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ON THE ROAD

A homeless man who racked up a ¥180,000 taxi fare from Tokyo to Osaka was arrested after revealing that he only had ¥6,000 to his name.

The National Police Agency sent a team of six judo instructors to teach martial arts to Afghan police officers at a training center in Turkey.

A 24-year-old Tochigi man was arrested for stealing 18 pairs of underwear from the home of a female high school student.

It was reported that mosquito nets made by Sumitomo Chemical Co. are partly responsible for the recent drastic decline in malaria deaths worldwide.

Stats

¥1 million
Bonus payment that beverage giant Kirin will award to all 21 members of Japan’s world championship women’s soccer team

100,000
Households that were unprepared for the switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting on July 24, according to newspaper reports

47/33
Percent of Japanese men and women in their early 30s, respectively, who are single, according to The Daily Yomiuri

Random Japan

[ a bump to the front with a 'welcome back, Mishima'. Hope you're safe and it's all good where you are! - luaptifer]

GOTTA BOUNCE
After winning 10 straight national trampoline championships, 27-year-old Haruka Hirota decided to retire from the sport due to a rule change regarding how much time the athletes spend in the air.

Former Livedoor boss Takafumi Horie decided to go out in style, sporting a Mohawk haircut and wearing a T-shirt bearing the phrase “Go To Jail” as he began his prison sentence for fraud.

Forty-year-old tennis queen Kimiko Date Krumm gave Venus Williams a run for her money at Wimbledon, before finally bowing out 6-7 (6), 6-3, 8-6 in nearly three hours in the second round.
In Sapporo, four “Super Grandmas” aged between 75 and 88 set a world record in the 400-meter medley for swimmers with a combined age between 320 and 359 years. Their combined age was 322 years and they shaved a full 40 seconds off the record.

Doara, the popular mascot of the Chunichi Dragons baseball club, was sent down to the minor leagues to work on his flips after a few mishaps.

Yoshie Soma, a 69-year-old special adviser to the president of Kobe University, was named one of the “most distinguished women in chemistry and chemical engineering in the world” by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. She discovered a copper carbonyl catalyst in the 1960s that has been used in paint for cars and the bottom of ships.

United Arab Emirates has a new Prince

The United Arab Emirates has a new Prince with a different twist, this one was hired. This weekend the New York Times reveals the rulers of the United Arab Emirates have hired former Blackwater founder and owner, Erik Prince for the purpose of creating their own private mercenary army.

We knew Prince had left the U.S. and taken up residence in Abu Dhabi. Now we have a better idea of why...

For Mr. Prince, the foreign battalion is a bold attempt at reinvention. He is hoping to build an empire in the desert, far from the trial lawyers, Congressional investigators and Justice Department officials he is convinced worked in league to portray Blackwater as reckless. He sold the company last year, but in April, a federal appeals court reopened the case against four Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

To help fulfill his ambitions, Mr. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, obtained another multimillion-dollar contract to protect a string of planned nuclear power plants and to provide cybersecurity. He hopes to earn billions more, the former employees said, by assembling additional battalions of Latin American troops for the Emiratis and opening a giant complex where his company can train troops for other governments.

Knowing that his ventures are magnets for controversy, Mr. Prince has masked his involvement with the mercenary battalion. His name is not included on contracts and most other corporate documents, and company insiders have at times tried to hide his identity by referring to him by the code name “Kingfish.” But three former employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements, and two people involved in security contracting described Mr. Prince’s central role.

One must read the entire article to grasp the full implications of Prince's latest incarnation. But don't look for the pro-democracy movements in the Middle East to spread to the UAE.

 

 

A Voice Speaks Out: Lara Logan on her sexual assault in Egypt

Many people have heard of the ordeal that Lara Logan went through during the Egyptian riots. Now, Lara speaks out and tells what happened.

We hope that Lara's recovery continues, and thank her for her voice and bravery. Her decision to speak out may help protect others against having to endure such horrible experiences. Sexual assault is a very real, and very prevalent, problem.

Nobody should ever have to experience it.

Hat-tip to Christina Rad's blog entry about this.

 

A Brief Blast of Happy News - Tuesday Morning, 22 March 2011

So much of the news is often about pain, suffering, trials, tribulations and outright disaster that here's a brief blast of happy news,1 right from the source:

You can now move on to your additional, supplemental news sources for the more mundane, gory and discomforting events of the day. :)

You may use this as an Open Thread, and the comments below for posting any "happy news" you may have encountered.

