12/28/2013 archive

Three Things On The Internet

The team of All In with Chris Hayes puts out a daily request on Twitter asking their followers to send them the things they find most interesting on the internet. These are their finds for December 26, 2013

The good, the bad, and the bizarre: Chris Hayes revisits the best Click3 clips from a very eventful year in Internet videos.

Random Japan

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McDonald’s Japan serving “American Vintage” burgers starting this January

   Michelle Lynn Dinh

Ah, the good old days! It seems like every generation longs for that time when they were young and all was right with the world. McDonald’s Japan is taking that feeling of nostalgia and cramming it into a hamburger with their freshly announced American Vintage campaign, taking us back in time with 1950′s diner fare, 1970s soul food and 1980s pop culture cuisine.

McDonald’s Japan has released delightfully old-timey posters for their American Vintage campaign. Take a look at this advertisement for “Classic Fry with Cheese”:

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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

Adding Citrus to Salads and Desserts

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I always stuff an orange or a tangerine into the toe of my son’s Christmas stocking. He is more interested in the chocolate in his stocking and I usually end up eating his orange, but I’ll never forego this European tradition that dates from a time when citrus was a rare treat. We in the United States take our oranges and grapefruit for granted year round, but citrus really does have a season – winter – and it is welcome at this time of year, when we need all the vitamin C we can get.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Beet, Orange and Arugula Salad

A colorful salad with sweet and sharp flavors.

Grapefruit and Navel Orange Gratin

This winter dessert is adapted from a recipe from the French chef Olympe Versini’s cookbook, “Olympe.”

Fennel and Orange Salad With Black Olives on a Bed of Couscous

A salad, modeled on a traditional North African one, that is great for buffets.

Gingered Winter Fruit Ambrosia

An old fashioned fruit ambrosia with a gingery kick.

Grapefruit Vinaigrette With Greens or Broccoli

This vinaigrette works with a variety of greens, like chard, beet greens or broccoli.

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

New York Times Editorial Board: This Week, Mass Surveillance Wins

Has the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ phone records actually helped to prevent terrorist attacks?

No, according to the 300-page report issued this month by a panel of legal and intelligence experts appointed by President Obama.

Yet in a ruling issued on Friday, Judge William Pauley III of the Federal District Court in Manhattan came to the opposite conclusion. “The effectiveness of bulk telephony metadata collection cannot be seriously disputed,” Judge Pauley wrote in a deeply troubling decision dismissing a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that challenged the constitutionality of the N.S.A.’s bulk data collection program. [..]

The presidential panel made many good recommendations to reform both the surveillance law and the intelligence court that rules on government surveillance requests. Congress and Mr. Obama should adopt as many of these as possible. Court rulings will not suffice to rein in an agency that continues to take advantage of the law’s vague and malleable standards.

Bill Blum: The NSA Strikes Back

Just when you thought that momentum in the struggle to rein in the NSA was shifting in the direction of civil liberties, along comes another reminder that momentum is fleeting and the war is a long way from being won-or lost.

The momentum shift this time comes in the form of an opinion crafted by U.S. District Judge William Pauley dismissing a challenge to the NSA’s telephone metadata collection program brought in New York by the ACLU. Released midday Friday, as a perverse kind of New Year’s gift to the Justice Department, Pauley rejected virtually every argument, statutory and constitutional, raised by the ACLU to block the metadata program. [..]

It’s tempting to think that when the dust ultimately settles, the Supreme Court, with its awful record on such constitutional questions as campaign finance (Citizens United) and voting rights (Shelby County v. Holder), will place its stamp of approval on the surveillance state-especially since the chief justice himself appoints the members of the FISA Court that has backed the NSA. Still, as Leon’s ruling proves, the issue of NSA spying makes for strange judicial bedfellows and alliances, unexpected story lines and surprising outcomes. So stay tuned: With public opinion trending squarely against the NSA and the fate of privacy in the modern world hanging in the balance, this legal drama is just getting started.

Charles M. Blow: Greeting the New Year

This is the season of lists: roundups and recaps, forecasts and resolutions.

What was the biggest story of the year? Snowden.

The best movie? “12 Years a Slave.”

The splashiest pop culture moment? Twerk, Miley!

Will the health care rollout roll over the president’s second-term agenda? Who’ll win in 2016? Who are the people to watch? Can Pope Francis top his 2013 cool points?

We resolve to go back to the gym and lose a few pounds, to pay off that credit card debt and up our savings, and to tell that overbearing boss to “chill out!”

