July 16, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


What's in a Name? The Origins of Judea, Philistia, Palestine and Israel (GRIFFIN JUDD,  JULY 16, 2019, Honest Reporting)

In a different situation, this would merely be a debate over semantics: Levant, Canaan, Judea, Philistia, Palestine, Israel, they would all be different names for the same place.

Unfortunately, a key feature of Palestinian nationalism is the erasure of Jewish history, and so what the land is called does matter.  The Palestinian Authority routinely denounces archeological finds in the city of Jerusalem as fake or illegitimate (see here, here, and here). It is common to hear claims that "Jesus was a Palestinian," but this is misleading; Jesus was most likely born in Bethlehem, which today is within the borders of the West Bank, but he was Jewish and at his time of birth Bethlehem was part of the Herodian Tetrarchy, a Jewish client state of Rome. Furthermore, claiming that Jesus was a Palestinian (or Israeli, or Arab, or Middle Easterner, etc.) is inherently wrong because none of these terms existed at the time. Jesus would certainly not have identified himself as Palestinian, because that concept existed only as a place name, and not even one in widespread use.

To be sure, the conclusion to draw is not that Palestinian Arabs have no national history or heritage, because they most certainly do. However, the Palestinian narrative of descent from Canaan continuously through to today is disingenuous at best and outright false at worst, because it implies that the idea of Palestine as a nation has existed for just as long, and this is demonstrably false.

In summary, the name Palestine originally had nothing to do with the Palestinian people, but instead was associated with first the Philistines and then the area where they had lived, while the Palestinian people are a mix of indigenous and Arabic populations who assumed the label off of the example of the British Mandate.

In contrast, the Jewish people are historically connected to the names of Judea/Judah and Israel. While this by no means invalidates Palestinian claims to peoplehood, it is important to recognize what is truth and what is not.

Blood Brothers: Palestinians and Jews Share Genetic Roots: Jews break down into three genetic groups, all of which have Middle Eastern origins - which are shared with the Palestinians and Druze. (Josie Glausiusz, Oct 20, 2015, Ha'aretz)

Confronted by the violence sweeping over Israel, it can be easy to overlook the things that Jews and Palestinians share: a deep attachment to the same sliver of contested land, a shared appetite for hummus, a common tradition of descent from the patriarch Abraham, and, as scientific research shows - a common genetic ancestry, as well.

Several major studies published in the past five years attest to these ancient hereditary links. At the forefront of these efforts are two researchers: Harry Ostrer, professor of pediatrics and pathology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, and Karl Skorecki, director of medical and research development at the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. Back in June 2010, and within two days of each other, the two scientists and their research teams published extensive analyses of the genetic origins of the Jewish people and their Near East ancestry.

"The closest genetic neighbors to most Jewish groups were the Palestinians, Israeli Bedouins, and Druze in addition to the Southern Europeans, including Cypriots," as Ostrer and Skorecki wrote in a review of their findings that they co-authored in the journal Human Genetics in October 2012.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


None dare call it racism: Afraid of the r-word, Republicans? Here's a better one to describe this president (Robert A. George, JUL 15, 2019, NY Daily News)

Contrary to Ryan, Trump's comments about Curiel were not "textbook" racist. Mexican-Americans, after all, are not a race, but an ethnicity (as, say, Puerto Rican AOC, is). So, for the sake of precision let's say that these words aren't explicitly racist.

But, let's take in toto what this president has said. If we do, we discover that "racism" is actually too limiting a word.

The person who smears Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers (even grudgingly admitting "some are good people") is clearly a nativist bigot.

The person who initially attempted to pass by executive fiat a ban on Muslim immigrants is clearly an Islamaphobic bigot.

The person who caviled for years that the first black president -- of Kenyan heritage -- wasn't really born here (despite voluminous, contemporaneous, evidence to the contrary) is clearly a xenophobic bigot.

The person who suggests that four members of Congress should just shut up or "go back" to other countries is clearly an ignorant and xenophobic bigot. Ignorant because of the "four Progressive Congresswomen" Trump alludes to, Ilhan Omar, is Somali-born, but a naturalized American; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a New York-born Latina; Rashida Tlaib is a Michigan-born Arab; Ayanna Pressley is a black Cincinnati-born, Chicago-raised Massachusetts representative.

He's xenophobic, because even if all were born elsewhere, America welcomes all, even those who find, at times, the need to criticize it.

Indeed, when he doubles down and declares "If they're not happy here, they can leave," it is he who is being the anti-American bigot.

This is something the Republican Party didn't just once believe, in fact it as much as told this Trinidadian-born, partly British-raised immigrant.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Sufjan Stevens and the Curious Case of the Missing 48 States: More than 15 years ago, a young indie folk artist set a course to traverse the United States of America through song, accruing acclaim, a fan base, and lots of anticipation along the way. Or did he? (Zach Schonfeld  Jul 15, 2019, The Ringer)

Remember when indie rock turned into a whimsical, state-by-state geography lesson? Sufjan Stevens was our banjo-plucking pied piper, traversing the map while delivering two outlandishly baroque masterpieces about specific U.S. states. First came Michigan. Then Illinois. Then Illinois again, sort of. And then--well, we're still waiting.

Michigan and Illinois seemed to unite the whole cynical swath of music lovers: Here were two kid-friendly, parent-friendly, grandparent-friendly concept albums capable of topping Pitchfork's year-end lists and delighting your history teacher all at once. Yet by the last decade's end, the singer's overarching conceit had been mysteriously abandoned: Sufjan Stevens did not write and record an album about all 50 states. He didn't even make it out of the Great Lakes region. No wonder millennials have trust issues.

I was reminded of the 50 states project recently while traveling through Michigan. As I passed Ypsilanti and Romulus--names familiar to me, I confess, because of Sufjan Stevens--I couldn't resist revisiting the singer's tribute to his home state. Then I thought of the years I spent waiting for 48 more state albums, and I wrote a silly tweet. It touched a nerve. "This hits hard," one fan responded. "I even paid to see him dance in neon in 2010 cause I craved that sweet sweet Dakotas double album that never was." I'd tapped into a diaspora of Sufjan fans, of people who'd spent their college years sipping Natty Light while secretly wondering when the singer might tackle Alabama.

My subsequent investigation has undercovered indie-folk corruption of the most galling degree: Stevens never really planned on recording 50 state albums. That was a joke. We were duped, our trust stolen in an audacious act of grand theft banjo. (Stevens was not available for comment for this article, and while I'd love to tell you that is because he is busy conducting scrupulous research into Delaware, that's just wishful thinking.)

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


After 2016 Bible Slip, Trump Lashed Out at 'So-Called Christians,' Book Says (Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin, July 15, 2019, NY Times)

Furious after he was criticized by evangelicals for stumbling in his reference to a book of the Bible during the 2016 campaign, Donald J. Trump lashed out at "so-called Christians" and used an epithet in describing them to a party official, according to a new book.

Mr. Trump's anger was aroused after he stumbled in an appearance at Liberty University by referring to Second Corinthians as "Two Corinthians" as he was competing for the votes of evangelicals -- traditionally critical to a Republican's success in the Iowa caucuses -- with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Allies of Mr. Cruz's, including Bob Vander Plaats, a well-known evangelical leader in Iowa, seized on the slip-up to taunt Mr. Trump.

According to a new book, "American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump," by Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, Mr. Trump was incensed by Mr. Vander Plaats and others "hanging around with Ted," and referred to them in the most vulgar of terms. [...]

For his part, in 2016, Mr. Cruz was candid with friends about his view of evangelicals who backed Mr. Trump. "If you're a faithful person, if you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, emerged from the grave three days later and gives eternal life, and you're supporting Donald Trump," the book quotes Mr. Cruz saying to friends, "I think there's something fundamentally wrong with you."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


New National Poll Shows Trump Losing Badly To Biden, Sanders (Dan Desai Martin, July 15, 2019, National Memo)

Trump can't get more than 44 percent support when facing top Democratic challengers in a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.

Americans appear like they may be ready to reject Trump and replace him with Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday.

In the nationwide poll, Trump never manages to get more than 44 percent of support, while each of the candidates listed would win the popular vote if it were held today.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Let Them Work: Detention centers at the border are full of able-bodied people. Our economy needs workers. Maybe we can work something out. (LINDA CHAVEZ  JULY 16, 2019, The Bulwark)

In the past, parents who could not feed their children often made the difficult decision to leave them behind with family members in the home country while they sought work in other countries. For the last hundred years, millions ofmen, mostly Mexican, came north, crossing the porous border illegally, to work in fields, plants, and factories, sending money back to support their families when work was available and returning home when jobs dried up. 

Employers were eager to hire them--which did not become illegal until 1987-and, at least in prosperous times, the government was happy to turn a blind eye. In the 1940s, the Bracero Program formalized the arrangement, sending illegal migration plummeting, by providing temporary work visas for some 4.6 million Mexicans. Even after the Bracero Program ended in 1964, Mexicans continued to come to the U.S. for seasonal work--albeit without documentation. As the Cato Institute had pointed out, Ronald Reagan remarked in 1977 in one of his regular radio addresses, "'It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won't do?," Reagan asked. "One thing is certain in this hungry world; no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.'" 

Of course, Reagan famously granted amnesty in 1986 to some 3 million illegal immigrants, but the inept and ineffective legislation Congress passed that year to try to deal proactively with the problem of illegal immigration did little to stem the flow because it did not address the real issue: namely, how to provide employers with a reliable flow of immigrant labor for niche industries and markets where Americans shunned available jobs. Unsurprisingly, less than a decade later with the economy booming, more and more migrants made the trip north so that by 2000 the population of illegal immigrants had grown to more than 12 million. 

In successive administrations from Bush '41 to Trump, the response has been to throw money at enforcement rather than recognizing the role of labor market forces in driving immigration. Conservatives used to understand market economics--maybe some still do, but Trump's appointees and supporters clearly refuse to. With unemployment at historic lows, the economy producing more jobs than there are workers to fill them, and an aging native population, we must find a way to expand our labor force--and quickly. Why not give those adult asylum seekers languishing in CPB facilities who are willing and eager to work the right to do so by releasing them and granting temporary work permits immediately, as we once did, instead of making them wait at least six months? Many of these migrants have skills that are sorely needed in agriculture, construction, and other services. 

July 15, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 PM


Trump Tells America What Kind of Nationalist He Is (Adam Serwer, 7/15/19,  The Atlantic)

When President Donald Trump declared himself a "nationalist," he was telling the truth, but he was inadequately specific.

On Sunday morning, the president told four members of Congress to "go back" to the countries "from which they came." The remark, a racist taunt with a historic pedigree, inspired a flurry of fact-checking from mainstream journalists who were quick to note that Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar are American citizens, and that only Omar was born abroad, in Somalia. It was a rather remarkable exercise in missing the point.

When Trump told these women to "go back," he was not making a factual claim about where they were born. He was stating his ideological belief that American citizenship is fundamentally racial, that only white people can truly be citizens, and that people of color, immigrants in particular, are only conditionally American. This is a cornerstone of white nationalism, and one of the president's few closely held ideological beliefs. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:32 PM


Pondering Pigouvian possibilities (Skakel McCooey, 7/15/19, CapX)

Pigou, one of founding members of the Economics department at Cambridge, focused his work on externalities -- consequences of activities that affect third parties but are often not reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved. Because these externalities are effectively "market failures", Pigou suggested imposing taxes to raise the price associated with these actions. Therefore, activities that carry negative externalities would be disincentivised and their price would be, more or less, correct. [...]

The irony is that Pigouvian "taxes" hardly deserve their title. Unlike most other taxes, which warp the market, Pigou's creation corrects a market flaw to reflect the true price of harmful actions.

