April 13, 2013 archive

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On This Day In History April 13

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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 13 is the 103rd day of the year (104th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 262 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1742, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah premieres in Dublin, Ireland.

Nowadays, the performance of George Friedrich Handel’s Messiah oratorio at Christmas time is a tradition almost as deeply entrenched as decorating trees and hanging stockings. In churches and concert halls around the world, the most famous piece of sacred music in the English language is performed both full and abridged, both with and without audience participation, but almost always and exclusively during the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. It would surprise many, then, to learn that Messiah was not originally intended as a piece of Christmas music. Messiah received its world premiere on this day in 1742, during the Christian season of Lent, and in the decidedly secular context of a concert hall in Dublin, Ireland.

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel, and is one of the most popular works in the Western choral literature. The libretto by Charles Jennens is drawn entirely from the King James and Great Bibles, and interprets the Christian doctrine of the Messiah. Messiah (often but incorrectly called The Messiah) is one of Handel’s most famous works. The Messiah sing-alongs now common at the Christmas season usually consist of only the first of the oratorio’s three parts, with “Hallelujah” (originally concluding the second part) replacing His Yoke is Easy in the first part.

Composed in London during the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin, Ireland on 13 April 1742, it was repeatedly revised by Handel, reaching its most familiar version in the performance to benefit the Foundling Hospital in 1754. In 1789 Mozart orchestrated a German version of the work; his added woodwind parts, and the edition by Ebenezer Prout, were commonly heard until the mid-20th century and the rise of historically informed performance.


Series 2- 1990

Good News in Arctic Oil Drilling!

When we started 2012 there were 3 Oil Companies with licenses to drill in the Alaskan Arctic- Statoil (Norwegian), Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips.

Last fall Statoil announced it was not going to start Arctic activity before 2015, well before the scope and depth of the Shell failure became apparent.  Woefully ill-prepared Shell was forced to withdraw after they wrecked all their equipment (to the tune of $4.5 Billion and counting) and send it to South Korea for repair.

This week ConocoPhillips announced that it will not start operations until 2014 at the earliest either.

All these companies cite ‘regulatory uncertainty’ as the reason.  This means they are uncertain whether they will be regulated at all or be able to create Deepwater blowout whenever they want.

ConocoPhillips Suspends Its Arctic Drilling Plans

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS, The New York Times

Published: April 10, 2013

The decision had been expected after last month’s announcement by the Interior Department that Shell Oil Company would have to provide a detailed plan addressing numerous safety issues before it could resume its drilling operations in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Shell was forced to remove its two drilling rigs from the area and send them to Asia for repairs after a series of ship groundings, weather delays and environmental and safety violations during the 2012 drilling season. Shell, which has spent more than $4.5 billion on its exploration program, also called off its drilling program for this year.

“Companies can’t be expected to invest billions of dollars without some assurance that federal regulators are not going to change the rules on them almost continuously,” she (Senator Lisa Murkowski R Alaska) said. “The administration has created an unacceptable level of uncertainty when it comes to the rules of offshore exploration that must be fixed.”

The Interior Department’s review, completed in early March, concluded that Shell had failed in a broad range of operational and safety tasks, including the towing of one of the two drilling rigs, which ran aground on an Alaskan island on New Year’s Eve. David Lawrence, the executive vice president who was in charge of the Alaska drilling program, recently left the company. The company said that the departure was “by mutual consent.”

ConocoPhillips joins hiatus in offshore Arctic operations

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

April 10, 2013, 1:19 p.m.

Statoil announced last fall that it was postponing its Arctic debut until at least 2015, and company spokesman Ola Morten Aanestad said even that is not a firm commitment. “The earliest possibility would be 2015, but we have not decided that it will be drilled in 2015,” he told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

ConocoPhillips had planned to drill one well, and possibly two, in its Devil’s Paw prospect about 120 miles west of the village of Wainwright, significantly farther offshore than Shell’s operations in 2012.

One issue undoubtedly delaying federal approval of ConocoPhillips’ drilling plans was the company’s intention to use for the first time in the Arctic a jack-up drilling rig, which, unlike the floating rigs Shell employed, would attach to the ocean floor.

Questions have been raised about whether the company would be able to operate safely in the event of swiftly arriving ice packs, as happened during the opening days of Shell’s season in 2012, when its rig was forced to sail away from an advancing ice floe.

Sources familiar with talks between the federal government and  ConocoPhillips  said there were also questions about how the company would comply with requirements that it be able to drill a relief well in the event of a blowout that couldn’t otherwise be contained.

