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Status Discussion Slated for Capitol Hill P3

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Stories About Puerto Rico MOUSAI Bringing Digital Scenography



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China Sought to Sell Arms to Qaddafi International P11

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The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


Status Discussion Slated for Capitol Hill T

he University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad Association (UPRAA), is making history by presenting for the first time ever in the Congress of the United States, the community based forum: “Puerto Rico at its Political Crossroads: A forum to discuss the political future of the island.” This is the first time that a political discussion of this magnitude regarding the status of the island, has been organized in Congress by a community group organization and not for a political hearing. The forum will be held Sept. 13 in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. It will start with a special presentation by Dr. Edwin Meléndez, director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (CUNY) in New York. The forum will be moderated by Ray Suárez, senior correspondent of PBS. The event will have representatives from Puerto Rico’s three political parties and will include a welcoming remark Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, of the statehood supporting New Progressive Party. Puerto Rico Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock will represent

his position in favor of statehood as a member of the New Progressive Party. Popular Democratic Party Sen. Eduardo Bhatia will represent the current commonwealth status and former Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Manuel Rodríguez Orellana will be representing the independence status. The event was coordinated and organized by UPRAA and is being sponsored by MicroTech and is being co-hosted by the National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC) and ASPIRA. UPRAA, founded in 2003 as a nonprofit organization, represents alumni and friends of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) educational system residing in the continental U.S. The UPR educational system currently includes 11 campuses: Aguadilla, Arecibo, Bayamon, Carolina, Ciencias Medicas, Cayey, Humacao, Mayaguez, Ponce, Río Piedras, and Utuado. The association represents over 250,000 graduates of these campuses residing in the states. UPRAA was created to establish a strong network, develop and conduct cultural initiatives, and support charitable programs. It has given more than $70,000 on scholarships.

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The San Juan Weekly Star Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Ronald Fernandez’s Stories About Puerto Rico


onald Fernandez, a professor of sociology whose curiosity about a daring $7 million armored car robbery near his Connecticut home set him on a career path of scholarly investigation into the history of American colonialism in Puerto Rico, died Tuesday in West Hartford. He was 67. The cause was esophageal cancer. Dr. Fernandez was a recently minted doctor of philosophy teaching at Central Connecticut State College in 1983 when the robbery took place in a Wells Fargo armored car depot close enough to his house that he was detoured on the way home by police barricades. His initial idea was to write a book about the psychology of the bank robber. But his research into the lives of the men identified by the FBI as the masterminds of the heist, all members of a militant Puerto Rican independence group known as Los Macheteros, led Dr. Fernandez to a broader interest in the back story of the Macheteros’ cause: the long and, for most Americans, obscure history of disenfranchisement on Puerto Rico, a subject he knew little about despite growing up in New York City, where about 800,000 Puerto Ricans now live. Beginning with his 1987 book, “Los Macheteros: The Wells Fargo Robbery and the Violent Struggle for Puerto Rican Independence,’’ Dr. Fernandez wrote five books about Puerto Rico over the next decade. One, a

history textbook, received an American Library Association award. The rest were deeply footnoted histories of American military and economic domination of a tiny island that has existed in a kind of limbo since becoming a US possession in 1898, among the spoils of the Spanish-American War: neither colony nor part of the union. The nearly 4 million residents of Puerto Rico are US citizens, subject to federal taxes, but they cannot vote in US elections. They are represented by a nonvoting representative in Congress. Tax and regulatory exemptions given to businesses based on the mainland raise perennial public complaints about environmental and economic exploitation. “Ronnie recognized that this was very much a hidden history,’’ said Martin Espada, a poet and professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a friend. “It is not a history taught much at the high school or college level, so he became the foremost authority in the English language on colonialism and the independence movement in Puerto Rico.’’ Besides being a history of the relationship between the United States and what is officially known as its unincorporated territory, “Los Macheteros’’ was among the first published works to document FBI efforts in the 1960s and ’70s to infiltrate and discredit lawful, nonviolent independence groups in Puerto Rico.

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


Mainland 6

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Postal Service Is Nearing Default as Losses Mount By STEVEN GREENHOUSE


he United States Postal Service has long lived on the ďŹ nancial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its ďŹ nances. “Our situation is extremely serious,â€? the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. “If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.â€? In recent weeks, Mr. Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency’s deďŹ cit, which will reach $9.2 billion this ďŹ scal year. They include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers — nearly one-ďŹ fth of the agency’s work force — despite a no-layoffs clause in the unions’ contracts. The post ofďŹ ce’s problems stem from one hard reality: it is being squeezed on both revenue and costs. As any computer user knows, the Internet revolution has led to people and businesses sending far less conventional mail. At the same time, decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post ofďŹ ce’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest





private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health beneďŹ ts than most other federal employees. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the agency’s predicament on Tuesday. So far, feuding Democrats and Republicans in Congress, still smarting from the brawl over the federal debt ceiling, have failed to agree on any solutions. It doesn’t help that many of the options for saving the postal service are politically unpalatable. “The situation is dire,â€? said Thomas R. Carper, the Delaware Democrat who is chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the postal service. “If we do nothing, if we don’t react in a smart, appropriate way, the postal service could literally close later this year. That’s not the kind of development we need to inject into a weak, uneven economic recovery.â€? Missing the $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30, intended to ďŹ nance retirees’ future health care, won’t cause immediate disaster. But sometime early next year, the agency will run out of money to pay its employees and gas up its trucks, ofďŹ cials warn, forcing it to stop delivering the roughly three billion pieces of mail it handles weekly. The causes of the crisis are well known and immensely difďŹ cult to overcome. Mail volume has plummeted with the rise of e-mail, electronic bill-paying and a Web that makes everything from fashion catalogs to news instantly available. The system will handle an estimated 167 billion pieces of mail this ďŹ scal year, down 22 percent from ďŹ ve years ago. It’s difďŹ cult to imagine that trend reversing, and pessimistic projections suggest that volume could plunge to 118 billion pieces by 2020. The law also prevents the post ofďŹ ce from raising postage fees faster than ination. Meanwhile, the agency has had a tough time cutting its costs to match the revenue drop, with a history of labor contracts offering good health and pension beneďŹ ts, underused post ofďŹ ces, and laws that restrict its ability to make basic business decisions, like reducing the frequency of deliveries. Congress is considering numerous emergency proposals — most notably, allowing the post ofďŹ ce to recover billions of dollars that management says it overpaid to its employees’ pension funds. That ďŹ x would help the agency get through the short-term crisis, but would delay the day of reckoning on bigger issues. Postal service ofďŹ cials say one reason for their high costs is that they are legally required to provide universal service, making deliveries to 150 million addresses nationwide each week. They add that a major factor for the post ofďŹ ce’s $20 billion in losses over the past four years is a 2006 law requiring the postal service to pay an average of $5.5 billion annually for 10 years to ďŹ nance retiree health costs for the next 75 years. But the agency’s leaders acknowledge that they must ďŹ nd a way to increase revenue, something that will prove far harder than simply slicing costs. In some countries, post ofďŹ ces double as banks or sell insurance or cellphones. In the United States, the postal service is barred from entering many areas. Still, the agency is considering ideas, like gaining the right to deliver wine and beer, allowing commercial advertisements on postal trucks and in post ofďŹ ces, doing more “last-mileâ€? deliveries for FedEx and U.P.S. and offering special hand-delivery services for correspondence and transactions for which e-mail is not

considered secure enough. Mr. Donahoe’s hope is to cut $20 billion of the $75 billion in annual costs by 2015. To do that, he wants to close many post ofďŹ ces and slash the number of sorting facilities to 200 from 500 and trim the agency’s work force by 220,000 people, from its current 653,000. (A decade ago, the agency employed nearly 900,000.) The postal service has the legal authority to close facilities, although community opposition can make the process difďŹ cult. To placate critics and cut costs, ofďŹ cials say they would seek to run some postal operations out of stores like Wal-Mart or to share space with other government ofďŹ ces. Cutting the work force is more difďŹ cult. The agency’s labor contracts have long guaranteed no layoffs to the vast majority of its workers, and management agreed to a new no layoff-clause in a major union contract last May. But now, faced with what postal ofďŹ cials call “the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy,â€? the agency is asking Congress to enact legislation that would overturn the job protections and let it lay off 120,000 workers in addition to trimming 100,000 jobs through attrition. The postal service is also asking Congress for permission to end Saturday delivery. Given the vast range of stakeholders, getting consensus on a rescue plan will be difďŹ cult. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, like many lawmakers from rural states, vigorously opposes ending Saturday delivery, which would trim only 2 percent from the agency’s budget. Ms. Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee overseeing the postal service, said the cutback would be tough on people in small towns who receive prescriptions and newspapers by mail. “The postmaster general has focused on several approaches that I believe will be counterproductive,â€? she said. “They risk producing a death spiral where the postal service reduces service and drives away more customers.â€? The post ofďŹ ce’s powerful unions are angry and alarmed about the planned layoffs. “We’re going to ďŹ ght this and we’re going to ďŹ ght it hard,â€? said Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents 207,000 mail sorters and post ofďŹ ce clerks. “It’s illegal for them to abrogate our contract.â€? Senators Carper and Collins do back several of the postal service’s main ideas to avoid default, including recovering around $60 billion that some actuaries say the agency has overpaid into two pension funds. Although the Obama administration is working closely with the senators to ďŹ nd a solution, it has signaled discomfort with the pension proposals, questioning whether the postal service really overpaid. Meanwhile, Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight Committee, says the pension proposals would amount to an unjustiďŹ able bailout that would not solve the agency’s underlying problems. He is pushing a bill that would create an emergency oversight board that could order huge cost-cutting and void the postal service’s contracts — a proposal that not just the unions, but Senators Carper and Collins oppose. Fredric V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, warned of disaster if partisanship keeps Congress from acting. “This is about one of America’s oldest institutions,â€? he said. “It survived the telegraph, it survived the telephone, and we have to do everything we can to preserve it and adapt.â€?

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


Mainland 8

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama By JONATHAN CHAIT


his has been the summer that liberal discontent with Obama has finally crystallized. The frustration has been simmering for a while — through centrist appointments, bank bailouts and the defeat of the public option, to name a few examples. But it has taken the debt-ceiling standoff and the threat of a double-dip recession to create

a leftist critique of the president that stuck. Obama’s image as a weakling and sellout on domestic issues now centers on his alleged resistance, from the very first days of his presidency, to do whatever was necessary to heal the economy. The conservative repudiation of George W. Bush boiled down to “he spent too much,” the liberal repudiation of Obama has settled on “he didn’t spend enough.” The most common hallmark of the left’s

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magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the president’s. Congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of denying Obama support for any major element of his agenda, on the correct assumption this would make it less popular and help the party win the 2010 elections. Only for roughly four months during Obama’s term did Democrats have the 60 Senate votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, Republican opposition has proved immune even to persistent and successful attempts by Obama to mobilize public opinion. Americans overwhelmingly favor deficit reduction that includes both spending and taxes and favor higher taxes on the rich in particular. Obama even made a series of crusading speeches on this theme. The result? Nada. Yes, Bush passed his tax cuts — by using a method called reconciliation, which can avoid a filibuster but can be used only on budget issues. On No Child Left Behind and Medicare, he cut deals expanding government, which the right-wing equivalents of Greenwald denounced as a massive sellout. Bush did have one episode where he tried to force through a major domestic reform against a Senate filibuster: his crusade to privatize Social Security. Just as liberals urge Obama to do today, Bush barnstormed the country, pounding his message and pressuring Democrats, whom he cast as obstructionists. The result? Nada, beyond the collapse of Bush’s popularity. Perhaps the oddest feature of the liberal indictment of Obama is its conclusion Obama should have focused all his political capital on economic recovery. It’s worth recalling that several weeks before Obama proposed an $800 billion stimulus, House Democrats had floated a $500 billion stimulus. At the time, Obama’s $800 billion stimulus was seen by Congress, pundits and business leaders just about everybody who mattered — as mind-bogglingly large. News reports invariably described it as “huge,” “massive” or other terms suggesting it was unrealistically large, even kind of pornographic. The favored cliché used to describe the reaction in Congress was “sticker shock.” Compounding the problem, Obama proposed his stimulus shortly after the Congressional Budget Office predicted deficits topping a trillion dollars. Even before Obama took office, and for months afterward, “everybody who mattered” insisted that the crisis required Obama to scale back the domestic initiatives he campaigned on, especially health care reform, but also cap-and-trade, financial regulation and so on. Colin Powell, a reliable barometer of elite opinion, warned you can’t have so many things on the table that you can’t pay for it all.”

Rather than deploy every ounce of his leverage to force moderate Republicans, whose votes he needed, to swallow a larger stimulus than they wanted, Obama clearly husbanded some of his political capital. Why? Because in the position of choosing between the agenda he came into office hoping to enact and the short-term imperative of economic rescue, he picked the former. At the time, this was the course liberals wanted and centrists opposed. On two subsequent occasions, Obama faced this same choice. Last December, he could have refused to extend any of the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000. Republicans vowed to let all the tax cuts expire if he did so. If Obama let this happen, it would have almost fully solved the long-term deficit problem, while at the same time setting back the recovery by raising taxes on middle-class and low-income workers. Obama decided to make a deal, extending all the Bush tax cuts and also securing a progressive payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits, both forms of stimulus that Republicans would never have allowed without an extension of upper-bracket tax cuts in return. There is a decent argument that the president should have refused this deal. But if you make that argument, you have to accept the likelihood that nearly a million fewer jobs would have been created and that we would have been at risk of a double-dip recession back then. Yet the liberal critics most exercised about Obama’s failure to secure more stimulus were, for the most part, enraged when he did exactly that. Take Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor under President Clinton. Last November, Reich pleaded for an extension of unemployment benefits, calling the plight of the jobless our “single newest and biggest social problem.” When Obama made his bargain, Reich called it “an abomination,” complaining that “the bits and pieces the president got in return” — including the unemployment benefits previously deemed vital — amounted to “peanuts.” And then, this summer, Obama let the G.O.P. hold the debt-ceiling vote hostage to extract spending cuts. I think he should have called the Republicans’ bluff and let them accept the risk of a financial meltdown. But the reason Obama chose to cut a deal is that calling their bluff might have resulted in catastrophe. And Obama made a point of backloading the G.O.P.’s budget cuts so as not to contract the economy. He may have chosen wrongly, but he chose exactly the priorities liberals now insist he ignored — favoring economic recovery over long-term goals. Liberal critics of Obama, just like conservative critics of Republican presidents, generally want both maximal partisan conflict and maximal legislative achievement. In the real world, those two things are often at odds. Hence the allure of magical thinking.

