June 8, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 12:51 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:27 AM


Don'€t Eat Before Reading This: A New York chef spills some trade secrets. (Anthony Bourdain, 4/19/99, The New Yorker)

Good food, good eating, is all about blood and organs, cruelty and decay. It's about sodium-loaded pork fat, stinky triple-cream cheeses, the tender thymus glands and distended livers of young animals. It's about danger--risking the dark, bacterial forces of beef, chicken, cheese, and shellfish. Your first two hundred and seven Wellfleet oysters may transport you to a state of rapture, but your two hundred and eighth may send you to bed with the sweats, chills, and vomits.

Gastronomy is the science of pain. Professional cooks belong to a secret society whose ancient rituals derive from the principles of stoicism in the face of humiliation, injury, fatigue, and the threat of illness. The members of a tight, well-greased kitchen staff are a lot like a submarine crew. Confined for most of their waking hours in hot, airless spaces, and ruled by despotic leaders, they often acquire the characteristics of the poor saps who were press-ganged into the royal navies of Napoleonic times--superstition, a contempt for outsiders, and a loyalty to no flag but their own.

A good deal has changed since Orwell's memoir of the months he spent as a dishwasher in "Down and Out in Paris and London." Gas ranges and exhaust fans have gone a long way toward increasing the life span of the working culinarian. Nowadays, most aspiring cooks come into the business because they want to: they have chosen this life, studied for it. Today's top chefs are like star athletes. They bounce from kitchen to kitchen--free agents in search of more money, more acclaim.

I've been a chef in New York for more than ten years, and, for the decade before that, a dishwasher, a prep drone, a line cook, and a sous-chef. I came into the business when cooks still smoked on the line and wore headbands. A few years ago, I wasn't surprised to hear rumors of a study of the nation's prison population which reportedly found that the leading civilian occupation among inmates before they were put behind bars was "cook." As most of us in the restaurant business know, there is a powerful strain of criminality in the industry, ranging from the dope-dealing busboy with beeper and cell phone to the restaurant owner who has two sets of accounting books. In fact, it was the unsavory side of professional cooking that attracted me to it in the first place. In the early seventies, I dropped out of college and transferred to the Culinary Institute of America. I wanted it all: the cuts and burns on hands and wrists, the ghoulish kitchen humor, the free food, the pilfered booze, the camaraderie that flourished within rigid order and nerve-shattering chaos. I would climb the chain of command from mal carne (meaning "bad meat," or "new guy") to chefdom--doing whatever it took until I ran my own kitchen and had my own crew of cutthroats, the culinary equivalent of "The Wild Bunch."

A year ago, my latest, doomed mission--a high-profile restaurant in the Times Square area--went out of business. The meat, fish, and produce purveyors got the news that they were going to take it in the neck for yet another ill-conceived enterprise. When customers called for reservations, they were informed by a prerecorded announcement that our doors had closed. Fresh from that experience, I began thinking about becoming a traitor to my profession.

Posted by orrinj at 4:45 AM


New Book: Trump Team, Not Deep State, Revealed Flynn's Talks With Russians: Obama aide Ben Rhodes writes that he learned about Mike Flynn's parley with the Russian ambassador not from 'unmasked' surveillance intercepts but from Trump's own people. (Spencer Ackerman, 06.07.18, Daily Beast)

Flynn "took a couple of weeks after his own appointment to accept Susan Rice's invitation to meet," Rhodes writes. "His own transition team volunteered to us that he'd met with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, before meeting with the American official he was replacing."

Rhodes didn't hear about that firsthand, he clarified, as the Trump transition team didn't deal with Rhodes. ("You're kind of PNG," Rhodes quotes the outgoing Obama team's transition director telling him, meaning 'persona non grata,' someone who is not welcome.) 

Posted by orrinj at 4:40 AM


Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe (NATASHA BERTRAND, JUN 7, 2018, The Atlantic)

Curt Weldon, a Republican and former Pennsylvania congressman, lost his re-election campaign more than a decade ago following an FBI probe into his ties to two Russian companies. He has "connections to both Russia and the Trump campaign" that are raising suspicions among senators, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said. Feinstein is the committee's ranking member, and wants to interview Weldon, the spokeswoman said.

The reasons for the committee's interest in Weldon are murky, but his ties to Russia are significant. Members of Congress believe, for example, that Weldon may lead to answers about why the Trump administration sought to lift sanctions on Russia in the aftermath of the 2016 election despite a public statement by intelligence agencies that the Kremlin tried to help Trump win.

As Donald himself promised Vlad, it was all about the sanctions.

Posted by orrinj at 4:28 AM


With Mueller Closing In, Manafort's Allies Abandon Him (Kenneth P. Vogel, Sharon LaFraniere and Jason Horowitz, June 7, 2018, NY Times)

The special counsel's accusation this week that Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, tried to tamper with potential witnesses originated with two veteran journalists who turned on Mr. Manafort after working closely with him to prop up the former Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, interviews and documents show.

