Saturday, August 19, 2006

Easy Fudge in the Kitchen

Judging from the e-mails that have come in, there's a topic everyone's waiting to see my response to. I was on the phone with Wally's mother this morning and she suggested I start with it so that everyone can focus. I'll devote four paragraphs to the topic and then we'll do the recipe and some other things.

This week, my youngest son wrote "Ehren Watada, Iraq, Ma" and there has been interest in what effect that had or didn't have? Last Saturday, one of my daughters brought a new date over. As Mike recounts the events (based upon what his younger sister told him and what his father told him) the date tossed a glass (glass-glass, not plastic) into a sink as my youngest daughter was at the sink washing dishes, the glass landed on a plate she was rinsing off and broke the plate in half, the date and the daughter who had brought him wanted a different meal than what had been planned, they knew ingredients were needed and promised to get them but did not go to the store, and, finally, when the pizza they'd requested was served, the date refused to eat because he didn't 'like' bell peppers. Those are the events reported in Mike's "Ehren Watada, Iraq, Ma" and, yes, they are all correct and, yes, I was ticked off when I was posting last Saturday.

Mike wrote that after a long discussion with his father and although I didn't know it was being written of (I didn't talk about Saturday with him on the phone), I wasn't "shocked" as one e-mailer wondered. (The daughter who brought the date was also expecting me to be "shocked" by what Mike wrote.) Mike is the most like of his father of all eight children. Talk to my sons or daughters and they will all agree. My husband didn't use to see that (the rest of could see it by the time Mike was five) and it was probably around when Mike turned twelve that my husband began to notice the huge similarity and the shared interests. The reason for pointing that out is because, as Mike notes, he'd spoken at length to his father before posting and his father had agreed it needed to be said. As one of my older sons says of Mike and their father, they can be one voice on almost everything. So to the e-mailer and my daughter who were both shocked, your problem isn't just with Mike.

My problems are many and, to go beyond rudeness, I don't think you break a plate that my youngest daughter (who will cringe is she read this, but is still a child) is holding and shrug before changing the topics. It was very luck that the plate broke in half as opposed to shattering. Had it shattered, shards could have cut her hands, her eyes, who knows what? It was the sort of act that I believe requires an immediate apology to her.

I have eight children and come from a large family myself. I've never seen anyone toss an item into the sink from a distance and certainly not while someone was standing at the sink doing dishes. Possibly that happens quite often in other homes? If it does, hopefully, it's plastic items being tossed. Plates and other items break all the time. That's life. Someone drops a dish, there's no reason to get upset. It's life. A dish breaks because someone has thrown one strikes me as disrespectful. [My daughter who brought the man over has pointed out all week that the dish (glass) he threw did not break. No, it broke another dish. That's splitting hairs.] Since this was the first time any of us were meeting him it makes me wonder what happens when and if he feels more 'casual' around us.

I'll do one more paragraph (fifth) on this just to wrap up. After Mike's "Ehren Watada, Iraq, Ma" went up and after my daughter phoned to object to it, the date did come by and offer an apology to me. I'll leave that alone and note that my youngest daughter is owed and apology and still has not received one. This point was made, to the date, by my husband. That's where it stands now. Myself, I hadn't raised the issue here and hadn't planned on doing so. However, it did not surprise me that Mike would or that he would raise anything at his site. That's the way he runs it and why only one of his brothers and sisters will allow him to mention them by name.

