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July 14 - 20, 2011
Thank You Don Ricardo P6
Puerto Rico Coast Still Ruled by 1886 Law
Museum Casa Cautino P3 Guayama Puerto Rico Won the Volleyball Championship in US P24
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July 14 - 20, 2011
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The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Puerto Rico Coast Still Ruled by 1886 Law A Spanish law crafted in 1886 still governs development along Puerto Rico’s sprawling coastline, worrying activists and legislators who say the ancient mandate has allowed construction along ecologically sensitive beaches. By DANICA COTO
Spanish law crafted in 1886 still governs development along Puerto Rico’s sprawling coastline, worrying activists and legislators who say the ancient mandate has allowed construction along ecologically sensitive beaches. But replacing the law’s vague wording and its scant references to environmental protection has been a challenge. A bill that addresses those concerns has been stuck in the legislature since 2009, while complaints about limited access to public beaches and construction in environmentally delicate areas have increased. “It’s time, now that we’re face to face with the 21st century, that we stop gambling with the health and safety of our citizens and the resources of future generations,” said Ricardo de Soto, who runs a local chapter of Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group. “We need to create an intelligent coastal law.” The 125-year-old law was decreed
by Spain at a time when establishing settlements and businesses was of utmost importance and there were few concerns about overdeveloping the 700-mile-long (1,130-kilometer) coast, or exhausting what were perceived as limitless natural resources. “Because the law is so old, it is very vague and lacks technical and environmental content,” said Miguel Sarriera, an attorney who has represented local environmental groups
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pushing for new legislation. The lack of speciﬁc regulations gives a tremendous amount of discretion to state planning agencies, some of which abuse their powers when awarding permits, according to lawmakers backing the coastal management bill. A new, clear policy would prevent such problems, said Rep. Carlos Mendez, who submitted the bill. “We’re supporting a law from the 1800s that does not adjust itself to the
reality of Puerto Rico,” he said. “We don’t have the same coastline that we had in the 1800s.” Mendez said the law has allowed homes to be built on public beaches, and has allowed some to be blocked in popular tourist areas such as Rio Grande, along the island’s north coast, and Guanica, in the southwest. Beach access also has been blocked in the past decade by high-end residential communities in Isla Verde and Ocean
4 July 14 - 20, 2011 Park in the capital of San Juan, Sarriera added. One of the more controversial projects has been Paseo Caribe, a luxurious condo-hotel built next to San Geronimo, a historic seaside fort in San Juan. Opponents have waged lengthy protests, alleging the development was built on improperly sold public land and that it blocks access to the fort, a public landmark. Dozens of protesters camped in front of the construction site, some for more than a year. A legislative investigation led the island’s justice secretary to declare that the land was public, prompting the government to withhold permits. The developers responded with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the island’s former government, and eventually obtained permission to ﬁnish the project. On June 17, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Boston found that the former administration did not grant developers a proper hearing before suspending the permits, but also gave the government immunity from paying any compensation. Frustrated by legal loopholes, activists armed with sledgehammers and drills have destroyed walls and torn down fences in recent years in an effort to force developers to comply with ignored court orders to restore access to beaches. But the government is in no rush to reinforce court orders or approve a new law of its own, Sarriera contends. He said that because the current law “does not have a lot of context, the opinion of the secretary (of natural
The San Juan Weekly
resources) reigns supreme, and the government likes that.” Natural Resources Secretary Daniel Galan said his department carefully reviews development projects, but he acknowledged that, as a result of abstract deﬁnitions in the 1886 law, some projects that should not have been approved were approved, and vice versa. “Unfortunately, there have been inconsistencies on both sides,” he said. Currently, project proposals are accompanied by the opinions of experts as to what constitutes the coastal zone and which areas should be designated as private. Galan said his agency has been trying to replace opinions with hard data and has just ﬁnished a $1 million project to delineate Puerto Rico’s coastal zone using updated technology. By August, the secretary said he expects to propose a bill of his own using new data he says will protect against discretionary decisions. “It cannot be based on personal opinion,” Galan said. “It is extremely, extremely precise.” Galan said his proposal will not address right of way to beaches, which he says is a more complicated issue that his agency will tackle later. Mendez’s bill, meanwhile, calls for greater public access to beaches, a concept that Sarriera supports even though he said it is not an ideal proposal. “I wouldn’t put it on my list for Santa Claus,” he said, “but it’s better than what we have now, without a doubt.”
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
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The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Thank You Don Ricardo T
he people of Puerto Rico joined in feeling after the death of one of his most recognized sons, Don Ricardo Alegría, who devoted his life on behalf the defense of all that represents our formation as people. He was a connoisseur of our history, beyond the aboriginal population of this land that the Taínos referred as Borikén. He was a scholar of each stone and piece of ceramic that archaeologists identiﬁed and categorized between pre and post columbian periods, as well as in their customs and beliefs. Also studied our history since 1508, when Juan Ponce de León
began the colonization of the island with the Spaniards from the Iberian Peninsula and the enslavement of the Taínos until its almost extinction and its subsequent replacement by black slaves from the african continent, creating an amalgam of races that created the criollismo which deﬁned us as people, all of this was outlined in his works by this eminent historian and anthropologist named Ricardo Alegría. The years that have included the following centuries of our history, with its swings and struggles against invaders from various countries, as well as episodes that marked each time, were also
deeply studied and outlined by Don Ricardo. At the beginning of the second decade of the last century, a child was born in the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Capital, he was Ricardo Alegría Gallardo, son of José S. Alegría, founder of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico. From a very young age, Ricardo was a student of the history of Puerto Rico, its people and its history. He became ever since the defender of what he meant were the cultural values of their homeland. Through his professional career he created and participated in entities and institutions that had the scope of defend the identity of the puerto ricans. He participated in the formation of schools and centers for cultivating the arts that are in turn earliest exponents of our idiosyncrasy as a
people. His initiative also includes the conservation and rebirth of the Old San Juan while maintaining old structures and remodeling other without altering the architectural lines that were deﬁned in a given time. Despite the fact that Don Ricardo Alegría was one of the guards that watch over the Puerto Rican culture with great zeal, he also understood that the culture is dynamic and that at some point it is inﬂuenced by styles and forms of other peoples and nations that interact with us. In Puerto Rico we have words from the taino, african, arabic, french, english and many other languages. We also have words and meals of neighboring countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic and the United States, to mention only some. This inﬂuences are difﬁcult to control. Don Ricardo Alegría did not intend to shut ourselves up in a cultural bubble, but if we are conscious of our roots as a people and feel the pride of the land that saw us birth, we’ll become really international. Thank You Don Ricardo, by your struggle and your teachings. Puerto Rico will always remember him as one of most illustrious sons. Julio L. Carrión Santiago
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Obama Summons G.O.P. and Democratic Leaders for Deﬁcit Reduction Talks
By MARK LANDLER and CARL HULSE
resident Obama stepped up pressure on Congressional Republicans on Tuesday to agree to a broad deﬁcit-cutting deal, pledging to put popular entitlement programs like Medicare on the table in return for Republican acquiescence to some higher taxes. Mr. Obama, who met secretly with Speaker John A. Boehner at the White House on Sunday to try to advance the talks, called House and Senate leaders from both parties to the White House for further negotiations on Thursday. And he rejected talk of an interim deal that would get the government past a looming deadline on raising the federal debt limit without settling some of the longer-term issues contributing to the government’s ﬁscal imbalances. “We’ve got a unique opportunity to do something big, to tackle our deﬁcit in a way that forces our government to live within its means,” he said in an appearance in the White House brieﬁng room, casting himself as much an honest broker as a partisan participant in the talks. “This will require both parties to get out of our comfort zones, and both parties to agree on real compromise.”
Mr. Obama’s previously undisclosed Sunday meeting with Mr. Boehner suggests that the talks are entering a critical phase. There were also intense staff-level negotiations between the White House and Congress over the details of a multi-trillion-dollar package of spending cuts that could clear the way for a vote to raise the debt ceiling, constrain the growth of government and radically reshape the role of government in American society. The two sides remain in a deadlock over the president’s insistence that the package contain tax increases as well as spending cuts. While Mr. Obama did not retreat from that demand Tuesday, he coupled it with a pledge to take on spending in “entitlement programs,” a promise likely to unsettle many Democrats. While a broad-based agreement may appeal to the White House, neither Senate Republicans nor Democrats may be as eager to embrace one. Democrats worry that a deal that cuts Medicare could rob them of what they see as their political advantage on the issue; Republicans trying to win the majority next year might not like an agreement that is seen as giving Democrats credibility on reducing the deﬁcit. But Mr. Boehner, while again sa-
ying that higher taxes were a nonstarter, expressed pleasure at Mr. Obama’s willingness to single out entitlements. “I’m pleased the president stated today that we need to address the big, long-term challenges facing our country,” he said in a statement. The speaker’s session with Mr. Obama was their ﬁrst face-to-face encounter since the talks presided over by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. collapsed last month, ofﬁcials with knowledge of the meeting said, though the speaker and the president also met privately just before those discussions broke up. The substance of their talks was not disclosed. But Mr. Boehner’s meeting was evidently made known to other House and Senate Republican leaders. Mr. Obama said the two sides needed to reach a deal within two weeks to pass legislation before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department says the government risks defaulting on its debt. And he restated that Congress should not procrastinate and let negotiations “come down to the last second.” Senate Republicans have suggested in recent days that a “minideal” be struck, which would allow the government to get past the Aug. 2 deadline but leave the larger ﬁscal
choices to be thrashed out in the 2012 election. The president rejected that, saying: “I don’t think the American people sent us here to avoid tough problems. That’s, in fact, what drives them nuts about Washington, when both parties simply take the path of least resistance.” Still, Mr. Obama eased his tone noticeably from his feisty news conference last week, in which he compared the work habits of lawmakers unfavorably with those of his daughters, Malia and Sasha. “It’s my hope that everybody’s going to leave their ultimatums at the door, that we’ll all leave our political rhetoric at the door,” he said. Mr. Obama also eschewed a populist tone, making no reference to “millionaires and billionaires” or owners of corporate jets, even as he spoke of the necessity of eliminating tax breaks and loopholes. The budget impasse is dominating the White House and Congress. With Republicans protesting that the Senate should be concentrating on ﬁscal issues this week, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, conceded the point on Tuesday and abruptly called off a planned debate on Libya. After complaints by Republicans that their Fourth of July break had been canceled to deal with the debtlimit ﬁght and not Libya, Mr. Reid essentially threw in the towel and said the Senate would instead take nonbinding votes later this week on how to address the debt-limit dispute. “Notwithstanding the broad support for the Libya resolution, the most important thing to focus on this week is the budget,” Mr. Reid said. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, restated his opposition to any budget deal containing new taxes. He accused Democrats of a “cheap attempt” at making Republicans look bad by saying that Republicans refused to consider ending a tax break for corporate jets. Senate Democratic leaders last week called off their planned Fourth of July break due to the Aug. 2 deadline. But the budget talks are occurring mainly off the ﬂoor in leadership ofﬁces and at the White House so Mr. Reid scheduled the bipartisan Libya resolution for ﬂoor debate.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
E.P.A. Chief Stands Firm as Tough Rules Loom By JOHN M. BRODER
n the next weeks and months, Lisa P. Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is scheduled to establish regulations on smog, mercury, carbon dioxide, mining waste and vehicle emissions that will affect every corner of the economy. She is working under intense pressure from opponents in Congress, from powerful industries, from impatient environmentalists and from the Supreme Court, which just afﬁrmed the agency’s duty to address global warming emissions, a project that carries profound economic implications. The new rules will roll out just as President Obama’s re-election campaign is getting under way, with a White House highly sensitive to the probability of political damage from a ﬂood of government mandates that will strike particularly hard at the manufacturing sector in states crucial to the 2012 election. No other cabinet ofﬁcer is in as lonely or uncomfortable a position as Ms. Jackson, who has been left, as one adviser put it, behind enemy lines with only science, the law and a small band of loyal lieutenants to support her. Ms. Jackson describes the job as draining but says there are certain principles she will not compromise, including rapid and vigorous enforcement of some of the most farreaching health-related rules ever considered by the agency. “The only thing worse than no E.P.A. is an E.P.A. that exists and doesn’t do its job — it becomes just a placebo,” she said last week in an hourlong interview in Houston. “We are doing our job.” Although she has not met with the president privately since February, Ms. Jackson said she was conﬁdent that he would back her on the tough decisions she had to make. “All of us are mindful that he has a lot of things to do,” she said. Attacks on her and her agency have become a central part of the Republican playbook, but she said she wanted no sympathy. “Any E.P.A. director sits at the intersection of some very important issues — air pollution, clean water, and whether businesses can survive,” said Ms. Jackson, a chemical engineer trained at Tulane and Princeton Universities and a former director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “No one knows this job unless they’ve sat in the seat.” Ms. Jackson said she intended to go
forward with new, tougher air- and waterquality rules, including those that address climate change, despite Congressional efforts to override her authority and even a White House initiative to weed out overly burdensome regulations. The ﬁrst of these new rules is expected to be announced Thursday, imposing tighter restrictions on soot and smog emissions from coal-burning power plants in 31 states east of the Rockies. The regulation is expected to lead to the closing of several older plants and will require the installation of scrubbers at many of those that remain in operation. One former E.P.A. administrator, William K. Reilly, who served under the ﬁrst President George Bush, is a sometime adviser to Ms. Jackson. He said she was taking ﬁre from all sides. “She’s got three very large challenges,” Mr. Reilly said. “First, she’s got to administer the Clean Air Act to try to accomplish something for which it was never designed, the control of carbon dioxide, a difﬁcult regulatory challenge in itself. Second, she has to do that and cope with all these other regulations which are not of her making and have come to land on her desk in a climate of intense political polarization and economic distress.” “And the third challenge,” he continued, “is that the White House — any White House — doesn’t want to hear an awful lot from the E.P.A. It’s not an agency that ever makes friends for a president. In the cabinet room, many of the secretaries got along with each other, but they all had an argument with me. It’s the nature of the job.” Mr. Reilly said the White House had left Ms. Jackson out on a limb when it failed to push hard for the cap-and-trade climate change bill that passed the House in 2009 but stalled in the Senate last year. Administration ofﬁcials had argued that legislation was far superior to agency regulation as a means of addressing climate-altering emissions. But when the bill ran up against bipartisan opposition in the Senate, Mr. Reilly said, “the White House didn’t lift a ﬁnger,” an assertion administration ofﬁcials dispute. The White House said that it fully supported the agency’s aggressive standards for a variety of pollutants to protect public health and the environment and denied that it was resisting further regulatory action for political reasons. “It’s simply a matter of choosing the health and safety of the American people over polluters,” Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement, “and doing so in a common-sense way
NRG Energy’s W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station in Thompsons, Texas. that allows us to protect public health while also growing the economy — which will continue to be a shared goal of this entire administration.” One of Ms. Jackson’s most vocal critics is Representative Edward Whitﬁeld, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the energy and power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has held several hearings at which Ms. Jackson served as target practice for opponents of E.P.A. regulation of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Ms. Jackson said that was the roughest treatment she had gotten in her two and a half years in Washington. Mr. Whitﬁeld, who has never met privately with Ms. Jackson, was unapologetic. “It is unprecedented the number of major regulations this administration is putting out,” he said, “and I can’t tell you how many calls and meetings and letters I have asking, ‘Is there any way to slow E.P.A. down?’ ” “What’s troubling to us,” Mr. Whitﬁeld continued, “is that President Obama on the one hand is saying we have to be really careful about these regulations and consider the impact on jobs and the economy, but over at the agency they’re just going full speed ahead with minimal attention or analysis on job impact.” One hot spot where Ms. Jackson can count on friendly treatment is “The Daily Show,” where she has appeared three times in two years. Questioning from the host, Jon Stewart, was gentle, to say the least, referring in a recent show to the agency’s “unassailable successes” in dealing with air and water pollution and to the “tremendous corporate interests” arrayed against her. Even those most supportive of Ms. Jackson say that the agency has taken on a virtua-
lly unmanageable set of challenges across the range of policy, from mountaintop-removal coal mining to wetlands preservation to the control of toxic emissions from power plants and reﬁneries. She is also in charge of federal restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill. “Have they bitten off more than they can chew?” asked Jason S. Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, who has close ties to the White House and the agency. “Yes. But that’s a testament to their aspirations, and now reality is setting in.” The reality being that there is often political fallout whenever tough policy decisions are made, and that the timing of Ms. Jackson’s rule setting could not be more inopportune for Mr. Obama. “It’s always the case that there are conﬂicts between good policy and good politics, and the E.P.A. is often the crucible of those challenges,” Mr. Grumet said. One of the toughest pending decisions, he said, concerns a standard for permissible levels of smog-causing compounds including ozone. The agency’s scientiﬁc advisory panel has recommended setting a high bar that could put hundreds of counties out of compliance with the law, forcing them to take action to reduce emissions, even though the pollutants may be generated beyond their jurisdiction. The law requires that E.P.A. make such decisions based solely on the health effects of the pollution, not on the possible cost of compliance, creating a huge political problem. “Telling a government that has to stand for re-election that it should make decisions with no consideration of cost is understandably going to create great agita in the political ofﬁces,” Mr. Grumet said.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Big Business Leaves Deﬁcit to Politicians By DAVID LEONHARDT
f you want to understand why cutting the deﬁcit is so hard, you can’t do much better than to look at the Business Roundtable. The roundtable is one of the more moderate big-business lobbying groups. Its president is John Engler, the former Michigan governor, and its incoming chairman is James McNerney, the chief executive of Boeing. When roundtable ofﬁcials talk about the deﬁcit, they use sober, common-sense language that can make them sound more reasonable than either political party. But the roundtable is actually part of the problem. Rhetoric aside, it consistently lobbies for a higher deﬁcit. The roundtable defends corporate tax loopholes and even argues for new ones. It pushes for a lower corporate tax rate. It favors the permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts. It opposes a reduction in the tax subsidy for health insurance, a reduction that was part of the 2009 health reform bill. Oh, and the roundtable also favors new spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. It’s easy to look at the squabbling politicians in Washington and decide that they are the cause of the country’s huge looming budget deﬁcit. Certainly, they deserve some blame. The larger problem, though, is what you might call roundtable syndrome. In short, there isn’t much of a constituency for deﬁcit reduction. Sure, plenty of people and special-interest groups say that they are deeply worried about the deﬁcit. But they are not lobbying for speciﬁc spending cuts or tax increases. They aren’t marshaling their resources to defend politicians who take tough stands, like President Obama’s 2009 Medicare cuts or Rand Paul’s proposed military cuts. Instead, many of the ofﬁcially nonpartisan groups in Washington are even less ﬁscally responsible than the partisans. Public sector labor unions have fought changes to pensions and work rules that could lead to less expensive, more effective government. Private sector unions — along with the roundtable — have defended the huge tax subsidy for health insurance, which drives up health costs. Labor groups have at least been willing to push for some tax increases. Today’s business groups struggle to come up with any speciﬁc deﬁcit plan. Last year, the Business Council — a group of top corporate executives headed by Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase — and the roundtable released a 49-page plan that simultaneously warned that projected deﬁcits would “retard future growth” and called for policies that would add hundreds of billions of dollars a year to the deﬁcit. That’s the essence of roundtable syndrome.
When I ask roundtable ofﬁcials and other lobbyists about this contradiction, they show an impressive ability to avoid speciﬁcs and stick to their talking points. Mr. Engler, by e-mail, said, “A simpler, ﬂatter tax system can be enacted in a ﬁscally responsible manner that better serves American workers and supports economic growth.” Taken by itself, this statement is entirely accurate. The corporate tax code is a mess. A better code, say both conservative and liberal economists, would be ﬂatter — that is, have a lower rate and fewer loopholes. Companies would then waste less time complying with the code and could still help reduce the deﬁcit. But the roundtable is not pushing for the simpler, ﬂatter, ﬁscally responsible code that Mr. Engler mentions. It’s pushing for tax cuts for its members: a lower rate, the continuation of existing loopholes and the creation of new ones, like a permanent credit for research and a tax holiday for overseas proﬁts. Mr. Engler and his colleagues, in other words, are lobbying for a more complex, less ﬁscally responsible tax code. Given how much we’re going to talk about the deﬁcit, I’d suggest requiring any self-proclaimed ﬁscal conservative to give speciﬁcs. You’re against the deﬁcit? Great. How do you want to cut it? The fact is, naming speciﬁc ways to reduce the deﬁcit is no more technically challenging than naming new spending programs or tax cuts. To take the current debt ceiling negotiations as a benchmark, White House ofﬁcials and Congressional leaders are looking for about $200 billion a year in deﬁcit reduction. They could get it any number of ways. Two different bipartisan groups — the Bowles-Simpson deﬁcit commission and the Sustainable Defense Task Force — have called for roughly $100 billion a year in cuts to the military budget. Getting rid of farm subsidies would save about $15 billion. So would cutting the federal work force by 10 percent. Allowing the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on income above $250,000 a year would raise about $60 billion a year. The expiration of all the other Bush tax cuts would bring in another $200 billion or so. Various changes to Medicare and Social Security — raising the retirement age, reducing beneﬁts for the afﬂuent, cutting back on some forms of health care — could cut spending even more. In the long term, with projected deﬁcits well above $1 trillion a year, such changes will surely be necessary. By the standard of speciﬁcity, a few of the most prominent politicians in the de���cit debate end up looking more serious than many outside groups. Representative Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who heads
the House Budget Committee, has called for the effective elimination of Medicare for everyone under 55 years old. Mr. Obama favors some Medicare cuts, the closing of several modest tax loopholes and tax increases on the afﬂuent. There are many potential objections to the Obama plan and to the Ryan plan. And neither would eliminate the deﬁcit. But both plans would at least reduce it, which is more
than you can say about corporate America’s deﬁcit plan. The deﬁcit is one of those national challenges that will require tough choices and courageous leadership. Many of those choices and much of that leadership will have to come from politicians. But I’m guessing we won’t solve the deﬁcit until the politicians get some help — and simply calling yourself a ﬁscal conservative doesn’t count as help.
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The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Tracing Unscooped Dog Waste Back to the Culprit By KATIE ZEZIMA
herlock Holmes had the case of the dog that didn’t bark, but it has taken two dozen apartment complexes and a testing company in Tennessee to bring the art of canine detection into the “CSI” age. And the evidence is right underfoot. Canine DNA is now being used to identify the culprits who fail to clean up after their pets, an offense that Deborah Violette, for one, is committed to eradicating at the apartment complex she manages. Everyone who owns a dog in her complex, Timberwood Commons in Lebanon, N.H., must submit a sample of its DNA, taken by rubbing a cotton swab around inside the animal’s mouth. The swab is sent to BioPet Vet Lab, a Knoxville, Tenn., company
that enters it into a worldwide database. If Ms. Violette ﬁnds an unscooped pile, she can take a sample, mail it to Knoxville and use a DNA match to identify the offending owner. Called PooPrints, the system costs $29.99 for the swabbing kit, $10
for a vial to hold the samples and $50 to analyze them, which usually takes a week or two. The company says that about two dozen apartment complexes around the country have signed up for the service. In 2008, the Israeli city of Petah Tikva created a dog DNA database for the same purpose. “It’s kind of like the F.B.I., but on a much smaller scale,” said Eric Mayer, director of franchise development for BioPet Vet Lab, which makes the kits. Ms. Violette said that at her complex, which opened in December and has a designated building for pet owners, unwanted surprises have sometimes been found on lawns. “We had a little bit of a problem,” Ms. Violette said. “Enough that I wanted to try to nip it in the bud.” Dog owners were notiﬁed about the testing last week, and most are now taking their pets in to provide DNA samples. But not everyone. “I’ve had some people say it’s completely over the top and ridiculous,” Ms. Violette said. “I’m sure I’ll have a few people who won’t come in, and I’m sure those are the people we’ll have to chase and those are the people who are doing it.” Tom Boyd, the founder and chief executive of BioPet Vet Lab, said the company made the kits in response to the large of numbers of the dogs in the United States and to health concerns connected to dog feces. According to the American Society for the
Deborah Violette, a property manager, takes dog waste seriously. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are about 75 million dogs in the United States. “If you took 75 million Americans and said they no longer have a commode, can you imagine what would happen in a week?” Mr. Boyd asked. Not everyone is on board with the idea, though. Karen Harvey of Forest Property Management in McCall, Idaho, said her company was not prepared to collect canine samples along with the rent checks. “If you allow pets, that sort of comes with it,” Ms. Harvey said. “I guess I would never take the issue of dog poop that far.”
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The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Lechonera La Ranchera By ROBERT WILLEY
op out to Lechonera La Ranchera, about 30 minutes outside San Juan, on a Friday afternoon and you can snack on crisp pork chunks and fried plantains, enjoy the air-conditioning, then climb back in your rental car for the drive back, wondering the whole time, perhaps, why you didn’t just order takeout at the hotel. Stop in the next morning, however, and a visit to this low-slung sports bar — a splashy outlier that opened last November on a narrow mountain road — makes undeniable sense. The reason: On weekends the real action shifts to the ramshackle outdoor kitchen next door, where Apa Ramos prepares the Puerto Rican-style roast pig known as lechón. Mr. Ramos arrives at 4 a.m. to slather each 90-pound carcass with a pungent rub of salt, garlic and spices before skewering it on a spit that turns slowly over smoldering coals. By the time
the restaurant opens at 10, the pig has been transformed into textbook lechón: a tubular bundle of fatty meat suffused with seasoning, wrapped in mahogany skin that crunches like potato chips. Mr. Ramos, 53, learned the trade from his father, Bernardo, and has been roasting pigs more than half his life. His tools could not be more basic: a cinderblock pit of his own construction, sheets of corrugated metal to control the heat, a machete. He toddles back and forth between the pit and a steel work table streaked with honey-colored grease, cleaving with his right hand and placing portions into plastic foam containers with his bare left. Back in the restaurant, your lechón arrives on a platter ringed with fried plantains (tostones), a heaping dish of yellow rice studded with pigeon peas off to the side. There’s hot sauce and a mayonnaiseketchup mashup for dipping, but the pork does its best work alone, with the choicest bites coming from the jowls, belly and ribs;
basically, wherever the fat is. The loin, though a bit dry and chewy in places, remains powerfully seasoned, and a glossy shard of skin can make it sing. “He just has a special touch,” said Eric Ripert, the acclaimed chef at Le Bernardin in New York. He is such a fan of Mr. Ramos that he has ﬂown him up twice to roast pigs for his restaurant. “It’s not like I
ate all the lechón in Puerto Rico, but every time I do eat the lechón I compare it to his. And Apa’s is always better.” Lechonera La Ranchera, Road 173, Km. 6.0, Hato Nuevo Ward, Guaynabo; (787) 790-9988. A single order of lechón, including rice, is $9. The restaurant opens at 10 a.m. on weekends; it’s best to arrive by noon.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
New Ways to Visit Cuba — Legally
By MICHELLE HIGGINS
LWAYS wanted to visit Cuba? Well now you can — legally. Thanks to policy changes by President Obama earlier this year designed to encourage more contact between Americans and citizens of the Communist-ruled island, the Treasury Department is once again granting so-called “people-to-people” licenses, which greatly expand travel opportunities for Cuba-bound visitors. The licenses, created under President Bill Clinton in 1999, stopped being issued in 2003 under travel restrictions imposed by President George W. Bush. Subsequently, the number of travelers from the United States visiting Cuba legally dropped from more than 200,000 in 2003 to less than 50,000 in 2004, according to estimates by Bob Guild, vice president of Marazul Charters in North Bergen, N.J., among the largest United States organizers of trips to Cuba. The new changes, which come on top of loosened restrictions for Cubans and Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in Cuba, are expected to push the number of travelers visiting Cuba this year to 450,000 this year. “We estimate 375,000 to 400,000 Cuban Americans will visit this year and another 50,000 in other categories of legal travel,” said Mr. Guild of Marazul. To be clear, it is still illegal for ordinary American vacationers to hop on a plane bound for Cuba, which has been under a United States economic embargo for nearly 50 years. True, plenty have dodged the restrictions — and continue to do so — by ﬂying there from another country like Mexico or Canada (for Americans, traveling to Cuba is technically not illegal, but it might
as well be since the United States prohibits its citizens from spending money in Cuba, with exceptions for students, journalists, Cuban-Americans and others with legal reasons to travel there). And while Washington has also expanded licensing for educational groups traveling to Cuba by loosening requirements, travelers joining an educational trip must still receive credit toward a degree. But the new people-to-people measures make it easier for United States citizens who do not have special status as working journalists or scholars to visit Cuba legally, so long as they go with a licensed operator. “All a U.S. citizen has to do is sign up for an authorized program and they can go to Cuba. It’s as simple as that,” said Tom Popper, director of Insight Cuba, a travel company that took more than 3,000 Americans to Cuba between 1999 and 2003, and was among the tour operators to apply for a license under the new rules earlier this year. It received its license at the end of June, and has planned 135 trips of three, seven or eight nights over the next year. But other organizations, including Collette Vacations, the National Geographic Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, are still waiting to hear from Washington. “They are not issuing them with any kind of speed,” said Janet Moore, owner of Distant Horizons, an authorized travel service provider to Cuba, who has been helping organizations apply for people-to-people licenses. For example, Harvard University, which is offering an alumni trip under the new rules, was among the ﬁrst to receive the special people-to-people license, Ms. Moore said, while the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, which operated four trips to Cuba
between 2001 and 2003, has yet to receive theirs. “The bottom line is yes, they have issued some licenses, but they are doing it at a snail’s pace,” she said. In all, only eight companies had been issued people-to-people licenses by the end of June, according to the Treasury Department. Thirty-ﬁve applications were still pending. The trips aren’t your typical Caribbean vacation. Rather, the focus is on meeting local citizens and learning about the culture, not beach hopping and mojitoswilling. Days are ﬁlled with busy itineraries that may include visiting orphanages or speaking with musicians or community leaders. Guidelines published by the Treasury Department say the tours must “have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.” But besides the mingling, the trips — which can range from $1,800 for a long weekend in Havana to more than $4,000 for a week — usually include opportunities to visit historic sites like Old Havana, or, for longer itineraries, a visit to Cienfuegos, a picturesque city in the South. In terms of hotels, “service may not be quite as good and the Internet connection is incredibly slow and frustrating,” said Ms. Moore of Distant Horizons. But, she said, “they have all the facilities you’d expect: swimming pools, little gyms. And there are a lot of very good private restaurants.” Don’t expect to stock up on those coveted Cuban cigars, however. Travelers aren’t allowed to bring cigars or rum back to the States, according to the Treasury Department. Demand for Cuba is so strong that
tour operators say that many of the trips already have long waiting lists. Learning in Retirement, an educational program associated with the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse, which is offering a 10-day people-to-people trip in April, said more than 65 people have already expressed interest for its 35 spots. “That’s just through word of mouth,” said Burt Altman, a retired professor who organized the trip. “We haven’t even put out the itinerary.” “It’s the forbidden fruit,” said Mr. Popper of Insight Cuba. “It’s 50 years of pentup demand for a country that 75 percent of Americans really, really want to travel to.” Following is a list of planned peopleto-people trips to Cuba. HARVARD UNIVERSITY’S ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, alumni.harvard.edu, will take a group of 35 to Havana for ﬁve days in late October, led by Julio Cesar Pérez Hernández, the Cuban Loeb Fellow at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, to explore the city and meet professionals, including local artists and enjoy a private concert at the Ceramics Museum with guitarist Luis Manuel Molina. Cost: $3,880 a person based on double occupancy, including airfare from Miami. INSIGHT CUBA, insightcuba.org, is offering several trips that include a weekend in Havana that costs $1,795 and visits an orphanage; Callejon de Hammel, a community project promoting art, music and culture; the Instituto de Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (Cuban Institute of Friendship With the People), an international Cuban organization that promotes cultural relations between the United States and Cuba; and an eight-night Cuban Music and Art Experience ($4,095), where visitors meet the staff at Egrem, the Cuban state record company, participate in a percussion and dance workshop, visit local music schools and talk to musicians during rehearsal at a famous Havana jazz club. LEARNING IN RETIREMENT, uwlax. edu/conted/lir/index.html, is offering a 10-day trip in April 2012 visiting a range of professionals from Santiago de Cuba to Trinidad including a violin maker and a dairy farm operator. Cost: $4,300 for members who pay a $35 annual fee. CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART AND COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN, corcoran.org, plans to offer an eight-day trip in November, pending a license. The trip, led by Mario Ascencio, the museum’s library director, will explore the art scenes of Havana and Trinidad, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Guests will attend a cocktail reception at the Ludwig Foundation, which promotes Cuban contemporary artists, and meet local curators, artists and gallery owners. Cost: $3,700 a person, including round-trip airfare from Miami for guests who pay $60 for a museum membership.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
The San Juan Weeekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
LETTERS The banks have contrived a diabolical array of schemes to cheat us silly. Everything from usurious credit cards to second-round-of-interest-on-the-same-pricipal reverse mortgages. The Achelles’ heel of the vaious set-ups is identity theft. So the banks run spots all over the media warning us to purchase protection. But isn’t it the banks who stand to lose money? Yeah. Did you too get a card from Mr. Carrión last Christmas.
mess, like Russia or China, needs “dictatorship of the proletariat” for a while to learn how to read and write, among other things, only that the dictators never seem to ﬁnd the right moment to step down, an undertow only Niccolo Machiavelli fully appreciated. You’d better read the writing on the wall. You should’ve done something for the UPR student strikers, your son and daughters with hearts you never had, strangled and sexually assaulted while you watched on TV and munched potato chips and made stupid remarks.
Belisario Badillo, Hato Rey
Amanda Borrero, Altamira
Your Last Drop of Blood
Backward Like the Crab
Canine Island Sanctuary
Early in the 20th century it looked like democracy just didn’t work. Like it was tantamount to anarchy both politically and economically, a notion reinforced by the Great Depression. But it didn’t make sense to go back to kings and noblemen, so what minds came up with was organizing society like the military, with a sense of unity and honor and the fascio was an appropriate representation of such a restructuring, it’s sticks tied together, like when we all put our hearts and minds together, there’s no ceiling to what a nation can do. But ever since Caesar gave way to Nero and Caligula it’s been evident that checks and balances, even if they can turn everything into a chicken coop, safeguard us from the corruption of absolute power. No, penepeístas aren’t fascists. They’re just self-serving, arrogant thugs in the tradition of Rafael Trujillo and Fulgencio Batista. It happens that folks south of the Tropic of Cancer are learning all about democracy these days. In particular Ecuador and Chile. But here, like my grandmother used to say, we’re always backward like the crab.
In India cattle are sacred, in Puerto Rico it’s dogs. So you must be mindful of the ethos this entails: • When you’re speaking to a dog owner and his four little monsters are barking at you furiously and you can’t hear him nor can he hear you, don’t expect him to shut the precious darlings up and it’s rude to roll your eyes. • Be aware that dog turds on your front lawn make excellent fertilizer and if you step on a soft one, well, how can you be so clumsy? • In Puerto Rico housecats are acceptable dog food. De rigueur for dobermans. So keep Pussy inside. • A dog has a right to bark as much a you have a right to speak and a cop will be the ﬁrst to point this out to you. • If a dog is about to bite you, but somehow you bite him ﬁrst, you’re looking forward to a 12-year jail sentence. • Stray dogs get sent to shelters. Homeless people are sent to med school after they become roadkill for begging for quarters at intersections. • Here it’s acceptable practice in condos to leave dogs in balconies over long weekends. Where they bark and bark and don’t let up to even sleep. So if you live in Condado or Hato Rey, soundproof your apartment or take off to the country. • Curiously, dog owners have nothing but contempt for other species, pigeons in particular, whom they indict as carriers of all manner of exotic pathogens, never mind dog ticks and ﬂeas and tetanus and rabies. Once Delma Fleming wrote that a fellow whose chickens were getting eaten by a rampaging mutt, should’ve sought “a peaceful resolution” instead of banging the dog with a pipe. • On Sundays and holidays Ocean Park beaches are a dog inferno. The San Juan Municipal Code says dogs outside must be both leashed and muzzled. But this isn’t enforced ever, unless you’re an opposition legislator. • If you feel dog owners are due a measure of retribution, put your faith in veterinarians, who are unabashed swindlers and veritable butchers. • You can take solace a dog can only see in black and white. But he can smell your adrenalin and he just loves it.
Juan Vega, Caparra Heights
The Government You Deseve Now it’s a Bentley. Every week a new politician scandal is on the tube. While I have to work my buns off to pay the outrageous salaries and perks they force upon the Puerto Rican people. Is this democracy? Ought I feel happy it’s not for Fidel that I toil? Or maybe even the Islamists. Whatever Osama bin Laden was, he wasn’t a thief and a liar. And what about you? Whom did you vote for? The Blues to boot Aníbal? The Reds to keep the penepeístas from doing all the robbing they’re doing anyway? You wouldn’t give a chance to the PIP or even the PRPR. You said it would be throwing away your vote. That was a joke, wasn’t it? You’re such a nincompoop. Jefferson said that not all peoples can handle democracy, that you have to be minimally educated and wield a sense of community, of responsible governance, that politics might mean more that basketball to you. Then Lenin added that a country that starts out a sheer
• As 10,000-year-young descendants of wolves, dogs cull human overpopulation. Since World War II they’ve chewed to death over a thousand children in the United States. And here in Puerto Rico, two years ago, a pack of strays ripped a baby apart in front of his dad. So if you don’t want to offend the Church by indulging in birth control and more children are beyond your budget, a puppy might be in your future. • Two years ago as well, a bitch in France was instrumental to medical advancement when she enabled the world’s very ﬁrst face transplant by tearing her owner’s face off with her teeth. • Do not write a newspaper a letter like this one if your girl/boyfriend, an in-law, you boss, your doctor or an important customer happens to be a dog owner. And if you do, and Delma Fleming shows up at your home, run. Juan Pérez - Altamira
Edit Your Handiwork To Ed Martínez: You go on and on and on and never get to the point. Put yourself in the reader’s place, I can’t read your mind. And half a page of words ought to tell me what you’re up to, but they don’t. Do you support public health or do you, like Herbert Hoover and today’s right-wing rabid airheads, feel one’s health, one’s survival, like plantains and used cars, is best left to the marketplace? Ana Montes, Las Lomas
Vicious Cycle HOW DO WE GET RID OF THE RABID DOGS IN FORTALEZA AND CAPITOLIO!? you bellow. Hey, you voted for them. Remember? Bit more than half of you for the Blues to get rid of deranged Aníbal and the rest for the Reds to keep the penepeísta sharks out. Now I presume you’ll switch. And in 2016 switch back. I voted for El Coquí and you all agreed I’m a fool. That it’s absurd to vote for folks that can’t possibly win. As George Santayana put it, “Los pueblos tienen los gobiernos que se merecen (People’s have the governments they deserve).” Lisa Bay, Caparra Heights
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San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
FASHION & BEAUTY
With Botox, Looking Good and Feeling Less By PAMELA PAUL
HE GIST Using Botox decreases a person’s ability to empathize with others. THE SOURCE “Embodied Emotion Perception: Amplifying and Dampening Facial Feedback Modulates Emotional Perception Accuracy” by David T. Neal and Tanya L. Chartrand, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. It’s no shock that we can’t tell what the Botoxed are feeling. But it turns out that people with frozen faces have little idea what we’re feeling, either. No, Botox injections don’t zap brain cells. (At least not so far as we know.) According to a new study by David T. Neal, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, and Tanya L. Chartrand, a professor of marketing and psychology at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, people who have had Botox injections are
physically unable to mimic emotions of others. This failure to mirror the faces of those they are watching or talking to robs them of the ability to understand what people are feeling, the study says. The idea for the paper stemmed from a study conducted in the 1980s, which found that long-married men and women began to resemble each other over time, especially if they were happily wed. “So we thought, what’s going to happen now that there’s Botox?” Dr. Neal said. The toxin might interfere with “embodied cognition,” the way in which facial feedback helps people perceive emotion. According to the
Beauty Spots S
theory in the study, a listener unconsciously imitates another person’s expression. This mimicry then generates a signal from the person’s face to his or her brain. Finally, the signal enables the listener to understand the other person’s meaning or intention. While the ﬁrst two steps of this process had been established by research, it was unclear whether facial feedback helped people make better judgments about other peoples’ emotions. Enter the Botoxed person, a useful new laboratory specimen. And, as a control, the user of Restylane, a skin ﬁller that does not alter muscle function. In one experiment, women who had been injected with Botox within the last two weeks were offered $200 to look at a set of photographs of human eyes and match them with human emotions. Restylane users performed the same tasks, which were in both cases conducted via compu-
By HILARY HOWARD ICILIAN CHIC Inspired by the label’s 2011 runway creations, the cosmetics division of Dolce & Gabbana recently introduced its Italian Summertime tro Co Collection. Available at Saks Fifth Av Avenue, the line includes soft Medi diterranean-inspired femininity (Classic Cream Lipstick in Vene(C re, $30; Luminous Cheek Color in re Sole, $44; Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss in So Ac Acqua, $29) and risk-taking drama (Intense Nail Lacquer in Passione, (In $20; $2 20; Smooth Eye Color Quad in n Vulcano, $59). Adding Ad dding some flair
ter. Women with Botox were signiﬁcantly less accurate at decoding both positive and negative facial expressions than those who had used Restylane, whose abilities closely approximated those of plain old wrinkled adults. On average, the Botox group guessed 2 more out of 36 facial expressions wrong. A second experiment found that people with ampliﬁed expressions do a better job deciphering emotions. Participants who had a gel on their faces that effectively made their muscles work harder to convey emotions could more accurately identify emotions in others. The gel was similar to an over-the-counter facial mask. Ah, the trials of beauty! While Botox doesn’t go to the brain (the poison doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier), it does seem to affect its users ability to think. Such ﬁndings might perturb those who have dipped into the Clostridium botulinum. Not that we can tell.
for the pale-skinned among us is the limited-edition Animalier Bronzer for $50. LASHES THAT LASH Toodle-oo, wands and clamps? Cry Baby, a new semi-permanent mascara application process, is promising curled, lengthened and darkened lashes. Available in New York at Elke Von Freudenberg’s Model Brow (Broadway and 26th Street), the procedure takes about 30 minutes and involves selecting a lash
look, customizing a style (the formula, made with synthetic ﬁbers, also thickens) and the application itself. The look lasts 10 to 20 days ($45 for upper lashes; $65 for top and bottom). A NEW LINE This month, Nars will introduce its Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner collection: nine easy-gliding shades including Rue de Rivoli (metallic forest green), Abbey Road (iridescent turquoise) and Via Veneto (deep black). A huge bonus for those of us constantly digging through our makeup bags for sharpeners: one is built into each pencil ($23). Available at Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.
FASHION & BEAUTY
San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
The Resort Shows: Artists and Rebels By CATHY HORYN
eed Krakoff used the term “warm minimalism” to describe the changes — actually, improvements — offered in his resort line. Mr. Krakoff, trying to establish a look with his still-new signature label, makes progress with a more femininelooking bunch of clothes that plays on rounded edges, easy volumes and intense colors offset by ﬂeshy beige tones. Those colors — ultraviolet blue and green, coral and cinnamon — are his strength. They’re sharp and speciﬁc, with a modern art reference that he likes. See a green panel on a sleeveless wrap dress in an abstract blue python print, and you think, as intended, Rothko. It’s not all highfalutin:
Mr. Krakoff also showed a well-done blazer in beige lightweight wool with a double lapel, a nice way to suggest layering. He paired the jacket with soft red trousers. Also strong were a leather shift, pounded thin like a cutlet, and an electric blue python skirt with pleating at one side. Louis Vuitton held its cruise show Wednesday morning in the Pool Room of the Four Seasons, on a turf runway, with small, fattening treats and that amazing chain-curtain ﬁltered light. The press notes referred to Soﬁa Coppola’s inﬂuence on Julie de Libran, the Vuitton studio director, and, of course, on her friend Marc Jacobs. I must not be up on my Coppola style points, because I didn’t sense a particular muse glow. The clothes
Christian Dior By SALLY SINGER The Christian Dior haute couture show saw a studio bravely soldiering on without a designer at the helm. Yes, the production was every bit what one has come to expect from the Galliano years — a Jeremy Healy soundtrack, makeup by Tyen and Pat McGrath, hair by Orlando Pita and hats by Stephen Jones — but without his wicked wit and madcap historicisms. Was the craftsmanship there? Sure. Here, a red carpet ready ball frock in ﬁesta pastels.
were idiosyncratically Louis, I felt, with references to the 1960s, Paris summers (in the cute prints and even cuter motorcycle helmets), and loafers with gold studs edging the soles. I loved the lean, lanky variety: creamy silk pants with a cropped tweedy jac-
ket, longish skirts with a daisy-chain cutout near the hem, and, most all, a set of French-blue evening pajamas shown with a gray-blue cardigan and a matching print helmet. At least I think they were evening pajamas. They certainly looked ﬁne.
Giambattista Valli By SALLY SINGER
Giambattista Valli’s ﬁrst collection of haute couture promised and delivered everything his following of young European monied beauties desire: dollops of feathers, pearls, embroideries, animal prints, ﬂowers, rufﬂes, and bows. It all worked, even more so than Valli’s ready-to-wear, because for unapologetic prettiness he is unbeatable, especially in the simplest gestures — a draped silk cocktail dress in petal pink, or this coral gown and cape, which made its real-life debut last weekend in “Grace Kelly blue” on her granddaughter Charlotte at Prince Albert’s wedding supper.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Aye, There’s the Rib By SAM SIFTON
n the docket for today: a weekend dinner of glazed lamb ribs, hot and sticky off the grill, accompanied by a cool minted yogurt sauce that ﬂashes with citrus and ﬁre. You could accompany the meat with rice or salad and certainly with beer or cold tea. The dish has the power to transform any porch or garden, roof or chalky concrete side yard into Southampton in high summer. The recipe is based loosely on one for a snack that used to be served at DBGB, Daniel Boulud’s giddy sausage-and-beer restaurant on the Bowery in Manhattan: crunchy little nuggets of small-boned breast meat and fat served with a pale yogurt sauce with a mild pepper kick under a zing of lemon zest. You sat in the restaurant’s bar room eating these things with a cold I.P.A. to drink, and it was like discovering a new room off your apartment or a secret entrance to an empty highway out of town. Because: lamb ribs? Holy cats. Similar in shape and size to pork baby-back ribs, and to veal breast for tenderness, they come from the breast plate of a sheep, sweet and succulent. You used to not see them much on restaurant menus. Now, increasingly — and with good reason — they are showing up all around New York. Andy Nusser, the quiet mastermind behind the plancha at Casa Mono on Irving Place, serves lamb ribs with Moroccan lemon pickles and lots of coriander. At MP Taverna, a new Greek spot in Roslyn, on Long Island, the lamb-mystic Michael Psilakis cures them in cumin, cinnamon, sugar, salt, pepper, juniper and cloves. He roasts the racks at low heat for almost a day, then ﬁnishes the pieces on a grill. Jesse Schenker, the chef and an owner of the inventive and excellent Recette, in the West Village, serves grilled lamb ribs as well, with smoked yogurt, fried corn bread and pickled jalapeño. You still do not see lamb ribs often in the supermarket, at least not in packages marked “lamb ribs.” Chops and legs predominate there. But any butcher — even the sullen man in the back of the local I.G.A. or the grumpy fellow down at the Sweetbay near the Beach Road — can get a lamb breast and cut it for you, often with only a day or two’s notice. This is a transaction worth commen-
cing immediately. For the ribs at DBGB, Jim Leiken, the restaurant’s chef, cured the meat for a day in thyme and rosemary, salt and garlic and bay. Then he submerged the racks in olive oil and cooked the result slowly for hours, making a kind of lamb conﬁt. After slicing the racks into individual ribs, he deep-fried them and bathed the result in a honeyed glaze made piquant with vinegar. A ﬁnal shower of toasted cracked coriander seeds and mild Aleppo pepper, with lemon zest, salt and parsley for crunch and contrast, and the dish went out in pieces to the bar. It tasted incredible, of course. Leiken could probably follow the same process with a remaindered novel or a worn-out moccasin and almost achieve the same effect. But his ability to layer ﬂavors on top of ﬂavors, succulence beneath tender crust, is just one marker of what differentiates restaurant chefs from home cooks. Another is the volume and scale of restaurant cooking, which dwarfs that of the home. And for those who cook for families and not hordes, for pleasure more than paychecks, the process of conﬁtting lamb ribs, then deep-frying them, may simply be too time- and equipment-intensive even for the project-mad. On a summer Sunday, then, it may be better to follow the lead of Psilakis instead, and slow-roast the meat in a low oven, allowing the fat on the ribs to braise the meat. Then, rather than deep-frying the end result, the ﬁnished ribs — cut into individual slices, along the bone and straight through the chine — can be grilled and basted again, using Leiken’s honey-andvinegar glaze. (You could even roast the meat on one day and grill it on the next, dividing the labor over the course of a weekend, or roast it one day and broil it the next, removing the need both for outdoor cooking space and a proper grill.) The dish does more than hint at the crispness of the original and the cool tang of its accompanying yogurt sauce. Its approximation — charred and glistening, with bits of herb and a few ﬂashes of yellow brightness from the zest — pays real homage. It tastes of the best parts of summer in Manhattan, sophisticated and cool: Debbie Harry swinging soft and punky down the Bowery from a show at CBGB in 1977, say, past empty lots where someday restaurants would rise.
Glazed Lamb Ribs For the lamb: 2 racks lamb ribs 2 tablespoons Kosher salt 6 cloves garlic, peeled and ﬁnely diced 6 sprigs thyme 3 sprigs rosemary 2 bay leaves For the glaze: 1 cup sherry vinegar 1 cup honey 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, cracked 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, cracked 1 tablespoon ground freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon ground Aleppo chili 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold For the sprinkle: 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and cracked, or 1 tablespoon ground coriander 2 teaspoons Aleppo chili 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste Zest of 1 lemon 1 tablespoon parsley, ﬁnely chopped 1. Preheat oven to 275. Trim most of fat from the surface of the lamb racks and place them in a large roasting pan. Combine salt, garlic and herbs and rub over lamb. Place in oven and roast for 2 hours. Remove pan from oven and turn ribs, then return to oven for 30 to 60 minutes longer, or until the lamb is just tender and starting to pull away from the bone. Remove pan from oven and set aside. 2. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Combine vinegar and honey in a small sauce pan placed over moderate heat.
Add fennel, coriander, black pepper and Aleppo chili and bring to a slight simmer. Lower heat and allow the mixture to reduce by half. Remove from heat and whisk in the cold butter. 3. Light a ﬁre in grill or preheat broiler in oven. Combine coriander, chili, salt, lemon and parsley in a small bowl and set aside. Slice ribs into individual pieces, cutting between each bone. When coals are covered with gray ash and ﬁre is hot, put chops on grill directly over coals or on a pan in the broiler. Using a pastry brush, coat lamb lightly with glaze and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until the meat begins to turn golden and crisp, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a platter and sprinkle with the topping. Serves 4.
Minted Yogurt Sauce 1 cup best-quality whole milk yogurt 1/2 cup crème fraîche 1/4 cup mint, minced 1 tablespoon chives, minced 1/2 clove garlic, ﬁnely diced or grated on Microplane Zest of 1 lemon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, to taste Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1. Combine yogurt, crème fraîche, mint, chives, garlic and lemon zest in a medium-size nonreactive bowl, then whisk to a smooth consistency. 2. Season to taste, transfer to small bowls and serve with lamb ribs.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Grilled Tuna With Fire Spices Adapted from Elckerlijc,Maldegem, Belgium Time: 45 minutes, plus2 to 4 hours’ marinating
2 tablespoons dried oregano 2 tablespoons dried thyme 8 medium radishes, slivered, for garnish.
FOR THE TUNA: 1 1/2 pounds tuna loins (about 2 inches across, roughly the size and shape of pork loins) 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup each ﬁnely chopped fresh rosemary, basil and thyme Coarse sea salt and black pepper
1. For the tuna: Lightly brush the ﬁsh all over with olive oil, then sprinkle with the fresh herbs. Refrigerate in plastic wrap for 2 to 4 hours. 2. For the sauce and ﬁre spices: In a heavy saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients. Gently simmer until reduced by a third, about 15 minutes. Strain and cool. In a bowl, combine the coriander, juniper, rosemary, bay leaves, oregano and thyme. 3. Prepare a grill for direct grilling over high heat. Brush and oil the grate. Season the ﬁsh with salt and pepper. Just before grilling, toss the ﬁre spices on the coals (or on the bars, ceramic bricks or lava stones of a gas grill). 4. Sear the tuna all over, 1 to 2 minutes a side. Transfer to a cutting board and thinly slice crosswise. Spoon the sauce onto plates, arrange the tuna slices on top and sprinkle with the radishes. Yield: 6 to 8 appetizer servings.
FOR THE SAUCE: 1/2 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/4 cup pear nectar 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed with side of knife 1 two-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices and lightly crushed with side of knife FOR THE FIRE SPICES AND GARNISH: 2 tablespoons coriander seeds 2 tablespoons juniper berries 2 tablespoons dried rosemary 2 tablespoons crumbled dried bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon 8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise (remove any green shoots in center) 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper ﬂakes.
Grilled Clams With Fried Garlic Adapted from Etxebarri, Axpe, Spain Time: 15 minutes, plus grill preparation 24 littleneck clams, well scrubbed 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to brush on clams
1. Prepare a grill for direct grilling over high heat. 2. Lightly brush the clams on both sides with olive oil. Arrange them on the grate, cover and cook until the shells pop open, 3 to 6 minutes. (You could grill the clams on aluminum foil to catch juices.) 3. Pour the lemon juice into a baking dish large enough to hold the clams in one layer. Transfer the clams to the dish with tongs, trying not to spill the juices. 4. Heat 3/4 cup olive oil in a small skillet on the grill. When hot, add the garlic and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the pepper ﬂakes, and stir for 15 seconds. Pour this over the clams. 5. Transfer the clams to 4 deep bowls. Whisk the juices in the baking dish for 1 minute and pour over the clams. Yield: 4 appetizer servings; 2 light main-course servings.