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


LETTERS Yet Another Stupid Law Anywhere on earth you can marry your stepsibling. Or stepchild. Or stepparent. Except perhaps for a handful of nutty Islamic countries. And here. Not in your lifetimes, it’s incest, get into the bedroom and it’s five years in the slammer. It was a Friday afternoon and legislators had run out of margaritas and were in sour mood. Crisálida Martínez, San Juan

Essence of Penepeísta Privatization “Ma’am, I realize you’re entitled to the service and that you paid for it, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do. This is being handled by an outside company and I’ve called them and I’ve called them and they don’t do anything. It’s not my fault. No, I can’t tell you who they are, it’s we who have the contract with them and we who have to deal with them and, as you can see, I’m doing the best I can, please try to understand, I can do no more. We just have to wait.” Casiopeia Martínez , San Juan

How Red Are Our Herrings Now that Mark Anthony and Jennifer López are splitting, our politicians will have plenty to rattle about over the media. I can just hear Sila’s daughter going on and on over WOSO Radio come Wednesday. Belisario Badillo, Hato Rey

Stereoscopy is Awesome! For the uneducated among you, that’s 3-D. Indeed, it’s an eyegasm, if I’m allowed to make up a word. Like color to black and white or the talkies to silent films or those to stills. Trouble is, quality cinema has yet to benefit. I saw Sanctum, Hollywoodesque cliffhanger nonsense, but the visuals were out of this world, I paid no attention whatsoever to the plot. I’m not missing the new Harry Potter, though wild horses wouldn’t drag me there if it were monoscopic. Mariano Marte, Santurce

And the $800... The new UPR President is paying a $1.6M federal handout to some corporate octopus for exotic gear on the campuses to save electricity, including solar panels at Río Piedras and little windmills at Humacao. It might help though to turn off air conditioning and lighting overnight, during weekends and through

the monthlong Christmas recess. Oh yes, the fungus on the carpets. Tiles? Linoleum? Wood even? Emilio Santiago, Summit Hills

Bad Fortuño! To William Leffingwell: Perhaps TV doesn’t reach your faraway planet, but here the spectacle was grotesque, surreal. A mother and daughter beaten by police with those bone-breaking lead-cored nightsticks, seated journalists maced point blank into the eyes at our hallowed Capitol. Young shrimpy fellows squashed to the floor by mammothy riot squaders, who then leisurely tortured them with electricity, then a lieutenant kicked them into the groin, again and again. All on TV for the universe to witness. Then Figueroa Sancha said it’s okay to do that to captives “when their attitude continues to be aggressive.” When you’re pinned to the floor like that, attitude is all you’ve left, spirit, courage. Soon enough your beloved Fortuño congratulated the Superintendent for a job well done. Torturing prisoners is a violation of the US Constitution. And of the Geneva Convention. Not even Pol Pot of Cambodia had the audacity to do it live on TV. Not long after that US Secretary of Justice Holder flew down to orchestrate a mass arrest of our police, he pronounced them the most corrupt ever to shame the American nation. That we “deserve better.” I’m not so sure. Again Fortuño congratulated Figueroa Sancha for a job well done. And christened a Monument to the Police in Puerta de Tierra, surely superguarded to avert it getting wrecked. Fortuño has endeavored to dismantle democracy here, to bypass separation of powers by packing the PR Supreme Court with partisan hacks, to then railroad through legislation oppressive and clearly un-Constitutional, like when they violated Case and Controversy. He has done likewise to deliberative/administrative agencies, the Board at Energía Eléctrica, the Council of Higher Education to renege on the agreement with the UPR students and crush them like roaches, the youth and future of Puerto Rico. He has undermined Freedom of Speech and Assembly by outlawing demonstrations that encumber Commonwealth bureaucrats. Demonstrations are meant to be disruptive, better that civil war, no? Elsewhere they’re a democratic right. He fired Commonwealth pater familias in the tens of thousands without remorse, it’s not his job that there not be unemployment, but that wages stay cheap for his moneyed underwriters. Then he taxes oppressively with nothing to show for it, like where is the boodle going? If you need to ask... He’s unrelenting on the UPR $800, that 10K families couldn’t afford this year and another 10K won’t next year and so on, till it reaches a quarter of a million households around the 2030’s, and crime conflagrates as the dispossessed strive to shoot their way out of their misery with bullets or through it with dope, and the

inevitable eventual police state like in George Orwell’s 1984, while the ensconced affluent make real their dreams of genteel living. William, Fortuño might appear a democrat and a liberal to you if you’re to the right of Rafael Trujillo and Fulgencio Batista. The rest of us we may take stock that Uncle Sam’s watching over us from not too far. Just countence our very own young skinny smiley Papa Doc and penepé macoutes (riot squaders in Créole?). And hope Jimmy Carter drops in for the 2012 election to help keep those restless blue fingers away from the ballot boxes. NATHAN ARBUNCLE, SANTURCE

To William Leffingwell: Your beef over namecalling is, well, picayune. You characterize fascist as an insult. Aren’t you being a bit parochial here? My grandfather, a denizen of La Sardegna, was a Mussolini hardliner that got a wartime bullet through his thigh for his trouble. Call him a fascist and he would’ve put his arm around your shoulder and had a Löwenbräu with you. In his room were a pic of him with Il Duce and a banner of fascist Italy and sundry documents, medals and awards. He used to calmly explain that fascism was represented by the fascio, sticks rolled up together to make an ax, that meant unity of a nation, of a people, that there’s no other path to prosperity and happiness of a nation than the will of all its citizens focused together, and that democracy is a dumb chickencoop, with its depressions and its crime and its instability. That the best proof that Mussolini was never a dictator, as alleged by the Americans, is that he was removed by the Gran Consiglio Fascista, something the German Reichstag was empowered to do to Hitler as well. Now what name might we call you? Eleuterio Serpieri, Santurce

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The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

LETTERS Did it Again? Mari Brás after receiving the first Certificate of Citizenship of Puerto Rico, September 14, 2007

green earth, did you get the seemingly inexhaustible fury of the UPR student strikers to just fizzle out in one afternoon? Did activists suffer traffic accidents, heart attacks? Or commit suicide like the macheteros? Nothing has been heard. How did you pull it? Frágola Serpieri, Santurce

To Gov. Fortuño: The PR Socialist Party was giving Gov. Romero a hard time, setting fire to Sears and such nights and then Carlos Gallizá warned of a Northern Ireland here if we became a state. And Juan Mari Bras was firebranding on TV at every turn. And Washington was getting spooked. Or so the penepeístas figured. Then Mari Bras’s son was plausibly assassinated by the fellows who’d done such a good job for their equine boss at Cerro Maravilla. And subsequently not a peep out of Mari ever again. Nor Gallizá even. It all brings us back to today. How, on God’s

Things in Proportion To Teresa Livoti: First, you say, “There are defects that can be corrected in the womb, and science has made great strides achieving such feats. But this is different from experimenting with human embryos to see what will result, if anything.” How, pray tell, do you think science makes the “great strides?” Experiments, experiments, experiments. Then, 900 are slaughtered yearly here for drugs and another so many sacrificed to the car lobby, butchered on our roads because it’s gotta be automobiles rather than safe mass transit. All

while the pols battle UPR students and stage pointless status plebiscites and voice neverending frivolity. And not a peep out of your hallowed church. Why might you then fret over a clump of cells? Lastly, don’t badmouth the Nazis, the precious darlings of Pope Pius XII, who figured Hitler as the shield between the Vatican and godless communism. Frágola Serpieri , Santurce

A Swords or Pistols? To William Leffingwell: I do believe, Sir, you’re naught but a Scoundrel! I tell you this today and you laugh. In the XVIII century you would’ve challenged me to a duel for it. Jefferson’s wording in the Declaration of Independence and other contemporary writings must be considered in this light. Agustín Manzano , San Juan

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


China Sought to Sell Arms to Qaddafi By ANNE BARNARD


n the final weeks of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s battle with Libyan rebels, Chinese state companies offered to sell his government large stockpiles of weapons and ammunition in apparent violation of United Nations sanctions, officials of Libya’s transitional government said Sunday. They cited Qaddafi government documents found by a Canadian journalist, which the officials said were authentic. The documents, including a memo from Libyan security officials detailing a shopping trip to Beijing on July 16, appear to show that state-controlled Chinese arms companies offered to sell $200 million worth of rocket launchers, antitank missiles, portable surface-to-air missiles designed to bring down aircraft, and other weapons and munitions. The documents, in Arabic, were posted on Sunday on the Web site of The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper. The Chinese companies apparently suggested that the arms be delivered through third countries like Algeria or South Africa. Like China, those countries opposed the United Nations authorization of NATO military action against Qaddafi forces in Libya, but said they supported the arms embargo imposed by an earlier United Nations resolution. A rebel military spokesman, Abdulrahman Busin, said in an interview on Sunday that the transitional government would seek accountability through appropriate international channels. Mr. Busin said that any country that had violated the sanctions would have poor prospects for business and other dealings with Libya, an oil-rich country. “We have hard evidence of deals going on between China and Qaddafi, and we have all the documents to prove it,” he said, adding that the rebels have other evidence, including documents and weapons found on the battlefield, showing that arms were supplied illegally to Colonel Qaddafi’s forces by numerous other governments or companies. “I can think of at least 10 off the top of my head,” he said. Graeme Smith, a reporter for

The Globe and Mail, said that the documents his newspaper posted were found by him in the trash in the Bab Akkarah neighborhood, where many Qaddafi regime officials lived. They were on the green letterhead of a government procurement department. State Department, Pentagon and intelligence officials in Washington said Sunday that they were unaware of such dealings and would need more time to analyze the documents. A senior NATO diplomat in Brussels discounted the report as highly unlikely, but said he was not familiar with the documents cited in the article. Members of the United Nations’ Libya sanctions committee said that nothing about arms dealings with China had been brought to their attention, and noted that France had been accused of air-dropping arms to some rebel units. For their part, rebels argued that the embargo resolution referred specifically to arming the Qaddafi government, not them. As the documents surfaced on Sunday, there were signs that normal life was returning to Tripoli, the Libyan capital. The rebels claimed progress in dealing with water shortages and restoring telephone service. At the same time, rebel forces massed outside Bani Walid, one of Colonel Qaddafi’s last remaining strongholds, on Sunday, preparing for a possible assault after the latest negotiations for a peaceful surrender of the town came to nothing. A rebel negotiator, Abdullah Kanshil, said the talks broke down after Qaddafi loyalists insisted that the rebels disarm before entering the town, The Associated Press reported. The rebels have seesawed between claims that an assault on Bani Walid was imminent and that a negotiated settlement was nearly in hand. In Tripoli, such drama seemed far away. Traffic police in white uniforms directed vehicles, though with a fuel shortage sidelining many cars in long lines at filling stations, the police presence served more to show that government employees were trickling back to work than to deal with the minimal traffic. The young rebels running chec-

kpoints throughout the city have seemed markedly less tense in recent days. One checkpoint on Sunday was guarded only by the torso of a clothingstore mannequin wearing a reflective yellow safety vest. Several pharmacies, restaurants and clothing stores could be seen opening on streets where a few days ago every storefront was shut. New billboards urged young supporters of the revolution to write only positive graffiti on walls, not insults to Colonel Qaddafi. Celebratory shooting has lessened after officials pleaded with fighters to stop, though one hospital volunteer said she recently saw the body of a 3-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet while riding on her grandfather’s shoulders. Libyan families have ventured out of doors in much greater numbers in recent days, especially on Friday night, when thousands of people went to a main square in the capital, now renamed Martyrs’ Square, to celebrate. Little girls wore their best new dresses, bought for the Id al-Fitr holiday, and flashed the victory sign for family snapshots in front of Libyan flags. The director of the transitional council’s stabilization team, Aref elNayed, said that confidence in the security of the city was growing and that it would not be filled with bands of rebel fighters for long. “None of the groups is intent on staying as armed forces, independent of the national army or the police, and there is consensus on that,” Mr. Nayed told a news conference. Still, the United Nations special envoy for Libya, Ian Martin, said in Tripoli that the proliferation of arms in the country was still “a major concern.” On Sunday, in a series of news conferences, rebel officials listed what they said were signs of improvement, including supplies of bottled water ready to be distributed through mosques, the return of civil servants to their desks and the reopening of banks. The minister of transportation, Anwar al-Fitouri, said that cellular and local landline phone service was working again in the western mountains, and the education minister, Salim Suleiman Sahli, said that teachers would

begin work in one week to start preparing for the new school year. Mr. Sahli said that in areas where fighting had kept the schools closed for months, special textbooks would help students catch up on lessons over an eight-week period. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a rebel military leader in Tripoli, told reporters that rebels in Bani Walid, the loyalist stronghold southeast of the capital, had raised their flag over the town, and he called on the townspeople to come into the streets and demonstrate their support for the new government. It was not immediately possible to confirm his claim, and battlefield reports from both sides throughout the conflict have been notoriously unreliable. The town is dominated by the Warfallah tribe, which has long supported Colonel Qaddafi, and rebels have speculated that he or his sons might be hiding there. The rebel government said it had confirmed the death of Colonel Qaddafi’s son Khamis, who has already been reported dead at least twice before without independent confirmation. CNN reported that another of the colonel’s sons, Saadi, told its correspondent on Sunday that he was just outside Bani Walid, and that he no longer saw any chance of a negotiated surrender of the town. Meanwhile, the colonel’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, who has not been seen since the fall of Tripoli nearly two weeks ago, claimed in a telephone call to Reuters that he was in Bani Walid and that the exhortations of the transitional council “are not being heeded here.” Mr. Ibrahim said that Colonel Qaddafi was still in Libya and was well defended — but he said he did not know exactly where.


The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Reluctantly, Europe Inches Closer to a Fiscal Union By LOUISE STORY AND MATTHEW SALTMARSH


t was a brief lesson from American history that served as a not-so-subtle suggestion for contemporary Europe. When an official from a European central bank met recently with a financial official in Washington, his host pulled out the Articles of Confederation, the 1781 precursor to the U.S. Constitution, to use as talking points. The message was clear: join together in a stronger union, or risk collapse. The story of America’s failed early effort to operate as a loose confederation of 13 states is increasingly relevant for many European officials who are grappling with the drastic problems of their own flawed 17-nation currency union. The lack of strong central coordination of the euro zone’s debt and spending policies is a key reason Europe has been unable to resolve its financial crisis despite more than 18 months of trying. And that is why, despite all the political obstacles, Europe appears to be inching closer to a more centralized fiscal union that would eventually turn the euro zone into something resembling a United States of Europe. “If today’s policy makers want to successfully stay the course, they will have to press ahead with structural changes and deeper economic integration,” António Borges, director of the International Monetary Fund’s European unit, said during a recent speech. “To put the crisis behind us, we need more Europe, not less. And we need it now.” Nothing happens quickly in Europe, however. For the most part, such efforts are still being conducted behind-the-scenes and many of the ideas have yet to hit official agendas or the public arena. But several longtime financial and central bank officials and staff members said there had been a substantial step-up in planning for a closer European fiscal relationship to match the unified monetary union under which the euro zone has operated for more than a decade. For now, officials are mainly talking in pu-

blic in generalities. “The crisis has clearly revealed the need for strong economic governance in a zone with a single currency,” Jean-Claude Trichet, the departing president of the European Central Bank, said during a speech Monday, repeating earlier calls for greater fiscal discipline. “I think that European nations will create a confederation and we could then have a confederal finance minister, whose mission would be the surveillance of the entire zone, and who would be able to impose decisions,” on governments in breach of euro zone rules. Officials, who spoke anonymously because their discussions are politically sensitive, said a major overhaul of the way Europe conducts fiscal policy — coordinating government spending, taxes and deficits — was likely to take a long time and require further changes in the treaties governing the euro. But they pointed to the smaller changes that were already taking place as evidence that euro area financial ministries see that they have little choice but to move together if they want to avoid a catastrophic breakdown of the euro zone. With the new bailout for Greece that was agreed upon by European leaders in July still awaiting approval from each country in the euro zone, the fractionalized way that Europe runs fiscal decision-making risks setting off yet another crisis at each step along the way. Every plan requires agreement among finance ministers and the Parliament of any member country can veto the deal. Many economists say that the Continent’s debt crisis, which began in early 2010 with the threat that Greece might have to default on its loans, could have been resolved far more quickly if there were some sort of central financial body, akin to the Treasury Department in the United States. “If they had the equivalent of the U.S. Treasury then this treasury could have formulated proposals with the collective objective in mind rather than 17 national objectives competing

with each other,” said Garry J. Schinasi, a former official with the International Monetary Fund who now privately advises European central banks and governments. “Instead, they fumbled around and took two baby steps forward and three backward.” The idea of a European Treasury that would enforce fiscal discipline on wayward countries, while also having the power to spread E.U. wealth from healthier countries to ones struggling to pay their debts, is fiercely unpopular among voters in many countries. Those in prosperous nations like Germany do not want to see their taxes used to bail out countries that borrowed their way into trouble. And those in weaker nations are reluctant to allow outsiders to dictate how their governments spend their money and tax their citizens. Europe’s currency union has its roots in the agreement signed in 1992 known as the Maastricht Treaty. That agreement set in motion the rules for creating the euro and for joining the euro zone. A later agreement established the European Central Bank, which manages interest rates much like the U.S. Federal Reserve. But the Maastricht Treaty stopped short of telling countries how to handle spending or taxation, leaving them loose rules on budget deficits to follow — or break, as many did, even Germany and France in the early days of the euro. In the United States, of course, agreements between Congress and the White House on budget measures can be extremely difficult to reach, as the fight over raising the U.S. debt ceiling this summer demonstrated all too well. But the European process is even more arduous and drawn out. Over the next month, global financial markets are likely to resume their volatility as final negotiations on the Greek bailout continue in Europe. The problems were highlighted Friday when talks between the Europeans, the I.M.F. and Greece were put off because Athens was coming up short in its plans for meeting budget targets for next year. Stock markets promptly fell on the news. This week, more challenges await. The top court in Germany is scheduled to rule Wednesday whether it is legal for that country’s leaders to make such an agreement. While it is expected to allow Germany to participate in the bailout, the constitutional court could surprise the experts. And it could make it harder to adopt such agreements in the future. Officials in Finland are supposed to make a statement outlining their conditions for approving the deal, which will probably set the pattern for other countries seeking guarantees from Greece that their loans will be paid back. Later in the autumn, new rules that would bolster the role of the European Commission as an independent arbiter of national fiscal programs are due to be approved. The heavy lifting involved in approving the new Greece deal illustrates how difficult it would be to create a European Treasury.

But that has not stopped some officials from calling for moves in that direction. Last month, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, proposed new financial transaction taxes for the euro zone as well as standards for corporate tax laws, so no country could lure businesses at the expense of others with exceptionally low tax rates. They also proposed that each country enshrine in its constitution rules that would limit deficits, a process that is now under way in Spain, Portugal and elsewhere. Earlier in the summer, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, a member of the E.C.B.’s executive board, joined the campaign among many private economists to introduce euro bonds to provide joint backing for a substantial share of the sovereign debt of each member of the euro zone. Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, told the newspaper Bild that he would like to see the E.U.’s treaty revised — an arduous process — to enable the Union to make common fiscal policies. An official in the German Finance Ministry, who was not authorized to speak on the matter publicly, said the ministry was trying to avoid terms like “transfer union, euro bonds or fiscal union” because it would alienate too many voters. But he acknowledged that they saw such a union as both necessary and inevitable. “You could call it a fiscal union, but the minister won’t do that,” the official said. “What we are talking about is pooling our fiscal policy and doing to fiscal policy what we’ve done with monetary policy.” To some extent, leaders in Europe have already started down the path toward such a union. Perhaps the most important step was the creation of the European Financial Stability Facility, which is funded by all the euro zone countries and authorized to lend money to troubled countries in the currency union. The facility will borrow money in the public markets, much like the U.S. Treasury does. The facility is a step toward euro bonds, analysts said, because it would be a pan-European issuer. But it is not replacing individual countries’ bonds and it is allowed to borrow only a finite amount — currently limited to around €440 billion, or $630 billion — that many analysts say is not adequate to deal with all the countries at risk, including Spain and Italy. The euro zone is also moving to increase oversight of countries’ budget plans earlier in the process and to give the European Commission greater power to propose tough financial penalties on countries that violate the fiscal rules, including a withdrawal of some E.U. funds, unless blocked by a large majority of members. If and when that happens, said Graham Bishop, an independent financial analyst who has advised the British and European Parliaments, it “would be the moment of collective control of an errant state — the final step toward a de facto political union.”

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


Salmonella Lurks in Pet Foods Too



hen it comes to worries about food poisoning, human food typically gets all the attention. But a growing number of recalls of tainted foods in the past few years involve pet products. This week, Merrick Pet Care of Amarillo, Tex., recalled 248 cases of its Doggie Wishbone pet treats because of potential contamination with salmonella. And last month, Nestlé Purina PetCare issued a recall after some bags of its Purina One Vibrant Maturity dry cat food tested positive for salmonella. Indeed, over the past two years, pet food makers have issued nearly three dozen recalls of pet food and dog treats like pig ears because of salmonella concerns. “The problem of salmonella in pet foods and pet treats, even in pet supplements like vitamins, is something people should be aware of,” said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a veterinary epidemiologist at

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent recalls were a result of salmonella detected during random testing and not because of illness in animals or humans, but experts caution that tainted food poses threats to both pets and people. Last year, the C.D.C. reported that from 2006 to 2008, nearly 80 people, including 32 children under the age of 2, were infected with salmonella as a result of coming into contact with dry dog or cat food, marking the first time human infections were linked to dry pet food. Other recent salmonella outbreaks in humans have been linked to pig ears and pet treats made with beef and salmon. “It’s important for people to know that after they feed their pets or give them treats, they should wash their hands, particularly before they prepare food or baby bottles or before they eat,” said Dr. Behravesh. Dried pet food typically is heated to high temperatures that kill bacteria before it is shaped into different shapes of kibble. But dry food is not necessarily produced under sterile conditions, and contamination can occur at various stages in the production process, veterinarians say. Canned food, by contrast, is vacuum-sealed and sterilized but can be contaminated after it is opened if improperly stored or handled. Pig ears, which are frozen, cleaned and flavored but not cooked, may become contaminated from the original animal carcass. One study in Canada found that 51 percent of pig ears purchased at stores contained salmonella; another study also found high rates of contamination, 41 percent, in pig ears sold in the United States, according to a June report in The Journal

of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “We know from past investigations that pig ears and similar treats that involve dried animal parts can be a risk for salmonella infection in people,” Dr. Behravesh said. Raw meat, including scraps and bones obtained from butchers, is another common source of salmonella exposure in pets. In the June report, 45 percent of commercial raw meat diets fed to greyhounds tested positive for salmonella. In the documented outbreaks involving humans, pets consuming the contaminated food or treats often didn’t show visible signs of food poisoning, though often a pet’s illness is never diagnosed by a veterinarian. Symptoms of food poisoning in pets are similar to those in people and include lethargy, fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea that can last three to five days. “A lot of people don’t realize pets can

be just as vulnerable to these food-borne infections as we are,” said Kimberly May, assistant director of professional and public affairs at the American Veterinary Medical Association. Puppies and kittens as well as adult animals with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable. To lower the risk of salmonella exposure to both humans and pets, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends avoiding raw food diets and storing pet foods properly. Dry foods, treats and vitamins should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from the kitchen area, and food and water bowls should be washed often. Individually packaged pig ears are less likely to be contaminated than those from bulk bins. Children, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems should not handle pet food or treats. And hands should be washed before and after handling pet products.




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Wine 14 Alsatian Rieslings Return to Form

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


EW things have made me as happy recently as the wine panel’s tasting of dry rieslings from Alsace. Not only did we absolutely love many of the wines, but also the rieslings actually tasted pretty dry. Yes, I know, this seems a bit of a truism, like remarking that the steak tastes like steak. Why wouldn’t a dry riesling be dry? But just about anybody who’s been following wines from Alsace for a long time knows that in the past 20 years many historically dry whites have been made with more and more residual sugar, often leaving the wines flaccid, cloying and out of balance. These wines, with no indication of sweetness on their labels, have caused uncertainty and frustration among consumers, and have turned many people away from Alsace. This tasting restored the excitement for me. The parade of stony, taut, complex and at times majestic wines was thrilling. If anybody, dismayed by recent history, doubts the potential of Alsace to produce wines of beautifully etched delineation, the proof was in the glasses before us. Perhaps “doubt” is too strong a word. It’s not as if all Alsace whites had sweetened up. Trimbach’s brilliant top rieslings, Clos Sainte Hune (which some people regard as the world’s greatest riesling), and the more affordable Cuvée Frédéric Émile, have always been resolutely dry. Other producers, like Ostertag and Kreydenweiss, have likewise sought to keep their wines dry, unless, of course, the wines were designated as sweet. I can’t say the problem has ceased to exist. Alsace whites still require consumers to be vigilant. A few weeks ago, I ordered a 2007 riesling Vieilles Vignes from Albert Boxler, a producer whose wines I generally believe are going to be dry. Wrong. The wine was sweet, too sweet, in fact, for the oysters I had ordered, and not entirely balanced. By contrast, our No. 1 wine in the blind tasting was the 2008 Boxler Sommerberg “E,” a magnificent wine with intense mineral and fruit flavors, so good it earned a rare four-star rating from the panel. Was the wine dry? It sure seemed dry. At the least, it was perfectly balanced. The “E,” by the way, indicates that the wine comes from a specific parcel high on the slope of the grand cru Sommerberg vineyard. Wines from a warmer site lower on the slope are designated “D.” Either, alas, may be hard to find outside restaurants. For the tasting, Florence Fabricant and I were joined by Joshua Nadel, the beverage director at Locanda Verde and the Dutch, and Carla Rzeszewski, the wine director of the Spotted Pig, the Breslin and the John Dory Oyster Bar. We wanted to focus on the most recent vintages, and this led to a preponderance of 2008s, and also a few less ambitious ’09s, which were already on the shelves. It might be that our tasting was a little mis-

leading, as the ’08 vintage was conducive to high acidity, which can mask residual sugar that might be more apparent in a vintage of lower acidity, like 2007. Yet, the vintage also illustrates how superb these rieslings can be when they are well balanced. Why did the wines from Alsace become sweeter? In some cases, no doubt, mass-market producers and négociants have intentionally catered to consumers who like a little sweetness even if they say they prefer dry wines. Many American producers do the same. Among more conscientious producers, efforts to cut back yields to make wines of greater intensity and concentration can result in grapes of profoundly high sugar levels. These producers also believe in intervening as little as possible in the winemaking, so if the fermentation stopped before all the sugar had been converted into alcohol, well, they believed, that’s what nature intended. Making the wines dry might have resulted in absurdly high levels of alcohol in any case. You could say these wines ended up sweet with the best of intentions. Now, nothing is intrinsically wrong with sweet wines as long as two conditions are met. First, the sweetness should not come as a surprise. The wines should be clearly labeled as such. The German labeling system, as arcane and complicated as it may seem, ensures pretty much that you know what you are getting. Second, as I suggested, the wines must be balanced. That is, if a wine does contain residual sugar, it must also contain sufficient acidity to make it refreshing, not flat and fatiguing. Not to belabor the comparison with German rieslings, but they live in a lacy, ethereal world in which, if the residual sugar is high, the alcohol is low, and with enough acidity the wines are delicate and crystalline. In Alsace, where the wines are much more powerful, even wines with residual sugar can have a lot of alcohol, which makes them feel bigger, sweeter and more voluminous. To combat this lack of balance, one of Alsace’s greatest producers, Zind Humbrecht, has altered its viticulture over the last decade in an effort to produce grapes that achieve ripeness earlier, with less sugar and greater acidity. Olivier Humbrecht, the proprietor along with his father, Léonard, said in an e-mail that the transformation in the vineyard has paid off. “We have higher acid levels now than in the ’90s, which makes no sense as the recent vintages were warmer and more precocious,” he said. In the late 1990s, Zind Humbrecht was always among the last in the region to harvest. With the viticultural changes, he said, Zind Humbrecht is today among the first to start harvesting. The estate also began in the last decade to include a discreet dryness scale, or indice, on each bottle, with 1 represen-

