05/26/2012 archive

Montreal Student Protests Over 80% Tuition Hike

“À qui la rue? À nous la rue!”

For 15 weeks the students in Montreal, Quebec have been boycotting classes and protesting in the streets over the provincial government’s plan to hike university tuition fees by 82 percent over the next seven years. The students have been joined by other Montreal residents, young and old, who are now taking to the streets to protest Bill 78 which imposed draconian fines and measures to end the protests. Every night st 8 PM they take to the streets with pots and spoons, banging and marching in what has now been labeled the “Saucepan Revolution” and not just in Montreal:

People took up the percussive protest Thursday night in several towns and cities including Sorel, Longueuil, Chambly, Repentigny, Trois-Rivieres and even in Abitibi — several hundred kilometres away from the hot spot of Montreal.

They were still loudest in Montreal, where a chorus of metallic clanks rang out in neighbourhoods around the city, spilling into the main demonstrations and sounding like aluminum symphonies.

The pots-and-pans protest has its roots in Chile, where people have used it for years as an effective, peaceful tool to express civil disobedience. The noisy cacerolazo tradition actually predates the Pinochet regime in Chile, but has endured there and spread to other countries as a method of showing popular defiance.

Thursday’s protest in Montreal was immediately declared illegal by police, who said it violated a municipal bylaw because they hadn’t been informed of the route. They allowed it to continue as long as it remained peaceful.

Usually the nightly street demonstrations, which have gone on for a month, have a couple of vigorous drummers to speed them along their route. At the very least, someone clangs a cow bell.

But in the last few days, the pots and pans protest — dubbed the casseroles by observers — have acted like an alarm clock for the regular evening march, sounding at 8 p.m. on the nose in advance of the march’s start.

Occupy Wall Steet has joined in solidarity with the protests and Occupy livestreamer Tim Pool is now in Montreal and covering the protests every night starting about 8 p.m. when the pots and pan bashing begins.

Arrest have exceeded 2500 surpassing the October 1970 crisis when martial law was declared in the city in response to actions by Quebec nationalists. Friday night the student protesters and their allies surpassed them selves marching through the streets in downpours, with high winds and tornado warnings. The event was caught on video and an enterprising videographer set it to the music of local band named Arcade Fire that has now gone viral:

Random Japan




    A new Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Tokyo comes complete with a fully stocked bar called KFC Route 25, in honor of the highway that runs past the original Sanders Café in Kentucky. Whisky, tequila, vodka, rum all available… Name your poison.

   The Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto Prefecture-along with some help from a nutty professor from Osaka University-has come up with a 600-gram human-shaped pillow called a “Hugvie” that allows cellphone users to “feel closer” to the people they are talking to. You insert your phone in the pillow’s head and conversations will cause the Hugvie’s heart to beat. Really.

   A government survey has revealed that one out of every four Japanese adults has thought of offing him/herself, “with young people more prone to such thoughts than others.” A round of Hugvies, please.

   Researchers at the Shibaura Institute of Technology (we don’t even want to speculate on the acronym for this one) figure that some 40 or so dams in Japan sit above confirmed active fault lines.

   Meanwhile, a network of more than 150 earthquake and water pressure detectors is in the plans for the sea off Japan’s east coast. The National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention says the devices will help “to more quickly and accurately predict tsunami.”

   A Mainichi survey found that more than 2,000 bridges in at least 107 local municipalities in Japan have never been inspected, mostly due to “financial difficulties.”

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News 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.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Collard Greens, Fast or Slow


If you’re looking for a vegetable that’s a great source of calcium, collard greens are a find. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a cup of cooked collard greens has more calcium than a glass of skim milk. This is great news for those who don’t eat dairy, and it’s just one of the many health benefits collards have to offer. They’re high in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health; they’re very high in vitamins A and C, manganese, folate and dietary fiber; and they’re a good source of potassium and vitamins B2 and B6.

~Martha Rose Schulman

Spicy Stir-Fried Collard Greens With Red or Green Cabbage

Cabbage adds additional color and sweetness to this dish.

Breakfast Tacos With Eggs, Onions and Collard Greens

These comforting, easy tacos don’t have to be relegated to the breakfast table.

Pasta With Collard Greens and Onions

Slow cooking sweetens the collards in this satisfying pasta dish.

Lasagna With Collard Greens

The greens partner with the noodles to give structure to this hearty baked pasta dish.

Stuffed Collard Greens

With herbs, tender rice and a lemony sauce, these rolls will have you thinking of the Mediterranean.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: On Memorial Day Weekend, America Reckons with Torture

Facing the truth is hard to do, especially the truth about ourselves. So Americans have been sorely pressed to come to terms with the fact that after 9/11 our government began to torture people, and did so in defiance of domestic and international law. Most of us haven’t come to terms with what that meant, or means today, but we must reckon with torture, the torture done in our name, allegedly for our safety.

It’s no secret such cruelty occurred; it’s just the truth we’d rather not think about. But Memorial Day is a good time to make the effort. Because if we really want to honor the Americans in uniform who gave their lives fighting for their country, we’ll redouble our efforts to make sure we’re worthy of their sacrifice; we’ll renew our commitment to the rule of law, for the rule of law is essential to any civilization worth dying for.

After 9/11, our government turned to torture, seeking information about the terrorists who committed the atrocity and others who might follow after them.  Senior officials ordered the torture of men at military bases and detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, in secret CIA prisons set up across the globe, and in other countries – including Libya and Egypt – where abusive regimes were asked to do Washington’s dirty work.

William K. Black: Romney Messes Up, Tells the Truth About Austerity

Mitt Romney has periodic breakdowns when asked questions about the economy because he sometimes forgets the need to lie. He forgets that he is supposed to treat austerity as the epitome of economic wisdom. When he responds quickly to questions about austerity he slips into default mode and speaks the truth — adopting austerity during the recovery from a Great Recession would (as in Europe) throw the nation back into recession or depression. The latest example is his May 23, 2012 interview with Mark Halperin in Time magazine. [..]

Romney explains that austerity, during the recovery from a Great Recession, would cause catastrophic damage to our nation. The problem, of course, is that the Republican congressional leadership is committed to imposing austerity on the nation and Speaker Boehner has just threatened that Republicans will block the renewal of the debt ceiling in order to extort Democrats to agree to austerity — severe cuts to social programs. Romney knows this could “throw us into recession or depression” and says he would never follow such a policy.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: How to Fix the Fed: Dismiss Dimon, Boot the Bankers, and Can the Corporations

More and more people are calling for Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, to resign from the Board of the New York Federal Reserve.

His latest scandal, combined with Dimon’s hypocrisy and relentless self-promotion, make him an obvious target. But Dimon isn’t alone. Bankers dominate the Fed at the regional and national levels, and most of the other outside seats are held by executives from large corporations. (Remember Herman Cain?)

Should Dimon resign? They all should.

Alan Grayson: Dumb Rich People

In 2008, the New York Times reported that since 1929, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Democratic Presidents (over 40 years) had become $300,671. Meanwhile, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Republican Presidents (over 35 years) had become only $11,733.

Well, at least the affluent caste didn’t lose money during Republican regimes, right? Wrong. The value of the dollar dropped by 92 percent during that period. So in real value, $10,000 invested in the stock market under Republican presidents actually became just $955. And 46 cents. In economic terms, roughly the same effect as some foreign enemy blowing up 90 percent of our factories, warehouses, farms, malls, office buildings, apartment buildings, and every other productive asset.

Poor rich people. All the money gone. Those darned Republicans.

New York Times Editorial: Nuclear Power After Fukushima

The resignation of Gregory Jaczko, the embattled chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, means the country is losing a strong advocate for public safety who was always willing to challenge the nuclear industry and its political backers in Congress.

The White House’s choice to replace him, Allison Macfarlane, has strong credentials as an expert on nuclear waste and weapons. She will need to be as independent and aggressive as Dr. Jaczko. Both industry and her fellow commissioners will have to be pushed to implement necessary improvements highlighted by the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

Jared Bernstein: Private Equity Firms: What Are They Good For?

I’ve very much enjoyed the recent debate over Bain Capital and the role of such private equity firms in the economy, not for partisan reasons, but because it’s far too rare that we step back and ask about the societal costs and benefits of opaque mechanisms like PE.

I mean, if I showed you a barber shop, a school, a car factory, an accounting firm — you’d quickly get what they were doing here. But PE is different, and absent explanation, it’s easy to get stuck on one end of the “vampire/vulture-to-capitalism’s-savior” continuum. In that regard, here’s one of the more nuanced, and thus worth reading, pieces about private equity and its role in the larger economy.

Note, for-the-record, that I’m not talking here about this week’s debating point as to whether PE experience is relevant to the job of president — the main point I and others have tried to bring to that debate is: whatever the merits and demerits of private equity, job creation is not part of the mix. If profitability meant laying off workers, that’s what the PE firm would do, and vice versa.

On This Day In History May 26

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 26 is the 146th day of the year (147th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 219 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1637, an allied Puritan and Mohegan force under English Captain John Mason attacks a Pequot village in Connecticut, burning or massacring some 500 Indian women, men, and children.

The Pequot War was an armed conflict in 1634-1638 between the Pequot tribe against an alliance of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies with American Indian allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes). Hundreds were killed; hundreds more were captured and sold into slavery to the West Indies. Other survivors were dispersed. At the end of the war, about seven hundred Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. The result was the elimination of the Pequot as a viable polity in what is present-day Southern New England. It would take the Pequot more than three and a half centuries to regain political and economic power in their traditional homeland region along the Pequot (present-day Thames) and Mystic rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut.

The Mystic massacre

Believing that the English had returned to Boston, the Pequot sachem Sassacus took several hundred of his warriors to make another raid on Hartford. Mason had visited and recruited the Narragansett, who joined him with several hundred warriors. Several allied Niantic warriors also joined Mason’s group. On May 26, 1637, with a force up to about 400 fighting men, Mason attacked Misistuck by surprise. He estimated that “six or seven Hundred” Pequot were there when his forces assaulted the palisade. As some 150 warriors had accompanied Sassacus to Hartford, so the inhabitants remaining were largely Pequot women and children, and older men. Mason ordered that the enclosure be set on fire. Justifying his conduct later, Mason declared that the attack against the Pequot was the act of a God who “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot] as a fiery Oven . . . Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling [Mystic] with dead Bodies.”  Mason insisted that any Pequot attempting to escape the flames should be killed. Of the estimated 600 to 700 Pequot resident at Mystic that day, only seven survived to be taken prisoner, while another seven escaped to the woods.

The Narragansett and Mohegan warriors with Mason and Underhill’s colonial militia were horrified by the actions and “manner of the Englishmen’s fight . . . because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” The Narragansett left the warfare and returned home.

Believing the mission accomplished, Mason set out for home. Becoming temporarily lost, his militia narrowly missed returning Pequot warriors. After seeing the destruction of Mystic, they gave chase to the English forces, but to little avail.

Formula One: Circuit de Monaco Qualifying

Ah Monaco.

The ships, the lights, the sounds, the money.  Everything Formula One is about except, of course, competition.

Not that Formula One is usually about competition.

This year is a shiny abberation but you can’t learn much at Monaco.  It’s old and slow and there’s no place to pass or park which makes it a perfect yellow flag companion to the turn left Brick Yard and the stomping ground of Scuderia Marlboro which is all show and no go.  You want action?  Rent Grand Prix (I understand Eva Marie Saint is hot in her torpedo bra).

Shall I seem cynical?  Perhaps, but the truth is that I didn’t even bother watching practice where teams are testing fiddly aero bits they’ll never use again in search of extra downforce which will allow them to drive on the top of the tunnel like Men in Black.

Iconic.  That’s the word I’m looking for.  One “R” away from a trip through the dryer though waving steamy hot metal over your pleats and creases is so satisfyingly mindless.

How the Ecclestone and the mighty have fallen.  Live broadcast tomorrow @ 7:30 am on Speed (GP2 @ 6 am).

Oh, surprises below.

DocuDharma Digest



Popular Culture (Music) 20120525: Moodies – A Question of Balance

Last week we discussed To Our Children’s Children’s Children, and this week we shall listen to the next record, A Question of Balance.  I personally like this album very much, second only to In Search of the Lost Chord.

No band members were changed, the same five performing since the second album, this one being their sixth.  Tony Clarke produced, just as he had since the second album.  This album has on it one of their high charting singles, “Question”, and is just marvelous.  Many of the songs from this album became staples for live performances.  Phil Travers once again provided the cover art.  It is their second record on Threshold Records.

Cholera: Haiti’s Epidemic

After the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on January 2010, the United Nations sent peace keeping troops from around the world to assist with keeping order during the recovery process, Unfortunately, some of those forces introduced a virulent strain of Cholera that was until October 2010 never seen in the Western Hemisphere. The faulty sanitation contaminated the Artibonite River, the longest and most important river in Haiti. The UN has refused to acknowledge its responsibility and has done little to help treat, prevent and control the disease.

The enormity of the epidemic is in the numbers that are increasing as this is written. Since October 2010, over 500,000 cases have been reported, including 7,000 deaths. In a New York Times Editorial on May 12, it was reported that this year’s toll could effect another 200,000 to 250,000 people:

Doctors Without Borders said this month that the country is unprepared for this spring’s expected resurgence of the disease. Nearly half the aid organizations that had been working in the rural Artibonite region, where this epidemic began and 20 percent of cases have been reported, have left, the organization said. “Additionally, health centers are short of drugs and some staff have not been paid since January.”

It gets worse: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this month that cholera in Haiti was evolving into two strains, suggesting the disease would become much harder to uproot and that people who had already gotten sick and recovered would be vulnerable again.

From Doctors Without Borders press release:

While Haiti’s Ministry of Health and Populations claims to be in control of the situation, health facilities in many regions of the country remain incapable of responding to the seasonal fluctuations of the cholera epidemic. The surveillance system, which is supposed to monitor the situation and raise the alarm, is still dysfunctional, MSF said. The number of people treated by MSF alone in the capital, Port-au-Prince, has quadrupled in less than a month, reaching 1,600 cases in April. The organization has increased treatment capacity in the city and in the town of Léogâne, and is preparing to open additional treatment sites in the country. Nearly 200,000 cholera cases were reported during the rainy season last year, between May and October. [..]

An MSF study in the Artibonite region, where approximately 20 percent of cholera cases have been reported, has revealed a clear reduction of cholera prevention measures since 2011. More than half of the organizations working in the region last year are now gone. Additionally, health centers are short of drugs and some staff have not been paid since January. [..]

The majority of Haitians do not have access to latrines, and obtaining clean water is a daily challenge. Of the half-million survivors of the January, 2010 earthquake who continue to live in camps, less than one third are provided with clean drinking water and only one percent recently received soap, according to a April 2012 investigation by Haiti’s National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that the cost of adequate water and sanitation systems will run from $800 million to $1.1 billion. That money is available from funds that were pledged from other nations.

Awareness needs to be raised. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, a human rights group, has sued the United Nations on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims and there is a Congressional letter to US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice urging UN authorities to play a central role in addressing the epidemic.

Just Foreign Policy has set up a petition pressing the UN to take formal responsibility for the epidemic and do more to alleviate the cholera epidemic:

Tell Congress: Urge UN to Alleviate Cholera Crisis in Haiti

The United Nations bears heavy responsibility for the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti-it has become widely accepted that UN troops introduced the disease into the country via the UN’s faulty sanitation system. Even a UN panel has conceded this point. Yet, the UN has done little to treat, prevent, and control the disease. Rep. John Conyers’ office is circulating a letter to Amb. Rice urging UN authorities to play a central role in addressing the ongoing cholera crisis in Haiti.

The effort to contain this epidemic needs support. There are lives to be saved.

Note: The photo by Frederik Matte is from the Doctors Without Borders web site of patients affected by cholera receive treatment at an MSF cholera treatment center in Port-au-Prince.