May 28, 2011 archive

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The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

Feds issue new guidelines for Trans employees

While we struggle along a state at a time on the right to nondiscrimination in the workplace, having just reached 14 of them and having ongoing efforts to increase that number in Connecticut and Massachusetts, the Federal Government has issued new guidance about the employment of transpeople (Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace).  Attached was information about How to Reconstruct a Personnel Folder due to a Change in Gender Identity and an FEHB Carrier Letter authorizing change of gender on insurance and health records (but noting that sex-specific care such as mammograms and prostate exams should still be covered).

The guidance comes from the Office of Personnel Management, directed by John Berry.

It is the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination whether that discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, age, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Agencies should review their anti-discrimination policies to ensure that they afford a non-discriminatory working environment to employees irrespective of their gender identity or perceived gender non-conformity.

The Friday Funnies

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

On Friday, Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word does a round up of videos with the amusing observations of late night comedians and hosts. From Sarah Palin to the Rapture, here is what the funnier pundits had to say with the best of the week

Taluqan, Takhar, Afghanistan

Taluqan, Takhar, Afghanistan

Somebody blew up the police chief of Takhar Province yesterday. Nobody has a fucking clue who or why.


Sylvester and Tweety MysteriesB2 or Not B2, Episode 6, Part 1

Six In The Morning

Pakistan’s top military officials are worried about militant collaborators in their ranks

By Karin Brulliard, Saturday, May 28,

 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Embarrassed by the Osama bin Laden raid and by a series of insurgent attacks on high-security sites, top Pakistani military officials are increasingly concerned that their ranks are penetrated by Islamists who are aiding militants in a campaign against the state.

Those worries have grown especially acute since the killing of bin Laden less than a mile from a prestigious military academy. This week’s naval base infiltration by heavily armed insurgents in Karachi – an attack widely believed to have required inside help – has only deepened fears, military officials said.

Saturday’s Headlines:

WikiLeaks accused Bradley Manning ‘should never have been sent to Iraq’

Chairman Mao may not be the author of his ‘Little Red Book’

Egypt eases restrictions at Gaza’s Rafah border

Paying with Life and Limb for the Crimes of Nazi Germany

Libya rejects G8, open only to AU peace talks

Late Night Karaoke

Congressional Game of Chicken: Presidential Recess Appointments

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Back in October, I wrote this article, Separation of Powers Game of Chicken, which discussed the use of pro forma sessions to block the president from making recess appointments. The reason I’m resurrecting this discussion is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled these pro forma sessions over the holiday weekend to prevent President Obama from appointing Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board over the objections of Republicans. As with the blocking of Richard Diamond, an eminently qualified Nobel economist, to the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve, it is Sen. Richard “no” Shelby (R-AL) who has said he will put a hold on Dr. Warren’s appointment if the president nominates her.

Republicans used the threat of a procedural blockade to make sure President Barack Obama wouldn’t be able to make recess appointments while the U.S. Senate is on a break next week, including naming Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Instead of allowing all senators and their staffs to leave Washington, Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled “pro forma” sessions, in which the chamber officially opens for the day, then gavels to a close right away. That can be handled by two lawmakers and aides.

Any time the Senate breaks for four days or more, the president has the power to officially appoint a nominee for a limited period without having to wait for a confirmation vote.


Reid, a Nevada Democrat, kept the Senate in pro forma sessions during the final months of Republican President George W. Bush’s administration to block him from appointing nominees that Democrats had refused to confirm.

If Reid hadn’t decided to quietly schedule pro forma sessions, another procedure could have publicly forced him to do so. The House is required to agree to Senate recesses, and concurs as a matter of routine.

Confused? Is Reid a Democrat? Or has he secretly gone over to the dark side? It is time for the president and the Democrats to put on their “man pants” and call out these faux sessions that are constitutionally not legal sessions. I will repeat the arguments of why these pro forma sessions are not constitutional and do not stop the president from making recess appoints.

Victor Williams, Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of America School of Law and an attorney, writing for the The National Law Journal makes the argument that the pro forma sessions every three days during recess are little more “than a game of separation-of-powers chicken”. There is nothing in the Constitution and Appellate courts have ruled that “there is no minimum recess time required for a valid recess appointment”.

But there is no minimum recess required under any law. The three-day minimum recess is fiction – as fake as are the Senate faux sessions. Better to begin with nonfiction – the Constitution.

In 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled: “The Constitution, on its face, does not establish a minimum time that an authorized break in the Senate must last to give legal force to the President’s appointment power under the Recess Appointments Clause.” In Evans v. Stephens, the 11th Circuit, following prior 9th and 2d circuit rulings, broadly affirmed the executive’s unilateral recess commissioning authority during short intersession and intrasession breaks.