New Potatoes Baked in Parchment Time: 1 hour, plus 10 minutes’ resting 2 pounds small new potatoes, each 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter 1/4 cup olive oil Salt and pepper 1 rosemary sprig A few thyme sprigs A few sage sprigs 1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled 3 tablespoons chopped ﬂat-leaf parsley. 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the potatoes in warm water to remove dirt or sand, then drain and blot. Put them in large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, a generous amount of salt and pepper, the rosemary, thyme, sage and garlic cloves, and mix to coat. 2. Arrange potatoes on an 18-inch round of baking parchment. Fold the parchment over to make a half moon,
then fold and crimp the rounded edge to make a package, tucking in the end. It is O.K. if the package is not completely airtight. Place it on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Parchment will puff and brown as the potatoes roast within. 3. Remove potatoes from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Open the package and sprinkle with parsley. Serve directly from the parchment, with a large spoon for the delicious oily juices. Yield: 4 servings.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
HEALTH & SCIENCE
Pleistocene Treasures, at a Breakneck Pace By KIRK JOHNSON
ore than 130,000 years ago in the chilled depths of the Illinoian ice age, an errant glacier left a hole atop a 9,000-foot-high ridge near what would become the town of Aspen in the central Colorado The skull of an ice-age bison, shown in Rockies. The depression ﬁlled with snowa plaster cast. The horns A massive melt, and for tens of thousands of years, the mastodon vertebra.span about seven feet. little lake attracted the giants of the Pleistocene — mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths half again the size of grizzly bears, supersi- Museum pawing the lake bed on a typical ze bison, camels and horses — that came to day. Their goal: sift 7,000 tons of sediment — drink, and in many cases to die, in the high 35 feet worth to the bottom of the glacial scrape — by the deadline. alpine mud. Something very big — a mammoth tusk Scientists had 70 days framed by mountaller than LeBron James, a partial mastodon tain winter weather and lawyerly ﬁne print skull half the size of a Smart Car — was turto search the old lake bed sediments for remning up every few days. By the end, more nants of these ancient animals. than 4,500 fossil specimens from 20 different That was from Oct. 14, when workers animals were hauled out. on a reservoir dam turned over the ﬁrst fos“Bone up!” Dr. Johnson shouted on sil bones (of a young female mammoth, recent, brilliantly sunny day, as a cheer rose promptly nicknamed Snowy) to last weekend, across the pit. “Arm bone of a sloth,” Dr. Jowhen work on the reservoir resumed. A tight hnson said casually from a practiced distance, contract schedule dictates that the reservoir, when the huge humerus was held aloft by its which will supply the condos and ski lodges ﬁ nder. of Snowmass, must be completed by late this Preliminary estimates say the ancient year. The result was a frantic race to ﬁnd and ridge-top lake — unusual in having no stream catalog everything possible before the site inlet to bring in sediment — might have perwas entombed once more by water. sisted for as long as 100,000 years before winThe breakneck pace of the fossil dig was dblown dust ﬁ lled it in to become a typicalmatched only by what scientists said was the looking alpine meadow, a state it had reached extraordinary richness of the site, one of the 50,000 years or more before humans came to best windows into the thundering megafauthe Americas. na of its time. “The speed of this thing is so The resulting fossil bed thus has a long unlike normal science — from discovery to climate record in its pollens, buried plants and completion of one of the biggest digs ever in windborne particles, as well as a long yardsless than nine months,” said Kirk R. Johnson, tick of the animals and what might be decurator of the Denver Museum of Nature and duced about their lives. The sediment layers Science, who oversaw the project. suggest periods when the lakeside landscape “Typically, you write a grant proposal was tundra — too cold for trees — and others and wait nine months to hear anything,” Dr. when great forests hugged the shore. Johnson said. “We couldn’t wait — in a single “I think at the end of the day that’s day, we were ﬁnding a couple hundred bowhat’s going to be so valuable — you’ve got nes.” this crystal-clear glimpse into the Rockies The ancient Snowmass clock was meabefore humans show up,” said Ian Miller, cusured in the untold lives of the creatures that roamed and roared in a place and period poorly recorded in the scientiﬁc record: The high A massive mastodon vertebra. reaches of Rocky Mountains during the Sangamonian interglacial, a time of very warm weather around the globe, 75,000 to 125,000 years ago. Other well-known ice age fossil sites, by contrast, like the La Brea Tar Pits in California and Hot Springs, S.D., have been dated to between 10,000 and 40,000 before present, and no well-preserved site has ever been found, scientists said, at this altitude in North America. Here at Snowmastodon, as the site is called, the human clock ran partly on adrenaline, with 50 or more shovel-wielding scientists, volunteers and interns from the Denver
Among the ﬁndings, clockwise from top left, mastodon teeth, a bison jaw, more mastodon teeth and a mastodon humerus. rator of paleobotany at the Denver museum. “We’re sitting here at almost 9,000 feet, and climate is driving ecosystems up and down. It’s a window, and you just watch it go by.” A businessman from Wisconsin, R. Douglas Ziegler, bought the lake bed in 1958, when it was just an old meadow being used for grazing sheep. The growing water needs of Snowmass Village, founded in the 1960s, eventually led engineers to look for a reservoir site, which led to the backhoes, and the ﬁrst discoveries last fall, and which will lead, in a grand circling back of history, to an eventual restoration of meadow’s use as a watering hole. The accelerated pace was partly because the Snowmass Water and Sanitation Department District, under its contract with the Ziegler family, which still owns the land around the lake, faced substantial ﬁnancial penalties if the work wasn’t completed on time. The reservoir must be up and running by next spring under the contract, but because winter will close down the work late this year, just as it did on the dig, that means ﬁnishing up before snow ﬂies. The dig, partly supported by a grant from the National Geographic Society, will be featured in a National Geographic-Nova special on PBS next year. “We cross-country skied over where those creatures once roamed, and we never had any idea,” said Peter Ziegler, 62, who spent two days at the dig in June, laboring with a shovel. There are still many unanswered questions about what happened here — most pointed is, when did the animals actually die? Because the site is too old for radiocarbon dating, which is only useful to about 50,000 years before present, other more complicated methods, all of which take longer to work out, will have to be used. Ancient pollen, for example, was collected from the mud to compare against other climate indicators. Core samples will be examined for markers like volcanic dust, which might be dated
using radiometric dating techniques based on argon 40-39 or uranium-lead geochronology. Secondly, the animals did not march to their deaths in a steady procession over the centuries. There are sediment layers with few bones, followed by layers with many bones — indicating, Dr. Johnson said, that the lake may have multiple stories to tell. The remains of young animals found in the pit could suggest, for example, that through at least through part of its history the lake was a trap, with slippery slopes or lethal leg-sucking goo, like the La Brea Tar Pits. The third great question, connected to everything else, is how the great shifts of climate recorded by the mud affected the lives and habits of the creatures that roamed here. Was the climate warm enough in the interglacial period, which peaked in temperature around 110,000 years ago, that elephantfamily relatives and other animals like camels and sloths could live year round at high altitude, or were there migratory patterns — highlands in the summers, lowlands in winter — that might emerge? For instance, will the growth rings of mastodon or mammoth tusks found here differ from those of cousins found at low altitude sites, hinting at permanent mountain residence? Some researchers are hoping the ﬁnds will yield DNA that might give a glimpse into the genes of ice age mammals. Genetic diversity, or uniformity, can suggest how big a population was at the time of an individual’s death. “The interglacial period wasn’t a great time for stuff to be preserved,” said Beth Shapiro who studies ancient DNA. “So this is not just a window into a time, but a whole group of animals we’ve never been able to get before.” After the news broke about the archaeological treasure trove, his school built a mastodon model to scale, 12 feet tall at the shoulder — and Mr. Faison said the ﬁrst and second graders he teaches shared his awe.
HEALTH & SCIENCE 20
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
The Then and Now of Memory By BENEDICT CAREY
esearchers have long known that the brain links all kinds of new facts, related or not, when they are learned about the same time. Just as the taste of a cookie and tea can start a cascade of childhood memories, as in Proust, so a recalled bit of history homework can bring to mind a math problem — or a new dessert — from that same night. For the ﬁrst time, scientists have recorded traces in the brain of that kind of contextual memory, the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of thoughts and emotions that surrounds every piece of newly learned information. The recordings, taken from the brains of people awaiting surgery for epilepsy, suggest that new memories of even abstract facts — an Italian verb, for example — are encoded in a brain-cell ﬁring sequence that also contains information about what else was happening during and just before the memory was formed, whether a tropical daydream or frustration with the Mets. The new study suggests that memory is like a streaming video that is bookmarked, both consciously and subconsciously, by facts, scenes, characters and thoughts. Experts cautioned that the new report falls well short of revealing how contextual memory and different cues interact; some words might throw the mind into a vivid reverie, while others do not. But the report does provide a glimpse into how the brain places memories in space and time. “It’s a demonstration of this very cool idea that you have remnants of previous thoughts still rattling around in your head, and you bind the representation of what’s happening now to the fading embers of
those old thoughts,” said Ken Norman, a neuroscientist at Princeton who did not participate in the study. “I think they have very good evidence that this process is crucial to time-stamping your memories.” In the new study, appearing in the current issue of the journal PNAS, doctors from the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University took recordings from tiny electrodes implanted in the brains of 69 people with severe epilepsy. The implants are standard procedure in such cases, allowing doctors to pinpoint the location of the ﬂash ﬂoods of brain activity that cause epileptic seizures. The patients performed a simple memory task. They watched a series of nouns appear on a computer screen, one after another, and after a brief distraction recalled as many of the words as they could, in any order. Repeated trials, with different lists of words, showed a predictable effect: The participants tended to remember the words in clusters, beginning with one and recalling those that were just before or after. This pattern, which scientists call the contiguity effect, is similar to what often happens in the card game concentration, in which players try to identify pairs in a grid of cards lying face-down. Pairs overturned close in time are often remembered together. Recording from the electrodes, the researchers looked for a neural ﬁring pattern that had a very distinct signature — it updated continually, like a news ticker tape. They found a strong signal in the temporal lobe of the brain, an area extending roughly between the temple and the ear. When participants recalled a word — “cat,” for example — the pattern in this
region looked identical to when “cat” was originally seen on the computer screen. Moreover, the pattern was only slightly different when they recalled the words just before, and just after, “cat” on the list. “Here we have shown, in effect, that the word before ‘cat’ — let’s say it’s ‘tree’ — has colored or inﬂuenced the encoding for ‘cat,’ just as ‘cat’ has inﬂuenced the encoding of the next word, let’s say ‘ﬂower,’ ” said Michael J. Kahana, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the paper. His co-authors were Jeremy R. Manning, Dr. Gordon Baltuch
and Dr. Brian Litt, all of Penn; and Sean M. Polyn of Vanderbilt. The way the process works, the authors say, is something like reconstructing a night’s activities after a hangover: remembering a fact (a broken table) recalls a scene (dancing), which in turn brings to mind more facts — like the other people who were there — and so on. Sure enough, the people in the study whose neural updating signals were strongest showed the most striking pattern of remembering words in clusters. “When you activate one memory, you are reactivating a little bit of what was happening around the time the memory was formed,” Dr. Kahana said, “and this process is what gives you that feeling of time travel.”
Seen for Late Talkers P By RONI CARYN RABIN
arents often worry when their toddlers are slow to start talking, but a long-term study has found that these children have no more emotional or behavioral problems than others by age 5 — as long as they are otherwise developing normally. The study, published online on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, followed children who were part of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study, including 1,245 children whose speech was not delayed — they were using at least 50 words and could string two or three words together in a phrase — and 142 who had not reached this milestone. The children were all born to women who were pregnant between 1989
and 1991 when they joined the study. The children were tracked through age 17. At age 2, the children identiﬁed as “late talkers” were more likely than other toddlers to have behavioral problems. But there was no difference between the groups at ages 5, 8, 10, 14 and 17. The paper’s lead author, Andrew J. O. Whitehouse of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Australia, suggested that the early behavioral problems stem from a child’s frustration at being unable to communicate. “When the late-talking children catch up to normal language milestones, which the majority of children do, the behavioral and emotional problems are no longer apparent,” he said.
The San Juan Weeekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Union Shifts Position on Teacher Evaluations By SHARON OTTERMAN
atching up to the reality already faced by many of its members, the nation’s largest teachers’ union on Monday afﬁrmed for the ﬁrst time that evidence of student learning must be considered in the evaluations of school teachers around the country. In passing the new policy at its assembly here, the 3.2 million-member union, the National Education Association, hopes to take a leadership role in the growing national movement to hold teachers accountable for what students learn — an effort from which it has so far conspicuously stood apart. But blunting the policy’s potential impact, the union also made clear that it continued to oppose the use of existing standardized test scores to judge teachers, a core part of the federally backed teacher evaluation overhauls already under way in at least 15 states. “N.E.A. is and always will be opposed to high-stakes, test-driven evaluations,” said Becky Pringle, the secretarytreasurer of the union, addressing the banner-strung convention hall ﬁlled with the 8,200-member assembly that votes on union policy. The union’s desire both to join and to stand apart from a White House-led effort to improve teacher performance represents the delicate situation it ﬁnds itself in as it confronts what Dennis Van Roekel, the union president, called “the worst environment for teachers I’ve ever seen.” Amid deep budget cuts and layoffs, the union has lost more than 30,000 members this year, and is ﬁghting back against legislative efforts to curtail its collective
bargaining rights in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Arizona and other states. In response, union leaders, who spent last year’s Fourth of July weekend challenging the Obama administration’s promotion of charter schools and highstakes standardized testing, spent this year’s trying to close ranks and encouraging even those union members who are furious at those policies to embrace calls for change — if on their own terms. On Monday, the assembly voted by secret ballot to give Mr. Obama an early endorsement for his 2012 presidential run, a move that will allow the union to begin channeling its considerable political resources to the campaign. The strong showing in favor — 72 percent — was foreshadowed by the standing ovations that greeted Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who gave an impassioned pro-union speech here Sunday. “There is an organized effort to place the blame for the budget shortfall squarely on the shoulders of teachers and other public workers, and it is one of the biggest scams in modern American history,” Mr. Biden told the educators. In contrast to that threat, the differences between the White House and the union, he said, were like disputes within the same family. Bertha J. Foley, a middle school teacher from Fort Myers, Fla., said: “All of the Republicans are worse on education than Obama. I’m not saying I agree with everything, but you have to pick the least evil, the one who will do the least harm.” The union’s new dual role as defender of union protections and promoter of reform created some unlikely tableaus. At one point an angel-voiced folk singer
with a guitar took to the stage to lead the thousands of teachers in a sing-along called “Solidarity Forever.” At another point, the narrator of a video projected on the hall’s multiple Jumbotrons began his report about inspiring teachers with the following sentence: “We have a huge problem of teacher quality in this country.” “They’re just shifting back and forth,” said Jana Wells, 53, a teacher from Glendale, Calif., who called herself one of the few Republicans representing the California caucus. “And on the endorsement of Obama, it’s scare tactics — it’s like if we don’t do this right now, our enemies will win.” The debate over the new teacher evaluation policy largely focused on the concern that by even mentioning test scores, the union would further open the door to their use. Some teachers also balked at another section of the policy — the proposal that failing teachers be given only one year to improve, instead of the standard two. But in the end a clear majority voted yes. Segun Eubanks, the director of teacher quality for the union, said the new policy was intended to guide, not bind, state and local union chapters. It tries to close the disconnect between the many local union chapters that have already assented to using student test scores in teacher evaluations, and the union’s national policy that explicitly opposed their use. Now the union can offer those chapters support, and conduct research on the impact of standardized tests. “What it says is, now we are willing to get into that arena,” Mr. Van Roekel said. “Before, we weren’t.” The policy calls for teacher practice, teacher collaboration within schools and student learning to be used in teacher evaluations. But for tests, only those shown to
be “developmentally appropriate, scientiﬁcally valid and reliable for the purpose of measuring both student learning and a teacher’s performance” should be used, the policy states, a bar that essentially excludes all existing tests, said Douglas N. Harris of the University of Wisconsin, a testing expert. Mr. Eubanks said, “We believe that there are no tests ready to do that,” though he added that with the new national Common Core curriculum standards being rolled out, new tests might be created that could meet the bar. The American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, with 1.5 million members, has already stated that student test scores “based on valid assessments” should be a part of improved teacher evaluations. But how much these new national policy statements will actually shift state and local union practice remains to be seen, experts said, assessing the work of both unions. “At the national level, what they are proposing really lacks much speciﬁcity at all,” said Sandi Jacobs, the vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan advocacy group in Washington. “There really isn’t much to hang your hat on. And with so many states and locals already out of the gate, it’s hard to see what new proposals they are bringing to the table at this point.” Priscilla Savannah, a seventh-grade science teacher attending the convention from Shreveport, La., said, “It’s already too late.” Ms. Savannah’s state is about to start using teacher evaluations that give standardized test scores heavy weight. “It’s going to take a major ﬁght, and a lot of money, to change anything now,” she said.