To Republican politicians, a Pigouvian tax by any other name would certainly smell sweeter. Perhaps a simple re-brand to a "Carbon Correction" could dissociate the negative connotation of the word "tax" from positive action of curbing climate change.

Labels aside, some conservative groups have already jumped on board.

While many proposals exist, one which is especially popular is from the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) -- a conservative group -- which prices carbon at $40 per ton and gradually increase each year. This fee would be imposed at the point where fossil fuels enter the environment -- the mine, well, or port. The returns would be rebated to the American public.

A clever "border carbon adjustment" would add a fee on foreign goods entering the US from countries that did not tax carbon. This would not only keep domestic goods competitive, but also incentivise trading partners -- like China and India, who have significant emissions -- to set ambitious prices on carbon as well.

As plans like these begin to emerge from conservative groups, the tide in the Republican Party may be shifting. Polling by Republican opinion guru Frank Luntz -- who championed the term "climate change" as a less "frightening" alternative to "global warming"-- suggests that the CLC plan enjoys 2-1 support among Republican voters, including 75 per cent support with GOP voters under 40.

Posted by orrinj at 5:51 PM


Burger King has fun 'game' for customers: Guess if your burger is meat (MELISSA LOCKER, 7/15/19, Co.Exist)

Burger King has a dare for its customers. The fast food chain recently launched two plant-based burgers in Sweden, one a meatless version of the classic Whopper and the other a chicken-free version of its chicken sandwich, called the "Rebel Whopper" and "Rebel Chicken King" respectively. The chain is so convinced that its vegetarian versions are indistinguishable from the animal-based versions that it is daring their customers to tell the difference.

Posted by orrinj at 5:48 PM

60-40 SQUAD:

AOC and "the Squad" Are Actually the Sensible, Mainstream Centrists in Their Fight With Nancy Pelosi (BEN MATHIS-LILLEY, JULY 15, 2019, Slate)

The original dispute between the freshman lefties and the ostensibly pragmatic/moderate members of the "Blue Dog" and "Problem Solvers" caucuses turned on whether the House should have taken extra time to negotiate with the Senate in order to insert care standards and accountability measures, like a requirement that Congress must be notified within 24 hours after the death of a child in custody, into the border-funding bill. The progressives wanted to take the time to advocate for such concessions, while, in the words of the Washington Post, the moderates "wanted to see the House act to address the border crisis, not get locked in a conflict with the Senate, especially with Congress about to leave Washington for a week-long Fourth of July recess." The Blue Dogs moreover wanted to protect funding for Border Patrol guards and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

You can see what the moderates were thinking: They would score a bipartisan feather in their caps by passing an administration-friendly bill that included money for "border security" in addition to humanitarian relief, just in time for America's birthday.

Like many Democratic initiatives, this reasoning relies on a '90s-style model of what the average voter wants--a collaborative relationship between the president and Congress, say, and conservative-leaning immigration policies. But that model doesn't accord with polling in the Trump era. In 2018, large majorities of voters across the U.S. consistently told pollsters that they wanted to see a Democratic Congress elected to act as "a check" on the administration. This was true, as my colleague William Saletan pointed out at the time, not just in traditionally liberal areas but in swing states Trump won. In Arizona and Ohio, for example, voters--all voters, not just Democrats--said by 16-percentage-point margins (!) that their congressional votes were meant to "send a message that we need more Democrats to be a check and balance to Donald Trump" rather than to elect "Republicans who will help Donald Trump pass his agenda."

Trump's positions on border issues, meanwhile, are also landslide-level unpopular. A late-June CNN poll found that Americans disapprove of the way that Trump is "handling immigration" by a 57-40 percent margin, that 60 percent support "allowing refugees from central American countries to seek asylum in the United States" while only 35 percent do not, and that they choose "developing a plan to allow some people living in the U.S. illegally to become legal residents" over "deporting all people living in the U.S. illegally" 80 percent to 15 percent. The gap is too large to be just a partisan one, and a January Quinnipiac poll found that 50 percent of independents trusted Democrats in Congress more than Trump on the issue of border security against only 37 percent who trusted Trump, while an April Washington Post-ABC poll of "suburban" voters found that they disapproved, 42-33 percent, of the president's "handling of illegal immigration."

Given all of this, it would seem that the Democratic faction that's playing smart politics is the one advocating for tougher oversight of the Trump administration on an issue where swing voters generally take the Dems' side, and not the faction that wants to accommodate the administration and fund ICE.

Posted by orrinj at 5:31 PM

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Donald Trump's Tweets Were Malicious, and Republican Silence is Deafening (DAVID FRENCH, July 15, 2019, National Review)

The blessings of liberty accrue to all Americans, including immigrants. And while all Americans should be deeply grateful for their freedoms and for American opportunity, it's a simple fact that immigrant citizens have actually done something to earn their status. They've often migrated here at great personal cost, learned a new language, built a life in a new land, passed a test most Americans can't pass, and then swore an oath that most Americans have never sworn.

By contrast, what must natural-born citizens do to earn their citizenship? Survive labor and delivery. That's it. If anything, natural-born citizens should exercise the most gratitude. What did we do to earn our liberty?

American polarization is reaching a dangerous phase. On a bipartisan basis, criticism of presidents and our political opponents is escalating. I'm old enough to remember all the way back to 2015, when GOP hatred for Barack Obama even on occasion trumped Republican patriotism. Remember when Mike Huckabee actually urged American Christians not to join the military so long as Obama -- or someone like him -- remained president? Which country should he go back to so that they can somehow earn back our respect?

Trump is fully employing malice as a political strategy. It's not clever. It's not shrewd. It's destructive and wrong. The fact that so few Republicans can muster enough courage to state this obvious truth speaks to a sad reality -- the rot extends far beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Although, Mr. French does underestimate the universality of our creed: they need not have immigrated here to criticize America. 
Posted by orrinj at 1:54 PM


NEW RESEARCH DEBUNKS THE MYTH THAT MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS CAN'T ASSIMILATE: A new study finds that immigrants from our neighbor to the south are learning English and regularly interacting with non-Mexicans at higher rates than in previous decades. (TOM JACOBS, 7/15/19, Pacific Standard)

"Migrants surveyed over the last 20 years are learning and using English at increasingly higher rates, and are growing less isolated from non-Mexicans over time," writes Brown University sociologist David Lindstrom.

