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December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Bernanke Discusses Unemployment’s Toll on Americans
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The Incredible Flying Nonagenarian
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
San Juan, One of Top 10 Places to Spend Christmas
NN has announced their preferred 10 places to spend Christmas and the only tropical hot spot on the list was San Juan, Puerto Rico. The island city was chosen as the number three choice because it celebrates La Navidad – Christmas longer than anybody else in the world. The partying starts in November and doesn’t stop until mid-January. San Juan is the capital city of the island and the most populated. During the Christmas season the island average winter low is 71 degrees Fahrenheit with some days as high as the 80’s. The highlight of the long Christmas celebration is the Day of the Three Kings or El Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos when all the children of Puerto Rico get free gifts from the Puerto Rican government. The New Year
celebration in the city is also very special especially for tourists who get to enjoy a free-for-all party hosted by the government. On CNN’s list Boston, Massachusetts was given the honored place as being the top place to celebrate Christmas followed by London, England. U.S. favorite New York also made this list as well as the relatively unknown city of Pogost, Belarus.
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Pierluisi Seeks Higher Share of Federal Contracts T
he Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi continued efforts to promote contracting opportunities with the federal government, this time in the southern sector of the island and to a number of small and medium businesses, speciﬁcally in the construction industry. “In 2010 we were awarded federal construction contracts in Puerto Rico for $ 338 million. Of that amount, approximately 60% of construction contracts, 80% of maintenance contracts and almost 90% of architecture or engineering contracts were allocated to companies outside of Puerto Rico. Based on these statistics, I think it is necessary to provide guidance to entrepreneurs that could beneﬁt from these opportunities, “the Resident Commissioner said. The workshop was organized with several federal agencies, among which are the Small Business Administration, PRIDCO, the General Services Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers. “The representatives at this workshop are responsible for negotiating, managing, and extending contracts, the best resources that a contractor can have who wants to bid with the federal government,” Pierluisi said. Pierluisi urged participants to also use tools provided by the Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) and his ofﬁce for assistan-
ce in federal programs. This ofﬁce provides assistance in the collection of information, certiﬁcation of small businesses and federal contracting guidelines. PRIDCO employees work directly with federal government agencies in these processes. “The guest speakers we have will agree that many entities in Puerto Rico are in a good position to improve the percentage of contracts that are received from the federal government. We have a stable economy and a workforce highly trained and bilingual. These factors, plus the desire and competitive level for new business, make us an attractive destination for federal funds, “Pierluisi said. Increasing federal contracts in Puerto Rico has been a priority of the Resident Commissioner since coming to Congress a year and a half ago. Pierluisi advocated for small businesses and has sought to resolve discrepancies in the contracts affecting applicants. Last August held a forum to encourage contracting with the federal government, which raised the need to take the initiative to the southern region. “I will continue doing everything in my power to make sure that Puerto Rico enjoys the same competitiveness as the 50 states. I hope this forum gives our entrepreneurs the tools they need to do business effectively with the federal government, “ Pierluisi said.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly Ahead of Media Peers O
ther media providers have copied our investigative articles on several occasions. Our in depth articles
on (1) Judge Sotomayor, (2) Governor Luis Fortuño, (3) the name of Ricky Martin’s lover, (4) on new cancer research, and (5) our Arecibo Radar ﬁnding an Asteroid due to Arecib collide co with earth 100 years from today, w were all later copied by other media. Now we ﬁnd that the November 9, 2010 edition of El Vocero copied our investigative report on Puerto Rico’s inv lax pedophilia laws and the consequences qu (The San Juan Weekly September 30, 2010). Their front-page cover article published 41 days after ours, arti copied our news as well as our photocop journalism. By drawing the photograph jour they technically did not use our photo, only our analysis. Imitation is the sincerest form of ﬂattery! We love keeping our readers atte informed inform well ahead of the pack. That is why our readers are leaders. Thank you to our ou competitors for honoring us with duplication and particularly to the Vocero duplic for awarding us their highest recognition : aw their front cover. fr
The San Juan Weekly
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The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
The Cuba Libre Clan By RANDY KENNEDY
s the long senescence of Fidel Castro winds down, revolution seems to be back in the air, or at least cigar-smoked memories of it, from Havana to Hollywood. Steven Soderbergh’s epic-length “Che” made its way to American theaters, and in a recent episode of “Mad Men” a Rogers & Cowan public relations man is overheard at a country-club party complaining about the indignities of flacking for the C.I.A. in the run-up to
the Bay of Pigs. The newfound interest that Cuba’s future is generating in its past hasn’t escaped the notice of publishers, either. T. J. English’s “Havana Nocturne,” a whiz-bang account of the Mafia’s short-lived romp through 1950’s Cuba, is a best seller, and “Telex From Cuba,” a first novel by Rachel Kushner set mostly within the wealthy United Fruit Company enclave as the Castro brothers plot in the nearby hills, has been widely praised. For anyone who has logged much
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time on a bar stool staring at the elegantly lighted bottles across the way, the latest title in pre-Castro reminiscence — “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause,” by Tom Gjelten, a veteran NPR correspondent — might be a little confusing at first. For years the labels of many versions of Bacardi’s rum have announced, beneath their familiar bat logo, that they are the products of Puerto Rico, where the company has operated a distillery since 1937. But Bacardi was founded 75 years earlier in a tiny dirt-floored distillery in Santiago de Cuba by Facundo Bacardi Massó, the Spanish-born son of an illiterate bricklayer. Facundo made a tasty, unusually mild rum, but it was his three sons, especially the eldest, Emilio, who transformed his creation into a commercial gold mine and, in the process, as Gjelten shows, wound its history up so tightly with Cuba’s that the strands still aren’t easy to separate. Hemingway — who helped sell a lot of rum because of his unlikely affection for the daiquiri — dedicated his Nobel Prize to Cuba’s patron saint at a Bacardi party in his honor. A longtime production chief of the company’s Santiago distillery was the brother of Miguel Matamoros, one of Cuba’s most influential composers and an early pioneer of salsa. One of the company’s executives was the grandfather of Desi Arnaz Jr., and another executive was the father of Vilma Espín, the beautiful young revolutionary who became the wife of Raúl Castro, Fidel’s younger brother. (Raúl took over the presidency of the country earlier this year.) Even after the Castro regime nationalized the company’s facilities in 1960, the year almost all of the Bacardi family and many of the company’s executives fled (leaving the nearly century-old coconut palm planted at the original distillery, as company legend has it, suddenly to wither and die), the Bacardis became the face, and one of the largest sources of money, behind the anti-Castro movement in America, which sometimes pursued its mission
with almost unbelievable audacity. After the debacle of the Bay of Pigs invasion, José (Pepín) Bosch, who ran the exiled company from Miami, bought a Douglas B-26 bomber and hatched a secret plan to bomb Cuban oil refineries as a way to destabilize the Castro government. (The plan, which appeared to have the C.I.A.’s tacit approval, was aborted only because Bosch couldn’t find a willing pilot or enough bombs.) For a story about liquor and a liquor-loving country as lively as Cuba, Gjelten can come off a bit too sober at times, with stretches of Bacardi organizational minutiae that only a chief financial officer could love. And the portrayal of the men who have led Bacardi (its current board chairman, almost poetically, is Facundo L. Bacardi, the founder ’s great-great-grandson) often reads like something the company might have commissioned itself — every executive and family member endowed with wisdom, fairness and unwavering zeal to see an independent Cuba. But the book, which is exhaustively researched, succeeds in painting a vivid portrait of the company’s early, scrappy years and its prominent role in the fight against Spanish rule. Emilio Bacardi, especially, comes to life as the book’s most powerful character, though one so strange that Gabriel García Márquez might have invented him. Emilio was imprisoned twice by Spain off the coast of Morocco for his revolutionary activities. But
The San Juan Weekly he still managed to hold the company together, to serve as Santiago’s mayor during the unsettled years of the American occupation, to help found a salon called the Victor Hugo Freethinker Group, to practice theosophy in a predominantly Catholic country and to track down a genuine mummy on a trip to Egypt, which he bought as the centerpiece for a museum he had founded in Santiago. (Modest he was not; he signed his revolutionary correspondence with the name Phocion, after the Athenian statesman known as “the good.”) Gjelten also provides a fascinating look at how the company built itself into the multinational giant it has become, in part because it realized very early on the importance of something that most other companies undervalued until much later in corporate history: a recognized name and brand. As early as 1919, the company declared that about two-thirds of its worth, then $3.7 million, was an estimate of the value of its name and trademarks alone. And it defended those assets with the kind of ferocity it later
December 16 - 22, 2010 trained on Castro. Shortly after the repeal of Prohibition, for example, the company sued the Barbizon Plaza hotel in Manhattan, accusing its barmen of pouring drinks they blasphemously called Bacardi cocktails, with no Bacardi rum anywhere in the mix. (The company won.) In the end, even with a Castro still in power, it’s hard to summon a lot of sympathy for Bacardi as the wronged protagonist of the story. From the early 1960s, just after it was forced out, through the late 1970s, the company grew faster than any other liquor maker, moving more than 10 million cases a year by 1976, and it has thrived ever since, buying up competing liquor companies around the world. Meanwhile, back in Cuba, which had somehow failed to make any effort to seize the company’s trademarks when it took over its distilleries, the enemy seemed almost comically inept, according to company lore: at one point, Che Guevara demanded that a veteran Bacardi employee who remained in Cuba reveal the secret formula for making the rum. The employee resisted but finally wrote down all that he knew. Guevara’s office then is said to have lost the piece of paper. With Raúl Castro slowly beginning to relax some of his brother ’s anticapitalist strictures — Cubans can now legally use cellphones and stay at tourist hotels and make some profits from their land — there is growing hope that Bacardi’s exile might be drawing to a close. But even if the company and its family are able to return to Santiago and replant their coconut tree there, the clear question that remains at the end of the book is whether they can ever be wholly Cuban again — or whether Cuba can ever again be the place they left behind.
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
As Electoral Ground Shifts, Bloomberg Could Skip the Party By MATT BAI
n Sunday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ﬂatly ruled out an independent run for president in 2012. On Monday, he appeared at the national unveiling of No Labels, a group that aspires to build a grass-roots movement for political independents and independent-minded voters in both parties, and talked again about loosening the grip of both parties on the process. It’s possible that Bloomberg is discouraging his supporters because he\ has closed the door on a presidential run. It’s also possible, though, that he understands something about the modern political culture that many of those speculating about the purpose of No Labels do not — that an independent not only no longer needs to spend time encouraging the formation of a party organization but he’s also better off without one. Mr. Bloomberg brought some star power to the inaugural No Labels convention which also featured speakers like Joe Scarborough, Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida and congressmen and senators. No Labels aspires to become a counterweight to groups like MoveOn.org and the Tea Party movement — activists devoted to pushing politicians from both parties toward a nonpartisan consensus on vital issues. MoveOn.org and the Tea Party groups sprang up organically and in a decentralized way, embraced by angry citizens circulating online petitions and holding rallies. By contrast, No Labels was created by two Washington consultants, the Democratic fund-raiser Nancy Jacobson and the Republican image-shaper Mark McKinnon, and its slick opening event featured throngs of journalists, free boxed lunches and a song written for the occasion by the pop sensation Akon. The group’s slogan, printed on T-shirts and banners, summarizes its purpose this way: “Not left. Not right. Forward.” Mr. Bloomberg — wearing a tie that was appropriately neither red nor blue, but a tasteful purple — took a muted role in the day’s proceedings, appearing on a crowded panel to discuss the details of reforming electoral process. The low proﬁle reﬂected a sensitivity among the mayor and the organizers about suggestions that No Labels might yet become a vehicle for Mr. Bloomberg’s supposed presidential ambitions. Commentators have speculated No Labels could form the basis of a serious third party, with the mayor at the helm, America hasn’t seen since Ross Perot’s Reform Party collapsed from a long internal power struggle in 2000. Third parties, at least since the advent of the Republicans in the 1850s, have been vehicles for statements or pushing the parties in an direction. The Progressive Party, the States’ Rights Democratic Party of Strom Thurmond, the Socialists and the Liberta-
rians — all of these 20th-century uprisings managed to ﬁeld candidates who affected the national debate. None came especially close to winning. Those who think Bloomberg would build a similar organization, No Labels or something else, are assuming the power and disaffection of independent voters who identify with neither Democrats nor Republicans make a third party more viable than it has been. The rise of independents represents a movement in the opposite direction — away from party organizations. This isn’t a political phenomenon as it is a cultural one. The Web created an increasingly decentralized customized society, in which a new generation of voters seems less aligned, with large institutions. MoveOn. org and the Tea Party were born as protests against the establishments of both parties, and empowered citizens to create their own agendas. What the current moment might offer, then, as Mr. Bloomberg surely knows, is an unprecedented opportunity not for a new party, but for an independent candidate who represents a break from the dictates of any party organization, mainstream or otherwise. In the current environment, the less of a party apparatus an independent candidate carries, the better his chances of success may be. The most formidable obstacles to such candidacies have been money and ballot access. The ﬁrst is easily surmountable now, as President Obama, another candidate who once scoffed at the idea of running for the White House, proved in 2008. (In Mr. Bloomberg’s case, money has never been an issue, in any event.) The other problem — running the obstacle course of state-based laws intended mostly to keep outsider candidates out of the process — remains formidable, even in the Internet age. But such a signature-gathering effort is far easier to organize now, through online communities, than it was even in Mr. Perot’s day. All of this might just explain why Mr. Bloomberg would reject the idea of running in 2012 while at the same time continuing to level a candidatelike critique of the status quo in Washington. Since he wouldn’t need to build a party organization in the way Mr. Perot did in 1992, Mr. Bloomberg can wait considerably longer — perhaps even until the 2012 primaries — to assess whether a campaign might be viable. In the meantime, ruling himself out as a candidate only enhances his credibility as a national reformer. No Labels, then, should probably be seen as the advocacy group for bipartisan cooperation that its organizers say it is, rather than as the basis for a third-party campaign. The country may or may not need such a platform. The billionaire mayor surely does not.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Years of Wrangling Lie Ahead for HealthLaw
Judge Henry E. Hudson’s decision may boost conservatives. By KEVIN SACK
y contradicting twao prior opinions, court ruling in Virginia against the Obama health care law highlighted both the novelty of the constitutional issues and the difﬁculty of forging consensus among judges who bring differences in experience, philosophy and partisan background to the bench. Judge Henry E. Hudson of Federal District Court in Richmond wrote with conviction that the law’s requirement that most Americans obtain insurance goes “beyond the historical reach” of Supreme Court cases that limit federal regulation of commercial activity. During the last two months, however, two other federal judges ruled with equal force that the provision fell squarely within the authority Congress was granted under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to resolve the conﬂict, and many court watchers already expect a characteristically close decision. But what is now clear is that the challenges from dozens of states to the law’s constitutionality can no longer be dismissed as frivolous, as they were earlier this year by some scholars and Democratic partisans. “All the insiders thought it was a slam dunk,” said Randy E. Barnett, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University who supports the health care challenges. “Maybe a slam dunk like weapons of mass destruction were a slam dunk.” The Supreme Court’s position on the Commerce Clause has evolved through four signature cases over the
last 68 years, three of which have been decided since 1995. Two of the opinions — Wickard v. Filburn in 1942 and Gonzales v. Raich in 2005 — established broad federal powers to regulate even personal commercial decisions that, taken in the aggregate, may inﬂuence a larger economic outcome. But two other cases — United States v. Lopez in 1995 and United States v. Morrison in 2000 — limited Congress’s regulatory authority to “activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.” The central question before the courts has not been whether the health care market substantially affects interstate commerce, a point largely accepted by all sides. Rather, the issue has been a semantic one: determining whether the act of not obtaining insurance is best deﬁned as activity or, as Virginia’s solicitor general, E. Duncan Getchell Jr., has argued in the Richmond case, “inactivity” that is beyond Congress’s reach. Mr. Getchell, who argued the case for Virginia’s attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, told Judge Hudson during an October hearing that if Congress could require the purchase of health insurance, there would effectively be no limits on federal power. Justice Department lawyers have responded that individuals cannot opt out of the medical market because they never know when they might be hit by a bus and require treatment. The act of not obtaining insurance, they contend, is thus an active decision to pay for health care out of pocket. Such individual decisions, when taken together, can shift billions of dollars in uncompensated care costs to governments, hospitals and the privately
insured, and thus can be regulated. Judge Hudson, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, commented during the October hearing that the federal government’s position would give Congress “boundless” authority to force Americans “to buy an automobile, to join a gym, to eat asparagus.” “This broad deﬁnition of the economic activity subject to Congressional regulation lacks logical limitation and is unsupported by Commerce Clause jurisprudence,” he wrote. Only two weeks earlier, Judge Norman K. Moon of Federal District Court in nearby Lynchburg, Va., found precisely the opposite. “Far from ‘inactivity,’ ” wrote Judge Moon, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, “by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance.” A second Clinton-appointed judge has upheld the law as well. Judge Hudson also rejected the federal government’s secondary claim that it had authority to enact the insu-
rance requirement under Congress’s power to tax. That is because once the provision takes effect in 2014, the ﬁne for not having insurance will be levied as an income tax penalty. That claim put Justice Department lawyers in the awkward spot of insisting that the provision constituted a tax, even though President Obama and other Democratic leaders adamantly denied during the legislative debate that they were raising taxes. Judge Hudson gave weight to those denials, and to the ﬁnal bill’s use of the word “penalty” to describe the ﬁnes, a change from earlier versions. Jack M. Balkin, a law professor at Yale who supports the act’s constitutionality, noted that “there are judges of different ideological views throughout the federal judiciary” and said that the health care plaintiffs had helped their cause by ﬁling lawsuits in conservative venues. Judge Hudson seemed content with the knowledge that his opinion would be one of many. “The ﬁnal word,” he wrote, “will undoubtedly reside with a higher court.”
† Mattress de Muelles, Comfort Quilt y Orthopedic Type manufacturados por Tech Product. * Financiamiento a través de GE Money Bank. Sujeto a aprobación de crédito, compra mínima de $499.00. Se requiere pago mínimo mensual. Si el balance de su compra no se paga en su totalidad dentro del periodo indicado en la oferta o si se hace un pago tardío, los intereses se cargarán a su cuenta desde la fecha de compra, el A.P.R. será de 29.99%. ** Sujeto a disponibilidad de modelo comprado. Garantía de entrega sólo de martes a sábado. Especiales no aplican con otras ofertas. Horario de lunes a sábado de 9:00 am a 6:00 pm. PLAZA ESCORIAL HORARIO EXTENDIDO (7:00 PM). Domingo de 11:00 am a 4:00 pm, excepto en Caguas y Humacao. Oferta válida hasta el 21 de diciembre de 2010.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
U.S. and China Narrow Differences at Climate Talks
By JOHN M. BRODER
he United States and China have signiﬁcantly narrowed their differences on the veriﬁcation of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, ofﬁcials said, providing hope that a United Nations conference here on climate change can achieve some modest success. The veriﬁcation issue, which cuts deeply on matters of national sovereignty and international trust, was a major factor in the torpedoing of last year’s climate negotiations in Copenhagen. But China has since signiﬁcantly softened its position and the United States has moderated its insistence on the issue. The reduced friction between the two nations has greatly improved the mood here, and envoys from both expressed guarded optimism that a deal could be reached by the end of the conference on Friday. “I do think there is an agreement to be had,” Todd Stern, the chief American climate change negotiator, said Tuesday, although he added, “At the same time there are a lot of difﬁculties, so we’ll have to see.” Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate envoy, also signaled a willingness to sign an accord here, as long as it met Chinese objectives on ﬁnancial aid to developing countries, transfer of clean energy technology to poor nations and a continuing of discussions
under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Speaking to the press on Monday, he pointedly did not raise veriﬁcation or transparency issues as a barrier to the negotiations. The overall talks are grinding on slowly, and there is some concern that with only three full negotiating days ahead, there will not be enough time to resolve differences on remaining issues like money, technology, adaptation, emissions reductions and forestry programs, the basic agenda of the climate negotiations. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, under whose auspices these annual talks are held, operates on the principle of consensus, meaning that any of the more than 190 participating nations can hold up an agreement. Last December, a group of nations led by Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Sudan played the role of spoiler in Copenhagen. This year, Bolivia in particular has raised objections on a number of matters, including plans to compensate landowners for preserving forests. The Bolivian leader, Evo Morales, says this threatens the livelihoods of landless peasants, and he plans to address the conference on this issue. There is some talk in the corridors of breaking off the forestry issue and negotiating a separate deal that would save millions of acres of forestland while increasing compensation to countries like Brazil and Indo-
nesia where forests are fast disappearing. Another issue is the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, whose emissions targets expire at the end of 2012. Most developing nations are insisting that new targets be set and that money continue to ﬂow to them for projects that reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming. Japan startled the conference last week by announcing that it would not accept any new targets under the Kyoto Protocol, and Russia, Canada and some other parties to the protocol have also signaled a reluctance to assume new commitments. The issue could scuttle the conference. Some countries, including the United States, which never accepted the Kyoto treaty, hope to ﬁnd a way to ﬁnesse the issue so it can be dealt with in the future. Despite these disputes, the overall atmosphere of the talks is vastly improved from a year ago in Copenhagen, in large part because the United States and China are not at each other’s throats. Contributing to that more relaxed mood, the delegates are not awaiting the arrival of 140 heads of state, who ﬂew into Copenhagen for the ﬁnal hours of negotiations and raised the temperature beyond the boiling point. “There is more camaraderie here, more dialogue, more intensive engagement and less shadow boxing than in Copenhagen, because China has moved on the trans-
parency issue,” Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister, said in an interview. “That is very important.” Mr. Ramesh proposed a plan for bridging the gap between the United States and China establishing a voluntary program known as international consultation and analysis. Countries would declare emissions reduction targets and provide regular reports on how they were meeting them. There would be no monitors or inspectors, and no penalties for failing to reach stated targets. Smaller countries would have less frequent and less detailed reporting requirements than major emitters. There are still disputes over how detailed the agreement should be and how soon the reporting requirements would take effect. Mr. Stern said he wanted these matters addressed explicitly and not, as he put it, “at the 50,000-foot level.” Other major emitters, including Brazil and South Africa, are balking at providing the kind of detailed reports the United States is demanding. China’s position is unclear, but Mr. Ramesh said he spent four hours with the Chinese delegation and he was conﬁdent China would not stand in the way of a deal because of the veriﬁcation issue. China recently leapfrogged the United States to become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Cyberattacks Are Retaliation for Pressure on WikiLeaks By RAVI SOMAIYA and JOHN MARKOFF
small army of activist hackers orchestrated a broad campaign of cyberattacks on Wednesday in support of the beleaguered antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks, which has drawn governmental criticism from around the globe for its release of classiﬁed American documents and whose founder, Julian Assange, is being held in Britain on accusations of sex offenses. Targets included Mastercard.com, which stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks; Amazon.com, which revoked server space from the group; the online payment service PayPal, which cut off its commercial cooperation; the lawyer representing the two Swedish women who have accused Mr. Assange in the sex case; and PostFinance, the Swiss postal system’s ﬁnancial arm, which closed Mr. Assange’s account after saying he provided false information by saying that he resided in Switzerland. Anonymous, a leaderless group of activist hackers that had vowed to wreak revenge on any organization that lined up against WikiLeaks, claimed responsibility for the Mastercard attack, and, according one activist associated with the group, was conducting multiple other attacks. That activist, Gregg Housh, said in a telephone interview that 1,500 activists were on online forums and chatrooms including Anonops.net, mounting mass and repeated “denial of service” attacks on sites that have moved against Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks in recent days. The hacker army has rallied around the theory that all the actions against the organization and against Mr. Assange, including the rape accusations, are politically motivated efforts to silence those challenging authority. “To all of us,” Mr. Housh said, “there is no distinction. He is a political prisoner and the two things are completely entwined.” In an online chatroom at Anonops. net, activists who announced their nationalities from around the world — “hello from Sierra Leone” — “hi from Austria” — talked openly of the attacks and said they would need 5,000 people to effectively paralyze PayPal. Many also plotted a rumor campaign to further destabilize Mastercard — suggesting that others spread stories that credit card numbers were not safe. Mr. Housh said there had been talk among the hackers of a campaign
against Mr. Assange’s Swedish accusers, but that it remained “a touchy subject, so a lot of people don’t want to be involved.” The women were named on Web sites supportive of Mr. Assange just a few days after their allegations surfaced in late August. But a Web search shows new blog posts in recent days. It was not clear whether there was any link to Anonymous, or to a concerted campaign of any kind. Swedish law precludes the naming of the women, and the authorities have referred to them so far only as Ms. A and Ms. W. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Mastercard conﬁrmed that the company’s Web site was brought down as a result of “a concentrated effort to ﬂood our corporate Web site with trafﬁc and slow access,” but said that card transactions were not compromised. The company, he said, was making concerted efforts to get its site back up, and security teams were working to prevent further outages. The initial decision to deny service to WikiLeaks, he said, was “Mastercard’s alone,” and was not made under government pressure. A PalPal representative conﬁrmed a series of attacks, but said that while the Website had been slowed, it remained “fully operational.” Marc Andrey, a spokesman for PostFinance, said that the company had been under serious attack, “an overload organized by friends of WikiLeaks we think,” since Monday evening. The attack blocked the Web site for several hours, and it remains unstable, he said. The company has taken active security measures and is bracing itself for ano-
ther battle. Mr. Housh, who has worked on previous campaigns with Anonymous but disavows any illegal activity himself, said it was the ﬁrst time the group had enough ﬁrepower to bring down well-secured blue chip companies like Mastercard. “No tactics have changed this time,” he said, “but there is so much support and there are so many people doing it that sites like that are going down.” The Anonymous group, which gained notoriety for their cyberattacks on targets as diverse as the Church of Scientology and the rock musician Gene Simmons, released two manifestos over the weekend vowing revenge those who moved against WikiLeaks after the organization’s recent release of classiﬁed diplomatic documents from a cache of 250,000 it had obtained. “We ﬁght for the same reasons,”
said one. “We want transparency and we counter censorship.” Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, was jailed in Britain on Tuesday after being denied bail in a London court hearing on a warrant for his extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual offenses. His accusers have said that consensual encounters became nonconsensual when condoms were no longer in use; in the Tuesday hearing, the court heard the allegation that Mr. Assange had unprotected sex with one of the women as she was sleeping. On the courthouse steps, his lawyer, Mark Stephens, told reporters that support shown for Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks so far was “the tip of the iceberg.” In words that now seem prophetic, he added that the battle for WikiLeaks and its founder’s future was “going to go viral.” Twitter, which was threatened with attack the 4chan Web site for blocking discussions of WikiLeaks, issued a statement saying that it had not censored any of the terms related to the controversy. “Twitter is not censoring #wikileaks, #cablegate or other related terms from the Trends list of trending topics,” the company said in a statement. “Our Trends list is designed to help people discover the ’most breaking’ breaking news from across the world, in real-time. The list is generated by an algorithm that identiﬁes topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously.” The company noted that a number of factors may come into play in determining which terms are identiﬁed by the Trends list.Twittersaid that it had not been subjected to a denial-of-service attack as of Wednesday morning.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Alluring Burgundies in Low Places By ERIC ASIMOV
IMPLY uttering the word Burgundy conjures up storied names that have beguiled wine lovers for centuries: Chambertin and La Tâche, Le Montrachet and Musigny. These wines can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The memories, it must be said, are priceless. Yet the word Burgundy just as easily suggests humble Bourgogne. In the grand hierarchical scheme of Burgundy’s appellation system, bottles simply labeled Bourgogne represent the lowest forms of the region’s pinot noir and chardonnay. They generally run $15 to $35, though occasionally are quite a bit more. Theoretically, at least, they would offer generic expressions of Burgundy, possessing few of the distinctive characteristics that shape and deﬁne the more narrowly drawn appellations. This might suggest that these wines are best ignored. Yet, as the British wine authority Hugh Johnson so aptly puts it, “Do not despise.” If the memories they produce are not exactly inestimable, the wines can thoroughly satisfy and be an excellent introduction to Burgundy’s charms. On the top rung of the ladder of Burgundy’s appellation hierarchy are the grand cru vineyards, like Le Montrachet and Musigny, signifying the ﬁnest, most distinctive terroirs. On the lowest rung is Bourgogne, indicating wines made from grapes that can come from anywhere within the boundaries of Burgundy. In theory, the lowliest grand cru or even village wine should always be better than the best Bourgogne. But the hierarchy is simply a measure of potential. In practice, the rule in Burgundy and just about everywhere else is producer, producer, producer. Bourgognes from top producers can be superb. I’ve had captivating ones from Leroy, Michel Lafarge and Coche-Dury, and the Bourgognes of Henri Jayer are legendary, even more so now that they are no longer produced. Still, Bourgognes, whether red or white, rarely have the extra dimensions of pleasure and insight that come from putting aromas and ﬂavors together with particular plots of earth. The appellation system, in the end, has a great deal of logic to it. Often, the desirability of Bourgogne wines comes down to the usual price-to-value ratio. What are you getting for the money? In a recent tasting, the Dining section’s wine panel sought answers by sampling 20 bottles of Bourgogne from the 2008 vintage — 10 white and 10 red. Florence Fabricant and I were joined by Michael Madrigale, the sommelier at Bar Boulud, and Juliette Pope, wine director at Gramercy Tavern.
