05/21/2011 archive

Random Japan



The defense ministry said that the number of sorties flown by the ASDF “to intercept foreign aircraft flying near Japanese airspace” surged by 29 percent in 2010.

Ten Japanese tourists were injured when their sightseeing bus hit a wall in Seoul.

After the Japanese Embassy in France lodged a complaint with a local TV station for airing a program that mocked the March 11 disaster, the network responded by saying that its show “criticizes anything and is not a news program.”

The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith has set up a scholarship fund for “two Japanese students who want to study abroad but face financial difficulties because of the [March 11] disaster.”

Three North Koreans who had been granted asylum at a Japanese consulate in northeastern China were given permission by Beijing to leave for Japan.

Two mountain climbers died in an avalanche on Mt. Shirouma in Nagano Prefecture, but nine others escaped with their lives.

During a visit to Tokyo, the Dalai Lama warned that a “cultural genocide is taking place” inside Tibet.

A meeting of environment ministers from Japan, China and South Korea was held in Busan to discuss bird flu, yellow sandstorms and the need “to promote information-sharing” during extreme natural disasters.

Talk about dumb luck: it is now believed that the hydrogen explosion at the no. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 15 might have helped prevent a meltdown “by causing a flow of water into the pool the rods are stored in.”

The Japan Business Federation announced that 80 percent of its members plan to enact some type of energy-saving program to meet government power-consumption reduction targets by this summer.

The government has also pitched in by extending its “Cool Biz” promotion for office workers to wear casual clothes by two months.

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.

Leeks: Onion Flavor, Without the Onions


In French cooking, rare is the soup or stew that does not feature a leek or two in its supporting cast of aromatics, not to mention the tarts, soups and starters in which it has the starring role.

If you are one of those people who can’t tolerate an abundance of onions in a dish, try leeks instead. They’re milder, even though they contain many of the sulfur compounds present in onions that are difficult for some people to digest. But these compounds, also found in green garlic, are the source of many health benefits. Leeks contain other important nutrients as well, like lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that are being studied for their role in eye health. Leeks also are a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin K, and are a very good source of vitamin A.

Leeks should be trimmed and cleaned before you use them. As the green shoots push up from the ground, dirt can become lodged between their thin layers. The dark green part is tough, and while good for stocks, it doesn’t have the delicate flavor and texture of the white bulb or the tender light green part just above the bulb.

Cut away the dark green parts and the hairy root end, where most of the dirt is. Then cut the leek in half lengthwise and soak it in a bowl of water for about five minutes to loosen the dirt. Finally, run the leek under cold water, fanning the layers under the stream to wash away any lingering sand. Alternatively, you can trim and slice the leeks, soak the slices for five minutes, swish them around in the water, rinse again and drain on paper towels.

Stir-Fried Leeks With Amaranth and Green Garlic

Amaranth, a beautiful leafy green used in the cuisines of China and Mexico, can be found at some Asian markets and farmers’ markets.

Chicken Soup With Leeks and Lemon

This flavorful soup, much like the Greek avgolemono, is enriched with eggs and lemon.

Roasted Leeks and Potatoes Vinaigrette

Use tiny whole potatoes, if you can find them, for this elegant salad.

Leeks in White Wine

Cooked in wine, leeks develop a rich, tangy flavor.

Braised Spring Carrots and Leeks With Tarragon

Serve this sweet springtime dish as a starter or side dish, or as part of a vegetarian main dish with grains.

Middle Child of the Triple Crown

Well, I admit I was kind of hoping to get Raptured so I didn’t have to endure the hype which runs from 2:30 to 4:30 pm on Vs. and then shifts to NBC for the duration.

If you’re the type of poor sinner who bets the ponies it may surprise you to learn that at the close of off track betting last night, Animal Kingdom was not the favorite to win at Pimlico.  Nope, it was Dialed In on the strength of his fast close at Churchill Downs.  Animal Kingdom is 7:2, Dialed In is 3:1.

Of course Dialed In still finished 8th despite the fastest finish since Secretariat.  There are only 3 other returnees from the Derby, the other 9 horses in the field of 14 are newcomers.  A complete handicap from Sports Illustrated is here, but as he truthfully points out he was completely wrong before.

