Daily Archive: 01/18/2014

Jan 18 2014

Random Japan

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No grown-ups allowed! Chef with a very sweet motive opens a kids-only sweets shop

   Krista Rogers

Children in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture currently have good reason to celebrate, as a huge new sweets shop officially opened in their town on December 7. But the news gets even sweeter: only kids in sixth grade or younger are allowed inside! Sounds like any child’s wildest fantasy come true, right? Parents must wait outside (and no doubt prepare themselves for the inevitable sugar-high antics to come) while their children explore the hidden wonders within.

Join us after the jump for a rare glimpse inside the shop and read what inspired the owner to open it in the first place.

The new shop, named the Future Sweets Factory, is located on the premises of the wildly popular Patisserie es Koyama, which carries a large line of pastries and baked goods, and is particularly famous in the region for its special roll cake.

Jan 18 2014

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

Orange Is the New Green

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Orange is the color of the week in my kitchen, as it has been since the fall and will be throughout the winter at my farmers’ market. I’m making oven fries with sweet potatoes, roasting and simmering carrots and winter squash with seasonings I haven’t used before with these vegetables and finding new ways to enjoy grated carrot salads, which have always been a weakness of mine. Sometimes markets can look bleak in winter, but there’s nothing drab about carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash; I’m finding that there is a lot I can do with these nutrient-dense vegetables. [..]

There is a lot that researchers are still uncovering about the compounds in orange vegetables. We do know that the pigments reflect the presence of beta-carotene, and not surprisingly, all three of these vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin A. They are very good to excellent sources of vitamins C and K, as well as very good sources of potassium and manganese. We know they are excellent sources of other phytonutrients that show some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, like lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. And those are just the ones we are familiar with; there are plenty that are still under study in these delicious vegetables.

Carrot, Squash and Potato Ragout With Thai Flavors

A colorful ragout that works on its own or over rice.

Roasted Carrots With Turmeric and Cumin

A delicious way to enjoy carrots, as a side or on their own.

Roasted Sweet Potato Oven Fries

There are a lot of things to like about these delicious sweet wedges.

Grated Carrot Salad With Dates and Oranges

A fruity carrot salad, rich in vitamin C.

Turkish Pumpkin Soup

An intriguingly sweet winter squash soup.

Jan 18 2014

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”.

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New York Times Editorial Board: The President on Mass Surveillance

n the days after Edward Snowden revealed that the United States government was collecting vast amounts of Americans’ data – phone records and other personal information – in the name of national security, President Obama defended the data sweep and said the American people should feel comfortable with its collection. On Friday, after seven months of increasingly uncomfortable revelations and growing public outcry, Mr. Obama gave a speech that was in large part an admission that he had been wrong. [..]

But even as Mr. Obama spoke eloquently of the need to balance the nation’s security with personal privacy and civil liberties, many of his reforms were frustratingly short on specifics and vague on implementation. [..]

One of his biggest lapses was his refusal to acknowledge that his entire speech, and all of the important changes he now advocates, would never have happened without the disclosures by Mr. Snowden, who continues to live in exile and under the threat of decades in prison if he returns to this country.

The president was right to acknowledge that leaders can no longer say, “Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect.” But to earn back that trust, he should be forthright about what led Americans to be nervous about their own intelligence agencies, and he should build stronger protections to end those fears.

William Rivers Pitt: A Good Week for Hard Drinking

In retrospect, what I should have done five days ago was buy a case of Jameson, find the most conveniently-located boulder, crawl under it, and wait for this filthy disaster zone of a week to pass me by. Any week that starts with a guy getting shot to death in Florida by a retired police captain for the crime of texting his daughter’s babysitter during the previews in a movie theater is not going to be a good week. I did not listen to my instincts, eschewed the boulder and the booze, and had to encompass one of the worst five-day stretches in America I can remember. [..]

