11/20/2010 archive

Random Japan


Officials in Toyama are taking multitasking to a whole new level with a project that trains hairdressers to spot emotionally disturbed customers who might be contemplating suicide.

How do you know when you’ve become an obasan? A survey of young Japanese women showed that muttering “Yoisho” is the number one indicator that you’ve made the transition from sexy young thing to a life of cutting in lines and holding on to other people when laughing.

Nissan has developed the world’s first Wrong-Way Alert Program, which gives clueless drivers a heads-up when they’re going against the flow of traffic.

Major insurance firm Nipponkoa became the first Japanese company of its kind to enter the daycare business

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness 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

This article about 15 Dangerous Drugs Big Pharma Shoves Down Our Throats by Martha Rosenberg of AlterNet is a must read and one everyone should bookmark.

In the pharmaceutical industry’s rush to get drugs to market, safety usually comes last. And the public suffers.

Long studies to truly assess a drug’s risks just delay profits after all — and if problems do emerge after medication hits the market, settlements are usually less than profits. Remember, Vioxx still made money.

The following drugs are so plagued with safety problems, it is a wonder they’re on the market at all. It’s a testament to Big Pharma’s greed and our poor regulatory processes that they are.

Lentils: Packed With Protein – and Flavor


Lentil and Escarole Soup

Lentil and Tuna Salad

Lentil Salad With Walnut Oil

Lentil Stew With Pumpkin or Sweet Potatoes

Lentil Soup With Chipotles

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”.

Charles M. Blow: Let’s Rescue the Race Debate

“There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. … Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs … There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well.”

This 100-year-old, cobbled-together quote from the “the Great Accommodator” Booker T. Washington has gotten quite a bit of circulation in the right-wing blogosphere since the Tea Party came under attack over racial issues.

The quote helps support a broader sentiment that the current racial discontent is being fueled by a black liberal grievance industry that refuses to acknowledge racial progress, accept personal responsibility, or acknowledge its own racial transgressions. And that the charge of racism has become a bludgeon against anyone white and not in love with President Obama, thereby making those whites the most aggrieved – victims of the elusive reverse-racism Bigfoot. It’s perfect really: the historic words of a revered black figure being used to punch a hole in a present-day black mythology and to turn the world of racism upside down.

Michael Moore: How Corporate America Is Pushing Us All Off a Cliff

When someone talks about pushing you off a cliff, it’s just human nature to be curious about them. Who are these people, you wonder, and why would they want to do such a thing?

That’s what I was thinking when corporate whistleblower Wendell Potter revealed that, when “Sicko” was being released in 2007, the health insurance industry’s PR firm, APCO Worldwide, discussed their Plan B: “Pushing Michael Moore off a cliff.”

But after looking into it, it turns out it’s nothing personal! APCO wants to push everyone off a cliff.

APCO was hatched in 1984 as a subsidiary of the Washington, D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter — best known for its years of representing the giant tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris. APCO set up fake “grassroots” organizations around the country to do the bidding of Big Tobacco. All of a sudden, “normal, everyday, in-no-way-employed-by-Philip Morris Americans” were popping up everywhere. And it turned out they were outraged — outraged! — by exactly the things APCO’s clients hated (such as, the government telling tobacco companies what to do). In particular, they were “furious” that regular people had the right to sue big corporations…you know, like Philip Morris. (For details, see the 2000 report “The CALA Files” (PDF) by my friends and colleagues Carl Deal and Joanne Doroshow.)

Bob Herbert: Hiding From Reality

However you want to define the American dream, there is not much of it that’s left anymore.

Wherever you choose to look – at the economy and jobs, the public schools, the budget deficits, the nonstop warfare overseas – you’ll see a country in sad shape. Standards of living are declining, and American parents increasingly believe that their children will inherit a very bad deal.

We’re in denial about the extent of the rot in the system, and the effort that would be required to turn things around. It will likely take many years, perhaps a decade or more, to get employment back to a level at which one could fairly say the economy is thriving.

