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Deepak Chopra: Is the Fate of Democracy in Sarah Palin’s Hands?

January 6th, 2010 admin No comments

A recent review of Sarah Palin’s bestselling book, Going Rogue, ends by declaring that she is the worst nightmare come true for democrats with a small d. This is both a startling and an obvious claim. It’s obvious in that Palin is a rabble-rouser. Without shame or apology she targets the crazy right, fueling their resentment and anger with outright lies. “Death panels” are only the most colorful example. She is willing to bait the mob with any fear about America’s future, from financial collapse to terrorist devastation.

Palin’s image as an abortion-hating, meat-eating, gun-toting hockey mom is a flimsy contrivance. But if she seems like a prime example of political piffle, Palin’s rise is also startling, because her followers truly bond with her in a visceral way that is rare for any politician. In February Palin will give the keynote speech to a national convention of the tea-bag movement. At that moment we will learn something about political passions and the future of democracy — something we wish wasn’t there.

In his year-end roundup, New York Times columnist David Brooks said that he has always looked to passionate outsiders as omens for the future. John Birchers in the Sixties, feminists in the Seventies, and religious fundamentalists in the Eighties are examples of embattled outsiders who gained center stage through their passionate commitment. Brooks sees that same passion among the tea-baggers, with their blinkered obsession over socialism, taxes, and big government. It’s a potent, toxic mix. Ronald Reagan wasn’t telling the truth when he said that government is the problem, not the solution, but with that slogan he launched a reactionary crusade. Today, thousands of Americans feel more compelled than ever to join that crusade.

Once any political movement wins, it becomes self-justifying. Reaganism was on the whole very harmful to America and at its heart hypocritical, since Reagan presided over an enormous jump in the size of government and a tripling of the deficit. But since the reactionary right was able to seize the reins of democracy, it automatically felt justified. As a result, a generation of Americans has grown up disgusted with government while at the same time buying into a range of bigoted and prejudicial beliefs that make good government impossible. When you will do anything to block healthcare reform, immigration reform, subsidized spending for a crippled economy, and increased revenues to care for an aging population, government isn’t the problem: you are.

People don’t like to feel that they are the problem. Therefore, many flock to a myth-maker like Palin. Her hokey frontier ethic is completely divorced from reality. Few poor people can shoot a moose outside our back window or would want to. They need food stamps and other kinds of compassionate help. Palin touts free enterprise and hates federal programs. But Alaska takes more federal dollars per capita than any other state, and a third of its jobs are government jobs.

What we’re seeing is an old tactic in new bottles. The right wing thrived by distracting voters from reality. The average person’s life isn’t remotely affected by school prayer, flag-burning, late-term abortion, or gay marriage. But if you get enough voters aroused by these issues, the party in power can subsidize the rich with vast tax cuts and look aside as real incomes for the middle-class fail to rise. All the benefits of corruption, from freewheeling lobbyists and influence peddling to Wall Street chicanery and subprime lending, go to the haves and hurt the have nots.

Palin has turned up the volume but pursues the same tactic. Her situation is one that’s easy to identify with if you are hurting. She holds together a family and fiercely defends it in the face of a teenage pregnancy and a Down’s syndrome baby. It’s also easy to identify with her knee-jerk reaction against taxes, federal bureaucracy, and unwanted intrusions from Washington.

But if you go one layer deeper, Palin’s kind of mobocracy would lead to the following:
— reluctant assistance for victims of disasters like Katrina
— a burgeoning underclass cut adrift from government aid
— an out-of-control medical system at the mercy of insurance companies and ever-rising costs
— the vicious criminalization of illegal immigrants
— a belligerent military stance around the world
— an atmosphere of permanent fear-mongering
— the driving out of tolerant, educated people from the political system
— a chaotic attack on all government programs
— a huge mismatch between income and spending by the government

This list would represent fear-mongering on my part except for the fact that all these things occurred during the Bush years. Democracy suffered a huge setback with the long reign of right-wing ideology. All that Sarah Plain offers is an amped-up version fueled by more blatant appeals to mindless fear and rage. Will she succeed? It’s an open question. The American public has barely emerged from the fog of illusion; Palin’s success or failure will tell us a lot about whether the same fog, only thicker, is about to return.

Deepak Chopra on Intent.com
For more information go to deepakchopra.com

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Karen Porter Sorensen: for the Love of all Things Slow: Reflections on a Too Fast World

January 6th, 2010 admin No comments

2010-01-06-GardenSnail.jpg

It’s 2010, already. Unbelievable isn’t it – how quickly time passes? I’m taking time to reflect on the previous year and thinking of resolutions for the new one. I live in New York, one of the most hectic, fastest-moving cities in the world. I love the city and chose to move here, but lately I have been feeling the urge to just ’slow down.’ Everything is always moving in fast-motion guided by the notion that time= money. At my job, my co-workers are always multi-tasking and rushing to cram into a single day what realistically should be done in a week. My friends are always making plans, on top of plans in the fruitless effort to have more fun. Personally I always feel in a rush: I eat fast, think fast, talk fast and walk fast. Perhaps I am just worn out and need a radical lifestyle change. Maybe after nine years, it is finally time for me to throw in the towel and leave NYC to move to the country.

If I had it my way, tomorrow I would not wake up at the crack of dawn to travel to work on the packed subway car at rush hour. I would unplug to move at my own speed letting my inner rhythm guide me throughout the day. Well, at this moment living in a cottage in a remote village in Ireland is still just a dream but here are some thoughts on ways to slow down.

When I told my friend about my goal to slow down, she said that there is a book called In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed, by Carl Honore who offers some inspiring examples of a growing worldwide ’slow’ movement.

“It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”

Honore, who lives in London, said last spring the city held the first Slow Down London Festival where the city’s residents were offered a rare opportunity to take a break from their rushed lifestyles. Personally I would love for the Festival to come to NYC. Are there are other New Yorkers out there who feel the way I do and want to slow down the pace of your lives just a little? If you’re like me and wishing to lower your life’s speed limit, here are some thoughts for inspiration. First a list of things to observe when you need inspiration, and second a list of activities to follow that will help you reset your daily metronome.

Slow things to observe for inspiration:

  • Clouds floating
  • Plants growing
  • A seed starting
  • Syrup pouring
  • Honey squeezed
  • Sailboats without wind
  • Snails
  • Sloths
  • Worms
  • Herons
  • Small children walking
  • Old women sewing
  • Pregnant women
  • Ice cream trucks
  • Kiddy Carnival rides
  • Noh performances
  • Isicles dripping
  • Candles burning
  • The tide coming in
  • Snow falling

2010-01-06-slowdance.gif

Slow down activities:

  • Slow-dance
  • Walk through snow
  • Row boats
  • Listen to someone you love
  • Eat pomegranates
  • Ride the bus
  • Travel by hot air balloon
  • Talk to people with southern accents
  • Make wine
  • Hand-sew
  • Bake bread
  • Walk home
  • Make sun tea
  • Bake a cake
  • Hand-make clothing
  • Visit cemeteries
  • Wait in lines
  • Soak in the bathtub
  • Pick berries
  • Bird-watching
  • Paint portraits
  • Ride Ferris wheels
  • Watch Tarkovsky films
  • Save money
  • Sip hot tea
  • Make snow angels
  • Walk in the woods
  • Ride Gondolas
  • Slow-kiss


Categories: World Tags: , , , , ,

Nexus One previewed with Flash 10.1 beta: careful what you wish for (video)

January 6th, 2010 admin No comments

You’ve heard of the Flash 10.1 beta right? And you’ve definitely heard of the Nexus One. So it’s no surprise to see Adobe riding Google’s coattails by demoing its Flash beta preview on this so-called superphone. Be sure to check out the animated ad for dog food to fully realize what a future of Flash-capable devices will really look like. See it after the break.

Continue reading Nexus One previewed with Flash 10.1 beta: careful what you wish for (video)

Nexus One previewed with Flash 10.1 beta: careful what you wish for (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 05 Jan 2010 19:37:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Midday Open Thread

January 5th, 2010 admin No comments
  • It begins today:

    The Census Bureau kicks off its $300 million campaign Monday to prod, coax and cajole the nation’s more than 300 million residents to fill out their once-a-decade census forms.

  • Now they’re calling them book tours?

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will make two stops in Iowa in March as part of his nationwide book tour, following visits by fellow 2012 GOP hopefuls Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty.

  • Was Senator John Kerry (D-MA) refused entry into Iran by the Iranian government?
  • Look for Rush Limbaugh to put a positive spin on this:

    About one in 50 Americans now lives in a household with a reported income that consists of nothing but a food-stamp card.

  • Good news for Jimmy Carter — Republicans seem to hate President Obama even more than they hated Carter.
  • She may or may not be the first, but she’s the first I’ve heard of, so let’s file this under, it’s about damn time:

    President Obama recently named Amanda Simpson to be a Senior Technical Advisor to the Commerce Department.

    In a statement, Simpson … said that “as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others.”

    While Simpson is clearly one of the first transgender presidential appointees, Democratic officials say they’re unsure if she is the very first one.

  • Good catch by Matthew Yglesias, commenting on a New York Times article about the President’s counterterrorism policies:
    A half-dozen former senior Bush officials involved in counterterrorism told me before the Christmas Day incident that for the most part, they were comfortable with Obama’s policies, although they were reluctant to say so on the record. Some worried they would draw the ire of Cheney’s circle if they did, while others calculated that calling attention to the similarities to Bush would only make it harder for Obama to stay the course. And they generally resent Obama’s anti-Bush rhetoric and are unwilling to give him political cover by defending him.

    It’s really staggering what this says about the ethical caliber of the people we’re talking about. These are the toughest issues out there. Obama is, they think, doing the right thing. But some of them don’t want to say he’s doing the right thing because that might make Dick Cheney mad and they’re timid, gutless careerists? And others don’t want to say he’s doing the right thing because their feelings are hurt that a Democrat said bad things about his grossly unpopular Republican predecessor? For this they’re going to undermine support for policies that they themselves believe are keeping the country safe?

  • Apparently Parker Griffith’s (R-AL) staff doesn’t like turncoats.
  • A tsunami has hit the Solomon Islands, “laying waste to at least one village.” As of yet there are no reports of casualties, although that may be because there’s no one there to make the report.
  • An investigation has begun into the security lapse at a New Jersey airport that made life miserable for the thousands of other travelers trying to get home on the last day of the holiday weekend.


Antonio Villaraigosa: Making Every Angeleno Count

January 5th, 2010 admin No comments

Every 10 years, our Constitution requires the federal government to make an accurate count of all of its residents. The data retrieved from the census forms the foundation for the number of representatives we send to Washington from each state, the amount of money our families get for health care, the resources directed toward our schools and classrooms, where we build new roads and how much funding is allocated for emergency food and shelter programs.

With each new decade, the census still manages to miss some of our most vulnerable residents such as young children in low-income homes, people living in large households, recent immigrants and the homeless. In 2000, 78,000 Angelenos went uncounted. Over the past 9 years, our City lost more than $200 million in state and federal funds.Too many Angelenos were left off the rolls and out of the system.

That is why I was excited today to welcome the Los Angeles stop of the 2010 Census Portrait of America Tour. Driving around Los Angeles today is one of the twelve road tour vehicles that will be traveling across the country to engage and educate citizens to fill out and mail in their 10-question census forms when they arrive in mailboxes March 15-17. The tour will travel more than 150,000 miles across the country and it is expected 18 million people will see it making it the largest civic outreach and awareness campaign in U.S. history. To find out if the road tour will be in your neighborhood go to www.2010.census.gov/roadtour .

Here in Los Angeles, we are doing our part by coordinating a citywide grassroots campaign through Complete Count Committees. These committees forge partnerships between government agencies, Neighborhood Councils, faith-based organizations, labor unions, and businesses to leave no stone unturned in our vastly diverse and boundless City. This effort hinges on participation from the bottom up, since people are more likely to hear our message that every person counts loud and clear if it is delivered by a family member, a friend, or a neighbor. This is why we are strategically deploying an army of volunteers to canvass local households in traditionally under-represented areas.

Also, we have a new media campaign that allows people to galvanize their community by linking to our interactive website: www.lacounts2010.org or by following our pages on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and encouraging others to do the same.

The countdown has begun; the census forms will start appearing in mailboxes in exactly seventy days. It is too important to leave anything to chance.This census is in OUR hands, and we need ALL hands on-deck to ensure everyone gets their fair share. Each and every one of us must stand up, be counted, and assume our rightful places in America’s story.


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LSG Sky Chefs Faces FDA Restrictions After Inspectors Find Roaches In Kitchen

January 5th, 2010 admin No comments

DALLAS — A company that prepares food for major airlines says it has cleaned up its Denver kitchen after federal inspectors found live and dead roaches and listeria bacteria at the facility.

The Food and Drug Administration warned the company, LSG Sky Chefs, that it could be barred from selling food to the airlines at the Denver airport if it flunks further inspections.

LSG Sky Chefs said Monday it took the FDA’s comments seriously, fired the general manager and head chef, and believes it will pass a follow-up review.

LSG is owned by Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the big German carrier. Its U.S. subsidiary provides food to Delta, American, United and other airlines from 43 kitchens around the country.

According to an FDA letter to the company, inspectors who examined the Denver facility found live and dead roaches “too numerous to count” in several areas of the kitchen, including at least 40 live insects in the silverware station.

The FDA said inspectors saw employees touching food with bare hands or while wearing unwashed gloves. They also noted problems with the building, including water dripping from the ceiling into utensil-cleaning areas and holes in walls that could house insects or vermin.

H. Thomas Warwick Jr., director of the FDA’s Denver office, said in an interview that such conditions were more common 10 to 15 years ago but are seen rarely today because of better sanitation practices and more inspections by federal, state and local agencies.

LSG “has been pretty good” over the years, Warwick said. “This one sort of slipped a little. We will be back very shortly.”

LSG spokeswoman Beth Van Duyne said the company took the FDA’s findings seriously and fired the general manager and executive chef in Denver. When chemical treatments failed to kill listeria found in a kitchen floor drain, the company replaced the pipes and drain, she said. Listeria is a bacteria linked to food-borne illness.

“We make no excuses for this report,” Van Duyne said. “We’ve taken immediate and aggressive actions after we received the initial findings in October. We’re confident we’ll pass” the follow-up inspection.

Van Duyne said the company hasn’t received any reports of airline passengers becoming ill from its food. She said FDA inspectors were back in the Denver building on Monday.

More on Food


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Your Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

January 4th, 2010 admin No comments

Sunday, and I still keep writing ‘09 instead of ‘10. It’ll come in time… for ‘11. And Connecticut now requires area codes for local calls. Wish I could remember how to program the cellphone. Oh, well, the pundits call it progress… now where did I put that Top 10 list of Top 10 lists?

Bono:

If we have overindulged in anything these past several days, it is neither holiday ham nor American football; it is Top 10 lists. We have been stuffed full of them. Even in these self-restrained pages, it has been impossible to avoid the end-of-the-decade accountings of the 10 best such-and-suches and the 10 worst fill-in-the-blanks.

And so, in the spirit of rock star excess, I offer yet another.

Nick Kristof has his list of Top 10 micronutrients (what we used to call “vitamins and minerals”.)

So what’s the most scrumptious, wholesome, exquisite, healthful, gratifying food in the world?

It’s not ambrosia, and it’s not even pepperoni pizza. Hint: It’s far cheaper. A year’s supply costs less than the cheapest hamburger.

Frank Ahrens: Top 10 bankster quotes:

Lloyd Blankfein

Goldman Sachs chief executive, responding to the Times of London about criticism of the firm’s big bonuses, on Nov. 8

What he said: “He’s “doing God’s work.”
What he meant: “It’s a joke. Get it?”

Blankfein, days later, when announcing a multimillion-dollar PR program to help small businesses:

What he said: “I apologize.”
What he meant: “Yeah, not so funny. My bad. [Pause.] By the way: We’re still giving out bonuses.”

Kevin Huffman: Top 10 ways to fix the education system. Start with getting better administrators, fire lousy teachers and get parents to do their job. Simple, no?

Steven Flynn: Top 10 5 WoT® myths. My favorite?

1. Terrorism is the gravest threat facing the American people.

The threat from too many Top 10 lists is actually far greater. It’s a good piece, but Flynn was apparently kidnapped before he could finish the last 5. Still polls (like the NY Times poll) show terrorism coming in at less than 1% ranking for “most important problem”. I should send this to Maureen Dowd.

Wait… who are those guys with sunglasses and ear pieces at the front door? And what’s a black helicopter doing on my lawn?


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

Susan Madrak: You Still Want To Gut Social Security? Bring. It. On.

January 4th, 2010 admin No comments

You find the darndest things on Craigslist, don’t you?

Looks like the The Peter G. Peterson Foundation is putting together another scare piece (remember “I.O.U.S.A.”?) to use in their latest attempt to kill Medicare and Social Security.

As a Philadelphian, I’m thrilled we were chosen to take part – even if they picked us because tightwad billionaire Peterson knew it would be cheaper than filming in New York.

But this is more than mere marketing – and it isn’t even the major thrust of his sophisticated astroturf campaign. The fact is, billionaire Peterson has spent decades of his time – and millions of dollars – pushing for the eventual gutting of these two programs. He’s a deficit hawk, all right – but only when there’s a Democratic administration.

And in a classic piece of disaster capitalism, he and his powerful allies are moving in for the kill. Be very, very afraid.

A New York City Production Company is looking for participants for a documentary web series about the financial issues facing everyday people. We are interviewing real people, not actors, talking about their lives, experiences, and thoughts about one or more of the major issues facing Americans today.

We are looking to cover stories from as many different ethnicities and political viewpoints as possible. Whatever your age, background, or income, if you have an interesting story, we’d love to hear from you.

Since this is documentary journalism we can not by law compensate the interviewees but we will pay for travel and food. The shoot should take a few hours and we will do our best to schedule around your convenience.

What do you suppose the odds are of my viewpoints being included in this “documentary journalism”?

You will be helping other people by telling your story. Other Americans who feel alienated and hopeless will gain comfort by knowing they are not alone. And together we can make a difference in the future of our country and for our children.

Yes, we’ll be stripping the recession-battered country bare of what tattered remnants of a safety net that remain – and we’ll make you like it! It certainly will make a difference.

The videos are for The Peter G Peterson Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, organization whose only mission is to educate the American people about the country’s financial situation and incite them to take action on their behalf.

Dear sweet Jesus, shoot me now. The man worked for Nixon. He was the CEO of Lehman Brothers, which held the same kind of influence we now see with Goldman Sachs. (So you know he has only our best interests at heart!)

You don’t have to be a political expert to participate. We just want to know your personal story.

The topics are:

1. The Healthcare System – What it does to the participants and the need for reform in a way that works.
2. The Tax System – How complicated and unfair it is.
3. Social Security and Medicare – What will happen to the younger generations once the Entitlements go broke.
4. The Federal Government’s Financial Situation – 11 trillion in National Debt with no plans to balance the budget and pay it back.
5. Our own personal financial issues – High school loans, credit card debt and mortgage rates are crippling Americans.

Some of the possible “stories” we’re looking for:
* A person who can’t pay their mortgage or their taxes
* A recent college graduate with credit card debt and student loans.
* A young family adjusting to the costs involved in raising children.
* A person with serious healthcare expenses.
* A small business owner who would like to provide healthcare but can’t.
* A person who has been or is being audited due to a mistake by their accountant or not knowing how to file taxes properly.
* Anyone who is infuriated by these issues.

Please remember, the types listed above are only possible guidelines. If you have an interesting story about your financial struggles, we’d love to hear from you!

Fellow Philadelphians, I think you know what to do. Let’s send these sorry excuses for human beings back to Wall Street with some real stories.

The series will premiere on prominent websites with potential TV airings.
If interested, please send an email with your name, contact info, and a brief description of your your situation to John at casting@dynamiccontentproductions.com. We will be shooting in Philadelphia mid to late January so time is of the essence.

Look, if the healthcare battle hasn’t opened your eyes to the fact that immensely wealthy and powerful corporate interests are perverting our democracy, you’re not paying attention. Why else do you suppose the Washington Post turned over a chunk of their news section the other day to a Peterson propaganda supplement – as news content?

The Washington Post published in its news pages an article by The Fiscal Times — “an independent digital news publication reporting on fiscal, budgetary, health-care and international economics issues” — that promoted the creation of a task force to reduce the deficit in part through cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. But the Post did not disclose that the Times is funded by conservative billionaire Peter G. Peterson, whose organizations have long advocated reducing the deficit through entitlement cuts and have called for the creation of such a commission.

The Fiscal Times article ran on Page A10 of the January 31 edition of the Post. The article’s byline noted that authors Elaine S. Povich and Eric Pianin report for The Fiscal Times; a note at the end of the article stated that it “was produced by the Fiscal Times, an independent digital news publication reporting on fiscal, budgetary, health-care and international economics issues.

Oddly enough, there was no inclusion of opposing views in this “news” piece. But then, the Washington Post has a long and proud tradition as a willing andmaiden to powerful interests.

So here it comes, the cranking up of the Mighty Wurlitzer. If they want a fight, bring it on.

This time, we’re ready.


Elissa Altman: Answering to a Higher Authority: Ethics and the Kosher Butcher

January 3rd, 2010 admin No comments

I grew up listening to my maternal grandmother tell stories of how her father, a kosher butcher in Williamsburg Brooklyn, would slaughter chickens in the back room of his store on Friday mornings; he was regularly inspected by the local Rabbinate, who gave him the official authority to do his job, and he did it quickly and cleanly and with great respect for the animal, she told me, as I grimaced. Her job was to flick and pluck, and she did so with no small amount of dexterity, assuring that shoppers would have the freshest chicken possible for the Sabbath.

We were never kosher in my home, but on Friday nights, my grandmother made it a point to buy a kosher bird from our local butcher in Forest Hills, and make either soup or a roast chicken, both of which I dream about in the dead of winter, or when I have a bad cold. The cost to her was nearly double the price of a regular, non-kosher supermarket bird, and in the cash-strapped 1970s, when I was actually old enough to notice and realize the financial implications of how she spent her money on her family, she said “I would never feed you supermarket chickens; they’re filthy. You might as well eat pork.”

I pondered this recently, when Rockland County New York-based New Square Meats, a kosher poultry processing plant serving a large local Hasidic population, was shut down last week by federal judge Stephen Robinson, citing “unsanitary conditions that pose a health risk to the community.” Somehow, the plant had managed to

“dodge federal inspections for years, and sold nearly 2 million uninspected birds to unsuspecting customers. Patrick Burke, a lawyer for New Square Meats, argued the Spring Valley plant should stay open an extra two weeks until a new kosher poultry supplier could be found for the local Jewish community.”

Given the conditions that were uncovered by federal inspectors during an April 2009 visit, one would think that the Skver Hasidim–the deeply observant, fundamentalist community that New Square Meats served–would deserve more than (literally) dirty birds; they deserve to feed themselves and their families the kosher meat that they think they are paying for, and that fall within the laws of Kashrut, which govern dietary rules. Because, without those laws and the strict adherence to them, they might as well — to mangle my grandmother’s quote — eat a side of ribs washed down with milk.

I won’t get into the details of the conditions at New Square Meats; if you’re reading this, odds are you likely have a sense of what they might have involved. One of the basic, primary laws of Kashrut implies cleanliness: there is no eating of bottom-feeders, no partaking of animals that chew their cud, no noshing on beasts that wallow in mud baths. Animals under the laws of Kashrut also may not be slaughtered if they are unconscious; among the supposed health benefits of this practice (like it or hate it) is the elimination of potentially sick and/or infectious animals from getting into the food supply. Theoretically.

So how could New Square Meats, which is itself affiliated with the Skver Hasidim–a sect that has repeatedly run afoul of the law–so obviously flout not only the religious dietary laws that they are supposed to be adhering to, but government regulations as well?

First, take religion completely out of the equation (since they’ve already blown a big fat Bronx cheer in the face of kashrut).

The answer?
Logrolling.

New Square Meats recently received a $1.62 million grant from New York’s Empire State Development Corporation to help subsidize the cost of building a new, larger slaughterhouse near the one that has just been shut down; they received the money without obtaining the approvals from local town and county planning departments:

As the Forward reported recently, the slaughterhouse, New Square Meats, was already under fire for its attempt to build a bigger plant, five times the size of its current one, close to New Square’s border with the town of New Hempstead. The proposed 26,250 square foot slaughterhouse would cost $3 million. Some local officials were particularly upset by the fact that New Square Meats had received a $1.62 million grant from New York’s Empire State Development Corporation to help subsidize the new building without getting approval first from the county- or town-planning departments.

As far back as 2001, it was reported by Time that Hillary Clinton, while running for her Senate seat in August 2000, met in New Square with members of the Skver sect, who had a history of voting in a bloc; four months later, she obtained 1,400 votes from the Skver to her opponent Rick Lazio’s 12. Whether or not they were a promissory note for her possibly also aiding in the presidential commutation of the sentences of four Skver Hasidim who stole more than $30 million in Pell Grants, subsidies, and loans, will never be known for sure.

What is clear is that where New Square is concerned, the government–at least at the state level–has simply looked the other way for almost an entire decade; the New Square slaughterhouse that was just shut down had been selling uninspected birds since 2002.

So what does this mean for the hapless consumer? Would the average Hasidic New Square mom knowingly feed her children dirty chickens that are about as kosher as Babe, and contaminated with god-knows-what? Certainly not, in the same way that Diane Nole of Gig Harbor, Washington, wouldn’t knowingly feed her 2 year old son Michael the Jack-in-the-Box hamburger laced with e Coli, that would kill him, hours later.

This is about trust, safety, honesty, and knowing exactly where your food comes from. As for New Square Meats, perhaps they ought to brush up on their Talmud:

When man appears before the Throne of Judgment, the first question he is asked is not, “Have you believed in God,” or “Have you prayed and performed ritual acts,” but “Have you dealt honorably, faithfully in all your dealings with your fellowman?” –Talmud, Shabbat, 31a

The answer, in this case, is no.

More on Hillary Clinton


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It’s Not a New Decade. Yes, It Is! No, It Isn’t!

January 2nd, 2010 admin No comments

The late Stephen J. Gould and the late Arthur C. Clarke got into a good-hearted dispute about whether the new millennium started January 1, 2000, or January 1, 2001. Gould even wrote a wonderful, tidbit-filled book called Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalist’s Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown.

“Precisely arbitrary” captured it exactly right. But we can be counted upon to argue about when each decade and each century starts right up until the fourth millennium begins on January 1, 3000 3001 3000.

If it really matters to you – and if it does, you might try getting out more – you can dig as deeply as you want into this dispute. For instance, check out what Jan Zuidhoek has to say at Millennium Mistake. And there’s also this.

At its root, the argument stems from the fact that the creators of the Western calendar were not Mayans or Hindus, peoples with both the concept and a symbol for zero. Hence, our calendar recognizes no year zero. Every decade begins not in the year ending in a 0, but ending in a 1, 2011, not 2010.

The only problem being, that in popular parlance, it doesn’t make sense to call the decade of the ’90s, 1991-2000. And how does 2011 fit into the decade of the ’00s?  

Advocates of the no-year-zero approach argue that the 6th century priest-scholar Dionysius Exiguus forces us to accept that the new decade won’t start until 2011. It was he who first calculated in AD 532 (by means not wholly clear) the time when Jesus Christ was conceived and born. Exiguus apparently knew about the concept of zero, but he didn’t have the symbol and wrote his conclusions with Roman numerals. He went directly from 1 BC to AD 1, dates now scientifically notated as 1 BCE and 1 CE.

Subsequently, when it was discovered that the time in office of Quirinius (the Roman governor of Syria) and the death date of Herod (the Roman puppet-king of Judaea) didn’t match up with biblical references for them, the 1 BCE calculation flew out the window. Using these references, the actual third millennium may have begun in 1996.

Whether or not you believe Jesus even existed, however, let’s cut poor old Dionysius Exiguus some slack for argument’s sake. Assume that he was right in his probably politically motivated calculation that Jesus was born December 25, 1 BCE. Exiguus, who apparently understood zero but had no symbol for it, did what historians still do – set the beginning of the year 1 CE right after 1 BCE. No zero in between. So, that put the beginning of Jesus’s second decade on the planet in the year 11 CE and the second decade of the third millennium at 2011.

But if there were a year zero, which, logically speaking, there must be, it would mean that the second decade of Jesus’s life began in the year 10 CE, and thus 2010 marks the beginning of the second decade of the third millennium.

When astronomers count, they do include a year zero, thanks to the work of Jacques Cassini in 1740. Many countries have legally adopted this approach to counting the decades and centuries. For astronomers, the new decade begins in 2010.

So, 12 months from now, when you encounter somebody arguing whether the second decade of the 21st Century is a year old or just beginning, make a suggestion that they take on a topic more worthy of exploration: such as whether Spam is real food.

   


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