Now for the recipe and a little commentary. Bully Boy's 'right' to usurp the laws and the Constitution were called into question this week by a federal judge and already you have the right-wing screaming and the New York Times rushing in today to inform on how supposedly questionable the decision is. Did the so called non-partisan frothers (or is it bi-partisan?) see everythign the judge saw? I doubt it with all the claims of "national security" on the part of the administration. Which is why the 'legal wisdom' of so many is surprising to me. I'm not a lawyer. I do know the Fourth Amendment. I did live through the exposures that led to FISA. Though the current premise is that FISA is acceptable that wasn't the rock solid consensus at the time. It appears that the right has screamed 'judicial activism' once again and the enablers come forward to question the basis of the decision and tsk-tsk over the Fourth Amendment citation and other issues. My opinion, what Bully Boy has done is wrong. It was struck down.
The Supreme Court exists to issue the final ruling. They can do so. A federal judge was confronted with an issue that goes against the fundamental beliefs the nation is supposed to stand for and we've got reporters covering bickering when they still refuse to address the issue of the spying itself. (But having sat on the story for more than a year before running it, we probably can't turn to the New York Times for an exploration of the issue itself. At least not this year. Maybe in two or more.) C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy" walks you through the history of abusive, illegal presidential spying. The only thing I would or could add to it is to note that when the abuses came out (the laws broken, the privacy invaded) there were a lot of useless people who stepped forward to defend the abuses. The current tsk-tsking strikes me as quite similar.

Those wanting to explore the decision in minute detail should do so and should have outlets for that (and, in fact, do). Those who scream "lay person" at my opinions would be better off wondering why the New York Times is offering the nonsense. That's what the article is. That paper is not a legal journal and it's shown an interest in sitting on the story and then dismissing it. This lay person is aware that a front page story on the paper of record serves to put the argument that the decision is questionable 'out there' and to popularize it. This lay person finds it quite interesting that the paper that has backed off their own scoop now wants to advance legal bickering to a largely non-legal audience. But it's a break from their breathless Jon-Benet coverage so maybe we should just be grateful for that?

Bully Boy's offended by the decision and Cedric's "Better call him 'King' (humor)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! YOU BETTER CALL HIM 'KING'!" captures the probable root of the offense beautifully. Bully Boy was caught fudging (and hopefully the judge's decision will be addressed on Law and Disorder and other forms where people for and opposed to the decision can discuss their reasoning as opposed to being offered snippits from the front page of a general interest periodical which leaves reader with the impression of 'questionable' decision but no real knowledge).

He fudges everything. If you call him president, you'd should call him "President Fudge." Fugde the facts, fudge the truth, fudge reality. Fudge, fudge, fudge. My second oldest son came home from second grade one day (this was many, many years ago) and shocked us by wanting to know what the "f-word" was? He'd heard it at school that day. He knew it was a dirty word and it was called the f-word. What was the word? My husband told him it was "fudge." It's a funny story that probably loses a great deal here (imagine a young boy trying to appear tough by using "fudge" in place of the actual word) but President Fudge comes to mind because Kimberly wrote in to ask if there was an easy ("really easy") recipe for fudge?

My two youngest children swear by something you microwave but I don't know the name of it. You buy it at the store and it has a tray in the box that you cook and then cool it in. It's actually very good and I'll note it next time. When they make it (at family get togethers), that's how they make it. But, outside of a mix in a box, there are several easy fudge recipes. Kimberly wrote that most of the time when she asks for one, she ends getting someone writing down a brownie recipe or a recipe for a brownie with frosting. My guess is that's due to the fact that fudge, as it's been traditionally made, is a lot of work so people have 'fudged' the meaning of fudge over time.

Here's my recipe and it's one my friend Sharon passed on when I was making the same complaint that Kimberly is now: where are the easy recipes for fudge?

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You need a nine-inch baking pan for this. Line the pan with wax paper, then butter it and the areas of the pan not covered by the paper (especially those areas). In a sauce pan on the stove,
combine the chocolates morsels and the condensed milk. Turn the heat to low and begin stirring
until you have a smooth mixute like a thick, warm pudding.

Move the pan to another burner (one that's not been used so it's not warm) and add the wlanuts. Sharon also adds M&Ms from time to time (her grandson loves it when she adds those). My mother uses this recipe and has her own addition that she makes here. She chops up cherries from a jar and adds small pieces of them at this step (in place of the M&Ms). Whatever you are adding, you need to stir the mixture and then transfer it to the baking pan.

