffer’s guests are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R-TN); the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato; Democratic strategist Robert Shrum; The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward; Moody Analytic’s Mark Zandi; former DC Chancellor of Schools Michelle Rhee; and Hedrick Smith, author of the new book “Who Stole the American Dream?”.

The Chris Matthews Show: Bob Woodward, The Washington Post Associate Editor; Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent; Joe Klein,

TIME Columnist; and Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: MTP guests are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and White House senior adviser David Plouffe.

The roundtable guests are Conservative activist and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed; Fmr. Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA); the BBC’s Katty Kay; and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are Senator John McCain (R-AZ); Obama Campaign Senior Adviser David Axelrod; Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D); and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).

A panel discussion with Republican Consultant Alex Castellanos, Pollster and Democratic Strategist Celinda Lake, and CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

US military death toll in Afghanistan reaches 2,000

The US military has suffered its 2,000th death in the Afghan war – with a suspected “insider” attack at a checkpoint.

 30 September 2012 Last updated at 07:33 GMT

A US soldier and a foreign contractor were killed in the east of the country, apparently by a rogue member of the Afghan security forces.

“Insider” attacks sharply increased this year, prompting the coalition to suspend joint operations this month.

However, such operations resumed in recent days, the Pentagon said.

The nationality of the contractor was not given immediately.

The American death toll goes back to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

‘Checkpoint row’

The two new deaths occurred on Saturday in Wardak province, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force said.

Afghan officials say the incident took place at a checkpoint near an Afghan National Army base in the district of Sayedabad.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Bo Guagua speaks up for disgraced father Bo Xilai

Berlin’s gas lamps to be snuffed out

The two faces of Hezbollah

Favourites crash out of Mozambique succession race

Brazil: As prison populations grow is it time to rethink policy on drugs?

The Harvest Moon Meets Uranus

Watch Live: Harvest Moon Meets Up With Uranus in Opposition

An odd pair of solar system objects will be meeting up in the night sky tonight: the full moon and distant Uranus. You’ve got two opportunities to watch this sweet celestial action go down during two live Slooh Space Camera shows, the first at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern and the second at 7 p.m. Pacific/10 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 29. [..]

This weekend’s full moon will be known as the Harvest Moon, since it occurs nearest to the autumn equinox. Uranus will be in opposition to Earth, meaning it will be as close and bright as it can be in the night sky, and will be nearly perfectly lined up with the moon. Amateur astronomers can get a good glimpse at Uranus by aiming just below the moon and searching for the only green star in their field of view.

The Slooh show will be hosted by Patrick Paolucci, who will be joined by Bob Berman, columnist for Astronomy magazine.

Harvest Moon and Uranus Show #1

h/t Adam Mann at Wired Science

What We Now Know

Up with Chris Hayes: What We Now Know

Up host Chris Hayes (@chrishayes) discuses what we have learned since last week with panel guests Jamilah King (@jamilahking), news editor for; Mike Pesca (@pescami), sports correspondent for National Public Radio; Joe Weisenthal (@thestalwart), deputy business editor at; and Bill Fletcher, Jr., co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal and author of “They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions.”

School reform’s propaganda flick

by Alexander Zaitchik

The guys behind “Won’t Back Down” stand to profit from education privatization. No wonder the movie hates on teachers unions

The first thing to know about Friday’s opening of the school-choice drama “Won’t Back Down” is that the film’s production company specializes in children’s fantasy fare such as the “Tooth Fairy” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series. The second thing is that this company, Walden Media, is linked at the highest levels to the real-world adult alliance of corporate and far-right ideological interest groups that constitutes the so-called education reform movement, more accurately described as the education privatization movement. The third thing, and the one most likely to be passed over in the debate surrounding “Won’t Back Down” (reviewed here, and not kindly, by Salon’s own Andrew O’Hehir), is that Walden Media is itself an educational content company with a commercial interest in expanding private-sector access to American K-12 education, or what Rupert Murdoch, Walden’s distribution partner on “Won’t Back Down,” lip-lickingly calls “a $50 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”

‘Won’t Back Down’ Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

by May Bottari and Sara Jerving

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film Won’t Back Down — set for release September 28 — portrays so-called “parent trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film’s distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting parent trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

While parent trigger was first promoted by a small charter school operator in California, it was taken up and launched into hyperdrive by two controversial right-wing organizations: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.

Romney ‘I Dig It’ Trust Gives Heirs Triple Benefit

by Jesse Drucker

In January 1999, a trust set up by Mitt Romney for his children and grandchildren reaped a 1,000 percent return on the sale of shares in Internet advertising firm DoubleClick Inc.

   If Romney had given the cash directly, he could have owed a gift tax at a rate as high as 55 percent. He avoided gift and estate taxes by using a type of generation-skipping trust known to tax planners by the nickname: “I Dig It.” […]

   While Romney’s tax avoidance is both legal and common among high-net-worth individuals, it has become increasingly awkward for his candidacy since the disclosure of his remarks at a May fundraiser. He said that the nearly one-half of Americans who pay no income taxes are “dependent upon government” and “believe that they are victims.” […]

   The Obama administration estimates that closing the loophole Romney used would bring the federal government almost $1 billion in the coming decade. [..]

