Thursday, April 28, 2022

Scrambled Eggs With Salmon, Asparagus, and Goat Cheese in the Kitchen

Tiffany is getting married in June so congratulations and may you have a very happy and fulfilling marriage.  She e-mailed to ask how many dinner recipes she needed to know?

I guess that depends first upon whether or not she's the only one cooking dinner.  Second, will you be eating dinner at home every week?  Third, do you plan on eating home cooked every time you eat at home?

Let's say, looking at the worst possible situation, that Tiffany is going to responsible for fixing 7 dinners a week all by herself.

I would say starting with six solid recipes is fine.  At least one dinner a week make sandwiches -- and, yes, this can be vegetarian.  Sometimes, I'll grab two slices of bread, toast them, grab some salad from the salad bowl, add a spoon of mayo to one slice of toasted bread and eat that.  

Those six recipes, you can repeat them while you learn new ones.

And you can do other things as you wait for those additional recipes.

Hot dogs -- with or without chili sauce.  A baked potato night (if meat's required you can have bacon bits or shredded chicken or pork to top the potatoes with).  You can look into Betty Crocker Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper boxes.  A soup and crackers night.  Or a soup and grilled cheese night.  My kids used to love it when we'd do cereal for dinner on a Saturday night.  You can do scrambled eggs or fried eggs or omeletts for dinner.

Marriage is one long conversation on a good day.  On a bad day, it feels like one long argument.  The thing that saves the bad days and makes the good days is having someone who listens. So you two need to talk and figure out now what the expectations are in terms of meals.  You need to grasp that these words?  That's the ideal, it's not going to be the actual practice and you will have many more conversations about this over the years.  And your needs may change.

I was okay with the first three kids in terms of meals.  By the time we hit five kids (we would have eight), I was very clear that I wasn't little home maker anymore.  I couldn't handle that many children and be doing all the cooking.  So, on the weekends, I either did dinner or lunch and he cooked the other meal on Saturday (Sunday we went to one's parents for lunch and one's parent for dinner).  In addition, he grabbed a night during the week to cook and we did take out on Fridays.

In the fall and winter, keep a warm pot of beans on the stove.  Beans are good for you, they have fiber and if you're using dried beans you're saving money.  And you're both filling up on beans during the day so there will be less need for lunch or at least for fixing a big lunch.

La Choy makes Chinese in cans.  I used to make brown rice and we'd use La Choy and that was a dinner.  Today you could do that, brown rice, with Chinese from the frozen section -- or still La Choy -- and La Choy in the cans?  Very low carb.

When I was first married, I thought I needed to learn a new recipe every week -- at least every week.  There were a lot of disasters as a result.  Looking back, I would urge you to learn from me and try to learn one new recipe a year.  In ten years, you'd have ten more than you started with.  And, when you move slower, it usually allows you to do better and have the will to learn another recipe so you might end up with two a year or three a year or more.

Also realize that you can dress up basics.  This is a scrambled eggs recipe from Eat This ,Not That:

You'll Need

1 Tbsp butter
8 stalks asparagus, woody bottoms removed, chopped into 1" pieces
Salt and black pepper to taste
8 eggs (Spend the extra dollar or two to buy the highest quality eggs you can find. Free-range farmers market eggs are best.)
2 Tbsp fat-free milk
1⁄4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese
4 oz smoked salmon, chopped

How to Make It

  1. Heat the butter in a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. When the butter begins to foam, add the asparagus and cook until just tender ("crisp-tender" in kitchen parlance). Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk with the milk.
  4. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper and add to the pan with the asparagus.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and use a wooden spoon to constantly stir and scrape the eggs until they begin to form soft curds.  A minute before they're done, stir in the goat cheese.
  6. Remove from the heat when the eggs are still creamy and soft (remember, scrambled eggs are like meat— they continue to cook even after you cut the heat) and fold in the smoked salmon.

Eat This Tip

There is no shortage of stellar scramble combinations. Invent on the fly, or go with one of these flavor-packed approaches.

  • Sautéed mushrooms, zucchini, and caramelized onions
  • Chorizo and onion, with diced avocado and chopped cilantro stirred in before serving
  • Chunks of chicken or turkey sausage, scallions, and cheddar
  • Cherry tomatoes, with a swirl of pesto stirred in at the last moment, or even a couple spoonfuls of spicy tomato sauce

Returning to the topic of nurses striking for a better world, Norisa Diaz (WSWS) reports:

Five thousand Stanford and Packard nurses have launched a powerful and open-ended strike for wages, mental health services and a halt to dangerous understaffing, which has undermined patient safety and driven hundreds of thousands of nurses from the profession. 

The striking nurses are taking a stand for all health care workers who want to fight the abuse by giant hospital chains whose priority is profit, not saving lives. Throughout the pandemic, nurses at Stanford, like their brothers and sisters throughout the US and the world, have suffered mass infection, lack of PPE, and the tragic loss of thousands of frontline workers. 

Now nurses and other health care workers are starting to fight back. The battle at Stanford takes place as tens of thousands of California nurses engage in or prepare for strikes at Sutter, Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, University of California and other locations. In the next few months, tens of thousands of other health care workers have contracts expiring in Michigan, New York, Illinois and other states. 

This is not only happening in the US. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of nurses and other health care workers have struck in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and many other countries. No matter what state or what country, health care workers face the same problems and are in the same fight. 

The growing sentiment for a united struggle was summed up by a Cedars-Sinai nurse who told the WSWS, “I’m glad nurses are striking in Northern California too … We need to all go out together!” But transforming this powerful sentiment for unity into concrete, common action requires a new strategy and new forms of organization. 

The Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) is appealing to Stanford Health for a “fair contract” and has asked Democratic legislators to urge management to back off on its threat to stop health care coverage. These appeals are falling on deaf ears. Stanford Health’s board of trustees is stacked with billionaires, Silicon Valley executives and other powerful corporate and political figures. They have no intention of making concessions that would set a higher standard for the wages and working conditions of other workers in the health care industry and outside. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the fortunes of Musk, Bezos and Gates and the rest of America’s billionaires rose 62 percent even as 1 million people in the US unnecessarily died from COVID and tens of millions struggle from paycheck to paycheck. The board’s plans to cut off health care benefits to nurses show the utter ruthlessness with which the corporate and financial elite defend their class interests. 

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:

Tuesday, April 26, 2022.  Joe Biden continues to persecute journalist Julian Assange, Iraq faces more consequences of climate change, and much more.

Starting with Julian Assange.  The publisher of WIKILEAKS committed the 'crime,' in the US government's eyes, of publishing the truth.  Despite what THE WASHINGTON POST and its overgrown and middle-aged  adolescent Taylor Lorenz think, journalism is supposed to punch up, not down.  They are supposed to provide a public service by holding the powerful accountable.  Those that are over the decisions that impact our lives are supposed to be reported on, those acts that our government commits are not supposed to b hidden.  In our names, War Crimes were carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Julian brought shined the sunshine on these acts that a democracy requires.

That is why The First Amendment is the First.  You can't have a democracy without freedom of speech.

US President Joe Biden does ot believe in free speech.  He was unethical -- possibly to the point of criminal -- in his actions to bring in money for the family via his son Hunter Biden.

Joe Biden refuses to stop the persecution of Julian.  He wants to make Julian a scarecrow -- to put his head on a pike to scare off every media outlet.  That's what this is about.  And that's why he's demanding the UK turn Julian over to the US government where they can punish Julian.

And we know how they punish.  They want to break hi, they want to destroy him.  As they did the people held in the Guantanamo gulag.  Kit Klarenberg (MINT PRESS NEWS) reports:

In March the CIA declassified a 2008 CIA Inspector General report on the agency’s treatment of 9/11 suspect Ammar al-Baluchi at overseas ‘black sites’ and Guantanamo Bay. The report was released as a result of legal submissions and its shocking contents offer an unprecedentedly candid snapshot of the brutal physical and psychological torment to which he and hundreds of others were subjected by the agency over many years, under its global torture program.

The nephew of purported 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Baluchi was arrested in Pakistan in April 2003. He was accused of serving as a “key lieutenant” within al-Qaeda and its chief “bagman,” having provided pivotal financial and logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers. U.S. officials declared his capture would offer crucial information on the plot, prevent future attacks by the terrorist group, and potentially even lead to the apprehension of Osama bin Laden. Despite years of incarceration, interrogation and torture, none of this proved to be true.

Quoting contemporary cables, the Inspector General’s report tracks Baluchi’s induction at the “Salt Pit,” a CIA black site in Afghanistan, in detail. New arrivals were physically examined, their beards and heads shaved, and then put through a “non-enhanced” psychological assessment to determine their “willingness to cooperate without enhanced techniques…displace their expectations and begin the conditioning of subjects.”

[. . .]

The distinction between enhanced and non-enhanced interrogation methods was evidently something of a misnomer. If initially uncooperative, Baluchi would be “immediately” placed in the “standing sleep deprivation position” for up to 12 hours; this agonizing technique was considered “non-enhanced” if applied for less than three days.

In response to the cable, CIA HQ at Langley signed off on a welter of enhanced techniques to be used on Baluchi, including “the facial attention grasp,” facial and abdominal slaps, numerous excruciating stress positions, “cramped confinement,” sleep deprivation lasting up to 180 hours, dousing with freezing water, starvation, “loud music or white noise” 24 hours a day, cessation of access to reading material, and “walling” – slamming his head against a flat surface.

