Archive | March, 2016

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Kobkarn denies water throwing ban

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, minister of tourism and sports, says water gun fights and water throwing remain legal, amidst calls to restrict or ban the mid-April Thai New Year festival. (File photo)

The Tourism and Sports Minister has dismissed reports the government will ban people from throwing water during the Songkran festival.

Throwing water is the highlight of the Songkran festival, which usually runs between April 13 and 15.

Speaking after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and the Ministry of Interior are working closely to address the water problem.

She said authorities are currently waiting for information on water reserves throughout the country from the Irrigation Department before implementing any measures.

Information on water reserves is a key factor for the government to make a decision on water usage during the Songkran festivities, she said.

“We will talk to the officials and make a decision on how water should be used and plan constructively to solve the problems,” Ms Kobkarn added.

Different areas face different degrees of water shortages, Ms Kobkarn said, adding that people living in areas with severe drought would be urged to use less water during the festival.   

She said officials realise the importance of preserving culture and traditions, adding people could enjoy the festival in a traditional way by using a small bowl to pour water, instead of a bucket.

Ms Kobkarn said she has ordered her subordinates to provide information about the severe drought to foreign tourists who plan holidays in Thailand during Songkran. The festival draws many foreigners to visit the country. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged people to use water carefully during Songkran.

The premier also called on parents to tell their children to use less water during the festival.

“I want to urge people to use less water during Songkran as we have to conserve water for use until the rainy season comes. If we don’t have sufficient water, who will be blamed? The government has to take responsibility,” Gen Prayut said, adding he could not stop people from splashing water.

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Ibaraki cops: Shooting at yakuza office latest incident in ongoing feud

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

On Sunday morning, police found three bullet holes in exterior walls and two others in a window of the first floor of the office, located in the Yanakawacho area of Mito City.

Based on testimony from individuals in the area, the shooting took place around 2:00 a.m. The building was unoccupied at the time, and there were no injuries.

The day before, Ibaraki police arrested a 40-year-old member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi for allegedly ramming a truck into another vehicle parked at the same office. He was charged with causing property damage.

The nation’s largest yakuza crime syndicate and a breakaway gang are in a state of all-out war, police announced March 7. (Asahi) A 15-year-old boy in Hiroshima Prefecture committed suicide in December after his school gave him wrong information about his eligibility for a high school entrance exam, the local board of education announced. (Japan Times) The new model had been much-vaunted for its extra space for wheelchairs and strollers and digital advertising boards ahead of its first launch. (Asahi) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused Japan of “double dealing,” as tensions linger between Asia’s two biggest economies over disputed islands and Japanese officials join international criticism of China’s efforts to build artificial islands in disputed waters. (Japan Times) Five years after the Tōhoku tsunami triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history, the cleanup team at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has yet to stem the buildup of contaminated water at the site or determine the precise location of much of the reactor fuel. (nippon.com)
Ibaraki Prefectural Police suspect that a shooting and car-ramming incident at an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group are related to an ongoing gang dispute, reports Nippon News Network (Mar. 6). (Tokyo Reporter) Japan rejected on Tuesday a U.N. panel’s view that Tokyo should take into consideration the opinions of so-called comfort women in implementing a bilateral agreement reached with South Korea last year. (Kyodo) The number of foreign technical intern trainees who fled from workplaces last year reached the highest level ever at 5,803, greatly surpassing the previous year’s figure, according to a Justice Ministry survey. (the-japan-news.com) A 56-year-old Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force official has been arrested on suspicion of sending threatening emails to a female high school student. (Japan Today) SoftBank Group will reorganize its sprawling empire, placing domestic and foreign operations under separate holding companies. (Nikkei)


Article source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/115562.php

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The Fukushima cleanup will take generations

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

The cleanup team is still struggling to halt the buildup of contaminated water, and the techniques and equipment needed to locate, extract, and dispose of the melted fuel have yet to be developed. Given these challenges, many experts are convinced that the decommissioning process will take far longer than the official 40-year timetable-perhaps as long as a century.

One of the first things a visitor will notice upon entering the site is row upon row of massive cylindrical water tanks. Built to store some 800,000 tons of radioactive water, these 1,100 or so tanks bear witness to the epic battle that has absorbed the energies of the cleanup team for the past five years, as it struggled to contain and decontaminate radioactive water and halt its accumulation.

