Daily Archive: 04/20/2013

Apr 20 2013

Random Japan

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A blind Japanese acupuncturist who lives in San Diego is attempting to become the first sightless man to sail across the Pacific Ocean.

A research team led by scientists at the University of Tokyo say they may have found “a clue for developing drugs to kill multidrug-resistant bacteria.”

Researchers at the National Cancer Center recommend consuming 20 grams of saturated fatty acid daily to ward off strokes and heart attacks. That’s equivalent to “200 grams of milk a day and 150 grams of meat every other day.”

Headline of the Week: “Cat and Bird Corpses Left on Store Escalator Again” (via Mainichi Japan)

Apr 20 2013

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

Rice, No Bowl Needed

Beet abd Rice Gratin photo BeetandRiceGratin_zps2d41cdfe.jpg

I’ve always been a big promoter of brown rice, and I was happily testing recipes last week for short-, medium- and long-grain varieties when I remembered that there had been reports in the past year about dangerous arsenic levels in rice, particularly in brown rice. I thought about shelving the recipe tests and choosing another subject for this week’s Recipes for Health, but then I decided to take a closer look at the reports to see if there was a way to make rice viable for health-conscious rice lovers.

The study and report, both by Consumer Reports, are disturbing. It is clear that the levels of inorganic arsenic in rice and rice products are high, and that we and especially children, babies and pregnant women should limit our intake of rice and rice products such as cereals, rice cakes and rice beverages. Rice cereal for babies should not be the go-to baby food that it has been for years.

The better news is that the extensive testing by the Consumers Union of many brands of rice and rice products shows that some products are considerably lower in arsenic than others.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Beet Greens and Rice Gratin

This Mediterranean-style dish is delicious hot or cold.

Beet Green, Rice and Ricotta Blinis

These are chunkier than pancakes because of the rice, but they are more cake than fritter.

Chard Leaves Stuffed With Rice and Herbs

The chard stems are not wasted, adding texture to the flavorful filling for these rolls.

Frittata With Brown Rice, Peas and Pea Shoots

The nutty rice makes this seasonal frittata especially substantial.

Stir-Fried Brown Rice With Kale or Frizzy Mustard Greens and Tofu

This recipe showcases some unusual greens, but plain kale makes a fine substitute.

Apr 20 2013

Marathon Suspect in Custody, Not Mirandized

The second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday was taken into custody last night in Watertown, MA. Nineteen year old  Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, was found hiding in a tarp covered boat in a backyard shortly after the “stay in place” order was lifted. He was bleeding heavily from gunshot wounds to the neck and leg. He is listed in serious condition in  Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, the same hospital where several of the bombing victims are recovering and his brother, Tamerlan, died of his wounds.

Boston Police commissioner, Edward Davis, thanked all who had helped in the manhunt stating, “It’s a proud day to be a Boston police officer.” Crowds lined the streets near the site of the capture, cheering the officers and other first responders as they left the scene. Crowds of relieved Bostonians gathered in the Commons chanting “USA” and “Boston” and waving American flags.

This morning, there has been no further word on Dzhokhar’s condition. The FBI has stated that he has not been read his Miranda rights at this time, citing the so-called public safety exception. Dzhokhar is a naturalized American citizen from Chechnya. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Dzhokhar should not be read his Miranda rights and should be questioned for “intelligence purposes.”

“It is clear the events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens and terrorize a major American city,” McCain and Graham said late Friday in a joint statement. “The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise, but terrorist trying to injure, maim, and kill innocent Americans.” [..]

“We need to know about any possible future attacks which could take additional American lives,” they said. “The least of our worries is a criminal trial which will likely be held years from now.”

Constitution? What Constitution? Joseph Stalin would have loved these two.

Constitutional lawyer and columnist for The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald explains the “public safety” exemption:

(T)he Obama DOJ exploited and radically expanded the very narrow “public safety” exception to Miranda, which was first created in 1984 by the more conservative Supreme Court justices in New York v. Quarles, over the vehement dissent of its liberal members (Brennan, Marshall and Stevens, along with O’Connor). The Quarles court held that where police officers took a very brief period to ask focused questions necessary to stop an imminent threat to public safety without first Mirandizing the suspect, the answers under those circumstances would be admissible (in Quarles, the police apprehended a rape suspect and simply asked where his gun was before reading him his rights, and the court held that the defendant’s pre-Miranda answer – “over there” – was admissible).

