Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What if we had focused on fighting terrorism instead of invading Iraq?

Doug Levy (@SFDoug)
12/29/09 6:20 AM
Good points from former DHS head Ridge, but I blame Bush for diverting attn, resources to Iraq. See @cbsnewshotsheet http://bit.ly/8h77Y3.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Joe Brancatelli's info and comment about traveler security:

As usual, veteran business travel writer Joe Brancatelli has up-to-date information and authoritative comment on the latest air security issues. Below is an email he sent to subscribers to his very useful web site http://joesentme.com

11:30 am Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dear JoeSentMe member:
     By now, you might be finally hearing about an attempted terrorist attack on a Northwest flight nearing Detroit after flying from Amsterdam. This happened yesterda, Christmas Day. Details remain sketchy and conflicting, but there seems to be no doubt that this one was real. As far as we know, however, a single individual was involved. He is in custody after detonating some type of device in-flight.

     Of most immediate interest, however, is how the Transportation Security Administration will react. It does seem clear that the individual on the plane was on government no-fly lists and that he managed to smuggle dangerous material on board. In other words there was a security failure. And, as you would expect, the TSA will probably take it out on US by tightening airport security rules.

     There has been no official annoucement of any change from the TSA, but, oddly, the first immediate reaction seems to be on transborder flights originating in Canada. Both Canada=based airlines, Air Canada and WestJet, have advised travelers that 1) they are now limited to ONE carry-on bag; and 2) passengers will be subject to secondary screening, pat-downs and hand inspection of the carry-on bag. Both airlines have posted information about the new rules on their respective websites.

     Needless to say, even without more rules, expect more changes at the security checkpoints, more invasive procedures, etc.

    Obviously, I will feed you more details as I get more specific and accurate information. This is an odd situation made odder by the fact that it is the holidays and folks were mostly out of touch.

     If you are traveling in the next day or two, assume the worst: More screening time, more annoyances, etc. I would advise you pack as little as possible in your carry-on bags and carry as few bags as possible with you. It's going to be a very confusing few days.

     Joe Brancatelli //

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm not buying food on @unitedairlines United again

Scott Hensley (@scotthensley)
12/23/09 9:38 AM
FDA Cites Denver Airline Caterer For Roaches, Bacteria http://su.pr/7gyazb

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why am I getting post-holiday sales promos?

Did America's retail community suddenly become Jewish? I know Hannukah is over but Christmas hasn't happened yet, but I started receiving after-Christmas sales promos both in the snail mail and on email yesterday and today. Je'ez people, can't we slow down a little? Let's at least pause a minute and think about why we celebrate this season. It's not just about sales and seeing who acquires the most toys. That's not who wins in my book.

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At Lagunitas Brewery, comparing "Hop Stoopid" IPA to "Maximus." I like the nutty, slightly biiter Hop Stoopid.

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Ron explains how Lagunitas brews it's beers using a computer-controlled system that improves consistency.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is it me, or does it sound like we taxpayers are getting shafted again?

News Alert
08:06 PM EST Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Citigroup gains massive tax break in deal with IRS

The IRS has issued an exception to tax rules for the benefit of companies including Citigroup. As a result, Citigroup will be allowed to retain $38 billion in tax breaks that otherwise would decline in value when the government sells its stake to private investors.

For more information, visit washingtonpost.com - http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/6041ZA/J481J/OR9V4D/NL5V2Y/743QT/JY/t

Copyright 2009 The Washington Post Company

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sad that this appropriate recognition was driven mostly by casino rights.

From The New York Times:

U.S. Clears Way to Recognition for Shinnecock Tribe

The Shinnecocks, based on Long Island, have met the required federal criteria and may soon be able to open a casino.


Get The New York Times on your iPhone for free by visiting http://itunes.com/apps/nytimes

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My Hannukah celebration continues: braised pork belly at Sushi Ran.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grassley finds UCSF misrepresented audits

Today's San Francisco Chronicle reports on an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley into the abrupt firing of David Kessler as UCSF School of Medicine Dean in December 2007. Grassley now has -- on the record -- statements from the auditing firm KPMG that are highly critical of the University and explicitly say that KPMG was never able to verify that the School's finances were as stated by the University. After Kessler's termination, University officials insisted that it had both internal and external financial reviews that "verified" that the School's financial condition was good and that Kessler's assertions of accounting irregularities were unfounded.

Kessler warned in 2006 that the UCSF School of Medicine faced a potential $200 million funding gap but was fired after University officials insisted he was wrong. Not surprisingly, his successor, Sam Hawgood, reported that the school had a $170 million funding gap earlier this year. That funding gap was a factor in the elimination of my position at UCSF. 

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Insightful article says look to architecture for ideas on how to fix U.S. health care

UCSF's Kevin Grumbach, who is one of the nation's top experts on efforts to reform health care and reduce health disparities, writes in the Dec. 2, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that policy makers ought to look at architecture for ideas on how best to reform our health care system:

Traditionally, approaches to health care delivery design view the extravagantly rococo structure of the existing health care system and propose additions or minor alterations to this dysfunctional structure. What if there was a different starting point—the intended function of the health system—and planners worked backward to determine the form most suitable to that function?

In his commentary, he points to bauhaus as the model to follow, as it focuses on creating a home around individuals rather than trying to fit individuals into a structure already created or built without their participation.

Read more at http://bit.ly/5zdh5M.

Kevin Grumbach
Redesign of the Health Care Delivery System: A Bauhaus "Form Follows Function" Approach
JAMA. 2009;302(21):2363-2364.

(Disclosure: Dr. Grumbach is chair of the department at UCSF in which I have a faculty appointment.)

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Sounds like a great wine to try: The Cellarist : Nineteen days of Syrah

Nineteen days of Syrah

Failla's estate Syrah (the 2006 pictured here) defies the odds.

Craig Lee/The Chronicle, 2008

Failla's estate Syrah defies the odds.

Red wine may have great antioxidant powers, but its lifespan in an open bottle is modest. A couple days, perhaps four if you're lucky. Inert gas or vacuums might extend that, but only slightly.

Then a wine comes along to scuttle all that. I tasted the 2007 Failla Estate Syrah in early November as part of my final round of Top 100 tastings. Failla, the label of our 2008 Winemaker of the Year Ehren Jordan, highlights not only his love for Pinot but also intensely flavored, aromatic Syrah.

Typically, Failla's Syrah from Phoenix Ranch in Napa has been its standardbearer, a wine that I buy for myself almost every vintage. But this time, the wine from Jordan's estate parcel, a rough patch of coastal terrain out on the site of the old Gualala Ranch, performed a wonderous feat.

It is grown near a ridge line due east of Fort Ross, less than three miles from the coast. Largely out of necessity, the vines are dry-farmed in a dense one-meter-by-one-meter planting. It is a fierce, tough way to grow grapes, and that instantly comes through in the wine.

"When you don't water a vine, they actually become acclimatized to no water and they regulate themselves," Jordan pointed out when I called him.

If Syrah often is tinkered with, Jordan insists that "this is about as unmanipulated a wine as you can get." His meager harvest of estate fruit (just 136 cases worth) was fermented in whole grape clusters; foot-treaded; and then aged in about 40 percent new oak. That's not insubstantial, but there's nary an oak note to the wine.

Using whole clusters (which, yes, I'm partial to) can pump up a wine's aromas, and this is packed with intense white white pepper and sea salt, plus candied violet, huckleberry and musk. The nose pretty well slaps you across the face.

Really, though, the tannins (from both fruit and stems) are the story. They pervade every bit of this wine's presence, yet they're broad and fine and simply providing a titanium-strong backbone. While it's not a small wine (14.8 percent alcohol) it doesn't stumble in those steel-toed boots. It reminded me of the fiercest, most long-lived examples of Cornas. Clape, maybe.

After tasting the wine and writing notes, I left the Failla wine on the counter and ignored it.

Forward one week. Quickly doing a standard check before I dumped the wine, I poured a bit. Still fresh, still whomping with spice, still a chewy mouthful of elegant tannin. I couldn't stop drinking the splash I'd poured.

Roll forward another five days. Still all there. The fruit was a touch dented, but the wine's guts were intact. Its aromatic punch made it the wine that stuck in my mind at evening's end.

Nineteen days and counting. It was certainly starting to fade, but still compelling. This with nothing to protect it but a cork and its innate structure.

Quite simply, this doesn't happen to red wines. We often think of tannins' antioxidant qualities allowing a wine to age for years in the closed environment of the bottle. But when exposed to air, that timeline shrinks drastically. There was no dark magic afoot: the bottle was at San Francisco room temperature, the wine was in partial sunlight, not getting cooked but not being chilled. Here was simply an example of grapes' own composition working in their favor.

It turns out that Jordan is quite taken with the wine too, which happens among winemakers less than you'd expect. At a recent dinner with Larry Turley (for whom he makes Turley Zinfandels) the two not only finished one bottle but opened a second � a rare event, Jordan pointed out, at his dinner table.

Next time I hear a rhapsody for supple textures and softened tannins, I'll counter with this bottle. When a wine can pull off such a feat, its fearlessness deserves to be rewarded.

Posted By: Jon Bonn�</a> (Email, Twitter) | December 02 2009 at 01:30 PM

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Donate to families of slain Lakeland police officers via PayPal

Forza Coffee Company has set up a web page for people to donate to a fund honoring the four police officers murdered Sunday morning in Parkland, Washington.

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Palin's Bus Hoax - The Daily Beast

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BS Top - McGinnis Palin Sara D. Davis / Getty Images On her book tour, Sarah Barracuda pretends to be one of the people. But she's really winging across the country on a private jet.

As much of her entourage, including HarperCollins publicist Tina Andreadis, risked a collective case of White Line Fever, covering more than 3,000 road miles during the book tour’s first week, Sarah Palin herself seems to have remained above it all, apparently cosseted in the luxury of a Gulfstream II 12-passenger jet rented from Universal Jet Aviation of Boca Raton, Florida, at a cost of more than $4,000 per hour.

More than two weeks ago, quoting Andreadis, USA Today reported that Palin would be “making two and sometimes three stops a day, traveling in a bus painted with the cover of her book.” And just before the tour started, Palin herself said on her Facebook page: “I’ll post our progress from the road.” To further the illusion, the populist heroine gave televised interviews from the bus, including one to Greta Van Susteren en route to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

To further the illusion, the populist heroine gave televised interviews from the bus, including one to Greta Van Susteren en route to Fort Bragg.

Last week I was in The Villages, the fantastical Back to the Future-style retirement enclave north of Orlando, when Palin popped out the front door of the bus to greet the thousand or so worshipers gathered outside Barnes & Noble. I thought she sure looked good for someone who had been riding a bus for a week, changing diapers—as she said—all the way. Publicist Andreadis, by contrast, had the worn and harried look of someone who had been earning an honest living by riding a bus for a week.

It seems now that Palin hasn’t been on the bus, except for short hops between local airports and hotels and book-signing sites. Instead, as first reported by the Alaskan blog Palingates, she’s apparently been aboard UJT750, the Gulfstream American twin-jet that she first boarded at Westchester County airport shortly after noon on November 18, bound for Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the first stop on her tour.

The full activity log for UJT750 can be found here. The bottom line is that the plane’s goings and comings track Palin’s tour perfectly: from Grand Rapids to Washington, Pa. and then to Rochester, N.Y., Roanoke, Va., Fayetteville, N.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Jacksonville and Orlando.

On November 25, the plane carried Palin, her parents, her two youngest children and her Aunt Katie to Pasco, Washington, for Thanksgiving. And there it sat, at Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco, for four full days, which is a lot of inactivity for a plane that rents for more than $4,000 an hour. But it was Thanksgiving weekend and the Pasco-Richland area was where Palin wanted to be.

Palin apparently returned to New York Sunday night. At least UJT750 was scheduled to take off from Tri-Cities at 6:55 p.m. EST with an 11:30 p.m. arrival at Teterboro, N.J., anticipated. Her next signing is not until Thursday, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Presumably, she’ll fly to Fayetteville and then board her bus again for the short ride to the local Sam’s Club. Presumably, she’ll also fly over the much greater distances that separate the stops on the western half of her tour, which stretches from Dallas to Minneapolis. Will she continue to pretend she’s riding the bus?

I emailed Tina Andreadis and Jonathan Burnham, HarperCollins’s publisher, yesterday to ask:

--How much is Universal Jet Aviation charging?

--Is HarperCollins paying?

--Will Sarah continue to fly throughout the second half of the tour?

--Does anyone else ever ride on the plane with her?

--Can you give me a list of where she actually stayed overnight from Nov. 18 until her arrival in Tri-Cities?

--I assume she did not use her own name checking in: Can you comment on my information that she used "Sheeran," her mother's maiden name?

--In regard to the other plane used on Nov. 19-20 in Ohio and Indiana, was that supplied by [Billy Graham’s son] Franklin Graham?

Burnham did not reply. Andreadis wrote back: “Harper has no comment on the logistics of its tours.”

Oddly, Palin herself let the mask slip a couple of times on Twitter. At 9:48 p.m. on Nov. 21, she wrote, “Just got off flt.” A few hours later, she wrote, “Landed in VA.” Other than that, except for the side trip to Asheville, N.C., for dinner with Billy Graham—aircraft provided by Billy’s son, Franklin, and his evangelical organization Samaritan’s Purse—Palin has played along with the charade. Indeed, she may have insisted on the charade.

There is, of course, nothing the least bit inappropriate about flying from place to place on a book tour. Back in the day when publishers still sent non-celebrity authors out in public, I flew on all of mine. It’s the only sensible approach. And if someone will spring for an executive jet, all the better. On the other hand, nobody tried to pretend I was riding a bus.

What’s wrong in this instance is the apparent fakery created and sustained for the sake of building pseudo-populist appeal—and selling books. Sarah Palin and HarperCollins have consciously tried to give the impression that she is doing her book tour by bus when the evidence suggests she is not. At every stop, she’s been filmed getting off Big Blue looking rested and radiant. She dazzles onlookers and interviewers with her seemingly bottomless reserves of energy. And no one suspects she may secretly be hopping on and off her main means of transport, UJT750, and resting up in hotels.

Both Palin and the publishing house that has invested so many millions of dollars in her seem to have felt it would send the wrong message to let the “common-sense conservative” be seen winging her away across the country just like any other good old-fashioned Republican CEO.

The people with whom I spent 18 hours in The Villages last week, waiting for Palin, would not begrudge her the luxury jet. But they’re not going to like hearing they’ve been had.

Joe McGinniss is the bestselling author of The Selling of the President, Fatal Vision and Never Enough, among others. His next book, tentatively titled Sarah Palin’s Year of Living Dangerously, will be published by Broadway Books in 2011.

For more of The Daily Beast, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

Why should we be surprised? She never wore all those clothes that the Republican Committee bought for her, either, right?

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Ark. Gov. Huckaby granted clemency to man sought in Sunday's police slaughter - Seattle Times


Originally published Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 5:45 PM

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Maurice Clemmons, man wanted for questioning, has troubling criminal history

The man sought for questioning in the execution of four Lakewood police officers was granted clemency in 2000 by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and released on bail just six days ago on a child rape charge in Washington state.

By Seattle Times staff


Maurice Clemmons


Maurice Clemmons

Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.

Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors.

"This is the day I've been dreading for a long time," Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas' Pulaski County said tonight when informed that Clemmons was being sought for questioning in connection with the killings.

Clemmons' criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. The record also stands out for the number of times he has been released from custody despite questions about the danger he posed.

Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, issued a statement tonight calling the slaying of the police officers "a horrible and tragic event."

If Clemmons is found responsible, "it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State," Huckabee said.

He added that Clemmons' release from prison had been reviewed and approved by the Arkansas parole board.

Clemmons had been in jail in Pierce County for the past several months on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child. He was released from custody just six days ago, even though was staring at seven additional felony charges in Washington state.

Clemmons posted $15,000 with a Chehalis company called Jail Sucks Bail Bonds. The bondsman, in turn, put up $150,000, securing Clemmons' release on the pending child-rape charge.

Clemmons lives in Tacoma, where he has run a landscaping and power-washing business out of his house, according to a police interview with his wife earlier this year.

He was married, but the relationship was tumultuous, with accounts of his unpredictable behavior leading to at least two confrontations with police earlier this year.

During the confrontation in May, Clemmons punched a sheriff's deputy in the face, according to court records. As part of that incident, he was charged with seven counts of assault and malicious mischief.


In another instance, Clemmons was accused of gathering his wife and young relatives around at 3 or 4 in the morning and having them all undress. He told them that families need to "be naked for at least 5 minutes on Sunday," a Pierce County sheriff's report says.

"The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus," the report says.

As part of the child-rape investigation, the sheriff's office interviewed Clemmons' sister in May. She told them that "Maurice is not in his right mind and did not know how he could react when contacted by Law Enforcement," a sheriff's report says.

"She stated that he was saying that the secret service was coming to get him because he had written a letter to the President. She stated his behavior has become unpredictable and erratic. She suspects he is having a mental breakdown," the report says.

Deputies also interviewed other family members. They reported that Clemmons had been saying he could fly and that he expected President Obama to visit to "confirm that he is Messiah in the flesh."

Prosecutors in Pierce County were sufficiently concerned about Clemmons' mental health that they asked to have him evaluated at Western State Hospital. Earlier this month, on Nov. 6, a psychologist concluded that Clemmons was competent to stand trial on the child-rape and other felony charges, according to court records.

Clemmons moved Washington in 2004, after being released from prison in Arkansas, state Department of Corrections records indicate. That would mean he had gone five years or so before landing in serious trouble with authorities here, according to a review of his criminal record.

Clemmons started Sea-Wash Pressure Washing Landscaping with his wife, Nicole Smith, in October 2005. The license for the business expired last month.

Long history of trouble in Arkansas

News accounts out of Arkansas offer a confusing � and, at times, conflicting � description of Clemmons' criminal history and prison time.

In 1990, Clemmons, then 18, was sentenced in Arkansas to 60 years in prison for burglary and theft of property, according to a news account in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Newspaper stories describe a series of disturbing incidents involving Clemmons while he was being tried in Arkansas on various charges.

During one trial, Clemmons was shackled in leg irons and seated next to a uniformed officer. The presiding judge ordered the extra security because he felt Clemmons had threatened him, court records show.

Another time, Clemmons hid a hinge in his sock, and was accused of intending to use it as a weapon. Yet another time, Clemmons took a lock from a holding cell, and threw it toward the bailiff. He missed and instead hit Clemmons' mother, who had come to bring him street clothes, according to records and published reports.

On another occasion, Clemmons had reached for a guard's pistol during transport to the courtroom.

When Clemmons received the 60-year sentence, he was already serving 48 years on five felony convictions and facing up to 95 more years on charges of robbery, theft of property and possessing a handgun on school property. Records from Clemmons' sentencing described him as 5-foot-7 and 108 pounds. The crimes were committed when he was 17.

Clemmons served 11 years before being released.

News accounts say Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence, citing Clemmons' young age at the time the crimes were committed.

But Clemmons remained on parole � and soon after landed in trouble again. In March 2001, he was accused of violating his parole by committing aggravated robbery and theft, according to a story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

He was returned to prison on a parole violation. But in what appears to have been a mistake, Clemmons was not actually served with the arrest warrants until leaving prison three years later. As a result, Clemmons' attorney argued that the charges should be dismissed because too much time had passed. Prosecutors dropped the charges.


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I'm as liberal as they come, but criminals like this should never see the light of day.  Posted on November 29, 2009 at 5:56 PM by EvergreenStater. Jump to comment
Gee, a repeat felon, including child rapist, was set free to kill. I guess we needed the prison space for drug offenders, who are a real threat...  Posted on November 29, 2009 at 5:56 PM by sage_commander. Jump to comment
WHY THE HELL IS THIS MAN OUT OF JAIL?!?!? Whoever is responsible for allowing this man out of jail, should go to prison. I know people who are...  Posted on November 29, 2009 at 5:56 PM by Gasoline. Jump to comment

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? USDA web site answers.

I happened upon this gem this morning when checking on the USDA's food safety web site ("Ask Karen") on a poultry question. Personally, I was pleased that the folks behind this web site a) had the sense of humor to include the question and b) relied on a scientific answer, and a citation for further information.

  Which came first, the chicken or the egg? spacer   Answer   Eggs existed long before chickens, according to On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee. These all-in-one reproductive cells, incorporating the nutrients to support life, evolved about a billion years ago. The first eggs were hatched in the ocean. As animal life emerged from the water about 250 million years ago, they began producing an egg with a tough leathery skin to prevent dehydration of its contents on dry land. The chicken evolved only about 5,000 years ago from an Asian bird.

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