Rainwater and groundwater have continued to pour into the damaged basements of Units 1-4, where it mixes with the highly radioactive cooling water already inside the buildings. To stem the buildup of this contaminated water and prevent it from flowing into the ocean, TEPCO has devised a complicated patchwork of strategies aimed at solving the problem by 2020.
The pillars of TEPCO’s water management efforts to date are two systems for channeling groundwater away from the contaminated basements and releasing it into the ocean relatively free of radioactive contaminants. One, the groundwater bypass system, collects water in wells dug between the reactor buildings and the hills to the west. The water is pumped up from the wells, tested, and eventually released into the ocean. The other, called the subdrain system, uses wells dug around the perimeter of the reactor buildings. So far, TEPCO has discharged some 230,000 tons of water into the ocean using these two methods combined. Even so, groundwater continues to pour into the buildings’ basements at the rate of about 150 tons a day.

The nation’s largest yakuza crime syndicate and a breakaway gang are in a state of all-out war, police announced March 7. (Asahi) A 15-year-old boy in Hiroshima Prefecture committed suicide in December after his school gave him wrong information about his eligibility for a high school entrance exam, the local board of education announced. (Japan Times) The new model had been much-vaunted for its extra space for wheelchairs and strollers and digital advertising boards ahead of its first launch. (Asahi) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused Japan of “double dealing,” as tensions linger between Asia’s two biggest economies over disputed islands and Japanese officials join international criticism of China’s efforts to build artificial islands in disputed waters. (Japan Times) Five years after the Tōhoku tsunami triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history, the cleanup team at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has yet to stem the buildup of contaminated water at the site or determine the precise location of much of the reactor fuel. (nippon.com)
Ibaraki Prefectural Police suspect that a shooting and car-ramming incident at an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group are related to an ongoing gang dispute, reports Nippon News Network (Mar. 6). (Tokyo Reporter) Japan rejected on Tuesday a U.N. panel’s view that Tokyo should take into consideration the opinions of so-called comfort women in implementing a bilateral agreement reached with South Korea last year. (Kyodo) The number of foreign technical intern trainees who fled from workplaces last year reached the highest level ever at 5,803, greatly surpassing the previous year’s figure, according to a Justice Ministry survey. (the-japan-news.com) A 56-year-old Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force official has been arrested on suspicion of sending threatening emails to a female high school student. (Japan Today) SoftBank Group will reorganize its sprawling empire, placing domestic and foreign operations under separate holding companies. (Nikkei)


Article source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/115568.php

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Chinese foreign minister accuses Japanese government of ‘double dealing’

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

Wang’s comments to reporters in Beijing on Tuesday come weeks before a nuclear summit in Washington, where Japan had hoped to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping. While Abe succeeded in breaking a summit hiatus by sitting down with Xi in November 2014 and April 2015, there has been no such meeting in almost a year.

Territorial disputes and Japan’s wartime legacy have been at the center of strained relations, which have marginally improved since a low in 2012 when the Japanese government bought three of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from a private owner.

The islands are also claimed by China.

Ships and planes from both sides continue to tail one another around the uninhabited islets. In the South China Sea, Japan’s vocal support for U.S. challenges to China’s claims to much of the waterway have led to new tensions in recent months.

The nation’s largest yakuza crime syndicate and a breakaway gang are in a state of all-out war, police announced March 7. (Asahi) A 15-year-old boy in Hiroshima Prefecture committed suicide in December after his school gave him wrong information about his eligibility for a high school entrance exam, the local board of education announced. (Japan Times) The new model had been much-vaunted for its extra space for wheelchairs and strollers and digital advertising boards ahead of its first launch. (Asahi) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused Japan of “double dealing,” as tensions linger between Asia’s two biggest economies over disputed islands and Japanese officials join international criticism of China’s efforts to build artificial islands in disputed waters. (Japan Times) Five years after the Tōhoku tsunami triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history, the cleanup team at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has yet to stem the buildup of contaminated water at the site or determine the precise location of much of the reactor fuel. (nippon.com)
Ibaraki Prefectural Police suspect that a shooting and car-ramming incident at an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group are related to an ongoing gang dispute, reports Nippon News Network (Mar. 6). (Tokyo Reporter) Japan rejected on Tuesday a U.N. panel’s view that Tokyo should take into consideration the opinions of so-called comfort women in implementing a bilateral agreement reached with South Korea last year. (Kyodo) The number of foreign technical intern trainees who fled from workplaces last year reached the highest level ever at 5,803, greatly surpassing the previous year’s figure, according to a Justice Ministry survey. (the-japan-news.com) A 56-year-old Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force official has been arrested on suspicion of sending threatening emails to a female high school student. (Japan Today) SoftBank Group will reorganize its sprawling empire, placing domestic and foreign operations under separate holding companies. (Nikkei)


Article source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/115570.php

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New Yamanote Line train relaunch goes without hitch

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

After experiencing a series of system malfunctions on its first day in operation more than three months ago, the much-hyped model undertook its second “first ride.”

