Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Tree Bomber Acted Alone- e-mailed Pakistan

No- They're never alone....

From the AP:

 The teenager accused of attempting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore., was acting on his own initiative and not at the direction of any foreign terrorist organization, a law enforcement official said Saturday.

Boy that was quick figurin', eh? We're on it! But wait....

Mohamud, a student at Oregon State University, e-mailed a friend living in Pakistan.....(who)  referred him to another associate....

...The friend Mohamud was e-mailing was in Pakistan's northwest frontier province, an area known to harbor terrorists, but the law enforcement official said there is no indication that any foreign terrorist group was behind the plot.

Well, that clears up everything. Don't you feel better?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reclaiming the Church Year

From STR:

Sunday begins the season of Advent, and with it a new year in the Church's liturgical calendar....

...That this transition will go unobserved in many Christian churches is regrettable, not because Christianity entails certain holy days of obligation--as St. Paul writes, "One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike"--but because the Church Year provides such a useful framework for the worship life of a Christian.... more

UK-based Taliban

From the Guardian:

British-based men of Afghan origin are spending months at a time inAfghanistan fighting Nato forces before returning to the UK, the Guardian has learned. They also send money to the Taliban.
A Taliban fighter in Dhani-Ghorri in northern Afghanistan last month told the Guardian he lived most of the time in east London, but came to Afghanistan for three months of the year for combat. More here

Obama gets 12 stitches after elbowing on hoops court

In a Friday morning pickup game,President Obama was accidentally elbowed by one of his fellow players, forcing him to get 12 stitches in his lip, the White House said. Obama received the stitches under local anesthesia in the doctor's office on the ground floor of the White House after he returned home from the game at Fort McNair, a military base where he often plays. (more from the WaPo)

Though the White House wouldn't release a full list of players (or suspects), incoming House majority leader John Boehner was known to be playing, though he denied any fouling on his part. While speculation continued as to the person responsible for the presidential "fat lip" Mr Obama was heard to mutter, upon leaving the court, "I knew inviting Pelosi was a bad idea."

Girl, 15, Arrested Over Alleged Koran Burning

Yes its in Britain...for now:

From AOL News:

LONDON (Nov. 25) -- A 15-year-old British girl has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after she allegedly set fire to an English-language copy of the Koran and posted footage of the incident on Facebook.  more

Wiki Treason

From the WaPo:
U.S. embassies around the world are warning allies thatWikiLeaks might be poised to release classified cables that could harm relations by revealing sensitive assessments and exposing U.S. sources, a State Department spokesman said Thursday. More

International Business Times adds the following while adding a pretty good overview of the whole mess :

The Pentagon has already warned the U.S. Senate and House Armed Services Committees that the leaks will “touch on an enormous range of very sensitive foreign policy issues.” “We anticipate that the release could negatively impact U.S. foreign relations,” Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Elizabeth King said in an e-mail to the defense committees. More

"the brink of war"

NORTH Korea is believed to have fired more artillery shells near Yeonpyeong Island last night in a training drill after warning that the Korean peninsula is on "the brink of war".
The move came as South Korea appointed a new Defence Minister, Kim Kwan-jin, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to toughen its response after Tuesday's fatal shelling of Yeonpyeong.
President Lee Myung-bak also moved to beef up weapons systems in the Yellow Sea islands and restore confidence in his government's ability to deal with North Korean threats. more from the Australian

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks is Good For Your Health

Science catching up to scripture. From the WSJ:

A growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being.

How Grateful Are You?

Take a test.
Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.... More

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day
October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.  To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.  In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.  Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.  Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people.  I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.   And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

U.S. Sends Aircraft Carrier for Joint Exercises

A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group set off for Korean waters Wednesday after President Obama
pledged America would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with South Korea and stage joint military
exercises in response to what the White House branded a provocative, outrageous attack by
North Korea on its neighbor

Read more: here

George Washington Thanksgiving Proclamation

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.
GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Security SHOULD Look Like

North Korean dictator-in-waiting linked to deadly artillery attack

Consider this an update to the previous post. The most disturbing aspect of this article is the statement,quoted in an Australian paper that:
A North Korea expert at Beijing's Central Party School, Zhang Liangui, told the Herald that Kim Jong-un was deliberately destabilising the environment in order to mobilise the military and consolidate his power.

Peter Singer Says Full Moral Status Not Earned by Babies “Until After 2 Years”

I wonder what Mr Singer sees when HE looks into the mirror?