So, to recap: a father was shot, his wife was shot, two students were shot at school, two women were shot at the grocery store, the guy who shot them was shot, a five-year-old was shot, a three-year-old was shot, and a four-year-old was shot by a four-year-old. Wikileaks let us know that all the environmental rhetoric emanating from our president is a cloud of hot gas thanks to the trade deal he’s just wild about. Screwed unemployed Americans are screwed. The only reason Congress decided to work together for the first time in six years was in service of their Wall Street paymasters. The internet is over, maybe, but probably. The GOP wants the IRS to audit rape victims and make eating harder for poor people. Oh, and the Elk River region of West Virginia is what the rest of the country and the world will be like once we are led, finally and forever, into free-market no-regulations business-friendly paradise.

They give me Saturdays off around here, which is nice. Think I’ll lay in that case of Jameson, and maybe buy it a brother or two. If matters continue as they did this week, I’m going to need it. I strongly recommend you do the same. Take all appropriate precautions; this downhill run feels as if it’s just getting started.

David Sirota: Pentagon & NSA officials say they want Snowden extrajudicially assassinated

President Obama claims the right to extrajudicially execute American citizens, keeps a so-called “kill list,” and has bragged he’s “really good at killing people.” This isn’t bluster. Obama has backed this up with action, having killed U.S. citizens – including a 16-year-old boy – without charging, much less convicting, any of them with a single crime.

The implications are profound (and profoundly disturbing), and raise questions about Americans’ constitutional right to due process, the most basic constraints on presidential power, and our treatment of whistleblowers. Indeed, how can anyone expect those who witness executive-branch crimes to blow the whistle when the head of the executive branch asserts the right to instantly execute anyone he pleases at any time?

All of this may sound theoretical, academic, or even fantastical, straight out of a dystopian sci-fi flick. But it isn’t. It is very real. After all, only a few months ago, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee publicly offered to help extrajudicially assassinate NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And now, according to a harrowing new report that just hit the Internet, top NSA and Pentagon officials are doing much the same, even after court rulings and disclosures have concluded that Snowden is a whistleblower who exposed serious government crimes.

Kevin Gosztola: Obama Lectures Those Outraged by NSA Surveillance Programs in Speech Announcing Reforms

The president delivered a speech on changes his administration would support to National Security Agency programs and policies, but what most stood out was not the announced reforms. It was how the speech focused on him and what he had done and how it seemed like he was lecturing Americans who have been outraged by what they have learned about massive government surveillance in the past six months.

President Barack Obama seemed deeply offended that anyone would think he had done an inadequate job or had enabled surveillance state policies. [..]

Obama’s version of his record as president sharply contrasted the history of support for spying as presented by The New York Times. Obama aides even anonymously told the Times that he had been “surprised to learn after the leaks…just how far the surveillance had gone.” So, it was fraudulent for him to claim to Americans that he was about to bring transparency and promote debate on government surveillance.

Tom Engelhardt: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

These days, when I check out the latest news on Washington’s global war-making, I regularly find at least one story that fits a new category in my mind that I call: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Take last Saturday’s Washington Post report by Craig Whitlock on the stationing of less than two dozen U.S. “military advisers” in war-torn Somalia.  They’ve been there for months, it turns out, and their job is “to advise and coordinate operations with African troops fighting to wrest control of the country from the al-Shabab militia.”  If you leave aside the paramilitarized CIA (which has long had a secret base and prison in that country), those advisers represent the first U.S. military boots on the ground there since the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident of 1993.  As soon as I read the piece, I automatically thought: Given the history of the U.S. in Somalia, including the encouragement of a disastrous 2006 Ethiopian invasion of that country, what could possibly go wrong?

Some days when I read the news, I can’t help but think of the late Chalmers Johnson; on others, the satirical newspaper the Onion comes to mind. If Washington did it — and by “it,” I mean invade and occupy a country, intervene in a rebellion against an autocrat, intervene in a civil war, launch a drone campaign against a terror outfit, or support and train local forces against some group the U.S. doesn’t like — you already know all you need to know. Any version of the above has repeatedly translated into one debacle or disaster after another.

Jan 18 2014

On This Day In History January 18

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.

January 18 is the 18th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 347 days remaining until the end of the year (348 in leap years).

On this day in 1865, the United States House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States. It read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State William H. Seward, in a proclamation, declared it to have been adopted. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments.

President Lincoln was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the ten Confederate states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery in the border states.

History

The first twelve amendments were adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s adoption. The first ten (the Bill of Rights) were adopted in 1791, the Eleventh Amendment in 1795 and the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed there had been no new amendments adopted in more than sixty years.

During the secession crisis, but prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of slavery-related bills had protected slavery. The United States had ceased slave importation and intervened militarily against the Atlantic slave trade, but had made few proposals to abolish domestic slavery, and only a small number to abolish the domestic slave trade. Representative John Quincy Adams had made a proposal in 1839, but there were no new proposals until December 14, 1863, when a bill to support an amendment to abolish slavery throughout the entire United States was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James F. Wilson(Republican, Iowa).

Eventually the Congress and the public began to take notice and a number of additional legislative proposals were brought forward. On January 11, 1864, Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri submitted a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The abolition of slavery had historically been associated with Republicans, but Henderson was one of the War Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull (Republican, Illinois), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. On February 8 of that year, another Republican, Senator Charles Sumner (Radical Republican, Massachusetts), submitted a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery as well as guarantee equality. As the number of proposals and the extent of their scope began to grow, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal combining the drafts of Ashley, Wilson and Henderson.

Originally the amendment was co-authored and sponsored by Representatives James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James F. Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri).

While the Senate did pass the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts came to fruition when the House passed the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. The Thirteenth Amendment’s archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, after the words “Approved February 1, 1865”.

The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Shortly after the amendment’s adoption, selective enforcement of certain laws, such as laws against vagrancy, allowed blacks to continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in some cases.

The Thirteenth Amendment was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment (civil rights in the states), in 1868, and the Fifteenth Amendment (which bans racial voting restrictions), in 1870.

Jan 18 2014

Greenwald: NSA Reforms Just a Bad PR Campaign

Journalist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald and  the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Anthony D Romero discussed President Barack Obama’s new NSA “reforms” with Alex Wagner, the host of MSNBC’s “Now.”

Obama’s NSA ‘reforms’ are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public

By Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian

Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place

In response to political scandal and public outrage, official Washington repeatedly uses the same well-worn tactic. It is the one that has been hauled out over decades in response to many of America’s most significant political scandals. Predictably, it is the same one that shaped President Obama’s much-heralded Friday speech to announce his proposals for “reforming” the National Security Agency in the wake of seven months of intense worldwide controversy.

The crux of this tactic is that US political leaders pretend to validate and even channel public anger by acknowledging that there are “serious questions that have been raised”. They vow changes to fix the system and ensure these problems never happen again. And they then set out, with their actions, to do exactly the opposite: to make the system prettier and more politically palatable with empty, cosmetic “reforms” so as to placate public anger while leaving the system fundamentally unchanged, even more immune than before to serious challenge. [..]

Today’s speech should be seen as the first step, not the last, on the road to restoring privacy. The causes that drove Obama to give this speech need to be, and will be, stoked and nurtured further until it becomes clear to official Washington that, this time around, cosmetic gestures are plainly inadequate.

Here is the press release from the ACLU commenting on the President’s NSA speech:

January 17, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – President Obama today announced changes to some aspects of the NSA’s surveillance programs and left others in place. Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

“The president’s speech outlined several developments which we welcome. Increased transparency for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, improved checks and balances at the FISA court through the creation of a panel of advocates, and increased privacy protections for non-U.S. citizens abroad – the first such assertion by a U.S. president – are all necessary and welcome reforms.

“However, the president’s decision not to end bulk collection and retention of all Americans’ data remains highly troubling. The president outlined a process to study the issue further and appears open to alternatives. But the president should end – not mend – the government’s collection and retention of all law-abiding Americans’ data. When the government collects and stores every American’s phone call data, it is engaging in a textbook example of an ‘unreasonable search’ that violates the Constitution. The president’s own review panel recommended that bulk data collection be ended, and the president should accept that recommendation in its entirety.”

A new chart comparing the ACLU’s proposals, President Obama’s announcement, and the USA FREEDOM Act (a bipartisan bill currently pending in Congress) is at: aclu.org/national-security/where-does-president-stand-nsa-reform

ACLU Action is demanding an end to dragnet surveillance at: aclu.org/endsurveillance