August 23, 2012 archive

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(h/t Naked Capitalism)

Spain Deficit Goals at Risk as Cuts Consensus Fades: Euro Credit

By Angeline Benoit, Bloomberg News

Aug 22, 2012 3:23 AM ET

The Socialist president of the northern Basque Country Patxi Lopez today told Cadena Ser radio he is moving local elections initially scheduled for March 2013 forward to Oct. 21 in order for Basques to choose how to deal with the crisis. “There is a lot of uncertainty about the future and our economic model is what counts,” he said.

The Andalusia region said Aug. 1 it will take the state to court on 2012 debt ceilings. It should be allowed to borrow more as its burden is 10.6 percent of its GDP compared with a 13.5 percent regional average, it said.

The 17 semi-autonomous governments won’t keep their economic promises this year, according to a report released this week by the Fedea research institute in Madrid. It forecast overspending for the regions may reach 4 percent of GDP, compared with 3.3 percent last year and a target of 1.5 percent.

The government has ruled out cutting pensions next year and extended a temporary benefit for long-term jobless people to stem growing discontent, Afi’s Herce said. “Rajoy’s strategy is to wait and say little to avoid political damage in the short term.”

Support for Rajoy’s PP has slipped 8 percentage points since it won 40.6 percent of votes in a landslide in November. Since then, Rajoy has announced more than 100 billion euros of budget cuts, raising income and value-added tax, scrapping a tax break for home owners and cutting civil servants’ wages, unemployment benefits and health care and education spending against his word.

Italy Looks ‘Perilously Close’ To Getting Shut Out Of The Bond Markets

Mamta Badkar, Business Insider

Aug. 21, 2012, 11:30 PM

Italian GDP contracted for the last 12 months and the country is now looking at a longer and deeper recession than was previously expected.

Societe Generale’s James Nixon points out three key points about Italian debt and its economic growth:

  1. Italy has extremely high debt-to-GDP and to bring this in control, the government is pushing austerity. This austerity along with a credit crunch are hurting economic growth.  Nixon projects Italian GDP to decline 2.3 percent in 2012, and 1.4 percent in 2013, and expects it to be flat in 2014. The IMF puts Italy’s long-term growth rate at 0.5 percent per annum.
  2. Rising unemployment is impacting consumer confidence and has caused a drop in private consumption.
  3. Finally, to achieve fiscal consolidation Italy is raising taxes on consumption and property, both sectors that are being hit hard by unemployment and tight conditions in the banking sector. “Italy also faces a significant increase in its service costs which, if not addressed, threatens to wipe out all of the consolidation planned for next year.”


Sometimes it’s here, sometimes it’s not.  What do I care?  This originally appeared here on May 3, 2011.

Yankee Doodle Daffy

On This Day In History August 23

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

August 23 is the 235th day of the year (236th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 130 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1902, pioneering cookbook author Fannie Farmer, who changed the way Americans prepare food by advocating the use of standardized measurements in recipes, opens Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston. In addition to teaching women about cooking, Farmer later educated medical professionals about the importance of proper nutrition for the sick.

Farmer was born March 23, 1857, and raised near Boston, Massachusetts. Her family believed in education for women and Farmer attended Medford High School; however, as a teenager she suffered a paralytic stroke that turned her into a homebound invalid for a period of years. As a result, she was unable to complete high school or attend college and her illness left her with a permanent limp. When she was in her early 30s, Farmer attended the Boston Cooking School. Founded in 1879, the school promoted a scientific approach to food preparation and trained women to become cooking teachers at a time when their employment opportunities were limited. Farmer graduated from the program in 1889 and in 1891 became the school’s principal. In 1896, she published her first cookbook, The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which included a wide range of straightforward recipes along with information on cooking and sanitation techniques, household management and nutrition. Farmer’s book became a bestseller and revolutionized American cooking through its use of precise measurements, a novel culinary concept at the time.

Cookbook fame

Fannie published her most well-known work, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, in 1896. Her cookbook introduced the concept of using standardized measuring spoons and cups, as well as level measurement. A follow-up to an earlier version called Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book, published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884, the book under Farmer’s direction eventually contained 1,849 recipes, from milk toast to Zigaras à la Russe. Farmer also included essays on housekeeping, cleaning, canning and drying fruits and vegetables, and nutritional information.

The book’s publisher (Little, Brown & Company) did not predict good sales and limited the first edition to 3,000 copies, published at the author’s expense. The book was so popular in America, so thorough, and so comprehensive that cooks would refer to later editions simply as the “Fannie Farmer cookbook”, and it is still available in print over 100 years later.

Farmer provided scientific explanations of the chemical processes that occur in food during cooking, and also helped to standardize the system of measurements used in cooking in the USA. Before the Cookbook’s publication, other American recipes frequently called for amounts such as “a piece of butter the size of an egg” or “a teacup of milk.” Farmer’s systematic discussion of measurement – “A cupful is measured level … A tablespoonful is measured level. A teaspoonful is measured level.” – led to her being named “the mother of level measurements.”

I still have my copy.

Late Night Karaoke

Letting It All Hang Out

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

One of the latest MSM fixations has been an incident that occurred last year during a Republican junket to Israel. A nighttime swim in the Sea of Galilee by some members of the delegations turned embarrassing when the FBI found the Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took his dip in the sea sans his suit. Oh my! A coed swim with one naked man is now national news. But the question by the press should have been, why was the FBI investigating this trip. Surely, they weren’t interested in who was taking off their clothed and skinny dipping. It turns out that the FBI was only interested in one member of that group and the investigation had nothing to do with that representative’s participation in that incident, clothed or otherwise.

The focus of the FBI is Staten Island’s freshman Tea Party backed House Representative Michael Grimm. The 42 year old former FBI agent who bears a striking resemblance to Rep. Paul Ryan and the other Tea Party clones has been under investigation by the FBI and a federal grand jury investigation into his 2010 campaign finances. The FBI was looking into Mr. Grimm’s side trip to Cyprus that was sponsored by the Cyprus Federation of America.

But FBI agents were actually interested in Grimm’s failure to file paperwork related to his trip to Cyprus following his Israeli junket, which had been paid for by the Cyprus Federation of America. The president of that company was arrested on federal corruption charges in June. Grimm had reported the Israel trip in his initial filing in May but did not list the trip to Cyprus until he amended it in June, one day after Cyprus Federation of America’s president was arrested.

FBI agents may have asked questions about “who went into the water that night, and whether there was any impropriety,” as Politico reported, but sources indicated the dip in the water certainly wasn’t the FBI’s central focus. [.]

Grimm, a former FBI agent, has been the subject of plenty of attention from federal authorities over the past year. On Friday, one of Grimm’s top fundraisers was arrested for allegedly lying about the source of a loan on immigration documents. That man, an Israeli named Ofer Biton, traveled around the New York area with Grimm in 2010 to raise money for his congressional campaign. At least four of Grimm’s 2010 campaign workers have been questioned by the FBI. Federal prosecutors have also interviewed several donors, according to the New York Times.

But heck, what’s more interesting, an skinny dipping congressman or an investigation into possible corruption by a congressman? I think we all know the answer to that.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Tomatoes à la Provence


This is the first summer in a long time that I haven’t had a tomato garden. My garden needed a rest, and my plan was to work on my annual tomato piece for Recipes for Health during the two weeks I spent in Provence, where my love affair with Mediterranean cuisine began. It was an easy assignment. Summer cooking here revolves around tomatoes, squash and eggplant, and these ingredients pretty much dominated my market baskets.

When I started going to Provence more than 30 years ago, the tomatoes were superior to anything I could find in the States. Now that’s not the case, thanks to our wonderful farmers’ markets, which offer a wider variety of these nutrient-dense vegetables than any French market I visited this summer. An added benefit is that in American markets you are much more likely

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Pain Catalan With Extra Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

This dish is inspired by the Catalan signature dish, but mustard takes the place of the traditional raw garlic.

Provençal Tomato and Squash Gratin

Tomatoes do double duty here, forming a sauce and decorating the top of the dish.

Rainbow Trout Baked in Foil With Tomatoes, Garlic and Thyme

Cooked in packets, this savory fish dish can be assembled well ahead of time and baked at the last minute.

Tomato, Squash and Eggplant Tian

A tian takes a little time to assemble, but you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful presentation of summer’s bounty.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Dijon mustard spread on the pastry dough before baking adds even more French flavor to this dish.

My Little Town 20120822: Dad and The Lawn

I took a week off from blogging last week for a number of reasons.  One was that I was having trouble getting my mind around topics.  Another was being in sort of a strange set of moods that have made concentration rather difficult.  Yet again, and probably the root cause of the other two is either spending large amounts of time with someone (no time to write) or no time at all (no motivation to write).  In any event, I think that I have some balance back.

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Dad was sort of obsessive about the lawn.  We had a big yard, the front being the largest and the back second, with the sides being somewhat smaller but still large by most standards.  The problem was that we had lots of large trees.  In the front were two post oaks, a hackberry (that was hollow at the bottom), a mockernut hickory (one with really sweet nuts, unlike many mockernuts), and a papershell pecan.

The side on the south had a walnut tree that I planted, and the back had two large walnut trees.  The side on the north had a very tall pine and a redbud tree.  All of that shade made it sort of hard to grow grass.