Sunday, April 27, 2008

Here’s My Reading

I read the Sunday paper for you!
by Charlie Leck

Elite High Schools in Korea
Read the extraordinary NY Times story about elite Korean schools who prepared kids for America's Ivy League colleges and the phenomenal success they have. [click here]

"This spring, as in previous years, all but a few of the 133 graduates from Daewon Foreign Language High School who applied to selective American universities won admission." [Story by Sam Dillon, 27 April 2008]
The dirty, dirty things that happened in Gitmo Prison
Do you know the CIA retains over 7,000 documents related to the detention of suspects at the Gitmo prison in Cuba. They call them too sensitive to release to a Congressional oversight committee investigating scandals at the prison; therefore they refuse to allow Congress to inspect them. [Read story here]

"Among other assertions, the CIA claimed that it did not have to release the documents because many consist of correspondence with the White House or top Bush administration officials, or because they are between parties seeking legal advice on the programs, including guidance on the legality of certain interrogation procedures. The CIA confirmed that it requested -- and received -- legal advice from attorneys at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel concerning these procedures." [AlterNet, 24 April 2008]
Great Movie
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the remarkable French film, is due out on DVD on 27 April 2008. As a reminder, this is an intensely wonderful film. I do believe it will affect even you. [Find out more on this site that promotes the movie.]

Hunger Crisis
The Washington Post's lead story this morning is about the worst food crisis in more than a generation. [Read story here.]

"The food price shock now roiling world markets is destabilizing governments, igniting street riots and threatening to send a new wave of hunger rippling through the world's poorest nations. It is outpacing even the Soviet grain emergency of 1972-75, when world food prices rose 78 percent. By comparison, from the beginning of 2005 to early 2008, prices leapt 80 percent, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. Much of the increase is being absorbed by middle men -- distributors, processors, even governments -- but consumers worldwide are still feeling the pinch."
Either Clinton or Obama can beat McCain
John Dickerson on Slate.Com gives reasons why either Obama or Clinton would beat John McCain. I hope he's right! [Read it here]

Elizabeth Edwards on the media
Elizabeth Edwards (neat chick, big brain and tons of compassion) writes in the NY Times this morning – perhaps I should say "vents" – about the media coverage of the campaign. She thinks issues are getting the shaft. [Read it here]

"Well, the rancor of the campaign was covered. The amount of money spent was covered. But in Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country this political season, the information about the candidates' priorities, policies and principles — information that voters will need to choose the next president — too often did not make the cut. After having spent more than a year on the campaign trail with my husband, John Edwards, I'm not surprised." [Elizabeth Edwards, NY Times 27 April 2008]
Eat local or shipping fresh food around the world?
What damage is done to the environment by shipping foods all around the world? What can we do about it? This is an issue that I'm finding more and more interesting. There are things we can do, but at what cost? Elisabeth Rosenthal writes about this in the NY Times. [read it]

"Food has moved around the world since Europeans brought tea from China, but never at the speed or in the amounts it has over the last few years. Consumers in not only the richest nations but, increasingly, the developing world expect food whenever they crave it, with no concession to season or geography." [Elisabeth Rosenthal, NY Times, 26 April 2008]
Great Taco Recipe
I watch every single video by The Minimalist, Mark Bittman. Today he provides tips on making tacos using recipes he dug up in the Yucatan Penninsula in Mexico. I cannot tell you how much I've enjoyed trying to cook the meals he produces on these videos. Oh, what fun! [Read and/or watch]

"The Yucatán, which feels as Caribbean as it does Mexican, is to Mexico as Alsace is to France, as Sicily is to Italy, as Hawaii is to the United States: formally a part of the union, but culturally quite distinct, and with a well-preserved sense of identity." [Mark Bittman, NY Times, 23 April 2008]
Keeping John McCain on his toes
The NY Times seems to have it out for John McCain even though its editorial board endorced him for the Presidency (among Republicans) a few months ago. The subtlety of what they're doing is lost on many people. McCain has made a big deal about professing ethics and ethical behavior in Congress. He's said all the right things. The Times is showing us that his judgment is not good, however, about his own actions. He gets involved in things he shouldn't and walks too closely to the edge on other things. Over the last several weeks, the newspaper has pointed to several very real and specific examples. None of them cause you to say that McCain is a bad guy. They all make you wonder about his ability to see that he probably shouldn't be involved in this. This time it's using his wife's corporate jet for a long, extended period for campaigning. This is a no-no! [read the story here]

