07/13/2013 archive

Random Japan

 photo fig-index-01_zpsb0ae2351.gif


A 10-year-old boy fell onto the tracks at Yotsuya station while walking down the platform hunched over his cellphone. The kid was unhurt, but the mishap delayed about 23,000 commuters.

An expert panel appointed by the education ministry has compiled guidelines for high-school coaches advising them against “hitting and kicking” their students, as well as inducing “physical and emotional stress.”

Meanwhile, just 26 percent of junior high school teachers say they feel confident in their ability to “stop bullying if asked for help by students.”

A poll by Osaka Prefecture University has found that just 40 percent of school social workers have proper certification.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness NewsWelcome 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

Apricots to Savor, While You Can

Celebrating Apricots photo recipehealthpromo-tmagArticle_zps4a8a3746.jpg

Apricots are an early summer fruit, and their short season is now. They’re worth buying, for the purposes of both taste and nutrition, only when you can find them ripe. You don’t want them so ripe that they bruise as soon as you put them into a bag – they should be slightly firm to the touch, as apricots ripen from the inside out – but if they were picked green they will have little flavor, and they’ll have that mealy texture that describes a bad apricot.

The fact that 95 percent of the apricots grown in the United States are from California doesn’t mean that you can’t find good ones that were picked at the right time if you live elsewhere. Whole Foods watches the crops carefully and sells all of the terrific varieties, like Blenheims, that we find out here in California in our farmers’ markets. I’m lucky to live in Southern California, where the apricot season is longer than in other parts of the state (mid-May to mid-August; it ends in mid-July in Northern California), so I’ve already had some time to work on this year’s apricot recipes.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Buckwheat Crepes With Roasted Apricots

A delicious combination of earthy/nutty crepes and sweet and tangy apricots.

Apricot Crumble With Oatmeal Topping

A topping prepared ahead of time means this satisfying dessert takes only 20 minutes to bake.

Pan-Cooked Chicken Scaloppine With Spiced Roasted Apricots

Roasted apricots go well with savory dishes like these chicken breasts, or your vegetarian favorite.

Soufflé Omelet With Apricot Sauce

Beaten egg whites keep this Cointreau-spiked dessert omelet light and airy.

Small Apricot Galettes

Simple, rustic tarts show off peak-season fruit.

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

David Dayen: New student loan “fix” is a sham

Congress may claim its latest compromise will lessen your burden – but read the fine print and the truth comes out

or all the talk of Congress supposedly working to “fix” the student loan crisis, it’s actually on the verge of making the battle over the loans’ interest rates worse. A long-term compromise under discussion will allow the government to actually extract more money from borrowers over the long term – while doing nothing to reform the terrible terms of student loans, mitigate the crisis for current borrowers, or fundamentally overhaul the broken system of higher education finance. [..]

The point is that the student loan interest rate was really a tiny speck of the massive amount of work that needs to be done to end this perverse system, where 18-year-olds cannot make sensible plans for their own future without burying themselves in debt with no hope of escape. That Congress managed to botch even the interest rate issue does not bode well for tackling the broader problem. If any good can be drawn from it, however, it’s that a movement of student borrowers, aware of the unfairness of the current system, has been activated. Hopefully they can become loud enough that politicians can no longer avoid them.

New York Times Editorial Board: Missing: The Food Stamp Program

“We’ll get to that later.” That was the dismissive answer of Speaker John Boehner on Thursday, when asked if the House would restore the food stamp program it had just coldly ripped out of the farm bill. “Later,” he said, Republicans will deal with the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. “Later,” maybe, they will think about the needs of 47 million people who can’t afford adequate food, probably by cutting the average daily subsidy of $4.39. [..]

The choice made by the House in cutting apart the farm bill was one of the most brutal, even in the short history of the House’s domination by the Tea Party. Last month, the chamber failed to pass a farm bill that cut $20.5 billion from food stamps because that was still too generous for the most extreme Republican lawmakers. So, in the name of getting something – anything – done, Mr. Boehner decided to push through just the agriculture part of the bill.

Eugene Robinson: Party of No

Self-delusion is a sad spectacle. Watching Republicans convince themselves that killing immigration reform actually helps the GOP is excruciating, and I wish somebody would make it stop.

House Speaker John Boehner’s unruly caucus has been busy convincing itself not to accept or even modify the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate. Rather, it wants to annihilate it. It’s not that these Republicans want a different kind of comprehensive reform, it’s that they don’t want comprehensive reform at all.

Benjamin Todd Jealous: America’s Yawning Racial Wealth Gap

This August marks the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Best remembered for Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the march served as a catalyst for national action on poverty and economic injustice. Though we have seen progress since 1963, the economic component of King’s civil rights agenda remains very much unfinished. Today, the gaping economic disparities between the rich and the rest in the United States are even more pronounced for African-Americans.

Since the 1980s, as inequality has increased dramatically in the United States, there has been a steady increase in the racial wealth divide. Before the Great Recession, middle- and high-income African-Americans saw their levels of wealth stagnate or decrease, while middle- and high-income whites their wealth increase over the last 30 years. Since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007, the gap has only widened. On average, white families have more than $113,000 in wealth, whereas African-Americans have an average of less than $5,700.

David Sirota: How Cash Secretly Rules Surveillance Policy

Have you noticed anything missing in the political discourse about the National Security Agency’s unprecedented mass surveillance? There’s certainly been a robust discussion about the balance between security and liberty, and there’s at least been some conversation about the intelligence community’s potential criminality and constitutional violations. But there have only been veiled, indirect references to how cash undoubtedly tilts the debate against those who challenge the national security state.

Those indirect references have come in stories about Booz Allen Hamilton, the security contractor that employed Edward Snowden. CNN/Money notes that 99 percent of the firm’s multibillion-dollar annual revenues now come from the federal government. Those revenues are part of a larger and growing economic sector within the military-industrial complex – a sector that, according to author Tim Shorrock, is “a $56 billion-a-year industry.”

Ralph Nader: Shame on Walmart!

When one considers Walmart’s company slogan — “Save money. Live better.” — it almost seems as if they are referring to their corporation’s big shareholders — the super-rich Walton family — rather than their employees or the communities they squeeze. After all, Walmart is the same company that has recently made headlines for firing workers for verbally protesting against unfair wages and lack of health care benefits. This situation forces Walmart employees to work second jobs or rely on government assistance to make ends meet.

According to a recent report from the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the low wages provided by a single Walmart store costs taxpayers upwards of $1 million in governmental support for those workers and their dependents. “The report finds that a single 300-employee Wal-Mart Supercenter in Wisconsin may cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee. Wisconsin has 100 Wal-Mart stores, 75 that are Wal-Mart Supercenters.”

On This Day In History July 13

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 13 is the 194th day of the year (195th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 171 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1930, the first two World Cup matches took place simultaneously on 13 July and were won by France and USA, who defeated Mexico 4-1 and Belgium 3-0 respectively. The first goal in World Cup history was scored by Lucien Laurent of France. In the final, Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2 in front of a crowd of 93,000 people in Montevideo, and in doing so became the first nation to win the World Cup.

Previous international competitions

The world’s first international football match was a challenge match played in Glasgow in 1872 between Scotland and England, which ended in a 0-0 draw. The first international tournament, the inaugural edition of the British Home Championship, took place in 1884. At this stage the sport was rarely played outside the United Kingdom. As football grew in popularity in other parts of the world at the turn of the 20th century, it was held as a demonstration sport with no medals awarded at the 1900 and 1904 Summer Olympics (however, the IOC has retroactively upgraded their status to official events), and at the 1906 Intercalated Games.

After FIFA was founded in 1904, it tried to arrange an international football tournament between nations outside the Olympic framework in Switzerland in 1906. These were very early days for international football, and the official history of FIFA describes the competition as having been a failure.

At the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, football became an official competition. Planned by The Football Association (FA), England’s football governing body, the event was for amateur players only and was regarded suspiciously as a show rather than a competition. Great Britain (represented by the England national amateur football team) won the gold medals. They repeated the feat in 1912 in Stockholm, where the tournament was organised by the Swedish Football Association.

With the Olympic event continuing to be contested only between amateur teams, Sir Thomas Lipton organised the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy tournament in Turin in 1909. The Lipton tournament was a championship between individual clubs (not national teams) from different nations, each one of which represented an entire nation. The competition is sometimes described as The First World Cup, and featured the most prestigious professional club sides from Italy, Germany and Switzerland, but the FA of England refused to be associated with the competition and declined the offer to send a professional team. Lipton invited West Auckland, an amateur side from County Durham, to represent England instead. West Auckland won the tournament and returned in 1911 to successfully defend their title. They were given the trophy to keep forever, as per the rules of the competition.

In 1914, FIFA agreed to recognise the Olympic tournament as a “world football championship for amateurs”, and took responsibility for managing the event. This paved the way for the world’s first intercontinental football competition, at the 1920 Summer Olympics, contested by Egypt and thirteen European teams, and won by Belgium. Uruguay won the next two Olympic football tournaments in 1924 and 1928. Those were also the first two open world championships, as 1924 was the start of FIFA’s professional era.

Due to the success of the Olympic football tournaments, FIFA, with President Jules Rimet the driving force, again started looking at staging its own international tournament outside of the Olympics. On 28 May 1928, the FIFA Congress in Amsterdam decided to stage a world championship itself. With Uruguay now two-time official football world champions and to celebrate their centenary of independence in 1930, FIFA named Uruguay as the host country of the inaugural World Cup tournament.

The national associations of selected nations were invited to send a team, but the choice of Uruguay as a venue for the competition meant a long and costly trip across the Atlantic Ocean for European sides. Indeed, no European country pledged to send a team until two months before the start of the competition. Rimet eventually persuaded teams from Belgium, France, Romania, and Yugoslavia to make the trip. In total thirteen nations took part: seven from South America, four from Europe and two from North America.

World Cups before World War II

After the creation of the World Cup, the 1932 Summer Olympics, held in Los Angeles, did not plan to include football as part of the schedule due to the low popularity of the sport in the United States, as American football had been growing in popularity. FIFA and the IOC also disagreed over the status of amateur players, and so football was dropped from the Games. Olympic football returned at the 1936 Summer Olympics, but was now overshadowed by the more prestigious World Cup.

The issues facing the early World Cup tournaments were the difficulties of intercontinental travel, and war. Few South American teams were willing to travel to Europe for the 1934 and 1938 tournaments, with Brazil the only South American team to compete in both. The 1942 and 1946 competitions were cancelled due to World War II and its aftermath.

Friday Night at the Movies

With Liberty and Justice For Some

Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Napolitano Stepping Down From Homeland Security

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano is steeping downin September to take up the position of president of the University of California system:

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, is being named as the next president of the University of California system, in an unusual choice that brings a national-level politician to a position usually held by an academic, The Times has learned. Her appointment also means the 10-campus system will be headed by a woman for the first time in its 145-year history.

Napolitano’s nomination by a committee of UC regents came after a secretive process that insiders said focused on her early as a high-profile, although untraditional, candidate who has led large public agencies and shown a strong interest in improving education.

UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences — which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures — will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas.

Her position in the Obama administration may be difficult to fill according to some insiders but this hasn’t stopped Sen. Charles Schumer who jumped at the opportunity to throw out New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s name:

“The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most important agencies in the federal government,” Schumer said in a statement Friday. “It’s leader needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three.” [..]

Schumer noted that Kelly’s experience as former head of Customs and Border Patrol gives him “top-level federal management experience.”

“There is no doubt Ray Kelly would be a great DHS Secretary, and I have urged the White House to very seriously consider his candidacy, “Schumer’s statment continues. “While it would be New York’s loss, Commissioner Kelly’s appointment as the head of DHS would be a great boon for the entire country. Janet Napolitano has done an outstanding job, and if I had to give her a grade on her tenure, it would be ‘A+’. We need someone just as good who can fill her shoes.”

Former House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-L.I.) also touted Kelly for the job Friday.

Just the fact that Peter King put his stamp of approval on Kelly should be reason enough to reject him but there are some very serious problem’s with Kelly that have arisen during his tenure as NYPD Commissioner. Marcy Wheeler thinks that maybe Schumer must want all American Brown youth stopped and frisked

Not only is this a batshit crazy idea because of all the authoritarian things Ray Kelly has done in NYC, from harassing hundreds of thousands of African American and Latino youths to spying on Muslims.

But note how Schumer doesn’t mention the other, equally important part of Homeland Security: keeping the country safe from things like Chinese hackers and natural disasters.

How’d Kelly do at organizing a response to Hurricane Sandy? Maybe we should ask Occupy Sandy about that?

Charles Pierce at Esquire Politics Blog noted that he doesn’t see “how anyone gets confirmed without being barbecued on the White House lawn.” But if Kelly gets the nod, he’ll bring the charcoal. I’m with you, Charlie, I’ll bring the lighter fluid and matches.

The last person we need in charge of DHS is a racist, authoritarian who agrees with the FBI that peaceful protest is a “terrorist threat.” The best thing that could happen, DHS gets abolished and we end the “War on the Constitution”.