That’s a “laughable” under-estimate, said Stephen Breitstone, co-head of the taxation and wealth preservation group at law firm Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone LLP. A single billionaire could pay $500 million more in estate taxes if these trusts are shut down by the Obama administration, Breitstone said. [..]

Military’s Own Report Card Gives Afghan Surge an F

by Spencer Ackerman

The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan ended last week. Conditions in Afghanistan are mostly worse than before it began.

That conclusion doesn’t come from anti-war advocates. It relies on data recently released by the NATO command in Afghanistan, known as ISAF, and acquired by Danger Room (pdf). According to most of the yardsticks chosen by the military – but not all – the surge in Afghanistan fell short of its stated goal: stopping the Taliban’s momentum.

What have you learned this week?

Lime Rock Grand-Am 2012

Sort of a tradition.

You see, they moved it on me, used to be Memorial Day weekend every year.   But I suppose we’re lucky to have it at all and this year it’s the final Grand-Am race of the season.

Lime Rock Park is the only race I’ve actually been to, as opposed to watching it on TV.  It’s interesting in a couple of respects.

First of all Lime Rock really is a park.  Lakeville is the back end of beyond, many solid miles of 2 lane distant from the highway.  There are a few buildings and a bridge to the infield and that’s it.  Spectators bring a cooler and a blanket and sit on the ground under the trees, some even camp out for the weekend so there are little tents all over the place.  When my Dad and my brother and I went we hung out on ‘the hill’ where you can see the first 4 turns and most of the main straight.

The other thing you notice about it is it’s extremely narrow and it’s hard to imagine any passing goes on, although it happens all the time.

Which brings me to the second interesting thing about Lime Rock, these are Sports Cars and there are 4 different classes of them running on track at the same time with varying speeds (which can make it confusing to watch).

The exotic looking and fastest ones are ‘prototype’ cars and come in 2 flavors, enclosed and open cockpit.  They generally have a seat for a navigator/mechanic (though it’s mostly an anachronism).

Then there are 2 classes of ‘touring (production)’ cars, Corvettes and everyone else.  They look like Porsches and Audis and BMWs and Corvettes (surprise) but they’re not generally street legal.  The touring cars are 20 or 30 miles an hour slower than the prototypes so when I say passing all the time I mean ALL the time, they’re kind of like rolling road blocks.

Speaking of road, as much racing takes place off it as on it and the only penalty is tearing up your undercarriage.  There is also a tendency to spend a lot of time figuring out which direction you are pointing after your last spin.  While there are a lot of bumps and offs surprisingly few of them are race ending.

For a Sports Car race Lime Rock is mercifully short.  The name races- LeMans, Daytona, Sebring are endurance races with several driver changes, to say nothing of tires and fuel.  It’s not uncommon for a badly damaged car to spend several hours in the pits and come back to race competitively, victory margins are measured in hours and minutes rather than seconds.

They don’t race on Sunday because the neighbors complain, but when people talk about Memorial Day being the busiest weekend in motor sports they’re generally including Lime Rock whether they know it or not.

Some minor updates.  There are now only 2 classes, Daytona Prototype (DP) and Grand Touring (GT).  Corvette will be duking it out with Maranello and BMW in the DP.

This will be Mazda’s final GT race using RX-8s.  I must admit they are a family favorite and I’ve driven a number of them far too fast.  People say the Wankel is not particularly ‘green’ but it produces so much power for the weight (it’s essentially a two stroke combustion cycle) that you can put a lot of enhancements on it and use very little fuel or displacement for a given level of performance.  ‘Stock’ cars are de-tuned so they only go 140 mph in the show room parking lot (need to check those rear end stress factors).

Coverage on Speed starts at 3 pm ET.  The Super Tuner title was decided yesterday and will be broadcast on Speed October 13 at 2 pm.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

A Dynamic Duo: Beets and Beet Greens

Beet Green Fritata

Use whatever color beet you choose for this week’s recipes. The red ones will be higher in anthocyanins, the pigment-based phytonutrients that are believed to have strong antioxidant properties. But yellow and pink beets have a lot going for them nutritionally as well. All beets are rich in folates, potassium and the B-complex vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Beet Greens Frittata

Cut the frittata into wedges and serve as a main dish or into smaller diamonds and serve as an hors d’oeuvre. It packs well in a lunchbox too.

Beets and Goat Cheese on a Bed of Spinach

This dish is much less elaborate than Wolfgang Puck’s iconic goat cheese and beet napoleon, but it hits all the same delicious notes

Beet and Chickpea Salad With Anchovy Dressing

Canned or home-cooked chickpeas will work in this pungent and flavorful Provençal salad.

Beet and Beet Green Fritters

If you get the oil hot enough before you fry these delicious fritters, much of the oil will remain in the pan.

Beet and Potato Salad

With a yogurt vinaigrette, this dish is a healthier and more piquant version of a French takeout staple known as salade Russe.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Mary Ellen Hannibal: Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf

THIS month, a group of environmental nonprofits said they would challenge the federal government’s removal of Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming. Since there are only about 328 wolves in a state with a historic blood thirst for the hides of these top predators, the nonprofits are probably right that lacking protection, Wyoming wolves are toast.

