06/29/2013 archive

Random Japan

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An NPO in Tokyo has released a DVD for job seekers that details the sleaziness of so-called black corporations-“companies that disregard labor laws, harass employees and overwork them while paying low wages.”

A major pachinko manufacturer was forced to recall about 12,000 pachislot machines because of a “defect that makes it difficult for players to win the jackpot.”

Officials in Shizuoka have released a guidebook that lists “more than 300 Mt Fuji lookalikes across Japan.”

According to a survey by the land ministry, 79.8 percent of Japanese people say they want to own their own home. It’s the first time in 12 years that the figure has dipped under 80 percent.

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

A Cherry Jubilee

Arugula Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad photo sub24recipehealth-articleLarge_zps1abdb1c6.jpg

Fresh cherries, particularly the ubiquitous Bing variety as well as Hartlands and Early Black, which are sold at many farmers’ markets, are very high in anthocyanins, those inflammation-reducing nutrients that are present in many red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables. It’s always a good idea to let cherries dominate our fruit purchases at this time of year, because this is the only time of year when we can get locally grown cherries. And this phytonutrient-rich fruit begins to lose its antioxidant potential soon after it is picked, reports Jo Robinson in the recently published “Eating on the Wild Side.”

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Arugula, Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad

This was inspired by a dish billed as “Cherries and Goat Cheese” on the menu at Westside Tavern in Los Angeles.

Farro Pilaf With Balsamic Cherries

The tart cherries in this grain dish would also be a nice accompaniment to meats.

Purslane Salad With Cherries and Feta

Cherries add a nice contrast to this salad’s Greek flavors.

Cherry and Apricot Clafoutis

Two peak-season fruits collaborate in this classic dessert.

Yogurt Parfaits With Cherries and Pistachios

Yogurt parfaits are easy to make, and they make great desserts and snacks.

NSA: A Billion Calls A Day Stored

Friday night, journalist for The Guardian and constitutional lawyer, Glenn Greenwald appeared via Skype at Socialism Conference in Chicago. He was introduced by investigative journalist for The Nation and author, Jeremy Scahill. Glenn hinted that there is still more to come on the NSA Surveillance scandal and spoke briefly on new technology that would enable the NSA to collect and store a billion calls a day to its repositories:

“It talks about a brand new technology that enables the national security agency to redirect into its own repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day. One billion cell phone calls every single day,” he said.

“But what we’re really talking about here is a localized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency,” Greenwald continued. “It doesn’t mean that they’re listening to every call, it means they’re storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time, and it does mean that they’re collecting millions upon millions upon millions of our phone and email records.”

(my emphasis)

Here is the full video with a lot of cheering of Jeremy and Glenn and some pretty amusing remarks about the White House and media campaign to impugn Glenn.

Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out

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

Bruce A. Dixon: How Complacency, Complicity of Black Misleadership Class Led to Supreme Court Evisceration of the Voting Rights Act

Did the Supreme Court kneecapping of the Voting Rights Act have to happen? Could black leadership have seen it coming and prevented it? Why didn’t they, and what can we do now?

Yesterday’s June 25 Supreme Court ruling tearing the guts out of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be a surprise to nobody. As recently as 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts telegraphed his specific intent to kneecap the Voting Rights Act by invalidating its enforcement formula. [..]

The black political class, which was brought into existence by the voting rights act, has failed to protect its constituency, failed to protect even themselves. They possessed the moral high ground and the political initiative for a generation and squandered it through inattention and inaction.  They spent more time celebrating the victories of the sixties than consolidating them, and we will all pay the price.

We can and must blame neo-segregationist Republican thugs in black robes for doing what they do.. That’s clear, cut and dry. But a large share of the blame in this week’s kneecapping of the Voting Rights Act also belongs to our lazy and complacent black political establishment, our black misleadership class, who lacked the vision to see this coming, or the courageous leadership to avoid it, or in most cases both.

Les Leopold: Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World… We’re Ranked 27th!

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet’s riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that’s what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it’s a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Richard Reeves: A Most Political and Activist Court

The week’s judicial work, however, leads to the question of which way the Supreme Court is looking and how the nine justices are using their enormous power, some of it unchecked even by public needs and wishes. The Tuesday decision to gut the Voting Rights Act takes the country back to some of our worst instincts: the tyranny of the majority, the oppression of minorities.

