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This is an Open Thread
Apr 06 2012
Our regular featured content-
These featured articles-
This is an Open Thread
Apr 06 2012
So now that you’ve finished dying eggs naturally using onion skins, what do you do with all those onions? Make French Onion Soup, bien sûr!
French onion soup in France is served as the traditional French farmer’s breakfast or the end of the day repast for the late night café and theater crowd. It was made famous in the great open market of Les Halles in Paris where hungry truckers converged from all over France with their fresh produce. On my first visit to Paris in 1966, I made a late night visit to Les Halles with some friends to savor the tradition and practice my very rusty college French. The truckers and waiters in the little café we “invaded” were quite friendly and chuckled as they good heartedly corrected my pronunciation. Needless to say, je parle français bien mieux maintenant. Les Halles was torn down in 1971 and replaced with a modern shopping area, the Forum des Halles. But I digress, we are here for the food.
My favorite recipe is from Bernard Clayton, Jr.’s The Complete Book of Soups and Stews with some variations. It is from a restaurant near the Halles Metro station. M. Calyton’s version uses a hearty homemade beef stock which is time consuming to make. I found that either Swanson’s or College Inn Beef Broth produces a good result, just reduce the salt. The low sodium broth didn’t produce the hearty broth that’s needed to compliment the flavor of the caramelized onions and the cheese.
You will need some “special” equipment for this soup: individual oven-proof bowls, enough to hold 1 1/2 to 2 cups. I have the bowls with a handle and a lid that serve double duty for baked beans, and other soups and stews. You will also need cheesecloth for le sachet d’épices, that’s a spice bag for you Americans ;-), and butcher’s twine or some other cotton twine. Those items can be found in the gadget aisles of most large grocery stores.
Soupe à l’oignon des Halles
Apr 06 2012
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
April 6 is the 96th day of the year (97th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 269 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1896, the Olympic Games, a long-lost tradition of ancient Greece, are reborn in Athens 1,500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. At the opening of the Athens Games, King Georgios I of Greece and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed athletes from 13 nations to the international competition.
The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era. Because Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organized by Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, in Paris, on June 23, 1894. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was also established during this congress.
Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the 1896 Olympics were regarded as a great success. The Games had the largest international participation of any sporting event to that date. The Panathinaiko Stadium, the only Olympic stadium used in the 19th Century, overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event. The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spiridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four events.
After the Games, Coubertin and the IOC were petitioned by several prominent figures including Greece’s King George and some of the American competitors in Athens, to hold all the following Games in Athens. However, the 1900 Summer Olympics were already planned for Paris and, except for the Intercalated Games of 1906, the Olympics did not return to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics, some 108 years later.
During the 18th century, several small-scale sports festivals across Europe were named after the Ancient Olympic Games. The 1870 Olympics at the Panathenaic stadium, which had been refurbished for the occasion, had an audience of 30,000 people. Coubertin adopted Dr William Penny Brooke‘s idea to establish a multi-national and multi-sport event-the ancient games were in a sense international, because various Greek city-states and colonies were represented, but only free male athletes of Greek origin were allowed to participate. In 1890, Coubertin wrote an article in La Revue Athletique, which espoused the importance of Much Wenlock, a rural market town in the English county of Shropshire. It was here that, in October 1850, the local physician William Penny Brookes had founded the Wenlock Olympian Games, a festival of sports and recreations that included athletics and team sports, such as cricket, football and quoits. Coubertin also took inspiration from the earlier Greek games organized under the name of Olympics by businessman and philanthropist Evangelis Zappas in 1859, 1870 and 1875. The 1896 Athens Games was funded by the legacies of Evangelis Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas and by George Averoff who had been specifically requested by the Greek government, through crown prince Constantine, to sponsor the second refurbishment of the Panathinaiko Stadium. This the Greek government did despite the fact that the cost of refurbishing the stadium in marble had already been funded in full by Evangelis Zappas forty years earlier.
On June 18, 1894, Coubertin organized a congress at the Sorbonne, in Paris, to present his plans to representatives of sports societies from 11 countries. Following his proposal’s acceptance by the congress, a date for the first modern Olympic Games needed to be chosen. Coubertin suggested that the Games be held concurrently with the 1900 Universal Exposition of Paris. Concerned that a six-year waiting period might lessen public interest, congress members opted instead to hold the inaugural Games in 1896. With a date established, members of the congress turned their attention to the selection of a host city. It remains a mystery how Athens was finally chosen to host the inaugural Games. In the following years both Coubertin and Demetrius Vikelas would offer recollections of the selection process that contradicted the official minutes of the congress. Most accounts hold that several congressmen first proposed London as the location, but Coubertin dissented. After a brief discussion with Vikelas, who represented Greece, Coubertin suggested Athens. Vikelas made the Athens proposal official on June 23, and since Greece had been the original home of the Olympics, the congress unanimously approved the decision. Vikelas was then elected the first president of the newly established International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Apr 06 2012
” Others who say torture is a big deal but we have to move on are complicit not just in these crimes but also the ones that will inevitably occur in the future because nothing was done about these.” ~ Meteor Blades
In 2009, former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Philip Zelikow revealed that he had written a memo in 2006, carefully arguing that the Geneva conventions applied to Al Qaeda. It was written to rebut a memo written by Stephen Bradbury (pdf) for the Department of Justice that argued the CIA’s “advanced interrogation techniques” were in compliance with the Convention against Torture. At that time, it was believed that all the copies had been destroyed by the State Department, until now. A copy had been preserved (pdf) by The National Security Archive and it has been released through Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive, a group dedicated to real government transparency.
In the 5 page memo. Zelikow argued that techniques such as waterboarding, cramped confinement, stressed positions, slamming the prisoner’s head against a wall, and dousing with ice water were degrading and in violation of Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture.
According to Kevin Kosztola at FDL, ZElikow was prompted to write the memo after the McCain Amendment was passed that sought to prohibit the inhumane treatment of prisoners in US custody:
In the memo, he begins by noting the State Department agreed with the Justice Department in May 2005 that Article 16 of the CAT (“to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture”) “did not apply to CIA interrogations in foreign countries.” But, the McCain Amendment had “extended the application of Article 16 of the CAT to conduct by US officials anywhere in the world.”
“The prohibitions of Article 16 of the CAT now do apply to the enhanced interrogation techniques authorized for employment by CIA. In this case, given the relationship of domestic law to the question of treaty interpretation, the responsibility of advising on interpretation is shared by both the Department of State and the Department of Justice.”
Zelikow’s State Department memo would not have been binding on the CIA, but he felt because of his history as a constitutional lawyer he had to put forward an argument that challenged the idea that these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were legal.
He told the Associated Press on April 3, “I believe that the Department of Justice’s opinion was an extreme reading of the law and because the Justice Department opinion was secret, the only way the president could hear an alternative interpretation was for someone like me to offer it.”
At least there were some people in the Bush government who had some common legal sense and humanity. So where does that leave us now? The Obama administration has conveniently hidden evidence against the guilty behind the cloak of state secrecy and refused to investigate many of the higher ups who were most agreeable to torture and actually authorized it. As Spencer Ackerman at the Danger Room points out:
Zelikow’s warnings about the legal dangers of torture went unheeded – not just by the Bush administration, which ignored them, but, ironically, by the Obama administration, which effectively refuted them. In June, the Justice Department concluded an extensive inquiry into CIA torture by dropping potential charges against agency interrogators in 99 out of 101 cases of detainee abuse. That inquiry did not examine criminal complicity for senior Bush administration officials who designed the torture regimen and ordered agency interrogators to implement it.
“I don’t know why Mr. Durham came to the conclusions he did,” Zelikow says, referring to the Justice Department special prosecutor for the CIA torture inquiry, John Durham. “I’m not impugning them, I just literally don’t know why, because he never published any details about either the factual analysis or legal analysis that led to those conclusions.”
Also beyond the scope of Durham’s inquiry: The international damage to the U.S. reputation caused by the post-9/11 embrace of “cruel, inhuman and degrading” interrogation methods; and the damage done to international protocols against torture.
According to the Geneva Convention the covering up of torture and war crimes is a violation of the Principles.