_________________________

Footnotes

_________________________

1 A brief excerpt of the top international stories found at Happy News late Monday night.

DXC hosts young volunteers for Global Youth Service Day

DAYTON – For the fourth straight year, the Dayton Christian Center (DXC) will partner with the United Way of Dayton’s Volunteer Connection Center to host youth volunteers as they join forces for Global Youth Service Day. This year, Global Youth Service Days occur on April 15 and 16 with the DXC Bright Youth, Better Dayton project taking place on Friday, April 15.

As with last year’s project, the young people will be going about the neighborhood around DXC picking up trash and generally cleaning up the environment. Each student will be issued protective gloves and bright, reflective vests for safety reasons.

“Our mission statement is ‘Enriching and Empowering Lives, One Choice at a Time,’ DXC Associate Executive Director Sarah Williams said recently. “We see that as a quality of life issue as well as quantity. We feel that a nicer, cleaner, more attractive neighborhood is also a safer one, and one where people can enjoy life more and take more pride in it, too.”

  Make the jump»

Killed in Benghazi: Mohammad Nabbous, the "face of citizen journalism" in Libya

Via The Guardian,

The death has been announced of Mohammad Nabbous, described as the "face of citizen journalism in Libya".

Nabbous was apparently shot dead by Gaddafi forces in Benghazi on Saturday.

Known as "Mo", Nabbous set up Libya al-Hurra TV, which broadcast raw feeds and commentary from Benghazi, on Livestream.

Video from the Guardian article, via YouTube

A Google search on the term "journalists targeted" yields quite a few results, indicating the potential power and impact that live reporting can have on fluid, dangerous situations - particularly in this age of ubiquitous and instant communication. Any time that there's a potential for oppression through violence, those doing the oppression know how important it is to keep the truth hidden as long as possible. A few samples from the search results as of this report:

  • Journalists targeted in Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya:
    New York, February 18, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on authorities today in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya to cease their attempts to prevent media from reporting on anti-government demonstrations. Bahraini authorities used live ammunition--including fire from a helicopter--against peaceful protesters and journalists, according to news reports. Pro-government thugs attacked at least two journalists in Yemen, and the Libyan government appeared to be shutting down Facebook, Twitter, and Al-Jazeera's website as a means of silencing reporting on protests.

  • Journalists Targeted by Warring Factions in Ivory Coast:

    The New York-based Committee to protect Journalists [CPJ] says both sides are using media outlets allied with them to disseminate their political message.

    Media houses have been used to inflame passions and win the hearts of civilians in both the south and the rebel-controlled north, says Mohamed Keita, the CPJ Africa advocacy coordinator.

    [...snip...]

    Thirty people were killed recently when they marched on the offices of the state-controlled television station to demand the resignation of its director.

    [...snip...]

    "It is becoming unbearably dangerous for media outlets and their journalists to operate in Ivory Coast,” says Keita. He calls on both sides to “refrain from targeting the press or using politically motivated censorship."

  • Turkish newspaper claims more journalists targeted by ruling party:
    Turkey’s ruling party has a list of 70 people, including journalists and opposition figures, to be kept under surveillance or detained in the scope of the Ergenekon investigation, a daily newspaper has claimed.

The truth hurts. Sometimes, ensuring that the truth gets out can be deadly.

Be careful out there. Without journalists - and without citizen journalists - the forces of oppression and decay can operate with less fear of opposition.

We need to stand together, and we need to keep those who have given their all to keep the rest of us informed, and safe, in our hearts and minds.

Support your local citizen journalists and their efforts - remember, they're doing this for all of us.

 

Note: For those interested in the fate of the four missing NYT journalists, they'd been held in Libya and are now scheduled for release. Via the Boston Herald,

NEW YORK — Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have said they will release four New York Times [NYT] journalists who were captured during fighting in the eastern part of the country, the newspaper said today.

[...snip...]

The journalists are reporter Anthony Shadid; photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario; and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell. In 2009, Farrell was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and was rescued by British commandos.

Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, told ABC News reporter Christiane Amanpour during an interview that the journalists were in Libyan custody, and on Thursday evening Libyan government officials told the U.S. State Department that all four would be released, the Times said in an article on its website.

[...Read the rest at the Boston Herald...]

 

Open Thread: McClatchy News for Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here are headlines from McClatchy's Washington Bureau and McClatchy Newspapers for Thursday, March 17, 2011:

MIDDLE EAST

With helicopters and live fire, Bahrain cracks down on protests

WORLD

Japan's crisis intensifies debate: Is nuclear worth it

U.S. officials: Japanese should widen nuclear evacuation zone

Japan nuclear crisis prompts China to halt plans for new plants

Toyota to match American workers donations for Japan relief

Florida sends radiation protection suits to Japan

El Salvador's long-ago civil war still colors U.S. relations

Lawyer: 'Blood money' bought CIA contractor's freedom

Aristide to return to Haiti by Friday

WikiLeaks beef: Mexico's Calderon wants U.S. ambassador out

POLITICS

Texas House approves handguns on college campuses bill

S.C. Lt. Gov. Ard charged with 92 ethics violations

Kansas Senate kills bill denying immigrants' children in-state tuition

EPA to limit coal-fired power plants' toxic emissions

Obama ducks transparency award, but reason isn't clear

Ex-Murkowski rival Joe Miller to hit paid speaking circuit

NATION

Imam Abdul Rauf touches on 'Ground Zero mosque' controversy during UNC talk

Poll: Californians support unions but also want pensions capped

Japan crisis impacts Alaska's economy

Three radiation monitoring units are headed to Alaska

Honey producers vote down tax plan

U.S. tops in world wine consumption

OPINION

PBS plays a vital role in our society

Journalistic stings and ideologically-blinkered tricksters

We taxpayers have let NFL owners, players down

Voter ID will raise barriers to democracy

Rand Paul's toilet tantrum

BLOGS

Suits & Sentences: Arab League, Libya and skin in the game

Planet Washington: Michelle Obama to pen book on WH Garden

Mexico Unmasked: Turning a page on El Salvador's history

------

Please add your daily news links in the comments. Remember ... this is an open thread.

US Embassy, Tokyo: Citizen Evacuations Have Begun

Via Dolores M. Bernal's News Junkie Post,

The US Embassy in Tokyo has officially announced that it will start evacuating American citizens and their families off Japan starting on Thursday, local Japan time. The Department of State cited the "deteriorating" nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant as the reason to take Americans to "safehaven."

[...snip...]

The safehaven locations so far are in Korea and China — Seoul and Taipei respectively. Citizens wishing to go back to the US will have to make their own arrangement from these locations.

An updated item from the US Embassy site in Tokyo provides the following information:

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo informs U.S. citizens in Japan who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Asia. This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law. U.S. citizens who travel on US government-arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safehaven location. Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Japan on Thursday, March 17. There will be a limited number of seats available on evacuation flights departing from Narita and Haneda airports on March 17. Priority will be given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions.

Persons interested in departing Japan via USG-chartered transportation should proceed to Narita and Haneda airports or contact the US Department of State and Embassy Japan by sending an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444. Please provide the following information:

  • Name
  • age
  • place of birth
  • U.S. passport number, and
  • any special medical needs.

Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safehaven country and/or U.S., if that is your final destination.

We hope that the ongoing situation in Japan can be resolved quickly, preventing further damage and destruction in a nation already reeling from a series of tragic events.

If you can provide any assistance, please do so. There's an excellent list of organizations put together by Lili Ladaga from Yahoo! News. The list there provides some details in a description about giving. In order to get the list of organizations out to the public with the donation links intact, I've listed the organizations directly below, using the links provided by Lili @ Yahoo - so you'll notice that any click-thru tracking credits Yahoo! with the source ID. That's a good thing. Still, check out their original source material for more information, and do what you can to help:

Thank you.

Post Nuclear Japan, Pre Disaster United States

Michael Collins

Bumped and promoted. Originally posted 2011-03-14 04:37:12 -0400. -- GH


The Japanese disaster at Fukushima I is a human tragedy of striking proportions. As many as ten thousand citizens may be dead in the general catastrophe, with many more at risk for radiation poisoning at levels yet to be determined. The fact that Japan is a highly organized and wealthy nation in no way diminishes the intensity of the losses and pain experienced by the victims. (Image)

Political and economic implications will emerge rapidly. As the whole world watches, the Japanese experience creates windows of opportunity to learn how to avert future meltdowns at nuclear ticking time bombs placed throughout Europe, the United States, India, and China.

Events have overwhelmed the highly professional Japanese bureaucracy. In a late Saturday night report by CNN, the chief cabinet minister said that he presumed that there was a nuclear meltdown in reactors one and two, with three on the way. A nuclear regulatory official hedged by referring to the "possibility" of a meltdown, which he said could not be confirmed since workers couldn't get close enough to see. The same regulatory official told CNN,

"We have some confidence, to some extent, to make the situation to be stable status," he said. "We actually have very good confidence that we will resolve this." March 12

Experts outside the government referred to the situation as desperate given the use of saltwater as a last resort for cooling the nuclear material.

See interactive map at International Nuclear Safety Center

  Make the jump»

Dual & Dueling Natural Disasters: Major Earthquakes, Tsunamis in Japan

Above the fold: Information and links regarding emergency communication and people finder services. Please DO NOT use these pages or access the links unless you are actually looking for someone, particularly if you are not located in or around the affected areas.

Please provide any corrections to translated text in comments

Google Activates Person Finder page

Google activates Person Finder for Japan quake, tsunami

Google Inc. has just activated a Person Finder page to help people concerned about loved ones in the area affected by Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Person Finder page can be found at http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/ and it is available both in English and Japanese.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/detail?entry_id=84797#ixzz1GI7GlnlV

via SF Gate

In Japan: Emergency Message Board

NTT East Voice171/Web171 Page

災害用伝言ダイヤルをご利用できる電話、提供開始時期、
Overview and emergency messaging
Available for telephone emergency messaging service, offering start date,
We explain our message and phone number can be registered.

災害用伝言ダイヤルの録音と再生方法を具体的に

Specifically, the way emergency messaging service for recording and playback
We explain.

災害用伝言ダイヤルの録音と再生方法を具体的に
Specifically, the way emergency messaging service for recording and playback
We explain

[Source Page on NTT East]

NTT West Web171 Page

災害用ブロードバンド伝言板の概要とご提供のしくみおよび
Mechanism and overview of broadband Disaster Message Board

災害用ブロードバンド伝言板の 登録 および 閲覧 方法を具体的に
Broadband disaster message board for registering and viewing messages

[Source Page on NTT-West]

Egyptians are walking the razor's edge of social media

The rise of the revolution in Egypt can be attributed in large part to social media:

Inside Egypt's Facebook Revolt
www.newsweek.com

After hundreds of arrests in Cairo Wednesday, some protest organizers have gone missing and are presumed jailed. Now activists are using Egypt’s oldest social medium to keep up the fight.

In the days leading up to this week’s street protests in Egypt, the largest the country has seen since the 1970s, Ahmed Salah was busy spreading the word around Cairo—“in every possible way,” as he put it. A veteran activist who said agitation is his genes, Salah, 45, tapped into his usual network, called family and friends, hit the streets, and posted updates on the Web. “On the 25th, we are trying to give people a bit of hope, and a chance to express themselves,” he said in a phone interview last week. But he said the regime would fight back.

As this Egyptian woman seems to be attesting to, it starts small and can build from there. And it was not without its risks: Make the jump»

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Explosive Happenings, Egyptian Edition

Via ABC News:

Gas pipeline blown up in Egypt

Unknown attackers have blown up an Egyptian terminal supplying gas to Israel near the Gaza Strip, amid raging protests against the regime of president Hosni Mubarak.

[...more...]

The riots continue apace.

In other news, former President George W. Bush had to cancel an appearance overseas, and it looks like it may have been due to the thread of protests coupled with a possibility that he may have been arrested for war crimes.

Today is Saturday, 5 February 2011, and this is an Open Thread.

4 deaths in Flash Floods in Australia

Toowoomba is Australia's second largest inland city, and its largest non-capital inland city.

With an estimated district population of 128,600.
There are more than 150 public parks and gardens in Toowoomba
Elevation: 691 m (2,267 ft)
Toowoomba sits on the crest of the Great Dividing Range - a mountain range.

But today, right now in fact, flash floods have taken the lives of 4 people.

Four confirmed dead in Toowoomba flash flooding
Police have been able to confirm four people have died, including a female pedestrian who was swept to her death as flash floods struck Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.

What happened while you were watching DADT? A Defense Budget passed.

Apparently a military budget was passed. Continuing trends... It is the largest military "Defense" budget ever. From Federal News Radio:

Congress has authorized the Pentagon to spend nearly $160 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no major restrictions on the conduct of operations. This year's approved legislation includes $725 billion in defense programs, including $158.7 billion for overseas combat. Among its numerous provisions is a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops and a guarantee that children of service members can stay covered under the military's TRICARE health care program until they are 26 years of age.

I believe there was no debate on this, but it is only endless war, eh? Just in case you did not hear about this news from your local media, because there ain't much in the Google search on it, YET, below the fold is some video from another untypical source because it ain't in the papers of record or other Traditional Media sources under any obvious headline like, say: "2011 Defense Budget Passed". Make the jump»

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User Tweets

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Found at http://t.co/ENUbHGDg http://t.co/5wgUf1ag 1 year 40 weeks ago
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