09/15/2012 archive

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.

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Steel-Cut Oats, Sweet and Savory

Oats & Veggie Torta

A couple of years ago in the course of touring Bob’s Red Mill, the whole-foods purveyor based in Portland, Ore., I learned a new word: spurtle. A spurtle is a wooden dowel-like implement used to stir oatmeal. They are common in Scotland, where an international porridge-making competition called the Golden Spurtle is held every year in October. There are two sections to the competition: one for plain porridge made with steel-cut oats (also known as pinhead oats) and nothing more than water and salt; and one for specialty porridges, in which the steel-cut oats are used in a dish with other ingredients, sweet or savory.

Steel-Cut Oats and Vegetable Torta

Laurie Figone’s award-winning Italian Pinhead Torta is a spin on a rice and egg torta, a sort of frittata made with eggs, oats, oregano and Parmesan.

Cornmeal and Oatmeal Polenta With Tomato Sauce and Parmesan

Oatmeal adds texture and creaminess to this simple and satisfying dish.

Oatmeal Tabbouleh

This lemony, herb-filled grain salad is a good tabbouleh alternative for those who can’t tolerate wheat.

Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal Pudding

Hot or cold, this pudding is hearty enough for breakfast and sweet enough for dessert

Yogurt Berry Parfait With Steel-Cut Oats

A soak in yogurt softens the oats, and a tangy berry sauce lends them sweetness.

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”.

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New York Times Editorial: Cutting Government, Blindfolded

Mitt Romney has been rousing military-minded voters with warnings of giant defense cuts in January, but he’s only telling half the story. An alarming White House report issued Friday shows that the full impact of next year’s ham-handed budget cuts would affect virtually every government function, not just the Pentagon. [..]

These cuts, known as the sequester, were the result of the debt-limit crisis created by House Republicans last year, when they threatened to throw the government into default if the deficit were not reduced. President Obama and the Democrats tried to respond with a balanced package of spending reductions and tax increases on the rich. But when Republicans refused the deal, the two sides agreed on a different incentive: $100 billion a year in indiscriminate cuts to programs that each side holds dear.

So far, though, it hasn’t produced any serious negotiation on the deficit. The House, as recently as Thursday, has made several attempts to cancel only the defense sequester and double the size of the domestic cuts. That won’t fly with the Senate or the White House.

Robert Reich: The Wrong Way to Save Money on Health Care

Employer outlays for workers’ health insurance slowed from a 9 percent jump last year to less than half that – 4 percent – this year, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Foundation. Good news?

Our political class believes it is. The Obama administration attributes the drop to the new Affordable Care Act, which, among other things, gives states funding to review insurance rate increases.

Republicans agree it’s good news but blame Obamacare for the fact that employer health-care costs continue to rise faster than inflation. “The new mandates contained in the health care law are significantly increasing the cost of insurance” says Wyoming senator Mike Enzi, top Republican on the Senate health committee.

Robert Kuttner: Ben Bernanke, the Newest Avenger

Deficit hawks have tried to enlist the Fed chair in the austerity game, but he isn’t playing along.

Ben Bernanke’s announcement Thursday that the Fed would keep easing money sent the stock market soaring, but more important was his declaration that there is only so much the Federal Reserve can do.

The Fed’s latest move, approved by the policy-setting Open Market Committee, will buy a total of $85 billion in bonds every month, including $40 billion per month of mortgage-backed securities. This pumps vast sums into the economy. It is the equivalent of printing money.  Bernanke’s hope is to drive down interest rates generally, especially on home mortgages. [..]

The usual script calls for a Fed chair to demand fiscal tightening in exchange for liberal interest-rate policy. It’s what Alan Greenspan did in his 1993 deal with Bill Clinton. But Bernanke refuses to play that role. At a high-profile speech at the Fed’s Jackson Hole conference August 31, the Fed chair warned against too much fiscal tightening. He has refused to be the instrument of the party of deficit hawks.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Fat Pythons And Hungry Humans: Last Week’s Real Economic Story

Last week the Federal Reserve announced another round of qualitative easing to increase employment. That’s like stuffing rats down a python’s throat and hoping it excretes enough white meat to feed everybody else. Sure, there’ll be a little more food for a minute, but it won’t be very appealing. And all you’ll get in the end is a lot of fat pythons.  [..]

But the media and the politicians missed the point altogether. Whether they were discussing last week’s jobs numbers, this week’s census data, or the latest announcement by the Federal Reserve, nobody on the evening news seemed to be addressing the subject that is casting a shadow over 100 million dining room tables: the jobs that can’t be found, the pay raises that never come, or the bills that can’t be paid.

When you turn on the TV, what you hear isn’t nearly as important as what you don’t hear.

Henry A. Giroux: On the Significance of the Chicago Teachers Strike: Challenging Democracy’s Demise

What the world is witnessing in Chicago as thousands of teachers, staff and support personnel strike is the emergence of a revolutionary ideal.

This is an ideal rooted in the promise of democracy – one that challenges corrupt neo-liberal practices, such as giving corporations and markets the right to define the purpose and meaning of public education; opposes policies that systemically defund public education by shifting the burden of low tax rates for the rich, and the cost of bloated military expenditures, to teachers and other public servants; and refuses to support educational reforms that debase educational leadership and teaching in order to undermine public education as a bulwark of democracy.

Vandana Shiva: The Global Food System Casino

Food is our nourishment. It is the source of life. Growing food, processing, transforming and distributing it involves 70 per cent of humanity. Eating food involves all of us. Yet, it is not the culture or human rights that are shaping today’s dominant food economy. Rather speculation and profits are designing food production and distribution. Putting food on the global financial casino is a design for hunger.

After the US subprime crisis and the Wall Street crash, investors rushed to commodity markets, especially oil and agricultural commodities. While real production did not increase between 2005-2007, commodity speculation in food increased 160 per cent. Speculation pushed up prices and high prices pushed an additional 100 million to hunger. Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan are all playing on the global food casino.

A 2008 advertisement of Deutsche Bank stated, “Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities – with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in the value of the seven most important agricultural commodities.”

On This Day In History September 15

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 15 is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 107 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1963, a bomb explodes during Sunday morning services in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a racially motivated terrorist attack on September 15, 1963, by members of a Ku Klux Klan group in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. The bombing of the African-American  church resulted in the deaths of four girls. Although city leaders had reached a settlement in May with demonstrators and started to integrate public places, not everyone agreed with ending segregation. Other acts of violence followed the settlement. The bombing increased support for people working for civil rights. It marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The three-story Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was a rallying point for civil rights activities through the spring of 1963, and is where the students who marched out of the church to be arrested during the 1963 Birmingham campaign’s Children’s Crusade were trained. The demonstrations led to an agreement in May between the city’s African-American leaders and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to integrate public facilities in the country.

In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss, members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church, near the basement.

At about 10:22 a.m., when twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room for closing prayers of a sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” the bomb exploded. According to an interview on NPR on September 15, 2008, Denise McNair’s father stated that the sermon never took place because of the bombing. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Denise McNair (aged 11), Carole Robertson (aged 14), and Cynthia Wesley (aged 14), were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins’ younger sister, Sarah.

The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps, and left intact only the frames of all but one stained-glass window. The lone window that survived the concussion was one in which Jesus Christ was depicted knocking on a door, although Christ’s face was destroyed. In addition, five cars behind the church were damaged, two of which were destroyed, while windows in the laundromat across the street were blown out.

Popular Culture 20120914: Jethro Tull — Thick as a Brick

Last time we discussed the second side of the Jethro Tull album Aqualung, and a fine album that was.  It was critically and commercially well received, but many of the critics expressed the opinion that it was a concept album, with which Ian Anderson strongly disagreed.

There are various accounts of the reason behind Thick as a Brick, and Anderson has been quoted as saying that he wanted to record it to be a parody of “serious” concept albums.  However, in an interview he mentioned some bands that had yet to release a concept album before Thick as a Brick hit the stores.

My personal feeling after reading quite a bit about this is that Anderson did indeed want to write a parody of concept albums, probably because Aqualung was perceived to be one and Anderson had not intended it, and Anderson’s huge ego made him misremember certain facts about just what albums he was parodying.

Time to Reevaluate Middle East Policy

The attacks on US and Western embassies expanded today to nearly 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and some Muslim countries in South East Asia. Angered over a irreverent You Tube video that insulted the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed, angry protesters stormed American, Germany and British embassies and consulates.

At least two protesters are dead and several dozen injured when protesters stormed the US embassy in Tunis, Tunisia:

Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia’s capital, tearing down the American flag and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith on it as part of the protests. Protesters also set fire to an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. The school appeared to be empty and no injuries were reported.

Earlier, several thousand demonstrators had gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, including stone-throwing protesters who clashed with police, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Police responded with gunshots and tear gas. Police and protesters held running battles in the streets of Tunis. Amid the unrest, youths set fire to cars in the embassy parking lot and pillaged businesses nearby.

The state news agency TAP, citing the health ministry, said both of those killed were demonstrators, while the injured included protesters and police.

