05/28/2011 archive

Random Japan



A University of Tokyo graduate student noted that a severely quake-damaged area in Fukushima is thought to have been the same location where the very large Lake Koriyama existed 100,000 years ago. A mere coincidence? We think not.

Kids evacuated from tsunami-hit areas and evacuees staying at the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka took part in a tug-of-war with jet airplanes at Haneda Airport, part of the “Smile! Be Happy!” campaign.

Here we go again … TEPCO said it found “an abnormality” in a valve at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata, used to pump cool water to reactors in the event of an emergency.

Meanwhile, TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu was on his knees during a trip to Fukushima, apologizing to people forced to evacuate by the nuclear crisis. Not satisfied with his apology, one guy had yelled, “Kneel on the ground!” Shimizu and his lackeys did just that.

Scientists are looking at using rape plants to extract harmful radiation out of the soil in Fukushima-something they have been trying out in areas near Chernobyl.

Speaking of which, levels of radiation found in soil near Fukushima’s plant “far exceeded the level of radiation the then-Soviet Union had used as a criterion for urging people to evacuate at the time of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster,” according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy.

US researchers say that debris from the March 11 tsunami will hit the West Coast of North America in three years and twice be deposited in Hawaii, “leading to potential environmental and economic damage” by affecting fishing and shipping.

The International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa said debris from Japan, including parts of buildings and cars, will reach Hawaiian waters in 2012 and in 2014 the floating garbage will land in “California and Alaska in the United States, British Columbia in Canada and Baja California in Mexico.”

A government study revealed that fires and the March 11 tsunami destroyed over 1,600 hectares of forest in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

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.

Proper Uses for Quinoa


Note to chefs: Quinoa doesn’t work as a risotto. It doesn’t have enough starch for the broth, which is what makes a good risotto creamy. Quinoa also has a grassy flavor and a texture that ranges from fluffy – too fluffy for risotto – to granular.

Quinoa is perfect, however, for a salad. It can be the main ingredient, or it can play alongside lettuces and other greens. Quinoa works very well as a pilaf, but think about adding vegetables that will complement its grassy flavor. Many of you may have been disturbed by the news that quinoa’s popularity abroad is making it unaffordable in Bolivia, where it has long been a staple. The good news is that several companies are committed to paying farmers fair market value for their produce.

Rainbow Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa lends itself to lemony salads, and the rainbow mix is particularly nice because each type of quinoa has a slightly different texture.

Quinoa and Beet Pilaf

his beautiful pink pilaf, made with pearl white quinoa, uses both roasted beets and their greens.

Quinoa, Lentil Sprout and Arugula Salad

Use lentil or sunflower sprouts, which have a peppery flavor, in this well-textured salad.

Quinoa and Chard Cakes

These delightful “burgers” can be served as a main dish or side, and made with spinach in place of chard.

Quinoa Pancakes

The addition of cooked quinoa to regular buttermilk pancake batter results in a thick, moist pancake that’s hefty but not heavy.

The Friday Funnies

On Friday, Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word does a round up of videos with the amusing observations of late night comedians and hosts. From Sarah Palin to the Rapture, here is what the funnier pundits had to say with the best of the week

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”.

Kevin Gosztola: Obama Administration Does Not Want Lawmakers to Debate National Security

Three provisions of the PATRIOT Act set to expire were extended yesterday as Senate leaders effectively shut off debate and worked to block attempts to amend the Patriot Act to include privacy protections. The reauthorized provisions went to the House for approval and, after passing through Congress, the legislation was flown to US President Barack Obama in France so he could sign the reauthorization.

The continued granting of overly broad powers, which directly threaten Americans’ right to privacy without unreasonable search or seizure, was accompanied by passage in the House of a National Defense programs bill that included language granting the Executive Branch the authority to wage worldwide war.

A handful of lawmakers in the House and Senate attempted to make amendments or block the passage of measures that would allow powers granted to the state to greatly expand. A trans-partisan group of House representatives introduced an amendment that would have struck down the worldwide war provision. Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mark Udall and Senator Ron Wyden each made valiant attempts to have a comprehensive debate on the provisions before granting reauthorization but the Obama Administration discouraged debate.

Dean Baker: Hey Stupid Seniors! The Post Says a 9 Percent Cut in Social Security Benefits Won’t Hurt

It’s amazing what you can learn reading the Washington Post. Today its lead editorial told readers that reducing the annual cost of living adjustment for Social Security by 0.3 percentage points won’t hurt. This would come as news to most seniors who rely on Social Security for most of their income.

This 0.3 percentage point cut is cumulative. After a person has been retired for 10 years benefits would be roughly 3 percent lower than would otherwise be the case. Benefits would be almost 6 percent lower after 20 years, and almost 9 percent lower after 30 years, when most beneficiaries will be in their 90s.

The poverty rate is highest for the oldest seniors, most of whom are women living alone. Most people think cutting benefits for this group by 9 percent would hurt, thankfully we have the Washington Post to tell us otherwise.

Joe Conason: From Wisconsin to Florida, Strong Winds of Political Remorse

Still spinning in the vortex of the May 24 tornado in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Republican leaders insist that Democrat Kathy Hochul’s upset victory on their party’s turf was meaningless. They say that Republican nominee Jane Corwin lost because of her own weak campaign, or the presence of a big-spending tea party candidate on a third ballot line, or just about anything except the Republican scheme to slash Medicare-which became the dominant topic of debate during the special election’s final weeks.

Yet there are signals not only from upstate New York but around the nation that the Republicans face surging discontent, as voters learn what they intend when they attain power. With a majority in the House of Representatives, they have devised a budget plan that would help nobody except the wealthiest taxpayers, while devastating the nation’s health insurance programs, physical infrastructure and environment.

David Sirota: Time to Crack Down on Child-Focused Ads

Is Snoop Dogg the new Joe Camel? Is Ronald McDonald? What about Facebook-has that website become synonymous with an infamous tobacco industry cartoon that preyed on unsuspecting kids?

During the last few weeks, these questions came to the forefront in a serendipitous series of jeremiads. First, critics accused Snoop of helping Colt 45 market a soda-esque alcohol drink to his underage fans. Then, Ronald was attacked in newspaper ads by health-care experts who demanded McDonald’s stop using the clown to push unhealthy foods on kids. And finally, AdAge reported on three lawsuits that say Facebook is unduly using pictures of children “for the commercial purpose of marketing, advertising, selling and soliciting.”

Whether or not this makes the rapper, the clown or the social network synonymous with Joe Camel, it’s good news that more Americans are again demanding scrutiny of advertisers that try to take advantage of children.

Jeff Biggers: Arizona’s Historic Recall Campaign Reaches Final Lap: Will Senate President Pearce Step Down?

In one of the most surprising grassroots campaigns this year, the Citizens for a Better Arizona will make history next Tuesday, May 31st, when they present Secretary of State Ken Bennett with more than twice as many signatures needed to recall notorious state Senate President Russell Pearce (R-Mesa).

Defying all expectations, the once powerful Pearce will become the first Senate president to be recalled in American history, according to campaign supporters, if 7,756 valid signatures from Pearce’s District 18 in Phoenix-area Mesa are verified over a rigorous 90-day period.

Take note: The other Arizona — the real Arizona, for a rapidly growing statewide movement — has re-emerged to reclaim its state from one of the nation’s most controversial and embarrassing right-wing hardliners.

John Nichols: Ed Schultz, Laura Ingraham, a Crude Word, a Classy Apology

Mainstream media in the United States does not entertain many voices from the great middle of the country. And those that do break through rarely maintain a residence in Minnesota or keep hunting and fishing in North Dakota. So Ed Schultz is a rarity. His nationally syndicated radio program and his nightly MSNBC show bring a distinct perspective to the debate, not just because the host comes from a different place but because the host in interested in different people and different issues.

Schultz focuses on the struggles of working men and woman and their unions. He goes where they live, to shipyards and warehouses and factories, to the scenes of mass demonstrations for labor rights in Wisconsin.

Schultz works hard, producing three hours of radio programming every day, along with an hour of television each night. Along with Fox’s Sean Hannity, he maintains a dramatically busier schedule than is common or expected of major media personalities. And sometimes, in the midst of all that talking, he says the wrong thing.

On This Day In History May 28

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 28 is the 148th day of the year (149th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 217 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1961, the British newspaper The London Observer publishes British lawyer Peter Benenson’s article “The Forgotten Prisoners” on its front page, launching the Appeal for Amnesty 1961–a campaign calling for the release of all people imprisoned in various parts of the world because of the peaceful expression of their beliefs.

Benenson was inspired to write the appeal after reading an article about two Portuguese students who were jailed after raising their glasses in a toast to freedom in a public restaurant. At the time, Portugal was a dictatorship ruled by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Outraged, Benenson penned the Observer article making the case for the students’ release and urging readers to write letters of protest to the Portuguese government. The article also drew attention to the variety of human rights violations taking place around the world, and coined the term “prisoners of conscience” to describe “any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing…any opinion which he honestly holds and does not advocate or condone personal violence.”

“The Forgotten Prisoners” was soon reprinted in newspapers across the globe, and Berenson’s amnesty campaign received hundreds of offers of support. In July, delegates from Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland met to begin “a permanent international movement in defense of freedom of opinion and religion.” The following year, this movement would officially become the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Born in London as Peter James Henry Solomon to a Jewish family, the only son of Harold Solomon and Flora Benenson, Peter Benenson adopted his mother’s maiden name later in life. His army officer father died when Benenson was aged nine from a long-term injury, and he was tutored privately by W. H. Auden before going to Eton. At the age of sixteen he helped to establish a relief fund with other schoolboys for children orphaned by the Spanish Civil War. He took his mother’s maiden name of Benenson as a tribute to his grandfather, the Russian gold tycoon Grigori Benenson, following his grandfather’s death.

He enrolled for study at Balliol College, Oxford but World War II interrupted his education. From 1941 to 1945, Benenson worked at Bletchley Park, the British codebreaking centre, in the “Testery”, a section tasked with breaking German teleprinter ciphers. It was at this time when he met his first wife, Margaret Anderson. After demobilisation in 1946, Benenson began practising as a barrister before joining the Labour Party and standing unsuccessfully for election. He was one of a group of British lawyers who founded JUSTICE in 1957, the UK-based human rights and law reform organisation. In 1958 he fell ill and moved to Italy in order to convalesce. In the same year he converted to the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1961 Benenson was shocked and angered by a newspaper report of two Portuguese students from Coimbra sentenced to seven years in prison for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom during the autocratic regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar – the Estado Novo. In 1961, Portugal was the last remaining European colonial power in Africa, ruled by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. Anti-regime conspiracies were vigorously repressed by the Portuguese state police and deemed anti-Portuguese. He wrote to David Astor, editor of The Observer. On 28 May, Benenson’s article, entitled “The Forgotten Prisoners,” was published. The letter asked readers to write letters showing support for the students. To co-ordinate such letter-writing campaigns, Amnesty International was founded in Luxembourg in July at a meeting of Benenson and six other men. The response was so overwhelming that within a year groups of letter-writers had formed in more than a dozen countries.

Initially appointed general secretary of AI, Benenson stood down in 1964 owing to ill health. By 1966, the Amnesty International faced an internal crisis and Benenson alleged that the organization he founded was being infiltrated by British intelligence. The advisory position of president of the International Executive was then created for him. In 1966, he began to make allegations of improper conduct against other members of the executive. An inquiry was set up which reported at Elsinore in Denmark in 1967. The allegations were rejected and Benenson resigned from AI.

While never again active in the organization, Benenson was later personally reconciled with other executives, including Sean MacBride. He died of pneumonia on 25 February 2005 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, aged 83.

F1: Monaco Qualifying

I’m sorry, I’m just not as enthused about Monaco as everyone else.  It’s a short, twisty, narrow course without many opportunities for overtaking.

Those who do like it for reasons other than tradition and glamor, point out that these are just the qualities that make it a great equalizer where more horsepower and superior aerodynamics don’t count for as much to which my reply is- so you’re relying on sheer dumb luck then?

Partisans of McLaren are much encouraged by the tight finish at Catalunya.  People who root for Scuderia Marlboro UPC are encouraged by…

Not much actually.  Their best news is that the rumors flying around Hamilton last week are now swirling around Button.  Otherwise while their team chief is professionally optimistic, Alonso is entirely unhappy with their performance so far and is demanding a faster car.

Moving back to McLaren, the Marlboro Scuderia may be picking up damaged goods (assuming either McLaren driver is insane enough to switch).  Button had a near collision with a forklift as they were setting up their palatial compound and Hamilton is very, very, unhappy with Scuderia Toro Rosso (the Red Bull team with the less reliable and powerful Ferrari engines) and/or Mercedes depending on who you read.

In other off track news, despite Bernie’s naturally dictatorial nature it seems unlikely the Bahrain Grand Prix will be rescheduled.  This has less to do with the protests of human rights organizations or any sympathy for the serfs and is more about scheduling and transportation.  In a story straight out of the PR department, Formula One gets to claim to be environmentally friendly by transferring KERS technology from the Nissan Leaf.  Team Lotus gets to keep their name.

Oh, you want racing news.  Have I mentioned it’s all about the tires?  Pirelli is debuting new Super Softs this weekend which will be mixed with the softs to ensure pit stops and simulate excitement.  Vettel says the Super Softs are good for 23 laps though so who knows?

My prediction?  Yet another snooze fest made exciting by flaming chunks of twisted metal which will be made more numerous by the frequent appearance of the safety car.

As usual, surprising developments below.

Six In The Morning

Pakistan’s top military officials are worried about militant collaborators in their ranks

By Karin Brulliard, Saturday, May 28,

 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Embarrassed by the Osama bin Laden raid and by a series of insurgent attacks on high-security sites, top Pakistani military officials are increasingly concerned that their ranks are penetrated by Islamists who are aiding militants in a campaign against the state.

Those worries have grown especially acute since the killing of bin Laden less than a mile from a prestigious military academy. This week’s naval base infiltration by heavily armed insurgents in Karachi – an attack widely believed to have required inside help – has only deepened fears, military officials said.

Saturday’s Headlines:

WikiLeaks accused Bradley Manning ‘should never have been sent to Iraq’

Chairman Mao may not be the author of his ‘Little Red Book’

Egypt eases restrictions at Gaza’s Rafah border

Paying with Life and Limb for the Crimes of Nazi Germany

Libya rejects G8, open only to AU peace talks

What’s Cooking: Grilled Marinated Sirloin Steak Tips

This is a dual tutorial because there are two methods of grilling: charcoal (wood) or gas. But first some ask what cuts of beef are “sirloin steak tips”. The answer is they are some of the pricier and tastier cuts of beef that come from the hind quarters. :

   The loin has two subprimals, or three if boneless:

       the short loin, from which club, T-bone, and Porterhouse steaks are cut if bone-in, or strip loin (N.Y. strip) and filet mignon if boneless,

       the sirloin, which is less tender than short loin, but more flavorful, and can be further divided into top sirloin and bottom sirloin (including tri-tip),

      the tenderloin, which is the most tender.

It can be removed as a separate subprimal, and cut into fillets, tournedos or tenderloin steaks or roasts (such as for beef Wellington), or can be left on wedge or flat-bone sirloin and T-bone and Porterhouse loin steaks.

   The round contains lean, moderately tough, lower fat (less marbling) cuts, which require moist cooking or lesser degrees of doneness. Some representative cuts are round steak, eye of round, top round and bottom round steaks and roasts.

   The flank is used mostly for grinding, except for the long and flat flank steak, best known for use in London broil, and the inside skirt steak, also used for fajitas. Flank steaks were once one of the most affordable steaks, because they are substantially tougher than the more desirable loin and rib steaks. Many recipes for flank steak use marinades or moist cooking methods, such as braising, to improve the tenderness and flavor. This, in turn, increased the steaks’ popularity; when combined with natural leanness, increased prices have resulted.

For the purposes of this recipe we are going to use flank or round cuts which are suitable for grilling. The marinade acts as a tenderizer.

Southwestern Marinade


  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, Canola is preferable
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minces or pressed through a garlic press, (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (if you can find it in the tube, it is more economical)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 pounds of flank or top round sirloin tip (London Broil)
  • Lime wedges for serving


  • 1. Combine all marinade in a small bowl
  • 2. Place the marinade and the meat in a gallon size zip-lock bag: press out as much of the air as possible and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour, flipping the bag after 30 minutes to ensure that meat marinates evenly.
  • 3. About halfway through the marinating time, light a large chimney starter filled with hard wood charcoal (about 6 quarts) and allow to burn until all the charcoal is covered with a fine gray ash. Build a two level fire by stacking most of the coals in a single layer in the other side of the grill for a medium-low fire. Set the cooking rack in place, cover the grill with the lid and let the rack heat up, about 5 minuts. Use a wire brush to scrape clean the cooking rack,
  • 4. Remove the steak tips from the marinade and apt dry with paper towels. Grill, uncovered, until dark brown on the first side, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip the steak and grill until the second side is well seared and the thickest part of the meat is slightly less done than desired, 4 to 5 minutes for mediu rare (about 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), 6 to 8 minutes for medium (about 135 degrees); if the exterior of the meat is is browned but the steak is not yet cooked through, move the steak to the cooler side of the grill and continue to grill to the desired doneness.
  • 5. Transfer the steak to a cutting board: tent loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the steak very thinly in the bias; serve immediately with lime wedges.
  • Gas-Grilled Steak Tips

    Follow the recipe for Charcoal-Grilled through step 2. When about 15 minutes of marinating time remains, turn all the burners in the gas grill to high, close the lid, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Continue the recipe from step 4, grilling the steak covered.

    I serve this with Pico di Gallo or salsa, sour cream, guacamole, warm soft tortillas, salad and steak fries.

    DocuDharma Digest

    Regular Features-

    Featured Essays for May 27, 2011-


    Popular Culture 20110527: Prescription Drugs Adverts

    This piece is a result of a couple of pieces that I have written before and some interaction in comments on pieces from others about prescription drugs advertisements.  They are rife in the popular culture these days, on TeeVee, on radio, and in print.  I really think that this is a horrible idea, and will explain as time progresses.

    First, I must do a bit of historical treatment.  When I was in pharmacy school (I did not stay long, because I decided that I should be on the other side of the wall, developing new drugs, but that did not work out either) adverts for prescription drugs were only allowed in professional medical journals.  I mean it.

    Those you 50 or older will probably, if you think hard enough about it, days when these drugs were not in the popular media.  Some of you might also recall that tobacco adverts were!  I still remember the jingles for cigars and cigarettes.

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