03/10/2012 archive

Random Japan



        Curtis Terry, an American guard with the Akita Northern Happinets of basketball’s BJ league, was cut by the club after he got caught stealing a few cans of chuhai from a local conbini.

   Keiichiro Kawahara, a 27-year-old volunteer from Japan who is touring the world by bicycle, was touched after a huge groundswell of support on the Chinese version of Twitter helped locate his stolen bike in Wuhan.

   A 14-year-old kid in Aichi Prefecture stabbed his mom after she took away his new video game. He was arrested for attempted murder.

   A man with gang ties, who had recently shot another man to death at a Denny’s restaurant in Chiba, was himself found dead in his car of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

   Rubbed bare as a stripper’s love patch, the grass at Tokyo’s Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground has pretty much disappeared in large chunks due to overuse of the field.

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.

Kohlrabi: A Dinner Ally in Disguise

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

It’s a member of the brassica family, those nutrient-dense cabbages (as well as kales, brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower) whose phytochemicals are highly regarded for their antioxidant properties. Kohlrabi is an excellent source of potassium and a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and it’s low in calories. The purple variety that some farmers grow also contains anthocyanins, another phytonutrient with antioxidant potential.

If you can get kohlrabi with the greens attached, cook them as you would turnip greens or kale. The greens are never quite as copious as the greens on a bunch of turnips, but they make a nice addition to most kohlrabi dishes. It’s important when you cook with kohlrabi to peel it thoroughly. Beneath the thick, hard skin is another fibrous layer, which should also be peeled away. The fibers will not soften when cooked, and they can get stuck in your throat. So peel once, then peel again until you reach the light layer of crisp flesh.

Kohlrabi Home Fries

With the help of a little oil and some bold seasonings, these kohlrabi sticks deliver big flavor.

Kohlrabi and Celery Root Purée

This combination is lighter and more interesting than traditional buttery mashed potatoes, but it’s just as satisfying.

Greek-Style Kohlrabi Pie or Gratin With Dill and Feta

Using grated kohlrabi rather than spinach gives these two classic preparations a twist.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls With Shredded Kohlrabi

Prepared rice flour wrappers are a convenient vehicle for marinated tofu and crisp vegetables and herbs.

Kohlrabi Risotto

Risotto is a welcoming home for just about any vegetable, and this combination is a comforting one.

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 Breach of Trust

The hard-fought deal that settled last year’s debt-ceiling fight made painfully deep cuts in spending, but it promised one thing: a year’s peace from the destructive Congressional battles that led to threats of government shutdowns and defaults. By signing the pact, Republican and Democratic leaders set spending levels for 2013, putting off further budget wars until after the election.

But now a coalition of extreme conservatives in the House wants to break the budget agreement and cut spending below the agreed level, and the House Budget Committee seems willing to go along.

Reneging on the agreement would not only endanger vital programs like Head Start, but it would erase the thin residue of trust left in Congress. It would clearly demonstrate that the current House cannot be trusted to live up to its own pledges.

Paul Krugman: In the US, Futile Hopes for Another Presidential ContenderIn the US, Futile Hopes for Another Presidential Contender

I haven’t written much lately about the spate of articles either calling for, or at least wistfully speculating about, a “centrist” third-party presidential candidacy in the United States. It’s nonsense, of course, on multiple levels.

For one thing, if you look at what pundits calling for such a candidacy want, it’s all already in President Obama’s proposals. For another, it’s not going to happen. For a third, the favorite imaginary candidate, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, turns out to be totally ignorant about the economic crisis.

“It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a panel discussion last November. “It was, plain and simple, Congress, who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp.”

Eugen Robinson:

Unless Ron Paul somehow wins the nomination, it looks as if a vote for the Republican presidential candidate this fall will be a vote for war with Iran.

No other conclusion can be drawn from parsing the candidates’ public remarks. Paul, of course, is basically an isolationist who believes it is none of our business if Iran wants to build nuclear weapons. He questions even the use of sanctions, such as those now in force. But Paul has about as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as I do.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have all sought to portray President Obama as weak on national security-a traditional Republican line of attack. Specifically, they have tried to accuse Obama of being insufficiently committed to Israel’s defense. In the process, they’ve made bellicose pledges about Iran that almost surely would lead straight to conflict.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Ilya Sheyman’s Progressive Run

The fight to win back the House-just like the fights to hold the White House and Senate-will not be easy. In order to not only win but to move any kind of agenda that addresses tax equity, environmental policy, immigration reform, housing, you name it, simply reinforcing the current Democratic narrative while being pulled further to the right by the Blue Dogs just isn’t enough. We need a more democratic-note small “d”-House.

We need to elect progressives.

Former Senator Russ Feingold recognizes that need and was moved to make his first endorsement in a Democratic primary since leaving the Senate. On Tuesday, Feingold pledged his support and that of Progressives United-his recently formed group focused on opposing corporate power-to Ilya Sheyman, a 25-year-old community organizer running in Illinois 10th District for a shot at the incumbent, Republican Representative Robert Dold.

George Zornick: February Jobs Report: Beware Austerity

The jobs numbers released this morning contain good news almost across the board: nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 jobs, above the 210,000 predicted by economists. Recent jobs numbers were also revised upwards: the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 284,000 jobs were added in January, not the initial estimate of 244,000. December actually saw 223,000 jobs added, not 203,000. This makes the three best months of hiring since the recession began. [..]

One needs only to look towards Europe to see how steep austerity measures can hamper economic recovery-and progressives are already keying up to prevent that from happening here. “The US economy is finally producing jobs again, but our weak recovery-which has been aided by good public policy-could easily be choked off by stupid budget policies which would condemn a new generation of Americans to joblessness and a bleak future,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. “Americans should be wary of politicians telling us that the economy is recovering enough to turn immediately to cutting public spending.”

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto: The White House’s Broadening Latino Agenda

Latinos have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. In 2010, Republican state legislatures began an aggressive anti-immigrant campaign. At the same time, Latinos witnessed the administration fail to follow through on its promise for comprehensive immigration reform. Considering how both parties did or didn’t deal with the issue of immigration, it would not be surprising to see Latinos turn away from both parties. However, the issue of immigration alone does not define Latino interests-and moving beyond this single-issue focus will position the Democratic Party as the choice, not just the default option, for Latinos.

The concerns of Latinos are the same concerns of any other folks in the United States. In fact, issues related to the economy, education or healthcare are of even greater concern to Latinos than to non-Latinos. Latinos suffered the greatest decline in wealth during the recession, have the highest high school dropout rates and have the fastest growing rate of childhood obesity. There is no single box in which to fit Latino issues. But the temptation to do so has not prevented Latinos and non-Latinos alike from using the immigration box.

John Nochols: Strange Things Are Happening to Mitt Romney

“I realize it’s a bit of an away game,” Mitt Romney says of campaigning in the Southern states of Alabama and Mississippi-both of which hold primaries Tuesday.

That’s an intriguing choice of words from a GOP front-runner when he talking about meeting and greeting the voters of two heavily Republican states.

But anyone who has paid attention to Mitt Romney’s campaign knows that the entire endeavor is something of an away game.

He barely won his sort-of “home state” of Michigan, and then he even more barely won the neighboring state of Ohio by less than 1 percent of the vote, after failing to connect with blue-collar voters.

In state after state, Romney has prevailed not because he is a popular favorite but because his opposition has been divided. That has allowed the candidate of the one-tenth of the one percent to remain viable. But it has not made him credible.

On This Day In History March 10

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.

March 10 is the 69th day of the year (70th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 296 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, Tibetans band together in revolt, surrounding the summer palace of the Dalai Lama in defiance of Chinese occupation forces.

China’s occupation of Tibet began nearly a decade before, in October 1950, when troops from its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded the country, barely one year after the Communists gained full control of mainland China. The Tibetan government gave into Chinese pressure the following year, signing a treaty that ensured the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the country’s spiritual leader, over Tibet’s domestic affairs. Resistance to the Chinese occupation built steadily over the next several years, including a revolt in several areas of eastern Tibet in 1956. By December 1958, rebellion was simmering in Lhasa, the capital, and the PLA command threatened to bomb the city if order was not maintained.

Lhasa Rebellion

On 1 March 1959, an unusual invitation to attend a theatrical performance at the Chinese military headquarters outside Lhasa was extended to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama, at the time studying for his lharampa geshe degree, initially postponed the meeting, but the date was eventually set for 10 March. On 9 March, the head of the Dalai Lama’s bodyguard was visited by Chinese army officers. The officers insisted that the Dalai Lama would not be accompanied by his traditional armed escort to the performance, and that no public ceremony for the Dalai Lama’s procession from the palace to the camp should take place, counter to tradition.

According to historian Tsering Shakya, the Chinese government was pressuring the Dalai Lama to attend the People’s Congress in April 1959, in order to repair China’s image with relation to ethnic minorities after the Khampa’s rebellion. On 7 February 1959, a significant day on the Tibetan calendar, the Dalai Lama attended a religious dance, after which the acting representative in Tibet, Tan Guansan, offered the Dalai Lama a chance to see a performance from a dance troupe native to Lhasa at the Norbulingka to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s completion of his lharampa geshe degree. According to the Dalai Lama’s memoirs, the Dalai Lama agreed, but said that the Norbulingka did not have the facilities, and suggested the new auditorium in the PLA headquarters in Lhasa as a more appropriate venue. Neither the Kashag nor the Dalai Lama’s bodyguards were informed of the Dalai Lama’s plans until Chinese officials briefed them on 9 March, one day before the performance was scheduled, and insisted that they would handle the Dalai Lama’s security. Some members of the Kashag were alarmed that were not also invited to lead a customary armed procession, recalling a prophecy that told that the Dalai Lama should not exit his palace.

According to historian Tsering Shakya, some Tibetan government officials feared that plans were being laid for a Chinese abduction of the Dalai Lama, and spread word to that effect amongst the inhabitants of Lhasa. On 10 March, several thousand Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama’s palace to prevent him from leaving or being removed. The huge crowd had gathered in response to a rumor that the Chinese communists were planning to arrest the Dalai Lama when he went to a cultural performance at the PLA’s headquarters. This marked the beginning of the uprising in Lhasa, though Chinese forces had skirmished with guerrillas outside the city in December of the previous year. Although CCP offcials insisted that the “reactionary upper stratum” in Lhasa was responsible for the rumor, there is no way to identify the precise source. At first, the violence was directed at Tibetan officials perceived not to have protected the Dalai Lama or to be pro-Chinese; attacks on Hans started later. One of the first casualties of mob was a senior lama, Pagbalha Soinam Gyamco, who worked with the PRC as a member of the Preparatory Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, who was killed and his body dragged by a horse in front of the crowd for two kilometres.

On 12 March, protesters appeared in the streets of Lhasa declaring Tibet’s independence. Barricades went up on the streets of Lhasa, and Chinese and Tibetan rebel forces began to fortify positions within and around Lhasa in preparation for conflict. A petition of support for the armed rebels outside the city was taken up, and an appeal for assistance was made to the Indian consul. Chinese and Tibetan troops continued moving into position over the next several days, with Chinese artillery pieces being deployed within range of the Dalai Lama’s summer palace, the Norbulingka. On 15 March, preparations for the Dalai Lama’s evacuation from the city were set in motion, with Tibetan troops being employed to secure an escape route from Lhasa. On 17 March, two artillery shells landed near the Dalai Lama’s palace, triggering his flight into exile. On 19 March the Chinese started to shell the Norbulingka, prompting the full force of the Uprising. According to the freetibet website, on 21 March 800 shells rained down on the palace, including the shelling of the Norbulingka and Lhasa’s major monasteries, slaughtering thousands of Tibetan men, women and children. Combat lasted only about two days, with Tibetan rebel forces being badly outnumbered and poorly armed.

Popular Culture (TeeVee) 20120309: Obnoxious Adverts

Every now and then we discuss this subject, but the last time that we broached the area I was not as good about finding video on line as I am now.  This time instead of merely discussing the adverts, there will be in most cases the actual advert before the bulk of the discussion.

Whilst many adverts are annoying, a select few make my list of obnoxious ones.  These fall into a few fairly well defined categories, but there is always the miscellaneous one.  You must realize that what is obnoxious for me might be delightful to you, so this is necessarily sort of an arbitrary list.  However, some adverts just cross the line.

I have grouped the obnoxious ones into these categories:  the stupid husband or boyfriend, and by extension the smart wife or girlfriend; the precocious kid; the deceptive parents; obnoxious celebrities; offensive cartoons; and other.  These categories are quite subjective, so feel free to suggest others in comments.

The common thread in most of these is that someone is a buffoon and that deception is often used.  This not always the case, but far too often in.  In addition to obnoxious adverts, there are the ones that are just stupid, and I have an example or two of those as well.

This Week In The Dream Antilles


A 2006 photo: Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey with Sgt. Rex in Iraq

Have you noticed that sometimes your Bloguero completely loses his equanimity? Your Bloguero thought so. Be warned.Here it comes again. Nothing, nothing at all makes your Bloguero lose it like military bureaucracy. Your Bloguero points out that there is a reason, a very good reason why all of the vehicles the army owns have FTA scratched into them. And that reason has to do with how the army handles the very many small, non-life-and-death matters that matter to the soldiers.

This week began with efforts to remove vile, misogynist Lush Rimshot from the AFRN airwaves. Senator Levin sort of helped, but not enough that any desk chair jockey with scrambled eggs on his headgear would read his statement as requiring anything, or even threatening to require something, or starting a painful Congressional inquiry.  No.  In dealing with the military bureaucracy, the only thing that really matters is an order. “May I please have some more, sir,” just doesn’t get it done. That is uniformly (your Bloguero knows) greeted with scoffs. And raised eyebrows. And it’s ignored. Especially if it involves changing anything. No. An order is what it takes to change anything. And only an order will do.  Will AFRN get such an order about Lush Rimshot’s program? Time will tell.  

And then, today, there was this item. Your Bloguero knows. There are a whole lot of very important things that need doing, that merit your attention, that deserve widespread notice. Your Bloguero knows all that. Yes, there are big, important things that deserve ink. But your Bloguero wants something small. Your Bloguero would like to point out that a very simple, short order that the dog, Sgt. Rex, be discharged and given to his former, loving handler, ex-Cpl. Meagan Leavy, would make your Bloguero, ex-Cpl Leavy, ex-Sgt Rex, dogs and dog lovers and citizens everywhere very happy. Ecstatically happy.

For just this once, do you think the military could cut some of the red tape bs and just send Sgt. Rex home? You know what to do. Start with Senator Schumer and President Obama. Let them know that Sgt. Rex and Meagan Leavy need to be reunited. And they need it now. Then go on to others who need to hear from you about this.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest of essays in The Dream Antilles. Usually it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now, it’s something else entirely. To see what essays were in the past week you have visit The Dream Antilles