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You're the schlager in my gold flakes
daily archive: 12/27/2005
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
If you like meatloaf, raise your hand!
The only meatloaf I semi-like is my mom's. She mixes the hamburger with onions, garlic, parsley, beer, eggs and bread and she puts hard-boiled eggs in the middle of the meatloaf. She bakes it in a tomato sauce and serves it with french fries. The hard-boiled eggs usually give me the hiccups so I eat around them but I think it's pretty to see egg slices inside the meatloaf. It's better than foie gras, anyway. Meatloaf Popularity Grows Among Foodies
Growing up in Texas, chef Gavin McMichael used to ask his mom to make meatloaf for his birthday each year. Now that he has his own restaurant, meatloaf is on the menu, along with quail stuffed with foie gras.

"I was a huge fan, so of course I had to have meatloaf on my dinner menu," said McMichael, a partner in the Blacksmith restaurant in one of the fastest-growing sections of Oregon. "We are creating foodies as fast as we can. Then they want to try things like foie gras."

Mom made meatloaf to stretch the food budget. Dad ate it because it tasted good, especially with lots of ketchup. Now Baby Boomers are ordering it in restaurants. Meatloaf may not be tops on the healthy food list, though it can certainly be made that way with lean meats and lots of veggies. But this comfort food that became an American staple during the Depression is hanging on, growing up and branching out.

"It has graduated from diner food into restaurant food," while remaining a home-cooking staple, said Andrew Smith, editor in chief of the "Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink," from his New York home in Brooklyn. "It is real American food. It is something that is part of our early lives and part of our heritage."

Meatloaf comes out of the late 19th century, when meat grinders became popular, said Lynne Olver, editor of the Web site Foodtimeline.org. The 1884 "Boston Cooking School Cookbook" has recipes for ground veal mixed with breadcrumbs and eggs, baked in small individual molds.

"A big old loaf of meat would violate the American Victorian sense of decorum," she said.

The word meatloaf appears regularly in the New York Times in the 1930s and 1940s, when the Depression and World War II made stretching food dollars imperative. But it was the 1950s when America "embraced" meatloaf.

"I have cookbooks from the '50s with all sorts of filled meatloaf, gourmet meatloafs, meatloaf for the grill," Olver said.

James E. McWilliams, assistant professor of history at Texas State University at San Marcos and author of "A Revolution in Eating, How the Quest for Food Shaped America," sees meatloaf's roots in scrapple, a mixture of ground pork and cornmeal made by German-Americans in Pennsylvania since Colonial times.

"It's a food that's quite consistent with an American attitude," McWilliams said. "It is so open to interpretation and flexible. Its origins are humble."

President Ronald Reagan was a famous fan, and writer Jean Shepherd included family battles over meatloaf in the movie "A Christmas Story." Little brother Randy declares he hates meatloaf, and The Old Man threatens to use a screwdriver and plumber's helper to get some down him.

Chicago piano salesman and sometime food writer Lee Maloney grew up loving his mom's meatloaf, and kept looking for something that would measure up when he traveled the country as music director for various circuses and ice shows.

Most of the stuff he found in diners and truck stops was awful, but circus friends made marvelous variations. A Czech trapeze act made it with hard-boiled eggs in the middle. Others baked whole tomatoes, gherkins, sausage, stuffing and foie gras baked inside. But the closer to Mom's the better.

"My parents have long been gone, but it brings back very fond memories of coming home after school, and eating meatloaf, mashed potatoes and creamed corn," said Maloney.

About 10 years ago, cookbook author David Rosengarten started seeing meatloaf tarted up with wine sauces in New American Cuisine restaurants, but now finds it in neighborhood bistros, where it is treated with respect in the classic style, with ketchup.

Competing with New York steak and seared scallops, meatloaf is one of the top entrees at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, on Oregon's coast, where golfers fly in from around the world to walk as many as 36 holes in a day.

All that walking makes people hungry, and if they are staying over a few days, they also want something familiar, said executive chef Don McCradic.

At the Blacksmith restaurant, McMichael mixes ground beef and pork with eggs, cream, roasted tomato puree, poblano chilies, shallots, garlic, onion and Japanese breadcrumbs. He bakes individual loaves in cylinders, and serves them with a tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean-carrot-and-onion saute, and creamed corn.