Based on his initial psychological evaluation, it was ruled that none of these unspeakable horrors would inflict “permanent psychological or emotional harm” on Baluchi. This was the universal approach to using “enhanced techniques,” based on the assumption that their use in U.S. military SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training did not cause lasting harm. But, while in SERE training the subject is typically confined for only a couple of days, and knows it is training and they will soon be released, the black site prisoners had to endure months or years of brutalizing treatment, with little to no prospect of escape.

The Inspector General notes that CIA superiors offered little to no clarity on “how many times or for how long interrogators could perform a particular measure or combination of measures.” This may well account for why Salt Pit interrogators “applied some of the measures exuberantly.”

Their ‘exuberance’ was no doubt also influenced by Baluchi’s disobliging response to torture techniques. One CIA operative at the site recorded how the inmate’s “presentation” had “elicited the strongest reactions from interrogators.” His attitude was considered “dismissive, condescending, and arrogant,” typified by “obvious stonewalling, minimizing, and denying,” which served to “frustrate” his captors “and make a difficult task even harder.”

Still, some interrogators seemingly sympathized with Baluchi. One, with whom he spent a “significant amount of time,” described him as “one of the more intelligent or ‘bookish’ of the detainees.” Another regretted the monstrous methods to which they’d subjected Baluchi, stating “I wished I’d never been asked” to do so, and “wouldn’t do them again.”

Likewise, when Baluchi was submerged in a bath of “excessively cold” icy water, on at least one occasion an interrogator was “so uncomfortable with the technique he sat outside the dousing room” to avoid witnessing it first-hand. Another admitted to the Inspector General that this practice was “probably…outside the bounds of what we were supposed to be doing.” A similar strategy killed Salt Pit inmate Gul Rahman in November 2002.

By contrast, CIA torturers had no reservations whatsoever about using Baluchi as a “training prop.” Several new interrogators at the site, “who had only two weeks of classroom instruction,” needed “on-the-job practice for certification”: Baluchi represented “an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of techniques,” in particular “walling.”

After he was stripped naked, interrogators “lined up” one-by-one to slam Baluchi’s head into plywood – and, on occasion, concrete – walls over and over again, until they became “fatigued,” whereupon another would take their place, in sessions lasting up to two hours. A CIA operative interviewed by the Inspector General claimed this method was “meant more for ‘sensation’ than to hurt the detainee,” and “simply made a big noise.”

The US government knowingly carried out torture.  Torture is a serious crime.  The UK government should not had anyone over to the US government for that reason.  If they do hand Julian over, whatever happens to him is on their hands because they did so knowing that the US government was breaking laws and conventions as they tortured prisoners.

Joe Biden wants to harm Julian Assange.  This is not about justice.  It never was.  There is no legal reason to go after an Austrlian citizen who exposed US wWar Crimes.  None at all.  

Joe Biden is a War Criminal who is complicit in the crimes that took place in Iraq.  He claims he was misled.  Well he was a senator in the US Senate, then he was a Vice President and now he is a sitting president.  If he was misled, he certainly has had the power to punish those who misled him.   Instead, he pins a medal on Bully Boy Bush.  And he goes after a journalist namedJulian Assange.

The full US government weight -- and our tax dollars -- are being put behind punishing someone for the Iraq War and it's not someone who voted for it, supported it or advocated for it or hid the truth from the American people, it's an Australian journalist who told the truth.

Joe Biden is a pathetic president.  If he continues to attack the First Amendment, he will go down in history as the worst president,

John Kiriakou (SCHEER POST) notes of the gulag at Guantanamo:

And it wasn’t just U.S. law that prohibited what the CIA was about to do.  It was also the United Nations.  The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment—of which the United States was the primary author and an original signatory—specifically defined and banned anything approaching “enhanced interrogation techniques.  Article 1 states, 

“torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent of acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

Meanwhile, the CIA, fully cognizant of what it was getting into, was making contingency plans for Abu Zubaydah’s potential death in custody.  Senate investigators reported on a July 15, 2002 cable to CIA headquarters from the detention site saying, 

“If [Abu Zubaydah] develops a serious medical condition which may involve a host of conditions including a heart attack or other catastrophic type of condition, all efforts will be made to ensure that proper medical care will be provided to [him’.  In the event [Abu Zubaydah] dies, we need to be prepared to act accordingly, keeping in mind the liaison equities involving our hosts.”

If he were to die in custody, the cable said, Abu Zubaydah would be cremated and scattered.  It went on,

“…regardless which [disposition] option we follow, however, and especially in light of the planned psychological techniques to be implemented, we need to get reasonable assurances that [Abu Zubaydah] will remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.”