Lindstrom reports that this shift occurred "despite the rise in anti-immigrant public sentiment, and policies designed to marginalize unauthorized migrants." While levels of economic integration have stayed stagnant over that period, this largely reflects the challenges of the 70 percent of respondents who lacked authorization to be in the country, and thus didn't have the necessary documents to fully enter the financial system.

Lindstrom utilized data from the Mexican Migration Project, which tracks the behavior and attitudes of Mexican immigrants to the United States. He analyzed survey responses from 4,137 heads of households who had immigrated to America for some period of time between the years 1997 and 2016.

The respondents were a mix of people who regularly traveled back and forth from Mexico to the U.S. to work (the large majority without their spouses or children), along with people who moved to the U.S. permanently, and others who ultimately moved back to Mexico.

Lindstrom measured six types of integration: linguistic (how well the respondents understood English, and whether they used it at home and/or work); social (whether they had close relationships with whites, blacks, or Asian Americans); family (whether their spouse and children lived in the U.S.); employment (whether they were paid by check and had taxes withheld from their wages); financial (whether they had an American bank account or credit card); and asset (whether they owned a home or business in the U.S.).

Lindstrom found that Mexican immigrants' linguistic and social integration have steadily increased over the years. "The general trend for Mexican migrants is one of increasing contact and interaction with people outside of the Mexican community, regardless of whether they were temporary, long-term, or settled migrants," he writes.

"On the other hand, employment, financial, and asset integration ... do not appear to have changed over time," he adds. That reflects the limitations faced by undocumented immigrants, who generally cannot obtain the legal forms of identification needed to, say, open a checking account.

He also discovered that, "contrary to concerns that migrant networks might encourage insularity from the host society," having family members in the U.S. is "associated with higher levels of integration in all domains." This finding suggests that the process derisively known as "chain migration" actually facilitates integration into American society.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier (Jane Mayer, Jan. 30th, 2018, The New Yorker)

Inevitably, though, word of the dossier began to spread through Washington. A former State Department official recalls a social gathering where he danced around the subject with the British Ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch. After exchanging cryptic hints, to make sure that they were both in the know, he asked the Ambassador, "Is this guy Steele legit?" The Ambassador replied, "Absolutely." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Churches jump into action with threat of immigration sweeps (SOPHIA TAREEN, 7/15/19, AP) 

As a nationwide immigration crackdown loomed, religious leaders across the country used their pulpits Sunday to quell concerns in immigrant communities and spring into action to help those potentially threatened by the operation.

A Chicago priest talked during his homily about the compassion of a border activist accused of harboring illegal immigrants, while another city church advertised a "deportation defense workshop." Dozens of churches in Houston and Los Angeles offered sanctuary to anyone afraid of being arrested. In Miami, activists handed out fliers outside churches to help immigrants know their rights in case of an arrest.

"We're living in a time where the law may permit the government to do certain things but that doesn't necessarily make it right," said the Rev. John Celichowski of St. Clare de Montefalco Parish in Chicago, where the nearly 1,000-member congregation is 90 percent Hispanic and mostly immigrant.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


No One's Studying Hebrew Anymore -- That's A Big Problem (Aviya Kushner, July 11, 2019, The Forward)

College enrollment in Hebrew courses is dropping sharply, and this downward spiral may soon have profound effects on the American Jewish community.

Modern Hebrew enrollment fell 17.6 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to a report from the Modern Languages Association, while Biblical Hebrew suffered a 23.9% decline. [...]

Hebrew is a tiny player in the college language scene, where Spanish dominates. Out of 1,417,921 enrollments in college courses tracked in the MLA report, Spanish accounted for 712,240 of that total.

Those statistics only tell part of the story, because Hebrew is more than a traditional "foreign language" for Jews. The Hebrew language is the gateway to the prayers, the Torah, and other foundational Jewish texts. While the common second language for much of the world today is English, the common language for the Jewish community is now Hebrew.

As the Jewish world splits into two large communities in America and Israel, Hebrew is even more critical as the language that can connect American Jewry and Israeli Jewry; without Hebrew, much of contemporary Israeli culture is simply inaccessible.

July 14, 2019

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Posted by orrinj at 7:02 PM


WHY EVERYONE LOVES MACARONI AND CHEESE: Popularized by Thomas Jefferson, This Versatile Dish Fulfills America's Quest for the 'Cheapest Protein Possible' (GORDON EDGAR, MAY 24, 2018, Zocalo Public Square)

Being a judge at a macaroni and cheese competition in San Francisco taught me a lot about American food. The competitors were mostly chefs, and the audience--the online tickets sold out in minutes--was soaking up the chance to be at a "Top Chef" kind of event, but more urban and cool. The judges included a food writer, an award-winning grilled-cheese-maker, and me, a cheesemonger.

We awarded the win to a chef who made mac and cheese with an aged Vermont cheddar. The audience, however, chose another contestant. When he arrived at the winner's circle, he made a stunning announcement: His main ingredient was Velveeta. [...]

To understand the evolution of macaroni and cheese is to realize that pursuit of the "cheapest protein possible" has been a longstanding quest of the American food system. At times, cheese itself has shared a similar trajectory. Cheesemaking, which began 10,000 years ago, was originally about survival for a farm family or community: taking a very perishable protein (milk) and transforming it into something less perishable (cheese) so that there would be something to eat at a later date. Many of us today think of cheese in the context of tradition, flavor, or saving family farms, but a basic goal--whether a producer is making farm-made cheddar or concocting the cheeseless dairy product Velveeta--has always been getting as much edible food from a gallon of milk as possible. Cheesemakers weren't always successful at this. Cheese is vulnerable to mold, rot, and maggots, not to mention pitfalls like excess salt. Many generations of cheesemakers have tossed countless bad batches, which meant feeding a lot of precious protein to their farm animals instead of their families.

