07/07/2012 archive

Random Japan



Officials in the depopulated town of Takatori in Nara are trying to boost tourism by offering visitors the chance to see “hina dolls in machiya traditional wooden houses.”

Meanwhile, a village in the Oki Islands is offering couples ¥250,000 for the privilege of hosting their wedding ceremony. The town will kick in an extra ¥50,000 if the newlyweds also hold a magodaki (“holding a grandchild”) ceremony.

The Pakistani government says that if an expedition from the Fukushima chapter of the Japanese Alpine Club succeeds in climbing four unscaled peaks in the Karakorum range, it will give the club naming rights to the mountains.

The Metropolitan Police Department has vowed to combat a type of video-game piracy that uses emulator servers to mimic official gaming websites.

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

Summer Aioli Feasts


Aioli is the quintessential Provençal condiment, a very pungent garlic mayonnaise that in its home country contains more garlic than the version below – which is already pretty garlicky. It’s easy enough to make, and wonderful with all sorts of vegetables, like greens, steamed artichokes and asparagus. All it requires of the eater is a taste for raw garlic.

Aioli (Provençal Garlic Mayonnaise)

The quintessential Provençal condiment.


A variation that is generally served with bouillabaisse and other fish soups.

Steamed Cod With Favas and Aioli

This dish was inspired by leftovers, but its appeal makes it a candidate for a dinner party.

Summer Aioli Feast

This parade of simply cooked fish and vegetables keeps the spotlight on the rich garlicky mayonnaise.

Warm Chickpea and Green Bean Salad With Aioli

Flavorful liquid left from cooking the beans is used to thin out the aioli, making a pungent dressing for this salad.

Aioli Pan Bagnat or Stuffed Pita

A garlicky niçoise salad on a bun or in a pita makes for a filling but light meal.

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

Joe Nocera: Libor’s Dirty Laundry

Here in the early stages of the Libor scandal – and, yes, this thing is far from over – there are two big surprises.

The first is that the bankers, traders, executives and others involved would so openly and, in some cases, gleefully collude to manipulate this key interest rate for their own benefit. With all the seedy bank behavior that has been exposed since the financial crisis, it’s stunning that there’s still dirty laundry left to be aired. We’ve had predatory subprime lending, fraudulent ratings, excessive risk-taking and even clients being taken advantage of in order to unload toxic mortgages. [..]

Which brings me to the second big surprise. Britain and America have reacted to the Libor scandal in completely different ways. Britain is in an utter frenzy over it, with wall-to-wall coverage, and the most respectable, pro-business publications expressing outrage. Yes, Barclays is a British bank, and the first word in Libor is “London.” But still: The Economist ran a headline about the scandal that read, in its entirety, “Banksters.”

Yet, on these shores, the reaction has been mainly a shrug. Perhaps we’re suffering from bank-scandal fatigue, having lived through Bank of America’s various travails, and the Goldman Sachs revelations, and, most recently, the big JPMorgan Chase trading loss. Or maybe Libor is just hard to gets one’s head around.

New York Times Editorial: The Square Off Over Jobs

There’s no solace in the employment report for June, released Friday. The economy added a paltry 80,000 jobs last month, leaving no doubt that the economy is slowing. In the past three months, the economy averaged 75,000 new jobs a month, compared with 226,000 in the prior three months. The jobless rate in June held steady at 8.2 percent, which is down from the recession peak of 10 percent in October 2009 but still very high.

Who is to blame?

How can it be fixed? [..]

The question then is why the recovery under Mr. Obama has not been stronger. Part of the answer lies beyond the control of any American politician, including the euro zone crisis and, more recently, the slowdown in China. But part is the result of obstructionist Republican politics, including the fiasco in 2011 over raising the debt ceiling, which dented confidence in Congress’s ability to steer the economy.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Is Obama’s Corporate-Friendly Approach Really “How Liberals Win”?

Recently my friend and colleague Bill Scher challenged progressive critics of President Obama’s conciliatory approach toward corporations with a New York Times op-ed entitled “How Liberals Win.” Far from being “business as usual,” Bill writes, “the Supreme Court’s upholding of Mr. Obama’s health care law reminds us that the president’s approach has achieved significant results.” [..]

Sorry, Bill. I’m with those who have concluded that the Obama White House has failed, both pragmatically and politically, on a number of key progressive issues. In my view, believing otherwise requires an almost ahistorical view of liberalism. We can’t preemptively limit the definition of “liberal victory” to whatever corporate interests will allow.

Wherever the truth lies, the road ahead is clear: We can’t allow the radical right to take power this year. But we need to fight for results, not politicians, by building a mobilized and truly independent citizens’ movement.

Mark Weisbrot: Federal Government Can Restore Full Employment. If Only it Wanted to Do So

Three years after our worst recession since the Great Depression officially ended, the U.S. economy is still very weak.  The people most hurt by this weakness are the unemployed and the poor, and of course the two problems are related. We have about 23 million people who are unemployed, involuntarily working part-time, or have given up looking for work — nearly 15 percent of the labor force.  And poverty has reached 15.1 percent of the population;  amazingly, a level that it was at in the mid-1960s.

The first priority of the U.S. government should therefore be restoring full employment.  This is a relatively easy thing to do.  As Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman aptly put it: “It’s like having a dead battery in a car, and while there may be a lot wrong with the car, you can get the car going remarkably easily, if you’re willing to accept that’s what the problem really is.”

Most economists are well aware what the problem really is, since it is so simple and basic.  The economy lost about $1.3 trillion in private annual spending when the real estate bubble burst in 2007, and much of that has not recovered. State and local governments continue to tighten their budgets and lay off workers.  If the federal government had simply funded these governments’ shortfalls, we would have another two million jobs today.

Ruslan Pukhov: Why Russia Is Backing Syria

MANY in the West believe that Russia’s support for Syria stems from Moscow’s desire to profit from selling arms to Bashar al-Assad’s government and maintain its naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus. But these speculations are superficial and misguided. The real reason that Russia is resisting strong international action against the Assad regime is that it fears the spread of Islamic radicalism and the erosion of its superpower status in a world where Western nations are increasingly undertaking unilateral military interventions. [..]

To people in Moscow, Mr. Assad appears not so much as “a bad dictator” but as a secular leader struggling with an uprising of Islamist barbarians. The active support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey’s Islamist government for rebels in Syria only heightens suspicions in Russia about the Islamist nature of the current opposition in Syria and rebels throughout the Middle East.

Finally, Russians are angry about the West’s propensity for unilateral interventionism – not to mention the blatantly broad interpretation of the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council and the direct violations of those resolutions in Libya.

Drone “Pilots” Practice on Us.

A report in the New York Times by Mark Mazzetti, a national-security correspondent, revealed that the US trains drone “pilots” at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico  in air conditioned trailers, sitting in comfortable chairs while they practice targeting on civilian cars passing the base.

The base has been converted into the U.S. Air Force’s primary training center for drone operators, where pilots spend their days in sand-colored trailers near a runway from which their planes take off without them. Inside each trailer, a pilot flies his plane from a padded chair, using a joystick and throttle, as his partner, the “sensor operator,” focuses on the grainy images moving across a video screen, directing missiles to their targets with a laser.

Holloman sits on almost 60,000 acres of desert badlands, near jagged hills that are frosted with snow for several months of the year – a perfect training ground for pilots who will fly Predators and Reapers over the similarly hostile terrain of Afghanistan. When I visited the base earlier this year with a small group of reporters, we were taken into a command post where a large flat-screen television was broadcasting a video feed from a drone flying overhead. It took a few seconds to figure out exactly what we were looking at. A white S.U.V. traveling along a highway adjacent to the base came into the cross hairs in the center of the screen and was tracked as it headed south along the desert road. When the S.U.V. drove out of the picture, the drone began following another car.

“Wait, you guys practice tracking enemies by using civilian cars?” a reporter asked. One Air Force officer responded that this was only a training mission, and then the group was quickly hustled out of the room.

Good practice for the real thing right here at home.

Drone strike kills 19 ahead of US-Pakistan meeting in Tokyo

Air strike is first since Pakistan reopened Nato supply route to Afghanistan and comes just before crucial diplomatic meeting

The death toll from a US drone strike in Pakistan rose to 19 on Saturday, increasing tensions ahead of a meeting between secretary of state Hillary Clinton and her Islamabad counterpart.

Pakistani authorities increased the estimate from an initially reported 12 suspected militants who were killed in the attack in the Dattakhel region in North Waziristan on Friday. [..]

But the use of drones is highly controversial, with a large chunk of the Pakistani public – as well as human rights activists around the world – resenting their use due to the high number of non-military casualties.

Figures from the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism show that CIA drones stuck Pakistan 75 times in 2011, causing up to 655 fatalities.

The majority of those killed were alleged militants, but as many as 126 civilians also have lost their lives, the bureau’s figures suggest.

And just who makes the determination that these people are militants? Based on what “intelligence”? According to the Obama administration any male in the vicinity of an alleged militant is a militant as well. How convenient.  

Meanwhile their killers, pilots sit comfortable, get to go safely home to their families and the US saves money because it’s all done right here in the US.

On This Day In History July 7

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 images to enlarge.

July 7 is the 188th day of the year (189th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 177 days remaining until the end of the year.

The terms 7th July, July 7th, and 7/7 (pronounced “Seven-seven”) have been widely used in the Western media as a shorthand for the 7 July 2005 bombings on London’s transport system. In China, this term is used to denote the Battle of Lugou Bridge started on July 7, 1937, marking the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

On this day in 1898, U.S. President William McKinley signs the Newlands Resolution annexing Hawaii as a territory of the United States.

In 1898 President of the United States William McKinley signed the treaty of annexation for Hawaii, but it failed in the senate after the 38,000 signatures of the Ku’e Petitions were submitted. After the failure Hawaii was annexed by means of joint resolution called the Newlands Resolution.

The Territory of Hawaii, or Hawaii Territory, was a United States organized incorporated territory that existed from July 7, 1898, until August 21, 1959, when its territory, with the exception of Johnston Atoll, was admitted to the Union as the fiftieth U.S. state, the State of Hawaii.

The U.S. Congress passed the Newlands Resolution which annexed the former Kingdom of Hawaii and later Republic of Hawaii to the United States. Hawaii’s territorial history includes a period from 1941 to 1944 – during World War II – when the islands were placed under martial law. Civilian government was dissolved and a military governor was appointed.

Newlands Resolution of 1898

On 7 July 1898, McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution (named after Congressman Francis Newlands) which officially annexed Hawaii to the United States. A formal ceremony was held on the steps of ‘Iolani Palace where the Hawaiian flag was lowered and the American flag raised. Dole was appointed Hawaii’s first territorial governor.

The Newlands Resolution said, “Whereas, the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution, to cede absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America, all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies, and also to cede and transfer to the United States, the absolute fee and ownership of all public, Government, or Crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipment, and all other public property of every kind and description belonging to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining: Therefore, Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That said cession is accepted, ratified, and confirmed, and that the said Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies be, and they are hereby, annexed as a part of the territory of the United States and are subject to the sovereign dominion thereof, and that all and singular the property and rights hereinbefore mentioned are vested in the United States of America.”

The Newlands Resolution established a five-member commission to study which laws were needed in Hawaii. The commission included: Territorial Governor Sanford B. Dole (R-Hawaii Territory), Senators Shelby M. Cullom (R-IL) and John T. Morgan (D-AL), Representative Robert R. Hitt (R-IL) and former Hawaii Chief Justice and later Territorial Governor Walter F. Frear (R-Hawaii Territory). The commission’s final report was submitted to Congress for a debate which lasted over a year. Congress raised objections that establishing an elected territorial government in Hawaii would lead to the admission of a state with a non-white majority.

F1 2012: Silverstone Qualifying

Know much?  Me either.

Silverstone is everybody’s test track, but they haven’t done much.

The weekend is going to be Wet, Dry, Wet which means the only time they’ll get with the drys (Hard and Medium) is P3 and Qualifying.  It will be a challenge to see how they balance the chassis setup between Qualfying (dry) and Racing (wet).  Clear vision is a distinct advantage.  Most drivers Friday spent the majority of their time in the garage.  To be fair the place was an ice rink.

They won’t be using drys tomorrow though they could run out of Wets and Inters.  I wonder if someone will try to spare his Mediums?

Debrief was all rain games, spins, and blooper reels.  They did mention that negotiations on the new racing agreements are not going well which is amazingly reality based for them.

Guess they ran out of everything else.

Renault has no idea what is wrong with their alternators.  Test driver Maria de Villota of Marussia lost her right eye in a crash.

Coverage starts at 8 am on Speed.  Tomorrow the race is tape delayed until noon on Faux so I’ll have to use the same tricks I used for Valencia.  I’ll mostly be watching this today though because nothing important ever happens in the first 90 minutes of Le Tour.  It’s like Turn Left that way.

2012 Le Tour – Stage 7

Tomblaine / La Planche des Belles Filles (123.7 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

So Le Tour has 2 dual stage winners, Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel  Take that Formula One.

Also plenty of flaming chunks of twisted metal which is why Sprinters can’t be trusted.

On the other hand you can’t say that among the front runners they’ve had much material effect.  Of the “name” dark horses Frank Schleck has been hurt the worst, losing 2:02 by getting involved in yesterday’s 26 km crash.  Mark Cavendish lost a similar amount, but he’s a Sprinter so his total time doesn’t matter as much.

Alessandro Valverde, Pierre Rolland, Robert Gesink and Janez Brajkovic lost over 2:30 each.  Thomas Voeckler and Ryder Hesjedal much more.

Wouter Poels, Thomas Danielson, Davide Vigano, and Mikel Astarloza are already withdrawn, many people are pretty beat up.

The good news is that today we have a nice, safe, sane Mountain stage where the all-rounder GC contenders may be able to put on a move or two.  There are two category 3s and a category 1.  The Points award is just before the first peak.

General Classification

Place Rider Team Time/Delta

Today and Sunday 8 am live coverage will be on NBC proper.  Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 8 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Pretty tables-

Popular Culture 20120706: The Hateful American Family Association (With Poll!)

I am not ready to start a new, long series about music just yet, so tonight we shall discuss the hate filled, venom spitting American Family Association (AFA).  This is one of the most conservative, evangelical groups that exists and qualifies as being termed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I go back a very long time with the AFA.  When I lived in Arkansas, their radio stations were everywhere (as they are now) and they had also started a website, afa.net.  They also run a radical news organization, onenewsnow.com (ONN).  It is interesting that this could be pronounced either “one news now”, or “one new snow”.  I like the latter better because their “articles” are a big snow job for the most part.  It is ironic that ONN is also the acronym for Onion News Network, and their stories are often more realistic that the AFA ones are.  I commented on some of their news articles and drew the wrath of the son of the founder.  I wish I still had the emails that he sent me; they were mean spirited and nasty.

Before we get very far into this, let me make my philosophy clear.  I am not a believer in any religion, but I am not one of those “evangelical atheists” who want to make it difficult for believers.  I just do not think that public funds should be expended to promote any religion, regardless of what the particular religion is.  Likewise, I do not think that public funds should be expended to suppress any religion.  I am a live and let live sort of person, unless someone threatens me or my loved ones.  The AFA, in my estimate, threatens all of us who do not agree with them.