The 2008 vintage was an odd one, reminiscent of decades past when cool weather and rain made ripening difﬁcult. Even 25 years ago, the vintage might have been a washout, but vastly improved viticulture and cellar work not only salvaged a decent but small crop, but also resulted in wines that can be quite good. Nonetheless, we found a pronounced difference in quality between the reds and the whites, with the disclaimer that any generalizations are based on an admittedly small sample. The whites seemed both fresh and rich, displaying the purity and minerality that one seeks in white Burgundy. We would even be happy to drink the ﬁve whites that did not make our list. The reds, on the other hand, were less consistent. Our favorites were attractive, with sweet red fruit, well-integrated oak, and mineral and herbal ﬂavors. On the other end were weedy, seemingly underripe wines with none of the pleasure of the lower-end whites. All the reds, and the whites, too, showed plenty of acidity. The trick, for the reds at least, was achieving enough body and fruit for balance. For his part, Michael said he found just what he had hoped for in the wines: “They showed the characteristics of the vintage. That’s all I really want.” Speaking of the reds, he noted the high acidity and under-ripe ﬂavors. “I don’t want to taste manipulations to make them more palatable,” he added. “These are real wines.” That attitude might seem a bit academic, but that’s one of the beauties of Burgundy. You want wines that are true not only to their terroirs, but also to their vintages. Nonetheless, you must choose carefully among the reds if you want pleasure as well. Juliette was a little easier on the reds than Florence or I was, though she conceded she had a soft spot for them. Speaking of both the reds and whites, she said: “They were true to type and terroir, with a purity of fruit and minerality. They’re refreshing and great for the table.” Certainly that was true of our top wines. Our No. 1 white, from the reliably excellent Jean-Philippe Fichet, was fresh and vibrant, with just enough richness to suggest the grapes had come from the Côte-deBeaune rather than the Mâconnais. Our No. 2 white, from Benoît Ente, was tense and tightly coiled, with pure fruit and mineral ﬂavors. They are not inexpensive at $27 and $32, but as good, young white Burgundies they seemed to me to offer excellent value. Nonetheless, our best value white at $18 was our No. 3 bottle, from Thierry & Pascale Matrot, which, if it did not have the energy of the Fichet or Ente, did not lack for savory ﬂavors. Among the reds, our best value at $17
was also our favorite, the Billard-Gonnet Vieilles Vignes, a textbook red Burgundy, with pure, sweet red fruit along with a touch of herbal and mineral ﬂavors for complexity’s sake. Both our No. 2, Gérard Mugneret, and No. 3, Virgile Lignier-Michelot, showed more intensity of ﬂavor, but lacked the ﬁnesse and balance of the Billard-Gonnet. These top reds, too, are good values and worth seeking out. By the way, our very pleasing No. 4 red came from Domaine Roulot, a superb producer better known for its whites. Somehow, we missed the Roulot Bourgogne blanc in our tasting, But I highly recommend that wine as well. While I said Bourgognes represented the lowest form of the region’s pinot noir and chardonnay wines, it is possible to go even lower on the appellation hierarchy. Those would be the blends: Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, pinot noir with gamay; Bourgogne Aligoté, generally aligoté with chardonnay, and Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, a blend with many possibilities. Even with these appellations of low esteem, the producer counts greatly. I recently drank a 2006 Bourgogne Aligoté from Domaine Leroy, one of the best producers in Burgundy. The wine? Surprisingly rich, pleasantly complex, absolutely delicious.
Tasting Report WHITES Jean-Philippe Fichet, $27, *** ½ Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes 2008 Fresh, vibrant and delicious with rich texture and balanced, lingering mineral ﬂavors. (A Rare Wine Company Selection/Vieux Vins, Vineburg, Calif.) Benoît Ente, $32, *** Bourgogne 2008 Tightly coiled and pure with fresh ﬂavors of apples, minerals and oak. (A Becky Wasserman Selection/U.S.A. Wine Imports, New York)
BEST VALUE Thierry & Pascale Matrot, $18, ** ½ Bourgogne 2008 Lean and ﬁrm with savory aromas of lemon, herbs and minerals. (Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala.) Joseph Faiveley, $17, ** ½ Bourgogne 2008 Well-knit with long, lingering ﬂavors of herbs, citrus and earth. (Wilson-Daniels, St. Helena, Calif.) Bernard Moreau & Fils, $27, ** ½ Bourgogne 2008 Racy and round with ﬂavors of hazelnut, citrus and apples. (The Sorting Table, Napa, Calif.) REDS BEST VALUE Billard-Gonnet, $17, *** Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes 2008 Aromas and ﬂavors of sweet red fruit, herbs, ﬂowers and minerals. (Vintage Trading, New York) Gérard Mugneret, $25, ** ½ Bourgogne 2008 Aromas of earthy red fruit, silky texture and prominent acidity. (A Becky Wasserman Selection/Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.) Virgile Lignier-Michelot, $23, ** ½ Bourgogne 2008 Intense fruit ﬂavors with cinnamon and mineral accents. (A Becky Wasserman Selection/Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.) Domaine Roulot, $30, ** ½ Bourgogne 2008 Flavors of red fruit, herbs and dried ﬂowers with plenty of acidity. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif.) Marchand Frères, $17, ** ½ Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes 2008 Full-bodied with lingering ﬂavors of red fruit and more than a touch of oak. (Margate Wines and Spirits, Atlantic City, N.J.)
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
By DOMINIQUE BROWNING
nstead of a roundup of “gardening books,” maybe we should just refer to this category of publication as Dirty Books. Anything to do with soil falls under our new rubric. That way, writers who farm wouldn’t feel the need to elbow aside rosarians who write, who in turn wouldn’t jostle rudely past backyard gardeners concerned with mundane raised beds of veggies, bruising thin-skinned egos along with the tomatoes. Anyone insane enough to dig holes, pour money into the ground, wait to see what happens and then sit down at a computer to tell us about it has earned the right to a little respect. While it’s true that we can’t live without food, it’s equally certain that we need beauty to live well. Anna Pavord, a gardener who plants sweet peas with her cabbage, understands this very well. The author of “Bulb” and “The Tulip” has collected in THE CURIOUS GARDENER (Bloomsbury, $35) selections from 20-odd years’ worth of essays published in the British newspaper The Independent. Let me lay my seed packets on the table: I am a Pavord groupie. Anyone who can look at a vase of tulips and offer a cogent explanation of world economic history has my devoted attention. She is intelligent, perceptive and well informed, writes gracefully and has a dry, sly wit. The introduction to this collection provides a tantalizing glimpse into Pavord’s development as a gardener. As a newlywed, she lived on a boat equipped with an Aga stove — it’s a wonder the vessel didn’t sink — and it was only when she had small children that she began to retreat to the vegetable patch for a few moments of peace. It took her years to get the point: “Gardening was not necessarily about an end result. The doing was what mattered.” By the time she decided to sell the rectory in which she had lived for 35
years, her library was crammed with a thousand gardening books. Her own garden had been a source of inspiration, and the day of the move was wrenching. “I thanked the garden for all that I had learned from it. I laid my cheek against the moss of the courtyard wall.” This small bit of introductory memoir was so delightful that I was dismayed, on moving to the main text, to ﬁnd myself abruptly plunged into a set piece on horticultural horoscopes, followed by a column on the seeds Pavord intends to sow this January — but which January is “this” January? Annoyingly, the articles are undated, as if to trick us into acknowledging their timelessness. But I want to know what era Pavord is referring to as “the year of the casserole,” and when exactly she was exclaiming about “the torrents of apocalyptic prose and images of gas masks and underground bunkers that have ﬁlled our papers over the last few weeks.” Undeterred, I plowed on, conﬁdent in her ability to unearth gems no matter what subject she tackled, whether it’s the value of working in your husband’s cast-off coats, with their multitudes of pockets, or why she lost interest in red roses after a trip to Ecuador, where native ﬂowers were being bulldozed to make room for yet more commercial rose beds. Every once in a while I prised out another nugget about Pavord’s creature habits. I had imagined her as somewhat prim (was it the rectory?), so I was glad to discover, in an essay called “Slow Gardening,” that driving home on the motorway she storms past Stonehenge “with Eric Clapton pounding in my ears.” Pavord’s preparations for her daughters’ weddings are engagingly nerve-racking, even if “you have to work hard to spoil a small Norman church with Saxon underpinnings and a 16th-century wall painting above the chancel arch.”
It may, of course, be difﬁcult for an American gardener to apply some of Pavord’s hard-won knowledge. Then again, I have yet to meet an American gardener who doesn’t harbor, in some unbuttoned vest pocket, a seedling of Anglophilia. Useful or not, Pavord’s writing affords a cozy afﬁnity by association. To truly understand how a garden can be a way of life, love and sustenance, dip into THE VIEW FROM GREAT DIXTER: Christopher Lloyd’s Garden Legacy (Timber Press, $27.95). The garden at Great Dixter is one of the world’s treasures, and these reminiscences from Lloyd’s friends and family capture the sensual pleasures of daily life in his great timbered home — ﬁlled with savory meals, Scotch and Champagne, ﬁne needlework, lovely ﬂower arrangements and handcrafted furniture. Lloyd, a marvelous and inﬂuential writer, died in 2006, but his 15th-century manor house, renovated by Sir Edwin Lutyens, still teems with life. And the garden, under the sensitive and idiosyncratic eye of Fergus Garrett, remains true to Lloyd’s legacy. This book will enthrall you until it’s time to make your own pilgrimage to East Sussex. I’ve never met a Francophile farmer, and I wonder why not? Surely thoughts of the potagers at Château Villandry could transform the way we grow eggplants. But I did spot a penchant for things French in an excellent collection by Paula Deitz, OF GARDENS (University of Pennsylvania, $29.95), which brings together essays written over the past 30 years for The New York Times, Design Quarterly, Hortus and Gardens Illustrated, among other publications. Deitz’s work is not about her own gardens (though her perspective is a personal one) but about public and private gardens worldwide. Her reﬁned, sophisticated and genteel personality shines through wherever she alights, and
she has a solid mastery of garden scholarship. She remains in the background, writing in a green shade, but every once in a while a glimmer of sunshine catches her in a reverie. “Whenever I sit down for a cozy reread of a favorite book, invariably a few dry but still brightly colored pressed leaves spill from its pages into my lap,” begins an essay about autumn in New England. In many of these essays, Deitz reports on the creation of a new landscape, giving the reader a sense of the personality of its designer. Rachel Lambert (Bunny) Mellon talks about the completion of her handsome garden library in Virginia, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, noting that even the interior ﬁttings of the building “relate to the earth: clay tiles, hand-woven linen, and the wood is from our own trees.” Dan Kiley, the modernist designer of the grounds at Rockefeller University along the East River in New York, reminisces about being a free-spirited student abroad, when his aesthetic sensibilities were shaped and “crazy things would happen to me.” Reporting on the construction of the garden at the I.B.M. Plaza in Manhattan in 1981, Deitz describes ﬂatbed trucks hauling huge trusses through city streets — trafﬁc lights were removed for clearance — to build the four-story greenhouse that would protect groves of bamboo. After reading Deitz’s essay, I was inspired to revisit that park, and my appreciation of it was enhanced. There aren’t many garden books that can change your perceptions so subtly but forcefully; this one belongs in the library of every serious student of design. Remember Bunny Mellon in her Virginia library? “She shapes the terrain and uses trees as sculpture” on her own impressive grounds, Deitz tells us. And “trees are the bones of her garden.” They ought to be the bones of your garden too. If you’re intimidated by the thought of what might appear on the ﬂatbed truck delivering your holiday presents, ask Santa to stuff into a rather large stocking a handsome guide by Allen J. Coombes called THE BOOK OF LEAVES (University of Chicago, $55). The leaves in question are reproduced full size, comically dwarﬁng the fuzzy gray sketches of the actual trees, and the notes are thin gruel. But you get the idea. On further reﬂection, this may be a book for those who can’t see the forest for the trees, or even the trees for the leaves. The oaks alone will occupy you for days. At least you’ll know what tree you were sitting under the last time you read “Portrait of a Lady.” More useful, and gorgeous to boot, is the revised edition of Hugh Johnson’s WORLD OF TREES (University of California, $34.95). Here too the oaks are in plentiful supply — tell me how to resist
Continues on page 18
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Comes from page 17 a man who begins that discussion with Pliny and Oliver Wendell Holmes? Johnson isn’t afraid of raptures: “The tendency to keep their leaves late in the season, dead or alive, is clearly an oak family trait. The oaks as a whole give the impression that evergreenery is never very far away.” Internationally known for his wine books, Johnson has clearly imbibed a deep knowledge of the stuff of which the ﬁnest barrels themselves are wrought. This lavish and soulful (now that’s an excellent pairing!) book will have you dreaming of strawberry trees and dove trees and fringe trees. If you can’t buy your love a tree, at least buy her the trees that died for this book. Evergreenery will not be far away. For those of us who are attached to our raised beds, SOIL MATES: Companion Planting for Your Vegetable Garden (Quirk Books, $16.95), by Sara Alway, is highly useful. However, be forewarned: cute phrases are slathered like cream cheese on bagels. Someone developed a fatal attraction for headings like “Love Match,” “Turn-Ons” and “Love Triangles.” All that’s missing from this breathy Cosmo garden style are headlines like “Zucchinis: Six Ways to Make Them Last Longer.” Just as white looks brighter if there’s a spot of black nearby, so too is beauty enhanced by a touch of vulgarity. I heartily recommend Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross’s BIZARRE BOTANICALS: How to Grow String-of-Hearts, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Panda Ginger, and Other Weird and Wonderful Plants (Timber Press, $24.95), which comes complete with seductive photographs and a lighthearted but substantive text. Many of these zany marvels are better suited to greenhouses, so don’t get carried away. You can’t invite polite company to tea if you stuff your conser-
vatory with Amorphophallus titanum. Matthew Levesque’s REVOLUTIONARY YARDSCAPE: Ideas for Repurposing Local Materials to Create Containers, Pathways, Lighting, and More (Timber Press, paper, $22.95) is a provocative book that will thrill anyone whose ideal venue for window-shopping is the transfer station (a k a the dump). Shards of tumbled dishware may have more appeal than garden-variety gravel. And bollards, normally used to protect buildings from cars, also make perfect hose guides, though a fence of reclaimed ﬂue bafﬂes looks fairly menacing. Well, an artist has to stretch — and Levesque does so with aplomb. The cage light ﬁxture made of hog wire, containing glass shades girdled with plumbing hubs, is the coup de grâce. If you weren’t already convinced by your own backbreaking labor, Paula Deitz’s investigations into the roots of our modern gardens leave no question about how much work goes into their planting and cultivation. It made me grumpy, then, to ﬁnd an off-putting passage at the end of Kristin Kimball’s otherwise appealing memoir, THE DIRTY LIFE: On Farming, Food, and Love (Scribner, $25). “In my retirement, I just want to be a simple farmer,” says a new neighbor of Kimball’s, explaining that he’s in search of tranquility. “What you really want is a garden,” Kimball thinks to herself. “A very, very small one. . . . Tranquil and simple are two things farming is not. Nor is it lucrative, stable, safe or easy.” Harrumph. Whether they’ve got large plots or small, most gardeners have plenty of blisters to show for their labors. But let’s not squabble. Kimball’s story of leaving behind the freelance writer’s life in New York City when she falls in love with the subject of an article on small farms has a hip “Little House adopts com-
munity-supported agriculture” feel. Her modern fairy tale features a hard-working vegetarian single girl from the city who is secretly lonely and unfulﬁlled: “The word home could make me cry. I wanted one. With a man.” Despite the fellow’s setting up a compost toilet in the middle of the living room, she falls hard. And even becomes a meat eater. Luckily for the reader, Kimball has a lusty appetite, and her memoir is as much a celebration of food as it is of farming. Kimball’s soon-to-be-husband, Mark, is an incredible cook. (Sorry, though, no recipes. Maybe in the iPad version.) Kimball falls in love over a dish of sautéed deer liver. She and Mark bond over a winter meal of broiled pigeon. Iceﬁsh chowder is thickened with yellow cream from the morning’s milking. Black pudding is a treat after a pig slaughter. Kimball’s husband is engaging,
sturdy and compassionate. He doesn’t follow national news (only local counts) and abhors plastic. He takes Kimball’s surname when they marry and is otherwise unidentiﬁed. (Though there’s a gratingly coy reference to ﬁnding, in an old barn, blueprints of New York high rises designed by his grandfather.) Mark is the kind of person — would there were more of them — who “thought about the effects of every quotidian decision.” His farm is a response to “the impoverished lives, loss of rural culture, and environmental degradation . . . tied to the world’s accelerating cycle of production and consumption.” Mark gives Kimball’s book — and their farm — its ballast. He develops a novel “whole-diet” form of community-supported agriculture in which people subscribe to buy shares of everything from meat to grains to fruits and vegetables. All grown using no fossil fuels: the heavy work is done by draft horses. As Kimball loses her cool attitude in the round of daily chores, her writing acquires a lilting softness. When a new cow arrives, “the dark smell of her manure mingled with the green, fermented smell of cow breath and the dry and dusty smell of the hay, and the old barn that had slept so long without a living thing to shelter was awake again, alive with its purpose. The ﬁrst time I milked her, I was almost embarrassed by the intimacy of it.” Of course, it’s now necessary for all young farmer-writers to kill an animal in public, and Kimball steps up to take her turn behind Jana and Suri, two 50-ish women who once lived on a commune. They light a bundle of sage and wave it around, and before Jana lays the chicken on a tree stump, she cradles it in her arms “like a baby.” “Thank you, Chicken,” she intones. “Now let your spirit ﬂy up, up to Father Sun.” “Sorry about this,” Kimball responds, wielding her hatchet. “Whack.” I laughed, but maybe you had to be there. I’d like to be, well . . . not quite there, but nestled close by, tending my roses and subscribing to this wholesome way of bringing home the bacon and eggs.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
New York Times Editorial Still Digging By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
iven where we are, this tax-cut deal with the Republicans is the best President Obama could do since raising taxes in a recession would not have been a good idea and the Republicans had the votes to prevent it. But given where we need to go, this deal is just another shot of morphine to a country that needs to do things that are big and hard and still only wants to do things that are easy and small. It still feels to me as though we’re splitting the difference between the two parties, not making a difference for the country as a whole. America reminds me of a working couple where the husband has just lost his job, they have two kids in junior high school, a mortgage and maxed out on their credit cards. They recently agreed to take in their troubled cousin, Kabul, who just can’t get his act together and keeps bouncing from relative to relative. Meanwhile, their Indian nanny, who traded room and board for baby-sitting, just got accepted
to M.I.T. on a full scholarship and will be leaving them in a few months. One strategy would be to hunker down, don’t spend a dime on anything other than food, the mortgage and paying off their credit card debts. Another strategy would be to borrow against their life insurance policies to make up for the loss of income, keep living like they’re living, and hope that the husband’s job comes back before his unemployment checks run out. A third strategy — the right one — would be to tell themselves: “You know, we’re in a totally new situation. Dad’s job isn’t coming back. If we want a better future, we need a plan to cut, save and invest all at the same time, and as wisely as we possibly can, because we’ve got no more cushion. Instead of Disney World this year, we’ll go camping in the state park and use those savings so that dad can go back and get a master’s degree. After all, unemployment among the college-educated is only around 5 percent. We’re also going to give up buying any
new gadgets, cellphone apps or video games and use those savings to pay for extra tutoring in physics and violin for our boys. We’re going to tell cousin Kabul he needs to get a job, move into his own place and stand on his own two feet.” Bartlett offered no thoughts as to how these budget-busting tax cuts will address our country’s deﬁciencies today — just a high-ﬁve that in the politics of sports, the G.O.P. just scored a goal on Obama. We don’t seem to realize: We’re in a hole and still digging. Our educational attainment levels are stagnating; our infrastructure is fraying. We don’t have enough smart incentives to foster both innovation and manufacturing; we’re not importing enough talent in an age when we have to compete for jobs with low-wage but high-skilled Indians and Chinese — and we’re still piling up debt. Responding to all this will require a whole new hybrid politics for where to cut, where to save, where to invest, where to tax and where to untax. Shaping that new
politics is a revolutionary role I still hope President Obama will play. International education experts were stunned by the fact that students in Shanghai outscored their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of the widely respected Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, tests, which measure learning by 15-year-old students in 65 countries. Yes, Shanghai represents the best of China, but the best of China is now scoring better than anywhere else in the world. America’s 15-year-olds ranked 14th in reading skills, 17th in science and 25th in math, below the average. Economics is not war. It can be winwin, so it’s good for the world if China is doing better. But it can’t be good for America if every time we come to a hard choice we borrow more money from a country that is not just out-saving and out-hustling us, but is also starting to outeducate us. We need a plan.
Where Are the Financial Crisis Prosecutions? BY JESSE EISINGER
ou may have noticed that prosecutors are in a white-collar slump lately. The stock options backdating prosecutions have largely been a bust, not because it wasn’t a true scandal. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department investigated more than 100 companies. Over a hundred took accounting restatements. Yet only a handful of executives went to prison, with some high-proﬁle cases ﬁzzling out. Prosecutors also stumbled in other high priority corporate fraud prosecutions, like the KPMG tax shelter and the stock-exchange specialists cases. The most spectacular prosecutorial
ﬂameout was the case against the Bear Stearns hedge fund managers. The consequences of that disaster are still reverberating. The United States attorney’s ofﬁce rushed to haul low-level executives in front of a jury based on a few incriminating emails. The defense was easily able to convince jurors these represented only out-of-context glimpses of fear as markets swooned, not a conspiracy to mislead. Now we have the insider trading scandal. The storyline is that Wall Street now lives in fear. Hedge fund managers’ phones might be tapped, any stray remark is suspect, and old trades are being exhumed so that the entrails can be examined. In fact, plenty of folks on Wall Street are happy about the investigation.
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A scant few — the ones with clean consciences — like the idea that the world of special access to favorable tips is being cleaned up. But others are pleased for a different reason: They realize the investigation is a sideshow. All the hype carries an air of defensiveness. Everyone is wondering: Where are the investigations related to the ﬁnancial crisis? Nobody from Lehman, Merrill Lynch or Citigroup has been charged criminally with anything. No top executives at Bear Stearns have been indicted. All former American International Group executives are running free. No big mortgage company executive has had to face the law. How about someone other than the Fabulous Fab at Goldman Sachs? How could the Securities and Exchange Commission merely settle with Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo — and for a fraction of what he made as C.E.O.? The common explanation from lawyers. It’s complicated to make criminal cases in corporate fraud. Getting a case that shows the wrong-doer acted with intent — and proving it to a jury — is difﬁcult. Enron was complicated too, and prosecutors got the big boys. Ken Lay was found guilty (he died before he served his time). Jeff Skilling is in prison now, though the end result was bittersweet for
prosecutors when much of his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. WorldCom’s Bernie Ebbers and Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski are wearing stripes. It takes time to investigate complicated cases. Many people think the S.E.C,., will bring some charges against executives at Lehman Brothers. The huge, ground-breaking special examiner’s report on Lehman Brothers laid bare problems with Lehman’s accounting. That report came out on a bank that blew up more than two years ago. The popular reason offered for the dearth of ﬁnancial crisis prosecutions is the 100-year ﬂood excuse: The banking system was hit by a systemic and unforeseeable disaster, as unpleasant as it may be to laymen, it’s unlikely that anyone committed any crimes. Acting stupidly and recklessly is no crime. Just as it’s clear that not all bankers were guilty of crimes in the lead-up to the crisis, it strains credulity to contend no one was. Corporate crime is usually the act of desperate people who have initially made relatively innocent mistakes and then seek to cover them up. Some banks went down innocently. Surely some housed bad actors who broke laws. As a society, we have the bankers we deserve. Sadly, it’s looking like we have the regulators and prosecutors we deserve, too.