I know many who try to do it smoothly and spoon in a bit here, a bit there. I just pour it from the sauce pan into the baking pan. After that, I smooth the mixture (similiar to how you would ice a cake with frosting). The only cooking has been done on the stove top because the baking pan, although a baking pan, now goes in to the fridge for approximately two hours. To test the firmness and be sure the fudge has set, you can stick it with a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes back with goo on it, the fudge isn't ready. (As I've stated before, do not think placing something into the freezer is the same thing only faster. You need the fridge on this.) Once a tooth pick comes out smoothly, grab a serving plate or large plate and place it over the baking pan. With one hand on the bottom of the plate and one on the bottom of the baking pan, flip it over and the fudge should come out face down on the plate. You can now cut into desired pieces which, for many, means cutting it into small squares.

Hopefully, that's a very easy recipe. I called Sharon and she said that you can use the microwave instead of the stove top. You'll need to do it in 15 seconds bursts and stir repeatedly between each burst. She suggests four bursts and then stirring for a full minute after to "blend the heated portions and get the right level of smoothness."

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" which provides you with many details of what's quickly becoming the forgotten war:

Friday, August 18, 2006, the so-called 'crackdown' continues (and early childhood experts may note the engaged-in-a-power-struggle nature of it all as well as the increasing futility), Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing started and concluded Thursday, Ricky Clousing returned to North Carolina and DNA on Jake Kovco's pistol is thought to have been indentified.
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer to refuse to deploy in Bully Boy's illegal war. Yesterday, the military held an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there was reason/cause to take the matter to a court martial. Ehren Watada's attorneys were Eric Seitz and Cap. Mark Kim (of the US Army). While the prosecution called only one witness (to confirm that, as Watada had stated would be the case, Watada did not deploy) and spent the rest of its time showing excerpts o a speech Watada gave this weekend at the Veterans for Peace conference (click here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout and the latter offers video clips of the speech).
Watada's side called three witnesses Francis Boyle, Denis Halliday and retired Amry Colonel Ann Wight. Boyle testified as the nature of the war noting that the lie that Bully Boy pressed (for Congressional and public approval) of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9-11 "
constitutes . . . a conspiracy to defraud the United States government." Ann Wright testified: "I personally believe that the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq without getting the authority of the UN Security Council . . . falls into the category of a war of agrression, which is by international law a war crime. So by a persaon saying 'Yes, I'm gong to Iraq,' one could argue that just by doing that, that is participating in a war crime.'"
As Eric Seitz had expected/predicted, the hearing lasted one day. Watada could find that the hearing determined there were no grounds for proceeding to a court-martial or a court-martial could be the next step. That call will be made by
Lt. Colonel Mark Keith who presided over the hearing. A court-martial could mean as many as seven years imprisonment.
Ehren's father Bob Watada will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on a speaking tour that starts tomorrow and ends August 27th. A full list of scheduled appearances can be
found here. A sample of upcoming events includes:

Saturday 8/19
Vigil for Abeer Hamza (14-year old girl who was raped & killed with her family by 5 US troops) Willard Park (Telegraph & Derby), Berkeley Contact: Not in Our Name 510-601-8000 Sunday 8/20
American Muslim Voice Foundation Convention
12:45-1 pm Bob Watada speaks 5748 Mowry School Rd., Newark Contact: Samina F. Sundas 650-387-1994
Monday 8/21
Press Conference SF Japantown (Peace Plaza or NJAHS Gallery) Contact: Grace Morizawa
gmorizawa [at] 510-289-1285
Monday 8/21
Reception & Event in SF Japantown Japanese Community & Cultural Center of NC (JCCCNC) 1840 Sutter, San Francisco Contact: Pete Yamamoto 415/921-5007
Tuesday 8/22
1-3 pm
brown bag lunch & educational event Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa Contact: Elizabeth 707-575-8902
Wednesday 8/23
UC Berkeley gathering with students and campus organizers Heller Lounge, Student Union Building, UC Berkeley Contact: Nina Falleunbaum 510-812-8026 noon-1:30pm Event at UC Berkeley ­ Sproul Plaza Contact: Wesley Ueunten 510-579-2711
Thursday 8/24
World Can't Wait­Youth & Students Conference San Francisco (site TBA) Contact: Jessalyn Gagui 415-286-3408
Friday 8/25
7-10pm "
Sir! No, Sir!"
Film Screening & Speakers Santa Cruz Veterans Building Contact: Sharon Kufeldt 650-799-1070
Again, a full list can be found by clicking
here (Indybay IMC).
Once again,
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." Courage to Resist and will continue to offer resources, ideas and inspiration. Get the word out.
In addition
Howie Hawkins (Green Party candidate for US Senate from NY) is urging "the peace movement to provide financial support to soldiers who are punished for refusing to participate in the war." And, as many community members have noted, while there's been a "How Can They!" attitude regarding Hillary Clinton's Democratic opponent not being invited to a TV debate, the Green Party candidate is shut out as well -- despite the lack of op-eds, news segments, et al. (The Green Party candidate would be Howie Hawkins.)
Another war resister, Ricky Clousing, is back at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The
AP reports that he arrived back this morning. Clousing self-checked out of the army in June of last year. Last week, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) had the scoop that the 24-year-old Clousing would be holding a news conference to announce he was turning himself in. Estes Thompson reports that after turning himself in at Fort Lewis in Washington, he was ordered "to report to a unit at Fort Bragg that handles absent soldiers."
Turning to diplomacy issues, as trade talks went on in Jordan this week, talks
which Petra noted were "co-chaired by Speaker of the Lower House of the [Jordan] Parliament Abdel Hadi Al Majali and his Iraqi counterpart Mahmoud Al Masshadani," Jordan's Ahmed al-Lozi became "the first fully accredited Arab ambassador in Iraq."
Meanwhile in the United States,
Free Speech Radio News reported Thursday that "twenty-one former generals and high ranking national security officials called on President Bush to reverse course . . . and embrace a new area of negotiation with Iraqn, Iraq and North Korea." Speaking with Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show today, Medea Benjamin noted that while the US administration makes no efforts to reach out to the Iraqi parliament, "we at the grass roots [level] have." Benjamin was referring to the CODEPINK & Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan where she and others met with Iraqis including the "members of the largest Shia coalition, the largest Sunni block in their parliament, the largest secular coalition, torture victims from Abu Ghraib."
Benjamin observed, "It was quite an amazing coming together of people who, from all different perspectives, wanted to see an end to the US occupation, an end to the violence in Iraq, the reconstruction of their country and we came awy from there, Andrea, with a lot of ideas about how to get the voices of the Iraqi people out in the US so that when we hear that same old excuse here 'We can't leave the Iraqi people now!' we can hear the voice of Iraqis telling us precisely how they want to see an end to the occupation and a broader reconciliation plan."
This comes as
Robert Reid (AP) reports that: "Key U.S. senators complain it's time to tell Iraqis that American troops won't stay indefinitely and to make political compromises to avoid all-out civil war." This as a Dick Cheney stump speech/plea for cash turned into an event. Jesse Harlan Alderman (AP) reports that a Boise, Idaho fund raiser included protestors in "orange [hunting] vests handing out leaflets on hunter safety"; "[p]eace activists silently lining a major downtown arterial with tombstones to mark the mounting death toll in Iraq"; and a "Dick Cheney look-alike contest" with an award of "$22 in free gas and a box of shotgun shells" (and hopefully a list of qualified plastic surgeons).
In Iraq, the chaos and violence continue. Despite 'crackdown' 6.0 which now means that all vehicles are banned for two-days in the capital.
Reuters reports that this ban has been imposed due to the one-year anniversary of the stampeded that killed almost "1,000 Shi'ite pilgrims . . . in a stampede . . . when a crowd . . . was panicked by rumours of a suicide bomber." Al Jazeera notes that the ban is in place until Monday morning. The BBC reports that, in addition to the vehicle ban, there are "[c]heckpoints, [and] body searches". Exactly how vehicle bans, checkpoints or body searches will stop rumors (the stated cause of last year's stampeded) remains unclear.
