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Archive for March 13, 2013

Ready for spring’s fresh bounty

Vernal treasure: Closely related to broccoli, nanohana is best eaten in spring, when its buds are yellow-green.Vernal treasure: Closely related to broccoli, nanohana is best eaten in spring, when its buds are yellow-green. | MAKIKO ITOH


After an unusually cold winter, the sight of spring produce is particularly welcome, especially the bright yellow-green of nanohana. While plain-green nanohana is available almost year-round these days, it’s only in early spring when you see the ones picked from open fields that are covered in tiny just-emerging flower buds.

Nanohana is one of the oldest vegetables cultivated in Asia, including Japan. It’s closely related to the rapeseed or canola plant in Europe and the West, and also to broccoli, since all of these are members of the brassica family. While in the West rapeseed is usually only grown for its seeds, from which oil is extracted, in Japan the plant is used at various stages of growth. Each stage is given a different name, too: The young spring shoots are called nanohana, which literally means “flower of vegetable,” and the mature plant that’s used for oil as in the West is called aburana, which means “oil plant.” Rapeseed oil is called natane abura or “vegetable-seed oil” and has been used at least since the Edo Period (1603 to 1867).

While they are not as widely celebrated as sakura cherry trees, fields of yellow flowering nanohana are also a much-loved harbinger of spring, coming in between the ume (plum) blossoms that open in mid-February around the Tokyo area and the cherry blossoms that bloom in April. The word nanohana is a recognized seasonal word in haiku, signifying early spring. There’s also a well-known children’s song called “Oborozukiyo” (“Hazy Moonlit Spring Night”) that poetically describes a misty nanohana field in the early evening with a gentle spring breeze blowing over it.

Nanohana is a very versatile vegetable, high in vitamin C as well as other nutrients. It’s also a very frugal vegetable, since there’s nothing to throw away — the florets, stems and leaves are all edible. Unlike some other early spring vegetables, it has no bitterness or tannic quality, so it doesn’t need any special pretreatment. It both tastes and looks its best when the yellow flower buds are just emerging; once the flowers start to open the stems get a little tough, although you can get around this by cooking it just a bit longer.

As I’ve mentioned, nanohana is closely related to broccoli; I’ve seen varieties sold in the United States as broccolini or baby broccoli. The closest vegetable in the West might be broccoli rape, broccoli shoots that are popular in Italy. So you can use it in the same way you would use broccoli: simply steamed or boiled, stir-fried, in soups and so on. Nanohana is also excellent deep-fried with a tempura batter.

The most traditional way to eat nanohana in Japan, especially at this time of year, is as the side dish ohitashi. Simply cook the nanohana in boiling water until the stalks are just tender. Refresh under cold running water and drain well. Serve in a small bowl with some soy sauce or dashi stock mixed with soy sauce (3 tbsp of dashi to 1 tsp of soy sauce) and top with some katsuobushi(bonito flakes) or toasted sesame seeds. The bright-green florets with a sprinkling of yellow will add a colorful breath of spring to your dinner table.

Makiko Itoh is the author of “The Just Bento Cookbook” (Kodansha USA). She writes about bentō lunches and about Japanese cooking and more at


Malacca medical centre hosts Lunar New Year party

For good luck: Staff, management and guests tossed the yee sang at the event.
For good luck: Staff, management and guests tossed the yee sang at the event.

MALACCA: Mahkota Medical Centre (MMC) for the first time got together with its clients, associates and staff for a buffet get-together hi-tea in conjunction with the Lunar New Year.

The MMC management led by general manager Sally Tan, director of operations Christine Lee, Dr Tan Cheng Hock, Lem Lee Min, Jessica Yeo, Teo Chin Yee, Phyllis Chia, Mok Chek Min, Tan Mei Shin and Jesslyn Wang were among those present to greet the guests and media personnel, recently.

“We have always shown our appreciation, love, care and concern for all our clients who have worked and cooperated with us through thick and thin,” said Tan adding that it is MMC’s responsibility to take care and remember them especially during the festive period.

