Daily Archive: 03/09/2013

Mar 09 2013

Random Japan

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HERE WE GO AGAIN

Just five months after its inception, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has already fired a senior official for having an “inappropriate exchange” with the operator of a nuclear power plant.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking official at the land ministry (the parliamentary secretary for reconstruction, if you must know) mysteriously resigned, allegedly over “a relationship with a woman.” Can’t have that!

Researchers at the environment ministry believe there may be a connection between the March 11 megaquake and a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in Hokkaido last month that caused blackouts and highway closures.

It was reported that officials at the National Police Agency are making an effort to develop better aging-prediction technology out of concerns that “the faces of people on police wanted posters end up looking markedly different from fugitives.”

Mar 09 2013

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

For Flavor and Versatility, Add Bulgur

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   It comes in four different grades – fine (#1), medium (#2), coarse (#3), and very coarse (#4)- and each type lends itself to a particular kind of dish. In the Middle East pilafs are made with medium, coarse, and very coarse bulgur. Tabbouleh and kibbe are made with fine bulgur. In my kitchen I use the medium grind for a delicious breakfast porridge that has the flavor of a hearty cream of wheat, and I add it to breads and other baked goods. Coarse bulgur goes into pilafs and soups, casseroles and stuffed vegetables.

   I don’t know if bulgur is going to be the next quinoa – probably not, as these days so many people shun wheat. But if I had to choose one over the other for flavor and versatility, I’d go with bulgur. One thing it has going for it is that it can be reconstituted without cooking, though you can also cook it in boiling water (the grains will be a little fluffier if you do). As for the nutritional profile, whereas quinoa has a little more protein (4 grams per 100 grams of grain compared with bulgur’s 3), bulgur is less caloric (83 calories per 100 grams compared with quinoa’s 120), higher in fiber (4 grams versus 3), slightly lower in carbohydrates (19 grams compared with 21) and sodium (5 mg compared with 7).

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread With Bulgur

A quick and easy bread with a rich and nutty taste.

Bulgur, Spinach and Tomato Casserole

A simple, satisfying casserole with spinach and Middle Eastern-inflected tomato sauce.

Winter Tomato Soup With Bulgur

A thick, satisfying winter soup.

Bulgur Maple Porridge

A delicious and healthy morning meal.

Bulgur Bowl With Spinach, Mushrooms and Middle Eastern Nut and Spice Seasoning

A simple skillet supper with a savory mixture of mushrooms and spinach.

Mar 09 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Glen Ford: The Sequestration Tango: Obama and GOP Dance Through the Graveyard of the New Deal

The Obama regime has been remarkably successful – in pushing forward a Republican agenda. Obama, especially, has “moved with such elegance and poise, his fans forgot that he was dancing with a partner: the GOP.” Together, they have starved the federal beast and forged a consensus on the inevitability of austerity. Let the gruesome-twosome take a bow.

Barack Obama’s mission has always been to destroy the left wing of the Democrats in order to consummate a grand bargain – a melding – of the corporatists in both major parties. He entered national politics as a newly-minted member of the Democratic Leadership Council, which dispensed corporate campaign money to business-friendly candidates and incumbents. Ten years later, President Obama has succeeded beyond our worst fears. Black politics is in utter ruin, and the collapse of the Democratic Party’s left wing is all but complete. Austerity is the order of the day, and no one is more responsible for that catastrophe than Obama, who has waged war on so-called entitlement programs since the polls closed in 2008.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: A President Who’ll Cut Social Security – And Liberals Who Love Him Too Much

The spectacle of a supposedly liberal President repeatedly and needlessly trying to cut Social Security is enough to bring a reasonable, economically literate person to the point of existential despair. To see leading liberal lights like Rachel Maddow and Ezra Klein chuckle indulgently at those foolish Republicans in Congress over the subject – Don’t they know he’s already giving them what they want? – is to risk plunging into the depths of that despair.

This week the President hosted a dinner for Republicans leaders where he worked to sell his budget proposal, including his harmful plan to cut benefits through the “chained CPI.” National Security was the main course and Social Security was the dessert.  And guess who wasn’t coming to dinner: The elderly, the disabled, or any policy experts who understand the disastrous implications of the chained CPI.

New York Times Editorial: Off the Path to Recovery

The February employment report shows some notable improvements that, if sustained, would herald a real recovery. Partly boosted by increased employment in the construction industry, the number of new jobs jumped to 236,000 last month, continuing a gradual upward trend.