The Court’s liberals, led by Justice Thurgood Marshall, warned that this exception would dilute Miranda and ensure abuse. This exception, wrote Marshall, “condemns the American judiciary to a new era of post hoc inquiry into the propriety of custodial interrogations” and “endorse[s] the introduction of coerced self-incriminating statements in criminal prosecutions”. Moreover, he wrote, the “public-safety exception destroys forever the clarity of Miranda for both law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary” and said the court’s decision “cannot mask what a serious loss the administration of justice has incurred”.

As Marshall noted, the police have always had the power to question a suspect about imminent threats without Mirandizing him; indeed, they are free to question suspects about anything without first reading them their Miranda rights. But pre-Miranda statements were not admissible, could not be used to prosecute the person. This new 1984 “public safety” exception to that long-standing rule, Marshall said, guts the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that one will not be compelled to incriminate oneself. As he put it: “were constitutional adjudication always conducted in such an ad hoc manner, the Bill of Rights would be a most unreliable protector of individual liberties.”

As controversial as this exception was from the start (and as hated as it was among traditional, actual liberals), it was at least narrowly confined. But the Obama DOJ in 2011 wildly expanded this exception for terrorism suspects. The Obama DOJ’s Memorandum (issued in secret, of course, but then leaked) cited what it called “the magnitude and complexity of the threat often posed by terrorist organizations” in order to claim “a significantly more extensive public safety interrogation without Miranda warnings than would be permissible in an ordinary criminal case”. It expressly went beyond the “public safety” exception established by the Supreme Court to arrogate unto itself the power to question suspects about other matters without reading them their rights (emphasis added):

   “There may be exceptional cases in which, although all relevant public safety questions have been asked, agents nonetheless conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat, and that the government’s interest in obtaining this intelligence outweighs the disadvantages of proceeding with unwarned interrogation.”

That is what Graham advocated regarding Miranda: that Tsarnaev be interrogated about intelligence matters without Mirandizing him, and that’s exactly what Obama DOJ policy – two years ago – already approved. Worse, as (Emily) Bazelon noted: “Who gets to make this determination? The FBI, in consultation with DoJ, if possible. In other words, the police and the prosecutors, with no one to check their power.” At the time, the ACLU made clear how menacing was the Obama DOJ’s attempted roll-back of Miranda rights for terror suspects.

Constitution? What Constitution? Good work, Barack.

Apr 20 2013

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

John Nichols: Paul Ryan’s Austerity Agenda Relies on Bad Math, Coding Errors and a ‘Significant Mistake’

Paul Ryan’s numbers are wrong.

Really wrong.

As in: his most urgent argument on behalf of painful cuts to federal programs and the denial of new funding for job creation, education, healthcare and infrastructure repair is based on a coding error.

The paper the House Budget Committee chairman has used as the intellectual and statistical underpinning for his austerity agenda has been significantly discredited by the revelation that essential data was excluded from the study, leading “to serious errors that inaccurately represent the relationship between public debt and growth.”[..]

Now, the question is whether Ryan and conservative proponents of austerity will acknowledge that they have built their arguments on a false premise. The same goes for the media pundits-including many liberals-who prattle on about the need for painful cuts in government spending. And for Democratic politicians who have accepted elements of the austerity agenda as “necessary.”

Glen Ford: The Big Nausea: Waking Up With an Obama-Ache

Who will defend the indefensible Obama? Answer: There will be fewer and fewer Obamapologists, as each day passes. “For the monumentally dysfunctional Black Misleadership Class, the winding down of the Age of Obama is cause for frantic repositioning, and for the revising of their own histories.”

The Obama Hangover has begun. The drunken delirium that descended on Black America after the pale Democratic caucuses of Iowa endorsed a brown-skinned corporatist just after New Years Day, 2008 – conveying white “viability” on a Great Black Hope – is definitively over. It’s the morning-after in Black America, a scene of economic and political ruin bathed in the searing daylight of Obama’s second term and umpteenth betrayal.

Michelle Chen: Cutting the Budget, Bleeding Us Dry

If you feel like that recovery we keep hearing about hasn’t quite trickled down to your block, there’s a good reason. A huge swath of the country’s workers are out of sync with the economic cycle, continually falling further behind the rich. And, now Obama’s proposed budget may hinder them even more.

According to a new multi-year study by Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, many families are priced out of “recovery” for reasons that long predated the recession and will persist indefinitely even as the economy “bounces back.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel: How to Beat the Gun Lobby

The Senate’s defeat of common sense gun reforms made Wednesday a dark day-for sensible legislation, and for American democracy. The failure of an already-watered down background check compromise (55 senators backed reform; 45 sided with the NRA) revealed stunning political cowardice. And it illuminated once again the ugly fault lines of our corroded democracy-from the power of special and moneyed interests, to the stranglehold of small state bias (consider North Dakota, whose Democratic and Republican senators both sided with the NRA: the state gets one-fiftieth of our senators, despite having just over one five-hundredth of our population).