Many Americans, even as they view the extermination of a species as morally anathema, struggle to grasp the tangible effects of the loss of wolves. It turns out that, far from being freeloaders on the top of the food chain, wolves have a powerful effect on the well-being of the ecosystems around them – from the survival of trees and riverbank vegetation to, perhaps surprisingly, the health of the populations of their prey. [..]

Many biologists have warned that we are approaching another mass extinction. The wolf is still endangered and should be protected in its own right. But we should also recognize that bringing all the planet’s threatened and endangered species back to healthy numbers – as well as mitigating the effects of climate change – means keeping top predators around.

New York Times: An Unfinished Campaign Against Polio

Leaders of the global fight to eradicate polio vowed at the United Nations on Thursday to step up their efforts to eliminate the virus from the three countries where the disease still has a foothold – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. The challenge is that those countries are troubled by political unrest, violence and social customs that can interfere with the delivery of vaccines to the children and adults who need protection. [..]

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, said he would enlist agencies of the United Nations to make eradication a top priority this year. Ridding the world of polio should be a crucial part of a broad campaign to immunize all children against infectious diseases.

Ira Chernus: Israel Versus Iran: Netanyahu’s Cartoon Version

I was driving home listening to NPR when the top-of-the-hour headlines came on. First item: Just moments earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the UN General Assembly, “warned that by next summer Iran could have weapons-grade nuclear material.” Then a clip of Netanyahu, trying to sound chilling: “At stake is the future of the world. Nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.”

Nothing?, I wondered. Not even the melting of the polar ice caps, or a huge spike in global food prices, or an accidental launch of one of the many nukes that the U.S. and Russia still keep on hair-trigger alert?

Then I asked myself, Why is this big news? Everyone knew what Netanyahu was going to say. Everyone knows that he’s been beating the war drum for years to build his political base at home. Meanwhile, as everyone knows, he’s alienating the rest of the world. Top U.S. political and military leaders, and many of Israel’s top leaders, want him to cut it out before he stumbles us into a war that no serious person (very possible not even Netanyahu) really wants. There’s nothing new here, though there is something really dangerous in giving these bellicose words top billing when they hardly deserve it.

Frida Berrigan: Sister Act-ivists

Nuns. If the picture that jumps to your mind is from “The Sound of Music” or “Lilies of the Field” or even “Sister Act” (one or two or on Broadway), it is time to take another look at sisterhood. On the picket line, the police line-up, the convention dais, women religious are living their faith out loud.

I started thinking about nuns on the way home from Chicago, where I helped the Eighth Day Center for Justice celebrate 38 years of fighting the good fight. Made up of congregations of nuns, Eighth Day works to end torture (throughout the world, but also right in Chicago, where the police and correctional departments have committed grievous crimes against inmates), organizes to end the war in Afghanistan (they were on the streets every day NATO deployed to Chicago) and supports local union organizing efforts. Back in the day, each congregation sent a nun to participate in Eighth Day organizing, but with so many fewer nuns now, the group is now a hybrid of older women religious (nuns) and young people hired to represent many of the orders. The younger generation brings new energy, flair and ideas to the group, enriching it in many ways. In turn, these young people enter into a real and rich relationship with wise and feisty women. The event was an awesome display of intergenerational cooperation – hip and diverse and never a minute behind on schedule.

Eugene Robinson: Deluded by ‘Skewed’ Polls

Conservative activist circles are abuzz with a new conspiracy theory: Polls showing President Obama with a growing lead over Mitt Romney are deliberately being skewed by the Liberal Mainstream Media so that Republicans will be disheartened and stay home on Election Day.

This is denial and self-delusion, but not of the harmless kind. It’s a false narrative that encourages the Republican Party to take the wrong lessons from this election, no matter the outcome.

The whole atmosphere surrounding the presidential race is different since the party conventions. The Obama campaign has begun warning supporters about the perils of overconfidence. Romney, meanwhile, wages a daily battle to keep the words “beleaguered” and “embattled” from latching onto his candidacy.

David Sirota: The Choice Between Automatons and Leaders

Ask corporate executives what they really want in a legislator, and they probably won’t use words like “principled” or “well-informed.” If the cocktails are appropriately strong and inhibitions are consequently reduced, executives will likely tell you in a moment of candor that the best politician, from their perspective, is the one who is incurious and who possesses very little policy expertise. They don’t want people with inconvenient morals, ethics or brains getting in their way. They want the equivalent of T-1000s from the “Terminator” films: unthinking, fully programmable cyborgs willing and able to shape-shift in order to carry out a mission.

Alas, it is rare to get such an admission in public, and it is even more rare to get said admission in the pages of a major publication. That’s why Businessweek’s recent examination of the country’s marquee U.S. Senate race is so significant. In looking at the Massachusetts matchup between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren, the magazine quotes Brown fundraiser Lawrence McDonald, a former Lehman trader, acknowledging that he and his Wall Street friends hate the idea of an independently informed legislator who might bring her own wisdom to Washington.

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