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Planning to rent a car at Miami's airport? First, you'll have to walk, walk and walk

WALK, THEY SAID: After my flight from Newark to Miami, I picked up my luggage and set off for the rental-car center, using elevators, ...

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Look for salt and sugar in processed foods, Costco rebates more than cover annual fee

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, TOO: Like so many others, Hunt's Pasta Sauce contains a lot of salt, but sugar and high fructose corn syrup also are listed as ingredients. A half cup contains 23% of the recommended daily maximum of sodium.
LOW SODIUM SAUCE: Colonna offers low-sodium Marinara (a half cup contains only 3% of the sodium you should consume in one day), but the regular Marinara Sauce, right, packs 25% of the recommended daily maximum. Both also contain added sugar.


-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Salt, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are common ingredients in many bottled and canned pasta sauces.

At the ShopRite in Paramus, Victoria sells one of the few bottled sauces without added sugar, and its Vodka Sauce doesn't contain artery clogging cream.

But Victoria's Low Sodium pasta sauce is hard to find. 

A half cup of Victoria Marinara contains 18% of the maximum amount of sodium you are supposed to consume in a day.

ShopRite's own Wholesome Pantry Organic Pasta Sauces contain only 8% of the recommended daily maximum.

You can cut the sodium in your pasta sauce by using canned tomatoes with little or no added salt, and blending them with a higher-sodium bottled sauce.

Another way to cut the sodium in your pasta dish is never, ever salt the pasta water.


ADDED SUGAR: Classico Cabernet Marinara is another sauce with added sugar. Below, ShopRite's Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Capellini with shrimp, left, and Whole Foods' Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli with sardines and anchovies.


Victor's Healthy Kitchen

Here is a video on how to prepare the capellini and shrimp:



NO ADDED SUGAR: Dannon's Oikos Triple Zero Blended Greek Yogurt contains only 6 grams of sugar (a teaspoon is about 4 grams), but loses out on taste. We prefer Siggi's, a thick Icelandic-style yogurt with 9 grams to 11 grams of sugar, made with milk from grass-fed cows.


How Costco pays me to shop

Every February, Costco Wholesale members receive their "rewards" from using the no-fee Costco Anywhere Visa Credit Card.

In my case, those $365 in cash rebates on warehouse and Costco.com purchases, gasoline, restaurant meals, travel and stuff you buy in other stores totaled more than 3 times my annual membership fee of $120.


COSTCO'S ASIAN ACCENT IS MORE PRONOUNCED: Nissin Raoh Japanese-style Ramen is one of the many Asian products on the shelves of the Costco Wholesale off of Route 46 in the Teterboro Landing Shopping Center.
KOREAN NOODLES: Costco also carries Japchae, Korean glass noodles made from yam flour.
GLUTEN FREE: These Organic Rice Ramen Noodles are made from millet and brown rice, and they are sodium free.
DELICIOUSLY THICK: An Asian Indian-style Mango Lassi is a thick smoothie made with milk from grass-fed cows. In Costco's refrigerated case last week, I found two 32-ounce containers of the organic lassi for $5.79 after an instant savings of $3.
5% BACK: Now, Amazon Prime members using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card get 5% back at Amazon's Whole Foods Market in Paramus and elsewhere. That's the same rebate they receive when shopping on Amazon.com and AmazonSmile.com. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers 6% back at Whole Foods and other supermarkets, but not at Costco, and carries a $95 annual fee.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

High schoolers put news media to shame by confronting Trump on Florida murders

Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies listing the five stages of grief among officials after another school shooting: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance -- with a payoff from the gun lobby.
Editorial cartoonist Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune shows how from their fortresses, President Trump, Republicans in Congress and conservatives call for more -- not fewer -- guns.

STUDENTS TAKE OVER ROLE
 OF CALLING FOR REFORM

 -- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Surely, we are witnessing one of the darkest chapters in the history of American journalism.