Some of you animal lovers may be interested in the fate of Archarcharch.  He’ll never race again, but he’ll live and go out to stud.

Preakness Trivia

  • Actually 2 years older than the Kentucky Derby.  36 Years older than the Indy 500.
  • Shortest in distance (1/16th shorter than the Derby).
  • Only the Derby has a larger attendance.
  • No Black Eyed Susan has ever been used, currently it’s painted Chysthanthemums.

There have been 33 winners of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes including the 11 Triple Crown winners.

Preakness Traditions

Winners don’t get the real Woodlawn Cup to keep, but a half size replica (oh, and the Woodlawn Racing Club is defunct).  Black Eyed Susans don’t bloom until 2 months after the Preakness.  The Old Clubhouse was destroyed in a fire in 1966.  They paint the winner’s racing silks on the weathervane.  No one on the internet knows why it’s called the Alibi Breakfast.

Official Website

Black Eyed Susan Recipe

(Official, but without the brand names)


  • 1 1/4 oz. Bourbon (20% of Early Times is aged in used barrels)
  • 3/4 oz. Vodka
  • 3 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice


Fill a highball glass with shaved ice, add the liquors first, then top off with orange juice and sweet and sour mix. Stir and garnish with an orange slice, cherry, and stirrer.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

John Conyers: Best Way to Save Medicare, Offer it to Everyone

Medicare is arguably one of the nation’s most successful and cherished public insurance programs. The program covers approximately 47 million elderly and disabled Americans, and helps pay for hospital, physician visits, and prescription drugs. It is truly hard to argue with success.

The traditional Medicare program, coupled with a supplemental private insurance policy, covers most of our seniors’ medical bills, with far less co-pays and out-of- pocket costs than private insurance.

Therefore, proposals to privatize Medicare – like Rep. Paul Ryan’s – have been met with such fierce opposition, because it was revealed in the national media that privatization meant much higher out-of-pocket costs for seniors. National polls have shown strong general support for maintaining Medicare or even increasing funding for it.

Glen Greenwald: The Always-Expanding Bipartisan Surveillance State

When I wrote earlier this week about Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article on the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers, the passage I hailed as “the single paragraph that best conveys the prime, enduring impact of the Obama presidency” included this observation from Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin:  “We are witnessing the bipartisan normalization and legitimization of a national-surveillance state.”  There are three events — all incredibly from the last 24 hours — which not only prove how true that is, but vividly highlight how it functions and why it is so odious. First, consider what Democrats and Republicans just jointly did with regard to the Patriot Act, the very naming of which once sent progressives into spasms of vocal protest and which long served as the symbolic shorthand for Bush/Cheney post-9/11 radicalism . . .

Next we have a new proposal from the Obama White House to drastically expand the scope of “National Security Letters” — the once-controversial and long-abused creation of the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to obtain private records about American citizens without the need for a subpoena or any court approval — so that it now includes records of your Internet activities. . .

Most critically, the government’s increased ability to learn more and more about the private activities of its citizens is accompanied — as always — by an ever-increasing wall of secrecy it erects around its own actions.

Nomi Prins: The Real IMF Assault

As newly resigned International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn (aka DSK) hunkers down in his jail cell, IMF news has fallen into two categories. The first involves salacious details of his alleged attempted rape, and the second, questions about whether his absence will keep the IMF from its main focus of constructing pro-bank bailout packages for Greece, Portugal and other struggling European countries. Both categories miss the devastation the IMF causes, regardless of who heads it.

Meanwhile, the global economic assault caused by the misguided IMF and EU notion that public spending cuts and national infrastructure fire sales should be enacted to make up for bank rampages marches on. Rather than clamping down on banks and working on debt reduction strategies, bailout loans remain designed to keep banks solvent, investors shielded from loss, and outside buyers interested.

Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis: Obama Should Follow His Own Advice on the ‘Moral Force’ of Non-Violence

Given that President Obama daily authorizes the firing of hellfire missiles and the dropping of cluster bombs in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it was awful odd seeing him wax eloquent this week about the “moral force of non-violence” in places like Egypt and Tunisia. But there he was, the commander-in-chief of the largest empire in history, praising the power of peaceful protest in countries with repressive leaders backed by his own administration.

Were we unfamiliar with his actual policies – – more than doubling the troops in Afghanistan, dramatically escalating a deadly drone war in Pakistan and unilaterally bombing for peace in Libya  — it might have been inspiring to hear a major head of state reject violence as a means to political ends. Instead, we almost choked on the hypocrisy.

David Sirota: Turning the Camera on the Police

What’s good for the police apparently isn’t good for the people — or so the law enforcement community would have us believe when it comes to surveillance.

That’s a concise summary of a new trend reported by National Public Radio last week — the trend whereby law enforcement officials have been trying to prevent civilians from using cellphone cameras in public places as a means of deterring police brutality.

Oddly, the effort — which employs both forcible arrests of videographers and legal proceedings against them — comes at a time when the American Civil Liberties Union reports that “an increasing number of American cities and towns are investing millions of taxpayer dollars in surveillance camera systems.”

Peter Tatchell: One Year in Jail, Bradley Manning is a Hero

Blowing the whistle on war crimes is no crime.

On 26 May, Private Bradley Manning will have been held in US military detention without trial for one year. He faces a battery of charges, including “aiding the enemy” – a crime punishable by execution under US law.What was Manning’s crime? As well as allegedly releasing classified diplomatic cables that exposed the hypocrisy of top US officials, it is alleged that he blew the whistle on war crimes and cover-ups by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. If this is true, the man is a hero. He is a defender of democracy and human rights. His actions are based on the principle that citizens have a right to know what the government is doing in their name.

Manning should not be in prison. The charges against him should be dropped. Instead, the US should put on trial those who killed innocent civilians and those who protected them.

Harvey Wasserman: Fukushima’s Apocalyptic Threat Demands Immediate Global Action

Fukushima may be in an apocalyptic downward spiral.

Forget the corporate-induced media coma that says otherwise…or nothing at all.

Lethal radiation is spewing unabated. Emission levels could seriously escalate. There is no end in sight. The potential is many times worse than Chernobyl.


The Week In The Dream Antilles

First things first:

Your Bloguero is still here.  So apparently are you.  You might have wished that you and/or your Bloguero would disappear or be somewhere more celestial today, but, alas, there’s bad news, here’s that old keyboard, and the screen, and the chair, and the rest of it.  (Warning of coming cliché). Same thing, different day.  And that pesky weekly Digest.  (Warning of coming cliché). It’s déjà vu all over again.

Lest you think your Bloguero thought there was any chance at all that he would not be here, you’d be sorely mistaken.  How, your Bloguero wants to know, could the world end in May, 2011, when the Mayan Calendar extends into 2012?  And (Warning of coming insult) how could anybody think that even the end of that venerable calendar would mean the actual end of the world?   Your Bloguero has it on good authority that there is an actual, physical day after the “last date” in the calendar  (Warning of coming insulting cliché).  You can take this to the bank.  Nobody, your Bloguero is beginning again to fulminate, is leaving  Earth until its inhabitants, and that would include your Bloguero and you, dear reader, clean up their extensive, unremitting, toxic mess.

The idea that there is escape makes your Bloguero (Warning of coming unusual word) “splenetic”.  Your Bloguero’s friends at Merriam Webster put it this way:

marked by bad temper, malevolence, or spite

(Warning of coming colloquialism) That would be your Bloguero to a T.  And why, you might inquire, is your Bloguero in such pique?  Your Bloguero will make believe you didn’t ask that particular question.  You, he is sure, do not want to read the 900-page list of what might be called humankind’s “toxic messes” that need immediate, focused attention, rather than this (Warning of coming cliché) “dog ate my homework” scenario where it’s ok just to (Warning of coming cliché) close the door, turn out the lights, and go home (as if this weren’t your planetary home).  Your Bloguero wishes to point out that the planet deserves more.  A lot more.

The Dream Antilles was relatively quiet this week.  Nothing was posted after Sunday.  Your Bloguero found himself enmeshed in terrestrial and extraterrestrial concerns.  No, he is not going to discuss them here.