Unfortunately, there are many reasons to believe that the improvements will not be sustained. If Congressional Republicans have their way – insisting that all deficit reduction be achieved by spending less without any tax increases – the automatic cuts that began on March 1 will continue. That will cost the economy an estimated 750,000 jobs by the end of this year and reduce economic growth by about half a percentage point. [..]

Without adequate demand, there will be no upsurge in business investment. The Fed cannot turn things around on its own. And the automatic budget cuts, on top of it all, will only make things worse.

Michael Winship: Jack Lew, Citigroup and the Ugland Truth

Along with its sandy beaches and quality snorkeling, the Cayman Islands’ reputation as an offshore tax haven for corporations, banks and hedge funds has become so well-known its financial institutions now are featured in travel brochures as yet another tourist attraction.

So as we traveled across the Caribbean this week – including a stretch paralleling the south coast of Cuba past Guantanamo Bay and the Sierra Maestra mountains, where Castro and his revolutionaries once hid out – we made a stop in George Town on Grand Cayman Island. A short walk along the shore took us to 335 South Church Street, a location made famous by Barack Obama a few years ago and more recently, Jack Lew, during his confirmation hearings to become Secretary of the Treasury.

Gail Collins: Senators Bearing Arms

Whenever talk turns to gun control in Congress, lawmakers feel compelled to mention their love of weaponry. [..]

People, do you think Congress is actually going to do anything about gun violence in the wake of the Newtown shootings? Judiciary is going to vote on two big proposals next week: a ban on assault weapons and an expansion of gun purchase background checks. If the Democrats stick together, the bills can pass on a party-line vote. But to go any further, they need Republican support, and there wasn’t a whole lot of it in evidence this week.

Ryan Goodman: The Drone Question Obama Hasn’t Answered

THE Senate confirmed John O. Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Thursday after a nearly 13-hour filibuster by the libertarian senator Rand Paul, who before the vote received a somewhat odd letter from the attorney general. [..]

The senator, whose filibuster had become a social-media sensation, elating Tea Party members, human-rights groups and pacifists alike, said he was “quite happy with the answer.” But Mr. Holder’s letter raises more questions than it answers – and, indeed, more important and more serious questions than the senator posed. [..]

But is it well past time for the United States government to specify, precisely, its views on whom it thinks it can kill in the struggle against Al Qaeda and other terrorist forces? The answer is yes.

The Obama administration’s continued refusal to do so should alarm any American concerned about the constitutional right of our citizens – no matter what evil they may or may not be engaged in – to due process under the law. For those Americans, Mr. Holder’s seemingly simple but maddeningly vague letter offers no reassurance.

Mar 09 2013

On This Day In History March 9

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 9 is the 68th day of the year (69th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 297 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1841, the US Supreme Court rules on Amistad mutiny

At the end of a historic case, the U.S. Supreme Court rules, with only one dissent, that the African slaves who seized control of the Amistad slave ship had been illegally forced into slavery, and thus are free under American law.

The Amistad, also known as United States v. Libellants and Claimants of the Schooner Amistad, 40 U.S. (15 Pet.) 518 (1841), was a United States Supreme Court case resulting from the rebellion of slaves on board the Spanish schooner Amistad in 1839. It was an unusual “freedom suit“, as it involved international issues and parties, as well as United States law.

The rebellion broke out when the schooner, traveling along the coast of Cuba, was taken over by a group of captives who had earlier been kidnapped in Africa and sold into slavery. The Africans were later apprehended on the vessel near Long Island, New York, by the United States Revenue Cutter Service and taken into custody. The ensuing, widely publicized court cases in the United States helped the abolitionist movement.

In 1840, a federal trial court found that the initial transport of the Africans across the Atlantic (which did not involve the Amistad) had been illegal, because the international slave trade had been abolished, and the captives were thus not legally slaves but free. Given that they were illegally confined, the Africans were entitled to take whatever legal measures necessary to secure their freedom, including the use of force. After the US Supreme Court affirmed this finding on March 9, 1841, supporters arranged transportation for the Africans back to Africa in 1842. The case influenced numerous succeeding laws in the United States.

Arguments before the Supreme Court

On February 23, 1841, Attorney General Henry D. Gilpin began the oral argument phase before the Supreme Court. Gilpin first entered into evidence the papers of La Amistad which stated that the Africans were Spanish property. The documents being in order, Gilpin argued that the Court had no authority to rule against their validity. Gilpin contended that if the Africans were slaves (as evidenced by the documents), then they must be returned to their rightful owner, in this case, the Spanish government. Gilpin’s argument lasted two hours.

