08/20/2011 archive

Random Japan



ANA unveiled a passenger jet festooned with images of the Pokemon character Pikachu at Sendai Airport. The aircraft, dubbed the “Peace Jet,” is intended as a pick-me-up to the victims of the March 11 disaster.

Authorities in Thailand deported a Japanese man who is accused of bilking an insurance company out of ¥11 million in an arson scheme in Sapporo.

JR West was ordered to pay ¥6.2 million in compensation to 61 employees for “psychological distress” caused during a disciplinary program. The staff were forced to “clean toilets and cut weeds” as punishment for bad behavior.

A visually impaired man from Yokohama was killed after being hit by a Den-en-toshi line train at Tsukushino station in Machida. The man, who was seen “walking unsteadily” before the accident, fell onto the tracks and was trying to climb back up when he was pinned between the train and the platform.

Police from Hokkaido raided the offices of an aviation school in Miyazaki in connection with the crash of a light plane that killed two people and injured a third during a training session in Obihiro.

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.

The Squashes of Summer


Pan-Cooked Summer Squash With Tomatoes and Basil

This Provençal summer dish is delightful as a starter or as a side dish with fish, chicken or cooked grains.

Spicy Grilled Zucchini

This mildly spicy dish from southern Italy can serve as an appetizer or side. Cut the zucchini on the diagonal into long, thin slices, or cut it lengthwise.

Cumin-Scented Summer Squash Salad

The summer squash is lightly steamed in this North African salad.

Marinated Zucchini Salad

Raw zucchini can be a dull ingredient, but when it’s very thinly sliced it marinates beautifully, especially in lemon juice.

Shells With Summer Squash, Corn, Beans and Tomato

You can use canned beans for this dish, but if you happen to have cooked pintos or borlottis in broth, use the broth for the pasta sauce.

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”.

New York Times Editorial: A Study in Judicial Dysfunction

Harsh state judicial campaigns financed by ever larger amounts of special interest money are eating away at public faith in judicial impartiality. There are few places where the spectacle is more shameful than Wisconsin, where over-the-top campaigning, self-interested rulings, and a complete breakdown of courthouse collegiality and ethics is destroying trust in its Supreme Court.


Members of Wisconsin’s top court need to focus on restoring civility and public trust. For starters, they should scrap last year’s decision on campaign money in favor of strict disclosure requirements for lawyers and litigants. They should also adopt an appeals process for recusals, so the final decision is no longer left to the judge whose impartiality is being questioned. The court’s credibility, and justice in Wisconsin, are on the line.

Glen Ford: British Jealous of America’s Savage Police

In the wake of rebellions that spread to much of urban Britain, the ruling Conservative Party government is not only sounding like their racist American cousins, they were at least toying with the idea of importing William Bratton, the former police chief of New York, Los Angeles and Boston, to put the fear of the law into the U.K.’s darker residents. On first examination, it seems counterintuitive that anyone would look to the United States for role models in the criminal justice arena. The U.S. is by far the most violent among the wealthy nations of the world. Gangs are endemic, the U.S. is the drug marketplace of the planet. Guns are everywhere, both legal and illegal. It’s a scary place to live. What could the British possibly find to envy about America, when it comes to law and order?

The United States is the Great Gulag Nation, the planetary prison dungeon, home to 25 percent of its prison inmates. One out of every eight imprisoned persons in the world is a Black American….

Wait a minute! That’s got to be the allure to the white racists in Britain. They are jealous of the absolute savagery of the U.S. criminal justice system’s treatment of Black people. They look with awe on American cops like Bill Bratton whom, they imagine, would punish British Blacks in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester as he did it America’s big cities.

Kurt Andersen: Our Politics Are Sick

We have a tendency to elect presidents who seem like the antitheses of their immediate predecessors – randy young Kennedy the un-Eisenhower, earnest truth-telling Carter the un-Nixon, charismatic Reagan the un-Carter, randy young Clinton the un-H.W. Bush, cool and cerebral Obama the un-W.

So Rick Perry fits right into that winning contrapuntal pattern. He’s the very opposite of careful and sober and understated, in his first days as an official candidate suggesting President Obama maybe doesn’t love America (“Go ask him”) and that loose monetary policy is “treasonous.” (“Look, I’m just passionate about the issue,” he explained later about his anti-Federal Reserve outburst, before switching midsentence to first-person plural, “and we stand by what we said.”)

Yet the most troubling thing about Perry (and Michele Bachmann and so many more), what’s new and strange and epidemic in mainstream politics, is the degree to which people inhabit their own Manichaean make-believe worlds. They totally believe their vivid fictions.

Charles M Blow: Obama in the Valley

I have often thought that there must be an uncanny valley of politics, a point at which particular politicians rouse our discomfort because there’s something about them that people connect with, but there’s something else about them – intangible, unbelievable and not relatable – that produces a sense of unease.

It can be found in the “Artificial Intelligence” of Michele Bachmann and her pull-the-string-in-the-middle-of-my-back compulsion to repeat the same red-meat responses no matter the question. It’s the Buzz Lightyear-come-to-life bravado of Rick Perry, complete with delusions of grandeur and accomplishment. And it’s pretty much everything about the mechanical “I, Republican” Mitt Romney.

But one person I never thought would fall into this valley was Barack Obama, the charismatic candidate who electrified the electorate in 2008 and whom many saw as the fulfillment of the dream of the even-more-electrifying Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Yet here Obama is, down in the valley, struggling to connect with the American people and failing, increasingly coming across as dispassionate to some and outright revolting to others.

John Nichols: Mitt Romney, Dark Prince of Oligarchy, Battles the Demons of Democracy

The gaffe-prone candidacies of Michele “Elvis” Bachmann and Rick “C’mon, Men, Let’s String Us Up Some Bernanke” Perry, and the slapstick non-candidacy of Sarah “Two If By Sea” Palin, are merely the cheap theater of an ill-defined Republican presidential race. The real drama of the 2012 race continues to come from the CEO party’s CEO candidate: Willard Mitt Romney.

It is Romney, the button-down professional who was born to the corporate class and remains its truest exemplar in the current contest, who framed the 2012 debate as starkly it ever will be with his sincere declaration that: “corporations are people.”

Romney gets it.

There’s a class war going on in America.

And the dark prince of oligarchy has taken a stand.

Tom Engelhardt: An Obituary for Change in Washington

hose first acts of that first shining full day in the Oval Office are now so forgotten, but on January 21, 2009, among other things, Barack Obama promised to return America to “the high moral ground,” and then signed a straightforward executive order “requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year.”  It was an open-and-shut case, so to speak, part of what CNN called “a clean break from the Bush administration.”  On that same day, as part of that same break, the president signed an executive order and two presidential memoranda hailing a “new era of openness,” of sunshine and transparency in government.  As the president put it, “Every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.”

Of course, nothing could have been more Bushian, if you were thinking about “clean breaks,” than America’s wars in the Greater Middle East. When it came to the Iraq War, at least, President Obama arrived in office with another goal and another promise that couldn’t have been more open and shut (or so his supporters thought), not just drawing down Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq, but “ending” it “responsibly.”  (Admittedly, he was also muttering quietly about “residual forces” there, but who noticed?)

Michael Winship: How Washington Could Create Jobs Right Now

The president will make a major speech on jobs shortly after Labor Day. According to the Associated Press, “It is likely to include tax cuts to help the middle class, a build-up-America construction program that goes beyond any infrastructure proposal Obama has had already, and targeted help for the particularly worrisome group of people who have remained unemployed for many months in a row.”

All good, but unfortunately, if the past is any indication, what President Obama proposes will not be as bold or far-reaching as many of the ideas presented above. It certainly won’t include my personal favorite, as suggested by Steve Benen at Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal” blog: “Have the White House take the several hundred letters GOP lawmakers have sent to the executive branch since 2009, asking for public investments, and let President Obama announce he’ll gladly fund all of the Republicans’ requests that have not yet been filled. This is especially important when it comes to infrastructure, a sector in which GOP members have pleaded for more investment in their areas…

“If these Republican lawmakers have identified worthwhile projects in need of government spending, which they themselves insist will boost the economy, why not start spending the money GOP officials want to see spent?”

Why not indeed? Alas, such an idea runs smack into more deficits: a deficit of irony among Republicans, certainly, but worse, a deficit of commitment and vision from a White House which until now at least, has been more focused on the pragmatic middle, despite a gainsaying opposition that yields nothing. Still, as Benen writes, “When Republicans say ‘no jobs, no way,’ at least the nation will be able to see where both parties stand, and then choose accordingly next year.” Amen.

Reality Check: The Economy Is Not Recovering

The pessimistic opinion of a looming second recession that has been expressed by economists who have gotten it right in the past is finally being recognized by the traditional media.

After a two-year rebound, recession risks rise

by Tom Petruno

The U.S. economy has officially been out of recession for two years, but fear of falling back into the abyss has dogged the recovery every step of the way.

Now, the prospect of recession no longer is a fringe view.


The almost universal belief was that global growth would accelerate in the second half of the year. But that view has been fading fast this summer.

“We’re seeing a pattern of data that look very similar to what you see at a turning point in the economy,” said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners in Stamford, Conn. And he doesn’t mean a turning point to better times.

A key measure of U.S. consumer confidence has crashed to a 30-year low. Stock market volatility has become gut-wrenching. And prospects in the manufacturing sector, one of the few true bright spots of the recovery, have dimmed markedly.


Of course, whether GDP growth contracts or is just slightly positive may feel exactly the same to many Americans, particularly the jobless, and to the country’s countless struggling small businesses.

The danger is that, if another recession becomes official, it could feed on itself as consumers and businesses that might otherwise have spent money decide not to, opting instead to hoard more cash.

“It can be a self-fulfilling phenomenon when households and businesses just stop in their tracks,” (MKM Partners chief economists, Michael) Darda said.

Dangerously Close to Recession

By Joachim Fels & Manoj Pradhan

US and Europe dangerously close to recession: Our revised forecasts show the US and the euro area hovering dangerously close to a recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction – over the next 6-12 months. The US growth disappointment in 1H11, when GDP advanced by an annual average rate of less than 1%, illustrates the brittleness of the US recovery in the face of external shocks (oil, Japan earthquake), despite ongoing QE2 and fiscal stimulus at the time. While the current quarter should still show some rebound in growth to around 3% from the very low bar in 1H, much of this rebound is likely due to temporary factors such as the ramping up of auto production as supply disruptions from the Japan situation ease. The most critical period for the US economy will likely be 4Q11, when we may see some fallout from the heightened volatility of risk markets, and 1Q12, when we get an automatic tightening fiscal policy if, as our US team currently assumes, this year’s fiscal stimulus measures will expire.

This from the economist who predicted the 1st recession before anyone else and was booed off the stage:

Roubini: Risks of global recession are greater than 50%

“In dealing with large debt, there should be a cutback on costs in both the public and private sectors, an attempt reduce overtime and adding to savings. Also, to avoid a second recession, banking requires more relaxed policies “says Roubini.

“There is too much debt, both in the government and in the private sector. The debt cannot be reduces except by saving, by strong economic growth or through the dangerous method of inflation, says Roubini. But if population and companies consumption do not restart, then you risk to remain in recession. ”

“Business does not help the economy, because there are risks. They aren’t investing because there is excess capacity,they are not hiring because there is insufficient demand. Here is the paradox. If you do not hire workers, there isn’t enough money for workers’ income, there isn’t enough consumer confidence and consumption is insufficient, “says Roubini.

To most Americans we never got out of the first recession as Atrios points out the linger unemployment rate at 9% is unacceptable:

The point is we never got out of the last recession, and whether GDP growth is barely positive or barely negative doesn’t matter all that much.

Cutting the Payroll tax again will not substantial increase the GDP or create jobs. It will hurt the Social Security fund by reducing the payroll contributions. Creating jobs that will rebuild and improve roads, schools and other crumbling infrastructure will. If private industry won’t do it, then the government must.

On This Day In History August 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.

August 20 is the 232nd day of the year (233rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 133 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1911, the first around-the-world telegram sent, 66 years before Voyager II launch

On this day in 1911, a dispatcher in the New York Times office sends the first telegram around the world via commercial service. Exactly 66 years later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sends a different kind of message–a phonograph record containing information about Earth for extraterrestrial beings–shooting into space aboard the unmanned spacecraft Voyager II.

The Times decided to send its 1911 telegram in order to determine how fast a commercial message could be sent around the world by telegraph cable. The message, reading simply “This message sent around the world,” left the dispatch room on the 17th floor of the Times building in New York at 7 p.m. on August 20. After it traveled more than 28,000 miles, being relayed by 16 different operators, through San Francisco, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay, Malta, Lisbon and the Azores–among other locations–the reply was received by the same operator 16.5 minutes later. It was the fastest time achieved by a commercial cablegram since the opening of the Pacific cable in 1900 by the Commercial Cable Company.

The Voyager 2 spacecraft is an unmanned interplanetary space probe launched on August 20, 1977. Both the Voyager 2 and the Voyager 1 space probes were designed, developed, and built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California. Identical in form and instruments with its sister Voyager program craft Voyager 1, Voyager 2 was launched on a slower, more curved trajectory that allowed it to be kept in the plane of the Ecliptic (the plane of the Solar System) so that it could be sent on to Uranus and Neptune by means of utilizing gravity assists during its fly-by of Saturn in 1981 and of Uranus in 1986. Because of this chosen trajectory, Voyager 2 could not take a close-up look at the large Saturnian moon Titan as its sister space probe had. However, Voyager 2 did become the first and only spacecraft to make the spaceflight by Uranus and Neptune, and hence completing the Planetary Grand Tour. This is one that is made practical by a seldom-occurring geometric alignment of the outer planets (happening once every 175 years).

The Voyager 2 space probe has made the most productive unmanned space voyage so far, visiting all four of the Outer Planets and their systems of moons and rings, including the first two visits to previously unexplored Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2 had two sensitive vidicon cameras and an assortment of other scientific instruments to make measurements in the ultraviolet, infrared, and radio wavelengths, as well as ones to measure subatomic particles in outer space, including cosmic rays. All of this was accomplished at a fraction of the amount of money that was later spent on more advanced and specialized space probes Galileo and Cassini-Huygens. Along with the earlier NASA Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, sister probe Voyager 1, and the more recent New Horizons, Voyager 2 is an interstellar probe in that all five of these are on one-way trajectories leaving the Solar System.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for August 19, 2011-


Popular Culture (Music) 20110819: 10cc

Sometimes I wright about bands that are not my favorites, but that had several nice songs.  10cc is one of them.  I own not a single record of theirs, but always thought that they were pretty good.  Not spectacular, but pretty good.  I am a casual listener, and until I began my research I did not even realize that they from the United Kingdom.

I should have known because of the song Rubber Bullets, but they use them here as well.  They were really pretty good, and at their best could express emotion extremely well, to the point of causing tears now and then.  Nothing like The Who, but still pretty good.

What I intend to do tonight is just to give a short survey of 10cc, not a deep analysis like I do with The Who.  I am sure that many of you are bored with my long and ponderous explication of the work from The Who, so this is sort of a break from it.  Also, I am changing my convention for names of bands, albums, and songs.  As before, the name of the band will always be in bold, and the name of the album in italics.  Starting now, the names of individual songs will be in italics, but with “quotation marks before and after” to do a better job of distinguishing the songs from the albums.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 25 years on, ‘Graceland’ reigns as world music pioneer

By Michael Mathes, AFP

8 hrs ago

If every generation throws a hero up the pop charts, Paul Simon has been twice anointed, first as a 1960s folk-rock icon, then as world music emissary with “Graceland,” the landmark album he released 25 years ago this month.

Stung by a second failed marriage and looking for a way to boost his flagging career, the singer-songwriter holed up at home on Long Island and was contemplating a new direction when a friend gave him a tape of South African “township jive”.

A smitten Simon ventured to South Africa to catch up with the musicians, spending weeks recording with them as a global movement gelled against the racial segregation system known as apartheid.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Worst Persons 8.18.11

And the Bronze goes to Ray Sandoval, the New Mexico director for OFA (Organizing for America aka Obama for America) for sending out an e-mail to supporters urging them to read the pejorative laced blog post of a so-called 28 year old “activist” that bashed the left and Nobel Prize winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Keith eviscerates the blog post for using 9/11 in reference to our economic woes and points out the Obama will not get reelected without us on the “Firebagger Lefty blogosphere”. So maybe they should STFU.

Just a word on Sen. Tom Coburn. Sen. Coburn is not only an embarrassment to our great democracy but as a physician. Thank you, Keith, excellent choices.