"But over a seven-month period beginning last summer, Mr. McCain's cash-short campaign gave itself an advantage by using a corporate jet owned by a company headed by his wife, Cindy McCain, according to public records. For five of those months, the plane was used almost exclusively for campaign-related purposes, those records show." [Barry Meier and Margot Williams, NY Times 27 April 2008]
Song of the Day
I subscribe to NPR's Song of the Day and enjoy most, though a few are a bit over-the-top for me. Recently, Lisa Cerbone's song, "Sweep Your Hair from Your Eyes," was featured. She has a lovely, delicate voice and she writes with sensitivity. I liked this. You may also [Go here and click on listen!]

McCain Lost in Pennsylvania
Frank Rich explains how the bigger loser in the Pennsylvania primary was John McCain [click to read his column].

"But as the doomsday alarm grew shrill, few noticed that on this same day in Pennsylvania, 27 percent of Republican primary voters didn't just tell pollsters they would defect from their party's standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain. Though ignored by every channel I surfed, there actually was a G.O.P. primary on Tuesday, open only to registered Republicans. And while it was superfluous in determining that party's nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. That's more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama." [Frank Rich, NY Times, 27 April 2008]
What went wrong on Wall Street?
I don't turn to the business section much – generally bad writing and generally very boring; however, I've been intrigued to know why these big banks and investment houses have gotten into so much trouble over mortgage loans. Why would an outfit like Bear-Stearns get hit so hard? Ben Stein does a good job explaining it in his business column, Wall Street, Run Amok. [read it]

"But Mr. Einhorn has even more troubling observations. He says the S.E.C. also allowed broker-dealers to set their own valuations on assets and liabilities that were hard to value. And broker-dealers could assign their own creditworthiness ratings to counterparties in complex derivatives transactions when those counterparties were otherwise unrated.

"In a word, Mr. Einhorn says, the S.E.C. told Wall Street to police itself to save on regulatory costs, while not bothering to 'discuss the cost to society of increasing the probability that a large broker-dealer could go bust.'" [Ben Stein, NY Times, 27 April 2008]
Why no violent explosion in NY over the Bell verdict?
I expected it and I won't deny it. I thought there would be huge violence all over the city after a judge handed down an acquittal for the New York cops who shot down Sean Bell. Why was there relative calm? Manny Fernandez explains it exceedingly well in his story in the NY Times. [read it]

"But many black men and women in Jamaica and elsewhere in New York said their anger was tempered by the complicated case that unfolded in a city less racially divided than 10 years ago." [Manny Fernandez, NY Times 27 April 2008]
Baby Logelin – an incredible story!
In our local paper, the story about Matt Logelin, who became a new father and a widow all within 27 hours. He and his late wife, Liz, are kids from Minnetonka. They were living in Las Angeles, where Matt works for Yahoo. A day after the birth of a daughter, his wife died from an unsuspected blood clot. Matt put his grief out on a blog and hundreds, including lots of his old Minnesota friends and family, began reading about the horrible events. The response has been beautiful. [Read the story in the StarTribune]

"As his world fell apart, Logelin turned for solace to the Internet, which has become an unexpected lifeline for many sharing joy or grief. In his case, both. He told their story in a blog,, which he subtitled: "Life and death. All in a 27-hour-period.
"Living in Los Angeles, he had been using the blog to keep friends and family in Minnesota up to date on Liz's pregnancy. But his online journal, with its spare prose and poignant photos, has taken on, in his words, 'a life of its own.'" [Maura Lerner, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 27 April 2008]


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