ting dry and 5 high sweetness. Three Zind Humbrecht rieslings were in the tasting (the estate offers a bewildering number of rieslings, each expressing a specific terroir), and each made our Top 10. Our No. 2 wine was the 2008 Zind Humbrecht Grand Cru Brand, a rich, golden wine with honeyed flavors of minerals and flowers. It may have had a touch of residual sugar, but it was so well balanced that it tasted dry to us. Indeed, it was an Indice 2, representing a wine that may not be technically dry, but seems dry on the palate. Likewise, our No. 3 wine, the 2008 Zind Humbrecht Heimbourg, was also an Indice 2. This seemed lusher than the Brand, with exotic fruit flavors, yet it, too, was superbly balanced and focused. Rounding out the estate’s three wines was our No. 5, the 2008 Clos Windsbuhl. This was an Indice 1, a dry, savory wine that, as Josh put it, seemed like soil speaking through the wine. Because of our focus on recent vintages, we did not include the top Trimbachs in the tasting (2005 is the current release). We did have the 2008 Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte Catherine from Weinbach, a wine that is not necessarily dry in every vintage. The ’08 was a beautifully balanced, complex, subtle wine that danced lightly through the mouth despite its somewhat thick texture. This was a rare tasting in which the five most expensive wines in the lineup finished in the Top 5. Our No. 6 bottle, the 2008 Éléments from Bott Geyl, was one of the least expensive bottles in the tasting, at $15, and our best value. It was rich yet light-bodied with enticing stony mineral flavors. By any estimation, Alsace is one of the planet’s greatest places to grow riesling. It’s thrilling for me to feel that they are restored as an option. With the tasting lingering in my mind, I recently got a bottle of 2008 Zind Humbrecht Clos Häuserer riesling to drink at home with dinner. The wine, an Indice 1, was a dry, complex, minerally delight. I will still be cautious with Alsace, researching as best I can a particular wine’s style before a purchase. But I will be hopeful.

Tasting Report

Albert Boxler Alsace Riesling, $53, ✩✩✩✩ Grand Cru Sommerberg “E” 2008 Graceful and airy yet intense, with majestic floral, ripe fruit and stony mineral flavors. (Robert Chadderdon Selections, New York) Zind Humbrecht Alsace Riesling, $90, ✩✩✩ ½ Grand Cru Brand 2008 Rich, golden and deep yet dry and balanced with gorgeous, honeyed flavors of minerals and flowers. (The Sorting Table, Napa, Calif.) Zind Humbrecht Alsace Riesling, $55, ✩✩✩ ½ Heimbourg 2008 Lush flavors of exotic fruit, citrus and flowers, yet well focused and structured. (The Sorting Table) Weinbach Alsace Riesling Schlossberg, $43, ✩✩✩ Grand Cru Cuvée Sainte Catherine 2008 Slightly thick in texture but light in the mouth with savory flavors of fruit, spices and minerals. (Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala.) Zind Humbrecht Alsace Riesling, $85, ✩✩✩ Clos Windsbuhl 2008 Dry, tangy and refreshing with savory, chalky flavors. (The Sorting Table) BEST VALUE Bott Geyl Alsace Riesling, $15, ✩✩✩ Les Éléments 2008 Rich and golden yet light-bodied with deep, stony mineral flavors. (Winebow, New York) Kuentz-Bas Alsace Riesling, $16, ✩✩ ½ Tradition 2008 Tart and taut with lingering flavors of ripe peaches and mint. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif.) Barmès Buecher Alsace Riesling, $26, ✩✩ ½ Rosenberg 2008 Tightly wound, with lively, spicy flavors of citrus and flowers. (The Petit Pois Corporation, Moorestown, N.J.) Hugel Alsace Riesling, $19, ✩✩ 2009 Clean and dry with stony mineral and citrus flavors. (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York) Weinbach Alsace Riesling, $30, ✩✩ Cuvée Théo 2009 Rich and a tad hot, with pleasant flavors of minerals and mint. (Vineyard Brands)

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Stuffed Vegetables for Late Summer By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN


ravel anywhere in the Mediterranean region, and you will find stuffed vegetables. In Provence, they tend to be filled with meat (a way to stretch leftover stews), but in the Middle East and Greece rice and grain fillings prevail. Regional cooks make abundant use of fresh herbs like parsley, dill and mint,

and sweet spices like cinnamon and allspice. Fragrant stuffed vegetables can be made ahead of the meal and served hot or at room temperature. They don’t require a lot of patience to assemble — they just need a long simmer and then a rest to let the flavors mingle and intensify. Eat them as a main dish or a side, and serve up leftovers for lunch.

about a third of the eggplant. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover tightly and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes to an hour until the eggplant and rice are tender. Remove from the heat. 5. Using two spatulas (the eggplants are soft at this point), transfer the eggplants to a platter. Bring the sauce to a boil. If it is not already thick, reduce until thick and fragrant. Pour over the eggplants, and allow to cool to warm or room temperature. They’re good chilled as well. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro if desired.



Yield: Serves six. Advance preparation: These taste even better the day after they’re made; they firm up in the refrigerator and are easier to handle. They will keep for about four days in the refrigerator. I like them cold. Nutritional information per serving: 193 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 30 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams dietary fiber; 32 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein

Spaghetti With Crab Meat, Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula By FLORENCE FABRICANT


Eggplant Stuffed With Rice and Tomatoes


he filling for these irresistible stuffed eggplants is also good for peppers and squash. Substitute the chopped flesh of the summer squash for the eggplant, and just use the rice and tomatoes for peppers. Make these a day ahead for best results. 2 1/2 to 3 pounds small or medium eggplants Salt to taste 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, grated on the large holes of a box grater 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 to 6 garlic cloves (to taste), minced 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain or basmati rice 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint Freshly ground pepper to taste Juice of 2 lemons 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon sugar 3 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Cut the eggplants in half. With a grapefruit spoon or a small knife, remove the flesh to within 1/2 inch of the skins. 2. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with salt, and let sit for 30 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Chop the flesh, and steam for 20 minutes, until tender. 3. In a large bowl, combine a third of the tomatoes, the steamed eggplant, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, all but 1 clove of the garlic, the rice, herbs and the juice of one of the lemons. Season with salt and pepper. 4. Oil a large flameproof casserole or an earthenware casserole set over a flame tamer. Combine the remaining tomatoes, olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, lemon juice, sugar, tomato paste and remaining garlic in the casserole. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fill the eggplant shells with the rice mixture, and arrange in the casserole in a single layer. Add water if necessary to cover

here was plenty of warm sunshine in the dry rieslings from Alsace. These were not the first rieslings that suggested crab meat to me, or the first time that mellow crab meat suggested riesling. Several weeks ago, before the ballet at Lincoln Center, I cleaned my plate of spaghetti tossed with crab meat, tart-sweet cherry tomatoes, arugula and bread crumbs at Nick & Toni’s Cafe. About a week later, the recipe in hand, I served it at home with Alsatian riesling for an elegant pas de deux. Adapted from Nick & Toni’s Cafe, Manhattan Time: 45 minutes 1 cup loosely packed diced sourdough country bread 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 2 pints cherry tomatoes (about 50) 1/4 cup sliced garlic (5 or 6 cloves) Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped 12 ounces spaghetti Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat 1 bunch arugula, heavy stems removed (about 2 cups). 1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons oil and the chopped garlic. Spread in a small baking pan and bake until

lightly browned, about 15 minutes, tossing from time to time. Let cool. 2. Turn heat up to 450 degrees. Place the tomatoes in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the sliced garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, a pinch of chopped oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in a baking pan and roast about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes start to burst. Remove from the oven. 3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente. Meanwhile, grind the bread cubes in a blender to make crumbs. Heat the remaining oil and the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook until lightly colored. Add the roasted tomatoes and their juices, reduce heat to low and cook for a few minutes. Fold in the crab meat and remaining oregano. 4. When the spaghetti is done, remove a cup of the water and add to the tomatoes. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the pan. Adjust seasoning. Fold in the arugula, toss the spaghetti well, transfer to a large warm bowl or individual plates, dust with the bread crumbs and serve. Yield: 4 servings.

Kitchen 16

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Easy Ratatouille By MARK BITTMAN


atatouille, as many now know thanks to the 2007 animated film, is the more-difficult-to-pronouncethan-make dish of summer vegetables — tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant primary among them. The French verb touiller means “to stir” or “to toss”; rata is an oldfashioned French military term for a mixed vegetable dish. So much for etymology. The only trick in making this dish is to time the addition of each ingredient so that they all end up cooked to an appropriate degree when you’re done. Eggplant must be cooked until it’s very soft, even mushy (there are few foods worse than undercooked eggplant). Zucchini, however, is Yield 4 to 6 servings Time 30 minutes Ingredients • 1 large or 2 medium eggplants • 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil • Salt and freshly ground black pepper • 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped • 1 tablespoon minced garlic • 2 medium tomatoes (or 3 canned plum tomatoes, drained), roughly chopped • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley or basil leaves, for garnish. Method • 1. Trim the eggplant and cut it into 1-inch cubes. If the eggplant is large, soft or especially seedy, sprinkle the cubes with salt, put in a colander and let sit

good when it still has a little bite to it (and it takes less time to cook), and tomatoes begin to break apart so quickly that you have to be careful if you want to avoid turning them into sauce. Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily — ratatouille is forgiving, and totally soft ratatouille is actually fabulous. The recipe below is based on a Minimalist recipe from 2005 called Ratatouille “Salad.” It’s now no longer a salad: I tweaked it by cooking everything all together (which is easier and helps the flavors meld) instead of separately and by omitting a last-minute squeeze of lemon (which you can certainly add back if you like). But know that cold ratatouille is a treat; some even think that it’s better when chilled and served the next day. for 30 to 60 minutes. Rinse, drain and pat dry. • 2. Put the oil in large skillet and turn heat to medium. Add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. • 3. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and keep cooking until the tomatoes begin to break down, another few minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, garnish with the herb, and serve immediately, at room temperature, or chilled.

Lemony Parsleyand-Egg Soup Time: 30 minutes 2 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion, chopped 4 cups parsley (about 3 bunches) 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock Salt and black pepper 4 eggs 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional Sour cream for garnish, optional. 1. Put the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it melts, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and

Pasta With Green Meatballs and Herb Sauce Time: 30 to 40 minutes 2 cups finely chopped fresh basil 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives 1 thin slice white bread 1/4 cup milk 1/2 pound ground sirloin, pork or lamb or a mixture Salt and black pepper 6 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound pasta Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish. 1. Mix together the basil, parsley and chives. Soak the bread in the milk for 5 minutes, then gently squeeze any excess milk from the bread; discard the milk. Combine the bread with the

cook, stirring occasionally, until it wilts, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in about half the stock. 2. Purée the soup in the pan with an immersion blender, or cool slightly, pour into an upright blender and purée carefully. Return to the pan with the remaining stock. Heat through over medium-low heat, then season to taste with salt and pepper. 3. Beat together the eggs and lemon juice, then slowly add about 1 cup of the hot soup, whisking all the while. Gradually stir the egg mixture back into the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then stir in the cream if you’re using it, or serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream, if you like. Yield: 4 servings.

meat, 1 cup of the herbs and some salt and pepper; shape the mixture into 1-inch meatballs. 2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs in a single layer (work in batches if necessary). Cook, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. 3. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. While the pasta is cooking, purée 11/2 cups of the herbs with 4 tablespoons oil, the garlic and some salt and pepper in a mini food processor or blender; leave the sauce rough or add a little water if you want it smoother. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of its cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the herb sauce and most of the remaining herbs, adding the reserved liquid if the mixture seems dry. Top with the meatballs, garnish with Parmesan and the last of the herbs and serve. Yield: 4 servings.

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011



Fall’s Furry, Feathery Heels ppets.” That’s Beaker on my left foot, Animal on the right. But can you wear such fantastical creations? Actually, they’re not so scary once you get to know them. “A ladylike dress, at risk of being a little anchorwoman-ish with a basic pump, looks daring and cool with an outré shoe,” Ms.

Tollman said. The fashion blogger Leandra Medine, a k a the Man Repeller, has already laid down her plastic for a pair of Alexander Wang fur sandals. She advises that when it comes to statement shoes, “There are no better accessories than simple jeans and a T-shirt.” Just let the shoes do all the talking.



HOES have been getting more and more bonkers,” the stylist Annabel Tollman said, marveling at the fall crop of fuzzy, furry, fringed and whiskered footwear. Seriously, they could populate their own puppet show. It’s fun to imagine that those pompom-toed Aperlai sandals were intentionally planned to be in stores just in time for this fall’s big-screen revival of “The Mu--



RCH ANGELS Blink, the chain of walk-in brow-threading bars found in British stores like Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Space NK, has opened its first branch in the United States, at Henri Bendel. With two cream-colored nappa leather chairs for clients, the small salon also sells Blink products like a soothing pure rose gel ($45) and eyebrow pencils in five shades ($26). Eyebrow shaping costs $32, eyelash perming is $90 and a threading of the entire face is $110. Dread the thread? Consider Chella Brow Tool Kit, which comes with scissors, tweezers, a razor, brush and comb tool and a shaping guide ($40 at DIGITAL SEPHORA If you like

the selection of cosmetics at Sephora but aren’t wild about the store’s thumping house music and masstesting practices, try its quiet, free new iPad app, whose magazine-like format combines beauty news from Sephora’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, blog and YouTube channel, and offers a layout customizable to said social media feeds and indivi-dual account information. It also provides streamlined online shopping, of course. LACQUER UP There are topcoats for nails, and glosses for lips; why not something wet and shiny for lashes? Hourglass Cosmetics ( has created Film Noir Lash Lacquer ($28 from your new Sephora app), a Vitamin E-enriched post-mascara formulation that promises to elon-

gate and volumize. (Isn’t that what mascara is supposed to do?) And Maybelline is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its best-selling Great Lash mascara with limited-edition designs by Max Azria, Tracy Reese and Vivienne Tam on its easily recognizable pink and green tube. Available at starting Aug. 14, and on Target shelves later in the month ($6.99).



The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Look Back in Envy: The ’70s Take the Runway



N “The Marc and Myra Show,” on SiriusXM radio, the writer Bob Colacello recalled visiting Studio 54 in the 1970s when Yves Saint Laurent strolled into the room. Halston, on glimpsing his idol, sprang from his chair to embrace him. Taking in the scene, Truman Capote was heard to tell a companion: “You have just witnessed one of the great moments in the history of fashion. That is, if you care about the history of fashion.” That history reverberates today well beyond the confines of fashion, in theatri-

cal revivals like “Follies,” the 1971 Sondheim hit, which opens on Broadway next month; in radio broadcasts like “Marc and Myra”; and in new coffee-table volumes like “Idols,” a compilation of portraits by Gilles Larrain of the flamboyant artists and scene-makers of the time. But the 1970s resonate most insistently on fashion runways, through a proliferation of languid fall looks inspired by the greatest hits of Halston and Saint Laurent, as well as those of style-world luminaries like Sonia Rykiel, Rosita and Ottavio Missoni, Claude Montana and Karl Lagerfeld, whose fluid dresses for the house of Chloé are still be-

ing emulated. There were catwalk nods as well to a gallery of outsize personalities — Bianca Jagger, Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Onassis in her Isle of Capri period, and Berry and Marisa Berenson, among them — whose slinky wardrobes and gadabout ways have been lavishly documented. The ’70s have been revisited time and again in more recent decades, but not with the conviction demonstrated on the runways of late. Frida Giannini of Gucci, Stefano Pilati of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, Massimiliano Giornetti of Ferragamo and Michael Kors were but a handful of designers to invoke the era of floppy-bow dresses, chubby furs and slouchy hats, flared pants and slithery maxi-skirts, intent, it seemed, on returning to a period of originality and unfettered hedonism. Described by the writer Alicia Drake in “The Beautiful Fall,” a chronicle of the day, as an era of debauchery “sans consequence,” the ’70s strike a romantic chord.

People of that era were extreme, “but there was magic in their extravagance,” Marian McEvoy, a fashion editor in Paris at the time, told The New York Times in 2006, soon after the book appeared. Colleen Sherin, the fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue, suggested that younger people now may be looking back in envy on a storied generation of globetrotters and unregenerate party animals. From a current vantage, “people in the ’70s seemed a little more care-free, a little less complicated,” said Tory Burch, whose fall collection abounded with period references, including a tuxedo reminiscent of the influential Saint Laurent “smoking,” a look her mother wore. The ’70s were years “when women were coming into their own,” Ms. Burch said. “They were a little freer in the way they dressed and lived their lives. I wanted to celebrate that.” In this slide show, a succession of fall runway looks that recapture the mood.

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8- 14, 2011


Prescribing Exercise to Treat Depression By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS


an a stroll help ease depression? That question preoccupied Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, after several of his patients, all suffering from serious depression, mentioned that they felt happier if they went for a walk. The patients in question were taking the widely prescribed antidepressants known as S.S.R.I.’s, for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but not responding fully. They remained, by clinical standards, depressed. Dr. Trivedi and his colleagues began to wonder if adding a formal “dose” of exercise would increase their chances of getting better. Certainly the possibility was worth investigating. Clinical depression, as anyone who has experienced or watched a loved one struggle with the condition knows, can be stubbornly intractable. Even if patients have been taking an antidepressant for months, recovery rates tend to hover below 50 percent. In order to increase the odds of improvement, doctors frequently add a second treatment — often another drug, like lithium or an antipsychotic — to the S.S.R.I. regimen at some point, Dr. Trivedi said. Most patients ultimately require at least two concurrent treatments to achieve remission of their depression, he said. Studies have shown that these secondary drug treatments help an additional 20 to 30 percent of depressed patients to improve, but the medications can be expensive and have unpleasant side effects. Which prompted Dr. Trivedi to look to exercise. His investigation joins a growing movement among some physiologists and doctors to consider and study exercise as a formal medicine, with patients given a prescription and their progress monitored, as it would be if they were prescribed a pill. In this case, Dr. Trivedi and his collaborators, who included researchers at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana and other institutions, recruited 126 people with depression

who had been using S.S.R.I.’s for a minimum of two months, without achieving remission. None of the patients exercised. Dr. Trivedi and his colleagues divided these volunteers into two groups. One began a gentle aerobic exercise routine, under the tutelage of Cooper Institute researchers, which required them to burn a certain amount of calories per session, depending on their weight. How the subjects expended the energy was up to them. Some walked for about 10 minutes a day, on a treadmill or by strolling around the block, at a pace of three miles an hour. Others chose an equivalent easy cycling workout. The second group was more energetic, walking briskly for about 30 minutes a day at a pace of four miles an hour, or the cycling equivalent, a regimen that meets the current exercise recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine. Each volunteer exercised for four months, while continuing to take an antidepressant. At the end of that time, according to the study published recently in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 29.5 percent had achieved remission, “which is a very robust result,” Dr. Trivedi said, equal to or better than the remission rates achieved using drugs as a back-up treatment. “I think that our results indicate that exercise is a very valid treatment option” for people whose depression

hasn’t yielded to S.S.R.I.’s, he said. As with most scientific findings, though, there are caveats. One is practical. More patients improved in the group that completed the longer, brisker workouts than in the group assigned the easier exercise, but more of them also dropped out of the study. “We need to find ways to support people’s efforts to exercise,” Dr. Trivedi said. “It’s not going to be enough to casually say, ‘Go for a walk.’” Exercise, if it’s to be medicinal in depression treatments, will have to be monitored, he said, so it can’t be shrugged off. Even then, many people will not respond. Almost 70 percent of the volunteers in this study did not achieve full remission. Failure rates were particularly high for women with a family

history of depression, perhaps as a result of some as yet unknown genetic quirk. And women in that group who did recover were more likely to succeed using the lighter exercise program than the more strenuous routine. Then there is the issue of a control group, whose members would have continued with their S.S.R.I.’s but not exercised. This study did not have one, making interpreting the results tricky, said James A. Blumenthal, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University who was not involved with this study but who has written extensively about exercise and depression. Perhaps four additional months of S.S.R.I. treatment raised people’s moods, and the exercise was incidental. “Evidence is accumulating that exercise may be an effective treatment for depressed patients who are receptive to exercise as a possible treatment and who are able to safely engage in exercise,” he said. But the evidence is by no means definitive. Still, Dr. Trivedi said, although additional studies certainly are needed, there’s no reason for people with unyielding depression not to talk now with their doctors about exercise as a treatment option. “Side effects are almost nonexistent,” he said, “while you get additional benefits, in terms of improvements in cardiovascular health and reductions in other disease risks,” things antidepressant drugs do not provide. “Plus,” he pointed out, “the cost profile is very favorable.” Exercise, as medicines go, is cheap.

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The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Evidence of Heart Benefits From Chocolate By NICHOLAS BAKALAR


n analysis of studies including more than 100,000 subjects has found that high levels of chocolate consumption are associated with a significant reduction in the risk of certain cardiovascular disorders. The seven studies looked at the consumption of a variety of chocolate — candies and candy bars, chocolate drinks, cookies, desserts and nutritional supplements.

By many measures, consumption of chocolate was linked to lower rates of stroke, coronary heart disease, blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions. But there was no beneficial effect on the risk for heart failure or diabetes. Over all, the report, published Monday in the British medical journal BMJ, showed that those in the group that consumed the most chocolate had decreases of 37 percent in the risk of any cardiovascular disorder and 29 percent in the risk for

stroke. Still, the lead author, Dr. Oscar H. Franco, a lecturer in public health at the University of Cambridge, warned that this finding was not a license to indulge and noted that none of the studies reviewed involved randomized controlled trials. “Chocolate may be beneficial, but it should be eaten in a moderate way, not in large quantities and not in binges,” he said. “If it is consumed in large quantities, any beneficial effect is going to disappear.”

Vaccine Cleared Again as Autism Culprit By GARDINER HARRIS


et another panel of scientists has found no evidence that a popular vaccine causes autism. But despite the scientists’ best efforts, their report is unlikely to have any impact on the frustrating debate about the safety of these crucial medicines. “The M.M.R. vaccine doesn’t cause autism, and the evidence is overwhelming that it doesn’t,” Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, the chairwoman of the panel, assembled by the Institute of Medicine, said in an interview. She was referring to a combination against measles, mumps and rubella that has long been a focus of concern from some parents’ groups. The panel did conclude, however, that there are risks to getting the chickenpox vaccine that can arise years after vaccination. People who have had the vaccine can develop pneumonia, meningitis or hepatitis years later if the virus used in the vaccine reawakens because an unrelated health problem, like cancer, has compromised their immune systems. The same problems are far more likely in patients who are infected naturally at some point in their lives with chickenpox, since varicella zoster, the virus that causes

chickenpox, can live dormant in nerve cells for decades. Shingles, a painful eruption of skin blisters that usually affects the aged, is generally caused by this Lazarus-like ability of varicella zoster. The government had asked the institute to review the known risks of vaccines to help guide decisions about compensation for those who claim to have been injured by vaccines. Legislation passed by Congress in 1986 largely absolved vaccine makers of the risks of being sued for vaccine injuries and forced those who suffer injury to petition the government for compensation. The government generally restricts compensation to cases involving children who suffer injuries that scientists deem to have been plausibly caused by vaccination, including seizures, inflammation, fainting, allergic reactions and temporary joint pain. But battles have raged for years over whether to expand this list, with most of the fighting revolving around autism. Many children injured by vaccination have an immune or metabolic problem that is simply made apparent by vaccines. “In some metabolically vulnerable children, receiving vaccines may be the largely nonspecific ‘last straw’ that leads these children to reveal their underlying” problems, the report stated.

For instance, recent studies have found that many of the children who suffered seizures and lifelong problems after receiving the whole-cell pertussis vaccine, which is no longer used but once routinely caused fevers in children, actually had Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. The flood of lawsuits over the effects of the whole-cell pertussis vaccine was the reason Congress created the national vaccine injury compensation program in the first place, and children who suffered seizures after getting this vaccine have been among the most well-compensated. In retrospect, the whole-cell pertussis vaccine may have played little role in the underlying illness in many of these children other than to serve as its first trigger. The Institute of Medicine is the nation’s most esteemed and authoritative adviser on issues of health and medicine, and its reports can transform medical thinking around the world. The government has asked the medi-

cine institute to assess the safety of vaccines a dozen times in the past 25 years, hoping the institute’s reputation would put to rest the concerns of some parents that vaccines cause a host of problems, including autism. It has not worked. Sallie Bernard, president of SafeMinds, a group that contends there is a link between vaccines and autism, said the latest report from the Institute of Medicine excluded important research and found in many cases that not enough research had been done to answer important questions. “I think this report says that the science is inadequate, and yet we’re giving more and more vaccines to our kids, and we really don’t know what their safety profile is,” Ms. Bernard said. “I think that’s alarming.” Dr. Clayton said: “We looked at more than a thousand peer-reviewed articles, and we didn’t see many adverse effects caused by vaccines. That’s pretty remarkable.”

A Bacteria-Busting Oil Behind a Popular Spice



oriander (cilantro, when the leaves of the plant are used fresh) is a popular spice widely used in Asian, Latin American and Mediterranean cooking. Now, researchers from the University of Beira Interior in Portugal report that oil extracted from coriander seeds can kill bacteria related to food-borne diseases, like E. coli. Coriander oil has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for a number of ailments. Researchers have also previously found that the oil may ease cramps, aid in digestion, soothe fungal infections and reduce nausea. Although it was previously suggested that the oil can act as an antibacterial agent, this study is the first to decipher

exactly how it does. The researchers found that coriander oil is able to damage the membrane of bacterial cells. This blocks the cell from essential processes, like respiration, and ultimately leads to the bacterium’s demise, the researchers report. They tested the effect of coriander oil on 12 bacterial strains, including E. coli, salmonella and MRSA, an antibioticresistant type of staphylococcus . Most of the bacteria were killed by solutions containing less than 1.6 percent coriander oil, they reported. With further testing, the researchers believe that coriander oil might one day be more widely used as a food preservative to prevent bacterial contamination. The study was published in a recent issue of The Journal of Medical Microbiology.

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


A Small Mammal Fossil Tells a Jurassic Tale By SINDYA N. BHANOO


he split between placental mammals and marsupials may have occurred 35 million years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study. Zhe-Xi Luo, a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, and colleagues have discovered a 160-million-year-old fossil in China that is the earliest known ancestor of today’s placental mammals, which include humans. He and his colleagues report their findings of the fossil, Juramaia sinensis, in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Until now, the oldest known ancestor to placentals was a small mammal that dates back about 125 million years, to the Cretaceous period. The new fossil has a well-preserved skull with teeth intact. Based on the teeth, the researchers determined that the mammal was more closely related to modern placentals than to modern marsupials. About 90 percent of modern mammals are placentals. They provide nutrients to their unborn young through a placenta that allows for extensive growth and development. Marsupials, by contrast, generally have a shorter gestation period and give birth to relatively undeveloped young.

The newly identified mammal was small, weighing less than a chipmunk. Based on its claws, it appears to have been an active climber. “This was a skinny little animal, eating insects,” said Dr. Luo. “We imagine it was active in the night and capable of going up and down trees.” Its discovery helps reconcile fossil evidence and molecular analysis. Modern molecular studies, which use DNA to estimate dates of evolution, also put the emergence of placentals at about 160 million years ago. “This hard rock evidence coincides and matches with the molecular evidence and gives us independent corroboration between fossils and DNA,” Dr. Luo said.