Even the Senate’s own Congressional Research Service reports: “The Constitu­tion does not specify the length of time that the Senate must be in recess before the President may make a recess appointment.” . . .

The president’s constitutional appointment authority cannot be trumped, or even limited, by Senate scheduling shenanigans. In fact and law, the 111th Senate is now dispersed to the four corners for six campaign weeks. Gaveling open, and then gaveling closed, a half-minute meeting of an empty chamber is not a legitimate break in the recess. A Senate quorum could not be gathered; neither legislative nor executive business could be conducted. Constitutional law demands substance over form.

The faux sessions only further expose the broken institution and its failed, dysfunctional confirmation processes.

At bottom, recess appointments are a matter of presidential will. In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt set the standard when he recess-appointed 160 officials during a recess of less than one day.

Mr. Williams points out that George W Bush’s failure to call this should not be Barack Obama’s.

Perhaps it is George W. Bush’s fault that the media erroneously reported that Obama’s recess appointment authority is lost. When majority leader Harry Reid first used the pro forma tactic against Bush over Thanksgiving, 2007, the 43rd president failed to push back.

Bush did not recess appoint for the remainder of his term despite calls for him to call Harry Reid’s bluff. A commissioning of even one noncontroversial nominee to a low level position would have asserted the executive’s prerogative. His failure to do so may be mistakenly interpreted as setting a precedent. It does not.

As I have noted on this site, Harry Reid appears to have gotten the better of George Bush; bluffing is a basic gambling skill for separation of powers and Texas Hold ’em.

This government is in need of a major shake up. It’s time that the President and the Democrats stood up for the people who put them in office. End the game, call the bluff.

What’s Cooking: Grilled Marinated Sirloin Steak Tips

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is a dual tutorial because there are two methods of grilling: charcoal (wood) or gas. But first some ask what cuts of beef are “sirloin steak tips”. The answer is they are some of the pricier and tastier cuts of beef that come from the hind quarters. :

   The loin has two subprimals, or three if boneless:

       the short loin, from which club, T-bone, and Porterhouse steaks are cut if bone-in, or strip loin (N.Y. strip) and filet mignon if boneless,

       the sirloin, which is less tender than short loin, but more flavorful, and can be further divided into top sirloin and bottom sirloin (including tri-tip),

      the tenderloin, which is the most tender.

It can be removed as a separate subprimal, and cut into fillets, tournedos or tenderloin steaks or roasts (such as for beef Wellington), or can be left on wedge or flat-bone sirloin and T-bone and Porterhouse loin steaks.

   The round contains lean, moderately tough, lower fat (less marbling) cuts, which require moist cooking or lesser degrees of doneness. Some representative cuts are round steak, eye of round, top round and bottom round steaks and roasts.

   The flank is used mostly for grinding, except for the long and flat flank steak, best known for use in London broil, and the inside skirt steak, also used for fajitas. Flank steaks were once one of the most affordable steaks, because they are substantially tougher than the more desirable loin and rib steaks. Many recipes for flank steak use marinades or moist cooking methods, such as braising, to improve the tenderness and flavor. This, in turn, increased the steaks’ popularity; when combined with natural leanness, increased prices have resulted.

Random Japan



A University of Tokyo graduate student noted that a severely quake-damaged area in Fukushima is thought to have been the same location where the very large Lake Koriyama existed 100,000 years ago. A mere coincidence? We think not.

Kids evacuated from tsunami-hit areas and evacuees staying at the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka took part in a tug-of-war with jet airplanes at Haneda Airport, part of the “Smile! Be Happy!” campaign.

Here we go again … TEPCO said it found “an abnormality” in a valve at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata, used to pump cool water to reactors in the event of an emergency.

Meanwhile, TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu was on his knees during a trip to Fukushima, apologizing to people forced to evacuate by the nuclear crisis. Not satisfied with his apology, one guy had yelled, “Kneel on the ground!” Shimizu and his lackeys did just that.

Scientists are looking at using rape plants to extract harmful radiation out of the soil in Fukushima-something they have been trying out in areas near Chernobyl.

Speaking of which, levels of radiation found in soil near Fukushima’s plant “far exceeded the level of radiation the then-Soviet Union had used as a criterion for urging people to evacuate at the time of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster,” according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy.

US researchers say that debris from the March 11 tsunami will hit the West Coast of North America in three years and twice be deposited in Hawaii, “leading to potential environmental and economic damage” by affecting fishing and shipping.

The International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa said debris from Japan, including parts of buildings and cars, will reach Hawaiian waters in 2012 and in 2014 the floating garbage will land in “California and Alaska in the United States, British Columbia in Canada and Baja California in Mexico.”

