04/04/2015 archive

2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Semifinals

Sunday’s Results-

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
70 4 Louisville 26-9 76 7 * Michigan State 27-11 East
66 1 Duke 32-4 52 2 Gonzaga 34-6 South

Go Spartans!

Composed by Leonard Falcone.

Tonight’s Matchups-

Time Channel Seed Team Record Region Seed Team Record Region
6:00pm TBS 1 Duke 32-4 South 7 Michigan State 27-11 East
8:49pm TBS 1 Wisconsin 35-3 West 1 Kentucky 38-0 Mid-West

Tonight in addition to the national coverage we will have home team broadcasts using the commentators who cover the regular season games.  On TNT we will be seeing the crews that do Duke and Kentucky and on True the ones for Michigan State and Wisconsin.

I guess that tells you how the experts are calling it.

As for me I think State can definitely beat Duke who are not all that by any means.  Likewise I give Wisconsin at least an even chance against Kentucky who have proven with several scares that they’re not very special.

The NCAA didn’t pull the Final Four over Indiana’s bigoted RFRA but logistically they hardly could on just a week’s notice.  They are however talking about pulling their national headquarters out of Indianapolis which would be a good thing for its own sake, not just as a protest.

Random Japan

 photo world-baseball-3_zpsfhsddnpt.png

Robotic dancing troupe World Order kicks off the new baseball season with seven-man pitch

KK Miller

Springtime means one thing for sports fans: baseball! While Major League Baseball is still toiling away in spring training and pre-season games, the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league has already kicked off their season with the first games occurring at the end of March.

Since spring signals the time for new beginnings, what is more precious than the beginning of the first home game of the year? And with it brings the first opening pitch of the season. For the 2013 Japan Series winners, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, they asked Genki Sudo and his group World Order to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s 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

It’s Easy Being (Collard) Green

Collard Greens Tagine With Flageolets photo 01MARTHA-tmagArticle.jpg

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

While the brightest spring vegetables are not yet on offer, Martha notes that dark green collards, light green fennel, pale green dried flageolet beans and bright jalapeño are all available at the market. She offers a new collard greens stew, and we’ve dug up more of our favorite recipes for collard greens.

~ Tara Parker Pope ~

Collard Greens Tagine With Flageolets

Stuffed Collard Greens

Collard Greens With Farro

Farro with anything is comfort food, and the combination of farro and collard greens is particularly hearty and nutritious.

Breakfast Tacos With Eggs, Onions and Collard Greens

These comforting, easy tacos don’t have to be relegated to the breakfast table.

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

Trevor Timm: Republicans have no interest in peace. The Iran talks proved that

A small part of the Middle East may soon be off limits to US bombing and killing, so naturally Republicans and their neocon allies are furious.

The tentative Iran deal announced on 3 April, in which Western leaders and the Islamic republic agreed on strict limits to Iran’s nuclear program, was hailed by many as a breakthrough, given that it could avert yet another US-led war in the Middle East. So almost immediately, it was denounced by key conservative members of Congress, neocons, and Republican presidential candidates, whose unquenched thirst for blood almost always outweighs their supposed commitment to peace. [..]

When neocons like Bolton come out of the woodwork to denounce the chance for peace with Iran, it’s always amusing to remember the people most responsible for helping the country to start its nuclear energy program: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. They pushed President Ford to sign a deal to sell Iran nuclear material in 1976, but somehow that’s never brought up when Fox News is calling Iran “the devil”.

There’s still a long way to go this deal can become a signed pact, but given that the terms were better than expected, the Obama administration seems to have finally done something that could have lasting positive impact on the Middle East.

Joan Walsh: The right’s “cake” insanity: You won’t believe how it’s trying to deflect the Indiana backlash

“Cake is speech.”

That’s what Indiana Baptist pastor Tim Overton told NPR’s Steve Inskeep Thursday morning, defending his state’s controversial “religious freedom” law. I thought it was so funny, I immediately tweeted it.

But as the day went on, it became clear that Overton’s argument wasn’t some fringe theory: It’s shaping up as a core tenet of one “compromise” approach to religious freedom laws that’s under consideration, in the wake of the backlash to the Indiana law, which Overton fervently supported as written. It’s at the heart of the fix to the law Jeb Bush pushed Wednesday night with pro-gay rights Republican donors. [..]

For the far right, of course, even Indiana’s compromise is going too far. (Santorum is “disappointed” in his “dear friend” Mike Pence.) My friend Greg Sargent thinks it’s progress that some space has opened up within the GOP to at least debate these issues, and I guess that’s true. But the religious freedom argument should be simple: If your religion tells you it’s wrong to be gay, then don’t have gay sex, or get gay married. It’s amazing to watch Bush and others contort themselves to make floral arranging and cake baking a form of religious expression, to pander to the far right, though it’s not likely to work. This debate will get sillier before it’s settled.

Heather Digby Parton: Religious right’s next crusade: What they want to throw women in jail for now

It’s been heartening to see such a strong reaction to Indiana’s new law enabling bigotry against gay people over the past few days. A bright light is now shining on the cleverly framed “Religious liberty” movement and it’s going to be politically risky in the future for any officials to use the Supreme Court’s “Hobby Lobby” invitation to social conservatives to use a religious liberty doctrine to allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. This is very good news. The Big Money Boyz decided that it was bad for business and the only people to whom conservative leaders listen more closely than the members of the religious right are the leaders of corporate America.

Unfortunately, as you will undoubtedly recall, the Hobby Lobby decision, which for the first time granted religious status to a corporation, wasn’t actually about gay rights. It was about denying female employees health insurance coverage for contraception due to the employers religious objection. (The employee’s beliefs were not deemed to be relevant.) So far, there hasn’t been much outcry against that in Indiana or elsewhere. Indeed, in Indiana the clock has been turned so far back on women’s rights that they are now imprisoning women for having abortions. Yes, you read that right.

David Sirota: Wall Street Democrats are on notice: Andrew Cuomo, Rahm Emanuel and the party’s new civil war

For those pining for a Democratic Party that tries to represent more than the whims of the rich and powerful, these are, to say the least, confusing times. [..]

It would be easy to conclude that the status quo is winning Democratic politics – but a series of high-profile elections shows the trends are markedly different outside the national political arena.

Two years ago, the era of billionaire Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Wall Street-worshiping city politics ended when populist Democrat Bill de Blasio and a slate of progressive city councilors backed by New York’s Working Families Party were swept into office promising to increase taxes on millionaires and fund universal pre-kindergarten. A year later, New York’s conservative Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his $40 million campaign war chest couldn’t muster two-thirds of the Democratic primary vote against an unknown progressive opponent named Zephyr Teachout. Though Cuomo was ultimately reelected, he was humiliated, and his future prospects have been significantly diminished.

Now comes Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has shuttered schools, handed out big corporate subsidies, blocked a financial transaction tax and pushed for cuts to city workers’ retirement benefits. He made the old corporate Democratic assumption, betting that he could easily win reelection by simply spending opponents into the ground.

Lambasted as “Mayor 1 Percent,” Emanuel has been forced to champion more progressive policies to try to appease the Democratic base – he suddenly backed a $13 minimum wage and signed an ordinance compelling developers to pony up more cash for affordable housing. His underfinanced opponent Garcia still may lose the April 7th election, but in a city that has for decades been under the thumb of corporate Democrats’ political machine, a deeper victory for progressives has already happened.

Maarcy Wheeler: FBI’s brazen terrorism lie: What the Boston Marathon bombing trial reveals about America’s deluded terror narrative

Close to the end of the March 25 testimony in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial for his role in the April 25, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the government submitted a series of exhibits with chats from the defendant. One described (pdf) wanting President Obama to win the Presidential election as the “lesser of two evils” but asserting “killing Muslims is the only promise Obama or Mitt Romney] will fulfill.” One [joked (pdf) about sex even while discussing studying the Quran. Another described transferring from UMass Dartmouth (in reality, Dzhokhar was already failing out), joking about transferring to an Ivy League school, but ending by saying “I wanna bring justice for my people.” These were chats with no context, simply read by an FBI agent, without even any guidance about with whom Dzhokhar was chatting.

About the only one that made sense was one from December 25, 2012 that read “Doing something with Tamerlan,” Dzhokhar’s older brother who would go on to be killed in a police shoot out after the attack. “I’ll hit you up in a bit bro.”

But when the defense tried to introduce related chats, noting how religious Tamerlan had become and explaining that the older brother had influenced Dzhokhar so much he had been sober for a month, the witness said he wasn’t sure it was about Dzhokhar’s older brother.

It was just an example of the degree to which the prosecution in the marathon trial are cherry picking narrowly from the complex cultural world of Dzhokhar, a Chechen immigrant who grew up steeped in American culture in Cambridge, MA.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: The Political Revolution We Desperately Need

The good news is that the economy today is much better than it was six years ago when George W. Bush left office. The bad news is that, despite these improvements, the 40-year decline of the American middle class continues. Real unemployment is much too high, 35 million Americans continue to have no health insurance and more of our friends and neighbors are living in poverty than at almost any time in the modern history of our country.

Meanwhile, as the rich become much richer, the level of income and wealth inequality has reached obscene and unimaginable levels. In the United States, we have the most unequal level of wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth, and worse now then at any other time since the 1920s. Today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent of our nation owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and one family owns more wealth than the bottom 42 percent. In terms of income, 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. [..]

Clearly, the struggle to create a nation and world of economic and social justice and environmental sanity is not an easy one. But this I know: despair is not an option if we care about our kids and grandchildren. Giving up is not an option if we want to prevent irreparable harm to our planet.

We must stand up and fight back. We must launch a political revolution which engages millions of Americans from all walks of life in the struggle for real change. This country belongs to all of us, not just the billionaire class.

Please join the grass-roots revolution that we desperately need.

On This Day In History April 4

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.

April 4 is the 94th day of the year (95th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 271 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1949,the NATO pact signed

The United States and 11 other nations establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact aimed at containing possible Soviet aggression against Western Europe. NATO stood as the main U.S.-led military alliance against the Soviet Union throughout the duration of the Cold War.

Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union began to deteriorate rapidly in 1948. There were heated disagreements over the postwar status of Germany, with the Americans insisting on German recovery and eventual rearmament and the Soviets steadfastly opposing such actions. In June 1948, the Soviets blocked all ground travel to the American occupation zone in West Berlin, and only a massive U.S. airlift of food and other necessities sustained the population of the zone until the Soviets relented and lifted the blockade in May 1949. In January 1949, President Harry S. Truman warned in his State of the Union Address that the forces of democracy and communism were locked in a dangerous struggle, and he called for a defensive alliance of nations in the North Atlantic-U.S military in Korea.NATO was the result. In April 1949, representatives from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal joined the United States in signing the NATO agreement. The signatories agreed, “An armed attack against one or more of them… shall be considered an attack against them all.” President Truman welcomed the organization as “a shield against aggression.”

The Breakfast Club (Peter Cottontail)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThere’s only one time of year when a performance of Handel’s Messiah is chronologically correct and that is Easter.

Oh sure, the First Act deals with the birth of Jesus as fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and the annunciation of the shepherds, but it’s only one of three.  The bulk of them are about his passion and death, his resurrection, and his ascension (Act II); and redemption, the Day of Judgement, general resurrection, and the ultimate triumph over sin and death and the universal acclamation of Christ (Act III).

As a matter of fact that famous Hallelujah Chorus, the only part anyone bothers with generally?  Act II Finale.

Sorry to ruin your holiday season folks.

While I’m sure Handel would be gratified by the events that mostly consist of gathering the largest group possible to unmusically caterwaul a tricky piece to do well and one that almost nobody knows the right words to as a testament to his enduring popularity, I suspect that he would agree with me that they are best listened to buried among the mass of performers under the influence of an appropriate amount of ek’smas cheer.

The original work is rather modestly scored for a small orchestra and choir with soloists, to be performed in a hall of medium size.  The fashion for large scale performances didn’t start until 1784, 42 years after the debut.  It has always commonly been performed for charitable benefits.

Another interesting feature of this piece is that it’s an archetype of Oratorio structure.  Handel made his mark on the English musical scene as a composer of Italian Operas which were very popular from 1711 until about 1730.  He wrote over 40 of them.  He amassed a small fortune but was increasingly dependent on wealthy patrons to stage his oratorios, anthems and organ concertos.  One particular sponsor was Charles Jennens who is generally credited with the libretto, which is in English.  Handel wrote the music in 24 days.

Now this is not unusual for an Opera and that’s basically what an Oratorio is.  The 3 Act structure is exactly the same as the Italian Operas Handel was used to composing and the only distinguishing features are that there are no costumes, there is no acting, and the sacred nature of the subject.  Handel had composed similar Oratorios when Opera was temporarily banned in Italy (counter-Reformation Fundamentalism).

Anyway, without further adieu the Messiah, all 2 hours and 38 minutes of it.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

A Short Total Eclipse of the Moon

If you’re up early enough, about an hour before sunrise, you might want to look to the sky.

Shortest Lunar Eclipse of the Century

On Saturday morning, April 4, 2015 not long before sunrise, the bright full moon over North America should turn a lovely shade of celestial red during a total lunar eclipse.

The lunar eclipse will be visible from all parts of the United States.  Eastern North America and western South America can see beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the west before sunrise April 4, whereas middle Asia (India, western China, mid-Asian Russia) can view the ending stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the east after sunset April 4. Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Africa and the Middle East won’t see this eclipse at all. A world map of eclipse visibility is available here. The total eclipse will last only five minutes.

This eclipse marks the third in a series of four lunar eclipses in a row, known as a “tetrad.”  The first in the series occurred on April 15, 2014, with the second in the tetrad of eclipses in September of 2014, and the final will be September 28, 2015.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will provide a livestream.

Timeline of eclipse on April 4

Lunar Eclipse, April 4, 2015 Eastern Daylight Time, *a.m.)

Partial eclipse begins 6:16 EDT

Totality begins 7:58 EDT

Greatest eclipse 8:00 EDT

Totality ends 8:03 EDT

Partial eclipse ends 9:45 EDT

Because the the moon can look red during an eclipse, it is sometimes called a “Blood Moon.” The April full moon is often called the “Pink Moon”:

The wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this moon were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and – among coastal tribes – the Full Fish Moon, when the shad came upstream to spawn.