Earliest Homo Erectus Tools Found in Kenya



ne hallmark of Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans, was his stone tools, an advanced technology reflecting a good deal of forethought and dexterity. Up to now, however, scientists have been unable to pin a firm date on the earliest known evidence for his stone toolmaking. A new geological study, being reported Thursday in the journal Nature, showed that tools from a site near Lake Turkana in Kenya were made about 1.76 million years ago, the earliest of their ilk found so far. Previous dates were estimates ranging from 1.4 million to 1.6 million years ago. Although no erectus fossils were found with the Turkana tools, a skull of that species was excavated last year in the same sediment level across the lake. This suggests that Homo erectus was responsible for these particular tools, which were made with what scientists refer to as Acheulean technology. The term connotes a type of oval and pearshaped hand axes and other implements that were a specialty of early humans.

American researchers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University established the age of the Turkana tools by dating the surrounding mudstone with a paleomagnetic technique. When layers of silt and clay hardened into stone, this preserved the orientation of Earth’s magnetic field at the time, and an analysis of the periodic polarity reversals and other records yielded the age of the site known as Kokiselei. “I was taken aback when I realized that the geological data indicated it was the oldest Acheulean site in the world,” said the lead author of the report, Christopher J. Lepre, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty who also teaches geology at Rutgers University. The assemblage of hand axes, picks and other cutting tools was collected, mostly in the 1990s, by French archaeologists led by Helene Roche of the National Center of Scientific Research in France. Dr. Roche, a co-author of the paper, had been steered to the site by Richard Leakey, the Kenyan fossil hunter who had discovered just six miles away the Turkana Boy, a young Homo erectus who lived about 1.5 million years ago and is the most complete early hominid skeleton found so far. In the journal article, Dr. Lepre’s group said that artifacts from an earlier and simpler technology, Oldowan, were found alongside the more advanced Acheulean tools. The Oldowan tools were mainly sharp stone flakes and roughly worked rock cores, while the more sophisticated ones displayed signs of symmetry, uniformity and advance planning. The co-occurrence of Oldowan and Acheulean artifacts at the site, the scientists said, indicates that “the two technologies are not mutually exclusive” components of an

evolving cultural lineage. It was possible that the Acheulean technology was either imported from another location yet to be identified, or originated from Oldowan toolmakers in the vicinity. In either case, the scientists wrote, “the Acheulean did not accompany the first human dispersal from Africa, despite being available at the time.” At about this time, hominids generally thought to be Homo erectus — or possibly Homo habilis, an earlier group — were living in Eurasia in what is now the country of Georgia. Their tools were Oldowan. So the archaeologists and geologists concluded that there may have been multiple groups of hominids “distinguished by separate stone-tool-making behaviors and dispersal strategies” co-existing in Africa at 1.76 million years ago. Ian Tattersall, a paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York who was not involved in the research, said that rumors of much earlier Acheulean finds had been circulating for a long time, “and now we have it and the evidence is well documented, the dating sound.” The new find, Dr. Tattersall said, “is bound to open up the debate about the relationship between the appearance of the Acheulean and that of early African Homo erectus, the earliest hominid known to have basically modern human body proportions.” It is generally thought that erectus evolved about 2 million years ago. Although the authors suggested the possibility that more than one kind of hominid was making tools at the site, Dr. Tattersall said it was also conceivable that the Acheulean culture was born within the Ol-

dowan. “After all, any cultural innovation has to be invented within some existing tradition,” he noted. “And it was typically the case that old Paleolithic technologies survived for long periods alongside the new.” Dr. Tattersall found it odd, he said, that “the Acheulean evidently didn’t catch on widely for several hundred thousand years after it was invented, possibly for the same reasons — whatever they are — that it took a really long time to be adopted at all widely in Eurasia, even as African groups were evidently migrating out.” Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at Lehman College of the City University of New York, said he was disappointed in the few pictures of the stone tools that were published with the report. The illustrations described as hand axes and picks were “rather rough,” he said, and “in some ways appeared to be intermediate between Oldowan and Acheulean tools, which might be expected for the first Acheulean artifacts.” Dr. Delson recommended that a more complete set of pictures and data of the collection would help demonstrate their Acheulean nature. Nonetheless, Dr. Delson said, the new date for the earliest known Acheulean “moves it back closer to the earliest Homo erectus and supports (but does not prove) the widespread view that erectus made the Acheulean, at least at the beginning.” But as he reviewed the research’s implications for the role of Homo erectus in the spread of early humans out of Africa and across Asia, or even possibly, out of Asia and into Africa, Dr. Delson sounded the familiar lament of paleoanthropology: “Each new find raises about as many questions as it helps to resolve.”

modern love


The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

Just the Two of Us, When One Toddles By JENNIFER BAUMGARDNER


EVERAL years ago, when my son Skuli was about 3, the two of us flew back to New York City early from visiting relatives in the Midwest so I could attend a big bash for my friends Jenny and Sara Jane, who were celebrating five years together. It was a blazing hot July afternoon when we arrived at Kennedy Airport after a long, bumpy flight. I threw our bags in Skuli’s Sit ’n’ Stroll, which I used like a wheelbarrow when I traveled with him, and slogged out to the long-term parking lot with Skuli on my hip. Our car, a 17-year-old red Honda Civic, shimmered in the heat. “This isn’t good,” I thought. One of the many quirks of my vehicle was that it wouldn’t start when parked in direct sunlight. I fastened Skuli’s car seat into the cauldron of the backseat and turned the key, praying it would start. Nothing. I waited two minutes. Still nothing. “We should call someone to help us,” Skuli offered. He was good at intuiting our next step. I called, and soon a young guy arrived in a tow truck offering to jump our battery. “It’s not the battery,” I said. “This car doesn’t start in heat. I have to wait until sundown.” “It’s the battery, ma’am,” he said. After 10 minutes of fruitless jumping, he offered to drive us to the nearest garage. Feeling a familiar financial panic, I mentally calculated the mounting cost of this crisis and wondered if feting Jenny and Sara Jane’s relationship was worth the expense. I decided it was. We got home in time for me to shower and change, drop Skuli at his father’s (where he spent occasional time) and head to the party. On a Brooklyn rooftop that night, drinking restoratively, I met Sara Jane’s mother. A onetime single mother herself, she asked me why I wasn’t dating and prodded me for stories about my life. After each story, she would shake her head and say: “Be selfish, Jen. You’ve got to be selfish.” I was used to unsolicited advice and offers of help. The help I often and gratefully accepted, like an invite for Sunday dinner or the used baby equipment my friends were always finding for me. Often, though, I sensed not so much helpfulness as pity.

“It must be so hard,” these friends said, flattening me into a stereotype. And it was hard. I woke up in the night worried about bills, anxious that I’d have someone to look after Skuli while I was working. I took him to parties not because he loved hanging out at adults’ houses at 11:30 p.m., but because it was that or I’d never socialize. But I was happy. I’d never felt so much love and independence at once. Back at the party, I attempted to respond to Sara Jane’s mother. As a single mother, I didn’t think I was selfish as much as self-full. I had to rely on myself more than ever, and yet my life was rich with friends: Christine dropping by on the way home from work because she knew my door was always open; saying “yes” to spontaneous invitations to the Bronx Zoo because Skuli and I didn’t have to negotiate anyone else’s schedule; sleepovers at Gillian’s because we only needed one bed. It seemed to me that two-parent families often had homes that were more closed because they were less reliant on others, whereas my friends and family showed up for me all of the time. My younger sister, Jessica, a happily married mother, marveled at how much help from friends and family I marshaled. “I guess I’m not afraid to ask,” I said. “And, of course, people assume I need it, which is kind of humiliating.” “Not as humiliating as needing it even though you have a partner,” Jessica responded. Jessica isn’t one of the condescending types, but I gravitated toward single-parent friends after Skuli was born. We were the ones who always dropped our children late at school and got stern looks from the teachers. We took our children to cocktail parties and readings because it was either that or we couldn’t go. The single mothers I knew had scuffed shoes, and our roots

were grown out from too much time between hair appointments. We were superficially bedraggled but fundamentally sturdy. We were a crew of single mothers (and fathers) who had escaped bad relationships, started businesses, gone back to school, all while taking care of our children mostly by ourselves. And we shared a common currency: a bracing combination of independence and terror. I felt lonely on occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. But the other days I felt this magical self-reliance combined with an interdependence that wedded me to the world. Heading into the subway one day, I was struggling with getting Skuli in his stroller, along with my heavy bags, down the stairs, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a thuggish-looking teenager walking toward me with a menacingly blank look on his face and his pants drooped. He leaned over, picked up my stroller and, without a word, carried Skuli down the two flights of stairs to the subway platform. I sputtered a thank you. He looked me in the eye and said in a soft voice, “I was raised by a single mom, ma’am.” My friend Amy was raised by a single mother. When she turned 30, her friends made a book for her, each of us taking a page to extol her work ethic, dance ability and generosity. Her mother’s page had a snapshot of the two of them taken when Amy was about 5 and her mother, Karen, was in her early 20s, Karen pointing at a flower in front of them and Amy pointing up and away to something Karen can’t even see. In the caption, Karen wrote that it wasn’t the most flattering photo of the two of them, but it was a good example of their relationship. She finished with the lines, “We make a good team — we’ve been a good team.” The fact that her mother repeated the phrase slayed me, but I was most struck by seeing my tough, confident, sunny friend cry as she read the words. Like the rest of us single mothers, and those who have been raised by them, Amy knew the joy, beauty and hard-earned satisfaction of being a good team. And we also knew its limitations. Days before that awful moment at J.F.K. when my car wouldn’t start, Skuli and I had been visiting my cousins at their lake cabin in Minnesota. Their house was crawling with children, and my cousin and

her husband appeared to have an attractive, invitingly healthy relationship. The children swam and hunted for minnows and played with toy cars. And when it was time to leave, Skuli threw himself on the ground and cried: “No, I won’t go! I belong here.” He had done the same thing a few weeks earlier at Amy’s house, which had the same appealing constellation of happy and fun parents, cool toys and siblings. There was something about the joviality and regularity of those homes that he missed in his own life — or it just felt right in some meaningful way that his 3-year-old self needed to assert. To me, it hurt, because I knew I belonged with him but I didn’t belong there, and I wanted him to believe, as I did, that we were lucky that things had worked out as they did, that our life together was unique and wonderful. “BE selfish.” That phrase echoed in my brain. But what did it mean? Was it selfish to stay a unit of two, because Skuli would have to shoulder the burdens of my aging alone? Or was it selfish to have a love life when I had a young child who needed me? I could see it both ways and many more. It may have been just a coincidence, but after that conversation in which Sara Jane’s mother told me to “Be selfish,” I began dating again, and before long, I met the man who would become the father of my second child. And, later, he would become my husband. Skuli has thrived in our nuclear family, which is stricter and more constant than what he knew before. I wonder sometimes if he even remembers our former way of being. Will he know to help a struggling mother with her stroller in 10 years? “We don’t spend as much time together,” Skuli said to me one day while walking home from school. We were holding hands, and he had been telling me about his life in an alternative universe he calls Boneland. “You spend a lot of time with Michael now.” I squeezed his hand. “Remember when we were just the two of us?” Skuli asked, “and we’d sleep together in the same bed?” “I do remember,” I said. “We make a good team, Skuli.” We’ve been a good team.

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


Crash Boat Beach Aguadilla


ne of the best areas for surfing in Puerto Rico is the coast of the municipality of Aguadilla, where professional surfers from all over the world flock to ride waves in beaches like Wilderness and Gas Chambers. Then there’s the star of this northwestern edge of the island, the beach curiously known as Crash Boat. The name is said to originate from the beach’s

former use by the United States Air Force. It used to be a small port with a pier where rescue boats for downed airplanes would dock. The old pier still stretches out into the ocean, enjoyed by beachgoers as part of the scenery. Its history aside, Crash Boat is now a peaceful spot better known for the abundance of colorful fishing boats strewn along its shore. Being a

great locale for fishing, chances are you will run into local residents who make their living on the open waters of the Atlantic. Kayaking and snorkeling are popular activities here and several businesses conveniently located right on the beach rent out the proper equipment for these and other water activities. Crash Boat’s south side, meanwhile, benefits from calmer waters perfect for wading and

relaxing. Although crowded on the weekends, and especially during the summer, Crash Boat can also provide the ideal romantic setting for an evening stroll. The multi-faceted Crash Boat Beach, said to be one of Puerto Rico’s “most photographed” locations, offers visitors a variety of activities and views of unparalleled beauty that combined have given it its iconic status.


The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 -14, 2011

36 Hours in Portland, Ore. beer gardens, Cabezon (5200 Northeast Sacramento Street; 503-284-6617; has the unaffected feel of a small-town restaurant. A fish market by day, seafood bistro by night, the place has an easy sophistication; the only distraction from the food — a seasonal menu of freshoff-the-boat dishes like Totten Inlet mussels with Borlotti beans, chorizo, fries and unctuous rouille ($13.50) and thin-brothed cioppino with Dungeness crab ($20.50) — are colorful glass sculptures with flowing tentacles that hang above the bar like psychedelic jellyfish. 11 p.m. 4) FUNERAL PARLOR PARTY After dinner, head to the retro Se-



ITH its celebrated bike culture and obsession with all things independent and artisan, Portland is a small-scale metropolis with an outsize cultural footprint. Spread across the twin banks of the Willamette River, this provincial hub of the Pacific Northwest has more than its share of natural beauty and an earnest, outdoorsy reputation. But in recent years, the city has emerged as the capital of West Coast urban cool, earning it a television series, IFC’s “Portlandia,” devoted to satirizing its aesthetic and progressive social bent. Indeed, Portland — whose nicknames include Beervana and Soccer City, USA — is easy to poke fun at. It’s also hard to resist. Friday 4 p.m. 1) JAPANESE, IF YOU PLEASE Adorning the hillside above the Rose Gardens, the five-and-a-half-acre Japanese Garden (611 Southwest Kingston Avenue; 503-223-1321;; $9.50) is less crowded than its photogenic neighbor. Instead of being packed with people, this elegant corner of the 400-acre Washington Park has five distinct gardens — artfully designed “compositions” of sand, stone, water, flowers and foliage — with views of Mount Hood. On the third Saturday of each month April through October, a Japanese tea ceremony is presented at the Kashintei Tea House (1 and 2 p.m.).