The first cheese factory in the U.S. was built in 1851, making cheddar one of the first foods affected by the Industrial Revolution. Before that, all cheese made in the United States was made on a farm, usually by the farm wife or--on prosperous farms--a cheese maid or an enslaved woman. As foods industrialize, they often go from being made by women to being made by men, and so it was with cheese: Women were mostly absent from the make rooms of these new cheese factories, and didn't return to cheesemaking until the artisanal cheese revolution of the past few decades.

Processed cheese, which was invented 107 years ago, is basically cheese that is emulsified and cooked, rendering it much less perishable (but also no longer a "living food" because, unlike natural cheese, processed cheese's flavor will no longer alter with age). The advent of processed cheese has led over the years to innovations like Kraft Singles, Easy Cheese, powdered "sauce" for boxed mac and cheese, and Velveeta--a type of processed cheese when it was invented in 1918, and now a dairy-based processed food, with 22 ingredients, that is no longer regulated as a cheese.

Processing cheese was a good way to make food for soldiers at war, to turn safe but not-as-good-as-standard cheese into edible food, and to save producers when there was a glut in the market and too much cheese to sell. It was also a good way to get nutrients to people who didn't have refrigeration. Ironically, perhaps, it was the culmination of the age-old cheesemakers' goal: producing as much edible food as possible from the original protein.

Posted by orrinj at 6:09 PM


How Americans see climate change in 5 charts (CARY FUNK AND BRIAN KENNEDY, 4/19/19, Pew Research)

Partisanship is a stronger factor in people's beliefs about climate change than is their level of knowledge and understanding about science. In 2016, 93% of Democrats (including leaners) with a high level of knowledge about science said climate change is mostly due to human activity, compared with 49% of Democrats with low science knowledge, based on a nine-item index. By contrast, Republicans and GOP-leaning independents with a high level of science knowledge were no more likely than those with a low level of knowledge to say climate change is mostly due to human activity. A similar pattern was found for people's beliefs about energy issues. These findings illustrate that the relationship between people's level of science knowledge and their attitudes can be complex.

Posted by orrinj at 3:00 PM


Edmund Burke & the French Revolutionaries (Bradley J. Birzer, March 7th, 2018, iMAGINATIVE cONSERVATIVE)

When Burke examined the French Revolutionary arguments against the French aristocracy, he found, not surprisingly, that while the Revolutionaries had acquainted themselves very well with the particular evils as practiced by particular aristocrats, they had missed the norm, the essence of the aristocratic class.

Certainly, the Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher agreed, one could find mistakes, some of which might be horrendous. Of those French aristocrats who lived at the end of the eighteenth century, Burke observed three general failings. First, French aristocrats behaved as children long after they had attained adulthood. They took from their families more than they gave, well past the years of irresponsibility. Second, too many French aristocrats had absorbed and manifested the ignobility of enlightenment philosophy, themselves disgusted with the past and ready thoughtlessly to revolutionize society. They had come to see the past, tradition, mores, norms, and association as means by which to shackle rather than to promote human dignity and freedom. They had, in other words, Burke worried, read way too much Locke and Rousseau and not enough Socrates and Cicero. Third, he claimed, the old aristocracy has held onto its privileges too long and too tenaciously, not allowing the many who had earned it in the eighteenth century into their own ranks. Thus, Burke noted with regret, by being both ignorant in philosophy and selfish in position, they had failed to see the creation of their own enemy class, those who had worked and given, but had not received the titles and honors so richly bestowed. Nowhere in French society did this prove more blatant than in the military orders. There, the old aristocracy remained obnoxiously over-represented, endangering the internal as well as the external order of French society.

Despite these failings, though, Burke noted with much satisfaction that when the French Revolution began in 1789, the monarch as well as the majority of aristocrats apologized for their selfish errors and had been the first to admit that their own orders needed reform for the good and benefit of the whole of society.

Read their instructions to their representatives. They breathe the spirit of liberty as warmly, and they recommend reformation as strongly, as any other order. Their privileges relative to contribution were voluntarily surrendered; as the king, from the beginning, surrendered all pretence to a right of taxation. Upon a free constitution there was but one opinion in France. The absolute monarchy was at an end. It breathed its last, without a groan, without struggle, without convulsion.

Such an apology and a reform (or series of reforms) the real revolutionaries mightily feared. Never had they actually sought reform of French society, whatever their claims and protestations. Instead, from the moment they began the revolution in 1789, they wanted to destroy and overturn all that opposed them and to do so utterly and completely, leaving no remnant and no possible opposition. To destroy as violently and wholly as possible, they needed to make a caricature of the aristocrat and the monarch. They needed to take the particular evils of each and make the average person believe them the universal and norm of each. Rather than examining the human condition, the true revolutionaries exaggerated its faults as manifested in the elites of society. They, Burke claimed in true Aristotelian and Thomistic fashion, redefined the thing, claiming its accidents to be its essence. Being revolutionaries, they could not create, they could only mock and pervert. Though the revolutionaries claimed to hate the violence and errors of the aristocracy, they submitted themselves to the very same evils, creating excuses for their own sins, as if necessary to expiate all of those of the past.

Posted by orrinj at 11:18 AM


How do we fix the fallout from the never-ending Kim Darroch affair? Put him in the House of Lords (Denis MacShane, 7/14/19, The Independent)

Darroch was calm, professional and much liked by journalists. He was completely straight and "did friendly" much better than FCO Old Etonian or Wykehamist effortless superiority. Over the years in his company, I never heard him say anything party political. He served the government of the day to the best of his ability,

He was then our man in Brussels after a stint as Blair's No 10 Europe adviser in the later years, when the Blair star in Europe dimmed after Iraq and his opportunistic pledge of a referendum on the EU constitution - the first promise by a British prime minister to go down the road of a populist plebiscite on Europe.

Following that, he was called back by David Cameron to be national security adviser, again one of the most sensitive top government jobs, reserved for the safest of safe hands, his last posting was Washington.

This is the Foreign Office's most prestigious overseas embassy job and only goes to the best diplomat of his generation. His reports back to the FCO in 2017 with the actually rather obvious remarks about President Trump would have been read by the then foreign secretary, Johnson, in his red box of papers taken home every night. His political team would have seen them too, as well as political aides in Downing Street.

It is no problem to photocopy such documents and the hopes that Scotland Yard can find an email trail to reveal the leaker through its recently launched investigation are not realistic. Nor are the attempts to class reporting on the leaks as a "criminal matter", as Neil Basu, assistant commissioner, suggested on Saturday to much criticism.  

No 10, and more broadly the British state establishment, certainly owe Sir Kim. His prompt resignation when Johnson failed to support him stopped the story dead. The media firestorm kept alive by President Trump's continuing attacks on Darroch relegated the Tory leadership contest off all front pages until Johnson refused to back Darroch in his ITV debate with Jeremy Hunt. He has behaved with nothing but honour and dignity since.

Putting him in the Lords would send a signal to President Trump that his coarse, bullying vulgarity in attacking Darroch has had no impact on the government and British public opinion. Rather the opposite. Darroch would be seen as having been rewarded and honoured by Britain.

Posted by orrinj at 11:07 AM


Trump Goes on Racist Tweetstorm, Tells Congresswomen: "Go Back" Where You Came From (DANIEL POLITI, JULY 14, 2019, Slate)

President Donald Trump launched a bizarre, racist attack against a group of progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

Posted by orrinj at 10:59 AM


Republicans ready to dive off a cliff on Obamacare (BURGESS EVERETT, 07/14/2019, Politico)

Republicans have no real plan to establish a new health care system if the courts strike down the Affordable Care Act before the 2020 election. But plenty of them are rooting for its demise anyway -- even if it means plunging the GOP into a debate that splits the party and leaves them politically vulnerable.

After a decade of trying to gut Obamacare, Republicans may finally get their wish thanks to a Trump administration-backed lawsuit. Its success would cause chaos not only in the insurance markets but on Capitol Hill. And Republican senators largely welcome it -- even if they don't know what comes next.

Posted by orrinj at 7:21 AM


A 1995 Novel Predicted Trump's America (Alec Nevala-Lee, July 12, 2019, NY Times)

[A]s he said of his most ambitious novel: "I wrote 'The Tunnel' out of the conviction that no race or nation is better than any other, and that no nation or race is worse; that the evil men do every day far outweighs the good."

Kohler, its narrator, is a 50-year-old professor of history at a thinly disguised version of Purdue University, where Gass himself taught for more than a decade. As the novel opens, he has just completed a book, "Guilt and Innocence in Hitler's Germany," that he'd once hoped would be his masterpiece. When he sits down to write the introduction, however, he finds that he despises it, and he starts to pour out his life story instead -- his dismal boyhood, his unhappy marriage, his failed love affairs. He also begins to dig a tunnel to nowhere out of his basement, although this evocative symbol occupies only a fraction of the narrative, which is dominated by Kohler's seemingly endless flood of rage, interspersed with typographical tricks, cartoons and obscene limericks.

At first it can be hard to understand why Gass dedicated so much of his career to writing in such an unbearable voice. As we learn more about Kohler, however, we find that Gass is assembling a case study with the meticulousness of a psychological profiler. We gradually discover that Kohler -- who keeps a trunk of Nazi memorabilia hidden under his porch -- is drawn to the Hitler era because it reveals the unspeakable truth about his own soul. As a young man, he studied in Germany, and on Kristallnacht, he was so swept up by the fury that he hurled a brick at the window of a Jewish grocery store.

After brooding over his actions, he concludes that violence is an eruption of disappointment -- the attacker hurts those whom he sees as unfairly advantaged, even if it costs him everything. Kohler connects this irrational longing for revenge to the Holocaust, as well as to a distinctly American bitterness caused by "an implicit promise broken, the social contract itself," which deprives its victims of the happiness that they had seen as an inalienable right. This theory of history reflects his own toxic envy, but the picture that emerges of Kohler himself is painfully real, and his humiliation over his own minor failures leads him to exhibit what Gass diagnosed as "a slightly hidden fascist mentality" common in the United States.

This is an immensely important theme, and Gass explores it relentlessly. His narrator's memories begin with his bigoted father, who scorned the ideas -- "free trade, for instance" -- that his son learned at school, while dismissing immigrants as "parasites, scabs, seducers" and ranting against "those who let these people into the country in the first place, when there were few enough jobs." Gass methodically depicts what he elsewhere called the "fascism of the breakfast table," as domestic combatants "crow over every victory as if each were the conquest of a continent, grudge every defeat as if it were the most meanly contrived and ill-deserved bad luck a good sport ever suffered," in performances that can expand outward to define an entire culture. He also devotes many pages to the small towns over which "sunsets were displayed in the deepest colors of catastrophe, the dark discordant tones of the Last Trump."

As Kohler recalls the resentments of his father's generation -- "They were America, damn it, and Americans should come first" -- he offers a word of advice to those who have been abandoned by history: "Don't invest in a future you will never see, a future which will despise you anyway, a future which will find you useless. Pay for your own burial plot. Get the golf clubs out. Die with a tan your daughter's thighs would envy." This sense of betrayal, which can shade into vengefulness, leads to a radical strain of politics that Gass later described in an interview: "Fascism is a tyranny which enshrines the values of the lower middle class, even though the lower middle class doesn't get to rule. It just gets to feel satisfied that the world is well-run. It likes symbols of authority and it likes to dress up. It likes patriotic parades."