Once, in the not too distant past, reporters saw their role as challenging authority, exposing wrongdoing and calling for reform.

Now, our news media have ceded that responsibility when it comes to gun control to high school students who survived the Parkland shootings, which were nothing less than 17 premeditated murders.

During "listening sessions" at the White House, not a single reporter confronted President Trump, and asked him how he could allow the murders of 17 innocent students and staff members in a Florida high school.

Instead, they scribbled furiously, and strained to capture photos and videos of his ridiculous proposal to arm teachers and other school staff.

Reporters have been reduced to the role of stenographers and videographers.

One Colorado teacher who showed a TV reporter the loaded pistol he carries in his classroom even was quoted by the CBS Evening News as saying he would be justified missing a gunman and killing an innocent student, if he could stop the death of more kids.

Confronting Rubio

At a forum in Florida, angry students and parents confronted Sen. Marco Rubio and a top representative of the National Rifle Association -- "demanding that politicians and lobbyists support stricter gun-control measures," the New York Post reported.

Promoting AR-15

Today, Columnist Mike Kelly uses the front page of The Record of Woodland Park to promote the semi-automatic AR-15 -- used in the Parkland murders -- as "deadly" because it is so "easy to fire [and] load," and as "the most popular rifle in America" (1A).

The irresponsible columnist at my local daily newspaper also went to a firing range near his office to shoot an "AR-15-style rifle."

He uses the first two paragraphs of his column to describe in detail how easy it was to pick up the deadly weapon, load it and squeeze the trigger time and again -- essentially recounting how Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz killed student after student on Feb. 14. 

His column today is "shameful" and "idiotic" -- the words Kelly himself used on the Opinion section front just a week ago to describe how we don't confiscate the weapons of people like Cruz when "they are behaving strangely."

Kelly definitely is one columnist who is "behaving strangely." 


Cartoonist Dave Granlund exploring what he calls the National Rifle Association's "plan for school security."


'Everybody is exhausted'

Several pages of The Record today explore "the chaos of life and its collision with technology [social media] and tragedy..." (1A, 6A, 7A and Better Living front).

"More of us [are] feeling drained, frazzled and emotionally overrun... We are exhausted," Staff Writer Jim Beckerman reports.

He blames everything from wildfires in California, rising tensions with North Korea, "the non-stop barrage of presidential tweets," mass shootings, red-blue state political divisions and three of the worst hurricanes on record.

The headlines on the Better Living front:


The Trump effect
Politics may actually be stressing you out

Of course, The Record and other news media are guilty of causing a lot of this stress by focusing on nothing but "politics," and the partisan divide in Trenton and Washington.

Issues and what is good for the people of New Jersey and the nation rarely appear in news stories and opinion columns.

Veteran Trenton reporter Charles Stile does little else but write about politics -- his tedious, boring  column is called "Political Stile," and The Record often runs his garbage on the front page.

On Wednesday, The Record reported on Page 1 that Governor Murphy praised students staging gun control protests across the country, and vowed "once again to sign a package of gun-control legislation that was blocked" by his predecessor, Chris Christie.

But the very next day, Stile's ridiculous front-page column carried this headline:

"Murphy cautious
 after Parkland shooting"

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pointing to Trump, Gregory Porter sings, 'Do you remember when love was king?'

Jazz singer-songwriter Gregory Porter, backed by a quintet, at the start of his annual Valentine's Day concert in Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

NEW YORK, N.Y. --  His rich baritone still strong after a 2-hour concert, Gregory Porter sang of a world that isn't divided by fear, hatred and racism:

When love was king
He showed respect for every man
Regardless of their skin or clan
Beside him stood his mighty queen
an equal force wise and keen
He lifted up the underneath
And all his wealth he did bequeath
To those who toiled without a gain
So they would remember his reign.


Porter introduced "When Love Was King," which he wrote, by recalling his meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing St. in London.

