07/20/2013 archive

Random Japan

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Citing an inability to communicate with members of the international community, a government panel recommended that Japanese officials “use more English.”

Authorities at the education ministry are set to introduce a program “in which non-native Japanese speaking students can learn the Japanese language during regular class hours.”

Speaking at a symposium in San Diego, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that “the Fukushima disaster changed [my] view of nuclear power.”

After receiving complaints from the public, officials at the environment ministry withdrew their recommendation that female office workers use “antiperspirants, scented laundry softeners, cold sprays and wet tissues” to keep cool during summer.

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

Summer Stir-Fries

Stir Fried Shrimp photo 15recipehealth-articleLarge_zpsa6da6591.jpg

If you are trying to put dinner together in a hot apartment this summer you will appreciate the fact that stir-frying in a wok requires little more than a five-minute blast of heat. Some time is needed to prepare the ingredients while the stove is off, but once you begin cooking, be ready to eat. Yes, you have to cook the rice or noodles you will be eating with your stir-fries, but those can be cooked ahead, in the morning for example, before it gets too hot, or in a rice cooker, and then reheated in the wok.

!Martha Rose Shulman~

Stir-Fried Shrimp With Amaranth (or Beet Greens), Red Pepper and Cilantro

For a beautiful meal, serve the stir-fry with red rice, like Bhutanese rice.

Spicy Stir-Fried Eggplant, Tofu and Water Spinach (Ong Choy)

The eggplant in this spicy stir-fry is roasted first so that the stir-fry won’t require too much oil.

Stir-Fried Baby Squash, Long Beans, Corn and Chiles With Soba Noodles

This sweet and spicy dish also works with regular green beans.

Stir-Fried Chicken With Mixed Sweet and Hot Peppers and Cashews

A mix of hot and sweet peppers and “velveted” chicken makes for a delicious dish.

Stir-Fried Soba Noodles With Long Beans, Eggs and Cherry Tomatoes

Tomatoes and noodles Asian style: the tomatoes soften just a little but sweeten a lot.

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

Jon Walker: How Can Obama Deliver This Speech on Racial Profiling While Considering Ray Kelly for DHS?

In response to the George Zimmerman verdict, today President Obama delivered remarks on race and racial profiling. In the speech he called on police forces to address the problem of racial profiling. [..]

It is shocking that the same man who delivered this speech just days earlier called New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly one of the best law enforcement professionals there is and is considering appointing him to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Yochai Benkler: Bradley Manning ‘aiding the enemy’ charge is a threat to journalism

Without an informed and free press, there cannot be an enlightened people. That’s what this trial is really about

Thursday, Colonel Denise Lind, the judge in the Bradley Manning court martial, refused to dismiss the “aiding the enemy” charge. The decision is preliminary, and the judge could still moderate its effect if she finds Manning not guilty. But even if she ultimately acquits Manning, the decision will cast a long shadow on national security journalists and their sources. [..]

Thursday’s decision was preliminary and made under a standard that favors the prosecution’s interpretation of the facts. The judge must still make that ultimate decision on guilt based on all the evidence, including the defense, under the strict “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

Dean Baker: In Detroit’s Bankruptcy Why Are Contracts with Workers a Joke?

The decision by the City of Detroit to declare bankruptcy came as a shock to many. Detroit, which was once the nation’s fifth-biggest city, is by far the largest government in the United States ever to declare bankruptcy. While Detroit has been seeing a falling population and worsening finances for five decades, bankruptcy is still a dramatic step.

One part of this story that is striking is the discussion in the media of how workers’ pensions will fare in bankruptcy. Most articles seem to take it for granted that pensions will face large cuts, with some implying that retired workers may be in the same situation as unsecured creditors, getting just a few cents for each dollar owed.

This is striking because Michigan’s state constitution seems to say as clearly as possible that pension payments are a contractual obligation of the state.

Ryan Budish: Tech firms should be allowed to publish more data on US surveillance

The ‘deal’ the government offered tech firms to publish limited data is a joke. We need real transparency

Following the leaks about NSA surveillance, people demanded information about the scope and scale of the US government’s data collection. In response, the administration offered internet companies a deal: they could publish the number of secret national security requests, but only if it was aggregated with data about non-secret, criminal requests.

Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo! immediately accepted and published aggregate data. But Google rejected the offer, stating that “lumping the two categories together would be a step back for users”.

Google is right. Americans are understandably concerned that their digital privacy may be eroded through the government’s ham-handed approach to foreign surveillance. But fixating on the accidental collection of domestic communications during foreign surveillance risks ignoring the ways that the US government legally and intentionally surveils the digital communications of its citizens. We must be careful that, in our rush to answer questions about Prism, we don’t endanger the gains we have made over the past few years in understanding our domestic surveillance apparatus.

Steve Martinot: Whose Ground Is It, Anyway?

Zimmerman as Role Model for US Government

The Travesty goes like this.

The grounds for Zimmerman’s acquittal were that he shot someone, and killed him. Pure and simple.

The grounds for Trayvon Martin’s having been killed is that he decided to defend himself against someone stalking him.

Does it make sense? No. Is it true? Yes.

There’s nothing to understand. That’s just the way it is. But if we do want to understand it, we have to look at the “role model.” Or rather, at The Role Model.

The Role Model is the US, the War Making Power.

Mark LeVine: Clear and present dangers of Janet Napolitano’s appointment as UC President

With no experience in higher education, the appoint of Napolitano raises concerns about the future of the UC system.

The now confirmed appointment of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as President of the University of California should raise loud alarms for anyone concerned about the present state and future development of UC, for three reasons. [..]

As one of the world’s premier public university systems, UC’s highest priority must be the production of knowledge and the protection of the free exchange of ideas without which no university can fulfill its public mandate to educate future generations and help sustain a healthy and robust economy. Since the Regents and Secretary Napolitano were unwilling or unable to offer a vigorous defence of her experience, qualifications, and views before the Regents’ vote, and allow the university community a meaningful role in determining the wisdom and viability of her nomination, UC faculty should consider ourselves served notice that the UC to which so many of us have devoted our professional lives has finally been put out to pasture, and that a very different institution, administered by people with increasingly little experience, understanding or even concern for the core purposes and ethics of higher education, is emerging in its place. The question is, What are we going to do about it?

Don’t Hold Your Breath

Why is it that D.C. is six weeks behind the rest of the country?  Is it something in the water?

What I expect is a great flurry of inaction and word salad hoping that the issue will just quietly slink away with any actual change simply making things worse.

People need to be FIRED!  They need to be LOCKED UP!  They need to be so shamed and punished that they never again hold a position of responsibility in the government!

Mood shifting, Congress may move to limit NSA spying

By David Lightman, Kate Irby and Ben Kamisar, McClatchy

Friday, July 19, 2013

Skepticism has been slowly building since last month’s disclosures that the super-secret NSA conducted programs that collected Americans’ telephone data. Dozens of lawmakers are introducing measures to make those programs less secret, and there’s talk of denying funding and refusing to continue authority for the snooping.

Late Friday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reauthorized collection of telephone and online data by the federal government, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper revealed. He said the administration was “undertaking a careful and thorough review of whether and to what extent additional information or documents pertaining to this program may be declassified, consistent with the protection of national security.”

“It is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to have a full and frank discussion about this balance when the public is unable to review and analyze what the executive branch and the courts believe the law means,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who has asked the administration to make the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court public.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is leading an effort along with Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to have the court’s judges nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Currently, the Supreme Court’s chief justice selects judges from those holding other federal district court judgeships.

Schiff also is pushing a measure, along with Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., to require the attorney general to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act opinions, and got a boost Friday from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The concerns fall into two general categories: What exactly is the NSA doing, and how can its work be more open?

“They need to provide as much clarity as they possibly can so people know and have a familiarity with what’s happening, why that happens,” said James Lankford, R-Okla., chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. He wanted “another round of information again and to be able to process that.”

The desire to know more sparked a sometimes fiery House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week with top administration officials.

Conyers, the committee’s top Democrat, noted that the Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure. “You’ve already violated the law as far as I am concerned,” Conyers said.

The ire came from both parties. “The Star Chamber . . . in England started out . . . as very popular with the people. It allowed people to get justice that otherwise would not,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., referring to a court that was abolished by Parliament in 1641 over its abuses of power. “But it evolved over time into a powerful weapon for political retribution by the king.”

“There’s no legitimate reason to keep this legal analysis from public interest any longer,” said Conyers. Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., was sympathetic, saying, “I share his concern about some classified information that does not need to be classified.”

Le Tour 2013: Stage 20

Well it’s pretty much over except deciding the places between 2nd and 5th.  Chris Froome would have to fall off his bicycle for anyone else to have a chance.

Not even a greasy day yesterday ending in a fairly heavy steady rain made anyone take a flyer on forcing Froome to act as both he and Contador (and everyone else at the top of the General Classification) simply played it safe and let the next to last day of racing tick by without many changes.

Particularly galling, at least to Pierre Rolland, is that he still is a point behind in the King of the Mountains.  If the leaders duke it out on the final climb today up the Beyond Category Annecy – Semnoz to the summit finish, it’s highly likely that Chris Froome will be the only Yellow/Polka Dot dual winner since 1970.

General Classification

Rank Name Team Time
1 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING 77h 10′ 00”
3 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander MOVISTAR TEAM + 05′ 32”

I suppose it’s possible that André Greipel could beat out Mark Cavendish for 2nd, but other than that I don’t see much possibility for change.  Chris Froome is 9th with 92 points in a group of 6 riders including Christphe Riblon with 83.


Rank Name Team Points
6 ROJAS José Joaquin MOVISTAR TEAM 155

King of the Mountains is pretty much up for grabs (except for tha caveat above about Chris Froome).  It finishes today as no points will be awarded tomorrow.

King of the Moutains

Rank Name Team Points

Radioshack made a comeback yesterday and is once again comfortably in 2nd.  There is a certain amount of speculation Team Saxo-Tinkoff is thinking ahead and playing for next year’s sponsorship money which would account for their extraordinary passivity in support of their lead rider, Alberto Contador, yesterday.  Katusha is the only other team under an hour in arrears but just barely.


Rank Team Time
1 TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF 230h 46′ 35”
3 AG2R LA MONDIALE + 07′ 37”
4 MOVISTAR TEAM + 15′ 51”

Nairo Alexander Quitana Rojas could easily finish 2nd in the General Classification and win the King of the Mountains title.  In any event it’s a pretty impressive performance for a young rider and he’ll finish on the Champs-Élysées as one of the top contenders for next year’s Le Tour.

Young Rider

Rank Name Team Time
1 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander MOVISTAR TEAM 77h 15′ 32”
3 TALANSKY Andrew GARMIN – SHARP + 10′ 52”
4 BARDET Romain AG2R LA MONDIALE + 19′ 21”

Today’s final racing stage is relatively easy as far as Alpine stages go with 3 Category 3s, a Category 2, a Category 1, and a Beyond Category.  The one descent of note is from Mont Revard to Montcel.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

On This Day In History July 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.

July 20 is the 201st day of the year (202nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 164 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1881, Sitting Bull surrenders.

Five years after General George A. Custer’s infamous defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Hunkpapa Teton Sioux leader Sitting Bull surrenders to the U.S. Army, which promises amnesty for him and his followers. Sitting Bull had been a major leader in the 1876 Sioux uprising that resulted in the death of Custer and 264 of his men at Little Bighorn. Pursued by the U.S. Army after the Indian victory, he escaped to Canada with his followers.


Hunger and cold eventually forced Sitting Bull, his family, and nearly 200 other Sioux in his band to return to the United States and surrender on July 19, 1881. Sitting Bull had his young son Crow Foot surrender his rifle to the commanding officer of Fort Buford. He told the soldiers that he wished to regard them and the white race as friends. Two weeks later, Sitting Bull and his band were transferred to Fort Yates, the military post located adjacent to the Standing Rock Agency.

Arriving with 185 people, Sitting Bull and his band were kept separate from the other Hunkpapa gathered at the agency. Army officials were concerned that the famed chief would stir up trouble among the recently surrendered northern bands. On August 26, 1881, he was visited by census taker William T. Selwyn who counted twelve people in the Hunkpapa leader’s immediate family. Forty-one families, totaling 195 people, were recorded in Sitting Bull’s band. The military decided to transfer him and his band to Fort Randall, to be held as prisoners of war. Loaded onto a steamboat, Sitting Bull’s band, now totaling 172 people, were sent down the Missouri River to Fort Randall. There they spent the next 20 months. They were allowed to return to the Standing Rock Agency in May 1883.

Edward R. Murrow: “Harvest of Shame”

Watch Edward R. Murrow’s ‘Harvest of Shame’

by John Light, Moyers & Company

The people who harvest our fruits and vegetables are, today, among the country’s most marginalized. They earn well below the poverty line and spend a substantial portion of the year unemployed. They do not have the right to overtime pay or to collective bargaining with their employers. In some cases, workers have faced abuses that fall under modern-day slavery statutes. “The extreme is slavery,” observed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), while visiting farm workers in Florida. “The norm is disaster.” [..]

In 1960, legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow and his producers Fred Friendly and David Lowe attempted to draw public attention to this state of affairs with the documentary Harvest of Shame. The film – an hour-long portrait of the “humans who harvest the food for the best-fed people in the world” – aired on CBS the day after Thanksgiving, 1960.