If the nation’s laws fail to represent the views of the overwhelming majority of its people, representative democracy becomes an unsustainable exercise. Yesterday’s vote-which too many media outlets casually and uncritically reported would “require sixty votes to pass”-showed how badly Democratic leaders miscalculated by not standing strong for true filibuster reform, and how urgent it is to take up that cause again. The 111th Congress saw more filibusters than the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s combined.

Robert Reich: The Dis-Uniting of America (2): Social Issues and the Demographic Split

My first reaction on hearing of the Senate’s failure to get 60 votes for even modest measures to regulate the flow of guns into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, such as background checks supported by 90 percent of Americans, was to be furious at the spinelessness of the four Senate Democrats who voted against the measure (Mark Begich, Max Baucus, Mark Pryor, and Heidi Heitkamp), as well as the Republicans. And also with Harry Reid, who wouldn’t lead the fight on changing the filibuster rule when he had the chance.

The deeper message here is that rural, older, white America occupies one land; younger, urban, increasingly non-white America lives in another. And the dividing line on social issues (not just guns, but also abortion, equal marriage rights, and immigration reform) runs between the two.

Ana Marie Cox: It’s Not NRA Dollars That Are Blocking Gun Control. It’s the NRA’s Narrative

Of all the senators who attempted Wednesday to rally support for the doomed Manchin-Toomey background check amendment, Connecticut’s Democratic freshman representative, Chris Murphy, probably faced the greatest temptation to borrow the moral authority of the Newtown families. They are his constituents and many were present in the chamber.

He’s young – the youngest sitting senator, actually – and an early Obama supporter, given to occasional bouts of (understandably) overwrought emotional rhetoric. During his very first floor speech as a senator last week, which itself took on gun legislation, he read the names of the Newtown victims – and some of the 3,000 other victims of gun violence since 14 December – into the congressional record.

Apr 20 2013

On This Day In History April 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.

April 20 is the 110th day of the year (111th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 255 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1939, Billie Holiday records the first Civil Rights song “Strange Fruit”.

“Strange Fruit” was written by the teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem, it condemned American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had occurred chiefly in the South but also in all other regions of the United States. He set it to music and with his wife and the singer Laura Duncan, performed it as a protest song in New York venues, including Madison Square Garden.

The song has been covered by numerous artists, as well as inspiring novels, other poems and other creative works. In 1978 Holiday’s version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In the poem, Meeropol expressed his horror at lynchings, possibly after having seen Lawrence Beitler‘s photograph of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He published the poem in 1936 in The New York Teacher, a union magazine. Though Meeropol/Allan had often asked others (notably Earl Robinson) to set his poems to music, he set “Strange Fruit” to music himself. The piece gained a certain success as a protest song in and around New York. Meeropol, his wife, and black vocalist Laura Duncan performed it at Madison Square Garden. (Meeropol and his wife later adopted Robert and Michael, sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of espionage and executed by the United States.)

Barney Josephson, the founder of Cafe Society in Greenwich Village, New York’s first integrated nightclub, heard the song and introduced it to Billie Holiday. Other reports say that Robert Gordon, who was directing Billie Holiday’s show at Cafe Society, heard the song at Madison Square Garden and introduced it to her. Holiday first performed the song at Cafe Society in 1939. She said that singing it made her fearful of retaliation, but because its imagery reminded her of her father, she continued to sing it. She made the piece a regular part of her live performances. Because of the poignancy of the song, Josephson drew up some rules: Holiday would close with it; second, the waiters would stop all service in advance; the room would be in darkness except for a spotlight on Holiday’s face; and there would be no encore.

Holiday approached her recording label, Columbia, about the song, but the company feared reaction by record retailers in the South, as well as negative reaction from affiliates of its co-owned radio network, CBS. Even John Hammond, Holiday’s producer, refused. She turned to friend Milt Gabler, whose Commodore label produced alternative jazz. Holiday sang “Strange Fruit” for him a cappella, and moved him to tears. Columbia allowed Holiday a one-session release from her contract in order to record it. Frankie Newton’s eight-piece Cafe Society Band was used for the session. Because he was worried that the song was too short, Gabler asked pianist Sonny White to improvise an introduction. Consequently Holiday doesn’t start singing until after 70 seconds. Gabler worked out a special arrangement with Vocalion Records to record and distribute the song.