She said she loved his version of "Smile" -- a tribute to Nat "King" Cole, a major influence on Porter -- and asked for other songs of his she should listen to.

This is what he said:

When you and "our president" [Donald J. Trump] are sipping cognac together, listen to the words of "When Love Was King."

Once was a kingdom, far far away
Love was the rule of the day
Nothing more, nothing less
Than to give your friend your best.
There's much more story that I could tell
To make the hardest hearts swell

This is the story when love was king.

When love was king, do you remember?
When love was king, when love was king
I remember when love was king.

He ruled the land, with his fist unfurled
With open arms for the world
Of hungry children,  first he'd think
To pull their lives from the brink
When love was king.

As he sang, a woman sitting in our row, on the other side of my wife, said out loud, "Obama, Obama."

Porter received a standing ovation last Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall, and many in the audience were overcome with emotion.

Below, see a short video of Porter ending the concert:





Here is a YouTube video of Porter singing "When Love Was King."




The news media know 99 times out of 100 Trump and surrogates are lying big time

Cartoonist Monte Wolverton, editor of The Plain Truth magazine, calling for "some real gun control laws" after the slaughter at a Florida school.
Cartoonist Daryl Cagle illustrating the close relationship between congressional Republicans and the National Rifle Association.


REPORTERS HAVE NO OBLIGATION
TO SPREAD ALL THAT DECEPTION

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

Editor's note: Today, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist David Leonhardt said, "There is no longer any doubt President Trump is failing to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, as he solemnly swore to do."

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The surest sign of a brewing constitutional crisis were the surprisingly frank words from President Trump's own lawyers.

They fear that if Trump is interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the wide-ranging Russia probe, the president could be charged with lying to investigators.

That effectively conceded that Trump -- as a businessman, candidate and now as president -- lies all the time about everything under the sun.

Yet, reporters are knocking themselves out trying to capture, print and broadcast every false, deceitful and deceiving word.

I mean, if you can't trust the president, who can you trust?

On Friday, Mueller filed criminal charges against Russian nationals and businesses for what he called a wide-ranging effort to undermine the 2016 presidential election while supporting the campaigns of Trump and Bernie Sanders, and attacking Hillary Clinton.

Kaboom!

Prosecutors said that Facebook and Instagram were "the most frequently used tools for Russian operations that sought to sow discard," The New York Times reported.

No "collusion," Trump insists time and again. But I'll bet there was a conspiracy among the Russians and Trump campaign aides, and Mueller will find it.

School shooting

And last week, Trump shed crocodile tears over the murders at a Florida high school, visited parents and wounded students in a hospital and then left for his golf resort.

Not a single reporter asked the president how he could allow the cold-blooded murder of students in their school by a gunman with an assault rifle.

Trump didn't even order more federal funds for school security and less for militarizing the police, who inevitably arrive after all the killing is over.



From the The Political Resistance Against Donald Trump on Facebook.


Race relations

Thanks to Trump the white supremacist, race relations in the United States are at their lowest point since the Civil War.

So, why is The Record of Woodland Park, my local daily newspaper, making such a big deal over "Black Panther," a Hollywood superhero film aimed at African-Americans?

Appraisals of the film appeared on Thursday's front page and all over Friday's Better Living section. What a joke.

Hackensack news

Let's hope a federal judge throws out the $3.18 million suit filed by former Hackensack Deputy Police Chief Frank Zisa (The Record's Local front on Saturday).

His lawyer, who is suing to obtain a retroactive salary increase for Frank Zisa's pension, claims Mayor John Labrosse "has a vendetta against the Zisa family."

Of course, the same can be said for the thousands of voters who elected Labrosse and his slate of reformers in May 2013 and again in May 2017, and told the Zisa-backed candidates to go to hell.



In other Hackensack news, The Record reported the city fired five police officers who were involved in a warrantless search in 2016.

Three others retired before a disciplinary hearing or the investigation.

