07/27/2013 archive

Random Japan

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Sayonara Keikoku (“The Ravine of Goodbye”), the latest effort from director Tatsushi Omori, won a jury prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. The movie depicts the romantic relationship that develops between a rapist and his victim.

Researchers at the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace say “territorial disputes” are the main reason that Japan fell from fifth to sixth in their annual Global Peace Index. (Iceland topped the list and Syria came in last.)

It was reported that an elderly couple living in Kodaira, western Tokyo, has climbed Mt Fuji for 14 straight years.

Officials at the Meteorological Agency say they will, for the first time ever, allow private companies to issue tsunami forecasts. The agency retains the sole right to issue advisories and warnings, though.

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

Tomatoes Take Center Stage

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There is little room in my repertoire at this time of year for dishes that don’t include tomatoes, but this week I kept it pretty simple.

   I tried a new recipe for roasting tomatoes. I roasted them for 2 hours at a low temperature (300 degrees), which didn’t dry them out completely but intensified everything about them. I snacked on them all week, and also put them through a food mill for sauce. They will definitely become a habit, along with the fresh tomato sandwiches I’ve been eating for lunch every day. This won’t stop until September.

Super Tomato Sandwiches

An irresistible way to use the freshest tomatoes.

Tomato and Basil Risotto

Tomatoes make a great base for a luxurious summer risotto.

Soft Tacos With Roasted or Grilled Tomatoes and Summer Squash

Tomatoes and summer squash make for delicious taco fillings.

Greek Chicken and Tomato Salad

A tomato-centric Greek salad that is substantial enough for lunch or a light supper.

Amazingly Sweet Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

This method of roasting won’t dry out the tomatoes completely but will intensify everything about them.

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

William K. Black: Is It Legal Malpractice to Fail to Get Holder to Promise Not To Torture Your Client?

One of the things I never expected to read was a promise by any United States official that a potential defendant in a criminal prosecution by our federal courts “will not be tortured.”

The idea that the Attorney General of the United States of America would send such a letter to the representative of a foreign government, particularly Russia under the leadership of a former KGB official, was so preposterous that I thought the first news report I read about Attorney General Holder’s letter concerning Edward Snowden was satire. The joke, however, was on me. The Obama and Bush administrations have so disgraced the reputation of the United States’ criminal justice system that we are forced to promise KGB alums that we will not torture our own citizens if Russia extradites them for prosecution.

Charles M. Blow: Carving Up the Country

Our 50 states seem to be united in name only.

In fact, we seem to be increasingly becoming two countries under one flag: Liberal Land – coastal, urban and multicultural – separated by Conservative Country – Southern and Western, rural and racially homogeneous. (Other parts of the country are a bit of a mixed bag.)

This has led to incredible and disturbing concentrations of power.

Tom Engelhardt: How to be a rogue superpower

The USA’s implacable pursuit of Edward Snowden demonstrates the sole superpower’s reach and suppression of information.

It’s hard even to know how to take it in. I mean, what’s really happening? An employee of a private contractor working for the National Security Agency makes off with unknown numbers of files about America’s developing global security state on a thumb drive and four laptop computers, and jumps the next plane to Hong Kong. [..]

The result has been a global spectacle, as well as a worldwide debate about the spying practices of the US (and its allies). In these weeks, Washington has proven determined, vengeful, implacable. It has strong-armed, threatened, and elbowed powers large and small. And yet, to mention the obvious, the greatest power on Earth has, as yet, failed to get its man and is losing the public opinion battle globally.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: A Larry Summers Bait-and-Switch?

Whoever said, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” doesn’t know much about economics. That goes double for the nomination of Lawrence Summers to head the Federal Reserve. For all the ink that’s been spilled on the topic, there’s at least one surprise ending people don’t seem to be considering.

Remember the last time Summers was strapped to a trial balloon and exposed to this kind of a public dart-throwing contest? It was back when Obama was searching for his first Treasury Secretary. There was a public outcry against Summers then, too, and guess what happened:

We got Tim Geithner instead.

I’m against the Summers nomination too, but as they say: Be careful what you wish for.

Eugene Robinson: Obstruction as the New Normal

The bad news is that approval ratings for both the president and Congress are sinking, with voters increasingly frustrated at the bitter, partisan impasse in Washington. The worse news is that in terms of admiration for our national leaders, these may come to be seen as the good old days.

I’m an optimist by nature, a glass-half-full kind of guy. But try as I might, I can’t convince myself that Republicans in Congress are likely to respond any better to President Obama’s latest proposals on the economy than to the previous umpteen. I’m also pretty gloomy at the moment about the prospects for meaningful immigration reform-unless House Speaker John Boehner decides that passing a bill is more important than keeping his job.

David Sirota: A Case That Challenges Government Immunity

Court cases are often cures for insomnia, but every so often a lawsuit is an eye-opening journey through the looking glass. One of those is suddenly upon us – and we should be thankful because it finally provides an unfiltered look at our government.

You may not know about this case, but you should. Called Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, it illustrates the extremism driving the policies being made in the public’s name.

The first thing you should know about this case is that it is simply about a man who wants to know why his grandson is dead. That’s right – in this age of endless war, a grandfather named Nasser Al-Aulaqi is having to go to court to try to compel the U.S. government to explain why it killed his grandson in a drone strike despite never charging the 16-year-old American citizen with a crime.

On This Day In History July 27

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 27 is the 208th day of the year (209th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 157 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that president Richard Nixon be impeached and removed from office. It was the first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century. The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House. Nixon resigned before he was impeached by the full House.

The House Judiciary Committee recommends that America’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon, be impeached and removed from office. The impeachment proceedings resulted from a series of political scandals involving the Nixon administration that came to be collectively known as Watergate.


In May 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began formal impeachment hearings against Nixon. On July 27 of that year, the first article of impeachment against the president was passed. Two more articles, for abuse of power and contempt of Congress, were approved on July 29 and 30. On August 5, Nixon complied with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring that he provide transcripts of the missing tapes, and the new evidence clearly implicated him in a cover up of the Watergate break-in. On August 8, Nixon announced his resignation, becoming the first president in U.S. history to voluntarily leave office. After departing the White House on August 9, Nixon was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford, who, in a controversial move, pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, making it impossible for the former president to be prosecuted for any crimes he might have committed while in office. Only two other presidents in U.S. history have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

Formula One 2013: Hungaroring Qualifying

Hmm… not that there aren’t developments, but many of them are unresolved and require more research and clarification.

Let’s start with the big one, the Concorde Ageement.  Reuters reports they are getting closer to one but the details of what’s in it are sketchy at best and it could easily blow up BECAUSE…

Bernie has finally been indicted in the Gribkowsky bribery scandal.  If convicted ‘El Supremo’ is pretty surely going to be dumped by CVC so they can proceed with their $15 Billion IPO.

Not that getting rid of Bernie is a bad idea.

Speaking of personnel changes, the duel for Webber’s soon to be vacated Red Bull seat seems to have narrowed down to Raikkonen and Ricciardo.  The smart money is on Ricciardo, the inferior driver, because Vettel doesn’t want a rival.

At Nürburgring a camera man was taken out (broken bones!) when a wheel came off Webber’s Red Bull in Pit Lane.  As a consequence access to the pit has been restricted and the speed limit has been lowered from 60 to 50 (like that will help).  The bottom line is that pit stops are going to take longer, whether that will change the racing remains to be seen.

This is pretty much the mid-point of the season, race 10 of 19.  There will be 22 races next year as they are adding New Jersey, Austria, and Russia.  When they return on August 25th there will be two European races left (Spa and Monza) before they head out to the far east.

The Hungaroring is the second slowest circuit after Monaco.  It’s very hot and because it’s seldom used there are rubbering issues.  On offer are Mediums and Softs, 2013 compounds on 2012 Kevlar bodies.  Because of the earlier ‘secret’ test with with Pirelli, Mercedes was barred from a general test during the recent break.  Though they’re complaining up a storm, it’s hard to figure if they’re at a competitive disadvantage or not as the ‘public’ test used only developmental drivers and teams were forbidden to change the set ups.

Chris Hedges: Answering Questions

In Part 7, and the final segment, of a series of interviews by Paul Jay of Real News Network, journalist and author, Chris Hedges answers viewers questions including about the American public’s complicity in the crimes of empire, if there’s any hope for Bradley Manning and whether the U.S. or Israel will attack Iran.

To the question of the American public’s responsibility for the crimes committed in its name, Hedges said:

   I would say very few Americans-and the exception would be probably those in the armed forces and those who work for contractors or the diplomatic service-actually grasp the dirty work of empire. Having spent 20 years of my life on the fringes of empire and seen how empire works, Conrad was right. It’s the horror, the horror. What is it that drones and hellfire missiles do to human bodies? Those images are rigorously censored. We never see them. We don’t understand what is done in our name. Instead, we’re fed this patriotic myth of glory and service and sacrifice and honor and heroism, terms that when you’re actually there on a battlefield become hollow if not obscene.

Transcript can be read here