From Secondhand Smoke: a  Princeton conference around the abortion question, in which (Mr Singer) claims that human beings don’t possess full moral status until after the age of two. :
Q (beginning at 1:25:22): When discussing at which point after birth we would give full moral status, you gave…a legal or public policy point about practicality… Forgetting the practical or public policy questions, if a person is a self aware individual and self awareness isn’t conferred by birth, and we use mirror tests to determine self awarness…at what point do you think an infant would pass the mirror test and therefore be self aware and be considered a person.
Singer (beginning at 1:27:18: … My understanding is that it is not until after the first birthday, so somewhere between the first and second, I think, that they typically recognize the  image in the mirror as themselves…Really, I think this is a gradual matter. If you are not talking about public policy or the law, but you are talking about when you really have the same moral status, I think that does develop gradually. There are various things that you could say that are sufficient to give some moral status after a few months, maybe six months or something like that, and you get perhaps to full moral status, really, only after two years. But I don’t think that should be the public policy criteria.
.....The position that allows abortion also allows infanticide under some circumstances…If we accept abortion, we do need to rethink some of those more fundamental attitudes about human life....

More here...

Artillery Fire Exchanged- UPDATED with STRATFOR Input

The timing of the North’s firing at Yeonpyeongdo, then, seems to contradict the other actions currently under way in inter-Korean relations. With the ongoing leadership transition in North Korea, there have been rumors of discontent within the military, and the current actions may reflect miscommunications or worse within the North’s command-and-control structure, or disagreements within the North Korean leadership.

Read more: North Korean Artillery Attack on a Southern Island | STRATFOR 

from   NY Times  :
SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire on Tuesday after dozens of shells fired from the North struck a South Korean island near the countries’ disputed maritime border, South Korean military officials said. Two South Korean soldiers were killed, 15 were wounded and three civilians were injured, said Kiyheon Kwon, an official at the Defense Ministry....

This of course after the weeks startling revelation of  2,000 centrifuges producing uranium for a new reactor. More here

The Los Angeles Times proclaims:

North Korea's newly revealed nuclear facility should surprise no one, and Washington must no longer be played for a fool.

I say, "too late."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sweet Potato

I've been on a roll lately if I do say so myself. I do most of the cooking for the household and over the last couple of weeks I've had a string of successes with some new recipes. Now, I'm not much on originality but I do like to try new things. Sometimes these work out better than others and you are free to chalk that up to the recipe itself or the skills of the cook. sometimes its both and sometimes neither and sometimes some combination of that and/or personal taste(s).
It is a point of aggravation with my wife that I critique the meal as we eat it. This has been made worse by the fact that I often invite my neighbor who is French, and has many years in the food service industry, to try new dishes. We are birds of a feather when it comes to critiquing food and I know I will always get an honest critique from him.
I get an honest critique from my wife as well, only more subtle. If she goes back for seconds then I've done very well. The scale then descends to a clean plate, food left on the plate, and then those miserable failures when we go for a bowl of cereal. It happens.
So, just in time for Thanksgiving I offer to you a recipe I found in the local paper from Nigella Lawson. apparently she is a cooking figure of some reputation. I have not heard of her but am tempted to visit her site and buy her book if this recipe is any indication. Its easy and tastes great and would work as a main meal (we've had it twice already) or as aside dish. (it has been requested for Thanksgiving)

Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. Bon appetite. Oh yeah, the Frenchman liked it too.
note- I use a cast iron skillet and plain old Canola oil. and lots of garlic. Because its whole it does not impart a strong flavor to the dish. Its nicely roasted when its done and you just squeeze it out- yum.

Sweet Potato Supper
2 sweet potatoes (washed and dried but not peeled), each cut into quarters
8 oz. (1 cup) smoked lardons, cubed pancetta or 16 slices smoked bacon (optional) snipped
8 oz. asparagus tips
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
a few sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
3 Tbsp. cold-pressed canola oil
salad leaves (optional)
salt to taste
chili sauce
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, Arrange the sweet potato chunks in the pan and then drop in most of the lardons or bacon, followed by the asparagus tips and garlic cloves and, finally, the remaining lardons. Sprinkle with the thyme, pour the oil over, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes, before turning the sweet potatoes over and baking for another 30 minutes. Let everything cool before dividing between 2 plates, strewn with salad leaves if desired. Sprinkle with some salt or chili sauce, or both to taste.
- Adapted from `Nigella Kitchen'