She recorded two major sessions at Commodore, one in 1939 and one in 1944. “Strange Fruit” was highly regarded. In time, it became Holiday’s biggest-selling record. Though the song became a staple of her live performances, Holiday’s accompanist Bobby Tucker recalled that Holiday would break down every time after she sang it

   Strange Fruit

   Southern trees bear strange fruit,

   Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

   Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,

   Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

   Pastoral scene of the gallant South,

   The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

   Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,

   Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!

   Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,

   For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

   For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop,

   Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Apr 20 2013

Formula One 2013: Sakhir Qualifying

It may seem to the casual observer that Bahrain is surprisingly quiet this year.

The political problems have not ceased, however, and Bahrain remains in the thick of its social upheaval. Negotiations between the government and the opposition began again in February, and the move in March to appoint Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa as first deputy prime minister was seen as a way to improve the negotiations, as he is considered to be a softer, more open man than his more hard-line father, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

The opposition, meanwhile, is staging a series of peaceful demonstrations during the race weekend this year.

“These demonstrations show that the movement continues and the demands have not been met yet,” Khalil al-Marzouq, a leader of the main opposition group Wefaq, told Reuters on Wednesday. “Obviously, the presence of the media for the Formula One helps shed the spotlight on Bahrain.”

Bernie has been doing his unctuous best to try and pretend that he cares about anything except money-

Bernie Ecclestone has offered to speak with protesters in Bahrain this week as Formula One prepares for the most controversial race of the year.

“I’m happy to talk to anybody about this, as I did before.

“We don’t want to see trouble. We don’t want to see people arguing and fighting about things we don’t understand, because we really don’t understand. We don’t want to see people repressed as a result of the race.

“Some people feel it’s our fault there are problems. We are extremely sympathetic to them. Don’t forget, I was the one, when we had apartheid in South Africa, who pulled the race.”

Bahrain is worth £40m a year to F1, which is why the sport is loath to leave.

“I spoke to the people that represent the protesters [last year]. I met them in London and Bahrain and had a chat. And I spoke to the people we deal with, and it was really difficult to decide who is right and who is wrong. When you talk to the people that represent the protesters, that person is a very sensible, down-to-earth person, and understands what I’ve just said, that both sides may be wrong.

“You are always going to get people who are going to try and take advantage of any situation. If you are going to do something you might as well do it when there is a lot of worldwide TV there.

“I have sympathy with both sides of the argument. I wish they could sort things out. If there are any problems, which there are obviously – people are not making trouble if there are no problems – then they could get it sorted out.

“Whether they have or not, I don’t know, but you will always get people that will want to make riots anyway.”

“I don’t think the people who are arguing about their position are bad people, and I don’t think they’re trying to hurt people to make their point.

“We’ve had all sorts of protesters – look at those complaining about Mrs Thatcher. This happens all the time. People use these things when there is an opportunity.”

He added: ” The big problem is you have a set of people who want to have more of a say in the way there country is being run.

“It’s probably like our country, England, there are sectors there who sees things the other side are doing wrong and they would like things done their way. It happens worldwide.

I said to them [protesters] if you are going to achieve what you are trying to achieve, which is having control of the country, you are better off having control when the country is strong and respected worldwide than capture something nobody wants.

“Who wants to capture Syria at the moment? It’s not a big thing to have. It’s a liability not an asset. It’s the same with Bahrain. If they can get to grips with it, and get more control of a country that is strong, not a country that’s weak.”

But while Bernie has been going la la la, I can’t hear you and the toadies in the Sporting Media have been typically silent, what’s really been happening is brutal suppression.

Last year most teams stayed in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, and had to make a 20 mile trip to the track each day.  This year the teams are housed in a hotel steps from the paddock and are in virtual "voluntary" lockdown.  No Force India Molotovs this year.

Also, just like last year, independent journalists have been denied visas or ejected lest they report on things like this-

Bahrain protests to be stepped up before grand prix, says rights group

(P)ro-democracy protesters opposed to Sunday’s race have also been frustrated by increased security measures which have driven them out of the capital, Manama. Shehabi said: “There was a blanket ban on all protests after last year’s grand prix. People have been forced underground now. Protesters have been pushed to parts of small villages where they can’t be heard or seen. As long as you’re not seen or heard by anyone it’s OK.

“There is a continuation of government repression. We haven’t seen justice or accountability for the F1 staff who were sacked and arrested and tortured in 2011. They were tortured at the circuit itself.”