I must say that as corny as it all is, I’m always entertained by it. In fact, “entertained” may be too mild a word. I’m enthralled by it, mostly because I connect with the more profound undercurrent of the moment: the idea of marking endings and beginnings, the ideas of commemoration and anticipation.

For that reason, the new year has always been my favorite time of the year.

Conor F. McGovern: The Graying of Our Incarceration Nation

The incarceration of vast swaths of the American public is now an aging issue. Our prisons have increasingly become homes for the aging, as there are now some 125,000 prisoners age 55 or older, nearly quadruple the number there were in 1995. Many of these prisoners are serving life sentences, but others soon will be released into society facing special hardships because of their age. They will join a massive and steadily increasing population of aging ex-offenders who always will bear the scars to their mental, physical and financial well-being that come with having been a prisoner in America. [..]

America is aging, and with it ages the largest population of prisoners and former prisoners in the industrialized world. This is no longer just an issue of criminal justice. It has become an issue of elder justice and retirement security, and it is time the aging community supports this large and growing group of older Americans.

David Sirota: Celebrating the End of the Fake ‘War on Christmas’

Another winter solstice has come and gone, and yes, the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus has once again survived the alleged “War on Christmas.” In fact, as of this year, this pretend war may finally be ending-and not because those “defending” Christmas won some big battle, but because more and more Americans are realizing there is no such war at all. [..]

All of this is good news-especially because these welcome public opinion trends are coinciding with a renewed effort by the divide-and-conquer crowd to continue manufacturing division. Indeed, as just one example, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly tried to make the “War on Christmas” meme into a full-on race war by insisting that both Santa Claus and Jesus must be depicted as white. Apparently, Rupert Murdoch’s cable television empire is still trying to turn the holiday into another excuse to promote conflict. Thankfully, polls show that the ruse isn’t working.

Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement


Helping Colombian Military Drop ‘Smart Bombs’ on Rebel Leaders

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Monday December 23, 2013 4:28 pm

A major investigative report by The Washington Post’s Dana Priest shows the CIA has overseen and helped the Colombian government target and assassinate rebel leaders. Forces from Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have also provided assistance to the Colombian government, mounting operations to find hostages taken by guerrilla groups. It is all a part of a military assistance program called “Plan Colombia.”

Since 2006, the CIA has contributed “real-time intelligence” to allow Colombian forces to “hunt down” leaders from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). They have transformed “less-than-accurate” 500-pound gravity bombs into precision-guided munitions (PGMs) or “smart bombs” by attaching a “$30,000 GPS guidance kit” to the gravity bombs.

Lawyers for the White House, including officials in the CIA, Justice Department, Defense Department and State Department, initially wondered if it was legal for the US to target individual FARC leaders with “smart bombs.” Would this be assassination, something prohibited under US law? One lawyer asked, “Could we be accused of engaging in an assassination, even if it is not ourselves doing it?”

The White House’s Office of Legal Counsel decided to employ the same legal basis used to justify targeting and killing alleged members of al Qaeda and its “associated forces.” Lawyers determined, “Killing a FARC leader would not be an assassination because the organization posed an ongoing threat to Colombia. Also, none of the FARC commanders could be expected to surrender.” Plus, FARC was a “threat to US national security” because of Reagan’s finding issued in response to “crack cocaine epidemic” on the streets of America. (Note: Much of this “epidemic” was fueled by the Contras in Nicaragua, which Reagan was backing in a violent struggle against the Sandinistas.)

The US government recognized that Colombia might use the “smart bombs” to go after “perceived political enemies.” From 2006 to 2010, the CIA retained control over the use of “smart bombs” by inserting an encryption key into the bomb. It would be impossible for a bomb to hit its target without the key. If misuse occurred, “the CIA could deny GPS reception for future use.”

The National Security Agency has provided intercepts to troops on the ground or pilots before and during an operation, which are considered a “game changer.”

The use of “smart bombs” to kill rebel leaders in Colombia began before the US began to escalate “targeted killing” operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Therefore, the decision to target rebel leaders should not be seen as one directly influenced by what the US was doing to fight known and suspected members of al Qaeda in the Middle East. That is what makes the existence of this program so alarming.

As noted, the legal basis for the CIA’s involvement in the “targeted killing” of Colombian rebel leaders stems from the same dubious criteria used by the US government to argue it can launch drone strikes against “suspected al Qaeda militants” in Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen. It is influenced by the doctrine of preemptive war developed by President George W. Bush’s administration.

No member of the FARC or ELN could reasonably be said to pose any immediate or imminent threat of violent attack against the US. They are fighting the Colombian government, not the US.

The government cannot continue to kill FARC members (with full US support) and expect to achieve any meaningful success in negotiations for peace. Of course, the Colombian military establishment may not truly desire peace. They may want to keep on fighting FARC and the peace talks in Havana may be an avenue to further coerce revolutionary groups into submitting to the government’s power.

On Apri 23, 2012, according to Nazih Richani, a professor of Latin American studies at Kean University, more than 100,000 people participated in a “Patriotic March” in Bogota, Colombia, to call for an “end to political violence, oppression and poverty” that has plagued the country.” The march was a result of organization by the National Patriotic Council, which consisted of 4,000 representatives from more than 1,700 grassroots organizations. However, General Alejandro Navas, the head of the Colombian Armed Forces, “accused the Patriotic March of being infiltrated by guerrillas.” Two retired generals also called for a coup because Santos was willing to hold peace talks with the FARC while the strength of a popular movement was increasing.

The bloated Colombian military-including 500,000 soldiers and police-cannot be sustained unless the civil war continues, or unless the United States can find an international role for the behemoth institution,” Richani concluded. “The enemies of peace and social justice in Colombia are many, but their friends are potentially much more numerous. The question is: Can the Patriotic March harness this potential to empower and unite the millions to reach a tipping point for peace?”

The Obama administration may insist it is not continuing a policy of assassination that was supposed to have been outlawed by President Gerald Ford, but, in fact, this program continues a dirty war, which America has been fueling for decades through its actions.

It is easy for Americans to look at the record of violence by guerrillas from the FARC and ELN and conclude the Colombian government is justified in bombing its leaders to crush them. It is much harder, especially if one is ignorant of history, to understand that the US has played a role in enabling violent oppression of peaceful resistance. But, history must be consulted and it should be recognized that the government bears responsibility for contributing to conditions that led to the emergence of liberation groups willing to use violence to achieve political objectives.

On This Day In History December 28

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.

December 28 is the 362nd day of the year (363rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are three days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1895, the first commercial movie is screened in Paris.

On this day in 1895, the world’s first commercial movie screening takes place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with a brief film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory. On December 28, the entrepreneurial siblings screened a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time.

Movie technology has its roots in the early 1830s, when Joseph Plateau of Belgium and Simon Stampfer of Austria simultaneously developed a device called the phenakistoscope, which incorporated a spinning disc with slots through which a series of drawings could be viewed, creating the effect of a single moving image. The phenakistoscope, considered the precursor of modern motion pictures, was followed by decades of advances and in 1890, Thomas Edison and his assistant William Dickson developed the first motion-picture camera, called the Kinetograph. The next year, 1891, Edison invented the Kinetoscope, a machine with a peephole viewer that allowed one person to watch a strip of film as it moved past a light.

In 1894, Antoine Lumiere, the father of Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948), saw a demonstration of Edison’s Kinetoscope. The elder Lumiere was impressed, but reportedly told his sons, who ran a successful photographic plate factory in Lyon, France, that they could come up with something better. Louis Lumiere’s Cinematographe, which was patented in 1895, was a combination movie camera and projector that could display moving images on a screen for an audience. The Cinematographe was also smaller, lighter and used less film than Edison’s technology

The Lumière brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas (19 October 1862, Besancon, France – 10 April 1954, Lyon) and Louis Jean (5 October 1864, Besancon, France – 6 June 1948, Bandol), were among the earliest filmmakers in history. (Appropriately, “lumière” translates as “light” in English.)

(In) 1862 and 1864, and moved to Lyon in 1870, where both attended La Martiniere, the largest technical school in Lyon. Their father, Claude-Antoine Lumière (1840-1911), ran a photographic firm and both brothers worked for him: Louis as a physicist and Auguste as a manager. Louis had made some improvements to the still-photograph process, the most notable being the dry-plate process, which was a major step towards moving images.

It was not until their father retired in 1892 that the brothers began to create moving pictures. They patented a number of significant processes leading up to their film camera – most notably film perforations (originally implemented by Emile Reynaud) as a means of advancing the film through the camera and projector. The cinèmatographe itself was patented on 13 February 1895 and the first footage ever to be recorded using it was recorded on March 19, 1895.

Their first public screening of films at which admission was charged was held on December 28, 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Cafè in Paris. This history-making presentation featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière a Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds.