World News Section

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 7:39am

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.

This was a town that four years ago was under such severe water restrictions that consideration was given to recycling their own waste water.

Toowoomba says no to recycled water

GlowNZ has been running an incredible series on the terrible floods affecting Queensland, the second largest state in Australia in terms of area, third in terms of population :

Queensland Floods - Bigger than Germany and France combined
Queensland Floods - 1 dead , 2 missing. Countless heartaches.
Queensland Floods - Waters rising, looting, and death
Queensland Flood Updates

Recent rainfall has created these conditions, adding to the horror affecting the people in this state.

This is the flood graph over the past few hours for the Lockyer Creek, downstream of Toowoomba - note where major water level danger is.

Youtube videos from locals :

And a shot of an underwater McDonalds.

Wall of water hits Australian city

Downstream of Toowoomba is Brisbane, the states largest city with a population of 2 million people who, after speaking to a friend up there, have been warned that a 7 meter (22 feet) wall of water is headed towards Brisbane.

There was a comment just posted on Twitter asking the question, is this what climate change looks like?

Personally, I wish I believed that it wasn't.

Connecticut Man1
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 1:05pm

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".

I'll be looking for other sources on this IF and as they come up and update in comments.

Connecticut Man1
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 11:25am

Just some quick Open Thread links below the fold to drive home the importance of Wikileaks:

First from Raw Story and featuring Michael Moore:

Michael Moore offers his servers to host Wikileaks docs, posts $20,000 bail

The liberal filmmaker and author announced in a web posting Tuesday that he had donated $20,000 to the cause of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' embattled chief who is being held in the United Kingdom on sexual offense charges and is seeking to be released on bail.

And second, from BradBlog and featuring Ray McGovern:

McGovern to CNN on WikiLeaks' Assange: 'You Should be Following His Example'

Take a look at the short CNN video interview below with 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. It's astonishing and disturbingly telling.


It's embarrassing enough, in the below, to see CNN shamefully use the chyron "ASSANGE: JOURNALIST OR TERRORIST", since Assange has not been charged with anything remotely akin to "terrorism", nor has he like, ya know, a terrorist, either killed someone, tried to kill someone, or even advocated killing anybody --- unlike many of those who have advocated killing him.

But in the exchange that follows, as posted yesterday, note the telling positions expressed by CNN's Don Lemon about not only his, but CNN's apparent regard for WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange as "a pariah". He seems genuinely taken aback at the notion that, as McGovern tells him, CNN "should be following his example.


And I would be remiss if I did not note that the Senate achieved uhsurpassed levels of bipartisanship last Friday... Unfortunately? It was "Unanimous Consent" to strip Whistleblowers of previous protections.

"Senate Passes Bill That Destroys Existing Whistleblower Rights"

Below is some appropriate music to accompany your Open Thread trip.

And this an Open Thread, hidden on Roxy's servers in her super secret ePM island bunker, leaked to you in honor of Julian Assange, wikileaks and whistleblowers everywhere...


Connecticut Man1
Monday, December 6, 2010 - 1:46pm

There are a lot of people out there screaming about treason and stuff when it comes to Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. I am going to completely skip any comment beyond this paragraph about the fact that Assange is not an American citizen and so, after consulting my "Treason For Dummies" book, it is beyond any and all sense of reason to yell that about  his being a traitor. But too many of our politicians and some media still managed to echo that crazy. Other charges levied out of Sweden and at Assange appear to be nothing more that a badly choreographed CIA comedy of errors.

As for Bradley Manning?

Manning did not really do any serious damage to our country. And if you are going to say he did then I fully expect you to be chasing after Bush, Cheney, Rove and all of the others with, at the very least, equal vigor from this day forward because they were involved in outing Valery Plame's spy ring, Brewster Jennings and Associates and all of their informants in their network to the media and the public. The damage done there was much more serious considering that network was our eyes on the ground and our ears to the ground in the world of illegal illegal sales of weapons of mass destruction sales, more specifically the illegal sales of nuclear arms.

As for the wikileaks seen, thus far?

Anyone with even the slightest inkling of what goes on at Foggy Bottom and that has a lick of common sense could not possibly be shocked by anything that has been released through wikileaks, as of yet. A little more insight to whom exactly they are interested in arm twisting? Whom exactly they are spying upon? Which governments they want to overthrow right now? Darned right. But nothing we could not have guessed at just from following the sandstorm of dirty world politics and nothing that the targets of their typical dinfo campaigns and pressures did not already know, themselves, either.

As far as any real damage that was done?

The USA kind of irreparably damaged itself all on it's own and long before Manning came along. Decades of dangerous actions with the final nail of Bush jr. assured us of that damage. And Obama and the Dems have not changed much of that in the last couple of years. In some areas they have arguably made things worse.

A Constitution shredded at a pace that is only being outdone by the speed with which our country is being looted by the elite. And people like Manning are, to a degree, part of the cure for this disease. The disinfecting sunlight being let in to the darker corners of the more clandestine aspects of Kleptocracy.

In the case of Manning's leaks and the timing of them?

I am of a view that our government has become dangerously secretive - beyond any and all sense of reason - and does need a transparency reboot. And the same can be said for too many other governments around the world, right now.

Again, Manning can and probably should get legally hammered for what he did. An honest observer of recent history would be arguing for the Scooter Libby treatment. But we seem to be running out of honest observers in our government, in our politics, in our media, in our judicial system and in the uber rich elite stratosphere that owns it all and tells them what to do us mere plebes.

Which is the very reasoning why, regardless of his level of guilt meted out to Manning by "Government Inc.", he is another modern day hero of the people for this push-back against the elite insanity that has a death grip on this nation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 - 7:26pm

Bumped and promoted. Originally published 2010-12-04 08:09:35 -0500. -- GH

A senior citizen trying to steal coins from a donation box at a shrine in Tokushima fell and hit his head while attempting to flee the scene. He later claimed his six stitches were “punishment from God.”

A 35-year-old Japanese man was caught at the airport in Bali with 6kg of hash. Apparently, he recently served time in an Indian prison for a similar offense, and now faces the death penalty under Indonesian law.

The 19-year-old son of an American soldier stationed in Japan was found guilty of seriously injuring a 24-year-old Tokyo woman by stringing a rope across a roadway in 2009, causing her to fall off her scooter “just for laughs.” Three other American kids involved got off without charge.

Three Tokyo teens, meanwhile, were arrested for breaking into a couple of cars using a method they had learned on YouTube.

16 million
Letters and packages sent by air and sea from Japan to the US annually

453 grams
Maximum weight of airmail packages sent from Japan to the US due to new anti-terrorism measures (see “The Last Word”

Percent of people in Hong Kong who have a “positive feeling about the Japanese government,” according to a public opinion poll by Hong Kong University

Reported cases of abuse of elderly Japanese by family members in fiscal 2009, a record, according to the health ministry

Believe it or not, 86 incidents were reported of people injuring themselves in Japan over the last 10 years by taking pills before removing the plastic packaging. They musta been smart pills.

A 24-year-old bank employee in Sendai committed suicide by hanging himself, and streamed video of the act online. Some viewers reportedly told him to hurry up and get on with it, while others urged him to reconsider. He didn’t.

Thai authorities said an initial investigation into the shooting death of Reuters cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto during unrest in Bangkok last April has revealed that Thai security forces may have fired the fatal shots.

In Los Angeles, an 84-year-old Japanese-American woman, who had spent time in an internment camp during World War II, was pushed to her death on some train tracks by a deranged homeless woman.

Governor's Son

Goes To The Big House

Financial Services Minister

He Pay's For Your votes

Wanted Man

Wants Name Removed From Wanted List

Younger foreign residents seek a more multicultural Japan

While the foreign resident population in Japan remains relatively small compared to most developed countries at slightly less than 2% of the populace, as of 2009, its presence is being increasingly felt.

From ethnic Koreans to Japanese Brazilians, the younger generations are actively making their voices heard, calling for greater understanding from the Japanese people while also tackling their own identity issues.

‘‘As a third generation ethnic Korean resident, I personally have had almost no experience of any direct discrimination,’’ said Kim Bung Ang of the Korea NGO Center Tokyo branch. ‘‘People of our parents’ generation were unable to get jobs at Japanese companies, but nowadays rejection due solely to foreign nationality is rare.’‘

Kan seen at critical turning point
Should he bring in Ozawa allies to Cabinet, or reach out to LDP?
Staff writers Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010

It was less than three months ago that Prime Minister Naoto Kan was flying high, defeating his political foe Ichiro Ozawa in the Democratic Party of Japan presidential election and enjoying a public support rate of better than 60 percent.
But that support has since plunged to around 20 percent after a number of political blunders, ranging from mishandling the diplomatic crisis with Beijing and the embarrassing online leak of Japan Coast Guard video clips to recent gaffes by key Cabinet ministers.

Saturday, November 27, 2010 - 2:41pm

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.”

Japan’s ranking in the United Nations’ 2010 quality of life survey

Japan’s ranking in last year’s survey

Penalty kicks needed to decide a soccer game between Kyushu International University High School and Higashi Fukuoka High School earlier this month

Total number of hikikomori in Japan, according to the Cabinet Office

A manga cafe in Kobe became the center of an international uproar when a Coast Guard worker uploaded video of September’s run-in with a Chinese fishing boat. The 43-year-old officer responsible for “the leak heard around the world” said he felt “no sense of guilt at all” because the public had a right to know. So there.

Someone sent a letter to the Chinese consulate in Sapporo that “emitted smoke with what sounded like an exploding firecracker.” No injuries or damage were reported.

A buxom bronze statuette of a policewoman from the popular manga Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen-mae Hashutsu-jo has been restored after being damaged by vandals, and is once again titillating passersby at Kameari station on the Joban line.

A stoner who misplaced a bag containing some weed and a few of his meishi went to claim the lost articles from a local police box in Fukuoka. Needless to say, when cops asked him about the joint inside, he took off… but since they had his name cards, they soon tracked him down. D’oh!

Ichiro Ozawa

Pulls A Palin

Fighting Kabuki

The Latest "Rage"

Selling Pianos To North Korea

It's A Crime

Experts urge Japan for bolder steps to welcome refugees, immigrants

When five ethnic Karen families arrived recently from the Mera refugee camp in northwestern Thailand, Japan became the first Asian nation to accept refugees under the third-country resettlement program promoted by the United Nations.

Yet critics remain skeptical of Tokyo, often criticized for its restrictive refugee policy, and some experts said a much more comprehensive approach is necessary to make any significant difference.

‘‘Japan’s refugee policy lags way behind the rest of the world,’’ said Shogo Watanabe, a lawyer actively involved in human rights issues concerning refugees and other foreign residents in Japan. ‘‘From the very beginning when Japan ratified in 1981 the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, it has never had a consistent policy.’‘

Merchants reeling with drop in Chinese visitors

Japanese merchants are starting to feel the pinch amid a sharp drop in Chinese visitor numbers following the fallout from a prolonged row with Beijing over sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands.

Sales in many sectors have fallen sharply.

Department stores, electronics retailers and souvenir shops are now pinning their hopes on a rebound in February when many Chinese travel abroad and splurge during the Lunar New Year holidays.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - 9:54am

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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - 4:36am

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.

Monday, November 22, 2010 - 5:42am

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.

Town in shock as hopes for trapped miners surge
29 people trapped in the Pike River coalmine after a gas explosion on Friday.
The men have been missing since Friday afternoon but rescuers are yet to enter the mine because of fears about toxic gases, fires and further explosions.

Mine explosion over `a thousand degrees`
"The peak temperature of the explosion would be of the order of 1500 Kelvin (1227 degrees Celsius)."

The Upper Big Branch Coal mine took the lives of 29 miners.
Upper Big Branch Coal Mine - names of the miners

President delivered a moving eulogy for these lost lives.

One of the most frustrating things about this was the company's record pointed to a culture of needless recklessness when it came to safety.

West Virginia mine has been cited for myriad safety violations
Three miners have died there since 1998, and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration cited Upper Big Branch for 1,342 safety violations from 2005 through Monday, proposing $1.89 million in fines, according to federal records.

Right now in New Zealand 29 families are waiting for word on 29 coal miners.
Conrad Adams, 43 (Greymouth)
Malcolm Campbell, 25 (Greymouth - Scottish)
Glen Cruse, 35 (Cobden)
Allan Dixon, 59 (Rununga)
Zen Drew, 21 (Greymouth)
Christopher Duggan, 31 (Greymouth)
Joseph Dunbar, 17 (Greymouth)
John Hale, 45 (Ruatapu)
Daniel Herk, 36 (Rununga)
David Hoggart, 33 (Foxton)
Richard Holling, 41 (Blackball)
Andrew Hurren, 32 (Greymouth)
Jacobus 'Koos' Jonker, 47 (Coben - South African),
William Joynson, 49 (Dunollie - Australian)
Riki Keane, 28 (Greymouth)
Terry Kitchin, 41 (Runanga)
Samuel Mackie, 26 (Greymouth)
Francis Marden, 42 (Runanga)
Michael Monk, 23 (Greymouth)
Stuart Mudge, 31 (Rununga)
Kane Nieper, 33 (Greymouth)
Peter O'Neill, 55 (Rununga)
Milton Osborne, 54 (Ngahere)
Brendan Palmer, 27 (Cobden)
Benjamin Rockhouse, 21 (Greymouth)
Peter Rodger, 40 (Greymouth - British)
Blair Sims, 28 (Greymouth)
Joshua Ufer 25 (Australia)
Keith Valli, 62 (Winton)

And once again there is early indication that the company has placed these miners in harms way without enforcing, implementing the necessary safety precautions. Unbelievable after what only six months ago occurred in the United States.

Pike River coalmine 'lacked standard safety gear'
And it emerged the mine did not have any stores of food, water or specifically stationed spare air or oxygen generators - sharply limiting the miners' chances if it takes weeks to find them, as occurred in Chile's famous mine rescue last month.

The Queensland district president of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Steve Smyth, said last night such emergency provisions were required in Australian coalmines.

"If they don't have those systems set up in this mine, it's just unbelievable," Mr Smyth, a mine safety expert, told The Australian.

It seems more and more frequently we are seeing the same pursuit of profit in the fossil fuel industry which leads to significant loss of property, of life being done almost knowingly recklessly.

If you go back to the Gulf Of Mexico disaster, I wrote at the time about an almost identical sequence of events which had occurred not 8 months before in Australia.
BP's Gulf Gusher, 'I've seen this movie before', 8 months ago

A 17 year old is in the New Zealand mine. The fossil fuel industry put him there by fighting tooth and nail to protect this industry from moving from a destructive and dangerous one, to a clean and renewable and SAFE one.

So I'll give you one more 29 to remember, 29th November is Cancun where the agreement which is being negotiated is one which is supposed to be about shifting us away from these industries which pollute the atmosphere, poison the water, destroy mountains, warm the globe and violently take the lives of young men. The world's leaders need to realize the urgency and recognize that it will be unforgivable to walk away from Cancun without an agreement on transitioning to cleaner forms of energy production and away from carbon intensive ones.
If for no other reason, transitioning our energy economy away from these industries should happen so it is no longer necessary to put 29 young (or older) people in harms way in underground coal mines.


Saturday, November 13, 2010 - 10:24am

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.

Number of bear attacks in Japan between April and September of this year

Number of bear attacks all of last year

Foreign students in Japan, a record high, according to the Japan Student Services Organization

Price of a bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila that Asahi Breweries will offer to mark the brand’s 250th anniversary

The Asahi Shimbun apologized to Kyodo News for plagiarizing one of the wire service’s stories. Somewhat improbably, the article in question had to do with “a Kyoto University professor and other researchers confirm[ing] that a painting believed to depict Manichaean cosmology exists in Japan.”

Ninety-one-year-old diplomat and author Eikichi Hayashiya became the first Japanese person to receive an honorary doctorate from Salamanca University in Spain.

A 22-year-old Yamanashi man who stole the identity of more than a dozen Mixi users said he did it because he enjoyed “chatting with women.”

Takashimaya announced that it is planning to open a shopping center in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012.

There's Dope

In The Office

Tsukiji To Tourists

Please Don't Come

I Don't Think

Those Belong To You

Leaked video raises secrecy-law questions

Staff writers

It was Wednesday when a coast guard officer dropped a bombshell on his skipper and sparked a national sensation.

The 43-year-old chief navigator of the patrol ship Uranami, stationed in Kobe, reportedly admitted he posted video clips on the Internet showing a Chinese trawler ramming Japanese patrol craft off the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, shaking the Cabinet to the core.

Soup of the day

By Chris Betros
As soon as you walk into the offices of Campbell Japan Inc, you face an array of colorful soup cans, packets of Pepperidge Farm cookies, Tim Tams and V8 vegetable juice. But soup is what the company is famous for worldwide.

Excluding miso soup, Japan’s soup market is worth about $700 million annually, of which canned soup accounts for only 5% of the total. Of the canned soup segment, Campbell’s has the lion’s share at about 80% with corn potage its biggest seller.

Overseeing the Japan operations is Soji Numano. Fluent in English, Numano has been with Campbell’s since 1988, heading the Tokyo office since 2000. Before joining Campbell’s, he worked in the marketing department of rival Heinz for 13 years.