Visualizing That Tightrope is so much fun.  Your Bloguero put a photo of Philippe Petit crossing a wire between the tops of the World Trade Towers in1974 with the greatest video of “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae.  This is just a wonderful music video, and Janelle Monae is a Goddess.  Your Bloguero hopes you will check it out.

Your Bloguero broke his usual silence about local, legal issues to post two pieces.  The November Judicial Race In Columbia County focuses on the fact that the electorate has no clue what goes on in the Columbia County Courthouse in Hudson, New York, and your Bloguero’s view that this ignorance is a huge problem.  And Enough. A Plea To Abolish New York’s Town Courts” looks at the enormous waste and duplication statewide in local, Justice of the Peace courts that really in your Bloguero’s opinion should be closed down.  It’s a topic that has emerged time and time again for four decades.  Oddly, those who are concerned about deficits and taxes find this multi-million dollar boondoggle invisible.  (Irony Warning: maybe they see it and just ignore it? (Warning of coming cliche)  Ya think?).

And finally, por que estamas hasta la madre, Demonstrations Called for June  10 in Ciudad Juarez announces that Javier Sicilia and the movement will be marching and demonstrating in Juarez on June 10.  (Warning of coming cliché).  Be there or be square.

Finally, your Bloguero notes that this Digest was once a weekly feature.  Last week’s was supposedly the last of that series of Digests.  But just like the end of the world, some things continue regardless of what anyone may predict about them.  Or wish for.  Your Bloguero, though, needs encouragement.  You don’t need to send him money (though you could click the the Donation Box at the Dream Antilles).  He’d be happy if after you read this Digest you just clicked the “tip jar” in the comments.  That way he’d know that you visited.  Hasta pronto.

On This Day In History May 21

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.

Click on image to enlarge

May 21 is the 141st day of the year (142nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 224 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1881, the American Red Cross was established in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton, who became the first president of the organization.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton (1821-1912) had a career as a teacher and federal bureaucrat when the American Civil War broke out. Barton liked teaching when she was younger. All of her older siblings became teachers. Her youngest sibling was 12 years of age, when Barton was born. Her brother David was always like a teacher to her. She taught her first class, at age 17. She also expanded her concept of soldier aid, traveling to Camp Parole, Maryland, to organize a program for locating men listed as missing in action. Through interviews with Federals returning from Southern prisons, she was often able to determine the status of some of the missing and notify families.

After performing humanitarian work during and after the conflict, on advice of her doctors, in 1869, she went to Europe for a restful vacation. There, she saw and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.

When Barton began the organizing work in the U.S. in 1873, no one thought the country would ever again face an experience like the Civil War. However, Barton was not one to lose hope in the face of the bureaucracy, and she finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur on the basis that the new American Red Cross organization could also be available to respond to other types of crisis.

As Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster, this service brought the United States the “Good Samaritan of Nations” label in the International Red Cross. Barton became President of the American branch of the society, known officially as the American National Red Cross. Soon after the initial May 1881 meeting in Washington, on August 22, 1881, the first local chapter of the Red Cross was formed in village of Dansville, New York, where Barton kept a part-time residence between 1876 and 1886. Subsequent local chapters were established in Rochester and Syracuse. Ultimately, John D. Rockefeller, along with four others and the federal government, gave money to create a national headquarters in Washington, D.C., located one block from the White House.

F1: Circuit de Catalunya Qualifying

Well this is it, Rapture Day, and yet you’re all still here.  Shame on you.  It’s still early enough though that you can go outside and if you find a pile of clothes on your neighbor’s lawn and the car in the driveway you can acquire a new ride.  They won’t need it.

To the more mundane.  Williams has gotten off to it’s slowest start ever and has already announced changes to it’s technical team, director Sam Michael leaves at the end of the season.  Adrian Sutil is under investigation for getting into a fight with someone from Renault at a bar in Shanghai and stabbing him in the neck with a champagne glass.  Then there is Formula One: Texas Subsidy Style where Rick Perry fires 100,000 teachers and gives Bernie Ecclestone $250 million to subsidize the new race.

Oh, you want racing news.

Lots of technical changes at Circuit de Catalunya.  It’s one of the off season testing tracks and in recent years has been extremely uncompetitive and boring.  F1 officials are hoping all the new rules, the tear away Pirellis, the KERS kinetic energy recovery system, and the DFR down force reducer will change that.  In particular they’re hoping the DFR will finally have an impact and are activating it over the longest section of track yet this season.  Everyone has once again tweaked their aero bits.

What will probably have the greatest impact though is the new Pirelli Super Hard tires.  The Drivers hate them.  They’re 2 seconds slower and don’t last any longer than the softs.  You only get 3 sets of softs for both racing and qualifying and as Alonso puts it, “It’s difficult to think about going in Q1 with the hard tyre, so I think 95 per cent of the people will try to use one soft unfortunately in Q1. We’ll see if anyone takes the risk.”

Speaking of Scuderia Marlboro UPC and how Formula One kisses their ass at every opportunity, there is the blown diffuser controversy.  Red Bull and McLaren along with some of the other teams are using engine management (mapping) to keep the amount of forward moving engine exhaust over their under car diffusers constant regardless of throttle position.  Just before this race and without any time to design or test new systems for the next 3 races (Monaco is next week and Canada shortly after) they decided it violated the movable aerodynamic parts rule they decided to ban it.

While you may argue about whether this disadvantages McLaren or Red Bull more, there is no doubt at all which team in the top three doesn’t use it because their engineers have been too stupid for the last two years to make it work.  Oh, and the rumors about booting Massa and replacing him with Hamilton are apparently true, though Hamilton would have to be an idiot to transfer to a team with third rate equipment like Scuderia Marlboro.

Fortunately they’re delaying a final decision until a regularly scheduled review next month.

But apparently flexible wings are just fine even though nobody has been able to duplicate them yet despite seeing the dangly wires after Vettel’s practice crash in Turkey.

My Dad has requested I mention today is Indianapolis 500 Pole Day.  This is the 100th anniversary of the race.  TV coverage is from noon to 2 pm on ESPN2 and from 3 to 6 pm on ABC with post qualifying coverage from 6 to 8 pm again on ESPN2.

Speed coverage of Formula One starts with the Debrief at 7 am and Qualifying at 8 am.  Tomorrow GP2 starts at 6 am with the race at 7:30 am.

As usual any surprising developments below.

Six In The Morning

Al-Qaida eyed oil tankers as bombing targets

Bin Laden documents show the idea had reached group’s upper echelons


  Osama bin Laden’s personal files revealed a brazen idea to hijack oil tankers and blow them up at sea last summer, creating explosions he hoped would rattle the world’s economy and send oil prices skyrocketing, the U.S. said Friday.

The newly disclosed plot showed that while bin Laden was always scheming for the next big strike that would kill thousands of Americans, he also believed a relatively simpler attack on the oil industry could create a worldwide panic that would hurt Westerners every time they gassed up their cars.

What’s Cooking: Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Loosen your belts and check your blood sugar. I plan on trying this recipe with the chocolate version of chocolate chip cookies.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies



• 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

• 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

• 3 1/2 cups flour

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

• 1 package Double Stuff Oreo cookies


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together with a mixer until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In medium bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.

With a cookie scoop, form balls with the dough.

Place one ball on top of an Oreo cookie, and another ball on the bottom. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo cookie is fully enclosed with dough.

Place onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets and bake cookies for approximately 13 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes 24 gigantic cookies

Prep: 25 minutes

Cook: 13 minutes

from Amandeleine, originally from Picky Palate

The Perfect Drink: The Last Word Cocktail

The world is suppose to end today. I would guess we’ll find out sooner or later but as one late night comedian said, “it would be a shame if we only lived three weeks longer than Osama bin Laden”.

So in case the world ends sometime tomorrow, or even if it doesn’t, Rachel Maddow has a drink that will bring some cheer called the “Last Word” from the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle, WA where the drink was “reborn”.

Equal parts:


   fresh lime juice

   maraschino liqueur (Rachel recommends Luxardo brand)

   green Chartreuse

Shake well with ice for longer than you think you need to, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Last Call: The Last Word

Load more