In the novel's most prophetic passages, Kohler fantasizes about forming a movement called the "Party of the Disappointed People." He draws pictures of its insignia and merchandise (including special caps) and explains: "What the other parties avoid, we shall embrace. We shall be the ones with the handshakes like the Shriners, the symbols, the slogans as if we were selling something, the shirts, the salutes and the flags." By definition, its constituents feel disenfranchised by life, so they need powerful collaborators: "If we were to recover a bit of pride, we might be able to make ourselves into harassing gangs. So we shall make our pitch to the huddled elites, the ins who are on the outs."

The party will need to be circumspect about its intentions -- Kohler proposes a secret hand signal that will allow its members to recognize one another -- until a public figure arises to amplify its anger: "What a pool of energy awaits the right voice." Kohler's ideal tyrant is modeled on Hitler, but he also looks ahead to the demagogue of the future. "And now the hero comes -- the trumpet of his people. And his voice is enlarged like a movie's lion. He roars, he screams so well for everyone, his tantrums tame a people. He is the Son of God, if God is Resentment. And God is Resentment -- a pharaoh for the disappointed people." Kohler anticipates the role of the media -- "TV faces and their blatant lies are now our leaders" -- and contemplates the shape of such a man's life: "Our favorite modern bad guys became villains by serving as heroes first -- to millions. It is now a necessary apprenticeship."

Posted by orrinj at 7:08 AM


One Screw Short: a review of Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence and Deviance by Hassan Abbas (Owen Bennett-Jones, July 2019, London Review of Books)

The story begins with Iran in the mid-1980s. In the face of repeated Iraqi chemical weapons attacks, the government in Tehran decided to revive the shah's nuclear programme - overcoming Ayatollah Khomeini's reservations about the bomb's sharia-compliance. Iran needed help to get started and turned to Pakistan's military dictator, General Zia, who authorised Pakistan's nuclear scientists to engage with their Iranian counterparts. At the time Washington was threatening Pakistan with sanctions for its work on the bomb, and Zia may have calculated that low-level nuclear co-operation with Iran could be used as a negotiating chip to be traded in later: the co-operation could always be ended if sanctions looked imminent, as a way of averting the threat.

So the general, always adept at managing the relationship with Washington, directed his officials to help the Iranians - but not to give them anything substantial. Between 1986 and 2001 Pakistan provided Iran with designs for a uranium enrichment facility as well as key components needed to make a bomb. By the time the co-operation began, Khan had already put together an international network of suppliers and middlemen to procure the materials Pakistan needed for its own nuclear programme - a network that eventually included businessmen and engineers in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, South Africa and Switzerland. A front company in Dubai, Gulf Technical Industries, was run by a British businessman who lived near Swansea. This loose confederation saw Iran as a potential new customer; Khan's name gave their sales pitch credibility. In 1987, Pakistan sent Iran two used centrifuges which, in line with Zia's directives, were of limited use: Khan himself was already working on a more advanced model. Abbas believes the person in charge of the day to day management of the nuclear relationship with Iran was General Beg, at the time vice chief of army staff, who once claimed that Tehran had offered him $10 billion for nuclear weapons technology. In the event Pakistan sold it much more cheaply.

An indication of quite how tight a grip Pakistan's military kept on all this is that Benazir Bhutto knew nothing about it until well into her first term as prime minister - and even then found out only by accident. In the autumn of 1989, as she told Abbas and others, she was at a conference in Tehran when President Rafsanjani invited her into a quiet corner to discuss a sensitive matter. He said he wanted to reaffirm the agreement their two countries had reached on 'special defence matters'. Unaware of any such arrangement, Bhutto said: 'What exactly are you talking about, Mr President?' 'Nuclear technology, Madam Prime Minister, nuclear technology,' Rafsanjani replied. Back home, Bhutto asked the president and army chief what he'd been talking about; they pretended they hadn't a clue.

Abbas concludes that the initial phase of co-operation with Iran was conducted without the army's institutional support - but that Khan had the tacit backing of a small number of senior individuals. It's a rather odd way of looking at it. If a serving army chief makes major strategic commitments to a foreign power it's hard to see how the outcome can be considered a freelance or rogue operation.

Then there was the deal with North Korea, which came about during Bhutto's second term in office. This time, more aware of the need to placate the Pakistani deep state, she offered to do its bidding. The journalist Shyam Bhatia, who had known Bhutto at Oxford, interviewed her in Dubai in 2004. In the course of their conversation, Bhatia says, Bhutto revealed that in 1993, while she was prime minister, she had personally carried discs with data on uranium enrichment into Pyongyang. She had even bought an overcoat with especially deep pockets so as to conceal the discs on her journey. Loyal friends of Bhutto have rejected the claim outright, insisting that she and Bhatia were only distant acquaintances. But when you listen to the tape of the 2004 interview - and hear them discuss Bhutto's brother Murtaza, whom Bhatia had met in Damascus - it's clear that the two knew each other well. Frustratingly, the comments about taking the data to Pyongyang weren't recorded - Bhatia says Bhutto asked that the tape recorder be switched off before she told the story.

There were of course other senior Pakistanis involved in the arrangement with North Korea. Khan has claimed that three army chiefs, Generals Kakar, Karamat and Musharraf, knew all about it. Karamat's possible involvement, first publicly alleged in the Washington Post in 2011, is particularly interesting. The Post claimed that in 1998, in order to secure military support for the deal, Khan gave Karamat - chief of army staff at the time - half a million dollars of North Korean money in cash, for use in 'secret army funds'. Apparently this was not enough to win him over, so Khan hand-delivered him another $2.5 million - some of it hidden in a cardboard box under a layer of fruit, some in a canvas bag.

The story's provenance was rock-solid: the source was a British journalist turned Washington think-tanker, Simon Henderson, who had established a relationship with Khan in the 1970s while working in Pakistan as a stringer for the BBC and the Financial Times. They kept in touch. Khan had good reason to unburden himself to Henderson. In 2004, after Pakistan's involvement in nuclear proliferation became known to the world, Khan appeared on TV to make a confession: he himself took 'full responsibility' for the nuclear deals, which 'were inevitably initiated at my behest'. He added - in words which the state presumably insisted he include - that 'there was never any kind of authorisation for these activities from the government' or the military. He was under house arrest for the next five years, and being made a lone scapegoat must have rankled. So once he was released he started naming names in public. Eventually he sent Henderson a copy of a letter from a North Korean official that detailed the secret payments.