In Sudan, the German and British embassies were targeted along with the American embassy in Khartoum:

Police in the Sudanese capital fired tear gas to try to disperse 5,000 protesters who had ringed the German embassy and nearby British mission. A Reuters witness said police stood by as a crowd forced its way into Germany’s mission.

Demonstrators hoisted a black Islamic flag saying in white letters “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet”. They smashed windows, cameras and furniture in the building and then started a fire.

Staff at Germany’s embassy were safe “for the moment”, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin. He also told Khartoum’s envoy to Berlin that Sudan must protect diplomatic missions on its soil.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum.

In the Yemen capital of Sanaa, four protesters have been killed in demonstrations and a US Marine contingent, similar to ones being sent to Egypt and Libya, has been dispatched:

Twenty-four security force members were reported injured, as were 11 protesters, according to Yemen’s Defense Ministry, security officials and eyewitnesses.

Protesters and witnesses said one protester was critically injured when police fired on them as they tried to disperse the angry crowd.

The protests in Sanaa are the latest to roil the Middle East over the online release of the film produced in the United States.

As evening came, the number of protesters dwindled and tensions began to ease, after a day in which demonstrators breached a security wall and stormed the embassy amid escalating anti-American sentiment.

No embassy personnel were harmed, U.S. officials said.

Reports that the attack in Benghazi, Libya may not have been related to the protests over the anti-Islamic video:

BENGHAZI, Libya – A Libyan security guard who said he was at the U.S. consulate here when it was attacked Tuesday night has provided new evidence that the assault on the compound that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was a planned attack by armed Islamists and not the outgrowth of a protest over an online video that mocks Islam and its founder, the Prophet Muhammad.

The guard, interviewed Thursday in the hospital where he is being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other, said that the consulate area was quiet – “there wasn’t a single ant outside,” he said – until about 9:35 p.m., when as many as 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.

The men lobbed grenades into the compound, wounding the guard and knocking him to the ground, then stormed through the facility’s main gate, shouting “God is great” and moving to one of the many villas that make up the consulate compound. He said there had been no warning that an attack was imminent.

“Wouldn’t you expect if there were protesters outside that the Americans would leave?” the guard said.

h/t to David Dayen at FDL News Desk

Meanwhile, oil prices which climbed after the Federal Reserve announced it’s stimulus plan, rose even more due to the instability in the region.

There is obviously something radically wrong with American and Western foreign policy towards the Middle East. President Obama’s policies in the region are no different that past presidents over the last 100 years. The US has lost much of its stature in the region with it heavy handed reliance on military force to resolve problems in the Middle and Near East since September 11 and expansion of it drone attacks on alleged terrorist targets. The US needs to completely reassess these policies and take into consideration the culture and economic needs of the region.

It’s not about the money any more

It’s about the naked aristocratic power to force people to wipe your bottom and lick your boots.

Bettman’s lockout will give you the Deja Blues

BY JEFF GORDON, St. Louis Today

September 13, 2012 12:25 pm

The gulf between the owners and players appears too great to bridge quickly. Barring a miracle, the NHL will shut down Saturday. It will be the third stoppage in Bettman’s checkered tenure.

This labor dispute is not all Bettman’s fault, of course, but he will ultimately flip the switch.  He is the lead negotiator for the owners. He is their mouthpiece.

“It doesn’t matter what the sport is, and it doesn’t matter what the claimed economics are,” Fehr told reporters in New York. “The proposal is always the same. It is always, ‘The players will take a lot less money, and if not, we’ll lock you out.’ That’s what the proposal always is. It’s regrettable, but that’s the world we seem to live in.”

And how would the owners fare after shelving the product?

The powerful NHL franchises can withstand a lengthy lockout, but many teams will suffer greatly as their fans move along to other interests. Another significant shutdown will force many franchises into heavy ticket discounting when play resumes.

These men can’t help themselves. They can make almost any system fail with their resolute commitment to irresponsible management.

Some of the most vehement anti-union owners – Ed Snider (Flyers), Philip Anschutz (Kings) and Craig Leipold (Wild) – have some of the most ludicrous contracts on their books. These guys are pushing the hard line after personally fueling the league’s salary inflation.

Bettman is demanding that the players help protect the owners from themselves. NHL history suggests this is an impossible task.

And, as always, the NHL will lag behind the other major team sports in terms of general U.S. popularity.

Why the NFL would rather lockout referees than pay $16 million

Nicolaus Mills, The Guardian

Wednesday 12 September 2012 13.26 EDT

What is surprising is that the league wants a new labor war now. The country is in a recession, but pro football is thriving. NFL revenues are currently $9.3 billion a year and expected to climb to between $12 and $14 billion.