CBS and the Associated Press report that in Balad Ruz, a roadside bomb claimed killed at least one person. KUNA reports that today it was announced that a "multi-national force (MNF) soldier" died in southern Baghdad on Thursday from a roadside bomb. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the "British military base near Amarah" was under mortar attack "Friday morning." [In the United States, Amy Bartner (Indianapolis Star) reports on a "new 11-bed unit . . . at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center where the most seriously wounded soldiers in the Iraq war will be able to recover" and notes that while body armor is credited with saving the lives of American troops, "that protection can't prevent potentially debilitating injuries to arms and legs".] Australia's notes that a mortar attack on a city council member in Baquba wounded "[f]our bodyguards."
Shootings?In Taji, a convoy ("civilian trucks") was attacked leaving one person wounded and a 'guard' dead
the AP reports. Australia's reports that the truck went up in flames and had been carrying "kerosene" while also noting that a grocer was shot dead in Yarmuk. (Other press outlets do not identify what the truck was carrying.) Australia's The Advertiser reports that seven Shi'ite pilgrmins were shot dead by "gunmen" in Baghdad. KUNA reports that "two civilians" were shot dead in Mosul.
AP reports five were discovered in Mahmoudiya ("gunshot wounds"). The Canadian Press notes the five and adds that six more were discovered "in the Tigris River" ("bullet-riddled and tortured").
CBS and AP report that journalist Saif Abdul-Jabbar al-Tamimi was kidnapped Wednesday and that "[t]here has been no claim of responibility". Reporters Without Borders notes that he was kidnapped in Baghdad as were journalists Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal who "have been hostages for more than six months" now while journalist Salah Jali al-Gharrawi has not been seen since his April 4th kidnapping. Reporters Without Borders notes: "A total of 49 journalists and media assistants have been kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. Instead of being afforded a degree of security by the fact that they work for the media, journalists have been singled out as targets."
AFP reports that Father Saad Syrop was kidnapped, also from Baghdad, Tuesday evening after he had finished Mass (at St. James Church) and was heading home.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco resumed. Following Wednesday's hypnosis shocker, an unscheduled day-off was taken due to reported delays with DNA test that might reveal the 'owner' of the DNA found on Kovco's gun. As
Michael Edwards reports on PM (Australia's ABC) Michelle Franco ("DNA expert") testified that the DNA belongs to Soldier 14. Reporting on The World Today (ABC), Edwards noted that "Soldier's 14's DNA was found on the gun's slide, trigger, base plate, and magazine."
Soldier 14 previously testified to the hearing
on August 9th and dropped a bombshell when he testified that the (written) statements provided to the military investigation were not reflective of his (verbal) statements -- specifically, as Peter Charlton (Courier-Mail) noted this included the claim that there was a standard procedure (the so-called 'buddy system') in operation "where a pair of soldiers check each other's weapons to ensure they were unloaded."
Herald-Sun reports that only the DNA "on the pistol's slide" were ruled by expert Franco to be a direct match (DNA on the "trigger, hand grip and magazine" are believed, by Franco, to be Soldier 14's but are "not direct matches.") Tracy Ong (The Australian) reports that Soldier 14 testified, after the DNA results, that he had no memory of handling Jake Kovco's gun and that his attorney ("Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Green") cross-examined Franco who noted that skin celles "could be transferred through a handshake or carried in sweat."
AAP calls the DNA "[s]ensational new evidence," notes that "Soldier 14 has refused to be interviewed by police about the tests" and reports that "Monday . . . Soldier 14 will be cross-examined by lawyers representing Private Kovco's widow, Shelley, and his parents" Judy and Martin Kovco.
Daily Telegraph notes that Soldier 14 believes "that both he and Pte Kovco had probably used the same megaphone at the embassy on the day of the shooting" and that's where any DNA swap would have most likely taken place.
Finally, in peace news,
Camp Casey III is ongoing in Crawford, Texas until September 2nd -- on September 5th it switches locations and becomes Camp DC. AFP reports that it "will be located near the National Mall, the blocks-long expanse of lawn between the US Congress building and the White House". While it's still located in Crawford, upcoming events include the following: August 18th forum on peaceful solutions moderated by Carroll Boone and an August 21st War Crimes Tribunal. Actress and activist Mimi Kennedy, of Progressive Democrats of America, will be there on August 20th along with Carolyn Wonderland who will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.