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The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
How 10,000 People Keep a Secret By LIESL SCHILLINGER
HERE are picnics, and then there are picnics. Three weeks ago, in the golden light of an early-summer evening, thousands of Parisians dressed entirely in white converged — 4,400 in the plaza at the cathedral of Notre Dame; 6,200 in a courtyard of the Louvre — for a feast neither advertised nor publicly heralded. They brought not only epicurean repasts but tables, chairs, glasses, silver and napery. At midnight, after dining and dancing, they packed up their dishes, stowed their empty Champagne bottles in trash bags, stooped to pick up their cigarette butts from the cobbles and departed. The landmarks were left immaculate, with no traces of the revelry of the previous three hours. This annual event, called the Dîner en Blanc — the “dinner in white” — is like a gustatory Brigadoon, equal parts mystery, anachronism and caprice. Now attended by thousands it began humbly in 1988. That year, François Pasquier, now 67, returned to
Paris after a few years abroad and held a dinner party to reconnect with friends. So many wanted to come he asked them to convene at the Bois de Boulogne and to dress in white, so they could ﬁnd each other. But while in certain circles in Paris, everybody knows about the Dîner, many Parisians have never heard of it. And despite the precision that goes into its planning, it retains an air of surprise. For the ﬁrst time, New York will have its own Dîner en Blanc, on Aug. 25, rain or shine. A thousand people — half invited, the others drawn from an online waiting list (newyork.dinerenblanc.info) — will participate in this reﬁned ﬂash-mob feast, at an asyet undisclosed location in Manhattan. The New York event is being spearheaded by Mr. Pasquier’s son, Aymeric, who lives in Montreal, where he inaugurated the Canadian version of the Dîner en Blanc in 2009. But can brawny Manhattan, with skyscrapers from top to bottom, innumerable regulations and a dearth of public spaces on a Parisian scale, possibly approximate the ro-
China Raises Interest Rates By BETTINA WASSENER
hina on Wednesday raised interest rates for the ﬁfth time in nine months, the latest in a series of moves aimed at cooling the pace of economic growth and the steep price rises that have accompanied expansion. The central bank announced that it was raising the key lending and deposit rates in the world’s second-largest economy, after the United States, by a quarter of a percentage point. The increase had been widely expected by analysts. The central bank said the one-year deposit rate would rise to 3.5 percent, from 3.25 percent, beginning Thursday. The one-year lending rate was raised to 6.56 percent, from 6.31 percent. Signs that inﬂation in China has accelerated to levels well above what the Chinese authorities are comfortable with have mounted in recent months and prompted Beijing to step up its efforts at reining in the ample lending that fueled growth and helped fan sharp rises in property prices as well as overall inﬂation. Data released last month showed that consumer prices in May had risen 5.5 percent from the same period last year, and economists widely believe that data for June, due next week, will show an even more marked increase, of 6 percent or more. The rate announcement came just
weeks after news of the latest in a long line of instructions by Beijing to the nation’s banks to extend fewer loans — the 12th such move since early 2010. Beijing’s gradual cutback of lending — by raising reserve-requirement ratios for banks, which reduces the amount of money available for loans — has had the desired effect of moderating the sizzling pace of growth to a level that most economists here believe points to a soft landing for the Chinese economy. However, many forecasters also believe that Beijing now has little room left to increase reserve-requirement ratios much further or to lift interest rates much more. Another small rate increase may come later in the year, but over all, the current round of tightening may soon have run its course, many believe. The price rises that have accompanied soaring growth, meanwhile, have so far shown little sign of abating — in part because of sharp increases globally in the costs of raw materials. Natural disasters in China also have helped push up the cost of food. Inﬂation levels could ebb somewhat later this year, but are widely expected to remain elevated, presenting Beijing with a headache. The Chinese authorities are intensely aware that soaring household bills could lead to widespread public dissatisfaction.
POP-UP The Dîner en Blanc, or impromptu “dinner in white,” in the Cour Carrée at the Louvre in Paris. New York is having its own. mance of the French pique-nique? The New York organizers, Daniel Laporte and Alexandra Simoes, are hopeful. “The emphasis is on spontaneity, but we are making sure to be in accordance with all city rules,” said Ms. Simoes, who volunteered for the Dîner organizing job. Mr. Laporte, a Canadian-born architect whom Aymeric Pasquier asked to participate, said: “Everything is extremely carefully organized, because to seat a thousand people at the same moment you need a lot of planning. But the most important thing is for everyone to have the best memory of the night.” In New York, as in Montreal, the Dîner en Blanc is being conducted openly, facilitated by Facebook and Twitter and other online aids, and coordinated with municipal authorities. But in Paris, despite the tacit approval of government ofﬁcials, the Dîner is private — a massive demonstration of the power of word of mouth, and the strength of social connections. The guest list is made up entirely of friends, and friends of friends. And despite the dinner’s vast and visible attendance, it has remained discreetly under the radar. Paris is still a class-stratiﬁed society — “It’s horizontal, whereas Montreal is vertical,” Aymeric Pasquier explained — so unwritten rules of privilege have allowed secrecy to surround the event. Nobody is sure who decides, year in, year out, which people are invited to create tables for the evening. François Pasquier calls the party-list formation a “pyramide amicale,” a friendly pyramid; trusted friends invite their own trusted friends. The event’s exclusivity was evident just before the Dîner en Blanc in Paris on June 16. As I hurried with my dinner companions along a bridge to Notre Dame last month, passersby stopped us. “What’s going on?” a man asked. “Haven’t you heard?” joked my friend Aristide Luneau (who had invited me). “It’s the end of the world.” One tourist asked, “Do they do this every night?” If only. At 8 o’clock, clusters of diners emerged from the Metro or chartered buses to gather at rallying points, where they had been instructed to meet their “heads of table,” the
organizers who had invited them. The site is revealed at the last moment, both to avoid gate-crashing and to preserve instantaneousness. The guests, decked out in white suits, dresses, skirts, feather boas and even wings, carried heavy picnic gear and delicacies like pâté de foie gras, poached salmon and ﬁne cheeses — each table brings its own meal. At about 9, with the sky still light, the site was announced. Guests hurried across bridges and side streets to reach their destination. By 9:30, all the tables had been deployed in orderly rows, according to diagrams in the possession of the heads of table, with men all along one side, women along the other. The guests quickly covered their tables with white cloths; laid out the crystal for Champagne, wine and water; the plates for hors d’oeuvres, main course and dessert; and began tucking in. As night fell on Notre Dame, a clergyman appeared and blessed the throng, and church bells rang out overhead; at the Louvre, opera singers serenaded the diners. At 11 in both places, diners stood on chairs and waved sparklers — signaling the end of dinner and the beginning of the dancing (to D.J.’ed music at Notre Dame, and to a brass band at the Louvre). An hour later, the frolickers switched off the merriment and packed up their tables to depart, like Cinderella, on the stroke of midnight. Needless to say, New York presents its own challenges. As in France, the organizers have created a ﬂeet of “heads of table” who will collect picnickers at various meeting points around the city and shepherd them to the location. But some differences will apply. For one thing, it’s likely that Champagne will not be permitted, if the Dîner is held in a public location. For another, the proceedings are expected to end at 11. Mr. Laporte said, “After this year, the city will know the beauty of the Dîner,” adding, “We can show them that a big group can be very respectful.” Guests in New York have a strong incentive to uphold the code of conduct. Misbehave — by bringing uninvited guests, getting too rowdy or not showing up or helping to clean — receive a punishment worse than any police ﬁne: being barred from future dinners.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Wine & Liquor
Rosés of a Different Color By ERIC ASIMOV
HE weather is hot, and, yes indeed, the wine is pink. If you have even the slightest doubt, let me assure you: rosé madness continues. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to what the wine professionals say, both retail and restaurant. “We can’t keep it in the store,” said Kerin Auth, an owner of Tinto Fino, a Spanish wine shop in the East Village. Victoria Levin, general manager of the Tangled Vine, a wine bar on the Upper West Side, said she continually needed to replenish her rosé supply. “I can’t stop,” she said. “I have six on the list and I’m always running out. People are going insane!” The occasion for our conversation was a recent tasting of rosés — make that rosados — from Spain. Kerin and Victoria joined Florence Fabricant and me to sample 20 bottles from all around Spain. But before we even began tasting, the discussion turned to the continuing American love affair with pink-hued wines. In a way, an element of insanity, or at least irrationality, has shaped the craze. A decade ago, wine professionals were determined to persuade American consumers to overcome a shared belief that rosé was the Full Cleveland of wine, as déclassé as a sedan on blocks in the front yard. They did their job so effectively that an intervention may now be in order to rein consumers back from their conviction that rosé equals great. Far be it from me to discourage people from drinking rosé. That’s not at all my intention. I love rosé, but some discrimination is in order. We had the evidence right there in front of us, in the 20 rosados in hues far darker than the familiar pale salmon common in Provençal rosés. These rosados were as inconsistent as any group of wines I’ve recently come across, maybe even more so. As many of the wines as we did like, we found just as many that we did not, a higher proportion than ordinary in our wine panel tastings. What was the problem? Perhaps it was a question of expectations. We reﬂexively expect rosés to be light, dry and fresh, not inconsequential but lithe and agile enough for lunchtime drinking. Instead, we found too many wines that were chunky with powerful fruit ﬂavors, residual sugar or high alcohol; that lacked energy; and that,
on a terrace in the noonday sun, would essentially go down like a fat splat of overripe fruit thudding onto concrete. That was the bad news. But there were a fair number of zesty, tangy wines that may not conform to the Provençal ideal but are fascinating enough to deserve recalibrating one’s expectations. For one thing, these wines are often great values. Only two of our favorites cost $20 or more (more on those later). Of the other eight, only two cost as much as $15, while two were less than $10. Our No. 1 bottle, in fact, the snappy, refreshing 2010 Ros de Pacs from Parés Baltà, was also our best value at the exceptionally low price of $11. This, my friends, is a good deal. The wine is from the Penedès region, west and slightly south of Barcelona, where Parés Baltà has grown grapes for more than two centuries. Clearly, though, the composition of this Rosado, from international grapes like syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, comes from a relatively recent planting. As with many of these rosados, this one had a touch of residual sugar, but the sweetness was so well balanced by the acidity that the overall effect was greatly refreshing. No. 2 was the 2010 Garnacha Rosado from Campos de Enanzo in Navarra, dark but steely, tangy and earthy. It’s made out of garnacha (or grenache, as the French say), a grape that can easily yield the sort of big, powerful rosés that we didn’t care for, but when grown and made carefully, a garnacha rosé like this one can be awfully attractive. Our No. 3 bottle was the outlier in this tasting, the 2000 López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, a wine that I love and that was instantly recognizable in the blind tasting. For one thing, how many rosés are not even released until they have been aged a decade or so? Very, very few. Most rosés are best when they are at their freshest. But López de Heredia clings, almost alone, to the traditional Rioja practice of aging the wines before releasing them. The result is thoroughly distinctive, a coppery orange wine with a captivating texture and ﬂavors of coconuts and minerals. Despite some discussion that the 2000 was not the best vintage for this wine, it’s a steal at $24, expensive perhaps compared with the others in the tasting, but not for a serious 11-year-old bottle. Almost all the wines in the tasting were from northeastern Spain, with two exceptions, which both made our top 10. Our
No. 4 bottle, the 2009 Los Bermejos, was from Lanzarote, the easternmost of the Canary Islands, less than 70 miles from Africa. This has to be one of the most unusual places on earth to grow grapes. The vines hug the ground in hollows scooped out of black volcanic soil. Half-moon stone walls are constructed on the windward sides of the hollows to protect the vines from the constant blowing. The wine itself, made entirely from the listán negro grape, is stonily dry and very refreshing, with ﬂoral aromas and rocky mineral ﬂavors that make you feel as if you can hear the sea, a wonderful quality in a rosé. This was the $20 wine, a price that seems understandable given the cost of labor and shipping. The other wine from outside the northeast was our No. 7 bottle, the 2010 Olivares from Jumilla, in southeastern Spain, made largely of monastrell, or mourvèdre. It was big and juicy and almost the color of maraschino cherries, yet pleasantly tangy. As part of recalibrating one’s expectations, it would probably be wise to think about what to eat with these rosados, which are bigger and fruitier than the norm. “Maybe not with shrimp or a salad,” Victoria said, “but maybe with richer food, like burgers on a grill.” Why not? The market is already saturated with light, ﬂirty rosés. These rosados are for committed red-wine drinkers.
Tasting Report BEST VALUE
Parés Baltà Penedès, $11, ✩✩✩ ½ Ros de Pacs 2010 Snappy and refreshing with an aroma of strawberries and stony mineral ﬂavors. (Broadbent Selections, San Francisco) Campos de Enanzo Navarra, $12, ✩✩✩
Garnacha Rosado 2010 Cherry red color, dry and steely with tangy, earthy ﬂavors. (C.&.P Wines, New York) López de Heredia Rioja, $24, ✩✩✩ Viña Tondonia Rosado 2000 Serious and age-worthy with coconut, nut and mineral ﬂavors; an unmistakable classic. (Think Global Wines, Santa Barbara, Calif.) Los Bermejos, $20, ✩✩✩ Lanzarote Rosado 2009 Coppery red with ﬂoral, earthy aromas and fresh, stony ﬂavors. (Jos√© Pastor Selections/Vi√±os & Gourmet) Borsao, $8, ✩✩ ½ Campo de Borja 2010 Delicate pink, with light fruit aromas and lingering ﬂavors of cherries and earth. (Jorge Ordonez/Tempranillo, New Rochelle, N.Y.) Castellroig Pened√®s Rosat, $15, ✩✩ ½ Vi de Terrer 2010 Dry and full-bodied, with light fruit ﬂavors. (C.&.P Wines) Olivares, $12, ✩✩ Jumilla Rosado 2010 Juicy, ripe and tangy, with earthy fruit ﬂavors. (The Rare Wine Company, Vineburg, Calif.) CUNE, $15, ✩✩ Rioja Rosado 2009 Earthy and ﬂoral with ﬂavors of nuts and herbs; slightly hot from alcohol. (Europvin U.S.A., Van Nuys, Calif.) Julian Chivite Navarra, $12, ✩✩ Gran Feudo Rosado 2010 Light, dry and refreshing with subtle fruit ﬂavors. (Spanish Wine Collection, Congers, N.Y.) Nekeas Navarra, $9, ✩✩ Vega Sindoa Rosado 2010 A triﬂe dense and heavy, but with attractive chalky ﬂavors. (Jorge Ordoñez/Tempranillo)
24 July 14 - 20, 2011
The San Juan Weekly
Casa Cautino - A Museum That Was Once Home of a Spanish Colonel
he Casa Cautino is a masterpiece that was built for an extremely rich and well-respected family. The home was the dream and vision of Genaro Cautino Vàzquez, a colonel in the Spanish Army and a landowner. Manuel Texidor was recruited by the Cautino family to design and oversee the building of Casa Cautino in 1887. Casa Cautino is located in Guayama and is seen as a historical Puerto Rican site. The building itself was constructed in a Creole and neoclassical style. The architecture of the building makes the Casa Cautino a wonderful treat to see. Casa Cautino was occupied by the United States during the Spanish-American war,
but the Cautino family was able to return to their home after the troops left. The house was constructed in the shape of a ‘U’, with a central patio. The beauty and the fascination of this unique home has lived on over the years and it has been renovated into a spectacular museum. Exhibits in the museum include beautifully handcrafted furniture and sculptures that have been carved by the talented hands of local artists. There are also some pieces that have been created by Caribbean and Latin artists. Detailed paintings adorn the walls and with breathtaking carvings bring the museum to life. The museum offers visi-
tors regular fascinating educational events. It also features a vast number of historical documents and new discoveries that are made through continuous research. Glasses that have been painted with gold and imported from France are also on display - as is the spectacular chandelier that originates from Murano and which is made from hand blown glass before it is decorated and completed. Various artists also get the opportunity to display their work at the Casa Cautino Museum and this helps develop the art and culture of Guayama. One extremely popular
and talented artist who had an exhibition in the Casa Cautino in the 1990’s is Thomas Batista. He now has a permanent exhibition of his work in the museum to be viewed and admired with the rest of the building. The Casa Cautino is not just another historical Puerto Rican site but a jewel from the past. It has been painstakingly preserved in order to share the past with future generations and to remind visitors of the rich heritage that has shaped and developed Puerto Rico.
San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
Love Delivered, Prematurely By LINDSAY ABRAMS
DESIGNED my ideal boyfriend in a dorm room voodoo ceremony orchestrated by my roommate. Such spiritualism was out of character for her practical nature but ﬁt perfectly with her ego: she would believe that the forces of the universe were taking orders directly from her. I wasn’t eager to encourage her delusions of grandeur, but I was frustrated enough with my lack of success in romance to give her a chance. So I played along, closing my eyes and calling out my speciﬁcations, smiling patiently while she conversed with the higher powers that apparently functioned like a mystical Match.com, and promising to wait the prescribed time (“six to eight weeks, at most”) before calling her out as a fraud. Now that my order was placed, I wasn’t supposed to go looking for him. I had to have faith that he’d be delivered to me when the time was right. In truth, I was ready to let someone else (or something else) take over. All the usual methods of ﬁnding love on campus — dancing with strangers at frat parties, ﬂirting during class, and venting my frustrations online to the Anonymous Confession Board (my school’s angst-ridden, gossip-laden underbelly) — had failed to get me what I wanted. My speciﬁcations were that he be tall, scruffy and a bit older than me. I preferred that he major in math or the sciences to offset my artistic nature, and that he like to watch TV with me at night. I know that vague characteristics like height and age do not true love make, but I was warned that being too speciﬁc on a campus of only 2,900 undergrads was likely to backﬁre. My roommate’s last client had requested a boy who always wore scarves. Two years later, he had yet to appear. My order, on the other hand, was sufﬁciently reasonable, so it seems, to be fast-tracked. Not long after, I was sitting alone in bed on a stormy Saturday night watching “Adventureland” and getting over a nasty cold. Besides those obvious disincentives to going out, I was on the mortal side of a campus-wide game of “Zombies Versus Humans,” meaning that if I left the safe zone of my room, I was vulnerable to attack. But in the search for love, a weekend spent in your room is a weekend wasted. So when a friend called me to a party at a nearby senior house, I pulled back my unwashed hair, grabbed a bag of marshmallows to throw at the undead, and headed out into the downpour. I’m not saying my roommate actually has an “in” with the forces of the universe. I wouldn’t suggest it at all if there wasn’t something serendipitous about what happened next. But I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat when the tall, unkempt boy standing near the stairwell introduced himself as a senior chemistry major who lived right upstairs. With a slightly sick feeling of anticipation and disbelief, I asked him if he liked “The Ofﬁce.” Two weeks later, we were Facebook ofﬁcial. The magic lasted for the rest of his time at Wesleyan, long after I had been tagged in a drive-by zombie attack while riding my bike and forced to spend the ﬁnal days of the competition helping my new team stalk the remaining humans.
Alex became my ﬁrst boyfriend, and then my ﬁrst love, and he was exactly what I had asked for. Sometimes he’d fall short of the ideal, and I’d kick myself for not having designed him to be, say, less moody, and then I’d have to remind myself that my roommate and I hadn’t actually had any say in who he was. I mostly believed that. I mostly believed that Alex and I were just two people who happened to meet over some lukewarm Natural Lights and found each other attractive enough to be worth the effort to make more of it. But it was also nice to believe, sometimes, that we were meant to be. Unfortunately, at 20 I felt in no way prepared to succumb to destiny. Eight months of bliss later, Alex graduated and we broke up, as I had been planning all along. He was entering graduate school in Virginia and I had two more years of college in Connecticut, so it seemed the practical thing to do. I was still grateful to the universe for tossing me a keeper, but I was not ready to settle down with my soul mate. I spent my ﬁrst semester without Alex in Italy, thinking that I would miss him too much if I were to go back to school. But however far apart Charlottesville and Bologna may be on the map, a lonely girl in a foreign country and a ﬁrst-year med student both spend a lot of time on their computers, and we ended up talking almost every day. I missed his aching kindness, his quiet way of understanding me. The Italian boys I met were way too forward, not to mention short. We reunited for a too-perfect week in New York City last December, slipping back easily into our familiar comfort with each other. One night he asked, “Do you think lying by omission is the same as regular lying?” “No,” I said. “If the person isn’t asking you something directly, it can be better to just not bring it up.” “Yeah, I guess the intention is different.” I had expected him to play devil’s advocate, and his quick acquiescence suggested his question wasn’t just theoretical. Though I didn’t ask, he soon confessed that he’d seen someone else for two months while I was abroad. I went back to school thinking that things between us were more ambiguous than ever. We were still in love, but we avoided saying so, and we had given each other explicit permission to see other people. Back on my home turf, I tried out the idea. Staying in touch became more difﬁcult as I was forced to question whether Skype’s video quality was clear enough for Alex to detect a faint hickey on my neck. As I continue to sort out my feelings, I’ve left the fairy tale part of my romance far behind, and I ﬁnd myself in the uncertain present, still under the spell of my ﬁrst love and wondering if Alex and I really are meant to be. When I feel like giving in completely and asking him to be my long-distance, monogamous, unambiguous boyfriend, I call my mother and have her remind me that there’s no need to rush into things. MY parents met in college, too, in the ﬁrst semester of their freshman year. According to my mother, breaking up with my father to see what else was out there was the best decision she’d ever made; she got to enjoy her college
years and they eventually ended up together, which was the important part. Alex, she tells me, will be there when I ﬁgure things out. Meanwhile, she not so subtly encourages me along, suggesting, for example, that I ﬁnd a cute freshman and “become his cougar.” My father, as the one who was temporarily dumped, sees that period of their lives differently. He took me out for frozen yogurt and explained the importance of holding on to a good thing. The last time we spoke, he offered to ﬁnance ﬂights to Charlottesville whenever I feel like going for a visit. My reluctance to ﬁght for Alex has nothing to do with a fear of relationships or their purported lack of existence for my generation. Based on the number of subscribers to my roommate’s mystical dating service, I’d say that most of us do, in fact, want more than a hookup. I’m just afraid I found a good thing, or possibly the best thing in my life, too early. The physical distance between us makes commitment seem much more ﬁnal. And while I would like to settle down before I can actually be considered a cougar, I’m decades away from that point. For now, I’d like to get the urge to prowl out of my system while I’m still an appropriate age for it. On a recent rainy night I went out with a friend and watched fate dangle potential happiness right in her face: the boy she’d been pining for standing alone at the ﬁrst party we went to. They talked for a while, and I spied on them from around the corner, happy to see a fellow believer getting a shot at romance. But then, all too soon, he made some excuse and disappeared. She tried to text him to see where he’d gone, and I quietly persuaded her that it would be best to put her phone away. On the verge of tears, she left, and I returned, alone, to my room. Feeling ridiculously ungrateful for what had come so easily to me, I took out my own phone and typed a message to Alex: “I still love you, you know.” Unable to send it, and unable to just let it go, I fell asleep trying to decide.
26 July 14 - 20, 2011
The San Juan Weekly
Administration Offers Health Care Cuts as Part of Budget Negotiations By ROBERT PEAR
bama administration ofﬁcials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deﬁcit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues. Administration ofﬁcials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneﬁciaries or radically restructuring either program. Before the talks led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. broke off 12 days ago, negotiators said, they had reached substantial agreement on many cuts in the growth of Medicare, which provides care to people 65 and older, and Medicaid, which covers lower-income people. Those proposals are still on the table when Congress reconvenes this week, aides said, and are serious options that Democrats could accept in exchange for Republican concessions that raise revenues. “Congress smells blood,” said William L. Minnix Jr., the chief lobbyist for nonproﬁt nursing homes. Mr. Minnix, the president of a trade group known as LeadingAge, is urging nursing homes to “bombard your senators with the message that Medicaid cannot be cut by $100 billion” over 10 years, as President Obama and many Republican lawmakers have suggested. A coalition of hospital lobbyists, worried about the direction of the budget talks, has begun a national advertising campaign to block further cuts in the two health care programs, which account for about 55 percent of hospital revenues. The hospitals have made a commitment to spend up to $1 million a week through August on television, print and online advertising. “This is white-knuckle time for a lot of people,” said Bryant Hall, a health care lobbyist whose clients include drug and biotechnology companies. “Stakeholders and beneﬁciaries are anxiously watching the budget negotiations.” They may have reason to be anxious. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said: “We
are very willing to entertain savings in Medicare. Medicare gives very good health care very inefﬁciently.” In return, Mr. Schumer said, Republicans should be willing to consider some additional revenue. Negotiators said they were seriously considering cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals for uncollectible patient debt and the training of doctors; steps to eliminate Medicare “overpayments” to nursing homes; a reduction in the federal share of some Medicaid spending; and new restrictions on states’ ability to ﬁnance Medicaid by imposing taxes on hospitals and other health care providers. Medicare and Medicaid insure more than 100 million people, account for 23 percent of all federal spending and are likely to be an important part of any budget deal. Military spending, which accounts for about 20 percent of federal expenditures, is likely to be included as well. Most Republicans have ruled out tax rate increases to reduce the deﬁcit. Mr. Obama has rejected the idea of Medicare vouchers, Medicaid block grants or any rollback of the new health care law. But he and the Republicans say they still hope to ﬁnd some common ground. Mr. Obama has embraced the goal of reducing deﬁcits by a total of $4 trillion over 12 years — an ambitious goal that suggests the size of any grand bargain. In a speech in April, Mr. Obama offered to slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid without cutting beneﬁts. He said his ideas would save $340 billion over 10 years and a total of nearly $500 billion in the two programs by 2023. His numbers quickly became a starting point in the negotiations. As for Medicaid, administration ofﬁcials have indicated that they could accept savings of $100 billion or more over 10 years, much to the dismay of many House Democrats. The lawmakers say the cuts would impair access to care for the poor and shift costs to the states, which are facing a huge expansion in Medicaid eligibility and enrollment, scheduled to start in 2014 under the new health care law. While insisting on new revenue at his news conference last week, Mr. Obama also said, “We’ll have to tackle entitlements,”
adding that “health care cuts” need to be part of any deal. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, described a ﬁscal and political imperative: “We can’t balance the budget without dealing with mandatory spending programs like Medicare. We can’t save Medicare as we know it. We can save Medicare only if we change it.” The new health care law trimmed Medicare payments to most providers. Many states, in ﬁscal distress, are cutting Medicaid, which is ﬁnanced jointly by the federal government and the states. If Congress and the president now make additional cuts, hospitals say, they will close some services and increase charges to patients with private insurance. Hospital executives from around the
country plan to visit Capitol Hill next week to deliver this message: “Cutting Medicare and Medicaid payments to hospitals will hurt the ones we lovwe, especially the most vulnerable — children, seniors, the poor and disabled.” Mr. Minnix, the lobbyist for nonproﬁt nursing homes, said: “The issue is not money. The issue is the effects on people, vulnerable people.” The American Medical Association and AARP, the lobby for older Americans, have joined hospitals and nursing homes in ﬁghting other proposals that would limit federal spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product. Members of Congress of both parties have introduced bills that would automatically cut spending across the board if such limits were about to be breached. While details have yet to be decided, lawmakers and administration ofﬁcials said they were seriously considering these proposals: ¶ Gradually eliminate Medicare payments to hospitals for bad debts that result when beneﬁciaries fail to pay deductibles and co-payments. Medicare reimburses hospitals for 70 percent of such debts after the hospitals make reasonable efforts to collect the unpaid amounts. ¶ Reduce Medicare payments to teaching hospitals for the costs of training doctors, caring for sicker patients and providing specialized services like trauma care and organ transplants. Medicare spends $9.5 billion a year for its share of those costs. ¶ Reduce the federal share of payments to health care providers treating low-income people under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The administration wants to establish a single “blended rate” for each state. The federal government now reimburses states at different rates for different groups of people and different services in the two programs. Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and an architect of Medicaid, said he was “very concerned” that this proposal would reduce the federal contribution to Medicaid and shift costs to states.