The refs, for their part, are seeking benefits that they put at $16.5 million over the five years of a new contract. In a 32-team league that amounts to just $500,000 per team, less than what a typical pro player earns in a single season. ($1.9 million average NFL player salary or $770,000 median NFL player salary).

Were the NFL serious about ending the current lockout, all it would have to do is offer up the $16.5 million the refs say they need. The refs have made their $16.5 million demand so public that they have left themselves no wiggle room to ask for more.

Still, what the regular refs are asking for in their new contract is modest in light of their employer’s growing wealth. If the refs have overreached, it has been in believing their nearly 1,500 years of collective NFL experience would spare them from being treated as disposable, middle-class employees.

Like thousands of teachers and municipal workers who in recent years have been forced into accepting pay and benefit cuts, the refs are finding they are more on their own than they ever imagined.

The NFL is willing to defend its bottom line at all costs, even if that means showing its worst side. Remember, until medical evidence proved them wrong, NFL officials sought to minimize how dangerous the concussions players so often experience are. The lockout of the referees follows this same penny-wise-pound-foolish pattern.

Corporate-Led Education Reform Movement Ignores Solvable Problems to Carry Out Its Agenda

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Tuesday September 11, 2012 9:06 am

To the extent that there are problems, it appears clear that they have to do with resources. The schools in the lowest-income areas have no air conditioning. Roofs leak. The cafeteria is full of roaches. Mold sits in the ventilation systems. Kids don’t get textbooks for weeks. Administrators pack classrooms with 40 and 50 students at a time. These are pretty obvious and solvable problems.

Worse, there’s apparently money in the system to make these repairs, in the form of TIFs or Tax Increment Financing, that have been re-routed to pet projects, including a Hyatt Hotel and the Chicago Board of Trade.

The corporate-funded “education reform” movement, however, neglects these demonstrable problems. They prefer to describe American education, and in this case Chicago education, as in a state of perpetual crisis (You would think that, regarding Chicago, they would blame the guy in charge of the city’s public schools from 2001 to 2009, current Education Secretary and reform movement leader Arne Duncan). They use this assumption of a crisis, picked up by the media and prominent politicians, as a pretext to enact wide-ranging interventions into schools that may just need a solid roof, no lead in the paint and some relief from the heat. They want to overhaul so-called “failing schools,” and hand them over to entities which don’t run them any better but which make a lot of money for investors and for-profit vendors.

This is a very good overview of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, and this serves as a marker for what Chicago teachers want out of their schools. It’s about a teachers union that finally said no to the rightward drift of education policy, led by a new mayor committed to the corporate-led reform agenda. The issues of student testing evaluations and the like are the means to the end of the ultimate privatization of the education system. When you look at assessment that doesn’t incorporate the standardized tests, you see that the schools have progressed, with student achievement on the rise. But that would be deeply harmful to the corporate-led reform agenda.

The Worst Teacher In Chicago

By: Greg Palast Report, Firedog Lake

Thursday September 13, 2012 3:41 pm

In a school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher-I won’t use her name-who’d been cemented into the school system for over a decade, wouldn’t do a damn thing to lift test scores, yet had an annual salary level of close to $70,000 a year. Under Chicago’s new rules holding teachers accountable and allowing charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by the principal.

In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school, part of the city system, had complete freedom to hire. No teachers’ union interference. The charter school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field – for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the fired teacher.

You’ve guessed it by now: It’s the same teacher.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. This is what Mitt Romney and Obama and Arne Duncan and Paul Ryan have in mind when they promote charter schools and the right to fire teachers with tenure: slash teachers salaries and bust their unions.

They’ve almost stopped pretending, too. Both the Right Wing-nuts and the Obama Administration laud the “progress” of New Orleans’ schools-a deeply sick joke. The poorest students, that struggle most with standardized tests, were drowned or washed away.

Here is an actual question from the standardized test that were given third graders here in NYC by the nation’s biggest test-for-profit company:

“…Most young tennis stars learn the game from coaches at private clubs. In this sentence a private club is….” Then you have some choices in which the right answer is “Country Club – place where people meet.”

Now not many of the “people [who] meet” at country clubs are from the South Side of Chicago – unless their parents are caddies. A teacher on the South Side whose students are puzzled by the question will lose their pay or job. Students on the lakefront Gold Coast all know that mommy plays tennis at the Country Club with Raul on Wednesdays. So their teacher gets a raise and their school has high marks.

Chicago Teacher on Why He’s Striking Against Rahm Emanuel’s Pro-Business Education Agenda

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Monday September 10, 2012 9:08 pm

When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.

When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.