Friday, September 09, 2011

Eid Fitr 2011

Harissa (Tunisian)
  • 11 ounces dried red chile peppers
  • 3/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 2 cups caraway seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Remove the stems and seeds from the chile peppers. Soak in cold water for 20 minutes, then drain. Place the peppers, garlic, caraway, coriander, and salt in a mortar; pound with a pestle until smooth. Place harissa in a jar, and cover the top with a little oil to maintain freshness. Store in the refrigerator.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew
Serve on couscous or other grain.

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
dash of salt
1 large green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (or to taste)
1 28 oz. can undrained, chopped tomato
1 16 oz. can drained garbanzo beans
1/3 cup currents or raisins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups cooked couscous (below)
4 tablespoons feta cheese
toasted slivered almonds
salt, to taste>
In a large non-stick dutch oven, saute the onions in olive oil for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the cabbage, sprinkle with salt, and continue to saute for at least 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne to the pot and saute for another minute for so. Stir in the tomatoes, chick peas, and currents or raisins, and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve over couscous, top with crumbled feta cheese, and toasted almonds if you like.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lemony Lentil Soup

This recipe is a variation on a lentil soup served during Ramadan iftaar dinners. With its warm spices and lemony taste, this recipe can brighten a dark winter day or alleviate a cold or the flu.


1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup red lentils, washed and cleaned
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspon ground coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
7-8 cups water
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup basmati rice, washed
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil

(Serves 6)

In a medium to large sized cooking pot, sautee the onion and garlic on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Do not burn the oil or the garlic.

Add the washed lentils and all of the spices and stir for a minute or two. Then add the water and salt and bring to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, place a lid on the pot, and let the soup simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. You can add more water if the soup looks too thick.

Bring the heat back up, add the rice, and bring to a boil for a minute, then reduce the heat to low again, replace the lid, and wait until the rice is cooked (about 15-20 minutes).

Remove from heat and taste to see if you would like more salt.

Add the lemon juice only after the soup is no longer boiling.

Serve with sprigs of parsley and drizzle olive oil on each soup bowl.

From the electronic intifada, but no longer there, at least that I can find. So, here's some good soup for cold days.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill!

Just a little excerpt from the Times
With options narrowing, BP officials are considering solutions that would entail more risk than the containment dome. One would be to place a new blowout preventer — a stack of valves designed to shut off a well — on top of the one that now sits on the seabed and is not working.

The other option is what Mr. Suttles called a “junk shot,” which he likened to stopping up a toilet. The procedure would involve reconfiguring the blowout preventer and injecting heavy material like rubber into it, then pumping heavy drilling mud down into the well to overcome the pressure of the oil from below. That might stop the leak.

But the mud would have to be pumped through new pipes from the surface, as existing pipes that might have been used for such an operation collapsed along with the riser when the drilling rig sank April 22.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What year is it again?

New York Times
March 31, 2010
Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program of surveillance without warrants was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration’s effort to keep shrouded in secrecy one of the most disputed counterterrorism policies of former President George W. Bush.

In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been “subjected to unlawful surveillance,” the judge said the government was liable to pay them damages.

The ruling delivered a blow to the Bush administration’s claims that its surveillance program, which Mr. Bush secretly authorized shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was lawful. Under the program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans’ international e-mail messages and phone calls without court approval, even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, required warrants.

The Justice Department said it was reviewing the decision and had made no decision about whether to appeal.

The ruling by Judge Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, rejected the Justice Department’s claim — first asserted by the Bush administration and continued under President Obama — that the charity’s lawsuit should be dismissed without a ruling on the merits because allowing it to go forward could reveal state secrets.

The judge characterized that expansive use of the so-called state-secrets privilege as amounting to “unfettered executive-branch discretion” that had “obvious potential for governmental abuse and overreaching.”

That position, he said, would enable government officials to flout the warrant law, even though Congress had enacted it “specifically to rein in and create a judicial check for executive-branch abuses of surveillance authority.”

Because the government merely sought to block the suit under the state-secrets privilege, it never mounted a direct legal defense of the N.S.A. program in the Haramain case.

Judge Walker did not directly address the legal arguments made by the Bush administration in defense of the N.S.A. program after The New York Times disclosed its existence in December 2005: that the president’s wartime powers enabled him to override the FISA statute. But lawyers for Al Haramain were quick to argue that the ruling undermined the legal underpinnings of the war against terrorism.

and so on....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scott Brown

Needing to vent a bit. When fascism comes to america, it will be driving a pick-up? The campaign focused on his "beat-up pick-up truck," which is a 2005 GMC--whoah, a car that is more than 3 years old? Surely such a thing has never been seen and certainly not being driven by a politician. Guess I should run for office driving around my '88 Corolla. Anyway, another rhetorical device in the campaign was referring to the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy as "the people's seat." The headline over at Fox News is "Boston Tea Party." The point is that this is a man of the people, fighting for the people. And what does that mean today? Apparently it means: 1. Support for waterboarding. 2. anti-immigrant sentiment 3. opposition to the health plan. And probably some rhetoric in there about fat-cat bankers and handouts. Also, Martha Coakley apparently doesn't know anything about baseball.

So, what do democrats do? Race to the middle. Instead of articulating populist sentiment in a more progressive way, they move to reject the health plan...For example, Jim Webb (D-Virginia), quoted in the Wall St. Journal is 'calling the race “a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process” Webb said Democrats need to hold off on further action until Brown is formally sworn in to the chamber.' And this is exactly what pisses people off about democrats. They have no principles. As soon as the political winds seem to be blowing in a different direction, they give up their ideas. But of course, they cannot be against the fat-cat bankers, except rhetorically. They're just the other wing of the corporate party. Goldman was Obama's biggest contributor. From Ostertag at the Huffington Post:
I noted that that, by the end of June, Wall Street had already given Obama $9.5 million, that four out of his top five contributors are employees of financial industry giants, with Goldman Sachs at the top of the list. Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks was appalled: "Over the past few years, people from Goldman Sachs have assumed control over large parts of the federal government. Over the next few they might just take over the whole darn thing."

But really, this sort of thing is just a populist, practically conspiracy theory, perhaps even a veiled anti-Semitism. So, Scott Brown may not quite be a fascist, and the democrats may not be much better. But in the tendency to blame "the speculators" about oil prices and the middle men about the economy lurks something both puzzling and ominous. Adorno and Horkheimer were on this back in the 40s: "Just because the psychology of the individual can construct itself and its content only from the synthetic schemata supplied by society, contemporary anti-Semitism takes on its empty but impenetrable character. The Jewish middleman fully becomes the image of the devil only when economically he has ceased to exist" (Dialectic of Enlightenment, p. 171).
It is not the middleman that has ceased to exist, of course, but rather his/her having any real freedom in relation to the economy. But, this makes for an excellent scape-goat and then to link these folks to Obama and the democrats makes for excellent strategy. There is something pathological going on here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama, Wire Tapping, State Secrets

If I remember correctly, we started this thing in part because of the original revelation of the secret wire-tapping by the Bush administration. The Obama administration, despite this claim, from his campaign website,
Secrecy Dominates Government Actions: The Bush administration has ignored public disclosure rules and has invoked a legal tool known as the "state secrets" privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.

continues to assert the "state secrets" privilege in Jewel v. NSA. Here's a time-line.