A government study revealed that fires and the March 11 tsunami destroyed over 1,600 hectares of forest in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

Popular Culture 20110527: Prescription Drugs Adverts

This piece is a result of a couple of pieces that I have written before and some interaction in comments on pieces from others about prescription drugs advertisements.  They are rife in the popular culture these days, on TeeVee, on radio, and in print.  I really think that this is a horrible idea, and will explain as time progresses.

First, I must do a bit of historical treatment.  When I was in pharmacy school (I did not stay long, because I decided that I should be on the other side of the wall, developing new drugs, but that did not work out either) adverts for prescription drugs were only allowed in professional medical journals.  I mean it.

Those you 50 or older will probably, if you think hard enough about it, days when these drugs were not in the popular media.  Some of you might also recall that tobacco adverts were!  I still remember the jingles for cigars and cigarettes.

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Spring, or maybe it is Summer, has finally arrived in the green corner of Eastern New York occupied by your Bloguero.  It is Friday evening of the three-day Memorial Day weekend.  The garden isn’t in yet because it’s been too wet.  The cat is screeching because she has caught a small field mouse and is summoning her imaginary children and the dog to the feast snack.  Your Bloguero can hear mowers in the distance.  The baseball game is on the tube.  The air is wet, and there is a chance of yet another thunderstorm.  The world is green, and as ee cummings put it, “mudlucious.”  It’s getting dark.

Your Bloguero has found nostalgia in the twilight.  He is thinking about when he was a child in that odd corner of Newark, New Jersey, he called home.  He is unsure whether he is remembering things as they were, or whether he is repeating an exaggeration told by others, or whether he is making it up from whole cloth.  Does it matter?   To your Bloguero, no.  To readers who would like to distinguish their fiction from their facts, perhaps.  Regardless, your Bloguero, now about 5 years old, is sitting in the family kitchen at a small table.  Dinner has been over for a while.  The light overhead is three fluorescent tubes.  The white refrigerator is small and rounded and humming softly.  It is still hot.  The baseball game is playing somewhere; he can hear it.  It is not playing on the television in this house, because playing the television without sitting in front of it is a “luxury” of later decades.  The man of the house, your Bloguero’s dad, is sitting in a chair with a bottle of beer.  He is wearing what is now called a “beater” but what was then called an undershirt.  The woman of the house, your Bloguero’s mom, is leaning back against the old porcelain sink.  They are talking quietly about the events of the day.  It’s Friday night and summer.  It’s getting dark.  And there is something heartbreakingly wonderful to your Bloguero about this tiny, fragmentary moment: he sitting on this wooden chair at this cool Formica table and doing nothing.  It is wonderful. Your Bloguero enjoys this moment again now, as if it were new.  But it’s not.  Your Bloguero has revisited it for decades, and every time he enjoys it anew.

Friday was Miles Davis’s Birthday.  Your Bloguero marked the event for other lovers of great music with a Youtube recording of “All Blues” the fourth track on Miles’ seminal album “Kind of Blue” that was released more than fifty years ago.  It is remarkable how fresh this music is even after all of this time and all of the imitation.  Miles was a genius.

Ghost Bloggers In The Sky mourns the darkness at Writing in the Raw, a group blog your Bloguero had high hopes for.  Maybe your Bloguero’s concerns about its demise were premature.  I hope so  Maybe it will now just gutter before it goes out.  Either way, your Bloguero registered his sadness.  Your Bloguero doesn’t like it when the lights go out, or stars die.

Your Bloguero celebrated Bob Dylan’s Seventieth Birthday.  He finally found a Youtube of “dogs run free/why not we.”  Your Bloguero notes in passing his favorite role model, a fellow punk poet with defiant attitude and a sneer, who is now 70.  What a complete surprise to have traveled this far.

Your Bloguero’s second novel, Tulum, is just about done (it needs proofreading for stupid typos and mistakes), so your Bloguero decided to experiment with Photobooth and fiddle around with making a new photo for the jacket in This From The Persona Warehouse.  It was fun.  It was more fun to make fun of people who actually do this for a living.

Graffiti brings to your attention a wonderful short story by Julio Cortazar about two street artists during  Argentina’s military government.  A stunning, wonderful short story, one to be ferreted out and devoured.

Finally, Demonstrations Called For June 10 in Ciudad Juarez asks for support for Javier Sicilia and the People’s Movement to end the violence in the Mexican Drug War.  This is a People’s movement as vital as those in the Arab World.  Why, one might ask, is it being ignored in the US?    

Your Bloguero notes that this Digest was once a weekly feature. Maybe it’s a weekly feature again. Who knows? Your Bloguero, though, needs encouragement. He hates playing to an empty Internet.  If you read this Digest, please click the “encouragement jar” in the comments.  That way your Bloguero will know that you visited.  Hasta pronto.


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