Tan also thanked each and everyone for their loyal support and willingness to assist MMC grow from strength to strength in providing top class medical services to its clients.

Lion showdown: There was an energetic lion dance performance with two “lions” prowling around the MMC lobby.
Lion showdown: There was an energetic lion dance performance with two “lions” prowling around the MMC lobby.

Guests had a wonderful time, mixing and mingling with each other, exchanging jokes and most of all foster the existing relationship and enhancing fellowship amongst each other.

The live performance of two lively lions in a lion dance troupe, provided much attraction as the performers arranged the Mandarin oranges and pomeloes with a red packet in a tray.

Trainee nurses from the MMC Nursing Training Unit, showcased a traditional dance to entertain the large turn-out.

The guests also enjoyed savouring the delicious dishes including traditional cuisine served with hot and cold beverages.

The Star –

Chickpea, Fennel, and Citrus Salad

Chickpea, Fennel, and Citrus Salad
  • Cut peel and pith from 1 grapefruit and 1 lemon; cut between membranes to release segments. Squeeze juice from membranes into a medium bowl; whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss in citrus, one 15-ounce can chickpeas (rinsed, coarsely chopped), 1 thinly sliced fennel bulb and stalks, and a handful of fennel fronds.

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Event Book

iPhone Screenshot 1

Event Book (Free) by Abhinay Ashutosh is a slick little app to help you keep track of your calendars. It is a bit similar to Sunrise Calendar and Horizon Calendar, in the fact that it combines your calendar data with the current weather. I love this new combination of weather and calendar, because it definitely helps you get an overall idea of how your day will end up being like!

Event Book differs from Sunrise Calendar in the fact that it is for all of your calendars, and not just Google Calendar or LinkedIn. There is also no mandatory Facebook login, so Event Book should appeal to those who wanted to try Sunrise but couldn’t. Event Book is also a bit different from Horizon in the fact that it presents data in a format that is much more organized than just a list of events.

I like Event Book because of the clean and simple interface. The current color scheme is light and easy on the eyes, and while I’m not a fan of the orange, really, I think it still works overall. It’s easy to see the various buttons and distinguish everything from each other, and I found it to be very user-friendly.

By default, your events will show up in the Day Book (Long) format. This will display the current day, show you what time of the day it is (Good Morning, Good Afternoon, etc.), weather information, and show you what is happening All Day, Now, and Day Events. The long format will reveal full event durations, but you can change it to the condensed form (tap on the two line button at the top) to have less text. If you prefer the traditional day format (times on the side and events shown in blocks, like in the default Calendar app), just tap on the block button near the top and you’ll get it.

Of course, you don’t just have the Day Book in Event Book. There are three other views that are accessible from the side panel navigational menu: Week Book, Month Book, and List Book. The Week Book view will show your week in an agenda format by default, but you can change it to a condensed or expanded list with the two or three line buttons at the top. Month Book will only have one view, with the month displayed in the top half, and your events for selected days displayed underneath. List Book will show your information in a — you guessed it — list format, and you can condense or expand the information as you please, just like with most of the other books.

Event Book not only allows you to view your calendars, but you can add directly from the app as well. To add a new event, just tap on the + button. You can then input the event title, location, and duration. If you tap on the “More Details” button, you can get more stuff to tinker with: All Day toggle, recurring event, alarms, calendar (if you have multiple), event URL, and notes. Unfortunately, if you like to use the Invite feature from Google Maps, you won’t find that here.

While this event input system is pretty easy, I still wish that Event Book used native language input for event creation. I find that this is the easiest way to add new events, and it is much better than adding details one by one. Fantastical does this wonderfully, and it is even found in Sunrise Calendar. I hope that the developer can implement this in a future update, because that would be amazing.

If you are searching for a specific event, pull up the side panel menu and type what you’re looking for in the search bar. Unfortunately, it only can search by event name, and not by other bits of information, like location.

With Event Book’s settings, you can toggle which calendars are displayed in the app as well as default settings. With Defaults, you can choose what the app launches in to (Day Book Long is the default setting), the default calendar to add events to, when the alarm for new events is, the event length, temperature units (Celsius or Fahrenheit), and 24-hour clock.

While I don’t think Event Book will be replacing Fantastical for me, I think that it’s still a very good option for those who are looking for a viable alternative to the default iOS Calendar. I did experience a few crashes while using it though, but that was because I was switching the views quite often for the sake of describing them in this review. If the developer adds natural language input for event creation, then this app would be even better. It would also be great to be able to search through everything to find a particular event, as well.

Still, I recommend checking it out if you have not found the perfect calendar yet. And it displays weather information, so it’s knocking out two birds with one stone! Get it in the App Store for free for your iPhone.

Appadvice –

iPhone Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 3


Interpol deal to combat fake drugs

Counterfeit drugs found in Belgium
It is estimated that 10% of medicine sales are of fakes

The International Police Agency, Interpol, has announced a deal with the pharmaceutical industry to crack down on fake drugs.

Twenty nine of the world’s biggest drug companies will provide 4.5m euros ($5.9m; £3.9m) in the next three years to help the response to the problem.

“A global effort is needed to combat this threat,” Interpol said.

The agency added that the lives of millions of people were put at risk every day because of it.

Christopher Viehbacher, the chief executive of French drugmaker Sanofi, said: “In the case of drug counterfeiting, it can mean the difference between life and death for a patient.

“It is estimated that 10% of medicines are fake and these figures can go up to 50%, particularly in some poorer countries.”

The money will go towards creating a new programme to improve Interpol’s fight against the counterfeit industry. Part of it will be about raising public awareness of the dangers of fake drugs – particularly online.

The World Health Organisation estimates that in more than 50% of cases, medicines bought over the internet, where the physical address is concealed, have been found to be fake.

The head of Interpol’s Pharmaceutical Crime Programme, Aline Plancon, told the BBC that the funds would be used to support countries with crime detection and help them to follow up investigations.

The programme will also be tasked with rooting out and dismantling organised crime networks that sell fake brands of drugs.

Sometimes, these drugs can have fatal consequences. Last year, in Pakistan, more than a hundred heart patients died after taking counterfeit medicines.


Doctor ‘used silicone fingers’ to sign in for colleagues

Silicone fingers recovered by police
Police said they recovered six silicone fingers at the time of the doctor’s arrest

A Brazilian doctor faces charges of fraud after being caught on camera using silicone fingers to sign in for work for absent colleagues, police say.

Thaune Nunes Ferreira, 29, was arrested on Sunday for using prosthetic fingers to fool the biometric employee attendance device used at the hospital where she works near Sao Paulo.

She is accused of covering up the absence of six colleagues.

Her lawyer says she was forced into the fraud as she faced losing her job.

The local public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation on Monday.

The doctor was arrested by the local police following a two-week investigation in the town of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, and was released on Sunday.

Police said she had six silicone fingers with her at the time of her arrest, three of which have already been identified as bearing the fingerprints of co-workers.


The town’s mayor, Acir Fillo, has also asked five employees of the medical service said to have been involved to step aside, while the local council has launched a public inquiry into the matter.

Brazil’s ministry of health has said it will launch an inquiry of its own into the local hospital.

Mr Fillo says that the police investigation showed that some 300 public employees in the town, whom he described as ”an army of ghosts”, had been receiving pay without going to work.

A council spokesman has told BBC Brasil that among those believed to be those “ghost employees” – as Brazilians call informally those who receive regular wages without actually showing up for work – are public workers in the areas of health, education and security.


How can we maximise the benefits of telehealth for patients across the UK?

Doctor checking man's blood pressure in exam room

Telehealth can help patients manage their own condition aided by technology instead of them having to stay in hospital. Photograph: MBI/Alamy

Technology-enabled integrated care is working well for many health organisations, helping patients stay in their own homes

There is no doubt about it, for those of us in the telehealth industry, this month has seen a disappointing development.

The Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) project presented its second stage of research findings, which reported no evidence base to show that telehealth improves people’s quality of life.

Having worked for more than 18 years as both a nurse and telehealth specialist, I find it amazing that we are still talking about whether it works. Based on my experience, the question should be “how can we make it work?”.

This is particularly important for the incoming clinical commissioning groups, which will undoubtedly find it a daunting prospect to contemplate the shape and composition of future service delivery upon reading these challenging results.

With a swiftly ageing population on the one hand and ongoing budget restrictions on the other, the results have called into perspective an ever-more-urgent need to look at how to create a sustainable delivery model for the future.

We must not forget, however, that technology-enabled integrated care is working well for many health organisations and patients across the UK.

The respected health thinktank 2020health recently published the findings of its own study of a telehealth hub pilot in Yorkshire. There it found that telehealth-enabled care co-ordination can reduce hospital admissions, provide care at home and improve patient outcomes.

It noted that for every 100 patients being telemonitored, 10 hospital admissions are averted each month – that’s up to £2,000 saved per averted admission, representing a return on investment of 48%. Thirty of our own studies have found similar benefits.

It is also important to install and maintain a consistent approach to telehealth-enabled care including best practice and implementation across the study groups. Our experience shows that the optimal impact of a telehealth-enabled programme is observed between 18 months and two years. The results were based on a 12-month review.

Those who we speak to in frontline medicine will attest to the power of having patients living in their own homes, managing their own conditions aided by technology.

These “on the ground” results are, more often than not, the product of integrated delivery systems being put into practice through healthcare and industry partnerships that are dealing with populations with high numbers of people with chronic conditions.

I do not doubt the very real benefits that technology-enabled care can have on people’s health and wellbeing and, in turn, the positive impact this will have on their communities. From what I have read so far, nothing in the WSD reports will change that.

guardian –

Bloomberg’s imperious overreach punished as big soda ban is blocked

Michael Bloomberg on Letterman as judge strikes down big soda ban

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg arriving to record The Late Show with David Letterman on Monday 11 March, just hours after a judge struck down his ban on big sodas. Photograph: Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage

Mike Bloomberg, now in his 12th and blessedly final year as mayor of New York, is a man who’s used to getting his way. So I would not have wanted to be in his city hall bullpen or blacked-out SUV when he heard that a last-minute court decision had voided his pet project: a city ordinance that would prohibit the sale of supersized soft drinks and other sugar-packed beverages. Monday’s ruling didn’t just undercut the mayor’s farewell gesture, a capstone in his crusade against unhealthful or just distasteful public behavior, which he was planning to trumpet on Letterman that night. It was a public humiliation. And whatever the prohibition’s benefits and drawbacks, it looks like a deserving comeuppance for a man who has better things to do than listen to other people.

The court’s ruling was an ornery one, suggesting that the mayor’s law went both too far and not far enough. The judge, one Milton Tingling, said that the city’s board of health cannot “limit or ban a legal item under the guise of ‘controlling chronic disease'”; only the city council, New York’s legislature, had that authority.

At the same time, the judge claimed that the types of beverages the law regulated had been selected in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. In other words, it was invalid because it wasn’t strict enough. His decision also jumps between claiming that the prohibition hurts businesses at random and asserting that “political and economic concerns” lay behind the exceptions, as if Coca-Cola is some poor disenfranchised operation with no political clout.

I agree with Alex Koppelman of the New Yorker that the court’s ruling is “for the most part poorly written and argued” – but it’s true that the law had weird loopholes. Milkshakes were fine, for example, thanks to the dairy lobby. An antisocially massive 64oz Double Gulp from 7-Eleven would have been exempt too, since those stores are regulated by the state and not the city. But free bottles of soda with pizza delivery were out. And in the blingy nightclubs of Manhattan’s meatpacking district, where, for some reason, customers spend $500 or more on bottles of vodka, health officials were ready to crack down on tonic water and cranberry juice. Dunkin’ Donuts was cutting hot chocolate, while Starbucks obnoxiously announced it would not bother to comply for months at least.

Whatever the motivation of Judge Tingling (and there’s speculation that he may have ruled with an eye to his own re-election effort next year), his ruling is a KO for Big Food, which, less than three years ago, also succeeded in clobbering a mooted statewide soda tax. The beverage industry led a multimillion-dollar disinformation campaign, complete with Astroturfing advocates handing out “right to choose” leaflets in Manhattan’s Union Square and aeroplanes flying “soda freedom” banners over Coney Island.

The beverage industry even got the NAACP on board! Despite the fact that African-Americans face higher than average obesity rates, its New York chapter pitched its opposition as a question of racial justice –º without mentioning that Coke is one of its principal backers.

I should go on record here and say that I was a defender of the big soda ban, imperfect as it was. It’s totally appropriate for government to regulate the terms of sale of a harmful product, and to safeguard public health from corporate rapacity – in the same way we’ve done with tobacco. And in the run-up to Tuesday’s planned rollout, the mayor’s office released a barrage of statistics demonstrating that obesity disproportionately affected New Yorkers in lower-income neighborhoods, and that these same New Yorkers were far more likely to be knocking back sodas and other sweet drinks. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, a disadvantaged (though, thanks to Bloomberg, gentrifying) Brooklyn neighborhood, 47% of residents reported drinking a sugary beverage once a day; a third of residents there are obese. On Manhattan’s tonier Upper West Side, where only one in eight residents is obese, just 14% of residents were gulping sodas daily.

I take no pleasure in seeing big business defeat big government. It’s even worse to see this corporate victory, helping their profits and harming our health, dressed up in the disingenuous mantle of “personal freedom”. But the mayor brought this defeat on himself, and it’s hard to have much sympathy.

The big soda ban was echt Bloomberg: small-scale, judgmental, tone-deaf, unconcerned with democratic procedure, and, ultimately, only about buying things. There really is a public health crisis surrounding obesity, and a robust, multivocal, broad-based campaign – one similar to the campaign to discourage tobacco use – could help prevent it. That is not what we got, of course. What we got were unilateral, CEO-style pronouncements from the 13th-richest person on the planet, a man whose policies everywhere from health to urban planning have been driven less by civic concern than matters of taste. On Letterman Monday night, Bloomberg mused, “Look, if you want to lose weight, don’t eat” – a nice suggestion when one in six New Yorkers live in households without enough food. Or else there was this charming bit of sociology, just a few hours before the court’s decision:

“If you go back to the 20s, you see these pictures of the old robber barons with their big stomachs out there – that was a sign of success. Today, those people are doing Pilates and running in marathons and triathlons. And if you look at where obesity is in the country, it tends to be in the people at the lower end of the economic ladder who don’t have the ability to take care of themselves as well.”

With contempt like this, with worthwhile political aims couched in the language of personal disgust, it’s inevitable that voters will disapprove – and corporate forces will be able to make up the difference. And while the mayor’s office will appeal the ruling, our arbitrary and capricious CEO is running out of time.

Christine Quinn To Run For NYC Mayor
Christine Quinn has officially announced her run for mayor of New York. Photograph: Brad Barket/Getty Images

Monday’s ruling came just a day after Christine Quinn, the glad-handing, hard-charging city council speaker, whom New York magazine recently christened “the lesbian Tip O’Neill”, officially entered the race for mayor. Launching her campaign with a very unBloombergian five-borough walking tour and a gauzy YouTube video, shot 1950s-style at the counter of the Moonstruck Diner, the presumptive favorite struck a populist tone. She spoke warmly about her union-leading father, and not much at all about the $27bn man she’s worked alongside for seven years.

Unlike Bloomberg, Quinn actually has to raise money to get elected. In January, she banked nearly $10,000 from Coca-Cola. And in case you wondered where she stood on this final, most pathetic failure of New York’s imperious chief executive, on Monday night across from Piers Morgan, Quinn took a massive swig from a 32oz soft drink.

guardian –

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