Smith said he expects meatloaf to keep going strong. His kids like it, and the reasons it became popular — low cost and good taste — remain.

"It's very good wholesome, nutritious food, depending what you put into it," he said. "And I like my way better than in the restaurant. Because it's my way and reminds me of what my mother made."
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The war of the fatwas
Who is authorized to issue fatwas? Everyone and his uncle. Some Muslims Shifting Tactics on Radicals.
It's becoming known as the war of the fatwas: the dizzying exchange of proclamations between Islamic moderates and militants on what it means to be Muslim. The duels have been waged everywhere from pamphlets to cyberspace.

Now some Muslim leaders seek to shift tactics against radicals. Their hope rests in one of Islam's most elemental questions: Who has the real authority to make religious rulings and other interpretations of the faith?

Proposals to sharply control the issuing of fatwas — the nonbinding edicts on Muslim life, law and duties — are still little more than loose concepts and would require potentially stormy challenges to Islam's traditions of decentralized leadership.

But there are some influential backers such as Jordan's King Abdullah II. They argue that bold changes are needed in Islam's hierarchy to isolate radical clerics and discredit terrorist leaders, including Osama bin Laden, who have used self-styled religious decrees to justify their views and actions.

Abdullah, who brought his anti-terrorist message to Athens last week, has appealed for moderate Muslims to take decisive control over fatwas and religious guidance. In early December, Abdullah told the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference that failure to establish a clear framework to interpret Islam leaves the door open for radicals to strengthen their ranks.

The summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia — Islam's holiest site — wrapped up with a statement reinforcing that only "those who are authorized" can issue fatwas. The monarchs, prime ministers and other delegates, however, could reach little common ground on a proposal to give a single body of Islamic law experts greater oversight of all fatwas covering the Muslim world.

It was a sample of the huge religious and political complications that stalk any efforts to change the centuries-old fatwa practices.

Islamic scholars say it would require a fundamental shift away from Islam's traditions that spread religious authority far and wide rather than under a single leader or institution. Some powerful centers of Islamic learning, such as Egypt's Al-Azhar University, also resist reforms that could diminish their theological voice.

"Religious authority is in the eyes of the beholder and not anywhere else," said Abdullahi An-Na'im, an expert in Islamic law at Emory University in Atlanta. "This reality has not changed in 15 centuries of history, and will not change now."

But now there's the Internet and other ways to spread messages to mass audiences — which some commentators have dubbed "the war of the fatwas."

One of the most infamous salvos was the February 1998 "fatwa" by bin Laden and followers that called on Muslims to "kill the Americans and their allies." It's been blamed for inspiring some of the most staggering terrorist strikes, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Other militants increasingly have followed suit with fatwa-style declarations of their own — including statements attributed to terrorist chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the alleged mastermind of the Nov. 9 hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan, that killed 60 people.

Moderates clerics initially were slow to react to the radical fatwas. But now there's a potent counterattack.

In March, Spain's Muslim leaders issued a fatwa condemning al-Qaida on the anniversary of the 2004 train bombings that claimed 191 lives. A similar anti-terrorist fatwa was made by Britain's largest Sunni Muslim group following the July attacks that killed 52 commuters.

Jordan announced in December it will prosecute clerics who promote violence or issue fatwas without state permission, becoming the latest Muslim nation seeking to muzzle radical Islam.

"The fatwa, unfortunately, has become a tool of terrorists," said Abdulssalam Al-Abbadi, Jordan's former religious affairs minister. "We cannot keep having two versions of Islam: the correct and moderate views and the violent and extremists views. It's tearing apart the faith."

Many Westerners first learned of fatwas through the 1989 decree by the founder of Iran's Islamic Revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to kill British author Salman Rushdie for perceived insults to Islam in his book "The Satanic Verses." But mainstream fatwas are not intended as mandates and rarely have anything to do with violence.

They are essentially opinions from Islamic scholars covering everything from proper conduct during religious pilgrimages to family relationships and dating. One popular Web site — "Ask Imam Online" — even gets down to questions such as whether it's permissible for women to pluck their eyebrows. The reply was yes.

Fatwas, however, are not binding and views on the same subject can vary. They gain force from consensus among experts in Islamic law and traditions. Yet attempts to establish a single authority for fatwas would likely meet with extreme resistance, some Islamic theologians predict.

"It's impossible," said Ashirbek Muminov, a researcher on Islam at the Kazakh Oriental Studies Institute in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

It goes beyond fighting ancient traditions, he added. Many Muslims — particularly in former Soviet republics — will distrust "official" imams and others given oversight powers, he said.

"In each place Islam has lots of local peculiarities and to gather all that in one place is very difficult," said Muminov.

But not all experts see insurmountable problems.

They note that only a fraction of Muslims believe militants such as bin Laden can make legitimate religious edicts without the benefit of systematic theological training. The established view is that fatwas can come only from those grounded in Islamic jurisprudence, known as "fiqh."

The struggle for moderate Muslims is to raise somehow the "serious issue ... that the so-called fatwas of radical Islamists shouldn't be taken as authoritative," said James Turner Johnson, a professor of religion at Rutgers University.

"But I don't see the radicals giving up the practice of issuing their own fatwas," he added. "Doing so wraps their message in a familiar religious form and gives it at least a superficial authority. It tends to establish them as the `real' leadership of Muslims."
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
How Sami Was Sprung
Domineering left wing bullies on the jury

How did Sami Al Arian, a clearly guilty man, get off the hook? What got into the jury? It turns out what got into the jury was liberal bullies who shouted and raged at a juror who wanted to convict. Another juror who voted with her, to convict, told the judge she felt "whipped into submission" by the acquittal wing of the jury. This jury was obviously tainted by left-wing activists and the entire verdict should be tossed out on the grounds of mistrial.

Clearly, the court system is unequipped to fight the war on terror. Even with overwhelming evidence, a jury was too full of unreliable characters to convict. A terrorist like Sami al Arian, a secret board member of a lethal terrorist gang pretending to be an upstanding citizen, belongs in Guantanamo Bay as an illegal combatant, not in an American court of law.
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guest author: joem in Discarded Lies - Hyperlinkopotamus:
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Secret synagogue and ark found behind a false wall in Portugal
What I really want to know is whether Father Moreira was in on it. I suspect he must have been. Look, the monkey can blog!
PORTO, Portugal—A chance discovery during renovations of a building in this Atlantic port city has revealed a dark secret from Portugal's past: a 16th-century synagogue.

Built at a time when Portugal's Jews had been forced to convert to Catholicism or risk being burned at the stake, the house of worship was hidden behind a false wall in a house that Father Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Roman Catholic priest, was converting into a home for his old-age parishioners.

A scholar of Porto's Jewish history, he says that as soon as the workers told him of the wall, "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it.''

His hunch was confirmed when the wall came down to reveal a carved granite repository, about 1.5 metres tall, arched at the top and facing east toward Jerusalem. It was the ark where the medieval Jews kept their Torah scrolls. Pieces of green tiles in the ark further confirmed its age when their glazing was dated to a 16th-century method.

"It's quite exciting. You feel part of history when you see it," said the Israeli ambassador to Portugal, Aaron Ram, who has been involved in efforts to preserve the ark since its discovery earlier this year. "It's a very important site. ... We all have to remember our history so we can be prepared for the future.''

Only two other arks from the period have been found in Portugal, and last month the Portuguese Institute of Architectural Heritage authenticated this one as the third.

The building of thick granite walls stands on cobbled Sao Miguel St. At its rear, steep steps lead down to a warren of alleys ideal for comings and goings around an outlawed synagogue.

Jardim Moreira, 64, knew his parish had been an officially designated Jewish quarter in the 15th and 16th centuries. He also knew that after they were forced to convert to Catholicism in 1496, many Jews privately kept their faith and worshipped in secret.

"I suspected that false wall was hiding something," the priest said.

The workers' sledgehammer solved an enigma that had baffled historians, said Elvira Mea, a University of Porto lecturer specializing in Jewish history.

Immanuel Aboab, a Jewish scholar born in Porto in the mid-16th century, had written that as a child he visited a synagogue in the third house along the street counting down from the 14th-century Our Lady of Victory church.

But he didn't specify which side of the street, and archaeological digs turned up nothing. "Everyone assumed Aboab had got his dates mixed up," said Mea. "But it had been preying on my mind, and as soon as I saw the ark, all the pieces fell into place."
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Chanukah III - What's In A Name
Chanuka? Hanukkah? Khanukkah? This site lists 13 different ways it may be spelled, and says, "rest assured that they are all the same celebration". :-)

What is the real meaning of the term "Chanukah"?

In Hebrew, it's: חנוכה.

One cute reason given (interestingly, the only reason cited by the Chofetz Chaim in the Mishna Berura) is that it comes from חנו כ״ה - Chanu Khaf Hei, they rested on the 25th day. The war waged by the Hashmona'im culminated in the capture of Jerusalem on the 24th of Kislev, and on the 25th they rested and celebrated.

Most people understand the term to mean "dedication". The Torah reading during Chanukah is taken from the Chanukat ha-Mizbayach, the "dedication of the Altar" where the Princes of the 12 tribes brought gifts and sacrificies when the Mishkan (Tabernacle) began to be used in the Midbar (Desert).

The Maharsha quotes a midrash that the Mishkan was actually completed on the 25th of Kislev, but the dedication was pushed off till Nissan, the month of the birth of the forefathers, so G-d "made it up", as it were, to this time by making Chanukah come out at this time.

The first person listed in the Torah of those who are dismissed from military duty is מי ה?יש ?שר בנה בית חדש ול? חנכו "the person who has built a house but has not yet dedicated it (Chanakho)" (Devarim 20:5); i.e., he has not yet begun to use it. As Rashi explains: "Dedication (chinukh) - this means 'beginning.'".

When I saw this Rashi I was struck by the fact that "Chinuch" is the term we use for Jewish education. That is one endeavor that requires true dedication - on the part of both the teacher and the student. This is the beginning of the child's life of Torah and Mitzvot. Perhaps this is one reason for the custom to give gifts to Torah teachers on Chanukah.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
'Russia for Russians'
There's been a rise in racially motivated attacks in Russia over the past few years and it's being "practically ignored" by authorities and police. An African student was killed over Christmas weekend and two other students were attacked. The police are reluctant to describe these crimes as racially motivated; "It could be hooliganism, a settling of scores, extremism," according to a police spokesman. Anything but racial hatred.
Foreign students scared to leave their homes after stabbings in St Petersburg
According to the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights (MBHR), 59 people have been killed in racist attacks in Russia in the past two years. In October, an 18-year-old Peruvian student was murdered in a southern university town popular with British students. Enrique Urtado was set upon by a gang of 20 youths who beat him and his friends with metal poles and wooden stakes.

Researchers have warned that Voronezh, a depressed city with high unemployment rates 300 miles south of Moscow, had become the country's main skinhead recruiting ground, labelling the city a "crucible of race hatred". Russia is estimated to be home to more than 50,000 skinheads, with 10,000 in Moscow and 5,000 in St Petersburg alone.

Critics argue the lethargic attitude of the police in chasing and prosecuting racist attacks has encouraged neo-Nazi groups to flourish. Using names such as "Blood and Honour", "Moscow Hammer Skin" and "Skin Legion" some observers fear their numbers could rise to over 100,000 within a few years.

It is not just extremist racism on the peripheries of society that is worrying observers. A leading racism monitoring website in Russia surveyed opinion in the first half of 2005 and found up to 60 per cent of Russians held some type of xenophobic viewpoint. Among the least-liked ethnic minorities were Chechens, Azeris and Armenians. Much of the neo-Nazi literature circulating among extremist groups in Russia has concentrated on insisting Russia is a purely white country.

Political parties have also increasingly resorted to tough immigration policies and xenophobic rhetoric to win votes. The MBHR recently published a report monitoring xenophobia during the Moscow local elections and found "a number of political parties adhering to xenophobic slogans in their election campaigns". Slogans such as "Russia for Russians" and "Russian faces in the Russian capital" were increasingly popular, they said.
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