6 p.m. 2) SMALL PLATES Continue your Japan-themed afternoon with a happy hour sake or shochu at one of Portland’s proliferating izakayas, Japanese-style pubs that serve small plates to accompany drinks. Biwa (215 Southeast Ninth Avenue; 503-239-8830; is a low-light basement with booming music, concrete walls and a fanatical following. Two-year-old Miho (4057 North Interstate Avenue; 503-719-6152; mihopdx. com), in a remodeled Craftsman house on the residential north side — is less moody, with a patio and small plates priced in even-numbered increments ($2, $4, $6 and up). Opened in February, Mirakutei (536 East Burnside Street; 503-467-7501) is the newest dot on the izakaya map, serving delicate starters like Quilcene oysters with ginger sorbet ($5) and $9 three-sake flights. 8:30 p.m. 3) CLAMS AND CRABS Tucked into a small storefront in a neighborhood of tidy lawns and German

llwood-Westmoreland neighborhood. Window shop for tchotchkes at Stars Antiques Mall (7027 Southeast Milwaukie Avenue; 503-235-5990; or slurp Jell-O shots at the Cosmo Lounge (6707 Southeast Milwaukie Avenue; 503-233-4220). For a less kitschy postdinner drink, settle into the attic at Corkscrew Wine Bar (1665 Southeast Bybee Boulevard; 503-239-9463). Then listen to

live music at the Woods (6637 Southeast Milwaukie Avenue; 503-890-0408;, a former funeral home in a Mission-style 1929 building with gaudy chandeliers and an Art Nouveau lounge. Opened in 2009, this 3,000-square-foot space draws musicians, D.J.’s and performers from across the country. On offnights, there’s karaoke, stand-up comedy and movie screenings. Saturday 9:30 a.m. 5) NORDIC BREAKFAST FEAST Come early to the perpetually packed Scandinavian brunch spot Broder (2508 Southeast Clinton Street; 503-736-3333;, which serves atypical offerings like lefsa (a thin potato crepe) stuffed with goat cheese ($9) and Pytt I Panna, which is Swedish hash with smoked trout ($11). Afterward, walk off your Bloody Mary at Mount Tabor Park (Southeast 60th and Salmon Streets;, a forest-covered cinder cone with sports courts, open reservoirs and a statue of a former Oregonian newspaper editor by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore’s granite presidents. Noon 6) ARTS AND CRAFTS The 811 East Burnside Building houses an array of boutiques, like Redux (No. 110; 503-231-7336; reduxpdx. com), an analog Etsy with products from some 300 artists, including frames made from salvaged bike hardware; the gallerycum-specialty shop Nationale (No. 112; 503-477-9786;; and Sword + Fern (No. 114; 503-683-3376;

The San Juan Weekly Star, home to outsider art, handmade housewares and vintage oddities. Walk over the Burnside Bridge to the Pearl District and the Museum of Contemporary Craft (724 Northwest Davis Street; 503-223-2654;; $3), which houses nearly 1,000 works in clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood. 2 p.m. 7) WORTH THE WAIT Don’t be daunted by the line at the taqueria ¿Por Que No? (3524 North Mississippi Avenue; 503-467-4149; You will be rewarded with an umbrella-shaded sidewalk table, colorful papel picado (perforated paper flags) strung between beams, fish tacos ($3.50) and horchata borracha (rum-spiked rice milk, $6). 4 p.m. 8) BREWS CRUISE Start your pedicab brewery tour (Rose Pedals Pedicabs; 503-421-7433; rosepedals. com; $60 per hour, one or two people) with a sour beer tasting at Cascade Brewing Barrel House (939 Southeast Belmont Street; 503-265-8603; cascadebrewingbarrelhouse. com). Next, stop in at the tasting room at Upright Brewing (240 North Broadway, No. 2; 503-735-5337; before taking the North Williams “bike highway” to the brand new Hopworks Bikebar (3947 North Williams Avenue; 503-287-6258; Opened in June, the cycle-centered organic brew pub has 75 bike parking spaces, bike tools and energy-generating exercycles. For sober sightseeing, Rose Pedals also offers tours of the Willamette waterfront. 6:30 p.m. 9) PUT A BIRD ON IT Join the sunset crowd at Skidmore Bluffs (also known as the Mocks Crest Property, 2206 North Skidmore Terrace), a grassy expanse of hillside above industrial rail yards on the banks of the Willamette River. On warm nights, clusters of 20and 30-somethings spread picnic blankets

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


and watch the sun slip beneath the West Hills. For dinner, sit at a communal table at Le Pigeon (738 East Burnside Street; 503-546-8796;, flagship of the chef Gabriel Rucker. Mr. Rucker, who was just named Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation, serves French-influenced nose-to-tail fare, like beef cheek bourguignon ($22) and veal sweetbreads with bread pudding ($26), from a hyperactive open kitchen. Reser-

vations are a good idea. If you can’t get in, give Mr. Rucker’s newly opened Little Bird Bistro (219 Southwest Sixth Avenue; 503-688-5952; a try. 9 p.m. 10) CURTAINS For dessert, head up the street for a scoop of salted caramel ice cream at Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty (4039 North Mississippi Avenue, No. 101; 503-281-4060; Or skip dessert and skirt past the black curtain at an unassuming Old Town storefront and pull up a stool at Central (220 Southwest Ankeny Street; no phone), a new speakeasy with a moose head on the wall, a converted windmill ceiling fan and a bartender who builds cocktails with the care of a perfectionist furniture maker. For a quiet evening, catch a 3-D blockbuster or indie hit at the stylish, modern Living Room Theaters (341 Southwest 10th Avenue; 971-222-2010;, where you’ll find a full bar and cushy seats.

Sunday 10 a.m. 11) LOVABLE LUDDITES Ben Meyer’s first restaurant, the beloved wood-fired bistro Ned Ludd, shares a name with the English weaver who inspired the anti-technology Luddite movement. With his gorgeous new north-side restaurant Grain & Gristle (1473 Northeast Prescott Street; 503-298-5007;, opened in December, Mr. Meyer has found another outlet for his culinary craftsmanship and woodsy aesthetic. At brunch, look for the homemade lox on a house-baked soft pretzel ($8) or the doughy beignets with bacon caramel sauce ($3) on the ever-changing specials board. 12 p.m.

12) RAILS TO TRAILS Take Highway 26 to Banks, where you can rent a bike at Banks Bicycle Repair & Rental (14175 Northwest Sellers Road; 503-680-3269; from $8 an hour) and ride Portland’s rural answer to the High Line in New York — the Banks-Vernonia Bike Trail (, a 20-mile route built on former train tracks. Completed in October 2010, the trail leads across two 80-foothigh trestles, past farmland, into forests, up hills and through the nearly 1,700-acre Stub Stewart State Park, where there’s a picnic shelter and dozens of trails. IF YOU GO The Crystal Hotel & Ballroom (303 Southwest 12th Avenue; 503-972-2670;; from $85) has 51 rooms — each inspired by a performance from the Crystal Ballroom’s 100-year history — a soaking pool and a hard-to-beat location. The second Ace Hotel (1022 Southwest Stark Street; 503-228-2277; to open in the country, Portland’s outpost of this trendy hotel chain has 79 rooms (from $95), recycled furniture, Malin+Goetz bath products and free bike rentals. Adjacent to the lobby is a Stumptown and the “European-style tavern” Clyde Common.



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Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

The San Juan Weekly Star

MOUSAI Dives Deep Into Your Imagination Bringing Your Wildest Dreams to life With Digital Scenography MUSEUM OF ART OF PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 16TH – SEPTEMBER 17TH


nternationally renowned, awardwinning artist Anaitté Vaccaro and her company MOUSAI, announces the launch details for “A la Intemperie,” (“Exoteric”) her latest digital scenography piece. Commissioned by the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico, this exhibition will run from September 16–17, 2011. Guests will be taken on a whirlwind of music, dance and art, converged with beautiful and mysterious digital projections and scenic design, adding a new dimension to the visual and performing arts. MOUSAI redefines artistic expression as we know it by transcending traditional projection de-

sign, welding animation, music, sounds, lighting and performers. Visit “A la Intemperie” will be accompanied by breathtaking performances by contemporary dance company Andanza. Surrounded by digital effects and customized animations, the choreographed dance is specifically tailored for a vivid and enchanting spectacle. The piece will be performed outdoors using the exterior of the museum as a set. Beyond the use of simple projections, digital scenography engages the audience’s senses and intellect, facilitating an emotional, fully realized experience. As Cirque du Soleil reinvented the circus, MOUSAI is moving motion graphics forward to inspired new levels of entertainment. “I make spaces come to life, like a virtual painting,” says Ms. Vaccaro. “My work submerges the audience into surrealism. It’s a playground for the imagination to drop in and run free.” Combining her love of design and visual effects with her background in traditional painting, Anaitté Vaccaro has re-invented an emerging medium. Her artistic vision melds multiple arts disciplines to create an interconnected, all encompass-

ing expression that transcends the still image and gives life to static structures. MOUSAI (meaning: muses) were the goddesses of music, song and dance and inspiration to poets. Founded by the acclaimed Ms. Vaccaro, MOUSAI merges live performance with interactive video and music to tell mind-bending, awe-inspiring stories that can only be described as the physical manifestation of a dream. With Ms. Vaccaro’s remarkable artistic vision backed by her hand-picked creative team of experts, MOUSAI offers unparalleled digital scenography as well as set design, motion graphics, animation and visual effects services for a wide variety of events. The company has created pieces for such high-profile clients as Red Bull, Ignition Creative, Foocus Flying Fish Circus, Astra Dancee Company, and Hammer Creative,, among others. MOUSAI has performed in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Puerto Rico and around the world. Unlike anything you have experienced before, “A la Intemperie” at the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico (MAPR) will change the way you view the world.

A Painter’s Unfinished Tribute to the Many Clocks of New York By ADRIANE QUINLAN


mir Wahib quit his job to look at clocks. It was 2008, and he was working at a cabinetry shop near the Consolidated Edison building on Irving Place near Union Square. “I saw it from a different angle and I saw the clock on top, so I liked it, and I felt that I had found something nifty,” he said. What was “nifty” was his idea to paint every clock in the city. At work, he felt guilty when he wasn’t painting. “It was my destiny.” He quit and began walking the city in search of worthy clocks. On a typical day he started at the Pier A clock in Battery Park, hit the clock at Grand Central Terminal, and then headed back downtown before heading to his Harlem room to paint.

At the Clock Tower Building, he persuaded two guards to let him study up close. “Finally both of them, they joined me on the roof to show me the great clock on top of this building.” Though he showed his paintings — 21 in all — at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church on Lexington Avenue in November 2009, Mr. Wahib lamented that “nobody cared.” So he moved back to Egypt. “I came here,” he said by phone from Cairo the other day. “But my heart was there.” His clock project remains uncompleted. Mr. Wahib, 42, says he is fascinated by New York’s clocks because he believes they show the city’s respect for history, for mortality and, most important, for punctuality. “Once you respect time,” he said, “I

“Station at Battery Park,” one of the many paintings by Amir Wahib that feature clocks. believe that you show you have a lot of things you are respectful of.” In Egypt, where Mr. Wahib now wor-

ks as a designer, he finds that most people are late. Mr. Wahib is always on time, and if a friend keeps him waiting, he usually leaves after 15 minutes unless there is a very good excuse. “There a lot of things that help them to be late — most importantly the very bad traffic.” There are not many public clocks in Cairo, Mr. Wahib has noticed. New Yorkers, he says, are much more punctual, but not perfect. “Not all of them come from Switzerland and Germany.” But Mr. Wahib also feels there is something deeper about New York’s clocks: “It is something that reflects the entire perfection that humans have reached,” he said, noting their regularity. “It also has a lot of meaning for me because I’m always afraid to die before doing something very important.”

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


U.S. Moves to Block Merger Between AT&T and T-Mobile By EDWARD WYATT


he Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block the proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA on antitrust grounds, saying a deal between the nation’s second- and fourth-largest wireless phone carriers would substantially lessen competition, result in higher prices and give consumers fewer innovative products. The lawsuit sets up the most substantial antitrust battle since the election of President Obama, who campaigned with promises to revitalize the Justice Department’s policing of mergers and their effects on competition, which he said declined significantly under the Bush administration. AT&T said it would fight the lawsuit. “We plan to ask for an expedited hearing so the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed,” the company said in a statement. “The D.O.J. has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive effects and we intend to vigorously contest this matter in court.” AT&T said it had no warning that the government was going to file to block the merger, because it has been actively involved in discussions with both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission since the proposal was announced in March. AT&T has indicated that it would consider some divestitures or other business actions to allow the deal to go forward. But Justice Department officials said that those discussions led it to believe that it would difficult to arrange conditions under which the merger could proceed. “Unless this merger is blocked, competition and innovation will be reduced, and consumers will suffer,” said Sharis A. Pozen, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. The Justice Department has broad authority to influence proposed deals. On rare occasions, the agency takes the aggressive step of suing to block a deal altogether, as it is doing with AT&T and did earlier this year

with H&R Block’s bid for the owner of TaxAct tax preparation software. Sometimes just the threat of legal action is enough to stymie a deal, as in May when Nasdaq dropped its rival bid for the New York Stock Exchange’s parent company. In other cases, the Justice Department will remain silent, blessing a deal by default. AT&T’s promise to fight the suit could mean a potentially lengthy fight. Consumer advocacy groups cheered the announcement. “This announcement is something for consumers to celebrate,” said Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “We have consistently warned that eliminating T-Mobile as a low-cost option will raise prices, lower choices and turn the cellular market into a duopoly controlled by AT&T and Verizon.” Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group, said, “Fighting this job-killing merger is the best Labor Day present anyone can give the American people.” But labor groups had generally supported the merger, in part because a substantial number of AT&T employees are members of the Communications Workers of America, while T-Mobile is a largely nonunion company. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said the department decided that among those adversely affected

would be wireless customers in rural areas and those with lower incomes. He said he also believed that an independent T-Mobile would be more likely to expand its business and add jobs, while mergers often result in the elimination of jobs. The future of an independent TMobile is more of a question today, however, than before the merger with AT&T was announced. Its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, has said it does not want to continue to invest in the American wireless market, preferring to focus on the growth of its telecommunications business in Europe. Before AT&T announced its intention to buy T-Mobile, there was consistent speculation in the wireless industry that a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel, the third-largest provider, was in the works. But such a deal looks unlikely in light of the arguments mustered by the Justice Department against the AT&T deal. Those arguments include the assertion that a combination that took the number of nationwide wireless phone providers down to three from four would harm competition, because the four nationwide service providers already account for more than 90 percent of the mobile wireless connections nationwide. The proposed merger has been a topic of robust debate in Congress, where both houses have conducted committee hearings on the merger. At one of them in May, Randall L. Stephenson, the chief executive of AT&T, tried largely unsuccessfully to convince lawmakers that AT&T and T-Mobile should not even be considered as competitors. In subsequent congressional appearances, he abandoned that assertion, going back to the company’s main talking point: While the two companies are competitors, plenty of other competition exists in local wireless markets, with most potential customers having a choice among at least five providers. “Certain critics may attempt to create a myth that only a few national competitors exist, but wireless competition occurs primarily on the local level,” Mr. Stephenson said.

But the Justice Department, in its filing in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, cited AT&T’s own arguments in earlier merger cases in favor of national competition. “As AT&T acknowledged less than three years ago during a merger proceeding, it aims to ‘develop its rate plans, features and prices in response to competitive conditions and offerings at the national levels — primarily the plans offered by the other national carriers,’ ” the Justice Department said in its lawsuit. “As AT&T recognized, ‘the predominant forces driving competition among wireless carriers operate at the national level.’ That remains the case today.” The F.C.C. is also reviewing the proposed merger, considering how competition and the public interest would be affected by the transfer of licenses for wireless airwaves that the merger would entail. “Competition is an essential component of the F.C.C.’s statutory public interest analysis,” said Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, in a statement. “Although our process is not complete, the record before this agency also raises serious concerns about the impact of the proposed transaction on competition.” Both the F.C.C. and the Justice Department have to approve the merger, and they usually coordinate their independent reviews in a way that results in the same conclusion. For an antitrust case to fully wind its way through the court system could take years, maybe more than a decade. But AT&T would have to weigh the cost of that action against what it might cost it to get out of the T-Mobile deal. The F.C.C. and the Justice Department have different standards by which they weigh the merger. The F.C.C. must consider whether a deal is in the public interest, given the public assets – wireless airwaves, or spectrum – that would be transferred from one company to another. The Justice Department must determine whether a deal violates the federal antitrust statutes, which focus on whether a merger substantially reduces competition.


The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept 8 - 14, 2011

U.S. Markets Drop Sharply After Big Global Sell-Off By CHRISTINE HAUSER and DAVID JOLLY


oncerns about the debt crisis in Europe and global economic growth propelled financial markets downward as investors in the United States returned from a three-day weekend. Wall Street took a tumble at the opening of trading, taking cues from markets in Europe and Asia. Analysts said that the drop, which hit financial stocks particularly hard, was a carry-over from last week’s disappointing unemployment report in the United States and from news that major American banks were facing a federal lawsuit related to their handling of mortgage securities. The market turmoil of recent weeks showed no signs of letting up. Gold rose to another nominal high, and the Swiss authorities took action to weaken the franc, which has soared because of its role as a haven. In morning trading in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 stocks was down 2.4 percent, or 273.44 points, to 10,966.82. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index lost 2.5 percent, and the Nasdaq composite fell 2.3 percent. The losses were reminiscent of those on Friday, when the Labor Department reported zero job growth in the United States economy in August. “Friday set the tone with the employment report,” said Michael A. Mullaney, vice president of the Fiduciary Trust Company,

and markets in Europe and Asia picked up the pessimistic baton on Monday. Debt concerns related to the euro zone, particularly over Greece and Italy; the bank lawsuits in the United States; and worries about economic growth were the biggest factors damping prices, Mr. Mullaney and other analysts said. “We are basically hard struck to find out where the growth engines are going to come from,” Mr. Mullaney said. Bank shares were hammered in the United States. Bank of America and Citigroup were each down more than 5 percent. The financial, energy and industrial sectors each declined more than 3 percent. Concerns about the outlook for the global economy and the sovereign debt crisis that is haunting the euro zone have created conditions worryingly similar to those of the sell-off that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, Deutsche Bank’s chief executive, Josef Ackermann, said Monday. On Tuesday, European shares initially posted modest gains after a withering retreat Monday that knocked more than 4.1 percent off the broad market. But the momentum faded in afternoon trading, with the Euro Stoxx 50 index, a barometer of euro zone blue chips, down 1.8 percent and the FTSE 100 index in London barely holding onto its gains. Asian shares continued to lose ground. Having fallen 1.9 percent on Monday, the Nikkei 225 stock average in Japan sank an additional 2.2 percent on Tuesday, taking it to 8,590.57 points, its lowest close since April 2009.

“Key economic data continues to disappoint as global business sentiment surveys weakened further and the U.S. employment report printed well below market expectations,” analysts at Barclays Capital commented in a research note. “Increasing concerns over global growth appear to have halted the brief rally in risk assets in the last week of August,” they noted, and investors are likely to remain edgy, and financial markets volatile, over the next few weeks. Policy makers voiced similar concerns on Tuesday. “Asia will not be immune to a global slowdown,” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the finance minister of Singapore, Reuters reported. “We are already at stall speed in the U.S. and Europe, which means we are now more likely than not to see a recession.” In Zurich, the Swiss National Bank said it was setting a minimum value of 1.2 francs

per euro and was prepared to spend an “unlimited” amount to defend it. The central bank was acting to help the country’s exporters, who fear being priced out of foreign markets by the strong franc. The euro immediately rallied, rising as high as 1.24 Swiss francs from 1.11 francs late Monday. The euro has traded as low as 1.03 francs this summer. Currency trading, which had been relatively quiet, was thrown into upheaval as the market sought a new equilibrium. The euro rose against the dollar, then fell back to $1.4083 from $1.4098 late Monday, while the British pound fell to $1.6045 from $1.6118. The dollar rose to 77.45 yen from 76.89 yen and soared to 0.8546 Swiss francs from 0.7872 francs. Gold futures climbed more than 1 percent to $1,901.20 an ounce in Comex trading. Government bond prices were lower, with the yield on the United States 10-year note at 1.949 percent.

Since Sept. 11, Years of Change for Airlines By JOE SHARKEY


LOT of frequent flier miles have been piling up in the 10 years since the terrorist attacks brought the domestic airline industry to its knees in autumn 2001. Airlines in the United States lost $55 billion and shed 160,000 jobs during that decade. But the industry has worked through the economic tumult. A decade later, the system is smaller in terms of capacity, but it’s still in good working order. Last year, for example, 720.4 million people boarded airplanes in the United States, slightly higher even than the 719.1 million passengers in 2000. Two weeks ago, at the annual convention of the Global Business Travel Association in Denver, Michael W. McCormick, the executive director of the group, hinted at a recovery. “We’re not seeing record profits, but we’re also not seeing the end of airline travel as we know it,” he said. “So have things changed for the better?” Good question. Planes are more crow-

ded than ever, but fares remain near historically low levels. Other than the airport security challenges, however, the one major difference from 10 years ago is all the extra fees airlines have added to base fares, charging for things that used to be part of the ticket price. Last year, for example, domestic airlines raised $3.4 billion just from charges for checked bags. In 2007, the year before most airlines started charging extra for checking a bag, the comparable figure was $464.2 million. “It’s the right way to price the product,” replied Doug Parker, the chief executive of US Airways. Like other airline executives, Mr. Parker is adamant that ancillary fees have become a permanent part of the fare structure — and that they actually make a lot more sense than, say, the fees that many hotels charge customers. In 2008, he said, US Airways “actually instituted charging for all drinks on board, including sodas and water,” he said. The idea was dropped a few months later because of passenger resistance. While airplanes that have been flying

mostly full for over two years as capacity has been reduced to cut costs, another inconvenience has arisen. To avoid paying to check a bag, more passengers have been lugging more belongings onto already crowded planes. Some industry analysts have estimated that as many as 59 million extra bags are now being carried onto planes each year. Among the changes he predicted that all passengers can expect to see is a limit on extra checked bags, by airlines and also by the Transportation Security Administration at its checkpoints. “It’s becoming a huge problem for them. When you stand in line at the T.S.A., you see that the line is because of all those bags going through, not because of the people themselves being processed,” Mr. Parker said. Also ahead is even further contraction in the domestic commercial aviation system. Delta Air Lines, for example, recently announced that it would drop service to 24 small and midsize airports, and US Airways said last week it was reducing service in Las Vegas by an additional 40 percent. At the

same time, airlines have been mothballing many 50-seat regional jets, long the backbone of service at midsize airports. Over the last decade, Mr. Parker said, the domestic airline business came to terms with the reality that it “had gotten way overbuilt, with too many hubs and too many airplanes.” “We’re being much more rational, not trying to chase market share wherever we can but instead doing what we do well and sticking to that,” he said. Asked about complaints from travel managers that airlines don’t provide enough “transparency” in showing optional fees clearly along with base fares, Mr. Parker said that business travelers were well aware of the panoply of extra charges, especially those for checked bags. Alone among the major carriers, Southwest Airlines does not charge for checking a bag. “To suggest that people don’t know about baggage fees is hard to embrace,” he joked. “Because if you haven’t heard about them, Southwest will run an ad every couple of minutes to make sure you do.”

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011



Sudoku How to Play: Fill in the empty fields with the numbers from 1 through 9 Click the “check sudoku” button to check your sudoku inputs Click the “new sudoku” button and select difficulty to play a new game

Sudoku Rules: Every row must contain the numbers from 1 through 9 Every column must contain the numbers from 1 through 9 Every 3x3 square must contain the numbers from 1 through 9



Answers on page 30


The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


(Mar 21-April 20)


(Sep 24-Oct 23)

Smile on the world and it will surely (well, hopefully) smile back. Relax a bit and events will take care of themselves. A plan may have gone askew or awry, but you still have reasons to be cheerful. Be as flexible as you possibly can and exercise Trust in the higher plan. Your destiny is ordained and guided, so be receptive and open to many good things. Things happen for a reason.

A flippant attitude could damage relationships, if you are not careful. So do not take stuff for granted. With the wind in your sails, take flight into the future. This is the optimum time to get your ambitions moving along nicely. Be bright and breezy and stop hankering for what you cannot have. Leave whatever is no longer appropriate behind you. The only way is up.



(April 21-May 21)

Recent happenings may appear to be haphazard, but you will soon see what is going on. Luck has many manifestations. So, look on the bright side and be grateful for what is not happening. Switch off from work for a minute or several. Prepare to be surprised about how ‘on the money’ you have been. Your hunches will pay off. Your shrewd nature can now operate.


(May 22-June 21)

Control issues need have no place in your world. Be self-monitoring, but do not overdo it. It would not do to become too focused on you. Expand your horizons and open your eyes. There is more to see in the big wide world, so do not narrow your field of vision too much. Step out of the tunnel and look around. Let your hair down a little. You are great at the practical stuff.


(June 22-July 23)

Relax around the things about which you can do nothing. You will be delighted with the turn of events. You can afford to life a little more dangerously. A game of truth or dare could get interesting. Be honest with yourself. Take a risk and prepare to win. One chapter has closed and another is opening. Do not stress or panic. Things look good.


(July 24-Aug 23)

There will be reason enough to celebrate before too long. You can reach your full potential without trying too hard. So relax and go for gold. Never mind the chores and routines. Life needs a bit of Craic, after all! Pleasant surprises await you; so, do not even try to understand the details. Some things are better left unsaid. Let the future look after itself.


(Aug 24-Sep 23)

Concentrate on the present. Mellow out if your commitments are frantic and take action. If you are bored to tears, balance is the key. Take things to the extreme if you are looking for excitement. But be careful out there and avoid the burnout factor. If you overdo it now... you will have to compensate later. Ration the madness and so prolong your enjoyment. Do not forget to take some things seriously.

(Oct 24-Nov 22)

Be gracious enough to admit it when someone has helped you. Support is yours, so do not be afraid to ask for it and certainly do not withhold your appreciation when it is given. Pull everything together and brace yourself. You may have had a fright recently, but you are more than able to cope. Ask and ye shall receive! Do not block the natural abundance heading your way. The Universe will provide.


(Nov 23-Dec 21)

Someone may be slow to get back to you, but, be assured they are thinking hard! Do not be hasty or in such a rush. Changes will come about, as and when they are meant to. Remember, the more work you have to do - the more you will get done. A strange paradox, but very true! Do not be intimidated by your work load; simply get on with it.


(Dec 22-Jan 20)

Have confidence in your innate abilities. A reasonable plan of action will work well. Go for it. These are exciting times, so do not miss out. Try to stop fretting about your circumstances. It is not the right moment yet. Bide your time before you act. Reserve judgement and don’t be too hasty. The correct approach will naturally reveal itself. Prepare for a shake-up.


(Jan 21-Feb 19)

Do not make definite plans as, at this stage, anything could happen. Remain relaxed and open. Flexibility will pay off - big style. Rigidity will not serve you well at this point. Steer a balanced middle course. Do not run away; use your intuition and take the initiative in love. Freedom is finally yours for the taking. Do not be a slave to fear.


(Feb 20-Mar 20)

It is about time to kick back and enjoy yourself. You have passed a test with flying colours. Phew! Be nice to you for a change and take a break. Perhaps reassess your priorities and give personal issues more attention. Be the true sunny character you know you can be. There is no need to feel fenced in. Life is for livingenjoy! Leave the nonsense behind and place negativity firmly in the past.

Answers to the Zudoku and Crossword on page 29

The San Juan Weekly Star

Sept. 8 - 14, 2011


Speed Bump

Frank & Ernest


Scary Gary

Wizard of Id

For Better or for Worse





Sept. 8 - 14, 2011

The San Juan Weekly Star

The San Juan Weekly #101  

The San Juan Weekly #101