09/30/2012 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 colorlines.com; Mike Pesca (@pescami), sports correspondent for National Public Radio; Joe Weisenthal (@thestalwart), deputy business editor at BusinessInsider.com; 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?