Rank Choice Voting Paid Off for a Poor Candidate

Have you ever heard of ranked-choice voting? There’s good and bad points but Oakland was recently the first large U.S. city to use it for a mayoral election. Jean Quan who came in second in the election ended up becoming mayor and offers some of the good points in last night’s PBS NewsHour video. (click here for video and transcript)

SPENCER MICHELS: Quan thinks, without ranked-choice voting, which takes the place of a runoff in situations where nobody gets a majority, she would have been in trouble raising money for another election.

JEAN QUAN: In a traditional system, I would have had to raise $400,000 in June, and I would have to try to raise $400,000 in the fall. My husband and I actually put a second mortgage on our house to make sure we’d have enough money on Election Day.

Well obviously she was not exactly an impoverished candidate but there are many questions and answers addressed in the link above about this means of avoiding runoff elections. Another PBS video and transcript that takes a closer look at Oakland’s new mayor helps also helps to explain rank-choice voting.

But the new system used for the election garnered as much attention as the candidates and the issues. This was the first year the county used “ranked-choice voting,” which asks voters to name the second- and third-choice candidates in addition to their top one. In the first round of voting, State Sen. Don Perata won the most votes but he didn’t have enough to secure the required majority. After an eight-day vote count, city council member Jean Quan got more than enough second- and third-place votes to overtake Perata and win.


On This Day in History: November 20

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.

On this day in 1945, Twenty-four high-ranking Nazis go on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, for atrocities committed during World War II.

The Nuremberg Trials were conducted by an international tribunal made up of representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain. It was the first trial of its kind in history, and the defendants faced charges ranging from crimes against peace, to crimes of war, to crimes against humanity. Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence, the British member, presided over the proceedings, which lasted 10 months and consisted of 216 court sessions.


British War Cabinet documents, released on 2 January 2006, have shown that as early as December 1944, the Cabinet had discussed their policy for the punishment of the leading Nazis if captured. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had then advocated a policy of summary execution in some circumstances, with the use of an Act of Attainder to circumvent legal obstacles, being dissuaded from this only by talks with US leaders later in the war. In late 1943, during the Tripartite Dinner Meeting at the Tehran Conference, the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, proposed executing 50,000-100,000 German staff officers. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, joked that perhaps 49,000 would do. Churchill denounced the idea of “the cold blooded execution of soldiers who fought for their country.” However, he also stated that war criminals must pay for their crimes and that in accordance with the Moscow Document which he himself had written, they should be tried at the places where the crimes were committed. Churchill was vigorously opposed to executions “for political purposes.” According to the minutes of a Roosevelt-Stalin meeting during the Yalta Conference, on February 4, 1945, at the Livadia Palace, President Roosevelt “said that he had been very much struck by the extent of German destruction in the Crimea and therefore he was more bloodthirsty in regard to the Germans than he had been a year ago, and he hoped that Marshal Stalin would again propose a toast to the execution of 50,000 officers of the German Army.

US Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., suggested a plan for the total denazification of Germany; this was known as the Morgenthau Plan. The plan advocated the forced de-industrialisation of Germany. Roosevelt initially supported this plan, and managed to convince Churchill to support it in a less drastic form. Later, details were leaked to the public, generating widespread protest. Roosevelt, aware of strong public disapproval, abandoned the plan, but did not adopt an alternate position on the matter. The demise of the Morgenthau Plan created the need for an alternative method of dealing with the Nazi leadership. The plan for the “Trial of European War Criminals” was drafted by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and the War Department. Following Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, the new president, Harry S. Truman, gave strong approval for a judicial process. After a series of negotiations between Britain, the US, Soviet Union and France, details of the trial were worked out. The trials were set to commence on 20 November 1945, in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg.

Morning Shinbun Saturday November 20

Saturday’s Headlines:

World Toilet Day: Top 10 nations lacking toilets


BP faces new fines over second Alaska spill

U.S. wants to widen area in Pakistan where it can operate drones


Balotelli: The star playing a losing game against racism

Berlusconi aide was ‘liaison’ with mafia

Middle East

Egypt tells US not to interfere in its affairs

Iran dismisses UN rights criticism


Asylum seekers sew lips shut over camp conditions

Japan developers build a wall against yakuza


Diamond producers slam watchdog on Zim gems

Latin America

Angry gangs bring UN protest to Haitian capital

In Lisbon, they talk. In Afghanistan, they die.

Christopher Davies, 22, was the 100th British serviceman to die this year in a war that Nato’s leaders – gathered today for a crucial summit – have no idea how to win.

By Michael Savage and Kim Sengupta in Lisbon Saturday, 20 November 201

Christopher Davies, a guardsman with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, has been named as the 100th member of Britain’s armed forces fighting in Afghanistan to die this year.

The 22-year-old’s death was given extra poignancy yesterday as world leaders gathered to formulate an exit strategy from the bloody and intractable campaign. It has now claimed the lives of 345 British servicemen and women since it began in 2001.

Guardsman Davies, from St Helens, Merseyside, died after being ambushed and shot by insurgents while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand Province, on Wednesday.

The USDA is Pretty Cheesy

Last week in a New York Times report, While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales, there was a conflict of interest story that would give any Tea Party member a coronary. It’s bad for Democrats too.

You know how the United States Department of Agriculture is running a federal anti-obesity drive? Well, how about the fact that they also advised Domino’s on how to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, then helped them devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign. Sales soared by double digits.

That’s just the beginning. You should read the whole story about Dairy Management Inc. that was created by the government in 1995 and not only invented the “Got Milk” campaign but runs an aggressive campaign to promoting the excessive consumption of cheese and convince Americans that saturated fats are good for you.

It’s almost comical that a subsidiary of America’s nutrition police ran a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy and lobbied the Agriculture Department not to cut the amount of cheese in federal food assistance programs by citing these false weight-loss claims from research they mostly financed and already knew to be false.

Tonight on the PBS show that replaced Bill Moyers Journal “Need to Know,” there was a follow up report Mixed signals: Why is the USDA promoting nutrition and pushing cheese? I think it’s must see TV and goes a little further than “Got Milk?”

Popular Culture 20101119: The Name Game UPDATED with link to Coulter Video

I have been threatening to write this for some time and finally got around to it.  The hard core conservative pundits have no compunction about calling their political opponents different names (“Rahm, Rahmbo, Dead Fish”, for example) and sometime the progressive pundits do the same.

However, the more progressive pundits have better manners than the conservative ones.  Since I have no manners at all, I have no compunction for making up names.  Ed Schultz does quite a few, like Slant Head and The Drugster, but I find them sort of weak.  Olbermann did better with Lonesome Rhodes, but that still does not have as much punch as I would like.

To make this more fun, I shall list some names and give sort of riddle as a hint, and then ask readers to guess the identity of the person in a comment.  If you have better ones, or if I leave out a favorite target of yours, please comment as well.

Prime Time

Premiers!  Good for you.

Keith called out Jon Stewart last night on false equivalency-

Take the poll and tell Keith to bring back ‘Worst’ just the way it was (73% at the moment).

In other news- Joe “Dead Intern” Scarborough suspended!


Dave hosts Billy Bob Thornton, Mike E. Winfield, and the Secret Sisters (get a wiki page guys).

What your telling me Sir and correct me if I’m wrong, is that the infantry attack on Lone Pine, and our Light Horse attack on the Nek are diversions.

Oh, not just diversions Major, vital important diversions. Tonight, 25,000 British troops will land here at Suvla Bay. Our attacks are to draw the Turks down on us so the British can get ashore. Sorry I didn’t tell you this before, secrecy is vital.

But Sir, the Nek is a fortress. Protected by at least five machine guns at point-blank range.

Yeah, we’ve considered that Barton. We’re gonna hit their trenches with the heaviest barrage of the campaign just before your men go over the top.

By the time we’ve finished here, there won’t be a Turk within miles.

The Turks can keep us pinned down at ANZAC forever. This new British landing is our only hope. We must do what we can to make it succeed. Because of it does succeed, we’ll have Constantinople with a week, and knock Turkey out of the war.