20 December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weeekly
LETTERS Thinly Veiled Tyranny The Puerto Rico Police are at war with the people of Puerto Rico, a shooting and killing war, as we’ve witnessed. But aren’t they there to safeguard us? Weren’t those fearsome thick-featured toughs meant to be on our side? Shouldn’t their presence signal protection rather than peril? No. In a non-democracy police enforce control by a corrupt oligarchy upon the hapless masses. You’re supposed to be afraid of cops here. You’re the enemy. The narcotrafﬁckers are the business colleagues of the politicians---why do you think the Legislature won’t medicalize dope?---and the dayto-day workmates of police operatives, as you just saw on TV. But some of you live in denial. You rant that we’re very bit the American democracy. But take a peek at reality. Public education is kept garbage dump here. And no public libraries. And absurdly dumbeddown media under the pen of the moneyed, watch local TV and see your IQ drop. You’ll never catch a letter like this one in the Spanish-language press. Why do you think not? Though last week a full newspaper headline announced that one farándula vixen called another “an animal with a ﬁrecracker up her rear.” How can people vote meaningfully if they can’t see beyond the tips of their noses? Jefferson and Marx in their respective centuries agreed democracy isn’t possible without an educated electorate, an insight our pols have reverse-engineered. And then the media tell you what to think, not how to, mind-control can be simplicity itself. Then obviate democracy by caucusing behing closed doors to come up wtih fait-accomplis legislation and now pack the Supreme Court and is there anything left of democracy? Meanwhile drugs and crime thrive through the decades. As they’re meant to. Might the guardias murder your children? Keep your ﬁngers crossed. Or move to Montehiedra. Eleuterio Serpieri , Santurce
Twilight of Plutocracy Capitalism’s claim to virtue is its efﬁciency. But is that so? While the automobile, would’ve been Adam Smith’s pet, gets you wherever, the expense of it, plus the road and parking capacity all over a city and the repairs and the trafﬁc policing render it the crown boondoggle. It’s only mass transit that makes any sense economically. But that’s socialism. Your health is unpredictable. So you can’t plan ahead, the swings of medical probability are inexorable. And doctors/hospitals/insurers are out to bilk you, a safety net not in your wildest dreams intended. Only socialized medicine works. Again free enterprise can’t hack it. Education is what assures a nation’s competiti-
veness and prosperity. In a pay-as-you-go socioeconomy, those who need it most get it least, which perpetuates underdevelopment, meaning poverty, drugs and crime. Worldwide adequacy of public schooling and per capital GNP correlate dramatically. Early in the 20th century socialism got off on the wrong foot. Marx and Engels had bastions of democracy like Britain and France in mind, certainly not a feudal backwater like Russia nor a hyperanthill like China, no one had ﬁgured out how such nations might go about getting socialism right. So the mess encountered drove Stalin and Mao into dictatorship. And when you’ve made yourself dictator, how do you step down? Gorbachev tried and brought everything asunder with him. But let’s talk about second chances. Chinese might fumble their way toward democracy, having socialized the basics is working for Europe and the US voted Obama in. And an outback like Puerto Rico ought to eventually catch up. Agustin Manzano, Santurce
NPP Moving on UPR The boldness of the plutocratic Fortuño tyranny is gut-wrenching. Shaggy puppy Ygrís Rivera just announced, in so many words, the sale and subsequent gentriﬁcation of the University of Puerto Rico. She said campuses “will be shuttered” upon the imminent January student strike she’s done so much to make happen. We’re surely the last place on earth where higher education is best deemed marketplace chattel. Anita Roig, Santurce
Posse Comitatus At the Capitol police beatings the media tasted blood when that cop pulled out his gun. He’d shoot a few students and they’d have a scoop. Just like Antonia Martínez and Cerro Maravilla, only now they’d get it live. Wow! Trouble was Figueroa Sancha was there and had the fellow disarmed and reminded him that you don’t murder people in front of TV cameras. Even if we are in Puerto Rico. Bummer. But have faith. Soon enough Altamira happened. Cop shot that athlete. If you wander around the scene of a crime you can expect a bullet or two. TV and the press let stuff like that slide if they can’t get it in the ﬂesh, but well, they were still licking their Puerta de Tierra wounds. And so soon after, the public was inﬂamed, so it promised to be a media spectacular, I mean, families crying on the suppertime news and the witnesses and the autopsy. Vicious! But again Sancha Figueroa pre-empted and charged the cop with murder 2. The media were broadsided, the police didn’t cover up this time. But now that everybody’s looking the other way, you know they’re getting him off. Like politicians cops aren’t as dumb as they seem. The way they handled Antonia Martínez was they accused somebody that didn’t do it and that exhausted
everybody and no one got nailed. Clever. Honest Luis Ferré was governor. And Cerro Maravilla would never have been found out, had the populares not taken over the Senate and been spoiling for Romero’s hide. But then they had a chance to nab Antonia Martínez’s murderer, when testimony on something else wandered into how the police handled that mischief. But it all was too much trouble for Hernández Agosto and the other inquisitors, who didn’t see much political payoff to it. Casiopeia Martínez, San Juan
Feds in the Flesh: a Far Cry from TV To FBI Director Luis Fraticelli: In 1776 George Washington was a national hero only to a cabal of seditious colonials. If the Redcoats had captured him, he would’ve hung ignominiously as the traitor scum that to respectable people he was. The Colonies, after all, weren’t represented in London because, unlike everybody else in the realm, they were self-governing. How could there be representation---taxation or not--when communication between represented and representatives took up to two months? And while the Colonies were prosperous, a continent lay before them, they were expensive to defend. The Empire was at war with France, Spain and the Netherlands. How could British subjects not get taxed? So George Washington, had he any honor, would’ve gone down ﬁghting. Filiberto Ojeda didn’t “make the wrong decision” like you rant. You made the wrong decision. You made a martyr out of him. How stupid of you. Ana Montes, Las Lomas
Thou Shalt Not Kill The Pope has ﬁnally noticed condoms save lives. A bit tardy for us. In 1988, 25,000 deaths ago, Cardinal Aponte Martínez upbraided Gov. Hernández Colón for authorizing public-high schoolers to be instructed in their use. “As a Catholic, the Governor knows use of condoms is not allowed by the Church for any purpose,” voiced the man over the media. Amanda Borrero, Altamira
I Smell a Rat A fellow got booted from the Legislature for corruption. That’s like being expelled from the Nazi Party for anit-Semitism. Something else is brewing around this guy in there. Might not our media embark on some investigative journalism and dig up what it is? Guillaumette Tyler, Puerta de Tierra
The San Juan Weeekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
LETTERS DON’T CAP Medical Malpractice CAP outrageous doctor fees. CAP the confusing and never-ending schedules, procedures, rules and regulations, that drive you nuts, particularly the HIPAA, all the aggravation you don’t need when you’re not feeling so good. CAP number of visits required for the same thing. CAP number of patients cooped up in the doctor’s ofﬁce, waiting all morning to be seen, sharing all their germs, to the physician’s eventual proﬁt. CAP insurer deductables, exclusions, exemptions and maximums. CAP uninsureable medical moneymakers injurious long-term: growth-hormone therapy, botox, corneal ctups, liposuction, esophageal ligation and sex-change surgery. Jackson Winters, Isla Verde
Ignorance as Oppression To Robert McCarroll: You don’t ﬁnally comprehend that uneducation is the cage the politicians and the wealthy who own them keep Puerto Rican minds in. Mastering English usually means to become educated. And when you do that you don’t settle for minimum wage anymore. And you see through the lies of the politicians and you don’t vote for them, unless you’re lying along with them. In our time privilege is not only maintained by owning land or factories. Knowledge is increasingly marketable. So those who have don’t want others to get it. English included. In the age of the Internet, at the threshold of highest-tech communications ever, you’d expect learning to be a its most efﬁcient and cheapest, yet what’s charged only goes up, it’s entry into the oligarchy what you’re paying for, what you can’t afford rather. Samaria Salcedo, Caparra Heights
point, which is that we are living in times that try men’s souls and confuse the minds. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the tortured history of our Nation does not preclude barbarians from aspiring to be civilized. Non scholars need not delve into ancient tomes of Colonial History or into Frederic Jackson Turner’s classic text that depicts 19th century Westward Movement to learn that the abominable behavior of a few never did (and never will) deprive the majority of their right to aspire whatever rights they seek. A Google search will do just ﬁne. Ed Martinez, San Juan
Tyrants & Patriots Ed Martínez writes in to comment on my letter. Among other things, he mentions, “Today I hear about an obviously deranged man who was running around naked, arrested, tasered four times, the last while sitting at the police station. A day after, the man died and the cops are blaming it on drugs.” He’s noticed the Puerto Rico Police tortured and murdered an inﬁrm citizen. Yet he’s not outraged, not even surprised, merely amused, he buttresses his point with it. A cruel and brutal government is hardly a trivial matter. Up north, a couple of centuries ago thirteen farming British colonies wouldn’t kowtow to that sort of affair. And they deﬁed the Empire where the sun never set. And won. And went on to bring forth the greatest nation humankind has ever countenanced, though not without our share of foolishness, shortcomings and transgressions. Puerto Rico hardly holds holy the values evinced by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence or those in our Bill of Rights. You have no business ever joining the American Republic. Bob Harris, Condado
Atonement To Ygrís Rivera: You’re uniquely situated. But rather than work things out, you’re leading a body of angry and desperate students and a cruel and brutal administration toward a collision course. The blood spilled will be on your hands. Ana Badillo, Hato Rey
The Whole World is Bloodshed -- Not Just Commonwealth. I must apologize for not having made myself clear that in a prior letter my description of a death resulting from taser abuse in a police station came from a incident in the States, not in P.R. Furthermore, never did I treat the incident as a trivial matter. Of course I am outraged but that is besides the
English-language “The San Juan Weekly” on internet The following comments are from a statement, “About Us,” from The San Juan Weekly: The San Juan Weekly is the only English-language weekly newspaper with a variety of topics of general interest. From news and business to social, art, culture and entertainment, beauty and pets, among others. In addition to its distribution outlets, the San Juan Weekly is distributed door to door, at trafﬁc lights and at other strategic points ensuring it gets more and more quickly to the readers. The newspaper is distributed door to door in selected neighborhoods, reaching a strategic market, mostly high-powered decision-making and purchasing. San Juan Weekly is distributed throughout Puerto Rico, focusing mostly in the Metro Area. In a short time it has become a favorite of this select audience. We wish The San Juan Weekly” luck and lots of success with their online edition. We expect many excellent stories which we will want to feature on Puerto Rico News - Topix as we now cover from two other great English-language publications: Puerto Rico Daily Sun and Caribbean Business. -- Upfront Yankee Open above link for new website of The San Juan Weekly. Robert McCarrol
Wrath of a Tyrant To Gov. Fortuño: How many UPR students do your police intend to murder? Last time was a close call, now the stakes are higest. Your riot squaders will have more to brag over the Internet about than merely inﬂicting pain. They’ll have spilled blood. Carrutha Harris, Puerta de Tierra
Air conditioning is left on overnight at the UPR. And over weekends. And all through Christmas recess, the whole month of it. Bureaucrats mumble it because otherwise some fungus might grow on the carpets. Now why is all the inside lighting left on as well?
UPR student activists are veritable heroes. The penepeísta Endlosung, after all, will take a generation. They won’t suffer the brunt of it. It’s you who have the little tykes or grandtykes who’ll see your young disenfranchised in a Puerto Rico that’ll look a lot like the Dominican Republic. Unless, natch, you’re a Milla de Oro/Montehiedra denizen, in which case your family’s perks as lords of the manor shall no longer be perturbed by the squeals of the riff-raff.
Miguel Estrada, Caparra Heights
Ayla Bond, Miramar
It’s Only Money
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Braised Lamb Ribs With Lentils INGREDIENTS • 2 pounds meaty lamb ribs • 2 cups (12 ounces) lentils • 1 large onion, chopped • 1 large carrot, scraped and diced • 1 can tomatoes, drained and chopped • 1 large clove garlic, minced • 3 to 4 cups water • 1 bay leaf • 1 teaspoon thyme • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper • Vinegar, optional and to taste PREPARATION 1. Cut lamb ribs apart and trim off heavy excess fat. With meat cleaver or sharp knife, cut each rib across into thirds so each piece is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. 2. Wash lentils and pick over but do not soak. 3. Place lamb ribs in cold skillet and gradually heat until they are frying and fat melts. Turn frequently so all sides brown.
4. When lamb is golden brown on all sides, remove to 2-quart casserole or stew pot. Add onion and carrot to hot lamb fat in skillet and saute over moderate heat until golden brown. Stir in tomatoes and liquid, bring to boil and scrape in coagulated pan juices with wooden spatula. Pour over ribs in casserole. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper and 2 cups water. 5. Bring to boil, then gently stir in lentils. Add enough additional boiling water to come just to level of lentils. Bring to boil, cover, reduce to simmer and cook steadily but gently for about 2 hours or until lentils and lamb are tender. Add boiling water as needed during cooking and stir gently every half-hour or so. 6. Adjust seasonings, adding a few drops of vinegar if you like. 7. This can be served with rice. One cup of raw rice cooked in boiling salted water will be about right. YIELD 4 servings
French Onion Soup INGREDIENTS • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter • 3 pounds yellow onions (about 6 medium), peeled and thinly sliced • 5 cups beef broth, preferably homemade • 1/2 cup apple juice • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste • Freshly ground pepper to taste • 1 tablespoon Cognac • 8 to 12 1/4-inch-thick slices French baguette, depending on the diameter of the loaf • 1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated PREPARATION 1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the
onions and cook, stirring often, until caramelized and very soft, about 30 minutes. Place in a large saucepan. Add the broth, apple juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the Cognac. Taste, and add more salt, if needed. 2. Just before serving, preheat the broiler. Reheat the soup if necessary, and ladle into 4 large ovenproof bowls. Cover each with the bread, sprinkle with cheese and broil until melted and just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and serve immediately. YIELD Four servings
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Quick and Easy Pastas By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
ears ago, I stayed with an Italian friend in Bologna who worked long hours at his job. By the time he got home, he was hungry, so he’d start water boiling and cast about his tiny kitchen to see what he could use for dinner.
Then, to my fascination, he’d whip up a delicious pasta sauce from almost nothing: a few anchovies and some walnuts, or a can of tuna and another of beans. Yesterday’s bread became today’s bread crumbs, browned in olive oil with garlic and tossed with spaghetti, olives, capers and jarred tomato purée.
Important to any home kitchen, I realized, is a varied pantry, a place where you can always pull together the essentials for a meal. These days, my pantry is more than just a cupboard. In the freezer, I keep peas and edamame, as well as nuts of all kinds and bread crumbs. In the refrigerator, I always have feta, goat
cheese, Parmesan and often pecorino or another hard cheese. Lemons are helpful, too, as is ﬂat-leaf parsley. These ingredients are particularly useful for pasta. As you’ll see this week, the sauces made with them take no more time than it takes to heat the pasta water.
tely with the pepper mixture in the pan. Serve. Yield: Serves four. Advance preparation: You can make this through Step 1 several hours before you wish to serve it. Add the basil and cheese only when you reheat it.
Nutritional information per serving: 478 calories; 16 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 22 milligrams cholesterol; 65 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary ﬁber; 110 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 17 grams protein
Pasta With Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese
try to keep a jar of roasted peppers handy at all times. They’re useful for panini, pizzas and especially pastas like this one. Spanish piquillo peppers are particularly sweet, but bell peppers will do as well. If you have basil, it’s delicious in this dish — but not required. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup thinly sliced roasted sweet red peppers Salt and freshly ground pepper 4 large basil leaves, cut in slivers (chiffonade) (optional) 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 3/4 pound pasta, any shape 1. Bring a large pot of water
to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sliced roasted peppers, and stir together for about a minute until well infused with the oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the basil (if using) and goat cheese. Remove from the heat. 2. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook until al dente — ﬁrm to the bite — following the recommendations on the package. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water into the frying pan, and stir well so that the goat cheese begins to melt. Drain the pasta, and toss immedia-
Pasta With Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
f you don’t grow your own herbs, I suggest that you buy a bunch of parsley along with basil or chives to keep on hand in your refrigerator.
The herbs will keep for a week if properly stored. Produce departments often use misters, a practice that drives me crazy because leafy greens don’t keep well once wet. So when you get
home, spin the herbs in salad spinner if they’re wet, wrap them in a paper towel and then bag them. 1/2 cup ﬁnely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, tarragon, mint and chives Zest of 1 organic lemon, ﬁnely chopped 1 garlic clove, ﬁnely minced 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Salt to taste 3/4 pound pasta, any type 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino 1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or pasta bowl, combine the herbs, lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. 2. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pas-
ta. Follow the cooking instructions on the package, but check the pasta a minute before the indicated time. A few minutes before the pasta is done, add the peas to the water. When the pasta is just about al dente, remove a half cup of the cooking water and add to the bowl with the herbs. Drain the pasta and peas, toss with the herb mixture and the cheese, and serve. Yield: Serves four. Advance preparation: The herbs can be chopped several hours ahead, but don’t combine the ingredients until you’ve put the water on for the pasta. Nutritional information per serving: 460 calories; 13 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 70 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary ﬁber; 123 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 15 grams protein
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Spaghetti With Walnuts and Anchovies By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
his is a pared-down version of a recipe that I came across in Nancy Jenkins’s informative book on Southern Italian food, “Cucina del Sole.” The dish is traditionally part of a meatless Christmas Eve dinner. If you can ﬁnd freshly harvested walnuts, they’ll make this pasta even better.
Pasta With Tomatoes, Capers, Olives and Breadcrumbs By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
read crumbs, crisped in olive oil with garlic, make a ﬂavorful addition to just about any pasta. Make your own bread crumbs if you’ve got bread that’s drying out, and keep them in the freezer. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 3 garlic cloves, 2 sliced, 1 minced 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper ﬂakes 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped 1/2 cup green or black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (2 ounces) Salt and freshly ground pepper 3/4 pound spaghetti, preferably a good whole-wheat brand 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional) 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional) 1. Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the
sliced garlic over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan or skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic turns golden, about two minutes. Do not let it take on any more color than this. Remove the garlic slices with a slotted spoon and discard, then add the bread crumbs to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until the bread crumbs are crisp. Remove from the heat, and set aside. 2. Return the pan to medium heat, and add the remaining olive oil, the red pepper ﬂakes and the minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds until the garlic smells fragrant, and add the tomatoes, capers and olives. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 3. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the spaghetti. Cook al dente, following the cooking recommendations on the package but checking about a minute before the suggested time. Drain, and toss with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and parsley on top, toss again brieﬂy and serve, passing the Parmesan at the table. Yield: Serves four.
1/2 cup shelled walnuts (2 ounces) 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 3 garlic cloves, minced 4 anchovy ﬁllets, coarsely chopped 3/4 pound spaghetti 1/4 cup minced ﬂat-leaf parsley freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino (optional) 1. Begin heating a large pot of water over high heat. Meanwhile, lightly toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven for just a few minutes until fragrant, or in a pan over mediumhigh heat, stirring constantly. When the walnuts smell like they’re beginning to toast, remove them from the heat and transfer to a clean dish towel. Wrap them in the towel, and rub between your hands to remove some of the papery shells. Chop the nuts medium-ﬁne, and set aside. 2. In a wide, heavy skillet or saucepan large enough to accommodate the co-
oked spaghetti, heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until it begins to sizzle, and add the anchovies. Cook, mashing the anchovies with the back of your spoon or with a fork, for about 30 seconds until they begin to fall apart and melt into the oil. Add the walnuts, stir together for about a minute and remove from the heat. 3. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the spaghetti. Cook al dente, following the timing recommendations on the package but checking about a minute before the indicated time. When the pasta is almost done, add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pan with the walnuts and anchovies, and reheat over medium heat. 4. When the pasta is ready, drain and toss with the walnut and anchovy mixture. Add the parsley, adjust salt if necessary and add pepper. Serve, passing the pecorino at the table. Yield: Serves four.
and stir together until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes with juice and a pinch of sugar. Raise the heat slightly, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are bubbling vigorously. Lower the heat to medium-low, and cook gently, stirring and mashing the tomatoes often with the back of your spoon until they have cooked down into a thick, fragrant sauce, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the beans and the herbs, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
3. When the pasta water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook al dente, following the recommendations on the package but checking about a minute before the indicated time. When the pasta is just about done, check to see if the tomato sauce seems dry. If so, add up to 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pan and stir. Drain the pasta, toss with the sauce and serve, passing the cheese for sprinkling. Yield: Serves four.
Pasta With Tomatoes and Beans By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
his pasta is one reason I always keep a few cans of tomatoes and cannellinis in my pantry. Beans contribute protein to this pasta, which makes a great vegan dish if you serve it without the cheese. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 small onion, ﬁnely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 4 sage leaves or basil leaves, cut in slivers (optional) 3/4 pound pasta, any shape 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional) 1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or saucepan. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about ﬁve minutes. Add the garlic,
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Enigmatic Origin of the Hopi Indians By Nina Makofsky, eHow Contributor
umbering under 7,000 people, the Hopi Indians endeavor to maintain the
customs they have held for centuries. Their stories, ceremonies, ancient language and traditional lifestyles have helped to sustain their villages, of which there are now 12. The Hopi people attract a great deal of outside interest, largely due to their spiritual beliefs which include a large number of deities, each of whom is honored with speciďŹ c rituals determined by the lunar calendar. 1. History 2. The Hopi people originate from the northeastern part of Arizona, in a region known as the Black Mesa. The Black Mesa consists of a ďŹ‚at-topped hill upon which the Hopi pueblos were built. One of the Hopi pueblos, called Oraibi, was ďŹ rst settled in 1050. Their language is complex and most closely resembles that of the Aztecs. In the Hopi
language, the name of their tribe means good, wise or peaceful. 3. Features 4. The main crop of the Hopi people was corn, of which they grew 24 types. Many Hopi recipes center upon corn, as well as beans, squash and hominy. Men were in charge of farming, as well as weaving textiles and conducting religious ceremonies, of which there were many. Women oversaw the household chores, cooked and wove baskets. The women owned the home as well as its surrounding land. 5. Types 6. In the contemporary age, Hopi Indians have fallen into two different types of groups. One group is concerned with maintaining Hopi traditions, including preserving
Continues on page 26
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Comes from page 25 their rites and rituals, as well as overseeing their ancient land. These Hopi Indians live on a reservation that is under their governance. The other group of Hopi Indians consists of those who have opened up their lives and interests to those outside the Hopi culture. These Hopi Indians embrace the conveniences of modern society, while often still embracing their customs. They live and work off of the reservation. 7. Signiﬁcance 8.Hopi people are renowned for their crafts. Most famous are the detailed kachina dolls. Although called dolls, they are basically religious icons that were carved from cottonwood root and then decorated to symbolize mythological ﬁgures. Hopi elders also use these ﬁgures as a teaching tool to pass on information about religion and folklore to children. Other Hopi crafts include earthenware ceramic pottery, sterling silver jewelry, traditional clothing and baskets. 9. Misconceptions
10. Misconceptions abound in the discussion of Hopi religion, largely due to the fact that spiritual beliefs and rituals are closely-guarded secrets, rarely shared with those outside the Hopi culture. Adding to the mystery is the fact that there is no written text for Hopi religion; rather, beliefs are sustained through the oral tradition. Journalists, tourists and other outsiders have attempted to exoticize Hopi culture and faith. For example, the Hopi belief in prophecy has been misappropriated and used by various religious cults. UFO theorists claim that Hopi lore predicts spaceships will transport them to other planets on the Day of Puriﬁcation.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Insurance and Trusts for Pets
By PAUL SULLIVAN
ets can calm fears, disperse depression and increase time spent outside exercising,” wrote Ellen Rice, a former wildlife biologist. “A very good investment indeed!” Tom Sklebar, another wildlife biologist, noted the fun he had with his dogs. “The companionship is priceless, as are the 30 or more days a year that we are out hunting game birds with our dogs.” As someone with two dogs and a cat, I would never discount the happiness they bring. But focus on the costs of ownership, and quantifying happiness is a tricky thing, particularly when paying for pet care may come at the expense of something else. The reality is that many people do not think of the responsibility ahead of time. Some ﬁve million to seven million animals end up in shelters annually, and three million to four million of them are euthanized, said Julie Morris, senior vice president for community outreach at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Ms. Morris said the reasons that pets end up in shelters varied widely but, she added, “There is a certain amount of people not
really thinking it through — the work, the consequences and the cost of pet ownership.” Some people simply abandon their animals. “We and our tenants have just adopted two horses which were left by their owner when she moved across the country — she just left them,” wrote Jan Sherrill, who raises alpacas. “We found out about them and brought them home. We have four horses already, but to us it wasn’t an option to leave these horses to die.” There were two ﬁnancial areas I should discuss: veterinary services and money to care for a pet if you die. CARE If there is one bogeyman, it is what veterinarians charge for care. Many readers complain that the costs are too high and attribute it to some combination of veterinarians’ salaries and the pet insurance industry. “I believe that one of the reasons that the cost of pet ownership is so high is that veterinary costs are high and part of the reason for this is inadequate consumer protections that drive up costs,” said David Burpee, a dog owner. He also questioned why veterinarians were able to proﬁt from selling the medicine they prescribe.
Costs may seem high, but that is not because the veterinarians are padding their bank accounts. The average salary is $91,000, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. A ﬁrst-year veterinarian earns an average of $71,462 and has an average of $133,873 in debt after eight years of postsecondary education. As for selling what they prescribe, David Kirkpatrick, a spokesman for the veterinary association, said, “Veterinarians are trying to provide the best care at one stop at a reasonable price that people can afford.” He acknowledged, though, that “there is some sticker shock when you talk about emergency visits.” But Diane McClure, a veterinarian and professor, said the bigger disconnect came from how people now view pets. “The role of animals in our lives has changed,” she said. “They used to be in the backyard, now they’re in your bed.” This, in turn, has resulted in an increased desire for top health care for those pets. But that comes at a price. “We haven’t done as good a job as we need to in communicating the value of veterinarian medicine,” Dr. McClure said. “We do care about pets, and that’s where it’s bled over. People think, ‘You care so you should do it for free.’ ” Pet insurance was the other issue that readers were upset about. In many cases, pet owners do not understand what is covered by a policy and end up frustrated. Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation’s largest provider, charges an average of $30 a month in premiums. But it has a list of procedures it does not cover, including, for example, a common hip ailment, and then it covers a set amount for the procedures it does insure. It pays $100 toward spaying or neutering a dog or cat, for example, which may not cover the full cost. “There is the responsibility that every policy holder has to know what’s on their policy,” said Grant Biniasz, a spokesman for V.P.I. “We also have a responsibility to
make sure they understand what’s on their policy.” One of its competitors, PurinaCare, has a different model. It prorates its premiums based on the cost of care where the pet lives. The premiums are higher, but then the insurance covers 60 to 80 percent of the cost of a procedure, depending on the plan. Regardless of the carrier, pet insurance will often not cover all costs. BEQUESTS A famous pet care story involves the $12 million trust that Leona Helmsley, the real estate heiress, left for her dog, Trouble. While it was later cut to $2 million, it has guaranteed the dog a ﬁne lifestyle. But setting up a trust is something anyone with a pet can do. On the surface, a trust for the care of a dog or horse is no different from a trust for a child or spouse. What matters is “donor intent” — that the wishes of the person setting up the trust are clearly described and carried out. The difﬁcult part can be enforcing those wishes. “We can easily send out a distribution for a child at camp, or a rehab center or a boarding school, and we pay it according to the terms of the trust,” said Lori Muhlenberg, senior vice president at National Penn Investors Trust Company. “We could get a bill for boarding 23 retired thoroughbred horses, but it’s a different level of accountability. We’re relying on that boarding facility to be honest.” She said she knew of several instances where the horse was dead and the barn was still sending bills for reimbursement. She suggested that people setting up trusts for animals include a provision whereby a veterinarian needs to certify periodically that that animal is still healthy and alive. While many people think that, if they die, a relative or child will care for their pets, they still need to make sure that person has the means to cover the day-to-day costs. And that is where love for a pet meets ﬁnancial responsibility.
28 December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
The Incredible Flying Nonagenarian By BRUCE GRIERSON
n the third ﬂoor of the Montreal Chest Institute, at McGill University, Olga Kotelko stood before a treadmill in the center of a stuffy room that was ﬁlling up with people who had come just for her. They were there to run physical tests, or to extract blood from her earlobe, or just to observe and take notes. Kotelko removed her glasses. She wore white New Balance sneakers and black running tights, and over her silver hair, a plastic crown that held in place a breathing tube. Tanja Taivassalo, a 40-year-old muscle physiologist, adjusted the ﬁt of Kotelko’s stretch-vest. It was wired with electrodes to measure changes in cardiac output — a gauge of the power of her heart. Taivassalo ﬁrst met Kotelko at last year’s world outdoor masters track championships in Lahti, Finland, the pinnacle of the competitive season for older tracksters. Taivassalo went to watch her dad compete in the marathon. But she could hardly fail to notice the 91-yearold Canadian, bespandexed and elﬁn, who was knocking off world record after world record. Masters competitions usually begin at 35 years, and include many in their 60s, 70s and 80s (and a few, like Kotelko, in their 90s, and one or two over 100). Of the thousands who descended on Lahti, hundreds were older than 75. And the one getting all the attention was Kotelko. She is considered one of the world’s greatest athletes, holding 23 world records, 17 in her current age category, 90 to 95. “We have in masters track ‘hard’ records and ‘soft’ records,” says Ken Stone, editor of masterstrack.com — the main news source of the growing masters athletic circuit. “Soft records are like lowhanging fruit,” where there are so few competitors, you’re immortalized just for showing up. But Stone doesn’t consider Kotelko’s records soft, because her performances are remarkable in their own right. At last fall’s Lahti championship, Kotelko threw a javelin more than 20 feet farther than her nearest age-group rival. At the World Masters Games in Sydney, Kotelko’s time in the 100 meters — 23.95 seconds — was faster than that of some ﬁnalists in the 80-to-84-year category, two brackets down. World Masters Athletics, the governing body of masters track, uses “age-graded” tables developed by statisticians to create a kind of standard score, expressed as a percentage, for any athletic feat. The world record for any given event would theoretically be assigned 100 percent. But a number of Kotelko’s marks — in shot put, high jump, 100-meter dash
— top 100 percent. (Because there are so few competitors over 90, age-graded scores are still guesswork.) In Lahti, watching Kotelko run fast enough that the wind blew her hair back a bit, Taivassalo was awed on a personal level (she’s a runner) and tantalized on a professional one. She hoped to start a database of athletes over 85, testing various physiological parameters. Scientiﬁcally, this is mostly virgin ground. The cohort of people 85 and older — the fastest-growing segment of the population, as it happens — is increasingly being studied for longevity clues. But so far the focus has mostly been on their lives: the foods they eat, the air they breathe, the social networks they maintain and, in a few recently published studies, their genomes. Data on the long-term effects of exercise is only just starting to trickle in, as the children of the ﬁtness revolution of the ’70s grow old. Though the world of masters track offers a compelling research pool, Taivassalo may seem like an unlikely scientist to be involved. Her area of expertise is mitochondrial research; she examines what happens to the body when mitochondria, the cell’s power plants, are faulty. Her subjects are typically young people who come into the lab with neuromuscular disorders that are only going to get worse. (Because muscle cells require so much energy, they’re hit hard when mitochondria go down.) Some researchers now see aging itself as a kind of mitochondrial disease. Defective mitochondria appear as we get older, and these researchers say that they rob us of endurance, strength and function. There’s evidence that for young patients with mitochondrial disease, exercise is a potent tool, slowing the symptoms. If that’s true, then exercise could also potentially be a kind of elixir of youth, combating the ravages of aging
far more than we thought. You don’t have to be an athlete to notice how ruthlessly age hunts and how programmed the toll seems to be. We start losing wind in our 40s and muscle tone in our 50s. Things go downhill slowly until around age 75, when something alarming tends to happen. “There’s a slide I show in my physical-activity-and-aging class,” Taivassalo says. “You see a shirtless fellow holding barbells, but I cover his face. I ask the students how old they think he is. I mean, he could be 25. He’s just ripped. Turns out he’s 67. And then in the next slide there’s the same man at 78, in the same pose. It’s very clear he’s lost almost half of his muscle mass, even though he’s continued to work out. So there’s something going on.” But no one knows exactly what. Muscle ﬁbers ought in theory to keep responding to training. But they don’t. Something is applying the brakes. And then there is Olga Kotelko, who further complicates the picture, but in a scientiﬁcally productive way. She seems not to be aging all that quickly. “Given her rather impressive retention of muscle mass,” says Russ Hepple, a University of Calgary physiologist and an expert in aging muscle, “one would guess that she has some kind of resistance.” In investigating that resistance, the researchers are hoping to better understand how to stall the natural processes of aging. Hepple, who is 44 and still built like the competitive runner he used to be, met Taivassalo at an exercise-physiology conference. She did her Ph.D. on people with mitochondrial disease; he was better acquainted with rats. They married. In the room at McGill, Hepple leaned in to the treadmill, barking encouragement to Kotelko as needed as she jacked her heart rate up beyond 135. In the end, Kotelko’s “maxVO2” score — a strong correlate of
cardiovascular endurance — topped out at 15.5. That’s about what you’d expect from a “trained athlete of 91,” if such a type existed. In truth, there is no type. Though when you hear the stories of older senior athletes, a common thread does emerge. While most younger masters athletes were jocks in college if not before, many competitors in the higher brackets — say, older than age 70 — have come to the game late. They weren’t athletes earlier in life because of the demands of career and their own growing families. Only after their duties cleared could they tend that other ﬁre. That’s Kotelko’s story, too. She grew up, with parents of Ukrainian descent, on a farm in Vonda, Saskatchewan, No. 7 of 11 kids. In the morning, after the chickens were fed and the pigs slopped and the cows milked, the brood would trudge two miles to school, stuff a broken old softball with sand or rags and play ball. Kotelko loved the game and played through childhood, but as she got older, the opportunities just weren’t there. As an adult she taught grades 1 through 10 in the one-room schoolhouse in Vonda, married the wrong man young and, realizing her mistake, ﬂed for British Columbia in 1957 with two daughters and brought them up alone, earning her bachelor’s degree at night. Much of her adulthood had run through her ﬁngers before she could even think again about sports. She picked up softball again after retiring from teaching in 1984 — slowpitch, but pretty competitive. (“We went for blood.”) And then one day when she was 77, a teammate suggested she might enjoy track and ﬁeld. She hooked up with a local coach, who taught her the basics. She found a trainer — a strict Hungarian woman who seemed as eager to push her as Kotelko was keen to be pushed. Juiced with enthusiasm, Kotelko hit the gym hard, three days a week in season. For up to three hours at a stretch, she performed punishing exercises like planks and roman chairs and bench presses and squats, until her muscles quivered and gassed out. Though she still does some of these things — the push-ups (three sets of 10), the situps (three sets of 25) — she doesn’t push herself the same way anymore. Apart from Aquaﬁt classes three times a week, she pretty much takes the whole dreary Vancouver winter off. Then, come spring, four weeks or so before the ﬁrst competition of the season (she’ll usually enter ﬁve or six meets each year), she starts her routine. She carts her gear to the track at the high school. She dons
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly her spikes, takes a spade and turns the middens of teenage recreation into longjump pits. And then goes to it — alone. On the track she will often run intervals: slow for a minute, then full out for a minute. At the beginning of each year she ﬁgures out where to put her energy. This year it’ll be throws and jumps and the 100-meter dash — the only meaningful world record missing from her résumé. She says she may not run the 200 and 400 again until 2014, when she moves up into the 95-plus age category. (Her current world marks in those events, she reckons, will be safe for four more years.) She does deep breathing and reﬂexology. She has developed a massage program, which she rolls out most nights, called the “O.K.” routine, after her own initials. It involves systematically kneading her whole body, from stem to gudgeon, while lying in bed. Sometimes she’ll work one part of her body while stretching another with a looped strap. (“I don’t like wasting time,” she says.) Ken Stone calls her “bulletproof,” and her history even off the track bears the label out. Apart from two visits to give birth to her daughters, she has seen the inside of a hospital once in her life, for a hysterectomy. Kotelko acknowledged her good luck as she put away a big plate of pasta and a glass of red wine one evening, midway through the world indoor championships in Kamloops, British Columbia, this spring. “How old do you feel?” I asked her. “Well, I still have the energy I had at 50,” she said. “More. Where is it coming from? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s a mystery even to me.” The previous day, on a patch of grass tricked out as a javelin ﬁeld, I watched Kotelko come forward for her turn to throw. Kotelko, who is ﬁve feet tall, took the javelin offered by an ofﬁcial with quiet dispatch, like a hockey player accepting a new stick from the bench. There was a bit of a crosswind; it didn’t affect her too much. She picked a cloud to aim at (a tip she ﬁrst read about in a library book). Ritualistically, she touched the spear tip, rocked on the back foot and let ﬂy, all momentum. It traveled 41 feet. Later, in her favorite event, the hammer throw, Kotelko took her place on the pitch with the other competitors — younger women she competes alongside, though not strictly against, since at this meet she was the only woman in the 90-and-over category. She removed her glasses. She swung the seven-pound cannonball around her head — once, twice, three times — and the thing sailed, landing with a thud, 45.5 feet away. “If I spun I could throw it farther,” she admitted later, but after watching somebody very old fall that way, she has decided not to risk it.