In preparation for returning Main Street to two-way traffic, the city will remove 9 bus stops on that street and shift them to State Street.

There was no word on whether the city will begin clearing bus stops after snowstorms.

'Toxic Secrets'

The Record's investigative series on DuPont pollution under 400 homes in Pompton Lakes certainly is worthy of praise.

But I'm sure readers, especially those in the small Passaic County community, wonder why the paper waited until now to document how DuPont fought against testing and "feared action in court" (Sunday's 1A and special section, 13A-20A).

The plume of toxic chemicals "has lurked ... beneath homes in the shadow of a now-shuttered munitions plant" for decades [italics added], the paper says (13A).

Bad headlines

Puzzling, bad or incorrect headlines have become the rule since the Gannett Co. took over The Record, and laid off hundreds of employees, including copy editors.

On Sunday, the headline over the DuPont investigation on Page 1 declares:


"POLLUTION 
EVASION
FEAR"

I can't imagine what that means, and I wrote headlines for The Record for about 18 years.

On Tuesday's front page, the banner headline said:


"BIG WIN FOR LOTTERY RUNNER"

"Runner" was an apparent reference to the private company that "runs" the New Jersey lottery.

The story -- labeled a Record investigation -- was worth reading: 

Northstar New Jersey will be paid more, even though sales and revenue are falling.

But I wonder if some readers ignored it because of that stupid headline.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

In Hackensack, a Costco with no crowds, spicy food warms us at Bangkok Garden



-- HACKENSACK, N.J.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

In the nearly two years since the old Costco Wholesale warehouse in Hackensack reopened, members have found an oasis of calm at what is now called a Business Center.

Another Costco member I know describes the reimagined Hackensack warehouse as a combined restaurant supply house and consumer store.

On Tuesday, I was out of organic spring mix -- which serves as my daily salad -- and organic spinach, and I had a 2-pound bag of organic coffee beans I wanted to grind for my daily brew at home.

When I bought the beans on sale at the Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, that warehouses' two coffee mills were busy.

So on Tuesday, I drove to the Costco Business Center, and parked in the uncrowded lot.

After grabbing a shopping cart and showing my membership card at the door, I headed for an enormous cold room in the back of the warehouse.

That's where shoppers find milk, eggs, OJ, yogurt and many other items they are familiar with from the busy Teterboro warehouse.

I picked up a 1-pound tub of organic spring mix and another of organic spinach (only $3.69 each), paid with the Costco Visa credit card -- which is also a cash rebate card -- and took my coffee beans for a Turkish grind in the mill, which has been moved into a corner of the Costco food court.

No fuss, no muss. See video on brewing coffee at home, below:




SOME LIKE IT HOT: On a chilly and rainy Saturday, me and my wife warmed up with a few spicy dishes at Bangkok Garden Thai Restaurant, 261 Main St., Hackensack. Our main dish was called Pla Nung, a steamed whole striped bass ($26.95). But instead of the Thai brown bean sauce topping, we asked for a chili pepper-garlic sauce on the side.
ON A SCALE FROM 1 TO 10: As with the chili-garlic sauce we got with our fish, the server asked us how hot we wanted the dressing on the Som Tam Malakaw ($8.95) or crunchy Green Papaya Salad on a scale of 1 to 10. When I asked for 5, she cautioned me, so I revised that down to 3, and that was plenty hot for us.
SWEET & SPICY: We also shared an appetizer of Tod Mun Pla or Fish Cakes ($6.95) served with a Thai sweet and spicy chili sauce and ground peanuts. The menu says the chewy, deep fried  cakes are made with minced "fresh water fish." My wife also had a bowl of Thai Wonton Soup ($4.50 for small), made with chicken, not pork.




Details

Bangkok Garden Thai Restaurant, 261 Main St., Hackensack; 201-487-2620. 

Open 7 days, liquor license, metered parking on street or in rear lot (25 cents for 30 minutes).

Website:


Sunday, February 11, 2018

As Trump divides nation, men + women, Democratic voters are saying, Never again!

After President Trump asked the military to plan a July Fourth parade in Washington, D.C. -- like the one that wowed him when he visited France -- the popular vote loser was portrayed as just another tin-pot dictator by The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

As our long national nightmare drags on into a second year, women candidates and their Democratic supporters are vowing to turn out in record numbers in the November 2018 elections for Congress.

Racist, con man, pussy grabber, tax dodger and serial liar Donald J. Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the antiquated Electoral College because of lower Democratic turnout.

"He won because Hillary Clinton was less attractive to the traditional Democratic base of urban, minorities, and more educated voters," Forbes opinion writer Ori Ben-Shahar said of Trump on Nov. 17, 2016.

"The story of Hillary Clinton's defeat ... is not the Trump Movement erupting in ballots.... The story ... is very simple: 

"The Democratic base did not turn out to vote as it did for Obama. Those sure-Democrats who stayed home handed the election to Trump," Ben-Shahar said.


Headquarters of The New York Times on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal.


'Slovenian Sphinx'

The New York Times' Maureen Dowd wrote a scathing opinion column about Trump:

"He [Trump] is an idiot savant who plays in the roiling ocean of Twitter as naturally as a blubbery-necked sea lion.

"Only Donald Trump, a Rat Pack relic who spurred the reckoning with his transgressions toward women, could send out a tweet taking credit for the women's march.

"But the Slovenian Sphinx has her moments," Dowd said of Melania.

"Trump could humiliate his wife by being a big, horny pig [cavorting with a porn star and telling her not to worry about Melania, at home with a new baby], but he is the one who comes off as ... an embarrassing husband and an embarrassing president and an embarrassing leader of the free world."

See: Trump presidency cannot possibly last

Also: Media love Trump Liar of the Union speech


'Promises, promises'

The Record, my local daily newspaper, today launched a project to hold Governor Murphy "accountable" for the promises he made while campaigning for the job (1A).

The all-caps headline over the story, which covers half of Page 1:
"PROMISES, PROMISES"

I'm certain the Woodland Park daily never did this when GOP thug Chris Christie was governor nor have the editors bothered to hold Trump "accountable" for all the lies he tells about his so-called accomplishments.

Today, Dustin Racioppi, the reporter who covered Christie -- and served as one of the paper's chief apologists for his mean-spirited rule -- wrote stiffly:

"The Record will update this list as needed with the status on these promises as Murphy moves through his tenure."

Racioppi is no wordsmith, but the same can be said about Charles Stile, Mike Kelly, John Cichowski and so many others left in the wake of the mass layoffs after Gannett bought North Jersey Media Group from the Borg family in July 2016. 

For these and many other reasons, readers and critics have long referred to The Record as "The Wretched."

Best bites?

I was shocked by the list of "Best Bites" from Chef Christine Nunn, owner of Picnic Catering by Christine, as published in The Record's Better Living section at the end of January.

She recommends food shops selling pork, beef, veal and cold cuts without saying whether any of the meat is free of harmful antibiotics, growth hormones and carcinogenic preservatives.

Is any of the produce she recommends organic? Readers don't have a clue.

For fish, she ignores The Fish Dock, a small shop in Closter that sells an astounding variety of fresh fish direct from Iceland, not from a wholesaler.

And the five -- soon to be six -- H Marts in Bergen County carry as many Asian ingredients as Mitsuwa in Edgewater, and at far better prices, plus the Korean supermarkets offer free food samples on the weekends.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Contaminated Ben & Jerry's ice cream, genetic engineering, sodium in pasta sauce

KIND snack bars at the Costco Wholesale Business Center on South River Street in Hackensack are displayed in boxes declaring they are made without "genetically engineered ingredients."
But when I bought Dannon's Oikos Yogurt at the ShopRite in Paramus, I learned from the label when I got home, below, that it is "partially produced with genetic engineering."




