06/04/2011 archive

Random Japan



The justice ministry is considering a plan to keep tabs on furloughed prisoners using “GPS-equipped cellphones and […] small devices attached to the wrist or ankle.”

Good times for keitai companies: NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank all logged increases in their net profits and operating profits in fiscal 2010.

Meanwhile, NTT Docomo announced a tie-up with Twitter that will allow tweets to show up in iMode search results.

Japan and 20 other nations have adopted the Nagoya Protocol, which is “is aimed at setting rules for the use of genetic resources.”

Japan expressed its displeasure to Russia over a visit by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov to the disputed northern islands last month.

Satoshi Furukawa, a 47-year-old former surgeon from Tokyo, will begin a five-and-a-half-month stint on the International Space Station this week.

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.

Seeds of Promise


A few years ago, we began to hear a lot about flaxseeds. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these seeds also are loaded with vitamin E, B vitamins and certain important minerals (manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium). . . . .

Flaxseeds are harder than sesame seeds, so it’s a good idea to grind them – coarse or fine, depending on the recipe. That way, too, all the nutrition in flaxseeds is more readily available to the body. Keep what you don’t use in the refrigerator or freezer, as the oils in flaxseeds, like those in most nuts and seeds, will oxidize if not kept cold.

Besides using them in this week’s recipes, you can add ground toasted flaxseeds to yogurt, smoothies, granola and baked goods. You can sprinkle them on salads or mix them into salad dressings, or even stir them into mustard, mayonnaise or other sandwich spreads.

Banana Almond Flax Smoothie

This substantial smoothie is perfect following a high-energy workout.

Cornmeal and Flax-Crusted Cod or Snapper

These crisp fillets are a great way to work flaxseeds, toasted or not, into a main dish.

Flax and Mixed Grains Granola

Use toasted flaxseeds for this nutty, not-too-sweet granola.

Granola Bars With Chocolate

Inspired by a recipe from “Good to the Grain,” by Kim Boyce, and not too sweet.

Raspberry Crumble

When you bake raspberries in this crumble, the flavors deepen.

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”.

Paul Krugman: From American Conservatives, Voodoo Economics

So Representative Paul D. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, recently gave a big speech defending his budget plan – and demonstrated, in case you were wondering, that there’s no “there” there (and there never was).

Remember how everyone declared that Mr. Ryan was a serious person, truly willing to face up to the United States’ deficit problem? Well, now he’s out there denouncing the way “the budget debate has degenerated into a game of green-eyeshade arithmetic” – in other words, enough with all these numbers.

And his answer to the deficit now is that we have to grow our way out.

There’s a name for that: voodoo economics.

New York Times Editorial: When States Punish Women

The Obama administration has rightly decided to reject a mean-spirited and dangerous Indiana law banning the use of Medicaid funds at Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide vital health services to low-income women.

The law, signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana in May, is just one effort by Republican-led state legislatures around the country to end public financing for Planned Parenthood – a goal the House Republicans failed to achieve in the budget deal in April. The organization is a favorite target because a small percentage of its work involves providing abortion care even though no government money is used for that purpose.

Governor Daniels and Republican lawmakers, by depriving Planned Parenthood of about $3 million in government funds, would punish thousands of low-income women on Medicaid, who stand to lose access to affordable contraception, life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. Making it harder for women to obtain birth control is certainly a poor strategy for reducing the number of abortions.

Dean Baker: Weak Job Growth Leads to Further Rise in Unemployment

The unemployment rate edged up again in May, reaching 9.1 percent, as the rate of private-sector job growth slowed to just 83,000. There were also downward revisions to the prior two months data, which lowered the average for the last three months to 160,000, approximately 70,000 more than what is needed to keep pace with the growth of the labor force. Some of the weakness in May probably stemmed from quirks that exaggerated April job growth. For example, the retail sector reportedly added 64,000 jobs in April. It lost 8,500 in May. Health added 36,700 jobs in April, compared with an increase of just 17,400 in May. Food manufacturing added 6,300 jobs in April, it lost 7,000 in May. These are most likely quirks of seasonal adjustments, not sharp shifts in the economy itself.

Taking a longer, three-month snapshot, there is not much that is very encouraging. A loss of 5,000 jobs in manufacturing brings the average gain over the last three months to 13,000. Construction added 2,000 jobs in May, bringing its average gain to 4,000. Job growth in retail has averaged 16,700 over the last three months. Health care has added an average of 28,000 jobs since February. The rate in restaurants has been 23,000.

Johann Hari: It’s Not Just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF Itself Should Be On Trial

Imagine a prominent figure was charged, not with raping a hotel maid, but with starving her, and her family, to death

Sometimes, the most revealing aspect of the shrieking babble of the 24/7 news agenda is the silence. Often the most important facts are hiding beneath the noise, unmentioned and undiscussed.

So the fact that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is facing trial for allegedly raping a maid in a New York hotel room is – rightly – big news. But imagine a prominent figure was charged not with raping a maid, but starving her to death, along with her children, her parents, and thousands of other people. That is what the IMF has done to innocent people in the recent past. That is what it will do again, unless we transform it beyond all recognition. But that is left in the silence.

To understand this story, you have to reel back to the birth of the IMF. In 1944, the countries that were poised to win the Second World War gathered in a hotel in rural New Hampshire to divvy up the spoils. With a few honorable exceptions, like the great British economist John Maynard Keynes, the negotiators were determined to do one thing. They wanted to build a global financial system that ensured the money and resources of the planet were forever hoovered towards them. They set up a series of institutions designed for that purpose – and so the IMF was delivered into the world.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: No Need to Demagogue the Ryan Plan

It always gets back to health care.

That’s why 2009 and 2010 were so consumed by President Barack Obama’s push for health care reform, and why Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals are at the center of politics in 2011. Our long-term budget problem is primarily about two things: a shortage of revenue and rising health care costs.

The revenue and health cost issues are intertwined. The whole debate comes down to whether we want government to absorb a significant part of the risk of insuring us against illness, which means we’ll have to pay somewhat higher taxes, or whether we want to throw more and more of that risk onto individuals.

So let’s welcome Ryan’s call for considering his proposals on their merits. Yes, Republicans who invented “death panels” out of whole cloth and insisted, falsely, that Obama’s health proposal was nothing but a “government takeover” have a lot of nerve complaining about the “demagoguery” against Ryan.

David Sirota: Cutting Kids’ Health Care Will Make Deficits Bigger

In the name of curtailing deficits, politicians across the country are hacking away at programs that aim to make children healthier. In Congress, for example, House Republicans are spearheading a budget that eviscerates funding for food assistance and effectively defunds the wildly successful Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Similarly, from Texas to California, state lawmakers are chopping children’s health programs in the face of budget shortfalls. In all these initiatives, the rhetorical leitmotif is “fiscal responsibility.”

Like clockwork, this has set off the now-standard ideological debate over values, with liberals arguing that it’s immoral to deny health care to today’s kids and conservatives countering that it’s even more immoral to saddle the next generation with debt. But as highlighted by a new National Bureau of Economic Research report, both sides are ignoring the most important non-ideological fact: Any so-called “deficit reduction” plan that cuts child health programs is almost certain to increase deficits.

Medea Benjamin: Come Dance with Me (and Thomas Jefferson)

Dancing can be dangerous. In Ceausescu’s Romania I was arrested for dancing without a partner. In newly independent Guinea Bissau, my dancing partner was thrown in jail for boogying before the President and his wife had the first dance. In Cuba I was awoken at 4am to bail out a friend who had been locked up for “lesbian dancing.” And in Afghanistan I narrowly escaped arrest for dancing on a “men-only” dance floor. On each occasion I was shocked by the misuse of government power and disrespect for personal freedom.

So I naturally felt the same sense of outrage when I heard about the case of Mary Brooke Oberwetter, who was arrested for dancing quietly (with a headset on) at the Jefferson Memorial back in 2008. She sued the Park Police, lost and then appealed. On May 17, 2011 the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against her, saying that that dancing at memorials is forbidden “because it stands out as a type of performance, creating its own center of attention and distracting from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration.” Never mind that Oberwetter was arrested at midnight, when there was nobody but her and her friends around. Never mind that tourists at these memorials are always talking loudly, posing for photos and making all kinds of “distractions.” Never mind that dance can be a way to express joy at the freedoms espoused by our founding fathers.

To protest this absurd ruling, some folks put out a call on Facebook to gather on Saturday, May 28, to dance at the Memorial. I heard about it from my friend Adam Kokesh, an Iraq war vet and producer of the show Adam vs. the Man on the network Russia Today. A committed libertarian, Adam decided to help spread the word and join the protest.

On This Day In History June 4

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

June 4 is the 155th day of the year (156th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 210 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1919, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

The Nineteenth Amendment‘s text was drafted by Susan B. Anthony with the assistance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The proposed amendment was first introduced in the U.S. Senate colloquially as the “Anthony Amendment”, by Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California. Sargent, who had met and befriended Anthony on a train ride in 1872, was a dedicated women’s suffrage advocate. He had frequently attempted to insert women’s suffrage provisions into unrelated bills, but did not formally introduce a constitutional amendment until January 1878. Stanton and other women testified before the Senate in support of the amendment. The proposal sat in a committee until it was considered by the full Senate and rejected in a 16 to 34 vote in 1887.

A three-decade period known as “the doldrums” followed, during which the amendment was not considered by Congress and the women’s suffrage movement achieved few victories. During this period, the suffragists pressed for the right to vote in the laws of individual states and territories while retaining the goal of federal recognition. A flurry of activity began in 1910 and 1911 with surprise successes in Washington and California. Over the next few years, most western states passed legislation or voter referenda enacting full or partial suffrage for women. These successes were linked to the 1912 election, which saw the rise of the Progressive and Socialist parties, as well as the election of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Not until 1914 was the constitutional amendment again considered by the Senate, where it was again rejected.

On January 12, 1915, a proposal to amend the Constitution to provide for women’s suffrage was brought before the House of Representatives, but was defeated by a vote of 204 to 174. Another proposal was brought before the House on January 10, 1918. During the previous evening, President Wilson made a strong and widely published appeal to the House to pass the amendment. It was passed by the required two-thirds of the House, with only one vote to spare. The vote was then carried into the Senate. Wilson again made an appeal, but on September 30, 1918, the proposal fell two votes short of passage. On February 10, 1919, it was again voted upon and failed by only one vote.

There was considerable desire among politicians of both parties to have the proposal made part of the Constitution before the 1920 general elections, so the President called a special session of the Congress so the proposal would be brought before the House again. On May 21, 1919, it passed the House, 42 votes more than necessary being obtained. On June 4, 1919, it was brought before the Senate and, after a long discussion, it was passed with 56 ayes and 25 nays. Within a few days, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan ratified the amendment, their legislatures being in session. Other states followed suit at a regular pace, until the amendment had been ratified by 35 of the necessary 36 state legislatures. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly approved the Nineteenth Amendment, with 50 of 99 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives voting yes. This provided the final ratification necessary to enact the amendment.

Six In The Morning

NATO helicopters join Libya attacks

First use targets military installations, radar site, armed checkpoint near Brega

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

 British and French attack helicopters under NATO command struck Libyan military targets for the first time Saturday, increasing pressure on leader Moammar Gadhafi, commanders said. British Apache helicopters destroyed two military installations, a radar site and an armed checkpoint near the coastal city of Brega, the captain of HMS Ocean told the BBC. The choppers were deployed from the ship.

French Gazelle helicopters also took part in simultaneous attacks on different targets, the BBC reported.

“This successful engagement demonstrates the unique capabilities brought to bear by attack helicopters,” Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of Operation Unified Protector, said in a NATO statement. “We will continue to use these assets whenever and wherever needed, using the same precision as we do in all of our missions.”

Saturday’s Headlines:

Detained: bus driver suspected of being hitman for Rwandan President

Syria: ‘Dozens killed’ as thousands protest in Hama

Escaping the Clutches of the Financial Markets

Malaysian police ‘cattle-branding women’

Zimbabwe cop-death suspects ‘tortured’ in jail

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for June 3, 2011-


When you’ve lost James Carville…

He actually admires this, but consider whom he wakes up next to.

Obama is looking like a 2008 Republican

By James Carville, CNN Contributor

May 24, 2011

In 1992, Bill Clinton famously proclaimed himself to be an Eisenhower Republican. By that measure, I’d say President Obama is a pre-2008 John McCain Republican.

But this much is sure: The policies of the eventual Republican nominee, that is, anybody left running for it by the time of the vote, will be right in line with those of Sarah Palin. It’s pretty remarkable that the next election is going to boil down to a competition between the 2008 Republican presidential candidate and his vice presidential nominee.

Remarkable is not the word I’d use.

This Week In The Dream Antilles


Your Bloguero is a digital protégé of Samo.  Every night when this city loses its caffeine induced excitement and finally nods off in sweaty slumber, when entropy arrives and it finally collapses in torpor, your Bloguero takes out his metaphorical chalk, and his metaphorical spray paint, and he fills the city’s huge, unpainted walls with meaning.  On these walls he publishes his message.  He draws his allusions, his metaphors, his similes, his invective. These must always express the grinding dissonance between the “official story” and the gritty reality of the city’s people.  These express the difference between the sanitized pablum in the Traditional Media and the aching, quivering, suffering flesh of real people.  Your Bloguero is vigilant as he works.  He watches for the thought police.  For the art police.  For the grammar police.  For the fashion police.  He watches for reactionaries.  The elites who will call 911.  The dupes who think that private property is not theft.  He is persistent, and he is clear, and he continues to put out his message in places where it can be seen and where it remains until it is obliterated and expunged by ruling class flunkies.  Too bad for them.  Your Bloguero always comes back.  He always returns to repeat himself.  He will never stop.  He can go on interminably.  He will continue until he can no longer speak.

It doesn’t matter whether the walls are in Brooklyn or Manhattan or Paris or Buenos Aires or like this very wall, on the Internet.  It doesn’t matter whether 3 people or 3 million see it.  Your Bloguero knows that writing can be revolutionary.  And that persistence is vital.  And that, as the bard wrote, the readiness is all.  Occasionally, your Bloguero goes in the wee hours of the morning to a wall only to find that someone else has already decorated it with a message.  Your Bloguero loves that.  Your Bloguero wishes that more people who see his work would reach for the metaphorical spray paint and chalk and stencils and stickers.  Your Bloguero wishes that more people would write. Perhaps in time.  As Basquiat, as Banksy, as a zillion other artists have inspired your Bloguero, so too, your Bloguero hopes you, amig@, will eventually be inspired not only by his work, but by his persistence.  This, dear reader, is an endurance event.  It is not for the easily distracted.  Or the easily tired.  No.  It depends on following through and bringing your inspiration to visibility.  To keeping on keeping on.

The week ended with Russian Writer, Straw Hat, Summer, a tale of your Bloguero’s purchase of a straw hat in New York’s East Village.  What fun.  And you can find a picture of your Bloguero in a hat Tolstoy would have loved.

The Land Of Haiku is a series of three haikus with a theme.  Your Bloguero loves haiku and they are a feature of The Dream Antilles.  Your Bloguero, however, is not comfortable with the appellation “poet”. He prefer to think of himself as a writer who can also make Haiku.  If your Bloguero could turn out a decent Sonnet or Villanelle (he can’t), he might take on the “P” word as a description.  Alas.  Your Bloguero aspires, but no puedo hacerlo.

Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky has Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock on video and your Bloguero’s suggestion that we all go back to August, 1969, and find out where we got off the tracks.  How else to unravel the current mess?  How can we have gone from such a perfect moment to such a complete mess?

What A Surprise, Oh My Goodness is the satisfying story of your Bloguero’s addiction to the Argentine cookie “Frutigran” and the wonderful favor done for him by a blogger in sending this impossible treasure to your Bloguero.  An inspiring story of community.  And perhaps of your Bloguero’s gluttony.

Your Bloguero notes that this Digest is a weekly feature. Your Bloguero, though needs encouragement.  From you.  It’s easy to give him that.  If you read this Digest, please click the “encouragement jar” in the comments.  That’s the only way your Bloguero will know that you visited.  Hasta pronto.

Popular Culture (Music) 20110603: Tommy Part I

In 1969, the seminal Tommy was released by The Who.  Track Records, The Who’s own brand, in collaboration with Polydoor was the UK record company, and in the United States Decca was.  I have a mint Decca one.  It was billed as the first rock opera, but it actually was not.  There had been at least a couple before Tommy came to us.

Not counting the composition effort (by far the bulk of it by Pete Townshend), it took the better part of year to record, edit, and redub the work.  This was Kit Lambert, their producer, at his finest, and also extremely fine efforts by all of the band and the production and engineering staff.  It is truly a masterpiece.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 48 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Yemen president wounded in palace attack but ‘well’

by Jamal al-Jabiri, AFP

44 mins ago

SANAA (AFP) – Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh was wounded on Friday when dissidents shelled a mosque in the presidential compound, as Yemen teetered towards civil war and Washington urged a peaceful transition of power.

A leader of the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party told AFP that Saleh was “lightly wounded in the back of his head.”

In an audio statement broadcast late Friday on state television, Saleh who was being treated at the defence ministry hospital in Sanaa said, “I am well, in good health,” and added that the bombardment had killed seven people.