EXERCISE HAS BEEN shown to add between six and seven years to a life span (and improve the quality of life in countless ways). Any doctor who didn’t recommend exercise would be immediately suspect. But for most seniors, that prescription is likely to be something like a daily walk or Aquaﬁt. It’s not quartermile timed intervals or lung-busting fartleks. There’s more than a little suffering in the difference. Here, though, is the radical proposition that’s starting to gain currency among researchers studying masters athletes: what if intense training does something that allows the body to regenerate itself? Two recent studies involving middle-aged runners suggest that the serious mileage they were putting in, over years and years, had protected them at the chromosomal level. It appears that exercise may stimulate the production of telomerase, an enzyme that maintains and repairs the little caps on the ends of chromosomes that keep genetic information intact when cells divide. That may explain why older athletes aren’t just more cardiovascularly ﬁt than their sedentary counterparts — they are more free of agerelated illness in general. Exactly how exercise affects older people is complicated. On one level, exercise is a ﬂat-out insult to the body. Downhill running tears quadriceps muscles as reliably as an injection of snake venom. All kinds of free radicals and other toxins are let loose. But the damage also triggers the production of antioxidants that boost the health of the body generally. So when you see a track athlete who looks as if that last 1,500-meter race damn near killed him, you’re right. It might have made him stronger in the deal. Exercise training helps stop muscle strength and endurance from slipping away. But it seems to also do something else, maintains Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (who also happens to be a top-ranked trail runner). Resistance exercise in particular seems to activate a muscle stem cell called a satellite cell. With the infusion of these squeaky-clean cells into the system, the mitochondria seem to rejuvenate. (The phenomenon has been called “gene shifting.”) If Tarnopolsky is right, exercise in older adults can roll back the odometer. After six months of twice weekly strength exercise training, he has shown, the biochemical, physiological and genetic signature of older muscle is “turned back” nearly 15 or 20 years. Whether we are doing really old folks any favors by prescribing commando-grade training, well, “that’s the million-dollar question,” Hepple says. “Olga can obviously handle it. But most people aren’t Olga.” In general, kidneys and other organs tend to have trouble managing the enzymes and byproducts
produced when muscle breaks down. Inﬂammation, which produces that good kind of soreness weekend warriors are familiar with, “also damages a lot of healthy tissue around it,” notes Li Li Ji, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “That’s why I usually discourage older people from being too ambitious.” Yet if there’s a single trend in the research into exercise and gerontology, it’s that we have underestimated what old folks are capable of, from how high their heart rates can safely climb to how deeply into old age they can exercise with no major health risks. The conundrum for masters athletes — though it seems Kotelko’s great fortune to have largely escaped the phenomenon — is this: Big physiological beneﬁts from exercise are there for the taking. You just have to keep exercising. But you can’t exercise if the body breaks down. To avoid injuries, aging track athletes are often advised to keep to their old routines but to lower the intensity. The best advertisement for that strategy was a race turned in ﬁve years ago by a 73-year-old from Ontario. Age-graded, Ed Whitlock’s 2:54 marathon (the equivalent of a 20-year-old running 2:03.57) was the fastest ever run. When people collared him afterward to ﬁnd out his training secret, they learned that he ran every day, slowly, for hours, around the local cemetery. Kotelko herself speaks often of the perils of getting carried away. “If you undertrain, you might not ﬁnish,” she says. “If you overtrain, you might not start.” But there’s some evidence that, in trying to ﬁnd the sweet spot between staying in race shape and avoiding the medical tent, a lot of seniors athletes aren’t training hard enough — or at least, aren’t training the right way to maximally exploit what their body can still do. Recently, Scott Trappe, director of
the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., published a study on weightlessness and exercise in The Journal of Applied Physiology. Using M.R.I. and biopsy data from NASA, he looked at the exercise program of nine astronauts from the International Space Station. In many ways, an astronaut in zero gravity is undergoing an experiment in accelerated aging — muscles atrophy, bone-density declines. That’s what these astronauts were ﬁnding too, even though they were using a treadmill, a stationary bike and a resistance machine. Trappe concluded the regime wasn’t nearly hard-core enough. His prescription for NASA: heavier loads and explosive movements. “It’s pretty clear that intensity wins up there,” he says. “And I would predict this to be the case as we age. Part of the challenge is the mind-set or dogma that we need to slow down as we get older.” For example, the belief that aging joints and tendons can’t take real weight-training is dead wrong; real weight-training is what might just save them. Seniors can work out less frequently, Trappe reckons, as long as they really bring it when they do. Kotelko used to train like that — spurred on by her severe Hungarian coach. Strangely though, since easing off the throttle the last few years, she’s getting some of the best results of her life. It’s hard to know what to conclude from that, except perhaps that the geneshifting theory is true, and Kotelko is still enjoying the compound interest from that earlier sweat equity. “What I do now seems adequate,” she reasons. “It must be. I keep getting world records.” THE DAY AFTER the treadmill test, Kotelko was ushered into the free-weight gym at McGill University. She lay down at the bench press. Taivassalo was interested in the composition of Kotelko’s muscle ﬁbers. We all have Type 1 muscle (slow-twitch, for endurance) and a couple of varieties of Type 2 (fast-twitch, used for power). Most people are born with roughly half of Type 1 and half of Type 2. Around age 70, fast-twitch muscle begins to stop responding, followed by the decline of slow-twitch a decade later. Power drains away. Trappe calls this the “fasttwitch-ﬁber problem.” It helps explain the frustration that aging sprinters feel when their times drop off despite their dogged efforts. And no matter how hightech their exercise program, how strong their will, how good their genes, nobody escapes. Often, the drop-off happens too gradually to notice. But sometimes little moments of perspective pop up. In Kamloops, Kotelko jumped 5.5 feet to trump her own indoor long-jump world record. Afterward, the sexagenarian pentathletes took to the pit. Among
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30 December 16 - 22, 2010
Comes from page 69 them was Philippa (Phil) Raschker, a 63-year-old from Marietta, Ga., legendary on the masters track circuit. Raschker holds, or has held, more than 200 national and world records — sprints, jumps, hurdles. She was competing in nine events in Kamloops. (This despite being pretty much exhausted from working late into the night ﬁling clients’ taxes for days on end. She’s an accountant; it was March.) When I ﬁrst saw her high jumping, from a distance, I thought she could have been 25. You could see, below her stretch top, the six-pack. But it wasn’t how Raschker looked that arrested; it was the way she moved. Raschker Fosbury-ﬂopped over the bar like water pouring from a jug. The ﬂop allows you to jump higher than other methods do because your center of gravity never actually clears the bar. But the severe back arch demands a suppleness that’s alien to the aging body, which is why pretty much no one over 65 does it. Kotelko was already too old to ﬂop when she took up track at age 77. Instead, she sort of bestrides the bar. Her world record of 2.7 feet is just a little higher than the superfoamy mat. Overall, Kotelko’s high jump gives the impression of someone taking a run at a hotel-room bed. The difference between the world’s greatest 60-year-old and the world’s greatest 90-year-old was clear. On view was the march of “sarcopenia” — the loss of muscle, the theft of that once-explosive power that makes the very old seem subject to a different set of physical laws. It is irresistible to think of Olga Kotelko and Phil Raschker as twins separated by time. Except that Raschker has the potential advantage of a much earlier head start on the track. Given all that extra compounding interest, might she in 30 years become a kind of super-Olga? “Hard to say,” Hepple says. “She’s obviously at a point that precedes many of the big changes that usually happen. And we don’t know how resistant she is — and that resistance is something we do think sets Olga apart.” Those extra decades of pounding might break Raschker down or burn her out. Motivation may ultimately be the issue. Finding reasons to keep exercising is a universal challenge. Even rats seem to bristle, eventually, at voluntary exercise, studies suggest. Young rats seem intrinsically driven to run on the wheels you put in their cages. But one day those wheels just stop turning. The aging athlete must manufacture strategies to keep pushing in the face of plenty of perfectly rational reasons not to: things hurt,
you’ve achieved a lot of your goals and the friends you used to do it for and with are disappearing. But competition can spur people on. “Maintaining your own records in the face of your supposed decline, providing evidence that you’re delaying the effects of aging — these are strong motives,” says Bradley Young, a kinesiology and sports psychology professor at the University of Ottawa. Young studies the factors that make track athletes want to continue competing into old age. A big one is training partners and family — both the encouragement they offer, and the guilt you’d feel letting them down if you quit. But the strongest motivating driver, Young found, was one’s spouse. In this way, too, Kotelko is unique. She has no husband, and though she does have some family — her daughter Lynda and son-in-law Richard, with whom she lives in Vancouver — they are not involved in her training. IN ONE OF HER last duties to science on the Montreal trip, Kotelko lay serenely, under local anesthetic, on an examining table in the storied Montreal Neurological Institute, where Wilder Penﬁeld mapped the human brain. “Contract your thigh muscle, please,” Dr. José Morais said. The muscle shrugged up visibly when she tensed. The doctor began to draw out a little plug of tissue with a gleaming silver instrument that looked a bit like a wine corker. The sample would be frozen, and the ﬁbers would later be examined. Muscle is a decent barometer for the general health of a body. It contains what Hepple calls biomarkers of aging — changes over time in its structure, biochemistry, protein expression. These mark
The San Juan Weekly the body’s decreasing ability to withstand the stresses it encounters — “some from outside us, like infections, and some from inside us,” like the cellular trash that builds up through normal body functions like breathing and metabolism. “In essence, they tell us how well Olga has handled the very things that cause most of us to age and die at or around age 80.” Hepple, in Kotelko’s tissue sample, would be looking for the little angular muscle ﬁbers that typically stop working as people age because they have come unplugged from the motor neurons, nerve cells that tell them to ﬁre. Many researchers assume the problem is within the muscle cells. Hepple disagrees. He says those neighboring motor neurons aren’t activating the muscle as they should, and he speculated that more of Kotelko’s would be functioning properly. Ideally, these two scientists would like to run a sample through genetic testing. Perhaps there are clues in Kotelko’s genome that will help explain the thing that is so singular about her — not speed or power or prowess in any one event, but the resilience to endure all the stress of hard physical activity, year after year, without a hint of breakdown, and no end to the pattern in sight. “There could be a lot we ﬁnd out in that biopsy,” Taivassalo said, “that tells us what to ask next.” Taivassalo intends to put together a larger sample size, at least 20 or 30 subjects, all old athletes. At that point the information starts becoming statistically signiﬁcant, and patterns emerge. If the prospect of 30 more nominal Olgas spraying data points into unmapped space is enough to set the hearts of gerontologists aﬂutter, to Kotelko, the idea that there may be, somewhere, even one more older track star — a genuine rival — is tantalizing. She yearns, she insists, with semiplausible conviction, to be pushed. There’d be no talk of low-hanging fruit and meaningless medals if there were someone she could race close and beat in real time. “I’d love that,” she told me more than once. She may get her wish. Mitsu Morita, an 88-year-old from Japan, is faster than Kotelko was at that age and is breaking all of Kotelko’s records in that age bracket. A Nike ad featuring Morita made her a minor phenomenon in Japan; there are clips of her orbiting the track, followed by laughing teenagers trying to keep up. In the 200, Morita’s world-record time is almost 10 seconds faster than Kotelko’s time in the 90-to-95 category. She claims she gets her strength from eating eel. Morita is not a big traveler. If she
can be persuaded to come to America for the world outdoor championships in Sacramento next summer, Kotelko will have her hands full. In October, the ﬁrst of Kotelko’s muscle samples came back from the lab. The results were compelling. In a muscle sample of a person over the age of 65, you would expect to see at least a couple of ﬁbers with some mitochondrial defects. But in around 400 muscle ﬁbers examined, Taivassalo said, “we didn’t see a single ﬁber that had any evidence” of mitochondrial decay. “It’s remarkable,” she added. As the data on Kotelko gather, it’s hard to avoid a conclusion. “Olga has done no more training than many athletes, and yet she’s the one still standing,” Hepple says. “Why? In my mind, it has everything to do with her innate physiological proﬁle.” This sounds like discouraging news: she is not like us. But understanding Kotelko’s uniqueness may provide beneﬁts for others. We could learn a lot about why, for example, nerve cells die by studying someone in whom, for whatever reason, they seem to live on. And that, Taivassalo explains, may have implications for neuromuscular diseases like ALS — for which no current therapies have a meaningful impact. Drugs might be developed to, for example, somehow dial up the signals at that junction where the neurons are supposed to be telling muscles to move. Small molecular agents could target speciﬁc problem areas in aging muscles to make them more resilient. “At this stage it’s all speculation,” Hepple says. “But that’s the direction we’re moving. Because all the usual things don’t seem to apply.” Presumably, at least some of the interventions that emerge will help mimic, for ordinary people entering their very old years, if not exactly Kotelko’s performance on the track, at least something approaching the quality of her life. This is the other story of the future of aging. When the efforts of medical science converge to simply prolong existence, you envision Updike’s golfer Farrell, poking his way “down the sloping dogleg of decrepitude.” But scientists like Taivassalo and Hepple have a different goal, and exercise — elixir not so much of extended life as extended youthfulness — may be the key to reaching it. James Fries, an emeritus professor at Stanford School of Medicine, coined the working buzz phrase: “compression of morbidity.” You simply erase chronic illness and inﬁrmity from the ﬁrst, say, 95 percent of your life. “So you’re healthy, healthy, healthy, and then at some point you kick the bucket,” Tarnopolsky says. “It’s like the Neil Young song: better to burn out than to rust.” You get a normal life span, but in Olga years. Who wouldn’t take it?
San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Oscar de la Renta Pre-Fall Collection By ALIX BROWNE
scar de la Rentaâ€™s pre-fall collection ended in a parade of fairy tale gowns, and perhaps that is because his Park Avenue ladies have a fairy tale wedding on the calendar for next year. But those not on the royal guest list can always tackle urban reality in his fur vest and leather leggings.
FASHION & BEAUTY
32 December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Art’s Survivors of Hitler’s War dieck, a tax lawyer and escrow agent. Oewerdieck is not widely known, but he is remembered at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel. In 1939, he and his wife gave money to a Jewish family to escape to Shanghai. He also hid an employee, Martin Lange, in his apartment. In 1941 he helped the historian Eugen Täubler and his wife ﬂee to America, preserving part of Täubler’s library. And he stood by Wolfgang Abendroth too, a leftist and Nazi opponent, by writing him a job recommendation when that risked his own life.
By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN
he past still thrusts itself back into the headlines here, occasionally as an unexploded bomb turning up somewhere. Now it has reappeared as art. In January workers digging for a new subway station near City Hall unearthed a bronze bust of a woman, rusted, ﬁlthy and almost unrecognizable. It tumbled off the shovel of their front-loader. Researchers learned the bust was a portrait by Edwin Scharff, a nearly forgotten German modernist, from around 1920. It seemed anomalous until August, when more sculpture emerged nearby: “Standing Girl” by Otto Baum, “Dancer” by Marg Moll and the remains of a head by Otto Freundlich. Excavators also rescued another fragment, a different head, belonging to Emy Roeder’s “Pregnant Woman.” October produced yet a further batch. The 11 sculptures proved to be survivors of Hitler’s campaign against what the Nazis notoriously called “degenerate art.” Several works, records showed, were seized from German museums in the 1930s, paraded in the fateful “Degenerate Art” show, and in a couple of cases also exploited for a 1941 Nazi ﬁlm, an anti-Semitic comedy lambasting modern art. They were last known to have been stored in the depot of the Reichspropagandaministerium, which organized the “Degenerate” show. Then the sculptures vanished. How they ended up underground near City Hall is still a mystery; it seems to involve an Oskar Schindler-like hero. Meanwhile a modest exhibition of the discoveries has been organized and recently opened at the Neues Museum, Berlin’s archaeological collection, the perfect site for these works. Like the sculptures, the museum lately rose, all these years later, from the ruins of war. In the architect David Chipperﬁeld’s ingenious, Humpty Dump-
ty-like reconstruction of the building, it has become a popular palimpsest of German history, bearing witness, via the evidence of the damage done to it, to a violence that not even time and several generations have been able to erase. I can hardly express how moving this little show is, unexpectedly so. Its effect ends up being all out of proportion to the objects discovered, which are, in strictly aesthetic terms, ﬁne but not remarkable. They are works of quasi-Cubism or Expressionism, mostly not much more than a foot high, several newly cleaned but still scarred, inspiring the obvious human analogy. The poet and Holocaust survivor Paul Celan came up, in a different context, with the metaphor of bottles tossed into the ocean “at the shoreline of the heart,” now ﬁnally washed ashore. They’re like the dead, these sculptures, ever coming back to us, radiant ghosts. In a country that for decades has been profoundly diligent at disclosing its own crimes and framing them in the context of history, it makes sense that the exhibition was installed to share a courtyard with Assyrian friezes from a long-ago regime that made an art of totalitarian rule and with an ancient frieze describing the eruption of Vesuvius, which preserved priceless objects, buried in the ash, that have found sanctuary in institutions like the Neues Museum. Archeologists have so far determined that the recovered works must have come from 50 Königstrasse, across the street from City Hall. The building belonged to a Jewish woman, Edith Steinitz; several Jewish lawyers are listed as her tenants in 1939, but their names disappear from the record by 1942, when the house became property of the Reich. Among its subsequent occupants, German investigators now believe, the likeliest candidate to have hidden the art was Erhard Oewer-
The current theory is that when ﬁre from Allied air raids in 1944 consumed 50 Königstrasse, the contents of Oewerdieck’s ofﬁce fell through the ﬂoor, and then the building collapsed on top. Tests are being done on ash from the site for remains of incinerated paintings and wood sculptures. How the lost art came into Oewerdieck’s possession in the ﬁrst place still isn’t clear. But at least it’s now back on view. Scharff’s bust, of an actress named Anni Mewes, brings to mind Egyptian works in the Neues Museum. Karl Knappe’s “Hagar,” a bronze from 1923, twisted like
knotted rope, has been left with its green patina of rust and rubble, making it almost impossible to decipher, save as evidence of its fate. On the other hand, Freundlich’s “Head,” from 1925, a work made of glazed terra cotta, gnarled like an old olive tree, loses little of its power for being broken. The Nazis seized the Freundlich from a museum in Hamburg in 1937, then six years later, in France, seized the artist and sent him to Majdanek, the concentration camp in Poland, where he was murdered on the day he arrived. Across the street from the Neues Museum contemporary galleries showcase the sort of work the Nazis hoped to eradicate but that instead give Berlin its current identity as a capital of cool. This is a city that resembles the young masses who gravitate here: forever in a state of becoming, wary, unsure and unresolved, generally broke, but optimistic about the future, with the difference that Germany can’t escape its past. Farther down the block the Deutsches Historisches Museum’s Hitler exhibition, today’s version of a “Degenerate” show, means to warn viewers about succumbing to what present German law declares morally reprehensible. How could any decent German have ever been taken in? the show asks. That happens to be the question the Nazis’ “Degenerate” show posed about modern art. Many more Germans visited that exhibition than the concurrent one of approved German art. Maybe Oewerdieck was among those who went to the modern show and saw these sculptures in it. In any case, today’s Germany has salvaged them and has organized this display. Redemption sometimes comes late and in small measures.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
ow available on the market Dos Caras, the new release by Melina León on which this reveals her work as composer. Eight of the ten songs make up the album for Peermusic are inspired by the interpreter. With very personal lyrics the artist shares with her audience a little Yamilette Aponte, her true personality far removed from the artist who captivates with her vocal ability. “Walking” is the ﬁrst single of Dos Caras and is a tune with a positive message that displays Melina sweetness aand d ssensuality. e su ua ty y.
34 December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly The album, recorded entirely in Miami Peermusic studies on July Bagué producers and Ramon Arias, has tropical cutting issues including merengue, bachata tropical pop. The second half of the album includes songs unplugged as well highlighting the talents of Melina composition. “Today we party”, “Natural”, “Do not fail this love” and “On my wedding day,” among others, complete Dos Caras. Melina Leon was honored as the Female Tropical Artist of the Year at the recent delivery of Premio Lo Nuestro in Miami. The award recognized the success of the artist with his previous record not be a coward. In addition, the Puerto Rican artist joined other Latin music greats to perform the song “We Are The World”, Spanish version of the song “We Are The World” whose funds were collected for the victims in Haiti.
Melina León was born one July 12th day in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Her mother, Asución Yunque, greatly inﬂuenced her love for music, as she always sang to her and her three brothers. Melina began her professional mu-sic career during her adolescentt s, years. She sang for the groups, g Las Cheris and Rubi. She also sang d with various groups that performed at in hotels in Puerto Rico. During that time, she loved to sing pop and ba
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
llads. The experience she gained singing helped her develop her talent so that she could later realize her dream as a solo artist. It was during one of her hotel performances that she was discovered by a representative from Tropix Music Records. In 1997, Melina released her ﬁrst record with
the label. Mujeres Liberadas was a hit—occupying the top positions on Puerto Rican radio. Melina’s second album surpassed 60,000 units in sales and solidiﬁed her position in the music industry and as a gold record artist. Melina has continued to record many hits and has also expanded her career to television.
Ballets de San Juan and The Nativity A
few years before she passed away, Ana García, the founder of Ballets de S.J., decided to replace the traditional “Nutcracker”, with the “Retablo del Nacimiento” of her own creation. “Retablo” was originated during the Siglo de Oro of Spanish Literature in the 16th century. It was a drama of short duration with a religious or secular story. Cervantes the author of Don Quixote wrote “ The Retablo of Maese Pedro,” which is still seen on the stage. It may sound anachronistic and passé, but this “Nativity Retablo” is a delightful anachronism. The music arrange by Luis E. Julia is a selection of well known popular X’mas Carols; including the local ones. Among the Biblical characters,, Herod, stands out done by Stephan Vega, choreography by Ricardo Meléndez. Jaime Suárez created a colorful scenery,whereas
the lavish costumes contributed to the Biblical inuendo of an oratorio. Nahir Medina and Karen Schwarz collaborated in the two following works. “Geometría de Amor” is Medina’s work to the music of Bobby Capó, internationally known as the author of “Piel Canela”. He is supposed to be the motivation for the ballet. Zulma Berrios, the prima ballerina of the company plays the part of Jaqueline, convincing and spontaneous, charming and versatile; so you can tell her classical inherent style. Certainly the coreographer outdid herself with the motivated dances of the popular local color. The two ladies Medina and Schwartz are quite a team to ignite the dancers despite the downpour in “Fantasia Bajo la Lluvia”, To the classic music of Gounod, Rossini and Arditti the group of dancers each one
holding a headed umbrella; each one in a different color, performed “at libintum”, this phantasy of a balletic interlude to everybody’s imagination. But the greatest fun came with the closing piece, “Las Plenas de Maria”. This master piece of salsaplena, is done with deliberate artistic “gusto”. It goes from the best, to the climax of vivacious dancing for the
sake of conveying the message that popular music has its own profound dimension. The group really did a superb work; Ricardo Meléndez by far had no inhibitions when he created this excellent piece. Barbara Hernández , as María, indeed, was simply great in her awareness of artistry and interpretation. Max González
36 December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Report Questions Need for 2 Diet Supplements
By GINA KOLATA
he very high levels of vitamin D that are often recommended by doctors and testing laboratories — and can be achieved only by taking supplements — are unnecessary and could be harmful, an expert committee says. It also concludes that calcium supplements are not needed. The group said most people have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their blood supplied by their diets and natural sources like sunshine, the committee says in a report that is to be released on Tuesday. “For most people, taking extra calcium and vitamin D supplements is not indicated,” said Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, a member of the panel and an osteoporosis expert at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. Dr. J. Christopher Gallagher, director of the bone metabolism unit at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb., agreed, adding, “The onus is on the people who propose extra calcium and vitamin D to show it is safe before they push it on people.” Over the past few years, the idea that nearly everyone needs extra calcium and vitamin D — especially vitamin D — has swept the nation. With calcium, adolescent girls may be the only group that is getting too little, the panel found. Older women, on the other hand, may take too much, putting themselves at risk for kidney stones. And there is evidence that excess calcium can increase the
risk of heart disease, the group wrote. As for vitamin D, some prominent doctors have said that most people need supplements or they will be at increased risk for a wide variety of illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases. And these days more and more people know their vitamin D levels because they are being tested for it as part of routine physical exams. “The number of vitamin D tests has exploded,” said Dennis Black, a reviewer of the report who is a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. At the same time, vitamin D sales have soared, growing faster than those of any supplement, according to The Nutrition Business Journal. Sales rose 82 percent from 2008 to 2009, reaching $430 million. “Everyone was hoping vitamin D would be kind of a panacea,” Dr. Black said. The report, he added, might quell the craze. “I think this will have an impact on a lot of primary care providers,” he said. The 14-member expert committee was convened by the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonproﬁt scientiﬁc body, at the request of the United States and Canadian governments. It was asked to examine the available data — nearly 1,000 publications — to determine how much vitamin D and calcium people were getting, how much was needed for optimal health and how much was too much. The two nutrients work together for bone health. Bone health, though, is only one of the beneﬁts that have been attributed to vitamin D, and there is not enough good evidence to support most other claims, the committee said. Some labs have started reporting levels of less than 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood as a deﬁciency. With that as a standard, 80 percent of the population would be deemed deﬁcient of vitamin D, Dr. Rosen said. Most people need to take supplements to reach levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter, he added. But, the committee concluded, a level of 20 to 30 nanograms is all that is needed for bone health, and nearly
everyone is in that range. Vitamin D is being added to more and more foods, said Paul R. Thomas of the Ofﬁce of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. Not only is it in orange juice and milk, but more is being added to breakfast cereals, and it now can be found in very high doses in supplement pills. Most vitamin D pills, he said, used to contain no more than 1,000 international units of it. Now it is easy to ﬁnd pills, even in places like Wal-Mart, with 5,000 international units. The committee, though, said people need only 600 international units a day. To assess the amounts of vitamin D and calcium people are getting, the panel looked at national data on diets. Most people, they concluded, get enough calcium from the foods they eat, about 1,000 milligrams a day for most adults (1,200 for women ages 51 to 70). Vitamin D is more complicated, the group said. In general, most people are not getting enough vitamin D from their diets, but they have enough of the vitamin in their blood, probably because they are also making it naturally after being out in the sun and storing it in their bodies. The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and other groups applauded the report. It is “a very balanced set of recommendations,” said Dr. Sundeep Khosla, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the society’s president. But Andrew Shao, an executive vice president at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group, said the panel was being overly cautious, especially in its recommendations about vitamin D. He said there was no convincing evidence that people were being harmed by taking supplements, and he said higher levels of vitamin D, in particular, could be beneﬁcial. Such claims “are not supported by the available evidence,” the committee wrote. They were based on studies that observed populations and concluded that people with lower levels of the vitamin had more of various diseases. Such studies have been misleading and most scientists agree that they cannot determine cause and effect. It is not clear how or why the claims for high vitamin D levels star-
ted, medical experts say. First there were two studies, which turned out to be incorrect, that said people needed 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood, the upper end of what the committee says is a normal range. They were followed by articles and claims and books saying much higher levels — 40 to 50 nanograms or even higher — were needed. After reviewing the data, the committee concluded that the evidence for the beneﬁts of high levels of vitamin D was “inconsistent and/ or conﬂicting and did not demonstrate causality.” Evidence also suggests that high levels of vitamin D can increase the risks for fractures and the overall death rate and can raise the risk for other diseases. While those studies are not conclusive, any risk looms large when there is no demonstrable beneﬁt. Those hints of risk are “challenging the concept that ‘more is better,’ ” the committee wrote. That is what surprised Dr. Black. “We thought that probably higher is better,” he said. He has changed his mind, and expects others will too: “I think this report will make people more cautious.”