At least five of the nine claim just the opposite but are, in fact, “activist judges.” This time, in overruling history, precedent and laws, the “conservatives” decided that Congress is using old data in making sure all citizens get a fair shot at voting. That is certainly arguable, but it is a matter of public policy, not constitutional law. And public policy is the business of the public, their representatives in Congress and in the White House. A reader named Andrew Weiss wrote this to the Los Angeles Times:

“We have more proof that these nine judges are indeed partisan,” he wrote. “Whatever happened to doing the right thing? … It’s time put an end to the fantasy that the court isn’t just a nine-member legislative body.”

Mark Weisbrot: Obama retreats on Snowden

In his videotaped interview with journalist Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden said that “the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies” (like the CIA) were so formidable that “[n]o one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they’ll get you in time.”

That remains to be seen. On Wednesday President Obama beat a hasty retreat from his global public relations and diplomatic, and political campaign against Snowden. It was quite an amazing, if implicit, admission of defeat. Here was the president of the world’s most powerful nation, with the world’s most influential media outlets having rallied to his cause, now quietly trying to lower the profile of an issue that his own government had elevated to one of the biggest stories in the world.

Ralph Nader: The Duty of Lawyers

What happens when the rule of law increasingly bows to the whims and violations of unaccountable public officials?

In the United States, we are seeing the rule of law eroded by those at the top levels of our government. We are witnessing the dismantling of the guiding principles of justice and the rule of law. Our legal system has been gamed to preferentially serve the needs of the few rather than those of the many.

The rule of law should be a persistent guard against — rather than an instrument of — unfair advantage or injustice for those with power, money and influence.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: “Believe It or Not!”13 Mindblowing Facts About America’s Tax-Dodging Corporations

A judicious writer avoids adjectives like “mindblowing,” especially when covering political or economic issues. But no other word seems to describe the stunning reality of corporate taxation in modern America, which cries out for the italics-heavy, exclamation-point-driven format made famous by Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Stylistic overkill? Read these thirteen facts and you may change your mind. [..]

It’s all true – and there are many more astonishing facts to be found in the world of corporate taxation. To fix the economy more people will need to learn about them – and demand that they be changed.

The writer and analyst in me wants to apologize for all the italicizing and all those exclamation points. But the American citizen in me wants to shout the truth out for all the world to hear – believe it or not!

On This Day In History June 29

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.

June 29 is the 180th day of the year (181st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 185 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1928, The Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge in Staten Island, New York are both opened.

The Outerbridge Crossing is a cantilever bridge which spans the Arthur Kill. The “Outerbridge”, as it is commonly known, connects Perth Amboy, New Jersey, with the New York City borough of Staten Island and carries NY-440 and NJ-440, each road ending at the respective state border.

The bridge was named for Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge (sometimes pronounced “ooterbridge”) the first chairman of the then-Port of New York Authority and a resident of Staten Island. Rather than call it the “Outerbridge Bridge” the span was labeled a “crossing”, but many New Yorkers and others mistakenly assume the name comes from the fact that it is the most remote bridge in New York City and the southernmost crossing in New York state.

It is a steel cantilever construction, designed by John Alexander Low Waddell and built under the auspices of the Port of New York Authority, now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which currently operates it.

It opened simultaneously with the Goethals Bridge on June 29, 1928. Both spans have similar designs. Neither bridge saw high traffic counts until the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. Traffic counts on both bridges were also depressed due to the effects of the Great Depression and World War II.

The Outerbridge Crossing carried 32,438,000 vehicles (both directions) in 2006, or approximately 90,000 each day. Tolls are collected in the eastbound direction only. In early 2009, the cash toll was $8 for passenger vehicles. Users of E-ZPass pay a toll of $6 during off-peak hours (outside of 6-9 am and 4-7 pm).

In 2003, the Port Authority raised the speed limit for the three inner E-ZPass lanes at the toll plaza from 15 mph to 25 mph, separating these lanes from the rest of the eight-lane toll plaza by a barrier. Two years later, the tollbooths adjacent to the 25 mph E-ZPass lanes were removed and overhead gantries were installed with electronic tag readers to permit E-ZPass vehicles to travel at 45 mph in special high-speed lanes.[9] Motorists using the high-speed E-ZPass lanes cannot use the Page Avenue exit, which is located immediately after the toll plaza.

In recent years, the bridge has undergone numerous repair jobs as a result of the high volume of traffic that crosses the bridge each day.

The Goethals Bridge connects Elizabeth, New Jersey to Staten Island (New York City), near the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, Staten Island, New York over the Arthur Kill. Operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the span was one of the first structures built by the authority. On the New Jersey side it is located 2 exits south of the terminus for the New Jersey Turnpike-Newark Bay Extension. The primary use for this bridge is a connection for New York City to Newark Airport. The bridge has been grandfathered into Interstate 278, and named for Major General George Washington Goethals, who supervised construction of the Panama Canal and was the first consulting engineer of the Port Authority.

A steel truss cantilever design by John Alexander Low Waddell ], who also designed the [Outerbridge Crossing. The bridge is 672 ft (205 m) long central span, 7,109 feet (2,168 m) long in total, 62 feet (19 m) wide, has a clearance of 135 feet (41.1 m) and has four lanes for traffic. The Port Authority had $3 million of state money and raised $14 million in bonds to build the Goethals Bridge and the Outerbridge Crossing; the Goethals bridge construction began on September 1, 1925 and cost $7.2 million. It and the Outerbridge Crossing opened on June 29, 1928. The Goethals Bridge replaced three ferries and is the immediate neighbor of the Arthur Kill Rail Bridge. Its unusual mid-span height was a requirement of the New Jersey ports.

Connecting onto the New Jersey Turnpike, it is one of the main routes for traffic between there and Brooklyn via the Staten Island Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Until the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was completed in 1964 the Goethals Bridge never turned a profit. The same happened to the Outerbridge Crossing. The total traffic in 2002 was 15.68 million vehicles.

Le Tour 2013: Stage 1

100th Running!

Wars and stuff, you know.

It’s going to take me a day or two to acclimate myself to the magnitude of the task and the fact that nobody I know is racing.

Bradley Wiggins, the defending champion, is Sir Not Appearing in this Film.  He dropped out of Giro d’Italia because he was sick and then he got injured.  He’s been replaced by Chris Froome as the “great British hope” (second place finisher in 2012) and it’s unknown at this point if he’ll ever return to professional cycling at all.  Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador are the other names I’m most familiar with among the pre-race favorites.

But more on that as we go along.

In other shocking developments- No Sprint Prolog!  We race in Corsica (French btw, home of Napolean Bonaparte) over 132 miles of flat from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia.  Corsica has the only 2 Departments (States) of Metro France Le Tour has never visited, but they’ll be spending 3 days there before moving to the mainland with the only Team Time Trial in Nice.

Night Time Finish!  You heard that right.  The meaningless parade around the Champs-Élysées will take place under the lights for the first time evah!

From the official site

Running from Saturday June 29th to Sunday July 21th 2013, the 100th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,404 kilometres (2115 miles).

These stages have the following profiles:

  • 7 flat stages
  • 5 hilly stages
  • 6 mountain stages with 4 summit finishes
  • 2 individual time trial stages
  • 1 team time trial stage
  • 2 rest days (I’ll be looking forward to these)

10 new stage towns

Porto-Vecchio, Bastia, Ajaccio, Calvi, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Saint-Gildas-des-Bois, Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, Givors, Chorges, Annecy-Semnoz

The Route!

Today’s Stage is a Sprinter’s course which could leave one of the Speed Demons like Mad Manx Cavendish in the maillot jaune for the first time in a long time.

Guardian Guide to the 100th Tour de France

The New York Times

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

George Carlin: Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life

Warning the video contains strong language that may not be suitable for young children or the work place

George Carlin Somehow Destroyed Rick Perry’s Pro-Life War In 1996

Even from beyond the grave, George Carlin’s message will always be relevant to current events. Take the above clip, for example: Without mentioning him by name, this 1996 clip of Carlin utterly eviscerates Rick Perry and his war on abortion rights by painting a pretty accurate picture of the arguments used by Texas Republicans in their latest reach to massively curb access to women’s clinics in the Lone Star State.

Taken from his HBO special “Back in Town,” Carlin rips apart pro-life conservatives for caring more about life in the womb than after birth:

   “These conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They are all in favor of the unborn, they will do anything for the unborn, but once you’re born, you’re on your own! Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you, they don’t want to hear from you. No neo-natal care, no daycare, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing! If you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re pre-school, you’re fucked.”


“They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don’t like them. They don’t like women. They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a broodmare for the state. You don’t see many of these anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uteruses, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do!”

Friday Night at the Movies

Secret Government: The Constitution In Crisis