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Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Americans honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday with a traditional day of service as well as a new wave of economic injustice protests by Occupy Wall Street.
On the first King holiday since the now-global Occupy movement launched in New York City in September, the reignited debate over inequality drew hundreds of protestors to march in wintry temperatures in Manhattan, stopping at a Bank of America branch to shout, "The banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
At least two protesters were loaded into a police van at the march, held "because Dr. King dedicated the last months of his life to planning a campaign for the right of all to a decent-paying job," leaders said in a statement.
King was organizing a Poor People's Campaign, the next phase in the civil rights movement, before he was murdered in 1968.
"I came here on the one hand to honor (King's) birthday, but also for the things that he stood for," said Jim Glaser, a retired teacher from suburban Nyack, New York, at the march.
"We have to have a government that's responsive to people, ... a government that people can have some influence on," he said.
At New York's African Burial Grounds, schoolchildren played "We Shall Overcome" on violins before protesters marched to the Federal Reserve in downtown Manhattan.
"What Occupy Wall Street is trying to do is exactly what (King) was trying to -- focus on economic injustice and to inform and educate the American public," said Norman Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"I think (King) would be very pleased because Occupy Wall Street is the children of Dr King's dream," Siegel said at the 18th century burial ground, part of the National Park Service.
Protesters in the Occupy movement complain that billions of dollars in bailouts were given to banks while many Americans still suffer with joblessness and housing foreclosures. They say minorities were disproportionately affected by predatory lending practices.
The movement has influenced the national political conversation, with President Barack Obama echoing some of its themes in calling for a "fair shot" and "fair share" for all.
Community and civil rights leaders urged Americans to honor King's crusade for nonviolence and racial brotherhood by doing volunteer work.
The President, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Malia marked the day by helping spruce up the library at a school in a predominantly African-American community in northeast Washington.
"At a time when the country has been going through some difficult economic times, for us to be able to come together as a community, people from all different walks of life, and make sure that we're giving back, that's ultimately what makes us the strongest, most extraordinary country on earth," Obama said.
This year's King holiday came as officials in more than a dozen states implement new laws requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. Critics say the restriction violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- one of the key accomplishments of the movement King led.
Across the nation, formal events such as prayer services, performances and parades were staged for King's birthday, which became a federal holiday in 1986. Post offices, government buildings and most public schools were closed.
King, a Baptist pastor who advocated for nonviolence, racial brotherhood and equal rights and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, was assassinated in 1968 as he stood outside his motel room in Memphis, where he had gone to support striking sanitation workers.
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The perfect New Year tree

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Mandarin orange is a significant fruit for the New Year.  It symbolizes a bountiful harvest, prosperity and hope for success.   New Year greetings accompanied with a present consisting of a pair of oranges is a traditional practice among the Chinese. This symbolizes gold and all the good wishes for the New Year.  Mandarin oranges come in different sizes and are often used to adorn homes during New Year’s Eve.  It is believed that the bigger the orange is, the bigger the opportunities it represents.  Scientifically known as Citrus reticulata, it is in reality a variety within the Citrus or orange family.
The Mandarin fruit can be easily peeled as its orange rind is thin and the fruit can be split into even segments without squirting its juice. This makes the Mandarin convenient to eat, as utensils are not required to peel or cut the fruit. The segments are sweet and juicy and most often seedless.
Aside from being eaten ripe, the Mandarin segments also be used in fruit salads, made into sweets and can also be canned. The fruit also contains a lot of medicinal properties.   In traditional Chinese medicine, the dried peel of the fruit is used to treat abdominal distension, to enhance digestion and to reduce phlegm. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, minerals and fiber.
The Mandarin tree is drought-tolerant and can grow both in tropical and subtropical areas.  However, the tree is tender and can easily be damaged by extremely cold temperatures.  It is a small tree and one can grow Mandarin oranges in pots just like other types of citrus.  It is most often grown from seeds or grafted.  The plants are often grown outdoors exposed to full sunlight during the growing season. They are brought indoors during Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The Mandarin orange is established in 20-inch pots.  Seeds are germinated in small pots until the plant grows to six inches in height.  It should then be transferred to a bigger pot.  A rich potting soil, usually an equal mixture of garden soil, compost and sand is recommended. The plant requires daily watering and it must be fertilized once a month.
A layer of rocks, gravel or broken pots in the bottom of the pot can help water drain away from the roots.  Branches must be pruned regularly.  The plant is usually plagued with insect pests like mites, aphids, caterpillars or white flies so it’s best to administer an insecticide solution.
Plants grown from seedlings will usually bear fruit after two to three years.  Mandarin oranges thrive in cool temperatures of about 10 to 25 degrees Celsius, similar to the climates of Baguio or other high altitude places.  It is also the cool temperature that makes the fruit turn orange as it ripens. It should also be noted that Citrus fruits are usually self-fertile, needing only a bee to move pollen within the same flower.


3 health reasons to cook with cast-iron

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cast-iron skillets may seem like an old-fashioned choice in the kitchen. But this dependable cookware is a must in the modern kitchen. Cast-iron skillets conduct heat beautifully, go from stovetop to oven with no problem and last for decades. (In fact, my most highly prized piece of cookware is a canary-yellow, enamel-coated cast-iron paella pan from the 1960s that I scored at a stoop sale for $5.) As a registered dietitian and associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, I also know that there are some great health reasons to cook with cast iron.
1. You can cook with less oil when you use a cast-iron pan. 
That lovely sheen on cast-iron cookware is the sign of a well-seasoned pan, which renders it virtually nonstick. The health bonus, of course, is that you won't need to use gads of oil to brown crispy potatoes or sear chicken when cooking in cast-iron. To season your cast-iron skillet, cover the bottom of the pan with a thick layer of kosher salt and a half inch of cooking oil, then heat until the oil starts to smoke. Carefully pour the salt and oil into a bowl, then use a ball of paper towels to rub the inside of the pan until it is smooth. To clean cast iron, never use soap. Simply scrub your skillet with a stiff brush and hot water and dry it completely.

2. Cast iron is a chemical-free alternative to nonstick pans. 
Another benefit to using cast-iron pans in place of nonstick pans is that you avoid the harmful chemicals that are found in nonstick pans. The repellent coating that keeps food from sticking to nonstick pots and pans contains PFCs (perfluorocarbons), a chemical that's linked to liver damage, cancer, developmental problems and, according to one 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, early menopause. PFCs get released-and inhaled-from nonstick pans in the form of fumes when pans are heated on high heat. Likewise, we can ingest them when the surface of the pan gets scratched. Both regular and ceramic-coated cast-iron pans are great alternatives to nonstick pans for this reason.

3. Cooking with cast iron fortifies your food with iron. 

While cast iron doesn't leach chemicals, it can leach some iron into your food...and that's a good thing. Iron deficiency is fairly common worldwide, especially among women. In fact, 10% of American women are iron-deficient. Cooking food, especially something acidic like tomato sauce in a cast-iron skillet can increase iron content, by as much as 20 times.


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