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
W.T.O. Says Chinese Restrictions on Raw Materials Break Rules By STEPHEN CASTLE
n a dispute that highlights growing tension between China and its Western trading partners, the World Trade Organization ruled Tuesday that Beijing violated global rules by restricting exports of nine raw materials used in the manufacturing of high technology products. The case, lodged by the United States, the European Union and Mexico, dates from 2009 and underlines the anxiety in the West about the way China is consolidating its trading dominance. Signiﬁcantly, the ruling strengthens other European arguments against Chinese restrictions on another category of exports — rare earths, 17 minerals also used in the high-tech industry. However the case also demonstrates how dependent technology industries have become on some exports from China. The W.T.O. panel rejected China’s argument that its restrictions were motivated by a desire to protect the environment and prevent a critical shortage of the materials. The decision on Tuesday concluded that Chinese quotas, export duties and license requirements put in place a discriminatory system for the sale overseas of industrial raw materials widely used in the steel, aluminum
and chemicals industries, including coke, zinc and bauxite. “This is a clear verdict for open trade and fair access to raw material,” Karel De Gucht, the European trade commissioner, said in a statement. “ Furthermore, in the light of this result, China should ensure free and fair access to rare earth supplies,” he added. The E.U. quota of Chinese raw earth elements declined to 30,000 tons in 2010 from around 50,000 tons in 2009, according to an E.U. ofﬁcial who was not authorized to speak publicly. The U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, called the W.T.O. decision on the raw materials “a signiﬁcant victory for manufacturers and workers in the United States and the rest of the world.” “China’s extensive use of export restraints for protectionist economic gain is deeply troubling,” Mr. Kirk added in a statement. “China’s policies provide substantial competitive advantages for downstream Chinese industries at the expense of non-Chinese users of these materials. They have also caused massive distortions and harmful disruptions in supply chains throughout the global marketplace” Americans and Europeans had challenged China’s environmental protection argument by pointing out that the raw material
How to Create Jobs and Cut the Deﬁcit By CASEY B. MULLIGAN
nother federal minimum-wage increase would reduce employment. Many economists expect the minimum wage, if it has any effect, to raise employer costs and thereby reduce employment, especially among people who are likely to work in minimum-wage jobs, like part-time workers. Federal and state minimum wages have changed a number of times over the years, and each of those instances provides an opportunity to test the employment-reducing hypothesis. Not everyone interprets the historical evidence the same way. The New York Times and the Center for American Progress cited some evidence to alleviate concerns a minimum-wage increase would reduce employment. Those who believe historical minimum-wage increases did little to reduce employment still appreciate a minimum wage that was high enough — a hypothetical $100 an hour, would signiﬁcantly depress employment. The real disagreement is whether historical minimum wages were high enough,
for those increases to destroy jobs. The most recent federal minimum-wage increase, on July 24, 2009, had the potential to have different effects than its predecessors. Adjusted for inﬂation (and deﬂation), by 2009 the real federal minimum wage had been raised to a level 32 percent higher than it had been in 2006 — nowhere near our hypothetical height, which we all agree would be destructive — but perhaps high enough to have some of those effects. During a recession hiring decisions may be especially sensitive to employment costs, though some economists say recessions
consumption was not being controlled domestically. China must now either appeal the ruling or comply with it. If it fails to do so the United States, Europe and Mexico could eventually be allowed to respond with equivalent trade sanctions. In a statement issued by its mission to the W.T.O. in Geneva, China said “that although these measures have certain impact on domestic and international users, they are in line with the objective of sustainable development promoted by the W.T.O. and they help to induce the resource industry toward healthy development.” The nine raw materials covered by the ruling on Tuesday are used in medicines, CDs, electronics, the automotive industry, ceramics, refrigerators and batteries among other products. Of all the E.U. imports of some categories of magnesium, 95 percent are sourced in China, as is 91 percent of imports of some categories of manganese while almost 30 percent of E.U. phosphorous imports are Chinese. European ofﬁcials say the export restrictions increased the global price for the raw materials, and gave Chinese companies a clear commercial advantage which, in effect, constitutes a hidden subsidy. They also made
it harder for non-Chinese companies to source the raw materials by making them less readily available on the global market. The impact can be to increase the price of some products by as much as 100 percent, according to E.U. ofﬁcials. The ruling was welcomed by BusinessEurope, the lobbying group. “The W.T.O. panel decision clearly stipulates that almost all export duties and restrictions imposed by China are incompatible with W.T.O. rules,” it said in a statement. “If conﬁrmed, this decision will require China to remove all unjustiﬁed restrictive measures on raw materials.”
make employment less sensitive to wages. It’s also easy to exaggerate the effects, good or bad, of the federal minimum wage, because seasonal workers, employees who rely on tips and others are exempt from it, and a few states have minimum wages above the federal minimum. I have been studying the 2009 federal minimum-wage increase and trying to separate the effects of the recession from the effects of the wage increase. Part-time and teenage employees are likely to have hourly wages near the federal minimum. The chart displays seasonally adjusted national part-time employment by month, from the Census Bureau’s monthly household survey. Before July 2009, part-time employment increased by about three million during the recession and that month reached the peak level of part-time employment. To investigate that the July 2009 wage increase stopped increases in part-time employment and other employment categories, I estimated a monthly model of national part-time and full-time employment per capita for each of 12 demographic groups distinguished by race, gender and age (white and nonwhite, male and female, and 16 to 19 compared with 20 to 54 and 55 and over), using data from before the increase. I forecast part-time and full-time employment for each demographic group for August 2009 through December 2010. The
aggregate deviation of the part-time predictions from the actual was added to the red line to arrive at the aggregate part-time prediction shown as the chart’s blue line. After falling 9.3 million during the recession through July 2009, aggregate fulltime employment fell another 1.8 million by the end of the year and remained below July 2009 levels at the end of 2010. People dismissed from their full-time jobs had trouble ﬁnding another suitable one, and some of them worked part time while they searched. My estimates predicted part-time employment would have continued to increase during the second half of 2009 because, before the increase, part-time employment tended to increase with full-time job losses. The actual and predicted data depart dramatically in September 2009, with actual part-time employment 1.2 million below predicted part-time employment by December and averaging 975,000 part-time positions below what was predicted over the months August 2009 to December 2010. I ﬁnd job loss from the July 2009 minimum-wage increase to be 800,000. If raising the minimum wage reduced employment by 800,000, cutting it back to its early 2009 level is likely to increase employment by 800,000. That would add a bit to government revenue as some of those people moved from unemployment beneﬁts to taxpaying workers.
A coking factory in Shanxi province. The World Trade Organization said China’s export quotas unfairly favored its own industry.
July 14 - 20, 2011
The San Juan Weekly
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 29
The San Juan Weekly
July 14 - 20, 2011
(Mar 21-April 20)
(Sep 24-Oct 23)
Find your inner resistance, resolve and resilience. Prepare for your patience to be well rewarded. Take some pride in your achievements. Give yourself a pep talk and do not let circumstances get the better of you. Okay, you are sensitive at the best of times, but now is the time to access personal conﬁdence and power. You will play a blinder.
You may be a tad introspective, so enjoy quiet times and relax! Do not allow yourself to get worked up about insigniﬁcant nonsense. Keep your cool. Be comforted by the thought that there are no mistakes. We do what we do and that’s that! Appreciate the good aspects of your situation. There really are many reasons to be cheerful...
(April 21-May 21)
(Oct 24-Nov 22)
A swelled head will, of course, do you no favours at all. However, you will soon have reason to feel very pleased with yourself, indeed. Are you ignoring or avoiding someone to whom you should be nice? Life is surely too short for such weird behaviour! In this day and age it pays to value every connection. Modify your expectations.
If it can wait, let it be for the moment. You must be careful not to force yourself on anyone at present. Sit back and let them come to you and, if they do not, well then, that is that. You can still make a great impression where it counts. Use discernment and wisdom, for then your inﬂuence will be more productive. Be temperate and kind.
(May 22-June 21)
Life and love take on a new shape. Take a chance on a feeling. It is better to remain openhearted than to clam shut amidst difﬁculty. Develop your attention span and tolerance for the twists and turns of fate. Life has some new tricks on offer, so be ready and waiting! Preserve your equilibrium. Stop expecting the worst and lose the panic.
(June 22-July 23)
(Nov 23-Dec 21)
Diplomacy is cool and opens doors. Watch that hot head of yours! Do not get distracted by too much of the fun stuff: Be practical and sensible. There is more than enough to be getting on with. You are stronger than you know and can rise above emotional hurt, frustration and disappointment. More than one person has deceived you.
(Dec 22-Jan 20)
Your lifestyle can be nicely revived if you adopt a laissez faire attitude, but there is no time like the present for making a good impression. Just do not get too worked up or distressed about the process. More trust and faith will serve you well, combined with the full force of a smile. You can afford to relax a bit and celebrate your good fortune.
Be careful not to get things out of proportion. Give others the beneﬁt of the doubt, for the moment. Take control of your life. You do not need the advice of other people to make progress. Things go wrong if you stop trusting yourself and hand your personal power over. Independent victory is yours. Channel your impressive creativity.
(July 24-Aug 23)
Only if you leave the past behind can you walk towards permanent peace of mind. Follow your nose and do not ignore your intuition. Think big and live it large. Expect a break and follow up opportunities. Promotion and recognition at work are highly likely. Make your requests and put yourself forward in subtle ways. Time will tell what comes next.
(Aug 24-Sep 23)
If you have been in a rut, now is the time to get things moving. You will need to be focused and careful. However, it is better to take action than let a situation fester. Spend quality moments with loved ones and speak up in the name of love: do not falter. Frustrated communications should ease. You need to make a move rather than wait politely.
(Jan 21-Feb 19)
Expect a delay ﬁnancially, as work takes a while to reap its rewards. Be independent and ditch insecurities with regard to complex relationships. Guard against an unexpected hiccup at the moment, if it is not part of your game plan. Family links overseas look positive. The return of someone unexpected forms part of your destiny. Be amazed!
(Feb 20-Mar 20)
A delayed message will reach you. Give a partner the beneﬁt of the doubt. Keep celebrations straightforward. If you have had to put your love life on hold, do not worry! Persist with work and try to leave major stress behind. Be careful with money: think long- term regarding investments and cash return. Free up your energies.
29 Answers to the Zudoku and Crossword on page 28
July 14 - 20, 2011
Frank & Ernest
Wizard of Id
Two Cows And A Chicken
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July 14 - 20, 2011
Puerto Rico Won Volleyball Championship Held in the United States
uerto Rican Volleyball Club Borinquen Coquí conquered double gold in the categories 12 and 13 in the United States. “Last week we played in Atlanta
Georgia, the tournament of the USA Volleyball Girls’Jr National Championship; our teams of 12 and 13 years became highly successful when both won gold medals in their respective categories”, said Mrs.
Clarissa López the president of the volleyball club located in San Juan. The tournament organized by The National Olympic Committee of the United Volleyball played from June 25 to July 4 and includes 14 women’s division teams from 12 to 18 years. “Given the level of competition of our club, our teams always compete in the strongest category, the National League. Note that there was a great performance of our coaching staff, where several coaches supported leaders of each team, it was a collective work and Borinquen Coquí has done it”, said Ms. López. “It was an unforgettable experience,
my girls played a few games almost perfect, outscoring off the court the Madfrog Texas in the semiﬁnals and two hours later, we won gold in a close game against the Kansas MAVS”, said Rodríguez. On the other hand the leader in 13 years category of Borinquen Coquí Danny Pérez said, “This team has two undefeated seasons in Puerto Rico, then we came to the Jr Nationals and got gold in 12 category, afterwards, the same team this year revalidated with gold. It shows the discipline and the compromise these young team have maintained, this is the mission of our club and is certainly an achievement”, claimed the youngster.
Bay and Beltran Again Power the Mets
allowing ﬁve hits and two walks and improved to 2-7 on the road. In the bottom of the ﬁfth, he got the ﬁrst two batters out but hit Aaron Miles on the elbow, and Matt Kemp followed with a single to center. Loney walked to load the bases, and it was only at that point that the Mets scrambled their relievers in the bullpen. But it would be up to Pelfrey to get out of the immediate trouble against Juan Uribe, and he did it. Uribe smoked a line drive to center ﬁeld, but it went directly to Pagan, who made the catch to end the inning. “Luckily, he hit a 110-mile-per-hour line drive and Angel was there,” Pelfrey said. Pelfrey did not exhibit any enthusiasm as he walked off because he was disgusted with himself for the walk and the hit-batter, and the fact he was throwing too many pitches. (He would require 102 to get through only six innings.) After the ﬁfth, he felt so out of whack that he went into the clubhouse and watched video of the game. He noticed that his left arm was not in its proper position, causing his throwing arm to come around late. When he returned to the dugout he did some practice windups there, and returned for a perfect sixth inning.
By DAVID WALDSTEIN
ess than two full years into a four-year, $66 million deal, it seemed at times as if Jason Bay had been all but written off by the Mets. His batting average was low and his power almost nonexistent. But over the past two weeks Bay has showed ample signs of reclaiming the form that induced the Mets to sign him in the ﬁrst place, and if he continues to play as he has during that time, the Mets will be more than happy with the deal. A week after swatting the Mets’ ﬁrst grand slam in almost two years, Bay hit two home run to help pace the Mets to a 6-0 victory over the Dodgers. He hit a solo shot in the sixth inning and a three-run home run in the eighth, giving him six his total all last season. Carlos Beltran, who continues to have a terriﬁc comeback season, also homered as Bay and Beltran hit home runs in the same game for the second time in a week. On June 28, they hit grand slams in successive innings.
As recently as June 19, Bay had only two home runs and looked to be on pace for another six-homer season. Over his last 13 games, Bay is batting .353 (18 for 51) with 4 home runs, 15 runs batted in and 10 runs scored. “I’m just happy lately with the way things are going,” he said. “I feel like me.” For a team that has struggled to hit home runs most of the season, it was strange to see the Mets score all six of their runs off the long ball. But with Jose Reyes out with a hamstring injury, the Mets need other avenues to score runs. Power was their path, and the Mets improved to 3-0 minus Reyes. “As a team, we’re not built to hit home runs,” Beltran said. “We use our speed, steal bases and manufacture runs. So, any time you can get some of these, it helps.” Beltran broke a scoreless tie in the ﬁfth when he blasted his 13th home run of the season with Angel Pagan aboard to stake starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey to a 2-0 lead. The homer gave the Mets 162 two-out runs, which was second only to the Boston Red Sox, who had 165 going into Tuesday’s games.
It was also the 17th home run of the year allowed by Dodgers starter Ted Lilly, and the 275th of his career, the fourth most among active pitchers. With one out, Pagan singled to center and broke to steal second base with Justin Turner at the plate. Lilly saw it coming and threw to ﬁrst baseman James Looney, who made the relay to second. His throw was wide, though, and Pagan slid in safely. Pagan would go to third when Turner grounded out to third, but the inning was still alive, and Beltran took full advantage. He drilled the ﬁrst pitch about ﬁve rows up into the bleachers in left center ﬁeld. After hitting the grand slam on June 28, Beltran said that he loves runs batted in, and he extended his team lead to 57 on Tuesday. Bay his ﬁfth home run of the year leading off the sixth, a shot to roughly the same location Beltran hit his. In the seventh, Bay hit one to right-center ﬁeld off Blake Hawksworth with Beltran and Ronny Paulino on base. Pelfrey overcame some mechanical problems to throw six scoreless innings,
July 14 - 20, 2011
The San Juan Weekly