There was no ceremony this time around, unlike at the official launch last November, but nonetheless, around 200 train enthusiasts gathered on the platform to take the new train that left Osaki Station in Shinagawa Ward at 3:30 p.m.

Issei Shimauchi, 15, a junior high school third-grader, traveled to the capital from Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, to see the E235′s second debut and was impressed by the design.

The new model had been much-vaunted for its extra space for wheelchairs and strollers and digital advertising boards ahead of its first launch.

The new model had been much-vaunted for its extra space for wheelchairs and strollers and digital advertising boards ahead of its first launch. (Asahi) Universal Studios Japan has attracted a record number of visitors in fiscal 2015, topping the previous 12.7 million mark set the year before, the Osaka theme park operator said Monday. (Japan Times) Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has unveiled a government plan to open the Kyoto State Guest House to the public throughout the year in a bid to further promote tourism in Japan. (Jiji Press) Osaka’s Chuo Ward has topped the list of Airbnb’s top 16 neighborhoods to travel to in 2016, based on growth over 2015, as well as inside tips from hosts who live in those neighborhoods. (Japan Today) Aiming to promote tourism in areas around Haneda Airport, an entity in Tokyo’s Ota Ward is distributing a booklet offering advice on “things to do in three hours,” including dining, shopping and soaking up Japanese culture. (the-japan-news.com)
ASAGO, Hyogo Prefecture–The picturesque ruins of Takeda Castle were alive with activity on March 3 as “the castle in the sky” welcomed tourists to its main structures for the first time after more than two years of renovations. (Asahi) Airport Transport Service Co. said Wednesday that it plans to install ticket machines for its Airport Limousine buses that will be easier to use for foreign visitors to Japan, who are growing in numbers. (the-japan-news.com) Tokyo ranked top in񎧟 of eight major cities around the world rated byಔ indicators focusing on the concentration of urban functions, such as top global companies and large-scale shopping centers, a Japanese survey showed Wednesday. (the-japan-news.com) The Japanese government will allow drivers to use their private cars to provide fee-based transportation services for foreign visitors in special zones in underpopulated areas, informed sources said Wednesday. (Jiji Press) A one-year trial run for taxis aimed at non-Japanese tourists started Tuesday in the city of Kyoto, the first such service in Japan aimed at enhancing the experience for overseas visitors. (Japan Times)


Article source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/115572.php

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Hiroshima boy kills himself after mistakenly told he didn’t qualify for entrance exam

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

The news follows the suicide last month of anotherಏ-year-old boy, in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in which the student and his 47-year-old mother reportedly hanged themselves shortly after he took a high school entrance exam.

The board of education in Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, said Monday that it did not make the boy’s Dec. 8 suicide public for three months at the request of his parents. They worried the news would shock the school’s other students preparing for entrance exams, the officials said.

The parents were scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday night, following the exams for the prefecture’s public high schools.

According to the officials, the boy, a third-year student at Midorigaoka Junior High School, was found collapsed at home at around 5 p.m. Dec. 8. His father called the police. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was confirmed dead.

The nation’s largest yakuza crime syndicate and a breakaway gang are in a state of all-out war, police announced March 7. (Asahi) A 15-year-old boy in Hiroshima Prefecture committed suicide in December after his school gave him wrong information about his eligibility for a high school entrance exam, the local board of education announced. (Japan Times) The new model had been much-vaunted for its extra space for wheelchairs and strollers and digital advertising boards ahead of its first launch. (Asahi) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused Japan of “double dealing,” as tensions linger between Asia’s two biggest economies over disputed islands and Japanese officials join international criticism of China’s efforts to build artificial islands in disputed waters. (Japan Times) Five years after the Tōhoku tsunami triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history, the cleanup team at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has yet to stem the buildup of contaminated water at the site or determine the precise location of much of the reactor fuel. (nippon.com)
Ibaraki Prefectural Police suspect that a shooting and car-ramming incident at an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group are related to an ongoing gang dispute, reports Nippon News Network (Mar. 6). (Tokyo Reporter) Japan rejected on Tuesday a U.N. panel’s view that Tokyo should take into consideration the opinions of so-called comfort women in implementing a bilateral agreement reached with South Korea last year. (Kyodo) The number of foreign technical intern trainees who fled from workplaces last year reached the highest level ever at 5,803, greatly surpassing the previous year’s figure, according to a Justice Ministry survey. (the-japan-news.com) A 56-year-old Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force official has been arrested on suspicion of sending threatening emails to a female high school student. (Japan Today) SoftBank Group will reorganize its sprawling empire, placing domestic and foreign operations under separate holding companies. (Nikkei)


Article source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/115573.php

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Nationwide yakuza war has officially kicked off, police say

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

Four firearm incidents, three Molotov cocktail attacks and nine episodes of vehicles being rammed into gang offices are among 49 cases logged by police involving the rivals between Sept. 1, 2015, and March 6, said the National Police Agency.

The NPA has “judged the situation holistically to be in a state of war,” according to an official.

A war between the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and the original Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi has been feared since the group split in two at the end of August 2015. The breakaway syndicate is currently based in Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture.

The attacks have become increasingly violent, especially since last month, according to the NPA.

The police response included the formation of a central headquarters on March 7 to intensively crack down on the syndicates. The NPA also ordered the prefectural and metropolitan police departments across the nation to establish their own investigative headquarters and urged them to gather detailed intelligence regarding the mobs’ activities.

The nation’s largest yakuza crime syndicate and a breakaway gang are in a state of all-out war, police announced March 7. (Asahi) A 15-year-old boy in Hiroshima Prefecture committed suicide in December after his school gave him wrong information about his eligibility for a high school entrance exam, the local board of education announced. (Japan Times) The new model had been much-vaunted for its extra space for wheelchairs and strollers and digital advertising boards ahead of its first launch. (Asahi) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused Japan of “double dealing,” as tensions linger between Asia’s two biggest economies over disputed islands and Japanese officials join international criticism of China’s efforts to build artificial islands in disputed waters. (Japan Times) Five years after the Tōhoku tsunami triggered the second-worst nuclear accident in history, the cleanup team at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has yet to stem the buildup of contaminated water at the site or determine the precise location of much of the reactor fuel. (nippon.com)
Ibaraki Prefectural Police suspect that a shooting and car-ramming incident at an office of the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group are related to an ongoing gang dispute, reports Nippon News Network (Mar. 6). (Tokyo Reporter) Japan rejected on Tuesday a U.N. panel’s view that Tokyo should take into consideration the opinions of so-called comfort women in implementing a bilateral agreement reached with South Korea last year. (Kyodo) The number of foreign technical intern trainees who fled from workplaces last year reached the highest level ever at 5,803, greatly surpassing the previous year’s figure, according to a Justice Ministry survey. (the-japan-news.com) A 56-year-old Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force official has been arrested on suspicion of sending threatening emails to a female high school student. (Japan Today) SoftBank Group will reorganize its sprawling empire, placing domestic and foreign operations under separate holding companies. (Nikkei)


Article source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/115571.php

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5 Easy Ways to Eat and Drink Like an Italian at Home

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

Eat and Drink Like an Italian

One of the great joys of traveling the world is experiencing new culinary traditions, but we often fail to take these traditions home with us. That shouldn’t be the case, though, because it’s easier than you think to integrate food and drink from abroad into your daily routine.

With that in mind, let’s turn our attention to one of the greatest countries in the world for gastronomes: Italy. Given the country’s outsize influence on what Americans eat—pizza and pasta, anyone?—it’s interesting to observe that how Americans eat bears little resemblance to Italian customs. No matter: this is an easy problem to fix. Weâ€�ve rounded up a few of our favorite Italian traditions and recipes to share, the ones we couldn’t leave behind after getting a taste of la dolce vita. Curious to know how you, too, can eat and drink like an Italian? Read on to discover five hassle-free ways to do exactly that every day. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even follow these tips to plan a chic, simple dinner party at home.

Water and Soft Drinks

San Pellegrino

There isn’t a single thing Italians eat or drink that isn���t carefully considered, and that level of detail extends to nonalcoholic beverages. If you’ve dined out in Italy, you’ve no doubt noticed that water—still or sparkling—comes in bottles, not in pitchers filled with tap water. There are a couple of reasons for this: the water simply tastes good, and its quality and integrity are guaranteed. Both Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water, which comes from the hills of Tuscany, and San Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, which is sourced from the Italian Alps, are trusted brands that are widely consumed by Italians and easy to find in the United States. Both waters are suitable for drinking any time of day, but they play an important role at mealtimes.

In a process known as “harmonizing,” the appropriate water is selected based on the wine and/or food it will be served with. In this case, the lighter flavor and subtle aroma of Acqua Panna pairs well with fresh, fruity white wines; light rosé wines, sweet sparkling wines, seafood dishes and any pasta with a relatively light sauce. The more aggressive character of San Pellegrino, however, pairs best with full-bodied wines with high levels of tannins and acidity, as well as dishes that are particularly spicy, sweet, or heavy. Just as you would pair wine with food, Italians pair the correct water with wine and food to ensure that the water does compete with or overwhelm any other flavors.

When it comes to soft drinks, Italians don’t consume drinks laden with corn syrup, sweeteners, or artificial ingredients. Some of the most popular nonalcoholic drinks come from San Pellegrino’s Sparkling Fruit Beverages line, with just a handful of natural ingredients, including juice harvested from the citrus trees of Sicily, the source of some of Italy���s finest produce.

Aperitivo

Aperitivo

Perhaps the best part of an Italian’s day is the tradition of aperitivo (from the Latin word meaning “to open”), which is sort of like American happy hour but has nothing to do with greasy bar food and cheap drinks. Instead, aperitivo, which is both the name of the ritual as well as the type of drink an Italian might have at that time, is meant to whet one’s appetite, to “open the stomach” for dinner. Whereas American happy hour tends to focus on overindulgence, aperitivo is all about restraint: You’ll never see an Italian getting drunk before dinner.

To recreate aperitivo at home, all you need are a few quality snacks. Upscale Italian bars may serve more complicated options, but it’s quite typical in northern Italy to receive a bowl of olives and some potato chips with your afternoon drink. Other options include nuts, salami, and cheese—all very simple, nothing that requires too much prep work. For drinks, the Negroni (equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth) and Aperol Spritz (two parts Aperol, three parts Prosecco, and a splash of soda) are classic options, but a glass of wine is equally acceptable. Although the hazelnut liquer Frangelico is often considered an after-dinner drink, it makes a fine (and unique) aperitivo when topped with soda and garnished with a lime wedge.

There are three excellent books that provide more information about the aperitivo tradition. Marisa Huff’s forthcoming Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy is filled with dazzling photos and recipes; she focuses both on drinks and food, with chapters on Turin, Portfino and the Ligurian Coast, Milan, Florence, Padua, Rome, and Venice. The Negroni may be one of the easiest cocktails to make, but The Negroni features more than 60 recipes for variations of the drink. Similarly, Spritz (with an irresistibly attractive cover) celebrates the revival of Venice’s favorite beverage and features dozens of recipes for drinks and easy-to-make aperitivo bites.

Fresh Pasta

Fresh Pasta`

It’s no secret that Italians make great pasta, but there’s nothing preventing you from replicating that greatness in your own kitchen. All you need to make fresh pasta is flour, eggs, and salt. Your mileage will vary depending on the type of flour you’re using—so-called 00, or doppio zero, flour is best—but those three ingredients are the building blocks and, when combined, will make pasta, so don’t be ashamed of using all-purpose flour if necessary. You’ll find countless recipes for fresh pasta online, each with different measurements—just make sure the type of flour you use matches the recipe.

Now, if you want to feel like a true Italian nonna, place the combined flour and the salt on a clean countertop and create a well in the center with your fingers before adding the eggs to the well. Mix the eggs with a fork to combine, then slowly start incorporating the flour little by little until it comes together. (This is a messy process, but it’s authentic.) Once you have a ball of dough, you���ll have to knead it by hand for about 10 minutes and then let it rest, covered in plastic wrap, for another 20–30 minutes. If you have a food processor or a stand mixer, you can throw all the ingredients in there and let the machine take care of the mixing and kneading, though you still have to let the pasta rest in order to let the dough develop its gluten network.

Once the dough has rested long enough, it’s time to turn it into pasta. The low-tech method calls for only a rolling pin and a knife: cut the dough into quarters, roll each quarter out until it’s very thin, and then cut strands of tagliatelle, pappardelle, or any other flat pasta. Most home cooks would advocate using a pasta roller to simplify the process, but it’s probably only worth investing in one if you plan to use it often. Either way, once the pasta has been cut, it can be cooked immediately (just a couple of minutes), hang-dried and then stored in an airtight container for a couple of weeks, or frozen for later use. From start to finish, you can have delectable fresh pasta in less than an hour, and the more frequently you make it, the better your technique will become.

Fast and Easy Pasta Sauces

Pesto

If you make your own pasta, you have to make your own sauce. Fortunately, you don’t need to stir a pot for hours to accomplish this. If you’re a minimalist, you can simply combine the pasta with butter, black pepper, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and some of the starchy water the pasta was cooked in; if you wish, you can also add freshly grated nutmeg. This simple preparation will allow you to fully enjoy the flavor and texture of the pasta.

The traditional method for making pesto calls for a mortar and pestle, but you can whip up a batch in a food processor in just a few minutes. The standard recipe calls for combining, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and a cheese called Pecorino Sardo, but you can substitute in any leafy herb or herb combination (parsley and sage, for example), any nut (almonds and walnuts work particularly well—and they’re cheaper than pine nuts), and any hard, sharp cheese, including Parmigiano-Reggiano. The texture of a machine-made pesto is certainly inferior to a handmade one, but the flavor is equally good.

Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is a model of simplicity, with only four ingredients: a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), one onion cut in half, five tablespoons of butter, and a pinch or two of salt, all simmered for about an hour. In the words of the Barefoot Contessa, “How easy is that?”

Digestivo

Digestivo

At the end of a long meal, after the dessert and espresso have been finished, it is customary for Italians to drink a digestivo, typically a type of herbal liqueur called amaro (amari when plural), which is believed to aid in digestion. Traditionally, amari are produced by infusing grape brandy with a blend of herbs, aromatics, and botanicals; the concoction will then be sweetened and aged, resulting in a bittersweet, syrupy liquid with an alcohol content ranging from 11 to 40 percent.

Gven this wide-ranging definition, Aperol and Campari are considered amari, but they would never be served at the end of a meal. For digestivo, Italians tend to stick to darker amari; popular options include Montenegro, from Bologna; Averna, distilled in Sicily; and Cynar, an artichoke-based amaro that is popular in cocktails but can also be served as a digestivo. Last year saw the release of Cynar 70, a 70-proof version of the amaro that’s even better at the end of a big meal.

What’s the best part about amari? All you have to do is open a bottle and pour out a small amount. It can be served neat or on the rocks, but if you’re serving a guest, you should pour it neat and offer ice on the side. After all, that’s what an Italian would do.

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Art Lover’s Guide to Downtown L.A.

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

Downtown Los Angeles (abbreviated DTLA) is in the midst of a renaissance, one that kicked off in 2003�”that’s when the curvy, Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall opened its doors to the public�”and has gained increasing momentum ever since. In the intervening years, the motto “If you build it, they will come” seems apt, with stylish hotels like the Ace and restaurants like Otium, helmed by former French Laundry chef de cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth, having opened up in the neighborhood. That restaurant is attached to what is undoubtedly the area’s biggest draw: the spectacular Broad Museum. It joins an area already rich in visual art, from public sculptures (including a Calder) to museums dedicated to fashion and Asian art. Grab your favorite pair of walking shoes and get ready to explore vibrant DTLA.

The Broad

The Broad

Next to Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad (rhymes with “road�) opened in 2015 and immediately set the art world abuzz with its honeycomb-like exterior and free admission. A gift from philanthropists and art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed space showcases their massive private collection of contemporary art, with more than 2,000 works including pieces by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, and an entire room devoted to Takashi Murakami.

Infinity Mirrored Room

Upon entry, be sure to sign up for your timed ticket to Yayoi Kusama’s spectacular Infinity Mirrored Room, a mirror-lined cavity housing a glittering LED light display, currently on view through September 2016. As it only allows only one or two viewers at a time, admission is extremely limited.

 

Museum of Contemporary Art

MOCA

Just down the street from the Broad, the tree-like mass of airplane parts (a sculpture by Nancy Rubins), marks MOCA, where Eli Broad was the founding chairman in 19ȯ. For just $12 ($7 for students and seniors) you can see thousands of post-1940 works by Jackson Pollock, Catherine Opie, Jasper Johns, and Mark Rothko. The Grand Avenue location is one of three in Los Angeles, including the nearby Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and the MOCA Pacific Design Center. Swing by on Thursdays from 5 to 9 pm, when admission is free.

Other Museums

Star Wars

Style mavens will want to stop by the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum and Galleries, a hidden gem with free exhibitions covering 200 years of fashion history. Highlights include the s of Rudi Gernreich and Gianni Versace Menswear as well as an annual exhibition featuring costumes from notable Hollywood films like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Big Eyes. Down by the Staples Center is the Grammy Museum, with exhibitions and interactive exhibits devoted to the history of the awards, and performances by established and up-and-coming artists. Other cultural offerings include the Chinese American Museum, with historic exhibits as well as fine art by Chinese-American artists in the Garnier building, the locus of the original Los Angeles Chinatown, and the Japanese American National Museum in nearby Little Tokyo, representing over 130 years of Japanese-American history.

Street Art

Dear DTLA

As Downtown L.A. has become invigorated, so has the street art scene, so much so that known artists like the British D*Face, with his homages to Roy Lichtenstein, and Portuguese artist Vhils, with his portraits chipped into walls, have visited to leave their mark on the city. Even cultural leaders like the Ace Hotel have gotten in on the action, with their art billboard project  giving space to different artists each month to design their own installation. But as street art is impermanent (and, unless sanctioned, technically illegal in Los Angeles), it’s difficult to point to any pieces with the certainty that they’ll still be around tomorrow. Instead, try a graffiti tour like GraffTours, which pairs you with knowledgeable staff members (they employ historians, artists, and, we hear, a police officer) for an on-foot experience of pieces that you might miss if you were just driving by.  

Public Sculpture

Four Arches Los Angeles

The Triforium sculpture by Joseph Young in Fletcher-Bowron Square was originally built in 1975 as a futuristic tripod of 1,500 illuminated Italian glass bulbs and interactive sound. For many reasons the design fell into disrepair and only recently has been given a restoration plan, scheduled to begin this year. In the historic neighborhood of Bunker Hill you’ll find Alexander Calder’s 63-foot-tall homage to the work he did with his architect father, the “Four Arches,” located on Bank of America Plaza. On the corner of the Grand Central Market’s parking structure, what looks like the relief of a clocktower that was removed is the â€�Inverted Clocktower,” by Tim Hawkinson, and alongside the LAPD headquarters you’ll find the ambiguous figures of the “sixbeaststwomonkeys”sculpture by Peter Shelton.

In high-tech offerings, “Generations of the Cylinder” by Michael Hayden uses holograms and sensors to react to visitors in front of the International Jewelry Center,  while the outdoor lobby of Caltrans District 7 features the largest public art installation in Los Angeles, “Motordom” by Keith Sonnier, four stories of neon and argon tubes emitting red and blue flashing lights. Lastly, for some comic relief, stop by the Ernst Young building on South Figueroa Street for Terry Allen (artist) and Philip Levine (poet)’s “Corporate Head,” a sculpture of a slightly oversize businessman burying his head into the building, accompanied with the poem, “They said I had a head for business. They said to get ahead I had to lose my head. They said be concrete I became concrete. They said, go, my son, multiply, divide, conquer. I did my best.”

Galleries

Ooga Booga Los Angeles

To experience the revitalization of the arts scene through downtown’s galleries, swing by Gallery Row. On the second Thursday of every month, get an overview at the Downtown Art Walk, a free, self-guided tour that includes some of the top galleries like Cb1, Diego Cardosa Gallery and the Think Tank gallery, plus food trucks and live music. For a unique experience, check out the 2nd street Cigar Lounge, a cigar shop and gallery showing local art, or venture just over the river for the sprawling 12,000-square-foot warehouse space that was formerly a printing press and now houses the new darling 356 S. Mission, a collaboration between New York gallerist Gavin Brown, painter Laura Owens, and art bookstore owner Wendy Yao, who also runs an outpost of her store Ooga Booga in the front of the building.

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Theme parks rise in Dubai amid shifting sands of tourism

Posted on 08 March 2016 by admin

An architectural model view of the Rajmahal Theatre which is a part of Bollywood Parks at the Dubai Parks and Resorts complex is displayed in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on March 1, 2016. (AP photo)

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Dubai tourism

DUBAI — Sweating and hopeful, the performers lined up once more and received instructions mirroring the aspirations of the soon-to-open massive amusement parks they hoped to join: dance three-eighths Bollywood with a stiff shot of hip hop and a touch of whimsy.

And one more thing: “Does anyone tumble?”

This cross-cultural collage will be Dubai Parks and Resorts, a $2.8-billion bet on tourism in this Mideast city-state featuring a Taj Mahal-inspired theatre, the interlocking plastic bricks of Legoland and movie-themed attractions.

Despite all the glitz on display, the attraction is clouded by the earlier experience of an amusement park project that went bust and the fact that low oil prices that have cut into pockets across the Gulf. But backers remain optimistic, suggesting that lower fuel prices will eventually make flights less expensive, helping them to attract visitors from Europe and Asia once the park opens in October.

The park, planned to be over 25 square kilometres, sits southwest of downtown Dubai in the wind-swept deserts off the main highway linking it to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The area is close to where Dubai plans to host the 2020 World Expo, or world’s fair, as well as Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, which officials hope someday will handle over 200 million passengers a year. Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, recently announced the creation of a planned $8.1 billion project nearby called Dubai Wholesale City.

“We’re no longer the Lone Ranger out in the desert,” said Vinit Shah, Dubai Parks Resorts’ chief destination management officer.

A red dragon built out of 230,000 Lego bricks has already arrived for a Legoland roller-coaster. Motiongate, the project’s movie-themed park, will feature a “Smurfs village” and a live-action, hip-hop show based on the “Step Up” film franchise. Bollywood Parks, a Lego-inspired waterpark, as well as shops, restaurants and a luxury hotel round out the project.

Some 15,000 labourers are employed on the site, Shah said. Some 5,000 palm trees and 1.2 million shrubs will be planted alongside air-conditioned queues to battle Dubai’s summertime heat, when the temperature hovers above 40 degrees Celsius with high humidity. Many attractions also will be inside.

“Every couple of degrees helps,” Shah said.

Shares in Dubai Parks and Resorts trade on the Dubai Financial Market stock exchange at around 1.20 dirhams ($0.33) apiece. Its majority owner, with 60% of the company, is Meraas Holding, a firm backed by Sheikh Mohammed. The Kuwait Investment Authority, that country’s sovereign wealth fund, also owns a 5% stake, as does Bahrain’s Mubasher Financial Services.

Investors hope to gain from the growing number of tourists visiting Dubai, home to the long-haul airline Emirates, the world’s tallest building, luxury malls and other attractions. In 2015, Dubai saw 14.2 million overnight visitors, up from 13.2 million the year before, according to the emirate’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. Authorities hope to have 20 million visitors per year by 2020.

Among Dubai’s top visitors are those from surrounding Gulf countries, chief among them neighboring Saudi Arabia and Oman. The plunge in oil prices has affected high-end shopping in Dubai, said Philip Shepherd, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Middle East who has done feasibility studies on the park.

But Shepherd said airline ticket prices likely will drop, and that more family-focused tourists than ever want to come to Dubai from India, as well as the United Kingdom. They’ll find the Dubai amusement park fits their budget and needs, he said.

“Apart from small ones like Ferrari World and a few waterparks, nothing really exists in the region at all,” Shepherd said. “If you just look at the number of people coming into Dubai, the opportunity to access the European market on one side and the Asian market on the other side … it’s an untapped opportunity.”

Shah agreed.

“Regional instability is actually something that has helped some of the development in Dubai,” he said. “We’re trying to build a destination that appeals to families and populations that probably find it difficult to go to places right now where some of this is offered.”

The latest project pales in comparison to Dubailand, a fever-dream of an amusement park conceived at the height of Dubai’s property bubble. Dubailand was to sprawl over some 260 square kilometers of desert and include parks like Legoland, Universal Studios and Six Flags, as well as other attractions.

But Dubailand, proposed by a company in a conglomerate also controlled by Sheikh Mohammed, collapsed when property values in the emirate crashed amid the Great Recession. Heavily indebted, Dubai accepted multibillion-dollar emergency aid packages from Abu Dhabi to stay afloat.

Today, the dream of Dubailand is as faded as the lonely Universal Studios gates that open onto empty desert behind it.

A livelier scene awaits at Dubai Parks Resorts, where dancers and singers have been recruited from across the globe to appear as costumed characters, rappers and acrobatic trampoline artists.

“What we are doing is truthfully extraordinary,” said Jason Ramsburg, the director of live entertainment at the park. “We have over 400 performers and really high-quality brands with the best of the best in the world.”

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