Said Yousif, spokesman for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said: “There has been a government crackdown here and it started two weeks ago, especially in the villages close to the F1 track, and 65 people have been arrested. Leaders have been beaten and tortured before being released, so everyone can see the marks of beating and torture. Houses have been razed in different villages. Tear gas has been used at close range. No one has died, as happened last year, but the crackdown has continued. I was in jail for a month three months ago just because I tweeted an injury in the capital.”

For make no mistake, protests are continuing.

Bahrain protests grow as Bernie Ecclestone considers city for F1 start

As tension built here on Friday, with an estimated 10,000 pro-democracy demonstrators gathering at Budaiya Highway in the afternoon and more serious trouble expected overnight, Ecclestone’s stance could be seen as provocative.

Around the Sakhir circuit itself, there was tight and vigilant security and those travelling here had to negotiate widespread road blocks. There were hundreds of police on view and police cars and armoured vehicles were even more in evidence than they were last year. Early in the afternoon a long plume of smoke could be seen a few miles from the circuit. As another security measure, everyone has been photographed on the way to the track.

According to sections of the Italian media, the Ferrari team were told to remain in their hotel at night, although this was denied by a spokesman, who said: “Everyone has just been told to be careful.” Nonetheless, more teams are staying in a trackside hotel to avoid driving through the capital, Manama, as many of them did last year.

Those who did drive back to Manama on Thursday evening went down a highway which separated demonstrators from the police, who looked to be firing tear gas. The Gulf Daily news carried a report of rioters blocking roads and attacking police as violence escalated on Thursday evening, with a Molotov cocktail attack on Sitra police station. Another report highlighted an attack on Tubli Primary School for Boys, with disruption caused by locking the gates with chains.

Meanwhile, the British government has upgraded its warning to visitors to Bahrain, telling them to avoid large crowds and demonstrations and Bahraini nationals have been advised to avoid villages and financial districts following last Sunday’s explosion at the Bahrain Financial Harbour, where a gas cylinder was detonated inside a stolen car.

Which I reported on here.

Protests held in Bahrain ahead of Formula One

Thousands of Bahrainis have demonstrated near the capital, Manama, urging democratic reforms, part of a series of protests planned by the political opposition ahead of next week’s Formula One Grand Prix.

A second opposition group, the February 14 Movement, organised another protest on Thursday night in the village of Khamis that was broken up by police.

Thursday night’s demonstration came as a report by Human Rights Watch said that police have been rounding up pro-democracy activists in bid to head off protests.

Clashes erupted when anti-riot police intervened to disperse the crowd and demonstrators responded with Molotov cocktails, witnesses said.

Human rights groups say a total of 80 people have been killed since February 2011.

Clashes as Bahrain gears up for Grand Prix

Clashes began when supporters of the February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition, a clandestine cyber-group that had called for a “Day of Rage”, tried to march on the former Pearl Square in Manama, the capital.

Police fired tear gas and shotguns to disperse the protesters before they neared the area, witnesses said, but no casualties were reported.

The movement’s supporters – armed with petrol bombs and stones – clashed with police in Shia villages outside Manama and burnt tyres to block main roads, the sources said.

Smoke from burning tire fires which the protesters use as barricades is visible from the track and the road to and from Manama is lined with Police and Military in riot gear.

I reported last week on Damon Hill’s staunch opposition to holding this race at all in which he is joined by curren driver Mark Webber.

Ecclestone, however, has said he is considering returning Bahrain to its ‘Season Opener’ status next year which is attractive to the Bahrainis because the teams arrive a week earlier for additional testing and would further bolster their “Everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you.” case, even though there is a premium fee to be paid to Ecclestone and Formula One Management.

Most teams are lukewarm at the prospect

Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali said: “I don’t think it would be good for Formula One to be involved in the political situation of the country because then there is the risk of being pulled from one side to the other, which is not really what we should do.”

His counterpart at McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh, said: “I think we’re only all qualified to talk about it from a sporting perspective and since Bahrain introduced Formula One to this region, it’s been a great event and a hospitable grand prix to attend,” and Lotus’s Eric Boullier added: “It’s true that we don’t want to be dragged into a political situation. If the promoter, the FIA and the commercial rights holder agree with the decision to race here, we race here.”

Others on the grid though, privately are looking forward to getting the first available flight out on Sunday evening.

Qualifying starts at 7 am on NBCSports with a repeat at 1 am tomorrow.  Also today from Bahrain the start of the GP2 season at 4:30 pm and IndyCar Long Beach Qualifying at 6 pm and 9:30 pm.