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Do Energy Drinks Improve Athletic Performance? By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
y Monday, Four Loko, the alcoholand-caffeine-laced energy drink, is scheduled to be removed from store shelves nationwide, following a ruling last month by the Food and Drug Administration that the safety of such beverages is unproven and that they should no longer be manufactured or sold. During the resulting media coverage, surprisingly little attention was focused on a corollary topic. What about nonalcoholic energy drinks, which will remain on sale? Are they safe? Effective? Who should be drinking them? Who shouldn’t? With excellent timing, a number of new scientiﬁc studies and reviews have just been published that address those and related questions about energy drinks, particularly for athletes. Their ﬁndings and conclusions are thought-provoking. Energy drinks, for those who would guess that a Red Bull is related to Paul Bunyan’s animal sidekick, are beverages that contain whopping doses of sugar (up to a quarter cup per can), caffeine and other ingredients, like the stimulatory herb guarana and the amino acid taurine. Although often marketed to (and by) athletes, they are not sports drinks. “Sports drinks,” like Gatorade, “contain far less” sugar or other sweeteners than energy drinks and rarely if ever contain caffeine, said Dr. John P. Higgins, the director of exercise physiolo-
gy at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute in Houston. Dr. Higgins, a cardiologist, is the lead author of a new review about the ingredients and efﬁcacy of energy drinks, published last month in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. “In many stores, you’ll see the energy drinks displayed right next to the sports drinks in store aisles, as if they were interchangeable,” Dr. Higgins said. “They’re not.” That fact has not slowed the growing popularity of energy drinks among athletes, particularly those in college and younger. In a recent survey of American high-school athletes, 32 percent reported drinking energy beverages. In another survey, 27 percent of a group of 16,000 adolescent athletes, some as young as 11, said that they used caffeine, usually in the form of energy drinks, to improve their sports performance; 13 percent said they did so at the urging of their coaches. But the evidence that energy drinks can make you a better athlete is sketchy at best. “There’s good evidence that caffeine is ergogenic,” said Dr. Erin Duchan, a pediatrician and co-author of a review of the current science about energy drinks for athletes, published recently in The Physician and Sports Medicine. “It can, in the right circumstances, improve athletic performance,” she added. But the amounts of caffeine required to improve performance vary wildly from person to person, and the effects typically
are lessened once an athlete is used to caffeine. A study of collegiate runners found that a sugar-free version of Red Bull, while loaded with caffeine, did not improve the athletes’ run-to-exhaustion times, possibly because the athletes were so habituated to the stuff. Meanwhile, because it is a diuretic, caffeine “can contribute to dehydration,” Dr. Higgins said. And the large amounts of sugar in energy drinks have been known to cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upset, he said, “which is certainly not going to improve anyone’s performance.” The effects of energy drinks on young athletes are particularly mysterious. To date, very little research has been conducted involving children and young adults, although two studies released last week in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology are telling. In one, collegians were given energy drinks that contained different levels of caffeine (including none) and asked to complete a test, during which they pressed a key when a green target ﬂashed rapidly on screen and did nothing when a blue target appeared. The students who drank the caffeinated energy drinks had quicker reaction times than those who didn’t, but the better times and more accurate reactions were in the group that had the least caffeine. The second study, while not looking directly at either energy drinks or young athletes, has implications concerning both. In it, healthy boys and girls between the ages
of 12 and 17 drank sweet, ﬂat soft drinks spiked with varying amounts of caffeine. The beverages were similar in taste to Red Bull. Then the children were set loose in the lab, which had been stocked with a variety of snack foods. The kids who had downed the most caffeine steered unerringly for the snacks containing the most sugar. That result indicates, the researchers wrote, that there may be an as-yet-unidentiﬁed link between “caffeine use and intake of higher energy-density foods” in children. The most highly caffeinated boys also showed a distinct increase in blood pressure, although this effect was not seen in the girls. What all of this new research cumulatively means remains, at the moment, uncertain. “There is still far too little science about the effects of energy drinks in anyone, at any age,” Dr. Higgins said. “We don’t, for instance, have any research that I’m aware of about the long-term effects” of frequently drinking energy beverages, he said, and he said he knows of none being planned. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate nonalcoholic energy drinks or the levels of the ingredients in them, and manufacturers are not required to prove their safety or efﬁcacy. So should you or your teenage soccer player be drinking energy drinks? Not if your aim is to improve sports performance, Dr. Higgins said. “I wouldn’t recommend energy drinks to athletes,” he said. “Look at the name. These are not sports drinks.”
38 December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Children’s Hospitals Lose Some Drug Discounts
By ROBERT PEAR
n an unintended consequence of the new health care law, drug companies have begun notifying children’s hospitals around the country that they no longer qualify for large discounts on drugs used to treat rare medical conditions. As a result, prices are going up for these specialized “orphan drugs,” some of which are also used to treat more common conditions. Over the last 18 years, Congress has required drug manufacturers to provide discounts to a variety of health care providers, including community health centers, AIDS clinics and hospitals that care for large numbers of lowincome people. Several years ago, Congress broadened the program to include children’s hospitals. But this year Congress, in revising the drug discount program as part of the new health care law, blocked these hospitals from continuing to receive price cuts on orphan drugs intended for treatment of diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. The reason behind the change is murky, though some drug makers had opposed expansion of the drug discount program. The discounts typically range from 30 percent to 50 percent, and children’s hospitals say the change is costing them hundreds of millions of dollars. Under the new law, hundreds of rural hospitals became eligible for discounts for the ﬁrst time, but the discounts are not available on orphan drugs, which account for a surprisingly large share of their outpatient pharmacy costs. At the same time, children’s hospitals lost access to discounts on the drugs. In a typical letter to a children’s
hospital, one company, Genentech, said that, because of the new law, it would not offer discounts on certain cancer medicines like Avastin, Herceptin, Rituxan and Tarceva, or on Activase, which is used to dissolve blood clots in heart attack and stroke patients. Another drug maker, Allergan, cited the new law as a reason for denying discounts on Botox, which, besides removing wrinkles from the face, is used to reduce spasticity in patients with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders. Joshua D. Greenberg, vice president of Children’s Hospital Boston, said that loss of the discounts “jeopardizes our ability to care for some of the sickest children with the most complex health care needs.” Robert A. Nordin, the pharmacy manager at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, said his hospital was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of discounts on drugs like Botox and Rituxan. Christina M. Barnes, the pharmacy director at Galion Community Hospital in rural Galion, Ohio, said she was excited when her hospital qualiﬁed for the discount program earlier his year. But, she said, she was dismayed to learn that many drugs would be excluded. “We were given an advantage with one hand, and it was taken away with the other hand,” Ms. Barnes said. William A. Sarraille, a lawyer at Sidley Austin in Washington who represents drug makers, said, “The discounts are huge and can have a very signiﬁcant, very negative impact on the ability of manufacturers to develop new, better products that meet patients’ needs.” The Food and Drug Administration classiﬁes more than 350 medicines as orphan drug products. Manufacturers said they could not recover the
costs of developing such drugs if they were required to sell them at deeply discounted prices. A House Democrat who worked on the health care law said the situation had resulted from “an honest mistake in drafting,” and he added, “No one intended to take away any of the drug discounts that children’s hospitals already had.” The discount program is widely known as the 340B program, after the relevant section of the Public Health Service Act. Mary K. Wakeﬁeld, the administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency that manages the program, said she shared the concerns of children’s hospitals. “We support a technical correction by Congress that will preserve access to discounted medications for more vulnerable Americans,” Ms. Wakeﬁeld said. The House has voted to restore discounts for children’s hospitals. Similar legislation has been bottled up in the Senate, despite support from Republicans like Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts and Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. A version of the proposal was included in bipartisan health care legislation unveiled Tuesday by Senate leaders. When Congress created the drug discount program in 1992, it said the purpose was to enable clinics and hospitals to “stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.” In a last-minute change sought by some drug manufacturers, Congress stipulated in the new health care law that rural hospitals, children’s hospitals and certain free-standing cancer cen-
ters could not get discounts on orphan drugs through the 340B program. Ms. Barnes, at Galion Hospital in Ohio, said: “The list of orphan drugs is small, but it involves big dollars. Many, perhaps most, of our cancer patients receive at least one orphan drug during their treatment.” Leonard M. Gulino of Cape Elizabeth, Me., said the discount program had substantially reduced the cost of Botox treatments for his son, Gregory, who has had multiple strokes and severe tightening of leg muscles because of a rare disease. Elimination of the discounts for orphan drugs at children’s hospitals came as a surprise to federal health ofﬁcials who work on the program. They said they learned of it only after President Obama signed the legislation in March. Terence J. Hurley, a spokesman for Genentech, said the company was waiting for guidance from federal ofﬁcials because “there remains signiﬁcant lack of clarity regarding the orphan drug provisions” of the new law. Allergan and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members produce many orphan drugs, declined to comment. Drug companies said that the discount program was intended to help hospitals care for the uninsured, and that this need would diminish as millions of the uninsured gained coverage under Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul. But Ted Slafsky, the executive director of Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access, a nonproﬁt group, said, “The exemption for orphan drugs undermines the mission and purpose of the drug discount program.”
San Jorge Children’s Hospital
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
39 SCIENCE & TECH
10 Apps That Make Magic on Your iPad By BOB TEDESCHI
ere are my 10 favorite apps, plus a few extras to make the iPad magic happen: ✦ IWork ($30, or $10 each for Pages, Keynote or Numbers): Since you can’t type easily on an iPad, it may never replace your laptop. But with this software, which is made by Apple, you won’t need to rush to your other computers to edit Microsoft Ofﬁce ﬁles. The Pages app is great for revising and exporting text ﬁles; the Numbers app is good (and getting better) with spreadsheets; and Keynote is a serviceable complement to PowerPoint. ✦ Air Display ($10): Turn your iPad screen into an extra PC monitor with Air Display, and never again miss a new Twitter post, Facebook post or stock market move. ✦ Flipboard (free): Twitter and Facebook rely on NSOT (new-stuff-on-top) layouts, with links that send you elsewhere to see what people are fussing about. Flipboard rationalizes this editorial insanity. The app plops your Facebook feed into a magazine format, showing all the stories your friends recommended, with photos and updates. You can create other personalized magazines from Twitter feeds, on topics of your choice. ✦ Star Walk ($5): A jaw-dropping astronomy app. Hold the iPad toward the night sky and it labels everything. ✦ SketchBook Pro ($8): Experienced artists can create masterpieces with this program. Hobbyists and children can happily lose themselves for hours. The app is powerful, yet fairly intuitive. ✦ Netﬂix (free, requires a paid Netﬂix subscription): The iPad renders video beautifully, and Netﬂix streams a nearly li-
Air Coaster XL allows users to design and ride roller coasters. mitless catalog of movies and TV shows to the device. ✦ Fruit Ninja HD ($5): On the iPad’s big screen, this game will give you more of a jolt than Angry Birds. (But download that one too.) The task: swipe your ﬁnger to slice ﬂying fruit. Hit a bomb and your ninja days are numbered. A recent update added online multi-player functionality. ✦ Instapaper ($5): Great articles typically appear when you have no time to read them. Instapaper quickly stores links, so you can read the full articles later, from within the app. Instapaper also remembers articles you’ve saved with the free online version. Some will ﬁnd setting up the service on an iPad frustrating, but it is worth it. ✦ Pandora Radio (free): Fans of the personalized radio
appreciate the big-screen format, which is great for reading liner notes and browsing artists and songs. Music selections and ads are the same as on the iPhone or online version. ✦ Evernote (free): Another bigger-is-better entry. Evernote stores notes, photos and voice memos, so you can retrieve them later on any Web-connected device. The service offers a fair amount of free storage, but you can skip the limit for $45 a year. Reuters News Pro (free): Among the best news apps, it will cache articles for ofﬂine reading; Photoshop Express (free): Import your photos and crop, ﬁlter, rotate and morph them to suit your tastes. Great for youngsters, too; Wikipanion (free): An iPad-centric approach to surﬁng Wikipedia pages; AirCoaster ($1): Design and ride 3-D roller coasters, with amazing graphics; Magic Piano ($2): Make music with whimsically elegant keyboards; Scrabble ($10): The wordsmith’s standby, nicely rendered for the iPad. (Use your iPhone or iPod Touch as tile racks); Orbital HD ($3): A game that will engage your brain, test your reﬂexes and kill many hours of your time; Weather HD ($1): No matter the forecast, it’s a treat to read; Twitter for iPad (free): Twitter’s ofﬁcial app delivers an efﬁcient, simple experience; Skype (free): Make free (or cheap) calls with your iPad; Epicurious (free): Professionally tested recipes, in big-screen glory; Real Racing HD ($10): Take the wheel and steer the iPad to victory; NPR (free): Catch up on the news and your favorite NPR programs, or read top articles; TextPlus (free): Free texting; The Elements ($14): Could make you want to take high school chemistry again; Dragon Dictation (free): Speak your mind, and the app delivers a text message or e-mail, ready for sending.
Math Puzzles’ Oldest Ancestors Took Form on Egyptian Papyrus By PAM BELLUCK
hat very British-sounding St. Ives conundrum (the one where the seven wives each have seven sacks containing seven cats who each have seven kits, and you have to ﬁgure out how many are going to St. Ives) has a decidedly archaic antecedent. An Egyptian document more than 3,600 years old, the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, contains a puzzle of sevens that bears an uncanny likeness to the St. Ives riddle. It has mice and barley, not wives and sacks, but the gist is similar. Seven houses have seven cats that each eat seven mice that each eat seven grains of barley. Each barley grain would have produced seven hekat of grain. (A hekat was a unit of volume, roughly 1.3 gallons.) The goal: to determine how many things are described. The answer: 19,607.
The Rhind papyrus, which dates to 1650 B.C., is one of several precocious papyri and other artifacts displaying Egyptian mathematical ingenuity. There is the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (held at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow), the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll (which along with the Rhind papyrus is housed at the British Museum) and the Akhmim Wooden Tablets (at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo). They include methods of measuring a ship’s mast and rudder, calculating the volume of cylinders and truncated pyramids, dividing grain quantities into fractions and verifying how much bread to exchange for beer. They even compute a circle’s area using an early approximation of pi. (They use 256/81, about 3.16, instead of pi’s value of 3.14159....) It all goes to show that making puzzles is “the most ancient of all instincts,” said Marcel Danesi, a puzzle expert and anthropology professor who calls documents like the Rhind papyrus “the ﬁrst puzzle books in history.” The Egyptian puzzles were not just recreational diversions seeking the comforting illusion of competence. They were serious about their mission. In the Rhind papyrus the roughly 85 problems present the “correct method of reckoning, for grasping the meaning of things and knowing everything obscurities and all secrets.” And the documents were practical guides to navigating a maturing civilization and an expanding economy. “They had an economic system that was run by absentee landowners and paid people in units of grain, and in order to make it fair had to have exact weights and measu-
res. They were trying to ﬁgure out a way to evenly divide the hekat so they could use it as a unit of currency.” So the Akhmim tablets, nearly 4,000 years old, contain lists of servants’ names, along with a series of computations concerning how a hekat of grain can be divided by 3, 7, 10, 11 and 13. The Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll, also from about 1650 B.C., is generally considered a kind of practice test for students to learn how to convert fractions into sums of other fractions. The Rhind papyrus contains geometry problems that compute the slopes of pyramids and the volume of variousshaped granaries. And the Moscow papyrus, from about 1850 B.C., has about 25 problems, including ways to measure ships’ parts and ﬁnd the surface area of a hemisphere and the area of triangles. Especially interesting are problems that calculate how efﬁcient a laborer was by how many logs he carried or how many sandals he could make and decorate. Or the problems that involve a pefsu, a unit measuring the strength or weakness of beer or bread based on how much grain is used to make it. The problems in these ancient texts are not difﬁcult by modern mathematical standards. The challenge for scholars has come in deciphering what the problems are saying and checking their accuracy. Some of the numerical equivalents are written in a symbolic system called the Eye of Horus, based on a drawing representing the eye of the sky god Horus, depicted as a falcon. Sections of the falcon’s eye are used to represent fractions: one-half, one-quarter and so on, up to one sixty-fourth.
SCIENCE & TECH 40
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Tracing the Spark of Creative Problem-Solving By BENEDICT CAREY
he puzzles look easy, and mostly they are. Given three words — “trip,” “house” and “goal,” for example — ﬁnd a fourth that will complete a compound word with each. A minute or so of mental trolling (housekeeper, goalkeeper, trip?) is all it usually takes. But who wants to troll? Let lightning strike. Let the clues suddenly coalesce in the brain “ﬁeld!” as they do so often for young children solving a riddle. As they must have done, in the minds of those early humans who outfoxed nature before the advent of deduction, abstraction or SAT prep courses. Puzzle-solving is such an ancient, universal practice, scholars say, precisely because it depends on creative insight, on the primitive spark that ignited the ﬁrst campﬁres. And now, modern neuroscientists are beginning to tap its source. Researchers found that people were more likely to solve word puzzles with sudden insight when they were amused, having just seen a short comedy routine. “What we think is happening,” said Mark Beeman, a neuroscientist “is that the humor, this positive mood, is lowering the brain’s threshold for detecting weaker or more remote connections” to solve puzzles. This and other recent research suggest that the appeal of puzzles goes far deeper than the dopamine-reward rush of ﬁnding a solution. The very idea of doing a crossword or a Sudoku puzzle typically shifts the brain into an open, playful state that is itself a pleasing escape, captivating to people as different as Bill Clinton, a puzzle addict, and the amnesiac Henry Molaison, whose damaged brain craved crosswords. That escape is all the more tantalizing for being incomplete. Unlike the cryptic social and professional mazes of real life, puzzles are reassuringly soluble; but like any serious problem, they require more than mere intellect to crack. “It’s imagination, it’s inference, it’s guessing; and much of it is happening subconsciously,” said Marcel Danesi, a professor of anthropology and the author of “The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life.” “It’s all about you, using your own mind, without any method or schema, to restore order from chaos,” Dr. Danesi said. “And once you have, you can sit back and say, ‘Hey, the rest of my life may be a disaster, but at least I have a solution.’ ” For almost a century scientists have used puzzles to study what they call in-
sight thinking, the leaps of understanding that seem to come out of the blue, without the incremental drudgery of analysis. In one classic experiment, the German psychologist Karl Duncker presented people with a candle, a box of thumbtacks and the assignment of attaching the candle to a wall. About a quarter of the subjects in some studies thought to tack the box to the wall as a support — some immediately, and others after a few failed efforts to tack wax to drywall. The creative leap may well be informed by subconscious cues. In another well-known experiment, psychologists challenged people to tie together two cords; the cords hung from the ceiling of a large room, too far apart to be grabbed at the same time. A small percentage of people solved it without any help, by tying something like a pair of pliers to one cord and swinging it like a pendulum so that it could be caught while they held the other cord. In some experiments researchers gave hints to those who were stumped — for instance, by bumping into one of the strings so that it swung. Many of those who then solved the problem said they had no recollection of the hint, though it very likely registered subconsciously. All along, researchers debated the deﬁnitions of insight and analysis, and some have doubted that the two are any more than sides of the same coin. Yet in an authoritative review of the research, the psychologists concluded that the abilities most strongly correlated with insight problem-solving “were not signiﬁcantly correlated” with solving analytical problems. Either way, creative problem-solving usually requires both analysis and sudden out-of-the-box insight. At least, that is what brain-imaging studies are beginning to show. At ﬁrst, such studies did little more than conﬁrm that the process was happening as expected: brain areas that register reward spiked in activity when people came up with a solution, for instance.. Yet the “Aha!” moment of seeing a solution is only one step along a pathway. A series of recent studies have imaged people’s brains as they prepare to tackle a puzzle but before they’ve seen it. Those whose brains show a particular signature of preparatory activity, one strongly correlated with positive moods, turn out to be more likely to solve the puzzles with
sudden insight than with trial and error (the clues can be solved either way). This signature includes strong activation in a brain area called the anterior cingulate cortex. Previous research has found that cells in this area are active when people widen or narrow their attention — say, when they ﬁlter out distractions to concentrate on a difﬁcult task, like listening for a voice in a noisy room. In this case of insight puzzle-solving, the brain seems to widen its attention, in effect making itself more open to distraction, to weaker connections.. “At this point we have strong circumstantial evidence that this resting state predicts how you solve problems later on,” Dr. Kounios said, “and that it may in fact vary by individual.” The punch line is that a good joke can move the brain toward just this kind of state. In their humor study, Dr. Beeman and Dr. Subramaniam had college students solve word-association puzzles after watching a short video of a stand-up routine by Robin Williams. The students solved more of the puzzles over all, and signiﬁcantly more by sudden insight, compared with when they’d seen a scary or boring video beforehand. This diffuse brain state is not only
an intellectual one, open to looser connections between words and concepts. In a study published last year, researchers at the University of Toronto found that the visual areas in people in positive moods picked up more background detail, even when they were instructed to block out distracting information during a computer task. The ﬁndings ﬁt with dozens of experiments linking positive moods to better creative problem-solving. “The implication is that positive mood engages this broad, diffuse attentional state that is both perceptual and visual,” said Dr. Anderson. “You’re not only thinking more broadly, you’re literally seeing more. The two systems work in parallel.” The idea a distracted brain can be a more insightful one is still a work in progress. So is the notion that puzzle-solving helps the brain in any way to navigate the labyrinth of soured relationships, uncertain career options or hard choices that so often deﬁne the world outside. Acing the crossword or Sudoku suggests some of the tools for the job are intact. As any puzzle-head can attest, that buoyant, open state of mind isn’t a bad one to try on for size once in a while. Whether you’re working a puzzle or not.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
41 SCIENCE & TECH
Murder! Intrigue! Astronomers? By JOHN TIERNEY
hen Danish and Czech scientists exhumed the remains of the astronomer Tycho Brahe in Prague this month, they dug up much more than some bones and hairs. They found something that has eluded astronomers for thousands of years: a story with major box-ofﬁce potential. It’s “Amadeus” meets “Da Vinci Code” meets “Hamlet,” featuring a deadly struggle for the secret of the universe between Tycho, the swashbuckling Danish nobleman with a gold-and-silver prosthetic nose, and the not-yet-famous Johannes Kepler, his frail, jealous German assistant. The story also includes an international hit man, hired after a Danish prince becomes king and suspects Brahe of sleeping with his mother (and maybe being his father!). For comic relief, there’s a beer-drinking pet elk wandering around Tycho’s castle, as well as a jester named Jepp, a dwarf who sits under Tycho’s table and is believed to be clairvoyant. Naturally, the scientists analyzing Brahe’s remains are steering clear of all this gossip, including the claim that Brahe had an affair with the Danish queen that helped inspire “Hamlet.” The archaeologist leading the team cautions that even if they conﬁrm suspicions that Brahe was poisoned by mercury, that wouldn’t necessarily prove he was murdered, much less identify the killer. Typical scientists. Fortunately for Tycho and Kepler, Hollywood has never let a lack of data get in the way of a plot. There’s no evidence that Antonio Salieri poisoned Mozart, and look what the movie “Amadeus” did for their album sales. The only difﬁculty for a screenwriter would be choosing an assassin from the competing candidates (and deciding between scholars’ Latin pronunciation of “Tee-ko” or the “Tye-ko” popularly applied to the lunar crater named after him). The movie would open, of course, with the duel in 1566 that cost the 20-year-old Tycho a good chunk of his nose (a sword ﬁght possibly precipitated by an argument over mathematics, or maybe a mistaken astrological prediction by Tycho). Before long Tycho has a metal nose as well as an island with a castle and an observatory, ﬁnanced by the king of Denmark and equipped with the most precise instruments yet built for tracking the planets and stars. Tycho wins renown by identifying new stars, including a supernova, but after his royal patron dies, Tycho ﬁnds himself out of favor with the son and successor, Christian IV. Tycho goes to Prague and a new patron, Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. As he prepares to publish his decades of celestial observations, Tycho hopes to prove that all the planets except Earth revolve around the Sun, which in
turn revolves around the Earth. To help with the calculations, he brings in Kepler, a 28-year-old with his own weird model of the universe. Kepler, a devout Lutheran as well as a Copernican, believes that God created cosmic “harmony” by arranging the planets’ orbits around the Sun so that they’re spaced at distances corresponding to certain geometrical ﬁgures (the ﬁve “Platonic solids”). Tycho introduces Kepler to the emperor and lobbies for his appointment as imperial mathematician. But before Kepler’s appointment is formalized, Tycho suddenly becomes terribly ill after a banquet and dies 11 days later, at the age of 54. What killed him? At the time of Tycho’s death, in 1601, the blame fell on his failure to relieve himself while drinking profusely at the banquet, supposedly injuring his bladder and making him unable to urinate. (Danes still sometimes invoke Tycho when they explain their need to excuse themselves during a meal.) Later medical experts discounted that and said some kind of kidney problem was more likely. But then, in the 1990s, some hairs from Tycho were separately analyzed. Researchers reported elevated levels of mercury, including one brief high dose that was absorbed within 10 minutes during the ﬁnal 24 hours of his life. Those ﬁndings inspired “Heavenly Intrigue: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and the Murder Behind One of History’s Greatest Scientiﬁc Discoveries,” a 2004 book by a pair of married journalists, Joshua Gilder and Anne-Lee Gilder. They argue that the evidence from the hairs points to two incidents of mercury poisoning, one at the time of the banquet and the other just before death, and that Kepler is the prime suspect because he had the means, the motive and the opportunity. As an assistant living at Tycho’s home, Kepler had access to toxic mercury compounds in Tycho’s alchemical lab and could have poisoned him at the time of the banquet, the Gilders write. When Tycho began to recover 10 days later, they reason, Kepler could have administered a second dose because he was one of the few people at the home who saw Tycho the evening before his death. A devoutly religious scholar may not sound like a good candidate for murderer, but the Gilders argue that Kepler was an unhappy, temperamental zealot. In an astrological self-analysis, he described his “eagerness for trickery” and his plots against his “enemies,” and said he was under the inﬂuence of Mars’s “rage-provoking force.” In his furious arguments with Tycho, he called himself an “uncontrollable spirit” and once told a friend that he felt like attacking Tycho with a sword. Kepler resented Tycho’s higher sta-
tus and, above all, his refusal to allow access to the full log of observations, including the records of Mars’s movements that Kepler considered essential to demonstrate the validity of his own model of the universe. Kepler tried several schemes to see Tycho’s data — to sneakily “wrest his riches away,” as Kepler put it — but Tycho resisted and forced Kepler to keep working on calculations aimed at supporting the Tychonic cosmology. “Kepler’s ambition was to prove his vision of the divine architecture of God’s universe,” Mr. Gilder says in an interview. “Every time he feels Tycho is getting in the way, he blows up at him. Is it plausible that Kepler would kill for a vision? I look around the world and see it happening all the time. Kepler had felt himself despised and outcast his whole life. This would make him famous.” The Gilders’ theory doesn’t sound so plausible to Owen Gingerich, an expert on Kepler who is an emeritus professor of astronomy at Harvard. “The single biggest problem with the theory,” Dr. Gingerich says, “is that at this point Tycho was very actively lobbying with the Emperor Rudolf to appoint Kepler the imperial mathematician. The appointment was in the ﬁnal stages of the negotiation. It would have been very dangerous for Kepler to bump off his chief sponsor for the job.” Nonetheless, things ultimately worked out quite nicely for Kepler because after Brahe’s death he still got the job — and the data. Even though Tycho bequeathed the observatory’s logs to his family, Kepler grabbed them ﬁrst and held on to the crucial Mars records until he and the heirs and the emperor worked out an arrangement allowing him to ﬁnish the project of publishing the observations. Kepler never managed to prove his divine-architecture model, but he made his name anyway, thanks to the records and his own hunch that the Sun exerted some kind of pull on the planets. Using Tycho’s data, he formulated his famous three laws of planetary motion and discovered that the planets traveled around the Sun in elliptical, not circular, orbits. If he did commit a crime, it certainly paid. The other murder suspect is Eric Brahe, a Swedish relative of Tycho’s who was staying at his home. Eric attended the fateful banquet, and his diary contains incriminating entries alluding to his role in the poisoning, says Peter Andersen, a professor of literature at the University of Strasbourg in France. He argues that Eric was hard up for money and was hired for the hit by the new Danish king, Christian IV. Professor Andersen has several hypotheses explaining the king’s animus. One is that a royal science adviser was a Copernican feuding against Ty-
cho. A more cinematic — and Oedipal — hypothesis is that Tycho may have been secretly consorting with Christian’s mother, Queen Sophie, and may have been Christian’s father. Professor Andersen argues that the rumors about Tycho’s royal affair contributed to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Professor Andersen is requesting that the current Danish royal family allow Christian’s body to be exhumed so that his DNA can be compared with Tycho’s, but don’t expect any immediate results. It took Jens Vellev, the archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark who is leading the project, nearly a decade to get permission to exhume Tycho’s body. Professor Vellev suspects that if Tycho was poisoned by mercury, it was from an accidental ingestion in his laboratory or from a medicine administered to treat his urinary problems. That suspicion is shared by Lawrence Principe, a historian of science at Johns Hopkins University who is an expert in alchemy. He says it’s rash to accuse anyone of murder without direct evidence — and maybe it is, to academics and prosecutors. But not, of course, to Hollywood producers. They’d have no qualms about accusing both men (maybe Eric gives the ﬁrst dose at the banquet, and then Kepler delivers the second one). The producers’ chief concern, when they pitched the project, would be dealing with the response from a typical studio executive: “Look, you’ve got some interesting elements to work with here. I love the royal sex and the poison and the duel — could we call him Goldnose? The clairvoyant jester is a nice device. And I totally get the Tycho-Kepler conﬂict — high-living nobleman versus tormented commoner. But ... do they have to be astronomers?”
SCIENCE & TECH 42
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Private Rocket Reaches Orbit in Test Launching By KENNETH CHANG
demonstration ﬂight of a new rocket designed to take cargo to the International Space Station successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Wednesday morning. The engines of the Falcon 9 rocket, built by the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, ignited at 10:43 a.m. Nine minutes later, the capsule riding on top of the Falcon 9 reached an orbit 186 miles high. The capsule is to orbit the Earth twice before splashing down in the Paciﬁc Ocean. The mission is to last less than three and a half hours.
If successful, it would be the ﬁrst commercial spacecraft to gently return to Earth from orbit. The ﬂight is part of a program by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to use private companies for taking cargo and supplies to the space station. SpaceX was selected in 2006. The ﬁrst launching of a Falcon 9, in June, was a test ﬁnanced by the company, and that rocket successfully reached orbit with a mock-up of the capsule named Dragon. Wednesday’s is the ﬁrst ﬂight under the NASA agreement and the ﬁrst to test the Dragon. A second demonstration ﬂight,
going close to the space station but not docking, is scheduled for next spring. A third and ﬁnal demonstration ﬂight under SpaceX’s $278 mi-
llion development contract would dock at the station. SpaceX would then begin delivering cargo under a separate $1.6 billion contract.
Social Science Palooza By DAVID BROOKS
very day, hundreds of thousands of scholars study human behavior. Every day, a few of their studies are bundled and distributed via e-mail by Kevin Lewis, who covers the social sciences for The Boston Globe and National Affairs. And every day, I ﬁle away these studies because I ﬁnd them bizarrely interesting. In this column, I’m going to try to summarize as many of these studies as space allows. No single study is dispositive, but I hope these summaries can spark some conversations: Female mammals tend to avoid close male relatives during moments of peak fertility in order to avoid inbreeding. For the journal Psychological Science, Debra Lieberman, Elizabeth Pillsworth and Martie Haselton tracked young women’s cellphone calls. They found that these women had fewer and shorter calls with their fathers during peak fertility days, but not with female relatives. Classic research has suggested that the more people doubt their own beliefs the more, paradoxically, they are inclined to proselytize in favor of them. David Gal and Derek Rucker published a study in Psychological Science in which they pre-
sented some research subjects with evidence that undermined their core convictions. The subjects who were forced to confront the counterevidence went on to more forcefully advocate their original beliefs, thus conﬁrming the earlier ﬁndings. Physical contact improves team performance. For the journal Emotion, Michael Kraus, Cassey Huang and Dacher Keltner measured how frequently members of N.B.A. teams touched each other. Teams that touched each other frequently early in the 2008-2009 season did better than teams that touched less frequently, even after accounting for player status, preseason expectations and early season performance. According to John Gaski and Jeff Sagarin in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, there is a surprisingly strong relationship between daylight saving time and lower SAT scores. No explanation was offered. For an article in The Review of Economics and Statistics, Mark Duggan, Randi Hjalmarsson and Brian Jacob investigated whether gun shows increase crime rates. They identiﬁed 3,400 gun shows in Texas and California and looked at crime rates for the areas around the shows for the following month. They found no relationship between gun shows and crime in either state.
Self-control consumes glucose in the brain. For an article in the journal Aggressive Behavior, Nathan DeWall, Timothy Deckman, Matthew Gaillot and Brad Bushman found that research subjects who consumed a glucose beverage behaved less aggressively than subjects who drank a placebo beverage. They found an indirect relationship between diabetes (a disorder marked by low glucose levels) and low self-control. States with high diabetes rates also had high crime rates. Countries with a different condition that leads to low glucose levels had higher killing rates, both during wartime and during peacetime. We tend to admire extroverted leaders. But Adam Grant, Francesca Gino and David Hofmann have added a wrinkle to this bias in an article in The Academy of Management Journal. They found that extraverted leaders perform best when their employees are passive, but this effect is reversed when the employees are proactive. In these cases, the extroverted leaders are less receptive to their employees’ initiatives. Beautiful women should take up chess. Anna Dreber, Christer Gerdes and Patrik Gransmark wrote a Stockholm University working paper in which they found that male chess players pursue riskier strate-
gies when they’re facing attractive female opponents, even though the risk-taking didn’t improve their performance. People remember information that is hard to master. In a study for Cognition, Connor DiemandYauman, Daniel Oppenheimer and Erikka Vaughan found that information in hard-to-read fonts was better remembered than information transmitted in easier fonts. Would you rather date someone who dumped his or her last partner or someone who was the dumpee? For an article in Evolutionary Psychology, Christine Stanik, Robert Kurzban and Phoebe Ellsworth found that men will give a woman a lower rating when they learn that she dumped her last boyfriend, perhaps fearing they will be next. But women rated men more highly when they learned that they had done the dumping, perhaps seeing it as a sign of desirability. These studies remind us that we are strange, complicated creatures — deeply inﬂuenced by primordial biases and our current relationships. But you don’t have to settle for my summaries of these kinds of studies. Go to the National Affairs Web site, where there are links to Kevin Lewis’s daily batch of studies. A day without social science is like a day without sunshine.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Top Test Scores From Shanghai Stun Educators By SAM DILLON
ith China’s debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a respected exam. American ofﬁcials and Europeans involved in administering the test in about 65 countries acknowledged that the scores from Shanghai — an industrial powerhouse with some 20 million residents and scores of modern universities that is a magnet for the best students in the country — are by no means representative of all of China. About 5,100 15-year-olds in Shanghai were chosen as a representative cross-section of students in that city. In the United States, a similar number of students from across the country were selected as a representative sample for the test. Experts noted the obvious difﬁculty of using a standardized test to compare countries and cities of vastly different sizes. Even so, they said the stellar academic performance of students in Shanghai was noteworthy, and another sign of China’s rapid modernization. The results also appeared to reﬂect the culture of education there, including greater emphasis on teacher training and more time spent on studying rather than extracurricular activities like sports.
“Wow, I’m kind of stunned, I’m thinking Sputnik,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., who served in President Ronald Reagan’s Department of Education, referring to the groundbreaking Soviet satellite launching. Mr. Finn, who has visited schools all across China, said, “I’ve seen how relentless the Chinese are at accomplishing goals, and if they can do this in Shanghai in 2009, they can do it in 10 cities in 2019, and in 50 cities by 2029.” The test, the Program for International Student Assessment, known as PISA, was given to 15-year-old students by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that includes the world’s major industrial powers. The results are to be released ofﬁcially on Tuesday, but advance copies were provided to the news media a day early. “We have to see this as a wake-up call,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview on Monday. “I know skeptics will want to argue with the results, but we consider them to be accurate and reliable, and we have to see them as a challenge to get better,” he added. “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.” In math, the Shanghai students performed in a class by themselves, outperforming second-place Singapore, which has been seen as an educational superstar in recent years. The average math scores of American students put them below 30 other countries. PISA scores are on a scale, with 500 as the average. Two-thirds of students in participating countries score between 400 and 600. On the math test last year, students in Shanghai scored 600, in Singapore 562, in Germany 513, and in the United States 487. In reading, Shanghai students scored 556, ahead of second-place Korea with 539. The United States scored 500 and came in 17th, putting it on par with students in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and several other countries. In science, Shanghai students scored 575. In second place was Finland, where the average score was 554. The United States scored 502 — in 23rd place — with a performance indistinguishable from Poland, Ireland, Norway, France and several other countries. The testing in Shanghai was carried out by an international contractor, working with Chinese authorities, and overseen by the Australian Council for Educational Research, a nonproﬁt testing group, said Andreas Schleicher, who directs the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s international educational testing program. Mark Schneider, a commissioner of the Department of Education’s research arm in the George W. Bush administration, who returned from an educational research visit to China on Friday, said he had been skeptical about some PISA results in the past. But Mr. Schneider said he considered the accuracy of these results to be unassailable. “The technical side of this was well regulated, the sampling was O.K., and there was no evidence of cheating,” he said. Mr. Schneider, however, noted some factors that may have inﬂuenced the outcome. For one thing, Shanghai is a huge migration hub within China. Students are supposed to return to their home provinces to attend high school, but the Shanghai authorities could increase scores by allowing stellar students to stay in the city, he said. And Shanghai students apparently were told the test was important for China’s image
and thus were more motivated to do well, he said. “Can you imagine the reaction if we told the students of Chicago that the PISA was an important international test and that America’s reputation depended on them performing well?” Mr. Schneider said. “That said, China is taking education very seriously. The work ethic is amazingly strong.” In a speech to a college audience in North Carolina, President Obama recalled how the Soviet Union’s 1957 launching of Sputnik provoked the United States to increase investment in math and science education, helping America win the space race. “Fifty years later, our generation’s Sputnik moment is back,” Mr. Obama said. With billions of people in India and China “suddenly plugged into the world economy,” he said, nations with the most educated workers will prevail. “As it stands right now,” he said, “America is in danger of falling behind.” If Shanghai is a showcase of Chinese educational progress, America’s showcase would be Massachusetts, which has routinely scored higher than all other states on America’s main federal math test in recent years. But in a 2007 study that correlated the results of that test with the results of an international math exam, Massachusetts students scored behind Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Shanghai did not participate in the test. A 259-page Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report on the latest Pisa results notes that throughout its history, China has been organized around competitive examinations. “Schools work their students long hours every day, and the work weeks extend into the weekends,” it said. Chinese students spend less time than American students on athletics, music and other activities not geared toward success on exams in core subjects. Also, in recent years, teaching has rapidly climbed up the ladder of preferred occupations in China, and salaries have risen. In Shanghai, the authorities have undertaken important curricular reforms, and educators have been given more freedom to experiment. Ever since his organization received the Shanghai test scores last year, Mr. Schleicher said, international testing experts have investigated them to vouch for their accuracy, expecting that they would produce astonishment in many Western countries. “This is the ﬁrst time that we have internationally comparable data on learning outcomes in China,” Mr. Schleicher said. “While that’s important, for me the real signiﬁcance of these results is that they refute the commonly held hypothesis that China just produces rote learning.” “Large fractions of these students demonstrate their ability to extrapolate from what they know and apply their knowledge very creatively in novel situations,” he said.
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Attacks on Immigrants on the Rise in Greece
By NIKI KITSANTONIS
wave of violent attacks against immigrants by suspected right-wing extremists has put Muslims and the police on alert in rundown parts of Athens with burgeoning migrant populations. Immigrants have been beaten and stabbed near central squares, and several makeshift mosques have been burned and vandalized. In the most grievous attack, at the end of October, the assailants locked the door of a basement prayer site and hurled ﬁrebombs through the windows, seriously wounding four worshipers. “The attacks are constant — I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Naim Elghandour, who moved to Athens from Egypt in the 1970s and now heads the Muslim Association of Greece. “I used to be treated like an equal. Now I’m getting death threats.” Tensions in neglected, crime-ridden parts of Athens with growing immigrant communities have been mounting over the past two years. Highlighting expanding public discontent, the extreme right-wing group Chrysi Avgi, or “Golden Dawn,” won its ﬁrst ever seat on the Athens City Council in local elections three weeks ago. The group mustered strong support in working-class neighborhoods in the capital and elsewhere in Greece by describing migrants as a drain on the economy, which is reeling from
a debt crisis, and calling for immediate deportations. The Greek news media linked the group to the violence after a spray-painted cross merged with a circle — a symbol used by extreme rightists worldwide — was found on the wall of a ﬁrebombed prayer site. But the police have not conﬁrmed a connection, saying no arrests have been made. The group did not respond to requests for comment. Thanassis Kokkalakis, a police spokesman, said the problem was complex. He said that while “extremist elements” were believed to be behind certain attacks, there was also violence between migrants of different ethnic origins, muggings of Greeks by poverty-stricken foreigners and clashes between extreme rightists and left-wing protesters. “All this chaos stems from a constantly growing population of immigrants in these areas,” said Mr. Kokkalakis, noting that about 150 migrants arrived in Athens daily despite the mobilization of European Union guards in early November at Greece’s land border with Turkey. “The upheaval has fueled aggravation among residents, which is being exploited by extremist groups.” The residents of the problem areas are divided: Some want dialogue and better policing, while others are taking matters into their own hands. Elderly and middle-aged residents often sit in local squares during the daytime, shouting abusive
statements at migrants when they go by. Small gangs of teenagers stalk the neighborhoods by night, but it remains unclear if they are locals or visiting extremists. The police have stepped up patrols following reports of attacks by vigilantes who, locals say, are as young as 14. “I saw three kids bashing an Afghan man with wooden poles until blood ran down his face,” said Muhammad, the Syrian manager of a convenience store in Aghios Panteleimonas, once a lively neighborhood, now a no-go zone. Like other migrants living in the area, he would not give his surname for fear of reprisals. The exact number of attacks remains unclear. “The victims are usually too scared to go to police,” said Thanassis Kourkoulas, a spokesman for Deport Racism, a group that offers targeted migrants advice and support. Others say this reﬂects a general trend in Europe. “Hate crimes against Muslims are underreported and underrecorded,” said Taskin Soykan, who advises the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on combating racial intolerance. The attacks in Greece mirror similar incidents in other European countries, including Switzerland, where a referendum last November led to a ban on the construction of minarets on mosques, and in France and Italy, where the authorities have deported Roma residents and immigrants. “The difference in Italy is that most of the attacks were in the provinces, while in Greece they are in the heart of the capital, which is potentially far more explosive,” Liz Fekete of the Institute of Race Relations in London said. “The common factor is the formation of vigilante groups, egged on by the far right.” Angry protesters, including some thought to be right-wing extremists, had to be restrained by the police last month when thousands of Muslims congregated in several Athens squares for a religious festival. At one site, ofﬁcers ﬁred tear gas to disperse a small group of demonstrators, who continued their protest from the balconies of apartment complexes, pelting worshipers with eggs and playing loud
music to disturb the prayers. The day after the protests, government ofﬁcials said a stalled project to build an ofﬁcial mosque was back on track. Athens is the only capital of the original 15 E.U. member states to lack a state-approved mosque. Although the country’s inﬂuential Orthodox Church has given its support to the project, opinion polls show that half of Athens’s ﬁve million residents oppose the creation of a mosque to serve the capital’s Muslim community, which numbers about 500,000. “A large mosque with minarets in the city center will be a provocation,” said Dimitrios Pipikios, the head of a residents’ group in Aghios Panteleimonas, where Chrysi Avgi drew 20 percent of the vote in recent elections. Mr. Pipikios said the only way to ease tensions was to deport immigrants. “There is no room for us all,” he said, adding that extreme rightists were patrolling the area “because the police are not doing their job.” Other residents said they felt intimidated. “The situation is totally out of control,” said Maria Kanellopoulou, who wants not deportations but the better social integration of immigrants. The local authorities are determined to tackle the problem, said a spokesman for Giorgos Kaminis, the newly elected mayor of Athens. “Chasing immigrants away from city squares is an established technique of extreme rightists, and we are seeking advice on how to deal with it,” said the spokesman, Takis Kampilis, who has approached the municipal authorities in Germany, who have averted similar campaigns by neo-Nazis. The new mayor is also planning to improve health care and housing for migrants and organize street markets where they can legitimately sell wares rather than touting illegally on street corners. Ms. Fekete said increasing integration would help, but to stamp out extreme violence, local and central governments must condemn it in strong terms. “If the authorities do not speak out, public tolerance of the violence will grow,” she said. “This is a wake-up call.”
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Chilean Prison Fire Kills 81 Inmates F
ire engulfed a prison in the Chilean capital, killing 81 inmates and critically injuring 14 others, the government said, in the country’s third-deadliest blaze ever. Ofﬁcials said the ﬁre was deliberately started during an earlymorning brawl between inmates in one of the crowded prison’s ﬁve towers. Television footage showed part of the San Miguel prison in ﬂames, billowing with black smoke, before the blaze was put out by ﬁreﬁghters. Hundreds of frantic relatives of the inmates ﬂooded to the prison gates, screaming their family members’ names and imploring police to tell them who had survived. Ofﬁcials later began informing the families of those killed. “It is a hugely painful tragedy,” President Sebastian Pinera said. “We cannot guarantee the number of dead will not rise.” A regional governor said the ofﬁcial estimate was 81, down slightly after clarifying a hospital report. When ofﬁcials read an initial list of conﬁrmed survivors by megaphone, relatives responded with agonized wails, assuming that those not included were dead. Hundreds of grieving family members surged against barricades, raining rocks and glass bottles on police and ofﬁcials. “Desperation does this to people,” said Luz Mira, whose son is serving a ﬁve-year sentence in the prison. “Things are happening in this prison all the time. Imagine so
many people stuffed in together.” Justice Minister Felipe Bulnes said the prison housed 1,960 inmates, nearly twice the 1,100 inmate capacity. “There were only ﬁve ofﬁcers and one paramedic on guard inside the jail,” said Arturo Sandoval, president of a union of prison emplo-
yees. “This tragedy was inevitable and another could happen tomorrow in any prison in this country given the overpopulation of more than 100 percent.” State television reported that a recent audit of the San Miguel prison condemned overcrowded and understaffed conditions. A spokesman for ﬁreﬁghters said they were alerted to the ﬁre by a cellphone call from within the jail. “We cannot keep living with a prison system which is absolutely inhumane,” Pinera said. “We are going to speed up the process to ensure our country has a humane, digniﬁed prison system that beﬁts a civilized country.” The president said it was the
third-worst ﬁre Chile has ever suffered and the worst-ever accident in the country’s jail system. Chile’s deadliest blaze occurred in 1863, also on December 8, when more than 2,000 people died in a burning church in the capital. Within weeks, volunteers founded Chile’s ﬁrst corps of ﬁreﬁghters. SERIES OF ACCIDENTS This ﬁre is also the latest in a string of disasters and accidents to hit Chile this year, including a devastating February earthquake and ensuing tsunamis and a mine collapse that trapped 33 miners underground for two months. Waves of families arrived at the prison throughout the morning as they got word of the dawn blaze. It was visiting day, so many families had already planned trips to
the prison. After hours of uncertainty, distressed relatives began climbing onto the prison fence, screaming a chorus of inmates’ names at barred windows blackened with smoke. Some prisoners waved their arms and T-shirts through the bars. “Rusio Victor -- wave a white T-shirt, Daddy!” shouted 7-year-old Yadira Lopez as she hung from the fence, eager for a sign of life from her father. For some, there was relief. Gonzalo Sepulveda wept after managing to contact his brother Cristian. “I’d die if something happened to him,” Sepulveda said. “Those aren’t animals they have in there. They are human beings who have made mistakes.”
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Election Violence Flares in Haiti, Closing Airport By DEBORAH SONTAG
rotesters torched the headquarters of the governmentbacked presidential candidate, burned tires and blocked streets with rubble from earthquake-destroyed buildings after the release of preliminary election results set off violence and new questions about vote rigging. This normally trafﬁc-clogged city was almost empty of cars except for Haitian police patrols, the airport was shut down after American Airlines canceled ﬂights in and out of the country and an eerie quiet reigned, interrupted by the chanting from sporadic marches and by sirens wailing. In the hilly suburb of Pétionville, hundreds demonstrators were massing to march toward the electoral board ofﬁces, which they threatened to burn down, Haitian radio reported. United Nations peacekeeping troops, guarding the ofﬁces, WWwere shooting in the air to keep the protesters away, the radio said. Nine days after a turbulent election marred by disorganization, voter intimidation and fraud, the country’s electoral board announced that Mirlande Manigat, a former Haitian ﬁrst lady, and Jude Célestin, the governing party’s candidate, had won the ﬁrst round of voting. It also said that Michel Martelly, a singer with an impassioned following in the streets of this bedraggled city, had come in third, closely behind Mr. Célestin. This means, if the results stand, that he would not
qualify to compete in a January runoff election. The exclusion of Mr. Martelly and the inclusion of Mr. Célestin, who is considered a hand-picked successor to the increasingly unpopular departing President René Préval, incited the protests. Mr. Préval addressed the country by radio and television, appealing for calm and saying that the election results should be challenged by means of a formal protest to the electoral board. “It is not through disorder that we will ﬁnd the true results,” Mr. Préval said. Mr. Martelly had vowed to contest the results if they did not appear to reﬂect “the will of the people.”
Reached by telephone Mr. Martelly, who has not spoken publicly since the results were released, declined to comment, saying he needed to confer ﬁrst with his manager. Mr. Célestin’s campaign manager, sitting in a parked car behind a windshield freshly shattered by rocks, said that Mr. Célestin was also going to contest the election results. According to the electoral board, Ms. Manigat garnered 31.4 percent of the vote, with Mr. Célestin getting 22.5 percent and Mr. Martelly getting 21.8 percent. If these results withstood challenges, Ms. Manigat and Mr. Célestin would head into a runoff on Jan. 16. But Mr. Célestin’s campaign manager, Sen. Joseph Lambert, said that Mr. Célestin believed he won the vote outright, with 52 percent. Mr. Lambert asserted that “the international community” had pressured the electoral board to announce “diplomatically engineered results” because they feared instability. Mr. Lambert also said that Mr. Celestin was doing his best to keep his supporters in the rough slum called Cité Soleil from pouring into the streets in outrage. “If we cannot hold them back, prepare yourself for civil war,” he said. The violence began after a long, tense day in which Haitians expressed anxiety that the results could
ignite unrest. The ofﬁcial announcement at 9 p.m. resulted in rockthrowing, tire-burning and shooting in several urban neighborhoods and outside the capital city. Toward midnight, smoke curled into the sky above Port-au-Prince and protesters’ chants and drums ﬁlled the air. Haiti had remained calm this year after a devastating earthquake, a slow recovery, a deadly hurricane and a raging cholera epidemic. But the angry reactions raised concerns that a period of volatility could lie ahead. The United States Embassy put out a statement urging all Haitian political ﬁgures to stay calm and urge their followers to do the same. It expressed concern that the preliminary results were “inconsistent” with the ﬁndings of an independent Haitian election group that posted thousands of observers throughout the country and anticipated a runoff between Ms. Manigat and Mr. Martelly — as well as with the reports of other observers, including Americans. “The United States, together with Haiti’s international community partners, stands ready to support efforts to thoroughly review irregularities in support of electoral results that are consistent with the will of the Haitian people expressed in their votes,” the statement said.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Festive Hatillo Masks T
he masks represent the persecution of evil soldiers to childres by orders of KING Herodâ€™s evil and obsession to kill all infants and released a new creature that would ruled in his homeland and thoughout the workd. On December 28, every year in Hatillo, they celebrate the day of the Masks, being one of the most moving and traditional activities of the island. Its colorful and festive celebration makes this the summit in the Puerto Rican culture. Held in Hatillo since its founding in 1823, it came as a result of the settlers, and that tradition is based on the Canaries culture. The Spanish from the Canary
Islands whick took possession of the neighboring lands, led them to later generations cultural belongings brought from their land, we
honor them and we now have and cherish with pride. The masks of â€œherodinaâ€? representation when wicked soldiers chased the children order by Herold. That is way children in Hatillo celebrate it in December 27 instead of December 28, Fools Day. This will simutate the chase of children the day before and the masks the day after. Formerly, the garmens were primative,grotesque, masks made of cardboard, clay Continues on page 48
48 December 16 - 22, 2010
Comes from page 47 and ďŹ g. The made your body dress like rags, female or painted. Step by step cloths have been changing, then the brightness and currently very exprensive exotic clothes dominates the occasion. Where it has been shown greater fervor is in the Barrion Lechuga where neighborhoods converge; Capaes, Narangito and Corcobo. They ride on horseback, on foot
and now in all types of transportation. All kind 0f people join, from humble people, professionals, etc. It is difďŹ cult to distinguish or who may be the person behind the mask. The mask is made of chicken wire and a expensive suit, whick range from $100 to $500. While begging for money and doing evil to their friens, it is not a personal reason, is only an incentive to justify evil. Some
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isolated cases of people in need is seen as an opportunity to provide some money, however it is considered part of the activity. Elegant and colorful uni-
forms with decorations and bells are great for sidewalks, roads and highways from early in the morning. One after another the visit the homes. Drinks, food and money are spend in homes. Many of friens and families come together to celebrate. In the end, the festival is a recreational space where more people can participate and even observe the costumes and reward the effort of making costumes and ďŹ‚oats. participants then continue to visit homes until evening.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
36 Hours in Damascus 10 a.m. 4) PILLARS OF ISLAM One of the holiest sites in Islam is the Umayyad Mosque. Built in the early eighth century on the former site of the Roman temple to Jupiter, the vast rectangular structure is celebrated for its green and gold mosaics, and for the Islamic ﬁgures buried there. Just above the north wall is the mausoleum of Saladin, the celebrated medieval leader of the Islamic forces against Richard the Lion-Hearted and the Crusaders. In the east wing, black-clad mourners pay their respects at the silver cofﬁn of the Shiite martyr Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, whose murder in A.D. 680 cemented the great SunniShiite split. Admission: 50 lira. Noon 5) NO KEBABS Looking for great hummus, tabbouleh and kebabs? Look elsewhere. The tiny Grape Leaves cafe (just south of Al Qemerieh Street; 963-11-542-6160)
By SETH SHERWOOD
AMASCUS loves to ﬂaunt its age. It claims to be the world’s oldest inhabited city — replete with biblical and Koranic lore, Roman ruins, ancient Islamic ediﬁces and Ottoman-era palaces. But that’s not to say the Syrian capital is stuck in time. Dozens of centuries-old mansions have been reborn as Mideast-chic hotels, and fashionable shops and restaurants have arisen in the ancient lanes of the Old City. Throw in a ﬂedgling generation of bars and clubs, and the age-old metropolis has never looked so fresh.
Friday 5 p.m. 1) STREET CALLED STRAIGHT “Rise and go to the street called Straight.” That was God’s dictum to Ananias of Damascus, who cured Saul after he was famously blinded by the light, leading to his conversion and new identity as Paul. It’s still excellent advice. In recent years, the ancient ediﬁces along Straight Street have welcomed design shops, Wi-Fi cafes and stylish hangouts like the Khan (Straight Street, Midhat Pasha Suq, Maktab Anbar district; 963-11-544-99340; thekhan-sy. com). The artsy mall opened this year in a 17th-century mansion and is ﬁlled with cool shops and galleries like Tajalliyat Art Gallery (which specializes in Syrian contemporary painters), Yabi & Yamo (modern updates of classic Syrian furniture) and Khanoum (Middle Eastern fashion designers). 8 p.m. 2) MEZZE MASTERS Also on Straight Street is Naranj (963-11-541-3600), a stylish new restau-
rant across from the Roman Arch. Under carved wood ceilings and soaring archways, a well-heeled international crowd smokes water pipes and chats animatedly as white-clad waiters serve excellent mezze including mekanek, tender sausages soaked in a light lemon broth. Also worthwhile are djaj mousakhan (a Levantine answer to the egg roll made from diced chicken that gets dusted in tangy sumac powder and deep fried in an oily-crisp bread shell) and burghal bi dﬁn (a slow-cooked leg of lamb served with mounds of ﬂuffy steamed burghal). A large meal for two, without wine, runs about 2,000 lira (as Syrian pounds are commonly called), about $45 at 44.5 lira to the dollar. 10 p.m. 3) CAFE CULTURE Cozy couches, bookshelves, local artworks and a decent bar have made Cham Mahal Art Café (Al Amin Street; 963-11-543-5349) into a de facto living room for the city’s creative set. On certain nights you’ll ﬁnd jazz, guitar, ﬂamenco or other groups giving concerts. The music sounds even better with a bottle of Lebanese Al Maza beer (100 lira) or a glass of Lebanese wine (175 lira) from Chateau Ksara.
ditches Mideastern culinary stereotypes in favor of simple, rustic home cooking. The young guys behind the counter serve earthy dishes like sheikh al mahshi (a gloriously sloppy ragout of zucchini stuffed with ground lamb in a warm yogurt sauce over rice) and fasoulia bil zeit (a vegetarian mix of slow-cooked green beans and lentils in a tomato-garlic sauce). The milky-sweet rice pudding is a ﬁne ﬁnish. Lunch for two is around 550 lira. 2 p.m. 6) GOAT HAIR SHIRTS While the Old City’s best-known bazaar is undoubtedly Souk El Hamidiyeh, the real treasures are hidden deeper in the maze. Fadi (across from the south wall of the Umayyad Mosque; 963-11-221-1848) has gauzy red vests with ornate embroidery handmade from camel and goat hair (2,500 lira). The two-year-old
Continues on page 50
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Comes from page 49 DanMas shop (Maktab Anbar Street; 963-93-331-9180) carries hand-loomed cotton towels (2,200 lira) and hooded bathrobes (6,000 lira). And Ghassan Orientals (across from Al-Maljaa park; 963-11-543-5615) specializes in handmade furniture inlaid with mother-ofpearl patterns. 5 p.m. 7) SULTAN OF SWEAT Sweltering in a hot, wet underground room and having your skin scoured by a stranger might not sound like the sexiest form of ﬁtness, but the time-honored tradition is remarkably restorative. Built in the 14th century, Hammam Al Nasri (Al Nassiri Street, Old City, south of Straight Street; 963-11-543-6126) reopened this summer after a half-century of disuse. Grab a towel, take a seat in the tile-lined inner sanctum and let the superheated vapors purge the ﬁlth and toxins from your pores. Afterward, a hammam worker will rub you with an exfoliating glove, wrap you in soft towels and lead you into the tea lounge. The experience costs 380 lira. Note: The hammam is women-only every day until 4 p.m. Afterward it is exclusively for men; Friday is men only. 8 p.m. 8) CULINARY PEARLS If you learn only one Arabic phrase, “kebab karaz” might offer the tastiest payoff. It means cherry kebab,
and the combination of succulent lamb chunks and sour-sweet cherry sauce is a beloved dish from the Syrian city of Aleppo. At the new Luluat al Sharq restaurant (Jisr al Abyad, New Damascus; 963-11-331-1604), which translates as Pearl of the East, the noted chef Yasser Jneidi serves Aleppan delicacies in a lavishly restored early-20th-century mansion. The silky-smooth hummus is whipped with generous infusions of tahini and lemon juice, and the glistening red muhammara (made from ﬁnely diced nuts, spices and olive oil) has an admirable kick. A meal for two, without drinks, runs about 2,500 lira. 11 p.m. 9) ARABIAN NIGHT LIFE Rub elbows with the city’s young, Western-oriented Syrians at Z-Bar (Omayad Hotel, corner of Maysaloun and Brazil Streets, New Damascus; 963-11-221-7700; omayad-hotel.com) , a sleek rooftop bar with some pricey bottles of Roberto Cavalli vodka on the shelf. The style-conscious and alcohol-laden crowd sways to house, trance and Arabic pop music, while
marveling at the nocturnal views. Even swankier, the open-air dance ﬂoor of Dome (Unknown Soldier Road, East Doummar district; 963-99-155-5444; domesyria.com) feels like Syria via South Beach, with its white Chesterﬁeld couches and white neo-Baroque bar stools. The 20- and 30-something patrons get dolled up in high hemlines and plunging necklines, designer jeans and fat silvery watches.
Sunday 10 a.m. 10) VANISHED EMPIRES Visitors to the National Museum (Al Jamiaa Street; 963-11-222-8566) usually make a beeline to its two famous artifacts: a tablet from the ancient city of Ugarit inscribed with what is believed to be one of the world’s ﬁrst known alphabets and the ornate Jewish temple from the vanished desert town of Dura Europos. But other masterpieces lurk in lesser-viewed corners. Among them are the Mari wing, which includes a gypsum statue of the singer of the temple of Ur-Nanshe, with his curiously androgynous look, and a
wing devoted to Islamic-era ceramics, metalwork and carvings, including a rare plate depicting the Tree of Life. Admission: 150 lira. 1 p.m. 11) LEATHER AND LOOMS Damascus offers much more than just tablecloths and cheap souvenirs. The handicraft souk next to the Tekkiye Suleymaniye mosque is noted for its skilled artisans and (generally) ﬁxed prices. The leather master Ahmad Jaqmiri (main alley; 963-11-224-7590) fashions handmade belts (600 to 1,500 lira) and bags in all sizes (from 350 lira). And just off the souk’s main passage in a small courtyard, the female weavers at Wardy feed strands of wool into a wooden hand-operated loom. The colorful, geometric carpets (1,000 lira) weave together age-old tradition with contemporary styling.
IF YOU GO
Opened this year, Agenor (Straight Street; 963-11-541-3651; agenorhotel. com) is a luxurious 12-room boutique hotel in a 19th-century mansion brimming with ornate mosaics, intricately carved wood, hammered copper, inlaid furniture and other sumptuous traditional details. Doubles from $225. Al Pasha Hotel (Zaitoun Street; 963-11-543-0100; alpashahotel.com), another 2010 creation, is a 16-room minipalace that features lavish old- style Damascene décor. A gym, spa and pleasant outdoor bar are on the premises. Doubles from $195. Decades ago, the grand Art Decostyle Orient Palace Hotel (Hijaz Square, new Damascus; 963-11-221-1510; orientpalacehotel.net) entertained visiting celebrities and heads of state. The hotel is now a shell of its former self, but the faded glory and central location make it a decent budget option. Doubles: $60.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Rigs in Gulf Ready to Drill, but There’s Little Work By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
or the 31 workers on this jackup oil rig, the waiting is ﬁnally over. In recent weeks, they have been doing basic chores like painting handrails and scrubbing the deck while the federal government reviewed Castex Energy’s application to drill a natural gas well in 150 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico — a normally quick process that turned glacial after the BP oil spill on April 20 prompted regulators to shut down almost all new drilling in the region. The usual deafening clatter of the driller shack and engine room on the Seahawk 2007 had been replaced by relative silence. After ﬁnishing a shift, the men typically went to their cabins instead of playing poker with their buddies, hitting the weight room or watching football in the television room. With no alcohol on board, many of the men had been eating more, Kenneth Milton, a rig cook, told a reporter visiting on Monday. “Everyone’s tensed up, nervous.” Much of that tension will now ease. On Tuesday, regulators ﬁnally granted a drilling permit to Castex, which has a contract with the Seahawk 2007 to drill the well. Over the next few days, the structure will be towed from its current location near Cameron, La., to a drill site off the Texas coast. “I’m glad they ﬁnally stopped dragging their feet,” said Gerald Wayne Blanchard, the top supervisor on the rig. “Now we can get back to work.” But the long-term prospects for the workers on the Seahawk 2007 — and their employer, Seahawk Drilling — remain in doubt. The workers still have jobs, but many of them are making signiﬁcantly less than they did before the BP accident. Seahawk Drilling has suffered so much from the slowdown that it is considering
selling some rigs — and maybe the whole company. “If we get a good offer, we’re on the block,” said Randall D. Stilley, Seahawk’s president and chief executive. That is part of the legacy of the BP disaster, which killed 11 people, spilled millions of barrels of oil, and shook up a regulatory regime that had for years granted drilling permits without much review. Over the last few weeks, about a quarter of the gulf’s 46 shallow water oil rigs were idle, according to Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition and senior vice president at Hercules Offshore. That compares with 5 to 10 percent in normal times, he said. After a ﬂurry of permits were granted in late September and early October, he said, “we have seen another trickle.” Although the ban on drilling in the gulf was ofﬁcially lifted weeks ago, the top regulator for offshore drilling acknowledged
Tuesday that permits have been slower in coming as the government stiffened safety requirements and intensiﬁed its reviews. “I feel terrible for the guys on the rig who did nothing wrong,” Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, said in an interview. “They are victims.” At the same time, Mr. Bromwich said, “it would be odd to act as if nothing had happened in April.” After overhauling its procedures and lifting a six-monthlong moratorium, the agency is just now beginning to receive applications for new deepwater wells similar to the BP well. Applications for shallow-water wells, which are considered less risky and were frozen for only a few weeks, have been moving more quickly. As of Tuesday morning, regulators said, they had approved 12 of the 23 permit applications submitted since June 8 and eight earlier applications that had been
revised to meet tougher standards. Mr. Bromwich said that later this week, his agency would be releasing new guidelines that “we hope will clarify some of the ambiguities, uncertainties that we have heard about.” Dale Johnson, a roustabout on the Seahawk 2007, is eager to get back to work. Early this year, Mr. Johnson bought the home of his dreams in rural Mississippi: a brick house with a big front porch, a lake view, and shade from pine, oak and dogwood trees. Weeks later, the BP well blew out. As most drilling in the gulf came to a halt, Seahawk Drilling went into a ﬁnancial tailspin, and Mr. Johnson was demoted from a crane operator position paying $26 an hour to his current role, which pays $17 an hour. Even if drilling restarts, he is unlikely to get his old job, and its higher pay, back soon. “It was a kick in the stomach,” said Mr. Johnson, 44. “I told my wife I feel like a nobody again.”
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly
Delayed Childrearing, More Stressful Lives By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
new study ﬁnds that delayed marriage and childbearing are leading to increased stress for American men and women in balancing work and family obligations. Noting that the median age for ﬁrst marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women, the study, “Family Change and Time Allocation in American Families,” says, “Delayed marriage and childbearing heighten the likelihood that the greatest childrearing demands come at the same time that job and career demands are great – particularly among the well-educated.” The study adds, “Delayed childbearing also increases the likelihood that one’s parents may begin to suffer ill health and need assistance before one’s children are fully launched.” In other words, many men and women feel hugely stretched and stressed trying to help out their not fully launched twenty-something children at the same time the health of their octogenarian parents is failing. The study, done by Suzanne M. Bianchi, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles, was released on Tuesday as part of Focus on Workplace Flexibility, a conference co-sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Georgetown University Law Center to examine worklife issues and encourage more employers to give
ﬂexibility to their workers. In research based on time diaries, Professor Bianchi found that as American mothers have increased their labor force participation rate, they are devoting fewer hours to housework, but have maintained their hours devoted to childrearing. The study found that mothers did 22.6 hours of paid work on average in 2008, up from 18.8 in 1985. During that time, mothers increased their time devoted to childcare to 13.9 hours a week, from 8.4 in 1985. But they reduced their housework time to 17.4 hours from 20.4 and, according to the time diaries, mothers also reduced their time devoted to grooming — to 8.4 hours per week in 2008 from 12.2 in 1985. As for fathers, they have increased their hours on the job to 39.5 in 2008, from 35.7 in 1985. But they are also devoting more time to childcare, to 7.8 hours per week from 2.6 in 1985. Professor Bianchi suggests that parents are devoting more time to childcare, partly because more live in urban areas and feel the need to take their children to school, but also because “parents are increasingly concerned with giving their children a wide range of opportunities with the hope that this will ensure children’s later life educational success.” Translated, that means more time coaching soccer or Little League or taking kids to ballet or gymnastics classes. The study found that 44 percent of employed mothers with a full-time employed spouse say they have too little time with their youngest child, 73 percent say they have too little time with their spouse and 74 percent say they have too little time for themselves. And among fathers in dual-income, fulltime couples, 58 percent say they have too little time with their youngest child, 62 percent say they have too little time with their spouse and 58 percent say they have too little time for themselves. “Fathers appear to be ‘picking up some of the slack’ induced by increasing paid work of mothers,” Professor Bianchi wrote. “Yet fathers continue to be more likely than mothers to work long hours and may or may not feel they have a choice about working those hours. At the same time, fathers’ long paid work hours may be part of the reason why mothers in some families feel they must curtail their hours of employment. Someone must focus on family caregiving—and that someone remains, more often than not, the mother.” Her study found that working mothers in particular give up leisure time and sleep (compared with mothers not in the labor force) in order to the demands of childrearing and jobs. The study founds that, “Large per-
centages of mothers, no matter their labor force status, report they ‘are always rushed,’ are ‘multitasking most of the time,’ and that they have ‘too little time for themselves.’ ” In a second study released at the Workplace Flexibility conference, Barbara Schneider, a sociology professor at Michigan State, found that parents were doing a tremendous amount of multitasking, juggling work and family matters. “Working parents multitask slightly more than half of their waking time,” she wrote in her paper, “The Human Face of Workplace Flexibility.” “Some of this time is during leisure activities and when commuting,” she writes. “When such periods of time are excluded, multitasking as it relates to work and home activities occurs a little less than a third of the time that parents are awake. Mothers multitask more than fathers at home, fathers multitask more than mothers at work; both multitask more at home than at work. When at work, fathers are more likely to be engaged in two work-related activities; this combination is less likely for mothers.” Among mothers, multitasking was associated with higher levels of being frustrated, irritated, and stressed). Mothers are also more likely to report negative feelings about work and family when multitasking. Professor Schneider noted that it is little wonder that American mothers and fathers have to multitask so much. She noted that most states require that children spend a minimum of 180 days in school, meaning that parents have at least 185 days when they have to manage their children’s care, some of which occurs over the weekend. “If parents’ jobs do not occur over the weekend,” she wrote, “they still are responsible for at least 81 week days during the year when their children are not scheduled to be in school. Most full-time jobs allow for two weeks of vacation and some personal days; taking these times into account, there are approximately 55 days per year that parents are responsible for their children’s care when they have to work .” Professor Schneider asks why so many mothers work full-time if that makes them more stressed and means less time to be with their children. She notes that many mothers are working long hours at their jobs, partly because they like working outside the home, but often and importantly because they want to qualify for job beneﬁts such as health insurance, paid absences and retirement plans. “Adolescents do not resent that their parents work,” she wrote. “However they are angry when parents work late or miss events.”
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
In Tax Plan, a Boost for Jobs By DAVID LEONHARDT
resident Obama and the Democrats made the mistake of assuming an economic recovery was under way. This week’s deal to extend the Bush tax cuts shows the White House’s top priority is avoiding the same mistake again — even if it has to upset fellow Democrats. Mr. Obama traded tax cuts for the afﬂuent, which Republicans were demanding, for a second stimulus bill that seemed improbable a few weeks ago. Mr. Obama yielded to Republicans on extending the high-end Bush tax cuts and on cutting the estate tax below its scheduled level. In exchange, Republicans agreed to extend unemployment beneﬁts, cut payroll taxes and business taxes, and extend a grab bag of tax credits for college tuition and other items. For the White House, the deal represents a clear shift in policy. Mr. Obama and Democrats spent much of the last year pursuing long-term goals like a health care overhaul and ﬁnancial regulation, while hoping the economic recovery would continue. With the recovery faltering and Republicans retaking the House, the administration is turning back to job creation. Congressional Democrats have reacted with a mix of wariness and anger, and some said Mr. Obama should have put up a
ﬁght on the high-end tax cuts. Yet once the Democrats bungled this issue — failing to deal with it before the midterm elections — their choices were extremely limited. If they stood ﬁrm on the high-end tax cuts and Republicans stood ﬁrm as well, all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those on income above $250,000, would have expired Dec. 31. The economy would surely have suffered as a result, and a bad economy is rarely good for the party that holds the White House. Tellingly, economists and Democratic policy experts were largely pleased with the deal. Forecasting ﬁrms upgraded their estimates for growth and job gains over the next two years. Economists at Goldman Sachs, who have been more negative and more accurate than most Wall Street forecasters lately, called the deal “signiﬁcantly more positive” than they had anticipated. Left-leaning policy experts said the package did more to create jobs than they
had thought possible after the Republicans’ midterm election victories. Of its estimated $900 billion-plus cost over two years, roughly $120 billion covers high-end tax cuts and the estate tax cut, $450 billion covers Mr. Obama’s wish list and $360 billion covers tax cut extensions both parties favored. The risk for Democrats, and the economy, remains the same as it was. Financial crises wreak havoc. They typically cause unemployment to rise for more than ﬁve years and leave consumers and business uncertain when healthy growth will resume. Aftershocks are common, as is evident in Europe. Virtually no economist believes the new stimulus package will be big enough to make the economy feel healthy soon. The ideal package would be larger than the current, and would be better tailored. The $120 billion cut in payroll tax, will apply to the portion paid by workers, not companies. The Congressional Budget Ofﬁce have said cutting the workers’ portion provides less bang for the buck because individuals are likely to save some portion. Cutting the employers’ portion subsidizes hiring. Politics prevented the best kind of payroll tax cut. Republicans did not want one larger than the $120 billion, one-year cut in the package. Administration ofﬁcials wanted the political beneﬁt of having that whole sum apply to individual workers. The resul-
ting compromise will help the economy, but not as much as it could have. Initial estimates suggested the overall legislation would reduce the unemployment rate by one-half a percentage point to a full point over the next year, compared with allowing all the tax cuts to expire and passing no new stimulus. By 2012, the decline could be up to 1.5 points. The unemployment rate will probably be near 8 percent by the end of 2012, when the current package expires, and the two parties will get to have this ﬁght all over again. White House ofﬁcials hope the economy will improve enough to help Mr. Obama win re-election — and allow him to threaten, credibly, to veto any bill that includes a tax cut for the wealthy. This week’s deal, will worsen the deﬁcit. In the short run, many economists believe a larger deﬁcit is better than the alternative. Any additional spending now should be paired with future deﬁcit reduction. Otherwise, the long-term deﬁcit will continue to rise, and nervous investors may eventually demand the federal government pay higher interest rates. Interest rates remain low, but they did rise after the compromise was announced. Raising the deﬁcit through high-end tax cuts or a new stimulus program — is a lot easier than cutting it.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Before Business Leaders, Bernanke Discusses Unemployment’s Toll on Americans By SEWELL CHAN
he Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, found some respite from the second-guessing the central bank has faced since it announced a $600 billion effort to stimulate the slow recovery. During a 75-minute discussion here with ﬁve business leaders, including the chief executives of I.B.M. and Ford Motor as well as the founder of a local chain of ice cream stores, inﬂation and monetary policy were not even mentioned, much less debated. Mr. Bernanke did, however, emphasize the toll high unemployment was taking on families and on the share of the unemployed — more than 40 percent — who have been jobless for at least six months. “At the pace of growth that we’re see-
ing now, we’re not growing fast enough to materially reduce the unemployment rate,” he said. The economy needs to grow at an annualized rate of 2 to 2.5 percent just to accommodate new workers coming into the labor force, he said. Mr. Bernanke has made this point repeatedly this year. At 9.6 percent, the unemployment rate is about where it was when the recession ofﬁcially ended in June 2009, Mr. Bernanke said, and only about a million of the 8.5 million jobs lost since the peak of the last economic expansion have been restored. “Part of the barrier to faster growth and recovery is conﬁdence in households that they will be ﬁnancially secure and that they can make purchases and take chances in changing careers and changing locations,” Mr. Bernanke said. “With unemployment so high, that conﬁdence is hard to come by.”
The discussion, organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and held at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, was part of an effort by Mr. Bernanke to reach out more. “We spend a lot of time, of course, looking at data, sitting in Washington, looking at the screen, but there’s only so much you can learn from that,” he said. Sandra Pianalto, the president of the Cleveland Fed, who moderated the discussion, referred obliquely to the ﬁrestorm the Fed has faced in recent weeks. “Through my interactions with Ben, I’ve learned that extreme circumstances often require very creative and aggressive policy responses, and that the right decisions sometimes aren’t the most popular decisions,” she said. While none of the executives criticized the Fed, Samuel J. Palmisano, the chief executive of I.B.M., said that uncertainty, particularly over regulations, was holding back businesses, not ﬁnancial constraints. “Clearly, there’s tons of liquidity, as you know,” he told Mr. Bernanke, who was seated to his left. “There’s probably more than we could consume. It’s not a credit issue. It’s not the ﬁnancial system or a banking issue. I think at the end of the day it’s clarity.” But two of the three local business owners on the panel said ﬁnancial conditions were still tight. “Credit is much more tight today than it was in past years,” said Dwight E. Smith, founder of Sophisticated Systems, a provider of information technology services. Curtis J. Moody, co-founder of Moody Nolan Architects, said, “The lines of credits are more difﬁcult to get, and they’re lower.”
The business leaders agreed that the partisan climate in Washington was not helping matters. “Exports aren’t partisan, competitive tax policies aren’t partisan,” Mr. Palmisano said. “Economic expansion, job creation, isn’t political at the end of the day.” Alan R. Mulally, the chief executive of Ford, said the government needed “a laser focus on creating an environment where businesses can grow.” He said that “currencies need to be set by the market” and “not manipulated,” and added, “We need to have trade agreements that actually allow us to export.” That appeared to be a reference to a free trade agreement with South Korea that was negotiated by the Bush administration and is opposed by Ford. The Obama administration wants to complete the deal and submit it to Congress, but negotiations with South Korea have become stuck over restrictions on American auto and beef exports. Mr. Bernanke said he took away from the discussion the need for clarity on regulatory, trade and ﬁscal matters. He also emphasized the importance of government support for technological innovation and the need to improve public education, community colleges and work force training. Several M.B.A. students in the audience said that they had hoped Mr. Bernanke would discuss the Fed’s decision to buy bonds to reduce long-term interest rates, a topic they had debated in class. The students were generally skeptical about the strategy’s effectiveness. “If you inﬂate the economy without doing anything about growth, you’re just printing money,” said one of the students, Jyotisko Sinha, 27.
Google Set to Open E-Book Marketplace By JULIE BOSMAN
oogle has ﬁnally set a date — or at least a ballpark one — for its longawaited foray into electronic books, Google Editions. The company said it would introduce Google Editions by the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday night, a delay of several months past the original timeline. Google had previously said that the venture would be ready by the end of this summer. Google Editions would allow users to buy e-books from Google or from the Web sites of independent bookstores, which have yet to ﬁnd a way to compete with Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple on the electronic front. E-book customers would be able to set up an account for buying books, store
them in a central “library” online and read them on Internet-connected computing devices, including smartphones and tablets. Millions of books would be available free. Many independent bookstores have welcomed the venture as a proﬁtable way to sell e-books on their own Web sites, and the American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independents, said that more than 200 bookstores across the country could sign up. Users can already see previews of millions of new and backlist books in the Google Books program. But it is unclear if Google Editions will be successful in luring consumers of ebooks away from established retailers like Amazon, which already offers customers the ability to buy e-books and read them on the Kindle and other devices like the iPad through the Kindle app.
Electronic books are more popular this year than ever, as the cost of e-reading devices has gone down and publishers have begun releasing e-books simultaneously with new hardcover editions of books. Analysts have predicted that the holiday season will spur even more adoption of e-readers, many of which are priced below $150. Oren Teicher, the chief executive of the American Booksellers Association, said he had been told that the launch of Google Editions was “imminent,” and that he expects the vast majority of independent bookstores that already participate in the association’s IndieCommerce program to sign up for Google Editions. The bookstores on that list are some of the best-known independents in the country, including Books & Books, which has stores in South Florida and Grand Cayman; Vroman’s Bookstore in
Pasadena, Calif., and the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. “It’s clear that a certain percentage of readers are going to want to read books electronically, and independent bookstores can curate that content in the same way we curate content for physical books,” Mr. Teicher said. “This is an opportunity to do so and we’re eagerly looking forward to it.” Cathy Langer, the lead book buyer for the Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver, said she had been waiting for the introduction of Google Editions with “great anticipation.” “I always say that indies need to be players in all parts of the game, so this is going to be great to bring us into the e-book game in a reasonable, affordable way,” she said. “We would like to make a little money off of it. But we have got to stop the bleeding.”
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Last Gasp for Dodge’s Asp By JOHN PEARLEY HUFFMAN
TESTED Dodge Viper SRT-10
HAT IS IT? Two-seat supercar. HOW MUCH? Base $92,705 including $1,700 gas-guzzler tax. (Dual graphite painted stripes are $3,425 more.) Neither traction nor stability controls are offered. IS IT FAST? It is seriously, wickedly, shockingly quick. If yours won’t get from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in less than four seconds, there’s something wrong with it. IS IT THIRSTY? The E.P.A. rating is 13 m.p.g. in town, 22 on the highway. But if you use the throttle as intended, those numbers will dive into the single digits. ALTERNATIVES Skydiving, bear baiting and cage ﬁghting. THE Dodge Viper coupe rattles, is impossible to enter or exit gracefully, has side-exiting exhaust pipes that burn if you brush against them and comes with chintzy interior trim — much of which feels as if it’s about to break off in your hand. The shifter for the 6-speed manual transmission is so stiff it feels as if it should be towed into gear by a team of oxen, the huge tires tram disconcertingly over pavement imperfections and the ride is stiff enough to shatter the most supple coccyx. Of course there’s no real room for cargo, the outward visibility is crummy and the driver and passenger sit in what amount to uncomfortably narrow channels gouged
out between the thick center tunnel and the tall, wide door sills. But the Viper wears all those vices as virtues. After 19 years, it remains the most uncompromised production supercar ever built by a major manufacturer. It’s ferocious where Ferraris are sophisticated. Raw in all the ways that Porsches are reﬁned. And it’s as demanding as the Corvette is coddling. This car is indifferent to its driver and his survival. You either take the Viper on its own terms or it will kill you. If you’re enough of a driver to drive it hard, it’s an exhilarating near-death experience. The Viper’s V-10 engine, based on the architecture of an old Chrysler V-8, features a throwback valve train with a single inblock camshaft and 20 pushrods to operate the 20 overhead valves. But by dint of its enormous 8.4-liter displacement it delivers 600 horsepower at 6,100 r.p.m. and, more impressive, a cranium-compressing 560 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 r.p.m. Even at idle this engine rocks on its mounts with menacing muscle; blip the throttle and the whole chassis seems to twist. Launching a Viper takes some subtlety since so much power can overwhelm the rear tires even though they’re huge P345/30ZR19 Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 radials — about as close to racing rubber as original-equipment tires can be. Once the car is moving, it seems almost to compress around you. With so much
power available, the Viper seems to squirm over the tires at every gear change. According to Insideline.com, the SRT-10 will catapult to 60 m.p.h. in just 3.9 seconds and thunder through the quartermile in 11.7 seconds at just over 127 m.p.h. The driver will be lucky to take a breath during the trip. On the road the Viper delivers the sensation of inﬁnite grip. There isn’t much steering feel from the Michelin tires in the front (P275/35ZR8), but the car reacts with a suddenness and determination that’s startling. But the grip isn’t inﬁnite and the Viper’s rear end will break free suddenly when its limits have been exceeded. At that moment you need the reﬂexes of a Foyt, An-
dretti or Senna to recover. After 19 model years, Dodge built its ﬁnal Viper in July — a 2010 model, virtually indistinguishable from the ’09 — then idled the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit. But Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat, which controls Chrysler, has promised that an all-new Viper will make its debut in 2012 with a distinct platform and engine not shared with any other Chrysler or Fiat — though a sprinkling of Ferrari fairy dust would be appreciated. The only question is whether Chrysler will dare to once again make such a rawnerved, hardcore and glorious monster.
Ford Starts to Ship an Electric Delivery Van By NICK BUNKLEY
he Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf have gotten nearly all the attention, but they are not the only electric vehicles making their way to customers this month. The Ford Motor Company said that it had started shipping a battery-powered version of a delivery van, the Transit Connect Electric, to a handful of business customers. The Transit Connect is Ford’s ﬁrst electric vehicle, coming to market about a year before it plans to challenge the Leaf and the Volt with a battery-powered car, the Focus Electric. The ﬁrst electric vans are being delivered to several companies that agreed to be early users, including AT&T, the Canada Post, the New York Power Authority and Southern California Edison. Ford will ramp up production in April and produce about 600 or 700 a year initially. In comparison, General Motors is building 10,000 Volts in the ﬁrst year. Ford started with the Transit Connect because it wanted a vehicle that it could
develop quickly, in part to play catch-up. Development of the electric van began 13 months ago — about three years after G.M. had started work on the Volt — and offers Ford a chance to test its technology in a limited number of vehicles before putting it into a large number of cars. “You have a deﬁned route for most businesses that they’re driving,” Sherif Marakby, Ford’s director for electriﬁcation programs and engineering, said. “It lends itself nicely to having a battery-electric that can cover that range.” Ford says the electric Transit Connect has a range of about 80 miles on a 28 kilowatt-hour battery that can be recharged using 240-volt systems in about six
to eight hours, which matches the needs of most businesses that operate delivery ﬂeets. That is similar to the range of the Leaf and roughly double the range of the battery in the Volt, though the Volt has a gasoline engine so that it can be driven nearly 400 miles between recharging and refueling. The Transit Connect, like the Leaf, has a limited range because there is no secondary power source. Ronald V. Iacobelli, chief technology ofﬁcer of Azure Dynamics, the company that is supplying the electric propulsion system for the Transit Connect, says the predictability of the delivery routes makes for the “ideal use of electric vehicles.” The electric Transit Connect costs $57,400, more than double the price of the gas-powered version even after federal and any state or local incentives for electric vehicles are factored in. Ford and Azure estimate that an average buyer would recoup the additional cost in six to 10 years, which is about the length of time each vehicle can be expected to remain in service. Though that means
customers have little opportunity to save money over a traditional vehicle, the likelihood of breaking even while testing an energy-saving vehicle means “they’re willing to bet on it,” Azure’s chief operating ofﬁcer, Curt A. Huston, said. Ford has little competition in the battery-powered commercial vehicle market, as most automakers focus on developing cars. Mercedes-Benz planned to deliver 100 of its Vito E-Cell electric van in parts of Europe by the end of 2010. Nissan is planning an electric commercial van, but not until 2013. Ford has sold about 30,000 of the gaspowered Transit Connect vans, which are built in Turkey, since introducing the model about a year ago. For the electric version, it builds “gliders,” which are vehicles without the engine and other related parts, and ships them to Michigan. The electric drive system then is installed by A.M. General, the company best known for building military humvees and for creating the Hummer line of sport utility vehicles that G.M. recently shut down.
ARCHITECTURE & HOME DECOR
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
House Hunting in ...the Seychelles By LISA KEYS
A FOUR-BEDROOM TWO-AND-A-HALF BATH HOUSE WITH OCEAN VIEWS $2.45 MILLION his three-year-old property is on Mahe, the largest of the 115 islands that make up the nation of Seychelles. The house has 335 square meters of living space — or 3,606 square feet, at 10.76 square feet to the square meter. Perched on a hillside and overlooking Beau Vallon, a popular Indian Ocean beach, it was built of concrete and has a slate tile rood. The main living area has double-height ceilings and access to a 260-square-meter wraparound deck. The eat-in open kitchen has teak countertops. Off the kitchen is an outdoor shower area. The four bedrooms are of similar size; each has water views and access to the deck. The master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom. The home is sold furnished. The 2,080 square meters of grounds are landscaped. The area beneath the house and deck, currently used for parking, could be converted for residential or storage purposes, according to the listing agent. The house is within walking distance of the beach and about a 10-minute drive from Victoria, the
capital; the airport is 20 minutes away. MARKET OVERVIEW The Seychelles has a population of around 90,000 and a small real estate market. “Not that many houses are sold,” said Philippe Boullé, a lawyer and notary at the Seychelles ofﬁce of Victoria Chambers, an international law ﬁrm. But size has been a signiﬁcant factor in keeping prices stable,
despite the global downturn, said Vivian Rassool, director of Realty Seychelles. “Not a lot is for sale at any given time,” he said. “A lot of property owners did not take out mortgages, and during the recession they’ve held on to them.” Over the past four to ﬁve months, however, housing prices for inland properties have dipped some 5 to 7.5 percent. Basically, the recession has only just made itself felt, Mr. Rassool said. “Honestly, it takes things longer to reach here — Seychelles is so far away.” Beachfront properties are rare, and therefore their value has held. The recent ﬂuctuations occur against a backdrop of sharply rising prices over the last decade,
said Jean-Paul Maurel, director at Premium Realty and the listing agent for the property featured here. “The value of property in Seychelles is mostly in the land” rather than buildings, he added, since developable land is limited. Prices throughout Mahe vary widely, from $50 a square meter for land with no view, up to $1,500 a
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
second-largest island in the Seychelles, where much of the property is on or near the beach. To appeal to foreign buyers, he added, a handful of high-end developments have gone up in recent years. These include Eden Island, a marina development on a man-made island linked to Mahe by a bridge, which has one-bedrooms starting in the $300,000s. At the higher end, at the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, prices start at $7 million. Property can be priced in rupees, the local currency, or United States dollars, euros or pounds, Mr. Maurel said, depending on the seller and the target market.
Britain and Russia, Mr. Maurel said. BUYING BASICS Foreign buyers should expect to pay around 17.5 percent of the purchase price in taxes and fees. They must request permission to purcha-
ARCHITECTURE & HOME DECOR
se from the government, a process typically handled by a notary for a fee of 1.5 percent, Mr. Maurel said. In addition to an 11 percent sanction duty, there is a 5 percent stamp duty, according to Mr. Boullé. Most foreign buyers pay cash.
square meter for prime beachfront, he said. House prices start at $160,000; a furnished two-bedroom might run as high as $640,000, and the market tops out in the millions. The price on this house reﬂects its private setting — no other homes in view — as well as its large plot of land and popular WHO BUYS IN SEYCHELLES location. The Seychelles often attracts buAccording to Mr. Maurel, prices are 20 percent higher in Praslin, the yers from South Africa, Italy, France,
WEB SITES Seychelles tourism board: seychelles.travel/en/home/index.php Seychelles government: www. egov.sc/default.aspx LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY Creole, English and French; Seychelles rupee (1 rupee = $0.086) TAXES AND FEES There are no property taxes, Mr. Maurel said.
58 December 16 - 22, 2010
Frank & Ernest
Wizard of Id
Two Cows And A Chicken
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The San Juan Weekly
December 9 - 15, 2010
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 60
60 December 16 - 22, 2010
(Mar 21-April 20)
(Sep 24-Oct 23)
Keep your wits about you. If your thinking has been fraught lately, really, you have only yourself to blame. Take pride in your clarity, mind power and general savvy. You have the talents, resources and commonsense to make good. Flex your muscles and get busy. The outcome is down to you. It is! So, over to you!
Develop your attention span and your tolerance for the twists and turns of destiny. Not much will shake you to the core of your being and very little shatters your equilibrium. Stop expecting devastation and lose the panic factor. Your lifestyle can be revived if you adopt an appropriate attitude. Make your own fortune.
(April 21-May 21)
(Oct 24-Nov 22)
Do not look back in anger. If you cannot work out which end is up, the answer is not under the duvet! Stop hiding and face the world. Have the courage of your convictions and do not be ashamed of the way you feel. It is not the time to be premature or hasty. Grab hold of your opportunities when they arise.
Take your responsibilities seriously. You should not expect everything to fall into your lap. There is no time like the present. Try not to get worked up or distressed. More trust and faith will serve you well. With the full force of personal power behind you, nothing will be able to rufﬂe those feathers. Phase one begins with you.
(May 22-June 21)
(Nov 23-Dec 21)
Follow your gut instincts; wherever they take you. A change of scene, for the sake of it, is never a good idea. Hold off on big, mad decisions. Look out of the window in order to assess the picture. Introspection will not take you very far. Proceed with caution; okay, there is no point in sabotaging your life just because you feel restless.
Are you puzzled by the impression you have been making lately? Do not be! Find your own style, shape and answers to life. You do not need the input of those who interfere and want to control you. Halt an effort to keep up with the Joneses! Not everything can be measured materially. Let what you have achieved speak for itself.
(June 22-July 23)
Resist the temptation to ﬂee the nest. Exciting times though! Make radical decisions. It is timely to do your own thing and be sure to work things out in your own fashion. Hold true to what you know deep within. It is important not to throw in the towel just when things are about to get interesting. Find a new perspective on an old problem.
(July 24-Aug 23)
(Dec 22-Jan 20)
Looks like you have made the decision of a life time - or soon will! If you are up against it, you will need to remain philosophical. Relax amidst competition. Everything will develop just ﬁne if you keep your cool. There is no point in tackling anything head-on. A fresh start is always a good idea. Is it time to re-assess?
(Jan 21-Feb 19)
Rely on your inner resistance, resolve and resilience. Someone will get around to something at last. So, prepare for your patience to be well rewarded. Take pride in your achievements; but do not let it get the better of you. You will soon have reason to be very proud indeed; and cause to celebrate. Are you ignoring or avoiding someone?
Use your personal power to good effect. Get into the groove. In a work situation, you have way more inﬂuence than you realize. Treat yourself with a bit more respect and boost that self-esteem. Surrender to the ﬂow of events. Prepare to wither and succumb in the nicest possible way! Access the buzz of expectation in your world.
(Aug 24-Sep 23)
Life is surely too short for weird behaviour! In this day and age, we should value every connection, so try to modify your expectations. Your life and relationships are about to take on a new shape. Take a chance on love. It is better to be open and amenable to your options; than to clam shut at the ﬁrst sign things are not going your way.
(Feb 20-Mar 20)
Change and challenge are hovering in the ether. Nothing is beyond your remit; so do not panic! Your love life needs some care, but you can afford to follow those intense feelings. You will have to let something go not before time, is it? Put your feet up and spoil yourself. A tidal wave of good feeling is winging its way towards you.
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Answers to the Zudoku and Crossword on page 59
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Russia’s Hand in European Soccer By ROB HUGHES
ussia’s soccer is now in winter hibernation while its ﬁelds are frozen over. But its inﬂuence cuts deep into the English and German leagues. In England, where the recriminations of losing the 2018 World Cup bid to Russia are reverberating, Chelsea, of course, is the champion. And Chelsea is wholly owned by the oligarch Roman Abramovich. In Germany, the perennial champion Bayern Munich is struggling in the middle of the standings. Bayern’s honorary president, Franz Beckenbauer, otherwise known as Der Kaiser, had a good time at the FIFA balloting, where he voted for Russia, but a less enjoyable homecoming. His team lost, 2-0, at Schalke, where the stadium advertising spelled out in neon lighting who is Schalke’s principal sponsor. Gazprom, the Russian gas company, has been pumping €22.7 million, or about $30 million, a season into the Gelsenkirchen club since 2006. So who in England, or in Germany, can be surprised that Russia’s oil boom has now brought it a World Cup on home soil? Forget the ill will spreading from England to the United States to Australia. Forget, for a few hours, the politicking that drew kings and sheiks and billionaires to FIFA’s auction last week in Zurich. Think of the game. Think of how wealth affects that, at the top of all the big leagues. Chelskie was not a happy place on Saturday afternoon. The club that was heavily in debt before Abramovich bought it in 2003 has since won the English league title in three of the subsequent seven seasons. When its form dips, Abramovich removes the coach, buys a handful of globally recognized players and starts over. Currently coached by an Italian, Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea is going through a rough patch. The 1-1 home tie Saturday against the lowly Everton was the ﬁfth time in six games that Chelsea has failed to impose its power. “I saw the players are worried, afraid,” the always-honest Ancelotti said in the postgame media conference. “We can win, we can lose, but we cannot be afraid to play our style. “I need to talk to the players to understand why,” he said. He will talk in the locker room. No doubt Abramovich will drop in by helicopter to the training camp to seek his own answers. The pressure, as well as the payments, come from the top. And right now, nobody, least of all the team coach, knows exactly why the owner has started paying off and removing backroom staff who were essential to the winning way that Chelsea began this season. “The problem,” Ancelotti said cryptically on Saturday, “is on the ﬁeld, nowhere else.” His problem is that big games are coming. Chelsea has already lost to Manchester City, the club owned by Abu Dhabi sheiks that is creeping toward the top of the standings after it beat Bolton, 1-0, Saturday. And Chelsea is scheduled to play against Spurs, then Manchester United, then Arsenal before the end of this month, and all are title contenders. Arsenal, indeed, took over the top spot in the le-
ague on Saturday after beating Fulham, 2-1. Arsenal’s main playmaker, Cesc Fàbregas, has missed most of the season with recurring hamstring problems, but Samir Nasri, the scorer of both goals Saturday, is in irrepressible form. He moves like a ballet dancer in soccer shoes. He is having the season of his life. And Nasri credits France for that. He was left off the French squad at the World Cup last summer, and he believes that the rest and recuperation he got then gives him an edge now. His team manager, Arsène Wenger, suggests there is more to it than that. “Sami has a combination of skill, intelligence and calm,” says Wenger. “You cannot coach that.” Oh, and for the record, his teammate Andrei Arshavin was an eye-catching accomplice in the goals. Arshavin spent last Thursday in Zurich, eloquently making a player’s case for the Russian bid. How Bayern Munich could have done with such a goal-maker, such a sure footed goal-taker. Its team outplayed Schalke during the ﬁrst half in a freezing Arena AufSchalke stadium. A combination of poor ﬁnishing, and great shot-stopping from Schalke’s goalie, Manuel Neuer, kept the half scoreless. “Bayern was pure class in the ﬁrst half,” said Schalke’s coach, a former Bayern man, Felix Magath. “We were lucky, but we fought our way into the match, we played well in the second half, and we scored.” The Spanish midﬁelder José Manuel Jurado scored the ﬁrst, the defender Benedikt Höwedes headed the second. And each goal was helped by Schalke’s summer recruit, the Spanish veteran Raúl. “We believed in ourselves,” said Neuer. “We told ourselves our chances would come. But our challenge now is not to start thinking because we’ve beaten
Bayern Munich we’ve achieved anything. Our results will only get better with more consistency.” Schalke’s position, closer to the bottom than the top of the Bundesliga, is a shock to the system. Last year it ﬁnished second, to Bayern, winning a shot at the Champions League. Maybe there is some distraction there. The Champions League format demands a regular change of pace and travels on top of domestic competition. Its sixth round of matches resumes, the cold weather permitting, this week, though Schalke and Bayern have both already won sufﬁcient points to progress to the knockout rounds. In Schalke’s case, that is fresh exposure for the team, and its prominent sponsor. For Munich, the Champions League is now the face-saver after an unacceptable ﬁrst half to the Bundesliga. Its title is already all but gone. The chances of Bayern’s overhauling Borussia Dortmund, which began the weekend 14 points ahead, are beginning to look unattainable. Beckenbauer’s friends on the board, including the chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, are divided about the team’s future under the Dutch coach Louis van Gaal. His revised target is to ensure that Bayern at least qualiﬁes for the Champions League next season, and the points are drifting away. “Its simply unbelievable,” van Gaal complained after the loss Saturday. “If we are going to miss so many chances, then we have to expect to concede the ﬁrst goal. “What can I do? I can’t score the goals myself.” No coach can. But as van Gaal knows, the coach is responsible for signing strikers who can, and if they run out of gas, his job is on the line. It’s a new Russian proverb.
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Amid Ownership Change, the Hornets Proceed as Usual B By HOWARD BECK
y this time next week, the New Orleans Hornets should have a new owner — or technically, 29. But the voices in charge of the team will remain the same and, they say, with full authority to make competitive changes. “Everything is the same from when I walked in the door,” Dell Demps, the Hornets’ general manager, said Tuesday, a day after the N.B.A. announced it would buy the team from George Shinn, the ﬁnancially strapped owner. The 40-year-old Demps was hired in July to run the Hornets, in partnership with Hugh Weber, the team president, and Monty Williams, a rookie coach. The three men set forth an agenda for Shinn over the summer and presented the same plan to league ofﬁcials while the deal was being negotiated. “They liked the plan,” Demps said, “so we’re business as usual.” That means no unusual restrictions on spending or beeﬁng up the roster, if the Hornets have the chance to make a signiﬁcant deal before the Feb. 24 trading deadline. Whatever parameters Shinn set previously will remain, Demps said. The most obvious change will be the arrival of Jac Sperling, a veteran sports executive, as the team’s new chairman. The Hornets (13-7) were tied for sixth in the Western Conference entering Tuesday’s games. Their payroll, about $65 million, is in the middle of the pack in the N.B.A. They could have substantial salary-cap room next summer if David
West, their star forward, opts out of his contract. Hornets ofﬁcials have the dual challenge of keeping the team competitive while trying to make it ﬁnancially attractive to potential buyers. “There’s always limits in any situation,” Demps said, but reiterated, “nothing has changed for us. We’re going to put a team on the ﬂoor that’s competitive and given every opportunity to become the best possible team.” HAWKS 116, NETS 101 The Hawks are trying for a more balanced scoring attack with their star Joe Johnson out for at least a month after right elbow surgery. It sure worked out well Tuesday night in Atlanta. Josh Smith scored a season-high 34 points, leading the streaking Hawks over the Nets. Atlanta made 60 percent of its shots and had 34 assists — both season highs — while improving to 4-1 without Johnson. The Hawks have won seven of eight over all. “We know that anybody can lead our team in scoring on any given night, and we’re O.K. with that,” said Jamal Crawford, who had a season-high 26 points. Al Horford added 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists for the Hawks. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 24 points. Devin Harris had 18 points and 13 assists. The Nets have lost eight consecutive road games and ﬁve straight over all. Nets Coach Avery Johnson said his
team played better than it did in Sunday’s 100-75 home loss to Boston. “We had much better ﬁght in us,” Johnson said. “I know statistically, with them shooting 60 percent from the ﬁeld and the amount of points we gave up, it doesn’t look good, but I thought our effort was much better tonight than it was on Sunday. “Our guys tried. Unfortunately, we played a better team tonight.” MAVERICKS 105, WARRIORS 100 The third-string center Ian Mahinmi had 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and the fourth-stringer Alexis Ajinci provided quality minutes to help Dallas beat
visiting Golden State for its 10th straight victory. Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points, Jason Terry had 20 and Caron Butler 19 — but that is expected. The surprise was the backup big men, both from France. They were forced into duty because Tyson Chandler was home with a stomach ailment and Brendan Haywood got in early foul trouble. BOBCATS 100, NUGGETS 98 Stephen Jackson had 23 points, Gerald Wallace ﬁnished with 20 and Charlotte held off visiting Denver to deny Nuggets Coach George Karl his 1,000th N.B.A. win. The Nuggets nearly rallied from 8 points down with 90 seconds left, but Chauncey Billups missed a tying jumper in the corner as time expired. Billups scored 25 points for the Nuggets, who had won seven straight. ROCKETS 97, PISTONS 83 Luis Scola had 35 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Rockets over Detroit, ruining Tracy McGrady’s return to Houston. McGrady hit a 3-pointer with about eight minutes left to get the Pistons within 1, but Houston scored the next 7 points to stretch the lead to 85-77. McGrady, who spent ﬁve and a half seasons with the Rockets, ﬁnished with 11 points. 76ERS 117, CAVALIERS 97 Thaddeus Young had a season-high 26 points and Philadelphia beat struggling Cleveland for its fourth win in ﬁve games. Lou Williams scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for host Philadelphia, which placed seven players in double ﬁgures in its highest scoring output of the season.
Serbia Secures Its First Davis Cup Title By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
erbia celebrated its ﬁrst Davis Cup title Sunday, becoming the second unseeded nation to win the trophy when Viktor Troicki beat Michael Llodra, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, to complete a 3-2 comeback victory over France. Troicki, who had replaced Janko Tipsarevic in
the ﬁnal singles match, dropped to the court in jubilation after his victory, and his teammates fell into one another’s arms to celebrate. The Serbian players kept their promise to have their heads shaved on the court. “This is unbelievable,” Troicki said. “I don’t know how to react, what to do. This is the best moment of my life.” Croatia was the ﬁrst unseeded nation to win the title, in 2005. France was leading, 2-1, in the best-of-ﬁve-series after winning the doubles Saturday in its bid to capture its 10th Davis Cup and ﬁrst since 2001. Novak Djokovic tied the series by beating Gaël Monﬁls, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4, in Sunday’s ﬁrst singles match. Troicki then played some of his best tennis, continually passing Llodra, a serve-and-volley specialist who was left standing stunned at the net. “This is the best moment of my career and probably of my nation,” Djokovic said. “This is like winning the World Cup for us.” Troicki, ranked 30th in the world, broke Llodra’s
serve twice in each set and hit 58 winners compared with 32 for Llodra. Troicki won the match with a crosscourt passing shot that left Llodra ﬂat-footed at the net. “A lot of emotions went through my head at that moment, remembering when I was a kid and dreaming to one day play in such a match,” Troicki said. Serbia reached the ﬁnal after beating the United States, Croatia and the Czech Republic. The team reached the World Group for the ﬁrst time in 2008 and twice had to win playoffs to stay in the top tier. The third-ranked Djokovic started the comeback, breaking the 12th-ranked Monﬁls twice in each of the ﬁrst two sets. Djokovic’s ﬁrst break came in the fourth game of the ﬁrst set when Monﬁls attempted a forehand between his legs while leading, 30-0. He failed, had to change his racket after hitting it on the turf and lost the next four points. “It was unbelievable today,” Djokovic said. “Under the circumstances, maybe one of the best matches I have played this year. It was deﬁnitely a lot of pressure, expectations.”
The San Juan Weekly
December 16 - 22, 2010
Pena and Cubs Agree to $10 Million, 1-Year Deal S
cott Boras called Carlos Pena’s $10 million, one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs “a pillow contract.” “There’s a lot of comforts,” the agent said. As in a cushioned, feathery landing spot from a down season. Pena was lured to the Friendly Conﬁnes of Wrigley Field on a short-term deal, hoping to put up big numbers, be eligible for free agency again next fall and earn the type of longterm multiyear agreement Boras is famous for. “I don’t worry about that,” Cubs manager Jim Hendry said at a news conference Wednesday. “We’re never had to worry about keeping players that we wanted to keep.” Hendry referred to Ryan Howard, who has a $125 million, ﬁve-year contract with Philadelphia that starts in 2012; Mark Teixeira, entering the third season of a $180 million, eight-year deal with the New York Yankees; and Adrian Gonzalez, who presumably will be rewarded with nine-ﬁgure extension for accepting a trade from San Diego to Boston last weekend. “It’s not a gamble. It’s a real good ﬁt,” Hendry said. “We haven’t had a lot of left-handed power. ... The Howards, the Teixeiras, the Adrian Gonzalezes, those people that put up power numbers at that position either stay where they’re at, tied up, or sign huge lucrative longterm deals.” Pena spent the last four seasons with Tampa Bay. Slowed by plantar fasciitis, irritation on the bottom of his right foot that landed him on the disabled list in August, the 32-year-old hit a career-low .196 this season with 28 homers and 84 RBIs. That was down from a .227 average with 39 homers and 100 RBIs the previous year, when he was selected for the AL All-Star team. His ﬁrst season with Tampa Bay was his best, when
he batted .282 with 46 homers and 121 RBIs in 2007. The following season, he helped the Rays reach the World Series for the ﬁrst time. “I’m extremely conﬁdent. I don’t tend to look back on my failures and dwell upon them. I just feel that I’ve had a lot of adversity throughout my career and a lot of difﬁculties,” Pena said. “I think that all of those difﬁculties have made me stronger and a better player and a better person and a better man. So instead of dwelling upon that, I kind of embrace the fact that it was a difﬁcult year and I should be a little bit more polished now.” Pena said he turned down multiyear offers in favor of Chicago. “I love the city. My family loves the city. I think we have a pretty good chance at winning,” he said. “We have a park; the history, what can I say? It’s truly one of those teams that when you’re a kid, you kind of dream about playing for. Like I said earlier, when I was 10 years old, I used to watch George Bell, Ryne Sandberg, (Shawon) Dunston, Andre Dawson. It was a regular thing at home.” Tampa Bay won the AL East this year, then lost to Texas in a ﬁve-game, ﬁrst-round series. The Rays appear to be cutting back on payroll. In addition to Pena’s departure, setup man Joaquin Benoit agreed to a $16.5 million, three-year contract with Detroit, and Gold Glove outﬁelder Carl Crawford and closer Rafael Soriano appear set to sign elsewhere. “The Rays did not express the intense interest that I was expecting, and I obviously know that they have to be truly creative in their organization,” Pena said. He joins a Cubs team coming off a 75-87 record and ﬁfth-place ﬁnish in the NL Central despite a $146 million
opening-day payroll. Chicago was just tied for ninth in the NL with 149 home runs, with only Aramis Ramirez (25), Alfonso Soriano (24) and Tyler Colvin (20) reaching the 20-mark. The Cubs traded ﬁrst baseman Derrek Lee to Atlanta late last season. “It wasn’t any secret from the end of the season on that one of our top and most important priorities was to ﬁll our void at ﬁrst base,” Hendry said. “We were looking, certainly, to add someone from the left side, that not only was a quality offensive player with some power but also a good defender and a high character young man. We have certainly landed that. We have ﬁlled all of the essentials that we were looking for with Carlos.” NOTES: Greg Maddux, an assistant to Hendry, was part of the Cubs’ team on the transaction. Boras was Maddux’s longtime agent. “His role with us has continued to grow,” Hendry said. Said Boras: “Greg has so many abilities and so many aptitudes, so to see him walk in the room and sit across from you, it’s really a feeling of great reward.”
Mets Stand Pat Now to Finance the Future By DAVID WALDSTEIN
s teams like the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and even the Washington Nationals contemplate gigantic ﬁnancial commitments to various stars, the Mets sift through the discount bins looking for deals on middle relievers, backup catchers and pitchers for the back end of their rotation. For the Mets, the 2010 winter meetings have so far been mostly a drab exercise in accounting. But next year, and the years after, could be far different.
With the contracts for Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and potentially Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez coming off the books after next season, the Mets could reduce their payroll by as much as $60 million. At that point, Sandy Alderson and his lieutenants plan to reshape the team. “I think we’re nicely set up at this point to be active in future years,” Alderson, the Mets’ general manager, said Tuesday, “and one of the things we’re trying to do this year is not compromise it. It could happen, but we’re trying to be very mindful of the value of that ﬂexibility going forward, and at some point, we want to be in the market every year.” In some ways, the Mets’ strategy of withholding longterm ﬁnancial commitments to preserve their payroll ﬂexibility into 2012 and beyond is similar to the strategy used by the Knicks after Donnie Walsh took over that organization, but without the salary cap or the one obvious target of LeBron James. Still, the essential plan is the same — to make sure they have enough room in the budget over the next several years to give them options. For two years, every decision Walsh made was intended to provide the Knicks the ability to go after James or one or two other free agents in the summer of 2010. They did not get James, but they did sign Amar’e Stoudemire, and the Knicks are now only one game behind James’s Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings and are starting to show signs of progress. Unlike the Knicks of 2008-10, the 2011 Mets could still compete with the players they have. Alderson also said that even with all the money being freed up after next season, he would hope not to spend it all at once to maintain his ﬂexibility into 2013 and 2014. So for now, the focus is on players like the right-handed
relief pitcher D. J. Carrasco and catcher Ronny Paulino, both of whom agreed to deals with the Mets on Tuesday. The Mets also spoke to Alan Hendricks, the agent for the right-handed reliever Chad Qualls, on Tuesday afternoon, thinking he could be an underpriced option who could ﬂourish at Citi Field. Carrasco, 33, signed a two-year deal for $2.5 million, which does not necessarily conﬂict with the Mets’ reluctance to dole out money beyond 2011. Alderson said he would be willing to do so if he felt the price was right, and clearly he felt it was with Carrasco. “Our preference now is to stay away from multiyear deals in part because we want to preserve our ﬂexibility for 2012 and beyond,” Alderson said. He added, “Rather than falling back on maybe a second or third choice at this point, it may be better for us to be somewhat more ﬂexible on terms.” Paulino, who agreed to sign for $1.3 million, is expected to share time with Josh Thole. Paulino could get a lot of playing time, especially against left-handed pitchers, although he will miss the ﬁrst eight games of the season as part of a 50-game suspension he received for testing positive for a banned substance. But if Paulino has a strong season, perhaps he could sign an extension for 2012 and beyond. With the Mets’ current plan, they will certainly have the ﬂexibility to consider it. INSIDE PITCH Sandy Alderson said the Mets would probably choose a hitting coach from among a group including Andy Van Slyke, Dave Hudgens and Donnie Long, who have all already interviewed for the job. ... The Mets named Chad MacDonald their new amateur scouting director and Dick Scott as their new minor league ﬁeld coordinator to replace Terry Collins, their new ﬁeld manager.
December 16 - 22, 2010
The San Juan Weekly