World News

Random Japan

Bumped and promoted. Originally posted 2010-11-27 09:20:02 -0500. -- GH

A kids’ book written by a 34-year-old Tokyo housewife about the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki Prefecture has become an internet hit, being downloaded approximately 2,600 times since late September. Sounds positively uplifting.

Kenya’s Daily Nation reported that a former ambassador to Japan was questioned by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) over dubious dealings regarding the purchase of land in Tokyo. Not a terribly interesting story, but we just had to get that acronym in there.

Virgin Atlantic Airways and Mori Building City Air Services have started free helicopter shuttles from Ark Hills in Akasaka to Narita Airport for high-end travelers from Tokyo to London.

A few weeks after getting busted in Chiba with cocaine in his pocket, Aussie pro golfer Wayne Perske was banned for the rest of the season by the Japan Golf Tour Organization.

Perske’s problems came on the heels of Kiwi golf pro David Smail’s sex scandal, when his former Japanese girlfriend sent compromising photos and videos to the media after the married Smail tried to break up with her. Man, talk about putting it in the wrong hole!

A female desk clerk at a hotel in Aichi held a press conference to draw light to her situation after a male guest called her to his room to “apologize” over some issue with an escort service. The horny old dude then tried to jump her, “unbuttoning her clothing and touching her lower body.”

New Zealand: 29 Miners Presumed Dead After Second Massive Explosion

Related to the earlier piece about the trapped New Zealand miners, CNN now has this tragic news:


Miners' deaths a national tragedy, New Zealand prime minister says
By the CNN Wire Staff

November 24, 2010 7:07 a.m. EST

(CNN) -- All 29 miners trapped underground following an explosion last week in a New Zealand mine are dead, the official in charge of the rescue attempt said Wednesday.

"There was another massive explosion underground, and based on that explosion, no one survived," Gary Knowles, superintendent of Tasman Police Command, told reporters. "We're now going to recovery mode."



Tragedy sucks.

North v. South: Mounting Tensions in Korea

Oh, bugger -- another conflict brewing on the international stage. From the LA Times:


North Korea fires on South Korean island

Numerous casualties are reported as artillery rounds strike the island. South Korean troops return fire.

By John M. Glionna and Ethan Kim, Los Angeles Times
November 23, 2010|12:11 a.m.
Reporting from Seoul

North Korea on Tuesday fired dozens of artillery rounds onto a populated South Korean island, apparently causing numerous casualties after Pyongyang claimed Seoul was readying for "an invasion," according to media reports here.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called an emergency session of his national security council in an underground bunker at the presidential residence late Tuesday to devise a response to the attack, which occurred near the disputed western border between north and south.


South Korean soldiers returned fire but it was not clear whether any North Koreans were killed or injured.

The South Korean military was conducting drills near Yeonpyeong island when the North opened fire about 2:30 p.m. Seoul time, officials said. Pyongyang had earlier sent letters to Seoul that it considered the exercises "preparation for an invasion," which South Korea denied, officials said.


A spokeswoman for Lee said the Seoul government was looking into the motive behind the sudden attacks.

"Our Navy was conducting a maritime exercise near the western sea border today. North Korea has sent a letter of protest over the drill. We're examining a possible link between the protest and the artillery attack," said Kim Hee-jung, the spokeswoman.



Just what the world needs -- more armed conflict.

And just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, too.

Hat-tip ThomasTallis of DelphiForums for the heads-up.

29 coal miners trapped in New Zealand mine

With our 24/7 news cycle, always moving on to the next adrenalin fix news story, how easy it is for horrific and arguably, avoidable events to fade from the public consciousness.

On April 5, 2010, only a little over 6 months ago, the headlines in the United States were about the tragedy which had befallen 29 miners in an underground coal mine in West Virginia run by Don Blankenship's, Massey Coal.
Upper Big Branch Mine disaster

29 lives were lost.

Just today in China, 29 coal miners trapped underground by a flood, were rescued.
All 29 trapped Chinese miners rescued
These miners were the fortunate ones (this time around), as almost 100 times this number die each year in Chinese coal mines.

And right now, in New Zealand, the families of 29 coal miners are waiting for word on their loved ones who have been trapped in a coal mine since last Friday.

Random Japan

Originally posted 2010-11-13 09:28:56 -0500. Bumped and promoted. -- GH

It was reported that hammocks are becoming trendy among Tokyoites, in part because lying in one “feels similar to being in the mother’s womb.”

The number of “citizens’ farms” rented out by local governments has increased threefold during the past 15 years.

Declaring that “the Democratic Party of Japan is in bad shape,” 63-year-old former PM Yukio Hatoyama put off retirement from the House of Representatives.

The environment ministry said it is launching a “no-holds-barred campaign” to eradicate the Java mongoose in Okinawa. The creature has been deemed an invasive alien species that threatens local wildlife.

Kidnapping Reports at WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs

While it's very slow going, I am currently searching the WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs for the preliminary incident reports of kidnappings of Americans in Iraq. It is - most definitely - not a speedy project. That said, I thought I'd share some of my findings as well as search methodology that seems to work fairly well in terms of maneuvering around the database.

For whatever reasons, navigating the WikiLeaks' site is a bit clunky.

Here is a sample incident report for the kidnapping of American photojournalist, Paul Taggart, abducted on October 10, 2004. Taggart was released several days later:

2004-10-10 11:00:00


Random Japan


It was reported that Steve Jobs vowed never to return to Japan after officials at Kansai International Airport confiscated ninja throwing stars that the Apple chief was carrying to his private jet. A company spokesman denied the report.

At last month’s World Judo Championships in Tokyo, 19-year-old Majlinda Kelmendi competed under the banner of the International Judo Federation instead of her native Kosovo, in part because Russia doesn’t recognize Kosovo as an independent nation.

Too sweet for its own good: confectionery company Ishida Roho was ordered to pay ¥2.8 million in damages to 17 people who lived near its factory in Kyoto’s Minami Ward. The residents said they suffered health problems due to the smell from the manufacturing plant.

For the first time ever, Japanese TV stations lost money televising the World Cup. Broadcasters blamed increased rights fees and the poor performance of the Japanese national team.

A 55-year-old crew member for a Japan Airlines subsidiary was reprimanded for filming the descent of an aircraft from the cockpit with his cellphone camera.

The Nobel Peace Prize and china

Originally posted 2010-10-08 12:00:02 -0400. Bumped and promoted. -- GH

Today the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo of china who has been an advocate for open since he was a student leader during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Even though the Tianamen Square protests were an ultimate failure Liu Xiaobno was undeterred in his promotion of a pluralistic Chinese government. When China was awarded the 2008 Olympic Summer Games one of the conditions imposed by the International Olympic Committee was that China become a more open and democratic society which never happened. It was in the run up to these games that Liu Xiaobo and other political activists issued Charter 08 asking that the Chinese government up hold the conditions under which it was awarded the 2008 Summer Olympic games. After the Charter 08 statement was issued Liu Xiaobo was arrested tried and and convicted by a Chinese court of violating Chinese law for promoting the idea of egalitarianism in China.

What's interesting is that as China's economy has continued to expand China has become more aggressive or perhaps emboldened because of its economic power. One such example is the Senkaku Islands which until 1972 when oil and natural deposits were discovered there no one care about these islands. With the oil and gas discoveries suddenly China and Taiwan laid claim to these islands which Japan has controlled since the 19th century under the Treaty of Shimonnoseki

These two things may not seem to be not related yet in Chinese eyes they are. Its all about a greater China and its place in the world.

Mutiny, Music and Mayhem At Meridian Primary School in Greenwich, Captain Jack Style

When a budding pirate, aged 9, from the Meridian Primary School in Greenwich wrote to Captain Jack Sparrow for help mutinying against the teachers, the Captain's alter ego decided it was worth a short jaunt from the nearby locale where he was filming "Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides."

(c) CAVAN PAWSON via the DailyMailFrom the article in the Daily Mail,

She said that she was then asked by the star to make herself known from the assembled pupils once he arrived, and gave her a cuddle. 

Beatrice marvelled: 'He gave me a hug and he said, "Maybe we shouldn't mutiny today 'cos there are police outside monitoring me."'

Read more:

Not a bad way to plan or stage a mutiny -- the kid shows some promise. :)

Out of Iraq? I don't quite share the same enthusiasm about the "how"

Gates to Iraqis - We'll stay, just ask us

Michael Collins

A revealing article appeared in Voice of America (VOA) on August 12. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the following statement:

"I think we have an agreement with the Iraqis that both governments have agreed to, that we will be out of Iraq at the end of 2011," he (Gates) said. "If a new government is formed there and they want to talk about beyond 2011, we're obviously open to that discussion. But that initiative will have to come from the Iraqis." Robert Gates in "US Military Prepares to Leave Iraq, But May Stay If Asked", Voice of America (VOA), Aug 12

Open Thread - Cursing and cussing and swears. Oh my!

From PZ Myers at Pharyngula we get a world cruise of cussing and cursing:

I'm going to regret this…it's a site that teaches you how to swear in exotic foreign languages, like Tagalog and Australian and Latvian.

The comments section may become more profane, but it'll also become more unintelligible.

I swear that on some blogs it might actually improve their comment sections given the level of discourse provided. This may or may not be a profanity free Open Thread now...

Wikileaks Doc Dump On Afghanistan - And the Media Spins on The Previous Media Fail

Given the last week's Shirley Sherrod news cycle of pre fact checking trashing to a post fact checked resurrection, I find a little bit of humor in asking some in the traditional media to take an advance look at the most recent Wikileaks documents to help verify the fact that they were real. Ya know.... A little bit of fact checking before anybody runs with it.

Anyways, with the resources they have they can and did serve a purpose here as the Times, the Guardian and others confirmed the likelihood that the docs are the real McCoy, and even using the advance notice to take a moment to dig a story or two out of the Wikileaks documents and spin what they can:


Via McClatchy:

Shiite Iraqi militants have trained in Iran in preparation for attacks against U.S. military bases as American combat forces prepare to withdraw by September, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said on Tuesday.

In an unusually candid assessment, Gen. Ray Odierno said that Kataib Hezbollah - an Iraqi Shiite militant group backed by Iran - may be seeking to take some credit for the long-planned departure of U.S. troops.

"For years these groups have been (saying) that they are forcing the U.S. to leave," Odierno told reporters in Baghdad. A significant strike "could be a huge propaganda tool for them in the future."

I guess al Qaeda no longer scares people enough to want them to keep America in Iraq (or Afghanistan) since, now, we have the al Iran Hezbollah Qaeda super army being rolled out in one big bogeyman to try to get you to cower in support of forever war. As Laurence Lewis at dKos notes: