01/19/2013 archive

Random Japan

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JR West announced plans to build Japan’s largest railway museum in Kyoto’s Umekoji Park. The 18,800m2 space, which will house as many as 50 exhibits, is expected to cost ¥7 billion.

JTB Corp. says that it expects 18.7 million Japanese to travel abroad in 2013-a record high.

A Kyoto University-led project that produced “eggs from artificially derived multipurpose stem cells” was selected by the prestigious US journal Science as one of the top 10 scientific breakthroughs in 2012.

Headline of the Week: “115-yr-old Kimura Doesn’t Sweat the Small Stuff” (via The Yomiuri Shimbun)

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

Healthy Comforting Food: Warm Skillet Salads

Warm Wild Rice Broccoli and Walnut Salad

“Comforting” isn’t a word I usually associate with salads, but this week I put together five grain salads that fit that bill. Over the years I have developed a number of delicious whole grain salads that combine various grains with vegetables, herbs and often nuts, tossed in a tangy dressing. I have also married many a grain and vegetable in a pilaf. I decided to bring both concepts together in hearty salads that I’m calling “skillet salads;” each one is heated through in a skillet just before serving.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Skillet Wild Rice, Walnut and Broccoli Salad

Broccoli flowers catch the nutty, lemony dressing in this winter salad.

Skillet Soba, Baked Tofu and Green Bean Salad With Spicy Dressing

The nutty flavor of buckwheat soba noodles makes for a delicious salad.

Warm Millet, Carrot and Kale Salad With Curry-Scented Dressing

Millet can be tricky to cook, but if you are careful, you will be rewarded with a fluffy and delicious salad.

Skillet Beet and Farro Salad

This hearty winter salad can be a meal or a side dish, and warming it in the skillet makes it particularly comforting.

Skillet Brown Rice, Barley or Triticale Salad With Mushrooms and Endive

Triticale is a hybrid grain made from wheat and rye, but any hearty grain would work in this salad.

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

Robert Sheer: Another Word for Propaganda

Why aren’t film director Kathryn Bigelow’s claimed government sources, including employees of the CIA, in jail like Pfc. Bradley Manning? Or, at the very least, being investigated for their role in one of the most damaging leaks of national security information in U.S. history?

How did the Japanese-owned Sony Corporation that released Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” gain access to information on the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, so highly classified that it was denied to the official 9/11 Commission that investigated the terrorist attacks? The opening frame of the movie states the crime, clearly claiming that “Zero” is “based on firsthand accounts of actual events.” [..]

The few brave whistle-blowers in our government who have attempted to warn us of this dangerous course, like Manning, who is accused of exposing the killing of innocent Iraqi civilians, have endured harsh punishment and been threatened with even greater penalties. Not so the eyewitnesses on whom Bigelow relied for her film’s knee-jerk acceptance of a U.S. torture policy.

Robert Pollin: A Modest Proposal for Jacob Lew: Acknowledge Three Simple Facts about U.S. Fiscal Reality

In a reasonable world, in which we recognized the culpability of big-time D.C. politicians and bureaucrats who allowed Wall Street hyper-speculation to run wild and eventually cause the 2008-09 crash and Great Recession, Jacob Lew would be understood as a terrible choice as President Obama’s second-term Treasury Secretary, replacing Timothy Geithner. [..]

It is clear that debate over the fiscal deficit and austerity will dominate Lew’s confirmation hearings and at least his initial period in office, if he ends up getting confirmed. But without pursuing any deep explorations about who should be taxed more or less, or whether 47 percent of U.S. citizens are indeed freeloaders, I would just propose that Lew be willing to recognize three sets of very simple, irrefutable facts about the current U.S. fiscal condition. [..]

Robert Jensen: Torture Is Trivial

Compared to its other crimes, that is

The great American torture debate has been rekindled by the nationwide release of “Zero Dark Thirty,” the hot new movie about the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden.

But all the fussing over whether or not the movie condones, glorifies, and/or misrepresents torture is trivial, because the United States’ use of torture after 9/11 is trivial in the context of larger U.S. crimes.

Let me be clear: I don’t support torture. I think torture is immoral. I think government officials who ordered or condoned torture should be held accountable. Torture crosses a line that should not be crossed.

But when I look at the decade since 9/11, torture is hardly the greatest crime of the U.S. war machine. Since 9/11, the United States has helped destroy two countries with, at best, sketchy moral and legal justification. The invasion of Afghanistan was connected to the crimes of 9/11, at least at first, but quickly devolved into a nonsensical occupation. The invasion of Iraq, which was clearly illegal, was a scandal of unprecedented scale, even by the standards of past U.S. invasions and covert operations.

Terry O’Neill: 40 Years After Roe v. Wade, We Still Fall Short of Reproductive Justice

Access to abortion care is a necessary part of reproductive healthcare, but not the totality of it

Forty years ago this month, the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States, forever changing and literally saving the lives of countless women. The impact of Roe has been both inspiring and frustratingly insufficient. [..]

Conservatives have already signaled that they’ll try to distract voters from issues like abortion and birth control. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell waited until the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s to sign a law imposing impossible and unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics, thus forcing their closure. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told the Republican Governors Association that conservatives shouldn’t change their hardline agenda, just the way they talk about it. The last thing they want in 2014 is for voters to become knowledgeable about their social agenda and energized to defeat them.

David Sirota: Gun control doesn’t violate the Second Amendment!

How can we address gun violence when the mere discussion of legislation is met with threats of armed revolt?

How is a U.S. Constitution enshrining a baseline right to bear arms for a “well regulated militia” now seen by many as mandating that firearms be sold in completely unregulated fashion to any lunatic looking to stockpile a military-grade arsenal of assault weapons?

If, as gun proponents typically assert, the Second Amendment is absolute and we therefore cannot regulate, say, assault rifles, does the government have the right to regulate any other weapons? Should, for instance, citizens be able to own automatic machine guns? What about hand-held rocket launchers – is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia right to suggest that they might be constitutionally protected? What about an individual right to own an armed flying drone?

Alternately, if we agree that some lines can be drawn, then doesn’t today’s gun control conversation represent a simple disagreement over where exactly to place those lines rather than a Stalinist assault on the basic right to own a gun?

Michael Winsip: Corporate Party Favors at the Inaugural Shindig

Four years ago, the committee for President Obama’s first swearing-in proudly announced that no corporate cash would be accepted for the festivities, presenting the decision as “a commitment to change business as usual in Washington.” Nor was money taken from registered lobbyists and foreign agents, non-U.S. citizens or political action committees. What’s more, individual contributions were capped at $50,000.

This year, there’s a new attitude and a new push for dollars — the goal is set at $50 million. The rules against lobbyists, PACs and non-citizens are still in effect, but now, contributions of as much as a million are being solicited from individuals as well as businesses (although you’re banned from giving if you received taxpayer bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program — TARP — and haven’t paid it back!).

Why I hate to fly

Part 213-

Why Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was a nightmare waiting to happen

Dominic Rushe, The Guardian

Friday 18 January 2013 11.51 EST

The 787 was pitched as the airline of the future – a revolutionary plane that that would use new technology to bring aircraft design into the 21st century. The Dreamliner is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic composite. More radically still, pneumatic and hydraulic systems have been ditched for electric systems.

Outsourcing parts led to three years of delays. Parts didn’t fit together properly. Shims used to bridge small parts weren’t attached correctly. Many aircraft had to have their tails extensively reworked. The company ended up buying some suppliers, to take their business back in house. All new projects, especially ones as ambitious as the Dreamliner, face teething issues but the 787’s woes continued to mount. Unions blame the company’s reliance on outsourcing.

Arguably, it is not just Boeing’s fault that the Dreamliner wasn’t ready. Boeing is a powerful force in Washington.

(T)he Dreamliner was passed under a very compressed schedule, said Mann. “And there was an electrical failure and an emergency landing during the test-flight programme,” he said. “That was blamed on a ‘foreign object’.”

Mann said the FAA’s mandate changed under administrator Marion Blakey, appointed by president George W Bush in 2008 as Boeing was working on the Dreamliner. “Blakey saw the FAA as a ‘customer services organisation,'” said Mann. The FAA was working with the airlines to cut regulation, not to impose it, he said.

One step ahead of the law.

Fed official alleges Geithner may have alerted banks to rate cut

By Alister Bull, Reuters

Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:28am EST

In the summer of 2007, as storm clouds gathered over the world’s financial system, then-New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner allegedly informed the Bank of America and other banks about the possibility the U.S. central bank would lower one of its critical interest rates, according to a senior Fed official.

According to transcripts of the call released by the Fed on Friday, Geithner at the time denied that banks knew the Fed was considering cutting the discount rate.

Private disclosure of confidential, market-sensitive information by the central bank would be highly unusual, but it was not immediately clear if it would be illegal. It also was not clear if strict Fed internal rules governing confidential information would have been breached, or whether any internal or external investigation was mounted.

Not that I expect an orange jumpsuit, but clearly there should be (h/t Atrios).

On This Day In History January 19

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.

January 19 is the 19th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 346 days remaining until the end of the year (347 in leap years).

On this day in 1853, Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Il Trovatore receives its premiere performance in Rome.

Il trovatore (The Troubadour) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El Trovador (1836) by Antonio Garcia Gutierrez. Cammarano died in mid-1852 before completing the libretto. This gave the composer the opportunity to propose significant revisions, which were accomplished under his direction by the young librettist, Leone Emanuele Bardare, and they are seen largely in the expansion of the role of Leonora.

The opera was first performed at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, on 19 January 1853 where it “began a victorious march throughout the operatic world”. Today it is given very frequently and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. It appears at number 17 on Opera America‘s list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.

Cultural references

Enrico Caruso once said that all it takes for successful performance of Il trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world. On many different occasions, this opera and its music have been featured in various forms of popular culture and entertainment. Scenes of comic chaos play out over a performance of Il trovatore in the Marx Brothers‘s film, A Night at the Opera. Luchino Visconti used a performance of Il trovatore at La Fenice opera house for the opening sequence of his 1954 film Senso. As Manrico sings his battle cry in “Di quella pira”, the performance is interrupted by the answering cries of Italian nationalists in the audience. In Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism, Millicent Marcus proposes that Visconti used this operatic paradigm throughout Senso, with parallels between the opera’s protagonists, Manrico and Leonora, and the film’s protagonists, Ussoni and Livia.

Anvil Chorus Il Trovatore Preston Opera