-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The Organic Consumers Association has launched a campaign to get Ben & Jerry's to go organic after breaking the news about Roundup weedkiller contamination in the company's ice cream.

Roundup or glyphosate, a weedkiller made by Monsanto, is "probably carcinogenic to humans," according to the World Health Organization.

The association, a non-profit advocacy group for organic agriculture based in Minnesota, says Vermont's dairy farmers feed their cows GMO [genetically modified] corn treated with glyphosate, and pollute the state's waterways.

Ben & Jerry's also sources dairy in western states -- all from non-organic industrial dairy farms.

Mostly Roundup

In 2016, the most heavily used pesticide polluting Vermont's waterways was Monsanto's Roundup or glyphosate -- 62,458 pounds, according to the Organic Consumers Association.

Ben & Jerry's said that by 2020, it would aim to eliminate "glyphosate-contaminated ingredients from its supply chain," presumably by not sourcing ingredients from suppliers that use glyphosate "to dry out" crops before harvest.

Ben & Jerry's, now owned by Unilever, also pledged to introduce organic ice cream in 2018, amounting to 6 percent of the brand's total ice cream production in the U.S. 

Less sodium

A half-cup of Shop Rite's Wholesome Pantry Organic Pasta Sauce contains only 8% of the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium -- compared to 18% for Victoria brand sauces and 20% for the Botticelli brand from Italy -- and no added sugar.

I bought four 24-ounce jars of Wholesome Pantry Basil and Tomato or Roasted Garlic, on sale for 99 cents each today, at the ShopRite on Passaic Street in Rochelle Park.

I usually buy a 1-pound tub of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring at Costco Wholesale every week, but the "use by date" is even harder to read than before.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Toyota has owners jumping through hoops to redress defects in the gas-electric Prius

On Jan. 11, I spent at least an hour at the Motor Vehicle Commission office in Lodi getting our 2010 Toyota Prius registered as part of the documentation I need to file a claim for defective headlight bulbs.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

Editor's update: On March 31, 2018, I received a check for $80.08 from Toyota Motor Sales USA to compensate me for replacement of Prius halogen headlight bulbs.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Our 2010 Toyota Prius certainly is reliable, but the eco-friendly hybrid also has been dogged by several "safety recall notices" and one "warranty enhancement program."

The latter provides "enhanced coverage" relating to the halogen headlamp bulbs, which have burnt out prematurely.

Both bulbs were replaced for free in February 2013 as a "goodwill" gesture.

But when the driver's side bulb burnt out again last August, my Toyota dealer in Hackensack said I would have to pay for the replacement, a total of $76.97, including new license plate bulbs.

Then, I received a "customer support program notification" from Toyota Motor Sales in Texas, offering replacement of the bulbs, installation of "voltage adjustment wire harnesses," and possible reimbursement.

When I decided to seek reimbursement for last August's repair, I had to send Toyota copies of the repair order and enough documents for a court case.

Consumers often call this jumping through hoops.


The cover photo on the dealer brochure showed the 2010 Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid amid green hills and blue sky. That environmentally friendly message has been replaced with an emphasis on how well the new generation Prius performs. Below, the original sticker with an MSRP of $31,166, including an optional solar panel that turned on fans to cool the interior when the car is parked in hot weather.


Toyota's checklist

The first document requested was the repair order or invoice "showing the repairs are related to the covered condition."

Proof-of-payment was required, including a cancelled check, signed credit card receipt or copy of my credit card statement.

Vehicle identification also had to be sent in, such as the state registration, copy of the bill of sale and copy of the title (I sent all three).

In the process of gathering the documents, we discovered the state Motor Vehicle Commission never sent us a registration renewal notice for the Prius, which my wife drives. 

So, I spent about an hour at the MVC office in Lodi, updating our registration.

I sent in all the documents, and received a letter saying they are being reviewed. 

I won't be holding my breath for that reimbursement check.