“There’s no reason the government should be operating with these clearly failed standards and oversight, and Conoco’s decision really provides more room to move forward and make operations safe. We really need to make sure that accidents, mishaps and disasters stop,” Christopher Krenz, Arctic program manager for Oceana, said in an interview.

In a big blow to Arctic exploration, Conoco’s offshore-drilling program on hold

Alex DeMarban, Alaska Dispatch

April 10, 2013

The announcement means there may be little oil activity on Alaska’s outer-continental shelf this summer, in part because other companies, including Norwegian oil giant Statoil, have followed the lead of Shell and Conoco.

The report followed Shell’s blunder-filled inaugural season of Arctic exploration, capped by the grounding of the Kulluk drill rig near Kodiak during a powerful winter storm.

The Alaska Wilderness League said industry and the government need time to figure out the next steps, because the risks of drilling in the undeveloped Arctic are extreme.  

“This pause is a real opportunity for President Obama to revisit his position on Arctic Ocean drilling,” said executive director Cindy Shogan. “With no infrastructure or ability to clean up an oil spill in ice, and Shell’s extensive laundry lists of mishaps and failures, it is a no brainer to suspend drilling in the Arctic. If President Obama truly wants to address his climate change legacy, saying no to Arctic Ocean drilling would be a huge first step.”

She added: “Today’s announcement from ConocoPhillips is further proof that no oil company is ready to drill in the harsh and unpredictable environment of the Arctic Ocean.”

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

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A high school baseball coach in Chiba was suspended for breaking one of his players’ arms after the kid missed a fly ball in practice.

It was later revealed that the same coach had “hit another first-year [player] in the face with a bat, knocking out his front teeth and splitting his lip.”

The NPA said it dealt with a record number of cases of child pornography in 2012. Officials said that underage smut “is spreading via the internet.” Gee, ya think?

A Tokyo-based bicycle importer was ordered to pay ¥189 million in damages to a man who was paralyzed in an accident involving his Italian-brand Bianchi bike.

Stop CISPA: Bill Headed For Vote

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Stop CISPA Last month the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was resurrected in the House by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.).

Following a closed-door meeting, the bill was voted out of the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 18-to-2 and privacy experts are up in arms over the lack of privacy protection that were stripped from the bill. Only two Democrats voted against the bi;;, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and  Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Stopping short of a veto threat, the White House said it was unlikely to support the bill

by Leigh Beadon, Techdirt

Here’s the full text of the statement from {Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman):

“We continue to believe that information sharing improvements are essential to effective legislation, but they must include privacy and civil liberties protections, reinforce the roles of civilian and intelligence agencies, and include targeted liability protections. The Administration seeks to build upon the productive dialogue with Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Ruppersberger over the last several months, and the Administration looks forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that any cybersecurity legislation reflects these principles. Further,

we believe the adopted committee amendments reflect a good faith-effort to incorporate some of the Administration’s important substantive concerns, but we do not believe these changes have addressed some outstanding fundamental priorities


Where have we heard this before? FISA? The Patriot Act?

CISPA Amendment Proves Everyone’s Fears Were Justified While Failing To Assuage Them

Just this week, Rep. Rogers flatly stated this is not a surveillance bill. Still, in an attempt to placate the opposition, they backed an amendment (pdf and embedded below) from Rep. Hines replacing that paragraph, which passed in the markup phase. Here’s the new text:


   (A) POLICIES AND PROCEDURES.-The Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, shall establish and periodically review policies and procedures governing the receipt, retention, use, and disclosure of non-publicly available cyber threat information shared with the Federal Government in accordance with paragraph (1). Such policies and procedures shall, consistent with the need to protect systems and networks from cyber threats and mitigate cyber threats in a timely manner-

   (i) minimize the impact on privacy and civil liberties;

   (ii) reasonably limit the receipt, retention, use, and disclosure of cyber threat information associated with specific persons that is not necessary to protect systems or networks from cyber threats or mitigate cyber threats in a timely manner;

   (iii) include requirements to safeguard non-publicly available cyber threat information that may be used to identify specific persons from unauthorized access or acquisition;

   (iv) protect the confidentiality of cyber threat information associated with specific persons to the greatest extent practicable; and

   (v) not delay or impede the flow of cyber threat information necessary to defend against or mitigate a cyber threat.

It seems to me they are hoping that by making the section longer and more complicated, people will miss the fact that very little has changed. But what’s truly astonishing is that this new text reads like a confession that CISPA does involve all the stuff that they’ve been insisting it has nothing to do with.

The big thing, of course, is that this oversight now involves civilian agencies, which is really the only meaningful change – and its impact has been rather minimized. Rather than putting the DHS or another agency in between the public and military agencies like the NSA, they’ve simply given them some input – and it’s hard to say how meaningful that input will be.

The Privacy Risks of CISPA

by Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office

Reports of significant data breaches make headlines ever more frequently, but lost in the cloak and dagger stories of cyberespionage is the impact proposed cybersecurity programs can have on privacy. The same Internet that terrorists, spies and criminals exploit for nefarious purposes is the same Internet we all use daily for intensely private but totally innocuous purposes.

Unfortunately, in their pursuit to protect America’s critical infrastructure and trade secrets, some lawmakers are pushing a dangerous bill that would threaten Americans’ privacy while immunizing companies from any liability should that cyberinformation-sharing cause harm. [..]

Here’s what needs to happen. First, CISPA needs to be amended to clarify that civilians are in charge of information collection for cybersecurity purposes, period. Anything short of that is a fundamental failure. Second, the bill needs to narrow the definition of what can be shared specifically to say that companies can only share information necessary to address cyberthreats after making reasonable efforts to strip personally identifiable information. Industry witnesses before the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees testified this year that this is workable, and such information isn’t even necessary to combat cyberthreats. Third, after sharing, CISPA information should be used only by government and corporate actors for cybersecurity purposes. As a corollary to that, there should be strict and aggressive minimization procedures to protect any sensitive data that slips through.

The ACLU and the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) have banded together to Stop CISPA. The petitions with over 100,000 signatures has been delivered to the White House. Now we need to get to the phones.

The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414.

The comments line is 202-456-1111.

Numbers for the Senate are here.

Numbers for the House are here.

The late internet activist Aaron Swartz called CISPA the “The Patriot Act of the Internet”. Call the White House and your representatives to protect your privacy rights.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is 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.

One Fish, Two Fish

Poached Sole photo 01recipehealth-articleLarge_zps27b3d6ba.jpg

This week I made five different fish dishes and did not use any of the favorite four. I turned, as I always do, to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch pocket guide (they also have an app) for advice about best choices and good alternatives, and bought my fish from a fishmonger at my farmers’ market, from Trader Joe’s, and from Whole Foods. I avoided farmed fish, especially farmed fish from far away. The species I cooked included local Pacific sole, mahi mahi, arctic char, and Pacific halibut. Other good seafood choices are clams and mussels, striped bass, sardines, and rainbow trout.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Oven-Poached Pacific Sole With Lemon Caper Sauce

A fish piccata of sorts, this dish is easy to make and the sauce is perfect for delicate fish like sole or flounder, as well as more robust fish like swordfish.

Greek Baked Fish With Tomatoes and Onions

The robust flavors in the tomato sauce work well with a variety of white fishes.

Oven-Steamed Arctic Char With Piperade

A sauce that works on just about any fish is particularly delicious with Arctic char.

Striped Bass or Mahi Mahi With Fennel, Leeks and Tomatoes

A sauce similar to a vegetable ragout works over any firm white fish.

Broiled Fish With Chermoula

In Morocco, chermoula is traditionally used as a marinade for grilled fish.

The humanity shortfall in federally funded faith-based charity

The John L. Young Women’s Shelter is located three blocks from the US Capitol.  The shelter is operated by New Hope Ministries, Inc of Woodbridge, VA.  Not surprisingly the shelter is operated under a city-funded contract.  And in the District of Columbia that usually means federal money is involved somewhere along the line.

A lawsuit was filed against the shelter on April 5 and a complaint was filed with the DC Office of Human Rights on March 22 by two transgender women who charge that employees of the shelter said they could not be admitted because of their transgender status.

 photo Lakiesha_Washington_zps8f56634a.jpgAn attorney with the DC Trans Coalition filed the lawsuit on behalf of Lakiesha Washington, a homeless woman who attempted to spend the night in the shelter on April 3.  The lawsuit says at that time a discriminatory act took place.

A female employee at the shelter asked Washington, “Are you a woman or a man?”  Washington replied, “I am a transgender woman.”  The employee asked Washington if she had any documentation (presumably a court ordered legal name change or proof of gender reassignment surgery) and Washington said that she did not.  The employee then told Washington,

“We don’t do transgenders here.  You have to leave.”