The two journalists, who helped lead a project to which prosecutors say Mr. Manafort funneled more than $2 million from overseas accounts, are the latest in a series of onetime Manafort business partners who have provided damaging evidence to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Their cooperation with the government has increasingly isolated Mr. Manafort as he awaits trial on charges of violating financial, tax and federal lobbying disclosure laws.

Mr. Manafort's associates say he feels betrayed by the former business partners, to whom he collectively steered millions of dollars over the years for consulting, lobbying and legal work intended to bolster the reputation of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine. Mr. Manafort has told associates that he believes Mr. Mueller's team is using the business partners to pressure him to flip on Mr. Trump in a manner similar to the one used to prosecute the energy giant Enron in the early 2000s by a Justice Department task force that included some lawyers now serving on Mr. Mueller's team.

Posted by orrinj at 4:24 AM


Justice Department Secretly Accessed New York Times Reporter's Email and Phone Records (ELLIOT HANNON, JUNE 07, 2018, Slate)

The Justice Department seized years' worth of a New York Times reporter's email and telephone records as part of an investigation into a leak of classified information, the Times reported Thursday, a potentially troubling development for press freedom under the Trump administration that appears set to continue aggressive Obama-era tactics in combatting unauthorized disclosures.

Information wants to be free.
Posted by orrinj at 4:21 AM


Melania Trump's spokeswoman's response to Rudy Giuliani is lit (Kate Bennett and Dana Bash, 6/07/18, CNN)

Thursday afternoon, the first lady's communications director fired back at Giuliani.
"I don't believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani," East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN in a statement.

Posted by orrinj at 4:17 AM


'Carbon Sucking' Could Fuel Cars (Jim Efstathiou Jr., 6/07/18, Bloomberg News)

A Canadian startup is testing a system that sucks carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into fuel for cars and other vehicles.

Carbon Engineering's technique combines several common manufacturing processes and will eventually be able to produce fuel for about $4 a gallon, according to David Keith, a Harvard University professor and co-founder of the company.

Posted by orrinj at 4:14 AM


Trump leaving G7 early, after leaders promise to confront him over tariffs (Catherine Garcia, 6/08/18, The Week)

The news of Trump's early departure came after both French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they would confront Trump at the summit about new tariffs he imposed on U.S. allies. Earlier in the evening, Macron tweeted about Trump being excluded from the traditional joint statement signed by leaders at the end of the G7 summit, saying Trump "may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be." 

His bone spurs must be acting up....

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


Steve King Sounds Alarm: Estb. Is Stampeding GOP Towards Amnesty Cliff (Breitbart News, 7 Jun 2018)

The House GOP leadership will push a new amnesty bill today that does not set upper limits on an amnesty or even cut migration levels but which does exclude reforms found in Rep. Bob Goodlatte's immigration reform bill, sources tell Breitbart News.

In November, if House Speaker Paul Ryan gets his way, most GOP legislators "will be on record in support of amnesty," Iowa Rep. Steve King told Breitbart News. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:09 AM


Sucking carbon dioxide from air is cheaper than scientists thought (Jeff Tollefson, 6/08/18, Nature)

Siphoning carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere could be more than an expensive last-ditch strategy for averting climate catastrophe. A detailed economic analysis published on 7 June suggests that the geoengineering technology is inching closer to commercial viability.

The study, in Joule, was written by researchers at Carbon Engineering in Calgary, Canada, which has been operating a pilot CO2-extraction plant in British Columbia since 2015. That plant -- based on a concept called direct air capture -- provided the basis for the economic analysis, which includes cost estimates from commercial vendors of all of the major components. Depending on a variety of design options and economic assumptions, the cost of pulling a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere ranges between US$94 and $232. The last comprehensive analysis of the technology, conducted by the American Physical Society in 2011, estimated that it would cost $600 per tonne.

Posted by orrinj at 4:06 AM


Trump's Lies Betray His Desperation (Steve Chapman, June 7, 2018, Creators)

He insists over and over that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. But we already have evidence there was -- in the form of guilty pleas by Trump aides Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russians.

We have evidence in the 2016 meeting hosted by son Donald Jr. and attended by son-in-law Jared Kushner with a Russian lawyer who had promised information from the Kremlin incriminating Hillary Clinton. Meeting secretly with Russians in hopes of cooperating for mutual benefit is collusion, whether illegal or not.

This week, we got confirmation that the statement Donald Jr. issued -- claiming the meeting was primarily about adoption issues -- was dictated by his father. When The Washington Post reported that last year, the White House denied the story. In a memo to Mueller obtained by The New York Times, however, Trump's lawyers admitted it was true.

Yet he has insisted that "nobody's found any collusion at any level." The assertion is not only false; it's flagrantly, obviously false.

Yeah, but....the IG report!

Posted by orrinj at 4:03 AM


China trade surplus with US widens again (Deutsche-Welle, 6/08/18)

The trade deficit between the United States and China grew again in May, a report from Beijing's General Administration of Customs revealed Friday.

The Chinese surplus with the world's leading economy stood at $24.6 billion (€20.8 billion), about $2.4 billion larger than in April, and also higher compared with the same period a year earlier.