Given the seriousness of the allegation, the Post put considerable resources into verifying the document. Having satisfied themselves that it was genuine, they splashed it on the front page. Karamat strongly denied the allegation but chose not to sue. The fate of what should have been a world-class scoop was instructive. Washington was heavily invested at the time in trying to improve relations with Pakistan so as to further US goals in Afghanistan: no one in the administration could see any advantage in holding the Pakistani army to account, and with the exception of the Post the press toed the government line. Khan must have been deeply frustrated. Having got the story published on the front page of a major Western newspaper he should have been in a position to begin a conversation about nuclear proliferation that involved a central pillar of the Pakistani state. But nobody took any notice.

Posted by orrinj at 6:59 AM


Rowing team of cancer survivors launches at record-breaking Prouty fundraiser (SARAH EARLE, 7/13/19, Valley News)

The survivors' team rowed about a mile of the 15-mile course, and the team's inaugural row was a small but poignant part of the event, which brought more than 200 rowers to Kendal Riverfront Park. In total, more than 4,400 people came out for the rowing, walking, biking and golf at the 38th annual Prouty fundraiser, which was created in honor of Audrey Prouty by four nurses who treated her during her nine-year battle with ovarian cancer. [...]

Using a boat on loan from the Upper Valley Rowing Foundation, the team had just a few weeks to learn the sport.

"Learning to row is a challenge. There's a lot of nuances," Wallace said. "It was a good experience, though."

This was a banner year for the Prouty, as organizers said the event raised more than $3.3 million for patient support services and cancer research at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. That's the most money ever raised by event day and just a few thousand dollars shy of the Prouty's previous record, said Jean Brown, executive director of the Friends of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Because more money always trickles in after the race, she's certain this year will break past records.

"This has been a really exciting year," Brown said. "There's a really good feeling in the community about the cancer center."

Appreciation for the cancer center was a key motivation for Donna Palatucci, Sue Goulet and Hatsy McGraw as they walked the 7K at the Prouty on Saturday. The three friends have been walking together every year since 2005, the same year that Palatucci was diagnosed with cancer.

Palatucci, who lives in Windsor, recalled the massages she received at the cancer center, and the musicians who came in and played the harp while she was waiting for treatment. She knows how much those little things can mean.

"We also have a good friend who is in treatment right now," said McGraw, who met Palatucci and Goulet while she was living in Windsor and now lives in Hartland.

All three of the women, who joke that they are the "Prouty cover girls" because their photo was once on the front of a Prouty publication, have lost friends and family members to cancer. They have walked through drenching rains and heat waves alike, and they even recalled having to wait out a thunderstorm in the Frances Richmond Middle School gym. They've also witnessed the growth of the event, which was started in 1982 after Audrey Prouty's death and is now the biggest charity challenge north of Boston.

"This is really important to us every year. We really try not to miss," McGraw said.

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 AM


Alabama senator says Trump opposed to Sessions Senate bid (JORDAIN CARNEY, 07/11/19, The Hill)

Posted by orrinj at 6:15 AM


Trump axed Iran deal to spite Obama: How the British ambassador called the President's actions 'diplomatic vandalism' fueled by 'personality reasons' - as revealed in more explosive cables that have sparked a free speech row while Iran tensions mount (ISABEL OAKESHOTT and GLEN OWEN, 7/14/19, THE MAIL ON SUNDAY

Sir Kim's Iran memo was sent in May 2018, after Mr Johnson - who was then Foreign Secretary - had been dispatched to Washington to make a last ditch plea to President Trump not to abandon the nuclear deal with Iran designed to prevent the regime from building an atomic bomb.

Despite a frantic 26 hours of meetings with Trump's closest advisers, it became clear that the President was not going to change his mind.

After Mr Johnson returned to London, Sir Kim told No 10 in a 'diptel' (diplomatic telegram) that Mr Trump's Administration was 'set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism'. The Ambassador wrote that Mr Trump appeared to be abandoning the deal for 'personality reasons' because it had been agreed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Sir Kim suggested there were splits among the President's closest advisers and said the White House lacked a 'day-after' strategy on what to do following withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal was called.

...you can't really blame just his racial animus towards the UR when it's matched by his hatred of Muslim democracy.

The Prejudice First Model and Foreign Policy Values: Racial and Religious Bias among Conservatives and Liberals (Richard Hanania & Robert Trager, July 5, 2019, SSRN)

Scholars of foreign policy preference formation have accepted what Rathbun et al. (2016) call the "vertical hierarchy model," which says that policy attitudes are determined by more abstract moral ideas about right and wrong. This paper turns this idea on its head by introducing the prejudice first model, arguing that foreign policy preferences and orientations are in part driven by attitudes towards the groups being affected by specific policies. Three experiments are used to test the utility of this framework. First, when conservatives heard about Muslims killing Christians, as opposed to the opposite scenario, they were more likely to support a humanitarian intervention and agree that the United States has a moral obligation to help those persecuted by their governments. Liberals showed no religious preference. When the relevant identity group was race, however, liberals were more likely to want to help blacks persecuted by whites, while conservatives showed no racial bias. In contrast, the degree of persecution mattered relatively little to respondents in either experiment. In another experiment, conservatives adopted more isolationist policies after reading a text about the country becoming more liberal, as opposed to a paragraph that said the United States was a relatively conservative country. The treatment showed the opposite effect on liberals, although the results fell just short of statistical significance. While not necessarily contradicting the vertical hierarchy model, the results indicate that prejudices and biases not only help influence foreign policy attitudes, but moral perceptions of right and wrong in international politics. 

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