John Quincy Adams, former President of the United States and at that time a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, had agreed to argue for the Africans, but when it was time for him to argue, felt ill-prepared. Roger Sherman Baldwin, who had already represented the captives in the lower cases, opened in his place.

Baldwin, a prominent attorney (who was no relation to Justice Baldwin, the lone dissenter on the Court) contended that the Spanish government was attempting to manipulate the Court to return “fugitives”. In actuality, Baldwin argued, the Spanish government sought the return of slaves, who had been freed by the District Court, a fact that the Spanish government was not appealing. Covering all the facts of the case, Baldwin spoke for four hours over the course of the 22nd and the 23rd.

John Quincy Adams rose to speak on February 24. First, he reminded the court that it was a part of the judicial branch, and not part of the executive. Adams introduced correspondence between the Spanish government and the Secretary of State, criticizing President Martin van Buren for his assumption of unconstitutional powers in the case.

   This review of all the proceedings of the Executive I have made with utmost pain, because it was necessary to bring it fully before your Honors, to show that the course of that department had been dictated, throughout, not by justice but by sympathy – and a sympathy the most partial and injust. And this sympathy prevailed to such a degree, among all the persons concerned in this business, as to have perverted their minds with regard to all the most sacred principles of law and right, on which the liberties of the United States are founded; and a course was pursued, from the beginning to the end, which was not only an outrage upon the persons whose lives and liberties were at stake, but hostile to the power and independence of the judiciary itself.

Adams argued that neither Pinckney’s Treaty nor the Adams-Onis Treaty were applicable to the case. Article IX of Pinckney’s Treaty referred only to property, and did not apply to people. As to The Antelope decision (10 Wheat. 124), which recognized “that possession on board of a vessel was evidence of property”, Adams said that did not apply either, since the precedent there was established prior to the prohibition of the foreign slave trade in the United States. Adams concluded after eight and one-half hours of speaking on March 1 (the Court had taken a recess following the death of Associate Justice Barbour).

Attorney General Gilpin concluded oral argument with a three-hour rebuttal on March 2. The Court retired to consider the case.

Decision of the Supreme Court

On March 9, Associate Justice Joseph Story delivered the Court’s decision. Article IX of Pinckney’s Treaty was ruled off topic since the Africans in question were never legal property. They were not criminals, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office argued, but rather “unlawfully kidnapped, and forcibly and wrongfully carried on board a certain vessel”. The documents submitted by Attorney General Gilpin were not evidence of property, but rather of fraud on the part of the Spanish government. Lt. Gedney and the USS Washington were to be awarded salvage from the vessel for having performed “a highly meritorious and useful service to the proprietors of the ship and cargo”.

When La Amistad came into Long Island, however, the Court believed it to be in the possession of the Africans on board, who had no intent to become slaves. Therefore, the Adams-Onis Treaty did not apply, and the President was not required to return the slaves to Africa.

Upon the whole, our opinion is, that the decree of the circuit court, affirming that of the district court, ought to be affirmed, except so far as it directs the negroes to be delivered to the president, to be transported to Africa, in pursuance of the act of the 3rd of March 1819; and as to this, it ought to be reversed: and that the said negroes be declared to be free, and be dismissed from the custody of the court, and go without delay.

Mar 09 2013

Friday Night at the Movies

Phoebe Cates, Carrie Fisher, and Bridget Fonda.

Mar 09 2013

The Sequester: Lies, Damned Lies, and Libel Against Critics on the Left

Lately there have been some rumors about me that I feel need to addressed. Because I have more class than some people spreading nonsense about me and others, I am not going to name names or link to them, but some of you will know what I am talking about. First off, in the comments of my last diary it was rightly brought up that the President did issue a veto threats against anyone who wants to get rid of any part of the sequester.

This veto threat applied to anyone in both parties which also included the plan from Republicans that wanted to give federal agencies more leeway in how the sequester was implemented so as to spare the defense cuts instead of equal foreign and domestic cuts across the board. It’s not surprising that no one else put anything forward with that veto threat.

Obama Threatens Veto on Bid to Avoid Automatic Cuts as Supercommittee Fails

President Obama said today he will veto any efforts to get rid of the automatic spending cuts that will be triggered by the supercommittee’s failure to reach a bipartisan solution to deficit reduction.

“There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” the president said this evening. “The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.”

Only those that enable the real life terror federal employees and their families will soon feel deny that this is a debacle created by the Executive and the Legislative working together for austerity. The direct quotes up above can only be ignored by those with an agenda and not one for working people. Get real.