CIA headquarters responded similarly.

“There is a fairly unanimous sentiment within HQS that [Abu Zubaydah] will never be placed in a situation where he has any significant contact with others and/or has the opportunity to be released.  While it is difficult to discuss specifics at this point, all major players are in concurrence that [Abu Zubaydah] should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life.  This may preclude [Abu Zubaydah] from being turned over to another country, but a final decision regarding his future incarceration condition has yet to be made.”

The Senate knew.  Joe is a War crimianl who does not abide by the US laws outlawing torture or the international conventions that the US has signed on to.  No court should turn over prisoners to the US at this point unless they are in the practice of condoning torture and are willing to stand trial for their part in torture as an accessory.

Moving to the ongoing tragedy that is the Iraq War, AFP reports:

A "No Fishing" sign on the edge of Iraq's western desert is one of the few clues that this was once Sawa Lake, a biodiverse wetland and recreational landmark.

Human activity and climate change have combined to turn the site into a barren wasteland with piles of salt.

Abandoned hotels and tourist facilities here hark back to the 1990s when the salt lake, circled by sandy banks, was in its heyday and popular with newly-weds and families who came to swim and picnic.

But today, the lake near the city of Samawa, south of the capital Baghdad, is completely dry.

Bottles litter its former banks and plastic bags dangle from sun-scorched shrubs, while two pontoons have been reduced to rust.

"This year, for the first time, the lake has disappeared," environmental activist Husam Subhi said. "In previous years, the water area had decreased during the dry seasons."

 Today, on the sandy ground sprinkled with salt, only a pond remains where tiny fish swim, in a source that connects the lake to an underground water table.

The five-square-kilometre (two-square-mile) lake has been drying up since 2014, says Youssef Jabbar, environmental department head of Muthana province.

The causes have been "climate change and rising temperatures," he explained.

Iraq is predicted to be one of the country's effected the worst by climate change.  They need a governmental solution to address it and to plan for what's coming.  But they don't even have a government.

October 10th, Iraq carried out elections that would determine the Parliament make up, the Speaker of Parliament, the president and the prime minister.

It's nearly seven months later.  And  They have members of Parliament.  They have a Speaker of Parliament.  And?  That's it.

 An alliance of Iraqi and Kurdish opposition blocs on Sunday submitted a request to hold a session to elect Iraq’s new president in the first week of May as the country continues to suffers from a political deadlock months after the elections.

For the People Alliance, formed between the Kurdish New Generation party, Emtidad Movement, and ten independents “presented an initiative that includes collecting signatures to hold a session [to elect the president] on Saturday, May 7,” state media quoted head of the alliance Alaa al-Rikabi as saying. 

The session aims to “elect the president of the republic, find a political solution, complete the parliamentary committees and approve the budget law,” he added, while calling on all MPs to attend the session.

There is a steep price to pay for having a conscience and more importantly the courage to act on it. The hounds of hell pin you to the cross, hammering nails into your hands and feet as they grin like the Cheshire cat and mouth bromides about respect for human rights, freedom of expression and diversity. I have watched this happen for some time to Alice Walker, one of the most gifted and courageous writers in America. Walker, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Color Purple, has felt the bitter sting of racism. She refuses to be silent about the plight of the oppressed, including the Palestinians.

“Whenever I come out with a book, or anything that will take me before the public, the world, I am assailed as this person I don’t recognize,” she said when I reached her by phone. “If I tried to keep track of all the attacks over the decades, I wouldn’t be able to keep working. I am happy people are standing up. It is all of us. Not just me. They are trying to shut us down, shut us up, erase us. That reality is what is important.”

The Bay Area Book festival delivered the latest salvo against Walker. The organizers disinvited her from the event because she  praised the writings of the New Age author David Icke and called his book And the Truth Shall Set You Free “brave.” Icke has denied critics’ charges of anti-Semitism. The festival organizers twisted themselves into contortions to say they were not charging Walker with anti-Semitism. She was banned because she lauded a controversial writer, who I suspect few members of the committee have read. The poet and writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who Walker was to interview, withdrew from the festival in protest.

Walker, a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has been a very public advocate for Palestinian rights and a critic of Israel for many years. Her friendship with Icke has long been part of the public record. She hid nothing. It is not as if the festival organizers suddenly discovered a dark secret about Walker. They sought to capitalize on her celebrity and then, when they felt the heat from the Israel lobby, capitulated to the mob to humiliate her.

“I don’t know these people,” Walker said of the festival organizers who disinvited her. “It feels like the south. You know they are out there in the community, and they have their positions, but all you see are sheets. That’s what this is. It’s like being back in the south.”

The following sites updated: