Peoples in Japan and TPPA

AFTER 10 years of negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a regional trade deal amongst 12 countries in the Asia Pacific Region, is still yet to be signed.

Naturally the United States, the prime mover of “free trade”, is anxious to conclude negotiations soon. We have to be extra careful here and be mindful of the fact that the TPPA is not just about trade. In countries such as Malaysia, it will affect medical, educational and cultural areas as well.

For example, we use a lot of generic medicines because they are much cheaper than patented medicines. These generic formulations naturally allow for wider access to medical treatment, especially for less developed communities.

But the TPPA will most certainly grant big pharmaceutical firms greater protection for their patents and clinical data, which means it will become far more difficult to produce quality generic medicines (note*).

Politicians, trade activists and rights campaigners have raised many other such issues about the TPPA. The US has been so keen about pushing for the TPPA that even the usually recalcitrant US Congress has decided to empower President Barack Obama to fast-track negotiations to sign the deal with participating countries.

Countries that have been placed in the Tier 3 ranking on the US Human Trafficking Report, however, are not eligible for this fast-track mechanism. Affected countries include Venezuela, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe. Until yesterday, Malaysia was also a member of this Tier 3 team.

The promotion of Malaysia, a big US trading partner, to Tier 2 Watch List has given both countries a reprieve. Both are eager to sign the TPPA, although the Malaysian Government has been careful not to seem too enthusiastic about it.

Now that Malaysia has successfully lobbied itself into Tier 2 Watch List, our Government can now announce to the world that our human trafficking issues are not as bad as human rights groups have made them out to be.

The International Trade and Industry Minister is also now able to show the rakyat that he has successfully brought the benefits of the TPPA to Malaysia.

I must say that we should not go overboard in celebrating our country’s upgrade to Tier 2 Watch List or in signing the trade agreement. There are many areas of the TPPA that we should be taking a hard look at, because it will give the big economies and multinationals a stronger say in how we manage our own businesses.

More important than business (to me at least) is the fate of the thousands of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar. Despite the official stand that things are better now in terms of the prevention and management of human trafficking, it’s still true that the prosecution of such cases is negligible.

As a country, we still have a long way to go to get rid of human traffickers, simply because we have large oil palm estates that need workers and we are so close to Bangladesh and Myanmar, the countries that supply them.

Having laws to protect these innocent workers from being treated like the slaves who once laboured in the old Confederate American states is not enough. That is the easy part.

What counts more is our seriousness in prosecuting and sending the crooks who are responsible to prison. We must not forget about the mass graves that we discovered in Perlis or the many camps along the Thai border that the traffickers used.

We must not turn a blind eye to the fact that our neighbour Thailand has one of the worst records in human trafficking. We surely must know about the real conditions that oil palm workers face because Felda employs so many of them.

Large American companies buy the finished products from the palm oil industry, so they too should know what the living and working conditions of these workers are like...

I would like to suggest that while we celebrate the success of the TPPA and with it, the upgrading of our place in the ranking for human trafficking, please spare a thought for the estimated more than 50,000 boat people who come from Bangladesh and Myanmar every year.

Many lose their lives during their dangerous journeys, after having already had to sell their properties to pay the exorbitant fees that traffickers charge.

All of them embarked on these journeys to find work, to make something of their lives, and to give their children a better chance at a future.

While we want our palm oil industry to flourish and while we celebrate being part of a free trade pact with regional countries, let’s not forget the many Bangladeshis and Myanmar in our Felda estates who earn RM700 a month or less.

Some of them do not get paid for months. Felda and other plantation owners may not be directly responsible for this state of affairs or for illegal workers coming to their estates, but they do have a moral duty to ensure their subcontractors and other suppliers do not bring in these workers.

If these workers do end up on the estates, then they must at least be paid as they were promised.

Felda must care enough about these people to carry out spot checks on their subcontractors.

We still hear all too frequently about workers being deprived of their wages and of employers withholding their passports.

Felda is already a global palm oil player; its next mission must be to help rid this high-income developed country of ours of such practices

The Star, Published: Friday July 31, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
TPPA and the trafficking of human lives;
We should not go overboard in celebrating our country’s upgrade to Tier 2 Watch List or in signing the trade agreement.
By Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, former de facto Law Minister

(Mr Yahho's note*)
KUALA LUMPUR: The price of me--di---cines – from antibiotics to cancer treatments – some of which went up due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will go up even more under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA), a doctors’ association says.

The Star, Published: Sunday July 26, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
‘Medicine prices will increase with TPPA’

(Mr Yahho's note**)
WSJ reports Felda denying that its workers, nearly 85% of them foreigners, have had their wages and passports withheld.

Most of the foreign workers at Felda plantations are hired through third parties.

The palm oil industry is worth about US$30 billion (RM115 billion) globally and Malaysia exports about US$12 billion of the world’s most consumed vegetable oil.

About three weeks ago, American lawmakers and human rights activists were alarmed at the United States government’s plan to remove Malaysia from a list of countries with the worst human trafficking records, according to media reports.

The New York Times newspaper and the Huffington Post website said US Senator Robert Menendez would call for an investigation if the US government upgraded Malaysia’s rating from Tier 3 – the lowest rank – in the US government’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons’ report (TIP) to Tier 2.

But pressure is mounting on the US to “upgrade” Malaysia’s ranking if it wishes to conclude a free trade pact since the country is legally barred from signing a deal with a Tier 3 country, said WSJ.

The US is using “fast-track” legislation to smooth the way for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and this year’s State Department human-trafficking report, delayed since June, is expected to be released today.

“They buy and sell us like cattle,” WSJ quoted a 25-year-old worker from Bangladesh as saying.

He said he had been shunted among three contractors for six months without receiving any pay.

Another Bangladeshi said his contractor deducted 30% from his weekly pay when he took an hour off to attend Friday prayers.

Foreign workers hired directly by Felda said they have a better deal and were paid the minimum wage or RM900 and allowed to go home every two years as per their contracts.

Felda is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a certification scheme meant to ensure environmental and social standards. Its rules say all plantation workers must have adequate training and protection and be paid a living wage.

WSJ said Malaysia's Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry spokesman did not respond to questions about the alleged abuse and use of trafficked workers on plantations.

The Malaysia Insider, Published: July 27, 2015 10:30 AM
Felda plantations using forced labour, says WSJ

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No TPP deal in Hawaii

Do peoples in Japan know the following statement or comment issued by negotiations country's leader? How are they working this issue with other country's citizens?

Kuala Lumpur − Malaysia will not be signing any agreements related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement during the ongoing ministerial meeting in Hawaii that ends on Friday.

In a statement, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said: “Signing of the TPP will not happen in Hawaii.

Like Malaysia, each TPP member will need to go through its own domestic process before a final decision to sign and ratify the TPP is made.

With negotiations nearing conclusion, Mustapa countries need to make their decisions and the Malaysian government will take a firm stand on the agreement while safeguarding the Malaysian Constitution, sovereignty, and core policies such as the Bumiputera agenda.

Noting public concern of Malaysia’s sovereignty being impinged by the agreement, he said the TPP would not prevent governments from pursuing and regulating legitimate public policy objectives – especially in areas such as national security, public health environment and welfare...

“In addition to greater market liberalisation and competitiveness, the TPP also has elements such as adhering to international best practices, promoting transparency and good governance, all of which are in the best interest of Malaysia. These principles are also in line with our aspirations of becoming a developed nation by 2020.”

And before any decision is made, the agreement will be presented to Parliament for debate together with the two cost-and-benefit analyses.

“A decision to sign or otherwise will be taken after the debate in Parliament. I urge all Malaysians to keep an open mind on the TPP while negotiations are on-going.

“We appreciate your insights and take cognisance of your concerns. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the feedback from all parties has helped shape our negotiating stance.

Ultimately, the final document will be presented to the Cabinet, Parliament and the Malaysian public. It will be a collective Malaysian decision whether or not Malaysia becomes a Party to the TPP.

The Rakyat post, Published: July 29, 2015
Mustapa: Malaysia not signing TPP in Hawaii

OTTAWA − The U.S. government is frustrated with Canada over Pacific Rim trade talks because it believes Ottawa promised greater foreign access to its dairy and poultry markets as a condition of joining – and yet has offered nothing as discussions enter the final stretch, sources say.

This friction between Canada and the U.S. is exposing a fundamental disagreement over precisely what the Canadian government signed up for when it joined Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in the fall of 2012.

American officials including chief U.S. negotiator Michael Froman have repeatedly publicly prodded Canada to produce a “meaningful offer” and disclose to the U.S. what kind of agriculture concessions it will make. Trade ministers from 12 countries are preparing to gather in Hawaii shortly for what some describe as a final push for a TPP deal.

Canada’s Trade Minister Ed Fast dismisses these challenges from Washington, telling The Globe and Mail last week that “the Americans prefer to negotiate this agreement through the media” and he won’t.

Sources say as far as the U.S. is concerned, Canada promised that “things that weren’t addressed in the North American free-trade agreement – poultry and dairy – were going to be addressed” in the Pacific Rim talks.

“That was very clear; that was agreed upon,” a source familiar with the trade talks said.

A condition of joining the TPP talks for Canada and all countries was that they would be “comprehensive” – that is, member countries could not protect sacred trade cows and must put everything on the table for possible negotiation.

The Canadian government is adamant, however, that it made no particular trade-concession promises in order to gain a seat at the TPP negotiations.

“Canada did not agree to any specific measures in terms of an eventual Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement prior to joining talks,” Rick Roth, spokesman for Mr. Fast, said Wednesday.

The Canadian Trade Minister and counterparts from countries including the United States, Japan, Malaysia and Chile are heading to Maui near the end of July, with U.S. President Barack Obama seeking a speedy conclusion after obtaining “fast-track” negotiating authority from Congress in June.

Tariffs of as much as 300 per cent shield Canadian dairy and poultry farmers from foreign competitors. A rise in imports could mean cheaper chicken, milk and cheese for consumers but could also destabilize Canada’s carefully calibrated supply management system, which tightly regulates the price and production of milk, chicken and eggs.

Countries normally hold back on concessions for their most sensitive economic sectors until the last minute.

Washington is frustrated, however, that Canada has not even put forward its first offer on agriculture as the U.S. is trying to wind up talks. U.S. farmers stand to be a big beneficiary of any new inroads into Canadian dairy and poultry markets.

Using the analogy of the bell that marks the final lap in a track race, “the bell has rung” and the U.S. is still waiting on its first offer from Canada, a source familiar with talks said.

Japan’s minister of state for economic and fiscal policy, Akira Amari, this week publicly raised the possibility of a deal concluding without one or two of the negotiating countries. He would not name the countries but Japanese-based news services including Kyodo News cited sources identifying Canada as a laggard.

“If there are countries that are … not willing to reach an agreement at the Hawaii meeting, we can’t afford to let the TPP go adrift for their sake,” Mr. Amari told a news conference Tuesday, according to Kyodo News...

The Globe and Mail, Last updated Sunday, Jul. 19, 2015 8:53AM ED
Tension builds between Canada, U.S. over TPP deal
By Steven Chase

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It's genuinely one of the only independent papers left.

Please refer to Mr. Yahoo's Blog as his Diary dated 2015年07月24日 under the title of "such a juvenile warmonger". He took note about the Financial Times and to his surprise:

With the announcement last Thursday that Nikkei would buy The Financial Times from its British parent, Pearson, for $1.3 billion, Nikkei has committed sizable resources to bringing Mr. Okada’s journalistic touchstone under its roof.

The acquisition took the media world by surprise and has left many wondering how Nikkei − a 139-year-old publication read faithfully by millions of Japanese office workers but almost no one else − will manage its smaller but more cosmopolitan prize.

The deal comes at a time of anxiety in the Japanese newspaper industry, where the huge circulations historically enjoyed by the leading dailies are beginning to creep downward, exposing weaknesses such as underdeveloped digital-publishing platforms and a general newsroom insularity.

“Japanese newspapers have the largest circulations in the world, but it’s an almost entirely local industry,” said Yasunori Sone, a media studies professor at Keio University, citing a combination of language and cultural barriers that helps keep foreign competitors out and the domestic press looking inward...

The contrast between Nikkei’s low global profile and its outsize presence at home is stark. The print paper has a circulation of nearly three million − more than any American daily and 10 times the number of readers who thumb through The Financial Times’s salmon pages. It prints twice a day, and readers can supplement their morning and evening Nikkei with business programs on the paper’s television network, TV Tokyo; receive instant news alerts from its wire service, Nikkei Quick; and check their investments on the Nikkei 225, the benchmark stock index compiled by the company...

“Globalization and digitalization are the things Nikkei is after most,” Mr. Sone said.

The New York Times, Published: JULY 28, 2015
Nikkei Vies for Global Clout With Splurge on The Financial Times
By Jonathan Soble

The 127-year-old Financial Times, whose pink pages are as much a symbol of the City as the pinstriped suit, is to be sold to a Japanese financial media company by its British owners for £844m.

The sale to Nikkei by Pearson, which comes after years of speculation over its long-term commitment to owning the FT, demonstrates the eagerness of cash-rich international investors looking to expand into a financial news landscape dominated by the English language.

Pearson, which bought the FT in 1957, said it had decided to sell in order to focus on its far larger educational publishing business in the US. John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, said: “Education and journalism are both great and noble callings but they are not the same thing and require different skills, capabilities and intensity of focus.
Analysis FT's new owners Nikkei are cut from the same template
‘Our motto of providing high-quality reporting on economic and other news, while maintaining fairness and impartiality, is very close to that of the FT,’ says Nikkei chief executive
Read more

“Pearson has been a proud proprietor of the FT for nearly 60 years. But we’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social. In this new environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company.”

Little known in the UK, Nikkei – founded in 1876 – is one of the largest media companies in Japan, spanning newspapers, broadcasting, magazines and digital media. The group includes a flagship newspaper of the same name, which has 3 million subscribers, TV Tokyo and finance and a business news channel, Nikkei CNBC.

The sale does not include Pearson’s frequently coveted 50% share in the Economist group or the FT’s headquarters building by the Thames in London. Under the terms of the deal Nikkei, which is the largest independent business media group in Asia, will pay a commercial rent for the FT’s building once the takeover is finalised at the end of the year.

The Guardian, Published: Thursday 23 July 2015 11.13 BST
Financial Times sold to Japanese media group Nikkei for £844m;
Sale by Pearson does not include 50% stake in the Economist or the newspaper’s Southwark Bridge headquarters
By John Plunkett and Jane Martinson

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a killing of a fully protected species

Please refer to Mr. Yahoo's Blog as his Diary dated 2015年07月16日 under the title of "lucky to be alive". However a sad news:

KOTA KINABALU: After two weeks fighting for his life, 20-year-old male orang utan Gedau has succumbed to his injuries.

Gedau, who was found on July 13 in an oil palm estate in Gedau, Beluran, died at 4.30pm on Sunday due possibly to blood poisoning from the infections to his wounds on his body.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya said in a statement that Gedau died due to severe complications initially caused by the savage attack by an Indonesian plantation worker.

“Our veterinary and medical team at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Quarantine and Clinic facility tried their best to save it, and for the first few days the orang utan seemed to be improving,” he said.

“Unfortunately when the orang utan was further observed and monitored it became obvious that the parang wound to the back was so deep that it punctured into the air sac (a loose pouch located around the throat used for vocalising), causing severe infection,” William said.

“Even with all our expert care and medical treatment the results of the post mortem confirmed that the orangutan died of acute and severe septicaemia (commonly known as blood poisoning) caused by the initial parang wound and also the smaller secondary wounds that was probably caused by the same weapon,” he added.

Gedau was discovered by plantation workers at the estate not far from east coast Sandakan district and was handed over to wildlife officials the next day after the workers noticed wounds on its body.

Syam Sul, 38, claimed that he attacked the orang utan after it chased him and has been jailed for a year.

William said they would be appealing for a heavier sentence to be imposed on Syam Sul now that Gedau has died.

"Since this case has escalated to a killing of a fully protected species and not just injuring it, I have directed my prosecution officer to discuss this case with the court to consider appealing for a much heavier punishment for the orangutan killer,” he said.

The Star, Updated: Monday July 27, 2015 MYT 8:37:11 PM
Gedau, the rescued orang utan, dies of injuries
by Stephanie Lee

KUCHING: The Sarawak Government will embark on an orang utan-led environmental policy, promises Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

Aside from not approving any new logging licences and approvals for plantations, the ape-friendly policy should lead to there being more totally-protected and communal conservation areas at newly-found orang utan habitats.

Adenan, in a taped speech presented at the Great Apes Survival Partnership (Grasp) meeting in Kota Kinabalu yesterday, said the Batang Ai and Lajak-Entimau protected areas that border West Kalimantan, Indonesia, would likely be expanded based on new sightings.

The Chief Minister, who in the recording described himself as an “amateur naturalist” and a fan of BBC documentary maker Sir David Attenborough, pledged to “make decisions that are in the favour of nature”.

“I am very concerned about the state of our orang utans and other mammals in Borneo. I am a naturalist by inclination and have made concrete decisions with regard to conservation of our natural resources, especially with regard to fauna,” Adenan said during the Grasp South-East Asia meeting.

“With regard to orang utans, we have happily discovered a few more areas of habitat. In fact, over and above the present ones at the Batang Ai and Lanjak Entimau landscape, they have discovered quite a few more in nearby areas. We will preserve those.”

Portions of Batang Ai are currently in a national park, while the Lanjak Entimau area is a wildlife sanctuary.

Joint public-private survey findings that ended in May last year have uncovered the existence of about 200 orang utans in and around Ulu Sungai Menyang, which is south of the existing protected areas.

The boundaries of Batang Ai National Park could also be widened westwards, where two other surveys have shown an estimated over 120 orang utans.

In a report in The Star a year ago, illegal logging was detected by indigenous communities living near the national park and staff of an international hotel chain that operates a five-star resort in the area. The report led to swift enforcement.

In March this year, the Sarawak Government announced a revised target of creating 1.5 million hectares of totally protected areas, which is slightly above 10% of the state’s landmass...

The Star, Published: Wednesday July 29, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sarawak to be more ape-friendly
By Yu Ji

British singer Jane Birkin has asked luxury manufacturer Hermès to remove her name from its crocodile-skin handbag after learning of the “cruel” methods used to make the famous accessory...

“Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermès handbags carrying my name ... I have asked Hermès to debaptise the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place,” Birkin said in a statement.

Animal rights group Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently published an exposé on crocodile farms from Texas to Zimbabwe where the animals are allegedly crammed into barren concrete pits before being “crudely hacked” to death.

Peta said it takes two or three crocodiles to make one of the cherished handbags.

“At just one year old, alligators are shot with a captive-bolt gun or crudely cut into while they’re still conscious and able to feel pain,” said Peta.

“The investigator saw alligators continuing to move their legs and tails in the bleed rack and in bloody ice bins several minutes after their attempted slaughter.”

Aside from being the muse for the Hermès handbag, Birkin is best known for her No 1 hit Je T’Aime (Moi Non Plus), written by and sung with her then husband Serge Gainsbourg.

Contacted by AFP, Hermès did not wish to comment.

The Guardian, Last modified: Wednesday 29 July 2015 19.59 BST
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to remove her name from handbag after Peta exposé;
Model and singer wants Birkin bag to be renamed after Peta investigation into French luxury goods manufacturer’s treatment of crocodiles and alligators
By Press Association

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British bulldog Tony

Mr Yahho is surprised reading the newspaper that Indonesia claimed Australia that they paied the cash to the boat captain asking them turn boats around where so many refuggee as asylum seeker are on board:

Reports on Monday suggest the payment could have been made by Australia’s spy agency Asis, complicating the issues of legality and transparency. Australian spies have been operating inside Indonesia on anti-people smuggling ventures since at least 2001, according to reports in the Australian newspaper. The Rudd government had given Asis a funding injection to step up disruption measures, the article said...

Abbott is standing by the policy.

“We’ve done the right thing, we’ve done the moral thing, the decent thing, the compassionate thing,” he told reporters in the capital on Tuesday. “We’ve stopped the boats by doing whatever is necessary within the law to stop the boats.

“The most moral thing you can do here is stop the boats because as long as the boats are coming, the evil people smuggling trade is in business and the deaths continue.”

Indonesia has never supported the Coalition’s policy to turn boats around, saying regional cooperation is needed to stop the flow of asylum seekers.

The Guardian, Published: Tuesday 16 June 2015 02.20 BST
Tony Abbott accuses media of 'promoting discord' with Indonesia,
'I am in the business of building a strong relationship … not aggravating things,’ prime minister says, adding that stopping the boats has improved ties
By Shalailah Medhora about Australian immigration and asylum

SYDNEY: Australian officials urged vigilance today following nationalistic and anti-Islam rallies, to ensure sentiment does not boil over into ugly race riots similar to those seen in 2005.

Hundreds of people attended Reclaim Australia rallies around the country over the weekend, with violent clashes erupting in Melbourne as police tried to separate anti-Islam and anti-racism demonstrators.

Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales president Stepan Kerkyasharian said divisions in the community were fuelling insecurity.

"You basically have the Muslim community which feels that they are under siege because of international events, because of global terrorism, and because you now have global terrorism which is misusing religion to pursue geopolitical agendas," he told AFP.

"On the other hand you've got the broader Australian community which also is feeling insecure because they feel that they are under siege as well because of what they hear in the news.

"They don't know whether someone who lives next door, or someone in the shopping centre that they go to, might suddenly blow them up. So you basically have your whole community living in fear of the other."

Kerkyasharian said while 2005 riots at the southern Sydney beachside suburb of Cronulla were "just straight out racism", the current situation was mainly caused by international events and global terrorism.

"The backdrop is different but it could manifest itself in violence and probably more serious violence than what we saw in Cronulla," he said.

Violence erupted in Cronulla in December 2005 when white mobs attacked Arab Australians in order to "reclaim the beach", resulting in more than 20 injuries and over a dozen arrests.

Reclaim Australia organisers denied they were racist and called the rallies "a public response to the shock of recent atrocities of 'Islam's radicals' both inside and outside of Australia".

But Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said today there was evidence of unsavoury elements at the rallies, including neo-Nazi and racial supremacist groups.

"It is important for us to recognise that anti-Muslim protesters represent a fringe minority in our society and we overwhelmingly reject racism and religious bigotry," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We need to be really vigilant at the moment about our community cohesion. What we need to avoid is for such groups to be emboldened and take matters to the next level."

NDTV, updated: July 23, 2015 12:59 IST
Fear of Violence After Nationalist Australia Rallies
By Agence France-Presse

Australia's possible dual British citizen PM Tony Abbott today described Australia as “nothing but bush” before the arrival of the First Fleet. First Nations’ representative Natalie Cromb responds.

Australia is a focus point in international politics this week as it plays host to the 2014 G20 summit in Brisbane. International diplomats, representatives, staff, security and media have descended amidst a climate of tension and drama pertaining to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s threats to “shirt-front” Russian President Vladamir Putin...

I am outraged that a man of this unashamed racial intolerance holds the leadership position of this nation.

I am outraged that he uses this platform to manifestly attempt to rewrite history and decimate any progress made historically towards closing the gap, self-determination and reconciliation.

I am outraged that his entire platform of economic policy was based on scaremongering without any substance.

I am outraged that he so grossly underestimates the intelligence of the Australian people and that such underestimation, for a large portion of people, is well founded. How else can the fact he was elected be otherwise explained?

Let me be clear, I do not hold Tony Abbott in high regard intellectually. I am not outraged at the views of a simple bigot.

I am outraged that we live in a country that has such an affinity with his views that he was elected into power to perpetuate his racist ideals with real policies that we, as Australians, are required to live with. These policies have real consequences and will reverberate for many years to come.

Australia is a racist country (cue gasps of horror and indignation). Are all Australians racist? No.

A large part of the destruction of Indigenous culture did occur in the past, however, the destruction continues today. The current generation Australians benefit from the actions of previous generations of Australians (and British) and continued denial of this fact perpetuates the myth that the damage was done and remains in the past.

This denial of history and the effects rippling through modern Australia is the accepted perspective of a large portion of the Australian community. A portion of the community that elected a leader so blatantly racist that he uses his leadership platform to dispense with covert methods and go straight to telling anyone who will listen about British superiority and our obligation to give thanks for “creating” Australia − all the while denying the truth of the Indigenous history of this nation...

Independent Australia, Published: 14 November 2014, 5:30pm
British bulldog Tony: Australia's white supremacist Prime Minister
By Natalie Cromb

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the Gen-Y financial issue

Layla M. Asda (26) is doing her Master in International Development and Gender at the university of Sana’a. She is ready to take her country forward. But she is stranded in the war. As million of other young Yemenis. In her text she gives a painfully detailed account of how the war affects her and her country. And she appeals to the war faring fractions to realise that there is no point of waging wars. It only creates destruction, hatred and the urge for revenge:

“It’s raining!” I felt happy because “rain is what I adore”, I thought to myself as I heard the sounds of thunder. Yes, it turned out to be rain – but a different kind of rain: It was raining missiles!

My dear country is under attack. It’s war and it has opened the doors wide open to misery for us. My country has made it into the news which is not promising or cheerful at all, as it’s not because of news of discovery or invention but news of destruction and suffering. It feels devastating to see it in the news and all we see is wrecks and death. We usually see and read news about wars in other places, but just to hear or read about it is one thing, to live it is a completely different story...

I wish that all people who sparked this war realise that there is no point of waging wars. War only generates hatred and revenge and promotes destruction of humans and homes. We curse this war a zillion times because it has stripped us of joy; it took away our souls and deprived us of life.

I don’t know how long we’ll continue like this. I’m not sure how long people will be able to bear the burden of this misery. Peace is what we need. Our voices need to reach out. Yemenis want to see their country flourish with development, not with war. War indeed has changed Yemenis, but it taught them how to survive and to never give up their dreams.

I want to live safely in my house. I want my hopes and dreams of a better future back, and I want my plans for my country back. We just want to live peacefully. Is this too much to ask? We deserve to live!

Global Research, July 23, 2015
“It’s Raining Missiles. A Nightmare that Refuses to End!” – Testimony from the War in Yemen
Helene Aecherli 21 July 2015

Siti Azzahra Abd Razly, the face of the “Saya Zahra” #SayaSayangkanMalaysia (I am Zahra #I love Malaysia, note*) campaign did not expect the video of her speaking about her financial struggles to go viral.

But what shocked the law graduate was the fallout from the video, with criticism levelled at her family as well...

Zahra became a hot topic on social media after a video of her speaking of her financial struggles despite being a graduate was uploaded by the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) on its Facebook page and shared online.

Her audience included Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Her appearance drew agreement but also criticism from those who felt she had yet to experience the real world when she complained about being unable to own a home after working for just two years...

"People were attacking my private life, saying Zahra is a whiner, attacking my family, saying they did not raise their child properly," the 23-year-old told The Malaysian Insider, admitting she cried when she read the comments.

Zahra said the opportunity to speak in front of Muhyiddin had to be utilised fully to send the right message from the report to the country's senior leaders.

"In such an event, we cannot act according to emotion. We cannot throw him everything. So the narrative was to draw their attention to our message," said the oldest of three children.

She had also shared her happiness speaking in front of Muhyiddin with her parents who live in Batu Kawan, Penang.

"They said good, this is an opportunity to do something for our race," she said.

Some of the criticism she received were on her comment about marrying a rich man as one of the ways to get out of poverty.

“Maybe I need to marry a rich man to get out of this economic crisis. It may sound funny but it's reality. Study so much but in the end, we are struggling to make ends meet," she said in the video.

The Malaysian Insider, Published : 21 July 2015 9:00 AM
Law grad of ‘Saya Zahra’ video reduced to tears over attacks on family - See more at:

She answered the questiond raised by The New Straits Times:

Q: you said your life was barely making ends meet. How much do you think a graduate should earn to live comfortably today?

A: Today's basic salary is RM1800. In the 1990's, it was also RM1800. With the cost of living going up, why should the basic salary stay the same? I think it is not balanced. I will need RM2500 to survive and have savings.

Q: You said something needed to be done. Who do you think should do what?

A: This message is aimed at policymakers. They need to open their eyes and be more serious in tackling the issued that we raised. We need to address the Gen-Y (young generation) financial issue. These are the messages that we want to send to policymakers. We have suggestions from our think tank that we will reveal soon. The video went viral and reached 8 million people. We engaged 1.5 million Malaysians. We want to create awareness and make a difference.

Q: As a young person, what do you want to see the government do to improve your situation?

A: Reduce the cost of living and price of houses.

Q: But how can they reduce the house prices? It is a free market, right?

A: They are the policymakers, so they should think about it. I am bringing the voice of the people. They need to think.

The New Straits Times, Published July 26, 2015
#sayazahra tells us
By Arman Ahmad

Refer to Mr Yahho's Diary dated July 22, 2015 under the title of "the poorest 99% first"

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his feet never hit the sand in the beach

It seems that with money everything is possible!

King Salman's inner circle is to be put up at the family's private villa - stretching across a kilometre of Riviera coastline between Antibes and Marseille.

Around 700 other members of his ensemble will be accommodated at top Cannes hotels.

The king has even won approval to build a lift, which will rest on a concrete slab, from the luxurious villa straight to the beach that he had closed for his private entourage.

The 79-year-old also plans to build a staircase and wooden walkways leading from his opulent villa down to the Mirandole beach in Vallauris "so his feet never hit the sand".

But he has provoked anger among residents in the Cote d'Azur after local officials agreed to close down the popular 100-metre-long-beach.

The mayor of Vellauris wrote to French President Francois Hollande to contest the lift - arguing it is against planning permission.

But Hollande fast-tracked permission for the structure "within hours" of the formal request.

Salman is already embroiled in a row after holidaymakers in the exclusive area in the French Riviera were banned from visiting the beach next to his "for security reasons".

Residents have accused the French Government of crumbling under pressure from the Saudi royal family and launched a petition to overturn the ban - which has gathered more than 45,000 signatures in eight days.

The petition states: "We recall that this natural zone, like all maritime public estates, is an intrinsic public property that should be available for the benefit of all, residents, tourists, French, foreigners or people passing through."

"We ask the state to guarantee the fundamental principle of the equality of all citizens before the law."

Express, Updated: 04:45, Sat, Jul 25, 2015
Saudi King brings 1,000-strong entourage on holiday - and builds his own lift to the beach
THE King of Saudi Arabia has arrived in France for a three-week Riviera beach holiday - with an entourage of 1,000 people.
By Jake Burman

The Saudi-led coalition has announced that it will start a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen.

The statement on Saudi state media said the pause in fighting, which is due to begin at one minute before midnight on Sunday night, came at the request of embattled Yemeni president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to Saudi’s King Salman.

It said the coalition would cease military operations, but that it would respond should Shiite Houthi rebels or their allies conduct any military actions or movements.

The previous humanitarian pause, which was announced earlier this month and was expected to last until the end of the holy month of Ramadan, never truly took hold as parties to the conflict traded accusations.

The announcement followed air strikes that security and medical officials said killed at least 120 people in a residential area of a town on the Red Sea coast on Friday.

The air strikes hit workers’ housing near a power plant in Mokha on Friday, razing some of the buildings, the officials said.

The deadly strike highlights growing concerns that the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing raids are increasingly killing civilians as they continue to target rebels...

The Associated Press, Published: Sunday 26 July 2015 01.09 BST
Saudi Arabia-led coalition calls ceasefire in Yemen after air strike kills 120 people, Saudi state media announces five-day humanitarian pause in fighting after Friday night raid allegedly targeted civilians in quiet Red Sea town

To avoid the war game (winner and looser, the game makes a huge amount of money!), shall we work together because the victims are not militants but civilians!

The visit by Shinzo Abe was warmly welcomed by both sides. The new deals struck between the Abe and Abbott governments – one on trade and one on defence – were embraced by both sides – even though the defence aspect is extraordinarily sensitive.

It's a serious moment in Japan's history. Abe is in the process of changing the strategic character of one of the world's great powers.

For decades, it had been thought that only an amendment to Japan's postwar "peace constitution" could lift the ban on engaging in "collective self-defence". The ban meant Japan could not come to the aid of its allies in war.

But the week before arriving in Canberra, Abe ended the ban by a decision of his government. Knowing he could not win enough public support to change the constitution, he "reinterpreted" it instead.

Abe has decided to allow his country to go to war in the defence of its allies. The polite cover story is that Japan needs to be able to help the US in defending itself against the dangerous crazies of North Korea.

The reality is that Japan is bracing for the possibility of war with China.

Beijing's state-owned media thundered against the Abe decision as a militarists' "coup" against the Japanese constitution and the act of a warmonger.

The change will affect Japan's relations with Australia in peacetime, as well as, potentially, in war: "The relationship between Japan and Australia will be different in many respects," an adviser to Abe, Tomohiko Taniguchi, says.

"Previously there was hesitation in the Japanese public and the government to use Japanese military assets, now the Self-Defence Forces [Japan's military] can get into frequent military exercises and joint operations with Australia," he told me.

"It's time for Japan to be confident about who it is – a mature democracy. The situation has become so dire to threaten Japan's national interests. Japan has decided to make sizeable steps forward from its cocoon where it didn't pay any attention to reality."

Australia's main political parties didn't fall out over this momentous decision. Nor did they demur when Abe stood before a joint meeting of the houses of Parliament in Canberra to draw Australia into the Japanese effort: "Japan and Australia have deepened our economic ties," Abe said. "We will now join up in a scrum, just like in rugby, to nurture a regional and world order and to safeguard peace."

He didn't specify who was in the opposing scrum. He didn't need to.

Opposition spokeswoman for foreign affairs and Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek called a doorstop: "I was a bit dismayed this morning to wake up to a front-page newspaper story in the Sydney Morning Herald from the Foreign Minister suggesting that we needed to move away from one of our friends in the region to be closer to the other.

"This has been a continuing theme in the government's foreign policy recently – this zero-sum game approach to our friendships in the region. I think it's very important to understand that when talking about Australia's foreign policy interests, it's very clear that our best interests are served by having a close relationship with China and a close relationship with Japan."

Sydney Morning Herald, Published: July 12, 2014
Partisan divide on China comes at a dangerous moment
By Peter Hartcher
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/partisan-divide-on-china-comes-at-a-dangerous-moment-20140711-zt4oq.html#ixzz3gy5t8ZTM
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press freedom

KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry has explained the three reasons behind the suspension of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily for three months from July 27.

Firstly, the headings and reporting by the two publications raised questions and created negative public perceptions towards 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and also implicated the Government and national leaders.

Secondly, the published news reports were based on doubtful and unverified information, which might alarm public opinion and could/might be prejudicial to public order and national interest.

Thirdly, 1MDB is being investigated, thus, it is inappropriate for the continuous reporting (on the issue) to create negative perceptions. It is unfair to 1MDB and consequently, for the Government and national leaders.

The Star, Updated: Saturday July 25, 2015 MYT 10:50:19 AM
Home Ministry gives three reasons for suspending The Edge

KUALA LUMPUR: Suspending The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily for three months is against freedom of the press, said National Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretary Schave Jerome De Rozario.

The decision was unfair because it was the responsibility of the press to report on news, he said.

When contacted, De Rozario said the media would not just publish something for “blatant gossip”...

The Star, Published: Saturday July 25, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
The Edge’s suspension breaches press freedom, says union

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak (pic) has voiced his objections to the suspension order on The Edge, saying that the publication had been “a pillar of the business community”.

“The Edge has a big role in keeping us informed, honest and competitive. Recent 1MDB coverage seemed outstanding but if there were flaws, then correct them or take legal recourse,” he posted on Instagram.

“I condemn the suspension and my thoughts go to all affected staff,” he said.

Responding to Nazir’s posting, AirAsia CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said that freedom of the press was the pillar of democracy.

“There are other recourse if reporting is wrong. Sad day, I’m in shock,” Fernandes wrote.

The Star, Published: Saturday July 25, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Nazir condemns paper’s suspension

As the freedom of the press is controled by a Warmonger who wants controle even thoughts of individuals, the readers do not know the truth and they seem to be watching TV with a noisy goship ending laughing. This is so similar to another authoritarian State and peoples are pitiful!

This system hardly is new. It has been in place since before World War II, and an independent agency regulating the media that was established by the Allied forces during the occupation was abolished in 1952 by Japanese conservatives. But recently the government has applied pressure on the media to an unprecedented extent. Under the Abe administration, the top executives of major media companies go out for fine meals or to play golf with the prime minister and high-ranking government officials. And they are unabashed about making this known to the public.

Last November, soon before the general election, the L.D.P. sent so-called request letters to major TV stations, enjoining them to ensure that their coverage would “not be one-sided” and with instructions on how to select topics to cover and commentators to interview. The party wrote to one station to complain that one of its programs had suggested Mr. Abe’s economic policies benefited only wealthy people − a view shared by many Japanese, according to opinion polls.

How can the media act as a government watchdog under such conditions? The Abe administration’s treatment of journalists is worthy of an authoritarian state, not the liberal democracy Japan is supposed to be.

The New York Times, Opinion page, Published: May 20, 2015
The Threat to Press Freedom in Japan
By Shigeaki Koga, a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan from 1980 to 2011

It is not the first time that Abe has been embroiled in controversy over broadcasters’ editorial independence. In 2005, he admitted he had urged NHK staff to alter the contents of a documentary about wartime sex slaves.

The Guardian, Published: Thursday 16 April 2015 12.24 BST
Japanese media facing political pressure, says Abe critic,
Ruling party summons media bosses over news shows, reigniting concerns over government intrusion in editorial content
By Justin McCurry

The last NHK president, Masayuki Matsumoto, suddenly announced in December that he would not seek a new term. Other news media said he was driven out by criticism from the Abe administration for critical coverage of conservative causes, such as nuclear energy and American Marine bases in Okinawa.

This is not the first time that NHK has been criticized for caving in to pressure from Mr. Abe.

In 2005, a producer said that Mr. Abe and another Liberal Democratic lawmaker had forced the broadcaster to cut a scene from a program that showed a mock trial in which Hirohito was found guilty of permitting the military to use the so-called “comfort women” in brothels, according to the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers. NHK officials and Mr. Abe denied political pressure was behind the deleted scene.

And last year, Jun Hori, a popular NHK television news announcer, quit after superiors questioned him for more than six hours about a documentary he had made describing nuclear accidents at Fukushima and in the United States. It is expected to be shown this month at a small theater in Tokyo.

On Thursday, the commentator who more recently severed ties with NHK, Toru Nakakita, said the show on which he had appeared regularly for 20 years had told him not to say anything critical about nuclear power. An NHK spokesman said the demand was made to ensure balanced coverage during the coming election for Tokyo governor, in which nuclear power is an issue.

Mr. Hori, who works as a freelance journalist, disagreed on the motive. “NHK has become a place where it is hard to speak out against authority,” he said. “This is unhealthy for democracy.”

The New York Times, Published: FEB. 2, 2014
News Giant in Japan Seen as Being Compromised

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such a juvenile warmonger

Mr Yohho does not like "warmonger" absolutely:

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke on the southern island of Okinawa last week he faced loud heckling with shouts of “Warmonger!” and “Go home!” − but Japan’s media did not report it.

Such heckling is highly unusual in decorous Japan so the decision to ignore it by many news outlets, including national broadcaster NHK and the top circulation Yomiuri newspaper, shows how successfully Mr Abe has cowed, or co-opted, the Japanese press, say critics of the prime minister.

Concern about freedom of the press mounted after reports that the Culture and Arts study group of young LDP politicians, regarded as close to Mr Abe, had discussed ways to target hostile media at a meeting on June 25.

The most effective way to punish the mass media is to make them lose advertising revenue and to do so, the government should apply pressure on Keidanren [Japan’s main business body],” one participant was reported to have said...

The Financial Times (*), Published: June 29, 2015 4:26 pm
Shinzo Abe accused of ‘emasculating Japanese media’
By Robin Harding in Tokyo

And... so childish!

TOKYO (AFP) − Japanese Twitter users were howling in derision Wednesday after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used paper models and cut-out firefighters on television, in his latest attempt to explain controversial security legislation.

Apparently concerned about declining public support and suspicion of bills that will allow so-called “collective defense”, Abe used props on two different programs to try to persuade the public of his case.

Under current laws “Japan cannot help the United States extinguish a fire” in an American home, he told viewers of Fuji TV on Monday, gesturing to a large paper house with a U.S. flag.

Hanging over the paper house was something supposed to resemble fire, but viewers said it looked more like raw meat.

Abe then placed an American fire truck in front of the house, along with the small cardboard figure of a firefighter.

At a more modest house nearby, decorated with a Japanese flag, Japanese firefighters stood by and watched the conflagration, powerless to act, Abe said.

Under bills that passed through the lower house of parliament last week, which allow Japanese troops to fight alongside allies when under attack, these “firefighters” would no longer be impotent, Abe told viewers.

The demonstration, which would not have looked out of place on “Sesame Street,” attracted mockery on the Internet.

“Fire and war are totally different. How arrogant of him to deceive the public with a trick that can only fool kids,” Tweeted @cassiuscanelo.

“It’s scary he believes he can give an explanation by using the example of fire. Our prime minister is such a juvenile man,” @lautrea said.

Opinion polls in recent weeks have shown support for the once-popular prime minister is plunging.

The security bills, which Abe and his supporters say are necessary for Japan to deal with the world around it, are deeply unpopular in the country at large.

Chief among the changes that the legislation will enable is the option for the military to go into battle to protect allies, even if there is no direct threat to Japan or its people.

Protesters, who include a large number of women and elderly people, say that will mean Japan gets dragged into American wars in far-flung parts of the globe.

New Straits Times, Publihsed: Thursday, July 23, 2015
Abe mocked over TV pitch,
Netizens deride PM's use of paper models, cut-out firefighters to explain security laws

TOKYO (AP) − A Chinese envoy on Thursday warned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to shirk responsibility for Japan's wartime aggression in his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the hostilities.

Cheng Yonghua, China's ambassador to Japan, told a news conference that Beijing is closely watching if Abe's statement would stick to Tokyo's past expressions of remorse and would show "sincerity" to the victims of Japanese wartime brutality. He said it will be a sign of Japan's future direction and relations with Asian neighbors.

Abe is expected to make a statement before the Aug. 15 anniversary.

Relations between Japan and China have been strained over historical and territorial disputes, though less so since Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last November.

"We will be watching how Japan sums up its past and shows sincerity to the victimized countries, especially the people who suffered from Japan's wartime actions," Cheng said. "Any deliberate attempt to blur or shirk Japan's responsibility would be tantamount to opening up the victims' wounds and rubbing salt on them."

Cheng also said China is concerned about Abe's recent push to enact legislation that would expand the role of Japan's military, and alleged that Tokyo is emphasizing Beijing's military activity and portraying China as a potential enemy.

In a landmark 1995 statement by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the 50th anniversary, Japan offered its clearest and most extensive apology to the victims of its wartime aggression and colonial rule.

Abe has said there is no clear definition of aggression and that he was not necessarily standing by the 1995 statement, although he later promised to keep the statement following protests from China and South Korea.

Still, Abe is seen as reluctant to repeat the apology and wants to stress Japan's postwar achievements. For his two anniversary speeches since taking office in December 2012, Abe omitted war apologies and merely said Japan faces its past and keeps its peace pledges.

In February, Abe appointed experts to review a study of Japan's wartime history, its economic progress and future contributions before he makes his statement. The report is expected to be 30 to 40 pages and submitted to Abe early next month.

The panel's co-chairman, Shinichi Kitaoka, diplomatic and political history expert and president of International University of Japan, told reporters after the panel's final meeting Monday that the report will look forward but reflect on history. "To be forward-looking, you have to take history into consideration," he said.

"China has repeatedly asked Japan to keep its promise, clearly acknowledge its history of aggression and respond sincerely," Cheng said. "We have a mountain of solid historical evidence and views that are internationally established."

The New York Times, Published: July 23, 2015, 9:19 A.M. E.D.T.
China Warns Japan Against Shirking Responsibility for WWII

Pearson PLC is exploring a sale of the Financial Times after receiving interest from potential buyers, according to people familiar with the matter.

London-based Pearson is sounding out possible bidders for the salmon-coloured newspaper, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. A sale may value the business at as much as £1-billion ($2-billion), two of the people said.

While there is no formal process under way, the Financial Times may draw interest from media companies such as Axel Springer SE, as well as investors in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the people said...

First published in 1888 as a four-page newspaper, the FT’s circulation reached 720,000 last year, with digital subscriptions accounting for 70 per cent of the total. In a move to make more money from online readers, the newspaper in February tweaked its paywall system, moving away from a metered model that allows readers to view a few free articles every month before requiring them to pay.

Bloomberg News, Last updated Monday, Jul. 20, 2015 4:12PM EDT
Pearson PLC reportedly mulling sale of Financial Times
By Kristen Schweizer, Manuel Baigorri and Ruth David
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Doomsday 2030?

Today Mr Yahho wants to invite you to listen the voices of 3 academicians: Frank Fenner, Nicholas Boyle, and Guy McPherson as under:

In 2010, Frank Fenner, Emertius Professor of microbiology at the SAustralian National University, he says the Earth has entered the Anthropocene. Although it is not an official epoch on the geological timescale, the Anthropocene is entering scientific terminology. It spans the time since industrialisation, when our species started to rival ice ages and comet impacts in driving the climate on a planetary scale.

Fenner says the real trouble is the population explosion and "unbridled consumption".

The number of Homo sapiens is projected to exceed 6.9 billion this year, according to the UN. With delays in firm action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Fenner is pessimistic.

"We'll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island," he says. "Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we're seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.

"The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years. But the world can't. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we've seen disappear.

"Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years," he says. "A lot of other animals will, too. It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off...

The Australian, Published: June 16, 2010 12:00AM
Frank Fenner sees no hope for humans
By Cheryl Jones

On first glance, the title of this book not only seems a touch apocalyptic. As we're barely out of the current financial crisis and plenty of economists warn of a double-dip recession, surely the world can't be due another catastrophe quite so soon? The eye-catching cover is a little deceptive, although the warning provided by Nicholas Boyle - President of Magdalene College, Cambridge, distinguished scholar of German and biographer of Goethe - is no less important for being more measured than his title suggests.

The crisis we hope is beginning to pass has been economic in nature, a consequence of the failure to build institutions to regulate the globalisation of trade. The next crisis, or "Great Event", argues Boyle, will be political. As China and India rise, and American power wanes, we need to build a new international order. Our success or lack thereof points to two alternatives. Will 2014 be an 1815, when the Congress of Vienna made a peace at the end of the Napoleonic Wars that lasted most of the century? Or will it be a 1914, the beginning of "the 75 years war" during which two massive global conflicts contained an unstable interregnum and were followed by an armed stand-off, its equilibrium only maintained through the nightmare of Mutually Assured Destruction?

The villain of the piece, as it were, is the nation state. Our attachment, and in particular America's attachment, to this idea is what we need to discard if we are to avert disaster. "An international structure is needed to control nuclear-armed mavericks, old and new," writes Boyle, "and to impose order on the demographic upheavals consequent on climate change." Otherwise, the "Great Event" could "eclipse all its predecessors and leave few behind to worry about numerological patterns" – such as whether the second decade of a century tends to be the one that defines it or not...

The Independent, Published: Friday 23 July 2010
2014: How to Survive the Next World Crisis, By Nicholas Boyle
Book Review, By Sholto Byrnes

Doomsday 2030?
In a June 2013 interview, Dr. Helen Caldicott named three major threats to the planet: Global Warming, nuclear war, and the toxic fall-out from nuclear power.

Dr. Caldicott argued in effect, if we were serious about mitigating these threats, we could evoke the spirit of the Second World War mobilization following the Pearl Harbor attacks which saw the US transform its industrial base into a war-economy where every factory was converted into a weapons manufacturer. A similar determination could see factories converted to the manufacture of “solar panels, windmills and the like.”

To paraphrase: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

This ‘Can-do’ spirit is clearly in evidence within the environmental movement. Another past interview guest, Elizabeth Woodworth, cites in her April 2013 essay, The Climate Bomb: Failures to Confront the Unspeakable, and The Way Ahead a body of scientific data outlining the devastating consequences of doing nothing about climate change.

The implication however, is that we humans actually CAN do something to arrest the threat.

Enter Dr. Guy McPherson.

Guy McPherson spent most of his life studying conservation biology. A professor emeritus of natural resources and the environment at the University of Arizona, McPherson has dedicated countless hours over the years assembling the best raw scientific data published on the subject of climate change.

McPherson discovered that not only was climate change a reality, but that certain self-reinforcing feedback loops, such as the liberation of a more potent greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide, namely methane gas, has been triggered, leading to even more green house warming.

By June 2012 he finally came to one inescapable conclusion:

The planet will not be habitable for the human species long beyond 2030. And there is NOTHING the human species for all its sophistication and technology can do about it.

Global Research, March 18, 2014
Near-Term Human Extinction: A Conversation with Guy McPherson
By Michael Welch

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the poorest 99% first

ZAHRA has put a human face to an irrefutable Malaysian pain − the arduous struggle of the younger generation and the urban poor to make ends meet amid a widening socio-economic gap in the city. By now Zahra, tagged “sayaZAHRA, sayasayangkanMALAYSIA” (I am Zahra and I love Malaysia), is all over the social media in a six-minute video clip in which she laments that to a young career-minded person like her, the issue of survival is more crucial than that of politics or race.

There was pin drop silence as she stood on stage and started “I am Zahra, 23 years old and a graduate in law from one of the local universities.”

I managed to trace her a few days ago and found out that Zahra is Azzahra Razly, a typical young Malay woman seeking rezeki (fortune) in Kuala Lumpur. She has high ambitions but is falling short due to the high cost of living and the demands of city life. She works for MTEM.

“When I was a student I always dreamt about life after I graduated,” she said in that speech. “I reckoned a good life with good returns lay ahead so I could plan my future. But now, nearly two years after graduating, I am frustrated. And angry at the fate that has befallen me.”

She went on to bemoan the fact that she was always up against the odds, with not much left in her pocket at the end of the month. And having no means to buy a house, she has to contend with renting and sharing one with seven others. “Many condos and apartments in KL look empty, just too expensive for grads like me,” she added. “In front of Tan Sri Muhyiddin, this a lament of my generation. I know I am not alone. We just can’t see a way out. The future of millions of youth in this country is dark and grey.”

Zahra’s gush is real. She told me she felt compelled to pour it all out as it had become a big problem to most youths. In the aftermath, there were cynical comments no doubt in the social media that said she should do this and that instead of just moaning over her anxieties. But the outpouring of support was overwhelming. Ducking the issue can be grossly out of tune, like what a minister chose to do when he dismissively remarked that everyone had to contend with the high cost of living in the city.

The truth, as has been widely reported, is there are about 25,000 Malaysians below the age of 35 who have become bankrupt over the past five years mainly as a result of their inability to settle loans for cars, houses and for credit card default. The Bankruptcy Act states that a person could be subjected to bankruptcy proceedings if he or she fails to settle a minimum debt of RM30,000.

An even scarier part is the widening wealth gap. The Khazanah Research Institute report on “The State of Households” recently stated that the rich were getting richer − Malaysians were the top foreign home buyers by transactions in Singapore in 2012; Malaysians were the fourth largest buyers (four per cent) of newly-built London property in 2012; around 7,000 houses costing more than RM1 million were sold in Malaysia each year; Malaysians also purchased many luxury cars. In 2013, 28,298 luxury cars were sold, including brands such as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Lexus, Land Rover, Mini Cooper and Porsche.

And let’s cap it with this classic irony: it was reported not too long ago that the Pavilion Suites condos in Jalan Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur were being sold for a record price, from RM3,000 per sq ft. The cheapest units were going for more than RM3mil each and yet there were takers for them.

Young Malaysians entering the job market are in limbo since they can get neither. Educated but dreary. Something is woefully wrong with the system. It was this predicament that made Zahra say: “I am the future of Malaysia but I always ask if a person with tertiary education like me can be this poor, what hope is there for other Malaysians, those who didn’t get to university or those not from well-heeled families? I am Zahra and I love Malaysia.”

The New Straits Times, Published: Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The plight of young Malaysian,
The rising cost of living is not only a burden for the urban poor but working youths as well.
Comment by Syed Nadzri, an award-winning columnist
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/node/92069

Imagine a country where people in the economic top 1 percent scoop up more than one-fifth of all income, those in the top 10 percent control almost 80 percent of wealth, and wages for those in the middle barely budge over four decades.

Sounds like a place where a politician who advocates big-government building programs and inveighs against corporate bailouts might get ahead.

From Senator Bernie Sanders, the 73-year-old Vermont socialist who jumped into the Democratic presidential race last week, to Senator Rand Paul, the 52-year-old Kentucky libertarian seeking the Republican nomination, politicians to the far left and right of the political center are sounding populist themes not heard since the Great Depression. Among them: breaking up concentrated power, whether in Washington or on Wall Street and looking out for ordinary Americans.

What makes a Sanders candidacy thinkable and what lies behind Republicans’ focus on working families is a widening gulf between those at the top of American society and almost everyone else, while wages of those in the middle have stagnated.

Statistics from economists Thomas Piketty at the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez at the University of California-Berkeley show that the share of annual income, including financial earnings, going to the top 1 percent of Americans has climbed from a little under one-tenth in 1970 to more than one-fifth in 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available.

Data from Saez and Gabriel Zucman, an assistant professor at the London School of Economics, show that the share of wealth held by the top 10 percent rose from a 1985 low of 63.6 percent to more than 77 percent through 2012.

Bloomberg, Published: May 4, 2015 8:05 PM WST
How the Widening Wealth Gap Is Empowering the Populists of 2016
By Peter Gosselin

As we enter another year of global uncertainty, government and business leaders are heading to the World Economic Forum in Davos as its own Global Risk report (pdf) identifies growing inequality for the second year as one of the biggest potential challenges the world is facing.

The Occupy protests that took place in cities from London to Lagos demonstrated the strength of public outrage at the increasing wealth and power of the richest 1%, compared with the dire straits in which the poorest 99% find themselves following a crisis not of their making.

To stem the rising tide of inequality, the world now needs bold solutions more than ever. Oxfam's pre-Davos briefing, The cost of inequality: how wealth and income extremes hurt us all, attempts to kickstart the debate.

The claim that the richest 1% have everything while the poorest 99% have next to nothing is not just hot air. In the US, the share of national income going to the wealthiest 1% has doubled since 1980 to 20%. For the top 0.01%, it has quadrupled to levels never seen before. A report published by Oxfam last year found that the UK is rapidly returning to Dickensian levels of inequality.

Rather than reversing the process, the financial crisis has accelerated it. While public spending is being cut, the luxury goods market has registered double-digit growth every year since the crisis hit.

Inequality of income and wealth are not good for anyone. The consolidation of wealth and capital in so few hands is economically inefficient because it depresses demand, a point made famous by Henry Ford. It is also socially divisive. If you are born poor in a very unequal society, you are much more likely to end your life in poverty. I recently heard a leading Washington economist talk passionately (and off the record) about the "lie" that is telling a poor Indian they too can become a Mumbai millionaire if they just "work hard".

And extreme wealth and inequality pose a moral dilemma. As Mahatma Gandhi said: "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."

The Guardian, Published: Saturday 19 January 2013 00.05 GMT
Widening gap between rich and poor threatens to swallow us all
Leaders meeting in Davos must take concrete action to reverse rising inequality – and finally put the poorest 99% first
By Emma Seery

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win-win cooperation

The Chinese government, which has been repeatedly calling for Japan to own up to the wartime atrocities of its military, will commemorate the 70th anniversary of allied victory over Japan on Sept 3 this year...

Politically, frayed ties are generating mistrust, but economically, Japan and China are important trade partners.

In the recently issued “Japanese Business in China White Paper 2015”, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China said Japan was China’s second largest export destination after the United States, and second largest import partner after South Korea last year.

On people-to-people exchange, 2.4 million Chinese mainland tourists visited Japan last year, an increase of 83%, while arrivals from Japan declined 5.6% to 2.72 million.

The white paper attributed the drop to the strained ties between both countries and pollution in China.

In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping received a Japanese delegation of about 3,000 at the Great Hall of the People, expressing China’s readiness to work with Japan to promote “neighbourly friendship and cooperation” based on the four political documents –:

China-Japan Joint Statement in 1972,

China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978,

China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998,

and a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually beneficial relations in 2008.

Last November, both countries also reached a four-point consensus to improve diplomatic ties, acknowledge different positions on the East China Sea, and agree to resume political, diplomatic and security dialogue, signalling a thaw in their relationship.

But a joint Japan-Philippines drill in the South China Sea, over which China and several South-East Asian nations claim overlapping sovereignty, last month has led China to warn Japan against causing regional tensions.

Media reports say that Japan has acknowledged receipt of the invitation to attend the military parade in China, and all eyes are now on whether Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will come.

“Personally, I hope he will show up. This is a sensitive year in the bilateral history of both countries.

“If Japanese leaders come to Beijing with sincerity, there are possibilities to turn the sensitivities into opportunities,” Gao said.

The Star, Check In China, Published: Friday July 3, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
A touchy relationship
by Tho Xin Yi

MUCH has been said about Belt and Road, a highly ambitious cross-continental and maritime integration plan by China. But how exactly can Malaysia ride the wave of China’s aggressive push?

China has emphasised that the initiative is oriented towards win-win cooperation, not only to achieve domestic economic growth but also to drive development of countries along both routes.

As Chinese Commerce Ministry’s Inter-national Trade and Economic Cooperation Research Institute director Huo Jianguo put it, “The implementation of the Belt and Road depends on the responsiveness of the relevant countries.”

The Malaysian Government has voiced keen interest in being part of the initiative.

In the China-Malaysia Business Dialogue on the Belt and Road organised in the capital of China this week, government officials and industry players from both countries were invited to share their views on how best to collaborate...

Building on the foundation of the current collaboration between Malaysia and China in various sectors, such as a renminbi clearing bank in Malaysia and sister industrial parks, more opportunities can be harnessed to meet the needs of respective countries.

The Belt and Road stresses connectivity between nations, from people-to-people links to transport infrastructure. Railway is heavily promoted by China; Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was even nicknamed “the railway salesman” for actively pushing for Chinese railway systems...

On halal products, vast opportunities are available to Malaysia to capture the population of 23 million Muslims in China (*) with the well-recognised halal certification system.

Malaysia Halal Development Authority general manager Mohd Syafulzahni Abd Aziz said Malaysia and China can collaborate for China, with a strong agricultural industry, can supply the products consistently, while Malaysia has the know-how and expertise to ensure that the halal integrity is intact...

The Star, Check In China, Published: Friday July 17, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Malaysia’s role as South-East Asia’s fulcrum,
Landmark day: Liow addressing the crowd at the China-Malaysia Business Dialogue on the Belt and Road in Beijing on Wednesday.
By Tho Xin Yi

This Ramadan was tainted by protests in Turkey over an alleged repression of Muslims in Xinjiang province, where Uighurs in the region were reportedly banned from fasting.

Beijing has denied imposing restriction on its Muslim citizens.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told a daily press briefing earlier that the 10 million Uighurs in Xinjiang are entitled to freedom of religion, as provided in the constitution.

The senior imam of Nanxiapo Mosque, Jamaluddin An Cunhu, said the festive atmosphere at the mosque was a testimony to the country’s inclusive policy.

“The government cares for the minority community, while the latter acknowledges the country’s development.”

The Star, Check In China, Published: Sunday July 19, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Embracing moral values as a community
By Tho Xin Yi

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fiscal crisis in Japan

At 233 per cent, Japan is known to have the highest ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP) among the world’s advanced economies. Greece’s figure, at 177 per cent, seems small by comparison.

Unlike Greece, however, there is no sign of fiscal crisis in Japan and the markets seem to confirm it: Interest on a 10-year Japanese government bond is a meagre 0.3 per cent, and the premium on a credit default swap of these bonds, proxy for the probability of default, is hovering around 0.4 per cent. This means that markets are predicting Japan’s default once in 250 years.

Why hasn’t all this debt created a fiscal crisis for Japan?

One possibility is that the markets are wrong and the participants do not properly recognize the risks. Surely markets can be wrong from time to time, but Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio has been climbing for about 20 years. Could the markets have been wrong for so long?

The simple answer may be that people still believe Japan can manage its debt. But how?

First, it’s important to know that Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is exaggerated. Japan has a considerable number of assets – worth about \65-trillion ($650-billion) as of March, 2013. Therefore, its ratio of net debt to GDP is closer to 100 per cent. Simply put, Japan owes a lot, but it owns a lot of assets, too. So even though its net debt-to-GDP ratio remains high, and some of those assets may not be easily sold, the situation is not as bad as many assume.

Second, we must understand why Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio deteriorated in the first place. There are two main reasons: economic stagnation and demographics.

Since the mid-1990s, deflation has really hurt Japan’s economy. With deflation, nominal GDP – GDP that has not been adjusted for inflation – stagnates or even shrinks, and tax and other government revenues depend on the size of nominal GDP. Stagnation reduces corporate taxes and government revenues. Moreover, Japan made several policy mistakes. In 1997, the government raised its consumption tax to 5 per cent from 3 per cent, believing that recovery was around the corner, but the move proved premature and backfired. And in 2000, the Bank of Japan terminated its zero-interest-rate policy before Japan overcame deflation.

Japan’s famously aging population translates into increasing pension, medical and elder-care expenditures. This is a long-term problem, but related to the economy. When people retire or are unemployed many households stop making contributions to the pension system, while the government has to pay the benefits. The widening gap has been compensated for by government borrowing.

During almost two decades of deflationary stagnation, Japan has recorded an average annual nominal growth rate of 1 per cent, which is dismal. But deflation can be overcome, as the current government and the Bank of Japan are attempting to do. Despite a setback caused by a consumption tax hike in 2014, tax revenue for that fiscal year increased by 12.3 per cent over the previous year, reaching its highest level since 2008.

The Globe and Mail, Last updated Wednesday, May 13, 2015 10:27AM EDT
Japan is laden with debt, so where is its financial crisis?
By Masazumi Wakatabe, economics professor at Waseda University and contributed to The Globe and Mail

However, why do leaders or specialist, taking an example the former finance official announce the people with a smiling face?

We have 2 articles "Japan seen needling higher sales tax" to prevent crisis and 'Matching Europe':

Japan must raise its sales tax to levels matching those in Europe of around 20% in the next 10 to 15 years to avoid a fiscal crisis. according to Eisuke Sakakibara, a formaree vice finance minister.

Japan's debt to gross domestic product ratio rose to 230 % in 2014 from about 193% in 2010, making it the worst among the Group of Seven nations, government data showed.

Borrowings will balloon to about 300% of GDP in around six years, a level that's not sustainable, Sakakibara said.

...The Star, Published: Thursday 11 June 2015

'Japan needs 20% sales tax to avert fiscal crisis',
Deficit to widen as aging populaion boosts costs and erodes tax revenue.

...The New Starits Times, Published: Thursday, june 11, 2015

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TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Toyota President Akio Toyoda became the highest-paid auto executive in Japan after dividend payouts pushed his total compensation past Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Toyoda earned 1.27 billion yen ($10.3 million) in compensation and dividends in the last fiscal year, according to regulatory filings. Nissan paid Ghosn almost three times more in salary but he collected less from dividend payments, netting him a total 1.14 billion yen.

Toyota boosted its payout to all shareholders in the fiscal year ended March 31 as its profit surged to a record.

Toyoda, 59, is emerging from a period in which he banned the building of new assembly plants to improve Toyota's efficiency. The automaker is now moving forward with plans to build two new factories in Mexico and China before the end of the decade.

Ghosn, 61, has long been the best-paid executive among Japan's automakers and has been the highest earner across all industries in the country three times since 2010. Nissan earned 458 billion yen last fiscal year and has forecast a third straight annual profit increase.

Automotive News Europe, Published: June 24, 2015 11:14 CET
Toyota President Toyoda earns $10.3 million, surpassing Nissan's Ghosn

SoftBank Corp.’s push into global markets is bringing record-setting executive pay to Japan, breaking with the country’s tradition of low compensation relative to the U.S. and Europe.

Nikesh Arora, billionaire Chairman Masayoshi Son’s pick to lead the mobile carrier’s expansion abroad, earned about 16.6 billion yen ($135 million) between joining the company in September and the end of March. SoftBank Director Ronald Fisher earned 1.79 billion yen last fiscal year, the highest on record for a Japanese company board member, according to Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd.

The record-setting pay comes as Son invests in expanding outside Japan and integrating Sprint Corp., the U.S. wireless carrier SoftBank acquired in 2013. Son promoted Arora, 47, to president in May, saying the former Google Inc. chief business officer would lead the company’s global expansion. Son also said Arora was a top candidate to succeed him as chairman.

Bloomberg, Published: June 22, 2015 − 10:02 AM HKT
SoftBank Sets Pay Record With $135 Million Pay for Arora
By Dave McCombs

The Bank of Japan’s determination to drive inflation to 2 percent risks sparking a damaging upward spiral in the cost of living, said a former deputy governor.

Prices of many products will need to rise at a faster rate than the goal to make up for a drag on the inflation index from distorted housing costs in the gauge, said Kiyohiko Nishimura, 62, who heads a government statistics panel. The upshot: the central bank is aiming for inflation that is “significantly” higher than its target implies, he said.

“The BOJ may say there’s 2 percent inflation, but if ordinary people perceive it to be 3 percent, inflation expectations will be more than it predicts,” Nishimura said in his first interview since leaving the BOJ in 2013. “That could lead to an upward spiral in inflation.”

Nishimura, who was at the central bank when it adopted the price target under former governor Masaaki Shirakawa, said the downward bias in the consumer price index could lead the BOJ to maintain unprecedented monetary stimulus longer than necessary, creating financial market bubbles. More accurately taking into account changes in the quality of rented housing over time would boost the gauge by as much as 0.3 percentage point, he said.

Rising living costs are squeezing households that haven’t seen wages keep up. Consumer spending hasn’t recovered from a hit by an increase in the sales tax last year, while a record 62 percent of households have described their livelihoods as “hard,” according to a government survey.

Bloomberg, Published: July 16, 2015 − 5:00 AM HKT
BOJ’s Flawed Goal Risks Upward Price Spiral, Says Ex-Deputy Head
By Toru Fujioka and Masahiro Hidaka

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Ambassador helps Toyota exec go free

Mr Yahho is thinking now that it seems Japan is not only under the umbrella of the United States but also a matter of Japanese few leaders' choice, Recently Mr Yahho is surprised while reading the article:

Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, helped secure former Toyota executive Julie Hamp's release from jail after the automaker's global communications chief became entangled in a drug case, an American official with direct knowledge of the discussions told USA TODAY.

Hamp, who was arrested on suspicion that she illegally imported prescription drugs into the country, was released Wednesday after Japanese prosecutors decided not to press charges. She immediately jumped on a plane to return to the U.S.

Kennedy's active role in the case − which was not previously disclosed −- involved advising Toyota officials and discussing the matter with Japanese authorities, said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of such international diplomacy issues...

Hamp's friends celebrated her release Wednesday.

"Friends in the industry and here in Detroit − many of them women, have supported her throughout, at least quietly," said Michelle Krebs, an auto analyst who has known Hamp for decades. "We haven't been able to contact her. We're very relieved that she is out and we're really looking forward to what she's going to do next because I think she will have career opportunities."

"She's tough, she's very calm and measured," Krebs said. "I've never seen her get upset, get angry. Anybody will tell you that's ever worked with her, she has a very high level of integrity and honesty."

The Kennedy touch: Ambassador helps Toyota exec go free
Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY 2:46 p.m. EDT July 8, 2015

Japanese authorities are expected to release Julie Hamp, the American who until last week had served as Toyota Motor Co.'s global communications chief, from jail without indicting her on drug charges, it was reported Tuesday.

The 55-year-old Hamp, who had been the highest-ranking woman at Toyota before resigning, had been held in a Tokyo jail since June 18th when she was arrested for allegedly bringing the drug oxycodone into Japan illegally. Authorities subsequently raided three different Toyota offices, including its headquarters in Toyota City. While the maker's President Akio Toyoda voiced his support for Hamp shortly after her arrest, the New York-born executive last week tendered her resignation.

Hamp's arrest and threat of prosecution prompted speculation that the case may have been influenced by the fact that she was a foreigner and one of the highest-ranking women in the normally male-dominated Japanese business world.

A separate report in the English-language Japan Times noted that since Hamp's arrest, "The police have judiciously leaked information to bolster their case," suggesting Hamp did not actually need the narcotic pain killer, and triggering such xenophobic headlines in local media as, "Diversification a Problem for Japan."

Hamp's case also has drawn the attention of the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, who earlier this year worked for the release of an American teacher who was arrested after importing a drug for attention deficit disorder, the Detroit News reported.

NBC Mews, Business, Jul 7 2015, 3:45 pm ET
Japan Reportedly Will Free Ex-Toyota Exec Held on Drug Violation

Former Toyota Motor Corp. communications chief Julie Hamp is expected to be released after being arrested on a drug charge, Japanese media and a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Hamp, a former executive at PepsiCo and General Motors, resigned as global head of communications for the world's largest automaker after being arrested June 18 on allegations she imported the narcotic pain medicine oxycodone without approval of Japanese authorities. She is expected to leave Japan after being released.

Hamp was one of the highest-ranking Americans at Toyota.

Several Japanese news outlets reported she will be released. Prosecutors lacked enough evidence to indict Hamp.

Hamp's case has drawn the attention of the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, who earlier this year worked for the release of an American teacher who was arrested after importing a drug for attention deficit disorder.

A Toyota spokesman in the United States, Scott Vazin, said the company had seen the reports but couldn't confirm them.

Hamp resigned soon after Toyota President Akio Toyoda had called a press conference to express support for Hamp and defend her, saying she hadn't intended to violate strict Japanese drug laws. Toyoda said the company should have done a better job of ensuring Hamp understood Japanese laws.

Hamp joined Toyota in 2012 in the United States as head of Toyota North America communications.

Hamp worked at GM for about 25 years before moving to Pepsi. She was vice president for GM Europe and had other top jobs at GM including as communications chief for GM Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East and vice president for communications at Saturn. She graduated from Ferris State University in Big Rapids.

Ex-Toyota exec Julie Hamp to be released after arrest
David Shepardson, Detroit News Washington Bureau 2:55 p.m. EDT July 7, 2015

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understand the pain of war

HARBIN, July 13 (Xinhua) -- A group of 54 Japanese citizens, all now orphans, on Monday paid a visit to the graves of their adoptive Chinese parents in Fangzheng county in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

From 1931, the Japanese government offered incentives to its people to migrate to China's northeastern provinces, which were then illegally occupied for another decade.

Abandoned by their birth parents during the hasty retreat at the end of World War II in 1945, the orphans, now over 70 years old, were taken in and raised by the very Chinese residents of those northeastern provinces who spent so many years suffering at the hands of the waifs' parents.

As WWII and the War of the Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression was coming to end, more than 4,000 children were simply abandoned by their fleeing parents. Most of them relocated to Japan after China and Japan normalized relations in 1972.

For those "orphans", Japan is the motherland, but China is the hometown, said Ikeda Sumie, director general of a Tokyo support group for those Japanese returned from China.

"All the adoptive parents were the same as my own. They are not buried here, but visiting these graves is a way paying tribute to my own saviors," said Ikeda Sumie.

Nakamura Keiko, 73, knelt on the grave of her parents and wept.

"Mom and dad adopted me when I was three. They never had a child of their own and raised me as their daughter. They brought me up and sent me to school. I thank them and all Chinese for giving me a life," she said.

The delegation arrived in China only a few weeks before the 70th anniversary of the end of the wars.

Maita Akemi recalled days when his adoptive parents saved all their food and necessities for him in times of difficulty.

"My mother died in her 50s and never had time to enjoy her life," Maita Akemi said.

"As survivors and witnesses of history, we have an obligation to tell the young people of today's Japan about that period of their history, to let them understand the pain of war. Let us never allow such tragedy be repeated."

Xinhua, English.news.cn, 2015-07-14 01:44:37
Japanese war orphans visit graves of adoptive Chinese parents

China demanded Japan accelerate the destruction of chemical weapons abandoned in China during World War II following a destruction operation that ended in Central Hubei province on Monday.

A total of 264 chemical weapons have been destroyed in Wuhan, Hubei province since December 2014. These weapons were left in the provinces of Hubei, Hunan and Henan following World War II, according to a press release from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The operation was safe, orderly and successful and eliminated the threat and damage to people, property and the environment, the press release said.

"China urges Japan to increase its human and financial contribution to the destruction of weapons and achieve thorough destruction of those weapons at an early date," it said.

Japan abandoned at least two million tonnes of chemical weapons at about 40 sites in 15 Chinese provinces at the end of World War II, most of them in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.

In accordance with the Convention on the Banning of Chemical Weapons and the memorandum on the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons signed by China and Japan in 1999, Japan will offer all necessary funds, technology, expertise and facilities, and China will provide assistance.

Xinhua 2015-07-14 17:17 (GMT+8)
Japan must destroy the chemical weapons in left after WWII faster: Beijing

An apologizing robot resembling Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was put on display at the China International Robot Show 2015 (CIROS 2015), reports Huanqiu, the Chinese-language website of the nationalistic tabloid Global Times.

Videos and photographs of the robot posted to social media have caused a stir online, according to the website.

In videos the robot can be seen bowing and apologizing continually.

One Chinese netizen said that mocking the leaders of other countries was uncivilized. Other netizens said that Chinese robot companies should dedicate their time to something more productive.

Despite the furor over the robot on China's social media platforms, Japanese netizens largely responded with indifference, with some even suggesting the robot would sell well in Japan.

A representative from the robot company that created the robot claimed unconvincingly that Chinese actor You Benchang, not Shinzo Abe, was the basis for the prototype. The company claimed that they were completely surprised by the reaction of the public to the robot.

China has consistently been unhappy with Japan's attempts at contrition for its role in World War II. Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine, which enshrines 14 Class A war criminals, along with Japan's other war dead, also riled Chinese citizens.

Xinhua, 2015-07-17 12:22 (GMT+8)
Apologizing Shinzo Abe robot on display at Shanghai tech show

Shotaro Yachi, head of Japan's National Security Council, is currently in Beijing meeting with Yang Jiechi, a Chinese state councilor, to discuss various issues including a visit by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to China in September, reports Tokyo-based Kyodo News.

Lu Kang, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that Yachi was personally invited by Yang during a press conference held on Wednesday. Yachi will stay in China until July 18. Critical issues including the exploitation of the Chunxiao gas field in East China Sea, the territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai (claimed as the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China) and a potential visit by Abe to Beijing are on the agenda.

China said that it had already invited Abe to participate in its military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of V-J Day to be held in Beijing on Sep. 13. While the Japanese government said that the prime minister did not receive such invitation yet, the visit by Yachi, a close associate of Abe, to Beijing symbolizes an improvement in diplomatic relations, said state run Global Times.

Earlier reports indicated that Yasuo Fukuda, the former Japanese prime minister, had also begun his own visit to Beijing on July 14. Fukuda's mission is to calm tensions between China and Japan since Tokyo nationalized the Diaoyutai, which it currently administers, in September of 2012. Fukuda is likely to discuss a potential Abe visit and the chance of having a meeting with with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.

Xinhua, 2015-07-17 16:19 (GMT+8)
Top level Japanese official in Beijing to discuss Abe visit

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just a pet dog for the USA

Japan’s top military commander, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, said on Thursday he expected China to become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea and it was possible Japan would conduct patrols and surveillance activities there in the future.

Speaking in Washington, Kawano said there had been “talk” of Japan conducting such patrols in the South China Sea, including anti-submarine activities...

Kawano said the number of aircraft Japan scrambled in response to territorial incursions last year was in line with cold war levels, and one reason was Chinese activity.

Kawano’s comments come after Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, pushed legislation through parliament’s lower house on Thursday that could see Japanese troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since the second world war.
Abe’s moves have been met with protests, but Kawano said he was confident the Japan Self Defense Forces, as the military is known, would win over public opinion.

The Guardian, Published: Friday 17 July 2015 04.14 BST
Japan may conduct South China Sea patrols, says military chief,
Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano says he expects Chinese assertiveness will increase and that Japan may carry out anti-submarine activities in the region
By Reuters

The government of Japan moved forward this week with its controversial plan to reverse its 70-year ban on sending its military forces to fight in conflicts abroad, and many Japanese as well as others in the region cried out in anger.

The legislation making that possible was approved by the lower house of Parliament on Thursday and is virtually certain to become law. Japanese society has embraced pacifism since the end of World War II, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s moves to bolster the country’s security and give Japan a larger role in global affairs have spurred debate for months. We asked our readers in Japan, China, South Korea and elsewhere to tell us their views on this highly delicate − and for some, highly personal − issue.

Readers in Japan supporting the package of 11 bills said it was necessary for their country to maintain its security in a threatening world. “We need a legitimate way to protect ourselves from possible threats from outside,” Yu Julia Iwasaki, 30, who lives in Tokyo, wrote on Facebook.

But many more people, representing the majority of Japanese, cried foul.

Many criticized the process, arguing that the legislation violates Japan’s postwar Constitution, and they expressed anger at Mr. Abe for pushing the bills through.

Others said the move by the government ignored the voices of the people. Another 30-year-old in Tokyo wrote that this “could cast doubt on Japanese democracy itself.”

One commenter on Facebook, who described himself as a foreigner living in Japan, accused Mr. Abe of being a “faithful pet dog for the U.S.A.

The New York Times
Shinzo Abe’s Military Plan Draws Sharp Response From Readers
By Hanna Ingber

China condemned passage of the bills, describing them as a potential threat to peace in Asia and invoking the memory of Japan’s wartime aggression.

“We solemnly urge the Japanese side to draw hard lessons from history, stick to the path of peaceful development, respect the major security concerns of its Asian neighbours and refrain from jeopardizing China’s sovereignty and security interests or crippling regional peace and stability,” Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said in a statement...

The upper house is scheduled to debate the legislation for 60 days, keeping the issue in the public eye and potentially fueling more protests.

“There is plenty of time for this newfound appetite for opposition to the Abe government to grow,” Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said online.

In an address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in April, Mr. Abe pledged that he would enact the legislation to strengthen Japan’s already close ties to the United States. But “a deeply divided Japanese public over alliance co-operation is not the outcome U.S. policy makers hoped for,” Ms. Smith wrote.

The legislation would allow the Japanese military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, to co-operate more closely with U.S. forces, by providing logistical support and, in certain circumstances, armed backup in international conflicts. It complements guidelines in a bilateral agreement governing how Japanese and U.S. forces work together, which was signed by the two countries this year.

Mr. Abe has failed to dispel concerns of the Japanese public that looser restrictions on the military could embroil Japan in damaging and unnecessary wars. The United States-led war in Iraq is often cited by critics as a cautionary example, although Mr. Abe and his supporters say the many caveats contained in the bills would prevent Japan from fighting in such a conflict.

Under the legislation, Japan could fight to defend allies, but only when not doing so would threaten “the lives and survival of the Japanese nation.” Mr. Abe’s opponents counter that the criteria are vague.

The Globe and Mail, Last updated: Thursday, Jul. 16, 2015 11:32PM EDT
Japan's lower house passes bills to let military fight in foreign conflicts
By Jonathan Soble, The New York Times News Service

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a safe haven

KOTA KINABALU: A safe haven for Sabah’s threatened elephants is taking shape in the wildlife-rich Lower Kinabatangan region on Sabah’s east coast, thanks to seven Japanese groups and companies.

The first phase of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) project has seen the construction of an elephant handling paddock, staff quarters and a storage building at a cost of some RM1.8mil.

Helping to make BES a reality is local NGO Borneo Conservation Trust whose head of conservation and research, Raymond Alfred, said that first phase of the sanctuary was due to funding from Asahiyama Zoo, Suraya, Hunting World, Tokio Marine, NTT Data Kirin, Taiseh and Yusen Logistics.

“The endeavour is what the Japanese describes as an ‘Ongaeshi project’ which means ‘giving back to nature’,” explained Raymond.

Raymond said that work on the second phase of the BES on 25 hectares of land had already begun and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The second phase of the project is expected to cost between RM25mil and RM30mil.

“The Malaysia Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has already allocated a funding of RM5.2mil for this part of the project,” he said.

The council was also providing financial support in the preparation of the BES master plan at Lot 8 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,’’ Raymond added.

He said the master plan was being prepared by BCT together with the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

Sabah Wildlife director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said that BES will be able to accommodate between 12 and 16 elephants at any one time.

He said that the role of BES would be to nurse injured elephants back to health before they were released back to the connecting forest and wildlife reserves. Additionally, elephants that were rescued will also be transported to the BES before being released back into the wild.

Aside from elephants, BES will also serve as a transit centre to treat injured sun bears, proboscis monkeys, orangutans, clouded leopard and the banteng.

“The main role of the sanctuary is to support the implementation of the Elephant Conservation Action Plan in Sabah and provide treatment and care to injured elephants. BES will also function as an education and awareness centre on our elephant conservation programme,” said Laurentius.

He further explained that BES was crucial as the key habitats areas of the Bornean elephants in Sabah were fragmented and the key ecological corridor has been converted for other land use.

“The conversion of their key habitat areas have led to incidences of the human-elephant conflicts, which often leads to the elephants being injured or killed,” he said.

The Star, Published: Sunday July 21, 2013 MYT 3:30:00 PM
Borneo Elephant Sanctuary begins second phase
by Ruben Sario

KOTA KINABALU: This Thursday will be a historical day of sorts for Sabah when Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism Culture and Environment launches the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) at Lot 8, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sabah’s first and only Elephant Sanctuary will be a natural-habitat refuge developed to meet the needs of endangered elephants. It is designed specifically for rescued elephants that have been injured due to human and elephant conflict as well as to home orphaned baby elephants.

Here the rescued elephants/orphaned baby elephants will be cared for and whenever possible, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. BES will also become the central hub for elephant conservation and awareness for the general public and visitors to this place...

Ambu further added: “We are equally indebted to Borneo Conservation Trust Japan and her partners Asahikawa City Municipal Government, Asahiyama Zoo, Saraya Corporation, Hunting World Japan(BCT), Tokio Marine Insurance Corporation, Kirin Beverage Corporation, Taisei Construction Corporation, Asta Corporation, IA Research Corporation, NTT Data Corporation, Teijin Corporation and Yusen Logistics Corporation for covering the construction cost of the Phase 1 of BES amounting to RM 1.6 million.

We will continue to work with our Japanese friends who have been sincerely concerned about the plight of the Borneo Elephant in Sabah and have been tirelessly fundraising for the BES program in Japan.”

Dr Toshinori Tsubouchi, Chairman of Borneo Conservation Trust Japan had this to say, “BCT Japan was established to support Sabah Wildlife Department and BCT in achieving the mission to develop the BES. BCT Japan via Sabah Wildlife Department assisted in terms of funding to develop the first phase of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary with consultative assistance of Dr Gen Bandoh, Director of Asahiyama Zoo, one of the most popular zoos in Japan”.

Tsubouchi continued by saying, “We believe the development is a symbolic achievement by collaboration of the citizens of Malaysia and Japan for realizing our future living in harmony with Borneo Elephants and other wildlife species.”

He also expressed hope that the BES project would serve as a major stepping stone for people of two nations to work together in balancing development and biodiversity conservation in the Island of Mega Diversity...

Borneo Post, Published: September 18, 2013, Wednesday
Masidi, director of Sabah Wildlife Department, to launch Borneo Elephant Sanctuary

Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it was ending an iconic part of the three-ring display. Feld Entertainment, the circus’s parent company, said that by 2018 its productions will no longer feature elephants, an animal that is practically synonymous with the Ringling and Barnum brands.

The decision signifies the end to a classic, and controversial, element of the American circus as shows around the world do away with the menagerie of animal performers.

Susan Nance, a history professor at the University of Guelph in Toronto and author of Entertaining Elephants, which traces the history of the animals in the circus, was surprised by Ringling Bros’ decision because of the company’s long tradition of using the animals. “It took a lot of nerve for them to do this – it can’t have been easy,” Nance said...

Though elephants occasionally appeared in ancient circuses, Nance said: “The biggest innovation that American producers made to the history of the circus was to add elephants.”

During the golden era of the circus – the late 19th century into the early 20th century – Nance said an “elephants arms race” took place among touring companies that touted the size of their elephant herds to attract audiences.

But now interest in circuses has waned with the availability of entertainment such as movies, video games and the internet. And easier access to media, alongside animal welfare group campaigns, has increased awareness about the downside of featuring these animals in shows, which campaigners say involves cruelty to the elephants.

For more than two decades, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, one of the major elephant refuges in the US, has taken in and cared for elephants retired from entertainment. In that time, the group said, “our veterinary and care staff have observed a long list of medical, physiological, and behavioral issues that the Sanctuary’s resident elephants must confront each and every day as a result of their former lives performing and traveling on the road.”

Greece, Malta and Bolivia ban all animals from circuses, while other countries have laws to ban the use of wild animals, specific species or bringing animals into the country for performances...

The Guardian, Published: Saturday 7 March 2015 17.16 GMT
Final trumpet sounds for a US institution as elephants say goodbye to the circus,
Adding pachyderms to the Greatest Show on Earth was an American innovation but shifting tastes mean Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey will phase them out
By Amanda Holpuch in New York

Still, "Greed is good" policy is continuing:

Forget robusta and arabica - this is the world's most expensive coffee, given its unique flavour by...an elephant's digestive tract.

The thought of a coffee bean passing through an elephant's internal organs might not leave coffee-lovers overly enthused.

But the unique coffee, created in the hills of northern Thailand, is now the world's most expensive variety.

Ref: Scroll down in the URL for video

Organic production: Black Ivory coffee is now the world's most expensive varieties costing $1,100 (£685) per kilogram. Thai women collect the dung in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, before sifting through for beans...

The elephant dung coffee is created when the animals have eaten and digested the beans, with a gut reaction inside the animals said to be responsible for the unique flavouring.


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lucky to be alive

KOTA KINABALU: An injured orang utan, believed to have been slashed, has been rescued from a plantation in east coast Sandakan.

The adult male orang utan is being treated at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre as wildlife rangers investigate whether it was attacked by hunters or other groups.

The orang utan had slash wounds and other injuries on its body, but was recovering, said Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya.

“It seems to be OK and is responding to treatment,” he said, adding that rangers rescued the orang utan after an oil palm estate owner saw it in his plantation at about noon on Tuesday.

A police report was lodged that evening.

Orang utan are among fully protected animals in Sabah.

On Aug 18, three orang utan – named Mambo, Terry and Mary – were found dead with stab wounds at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Nature Resort in Tuaran, about 40km from here.

Two other animals were injured in the attack but to date, no arrests have been made.

The Star, Published: Thursday July 16, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Injured orang utan rescued from estate

KUCHING: The malnourished female sun bear, which had previously mistaken as a strange-looking animal and generated a buzz in the social media, had died on Monday.

In a statement issued by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation today, it was stated that the sun bear had succumbed to cancer.

"With deep regrets, the corporation would like to announce the demise of the sun bear in the late evening of May 18.

"The sun bear, which had appeared to be recovering at Matang Wildlife Centre here, had been very sick for more than a week.

"An autopsy concluded that the animal died of late-stage cancer," the statement said.

The animal was first sighted following an 85-second long video uploaded on YouTube end of January.

The video went viral following claims that the animal portrayed during the recorded was a strange-looking creature.

She was rescued from a palm oil plantation in Sibu last month.

The New Straits Times, Published: 20 May 2015 at 7:37 PM
Malnourished female sun bear dies
By Sophia Ivy Jo

SANDAKAN - A young female Borenean sun bear died after she was struck by lightning on Monday here.

The 4-year-old sun bear, named Bongkud, was discoverd dead by Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre workers who checked on her after a storm.

Its chief executive officer, Wong Siew Te, said Bongkud was resting on her favourite tree, which was 20m high, when the incident happened.

He said the weather was fine in the morning and afternoon, but it turned gloomy at 4pm.

"bongkud was full of energy, always climbing the trees at the forest enclosure. We are saddened with her death," he said, adding that Bongkud was rescued from being sold in 2012 when she was 10 months old.

Wong said she was named after Nongkud village in the west coast of Sabah.

He said Bongkud was one of the few sun bears at the centre that knew how to build nests in trees.

The other 34 sun bears were not injured.

The sun bear is the smallest of the world's eight bear species and is found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra and Borneo.

It has been classified as "vulnerable" on The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List Threatened Species.

The New Straits Times, Published: July 16, 2015
Lightning kills centre's sun bear
By Olivia Miwil

KUANTAN: AFTER surviving a king cobra's life-threatening bite, Mohd Sabron Jamil Kamarudin is now keen to return to work and play with his reptile children including "Hana" which had bitten and left him in a coma for almost a month.

Although the snake's venom has robbed him of the use of the left hand, the 24-year-old snake charmer said it would not stop him from continuing with his job.

"It's quite disappointing that I can no longer use my left hand but I'm grateful that I'm still alive," said the third of six siblings.

In the past few days, Sabron has been visiting his colleagues and playing with the snakes at the MPK's Teruntum mini-zoo here.

Sabron said he had learnt his lesson well and would from now on give undivided attention when dealing with snakes.

"It was completely my fault as previously I could avoid Hana's bite. It's a playful animal but I must always remember that it is also dangerous," said Sabron who helped capture the king cobra a month before the incident.

Sabron said he did not want have his left hand amputated unless his life was in danger.

In the incident on March 1, Sabron had to wait four hours for the right anti-venom after being bitten by the king cobra on the left wrist while cleaning the snake's cage at 5.30pm.

Sabron, who is from Sungai Karang Darat, was sent to Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here, and was given an anti-venom shot.

The decision was made as doctors had to wait for the king cobra anti-venom, a controlled substance, to be sent from Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

Sabron finally received the correct dose at 11pm and remained in a coma after a four-hour operation to reduce the swelling.

While he was in a coma, the doctors had warned his family that amputation of the affected left hand was the only way to save him.

Sabron, who lost weight significantly after the incident, is considered lucky as death can normally occur as early as 30 minutes after being bitten by a king cobra.

The New Straits Times, 28 April 2012, last updated at 08:39AM
Cobra-bite victim eager to start work
Read more: http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/cobra-bite-victim-eager-to-start-work-1.78491#ixzz3g1lrDSVg
and today's NST, Published: Thursday, July 16,2015

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Democracy in Japan

TOKYO (AP) -- A parliamentary committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would expand the role of Japan's military after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc forced the vote in the face of protests from some lawmakers and citizens.

Opposition lawmakers tried to stop the committee vote as hundreds of citizens protested outside.

The unpopular legislation was crafted after Abe's Cabinet adopted a new security policy last year that reinterpreted a part of Japan's post-World War II constitution that only permitted the nation's military to use force for its self-defense. The bills in question would allow Japan to also defend aggression against its allies - a concept called collective self-defense.

Abe has argued that Japan should better prepare for China's regional threat and do more to contribute to international peacekeeping efforts.

But opponents, including legal experts and academics, counter that the new interpretation is unconstitutional.

Polls show that about 80 percent of Japanese find the bills hard to swallow, and the majority of them say they think the legislation is unconstitutional.

That tension was on display Wednesday as opposition lawmakers attempted to thwart the committee's vote and hundreds chanted anti-war and anti-Abe slogans outside in protest.

Lawmakers rushed over to the podium and began to slap and grab at committee chairman Yasukazu Hamada as he cut off debate and began the voting process.

Some held up posters that read "No to a forced vote!" and "No to Abe politics!"

The legislation would "fundamentally change the way Japan has sought pacifism since the end of the war," Kiyomi Tsujimoto, an opposition Democratic Part of Japan lawmaker, told Abe before the vote.

Abe acknowledged Wednesday that the legislation doesn't have public support but said he could force the vote because his party has the voters' mandate - an attitude that has also angered critics and polarized the debate around the military legislation.

Abe has been increasingly criticized for being an autocratic leader and members of his right-wing Liberal Democratic Party came under fire recently after suggesting that two liberal newspapers on Okinawa should be destroyed.

"The existence of our constitution is threatened, the sovereignty-of-the-people principle is threatened, and our democracy is being threatened," Tsujimoto said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on the security legislation, calling it a domestic matter for Japan, a key U.S. ally.

But he said the U.S. welcomes "Japan's ongoing efforts to strengthen the alliance and play a more active role in regional and international security activities."

The Star, Published: 16 July 2015

Shinzo Abe’s government has rammed a security law through a crucial parliamentary vote amid chaotic scenes of protest in Japan’s Diet.

About 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Tokyo on Wednesday against the law to enable Japan to exercise “collective self-defence”, allowing its armed forces to fight alongside allies such as the US.

The decision to end 110 hours of debate in the lower house of parliament marks a big step forward for a piece of legislation Mr Abe’s has prioritised and keeps a commitment to his US ally.

But it has come at the price of significant political damage to Mr Abe, with the opposition re-energised, and a dent in the prime minister’s aura of political invincibility.

In rare scenes for Japan’s sedate legislature, opposition MPs mobbed the speaker when the vote was called, waving placards and chanting slogans against the bill.

“There’s no urgency to vote. This reckless action has come because public opposition rises the more it’s debated,” said Katsuya Okada, head of the opposition Democratic party. “The government should be ashamed.”

The fervour shows the passions raised by Japan’s pacifist constitution. Many older Japanese, in particular, regard it as a pillar of their postwar identity. Conservatives such as Mr Abe, however, are determined to revise it and increase Japan’s role on the international stage...

But with polls showing that 80 per cent of people think the government has not explained the new law sufficiently, he acknowledged its unpopularity: “Unfortunately, the country’s understanding has not advanced.”

A series of opinion polls shows Mr Abe’s approval rating turning negative for the first time since his second term as prime minister began in 2012. That has given rise to fears Mr Abe could be forced to sacrifice some of his tougher economic reforms.

The Financial Times, Published: July 15, 2015 1:30 pm
Shinzo Abe defies big protest to ram self-defence bill through Diet
By Robin Harding in Tokyo

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition was set to approve legislation in the lower house of parliament on Thursday that could see troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since the second world war, despite thousands of protesters overnight chanting and holding up placards reading “No war, no killing”.

A lower house panel approval of the unpopular bills, which would drop a ban on collective self-defence or fighting to defend a friendly country such as the US, sparked a huge demonstration on Wednesday and more are planned.

The protest was reminiscent of those that toppled Abe’s grandfather from the premiership 55 years ago after he rammed a revised US-Japan security pact through parliament.

Crowds of protesters – organisers said 100,000 – gathered near parliament. Many stayed well into the night, chanting and holding up placards reading “Abe, quit”, “No war, no killing” and “Scrap the war bills”.

Passage of the bills by the full lower house is virtually assured given the ruling bloc’s big majority, although opposition parties were expected to boycott the vote...

Some analysts have begun to draw parallels to Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, a wartime cabinet minister who was premier from 1957 to 1960 and resigned on 15 July 11960 because of a public furore over the US-Japan security pact.

Others say Abe is likely to be re-elected in September for another three-year term as leader of his Liberal Democratic party, given weak opposition inside and outside the party.

The changes, reflected in new US-Japan defence cooperation guidelines, would also expand the scope for Japan’s military to provide logistics support to friendly countries, relax limits on peacekeeping operations and make it easier to respond to “grey zone” incidents falling short of war.

The Guardian, Published: Thursday 16 July 2015 04.43 BST
Japanese law could send soldiers to fight abroad for first time in 70 yearsThousands of protesters demonstrate against legislation introduced by the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, chanting ‘No war, no killing’
By Reuters

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illegal land-clearing

PUTRAJAYA: More than 80% of the 2,260ha of land illegally cleared by farmers in Cameron Highlands has been cleaned up.

According to the Special Committee on Flash Floods in Cameron Highlands, 1,835ha had been covered by the authorities from December.

“The cleaning up, being coordinated by the National Security Council (NSC) and involving various agencies, is already in Phase Eight. There is only about 420ha of land waiting to be cleaned up,” the committee said in a statement after its fourth meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin here yesterday.

Also present was Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and NSC secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab.

The committee expressed concern over reports that certain individuals were rebuilding demolished structures and attempting to bribe enforcement agencies.

“The committee welcomes investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency and wants action against any government official involved,” it said.

On illegal immigrants in the area, it said 1,449 had been arrested so far and the operation to flush them out was ongoing.

The highland resort suffered severe landslides and flash floods last November which claimed five lives. More than 90 people from 28 families were evacuated to relief centres.

The affected areas were Kampung Raja, Pekan Ringlet and Bertam Valley. The disaster was blamed mainly on illegal land-clearing.

The Star, published: Tuesday July 14, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Only 420ha yet to be cleaned up, says highlands flash floods panel

GEORGE TOWN: Mitigation works on Bukit Relau, infamously known as Botak Hill after a section of its top slope was cleared in 2013, is scheduled to be completed by October.

The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) said the mitigation works started in April and was expected to be completed in six months.

The council said it had endorsed the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan (ESCP) and slope strengthening design to mitigate landslips and pollution caused by mud flow based on the proposal by the geotechnical consultant appointed by General Accomplish-ment Sdn Bhd which owns the cleared site.

MBPP said the mitigation plan was vetted by the state’s Hillside Geotechnical Advisory Panel chairman Dr Gue See Sew.

General Accomplishment was fined RM30,000 by a Sessions Court here in July 2013 after a representative pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to clearing the 22.89ha site between April 24 and May 8 the same year without obtaining written approval from then Penang Municipal Council (MPPP).

The offence under Section 70 A of the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974 carries a maximum five-year imprisonment or maximum RM50,000 fine, or both.

MBPP said in a statement yesterday that the mitigation measures include the building of a few catchment and sedimentation ponds along the access route to the site, cutting the slope to reduce its steepness and covering the exposed slope with vegetation.

The council said the works also involved the building of cascading drains along the access route to dissipate the energy of surface runoff and mitigate soil erosion.

Several residents living nearby had earlier this month raised their concern after seeing earthworks being done at the site.

MBPP said the land cutting was done to allow access for heavy vehicles and to carry out rock blasting.

It said huge boulders needed to be removed to ensure a safe route and for the mitigation works to proceed, adding that the rock blasting was approved by the Minerals and Geoscience Depart-ment and police.

MBPP said it would continue to monitor the works to ensure that it was carried out in accordance with the approved mitigation plan.

It said grass had been planted on the access route to prevent erosion and that more plants could now be seen on the cleared slope.

The Star, published: Tuesday July 14, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Botak Hill to be patched up soon

GEORGE TOWN: The Department of Environment has launched an investigation into the mass fish deaths in Sungai Bayan Lepas.

Various officers from the department were seen collecting water samples at the site yesterday for testing. The result of the test is expected to be out in two weeks.

Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohamed Idris said various fish species were found dead in the river on Sunday.

“The fish are mullet (belanak), gelama and duri.

“We were told by the affected fishermen that the river water is frequently black and oily.

“The pollution spreads from the river to the sea, endangering the fish and prawns which form the fishermen’s catch,” he said in a press statement.

Malaysian Nature Society Penang branch adviser D. Kanda Kumar said the cause of the fish deaths could not be the hot weather.

“If it is the hot weather, then every river in the state will be effected as well.

“It has to be due to some human activity taking place upstream that is polluting the river,” he said when contacted.

He advised residents nearby to contact the authorities if they see any illegal discharge of waste into the river.

Penang Gerakan Youth secretary Ooi Zhi Yi urged the government to take stern action against the culprits.

“This is the fourth fish death case within a short period after Sungai Kerian in Nibong Tebal, Sungai Tasek Cempedak in Seberang Prai Selatan and Sungai Dondang in Paya Terubong,” Ooi said in a statement.

State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said they would do a survey of the area to identify the possible cause while waiting for the lab results...

The Star, published: Tuesday July 14, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Probe into mystery of mass fish deaths

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New Straits Times at 170

IN a matter of days − on July 15, to be exact − two days before Muslims in Malaysia celebrate the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, this newspaper will be 170. This is the nation’s oldest surviving newspaper. When it started in Singapore, it was named The Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce. It started as a weekly, and hardly 100 copies were printed each time. The words “and Singapore Journal of Commerce”, however, disappeared in 1861, 16 years after its first publication.

As the name suggested, the newspaper was meant for the “mercantile community” in Singapore, a thriving port at the time. Its “journal of commerce” section was “a vehicle for mercantile information” though, interestingly, this statement was included − “a defender of trade principles”.

The first copy was a hotchpotch of items, randomly chosen to reflect not just the “news” of the day (which wasn’t much), notices and various announcements, including one pertaining to “Singapore Dispensary”. There was a need to publicise, among others, the price of Madras cotton (per pound) and Benares opium (per chest).

The newspaper has come a long way since that historic Tuesday, July 15, 1845. It became a full-fledged daily in 1931. The complex journey of this newspaper reflects the story of the nation as well.

Back then, local people were never on the radar. They were the insignificant “Other”. They lived in villages, surviving on meagre earnings. Their rulers lost much of their power to the British. Real education was many decades away from the indigenous people. Labourers from China and India were brought in to work in mines and plantations.

This newspaper, too, has seen 170 years of the history of the nation, replete with stories of turmoil, conflicts, uncertainties, clashes and, of course, development, hope and optimism. The world was changing fast; so, too, Malaya at the time. Malay nationalism and national consciousness redefined the idea of nationhood.

This newspaper saw the birth of a nation, some 112 years after it was published, when Malaya was born in 1957. In the same year, its Bahasa Melayu edition, Berita Harian, was born, which, not surprisingly, was nothing more than a translation of The Straits Times, with an added slant for Malays.

Six years later, Malaysia came into being. Two years after the formation of Malaysia, Singapore became an independent nation.

The Malaysian edition of the newspaper, which was renamed the New Straits Times, was officially launched in 1974. Its first edition trumpeted the idea of “Your national paper”, taking advantage of that year’s national day. The lead story was “The way to ensure unity”.

That has, in fact, been the guiding principle of this newspaper − championing and arguing the case for a united and moderate Malaysia, and taking the middle path long before any such notion became trendy.

The newspaper has never wavered in its role to understand the difficulties of a fledgling nation. It was even more daunting for a multiethnic, multireligious and multicultural Malaysia. It had been chronicling tumultuous events, social upheavals and economic turmoil...

The New Straits Times, published: 11 July 2015 at 12:02 PM
NST − An incredible 170-year journey
By Johan Jaaffar

I started reading The Straits Times (now New Straits Times) when I was in Standard Four in 1962 when I studied at Batu Road Boys School 2, Kuala Lumpur. It cost 15 sen then.

I had to have the NST every morning, which my mum would buy for me. If she was busy selling food, I would go to the shop and buy it.

I cannot remember my favourite column. But, certainly, the editorial was out as it was too high sounding and difficult to understand.

But I read all the news about the Vietnam war, Arab-Israeli skirmishes, sports and cartoons. I remember keeping up with the English league as Manchester United was and still is my favourite team. At that tender age, I also supported Derby County and Leeds United.

Over the years and till today, the NST is still my cup of tea. I feel there is something missing if I don’t read it at breakfast. There is something about the NST that attracts me as it has the “oommmph” over other newspapers. I am not exaggerating if I say that it is good reading compared with many United States and British newspapers as it gives a wide coverage of local and foreign events.

I find the reporting to be fair, balanced and transparent with the goal of creating a knowledge-based society. Of course, there are those who see the NST as a government mouthpiece.

As educated readers, we should read it with an open mind and not rubbish it...

Letter to The New Straits Times, published: 14 July 2015 at 12:01 PM
NST my cup of tea since I was in Standard 4
By Hassan Talib, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur - NST group editor Mustapha Kamil Mohd Janor said the newspaper had become part of the country's colourful hisptry.

"It has gone through some of Malaysia's and world's most tumultuous times, including two world wars, several economic downturns and at least one racial upheaval in the country that the people would never want to revisit."

"I am proud that the newspaper has existed this long and that I have been accorded the opportunity to serve," he said at a ceremony to celebrate the occasion on the NST editorial floor at Balai Berita, Jalan Riong here yesterday.

Mustapha also spoke of former employees who had contributed to the success of the newspaper.

"I should pay tribute to those who came before us to the newsroom essentially to shine the light on the path our society has chosen. Without their outstanding and often selfless contributions, this newespaper would not be publishing for as long as it has been."

"Wherever they may be now, we offer heartfelt thanks to all of them - many of whom were pioneere in good journalism themselves."

The New Straits Times, published: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
NST turns 170 today
By Aliza Shah
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prohibition on military exports

TOKYO (AFP) - Step aside Abenomics, the Shinzo Abe brandwagon is rolling on... into honey, after the Japanese Prime Minister's wife decided to establish a beehive at their official residence.

First Lady Akie Abe wants hives enough for up to 10,000 Japanese honeybees, right in the centre of Tokyo, and intends to harvest "Abe-brand" honey later this year, reports and a non-governmental organisation said.

Mrs Abe, who frequently speaks out on environmental and social issues, apparently took her inspiration on apiculture from her American opposite number Michelle Obama, who has bees at the White House.

The Ginza Honey Bee Project, a non-profit organisation that keeps honey bees in the Japanese capital, told AFP they will offer a helping hand to Mrs Abe in how she should care for her stripey charges.

The Abes visited Washington in April this year, where the two first ladies compared notes on the global decline in the number of bees.

Bees are vital to the life cycle of many plants, including a lot of crops grown for human consumption, because of their role in pollination.

But increasing use of pesticides has killed a large number of the insects, and some scientists warn of impending disaster that could even cause food shortages.

After returning from Washington, Mrs Abe got in touch with the Ginza Honey Bee Project.

"I'm impressed honey can be harvested in the centre of Tokyo," she wrote on her Facebook page in May.

"The environment where bees can live is an environment where humans can live safely. I want Japanese bees to come back."

Mrs Abe intends to fill the hive with up to 10,000 Japanese honeybees, possibly as early as this month, Jiji Press said.

"If things go smoothly, 'Abe-brand' honey is expected to be harvested in the autumn," the agency reported.

The Straits Times, Published Jul 13, 2015, 1:58 pm SGT
Political sweetener: Japan PM Abe's wife to keep beehives to harvest branded honey

YOKOHAMA, Japan − Some of Japan’s biggest companies, best known for motorcycles, washing machines, and laptop computers, are pitching a new line of global products: military hardware.

Quiet-running attack submarines. Amphibious search-and-rescue planes. Ship-mounted radar systems that use lasers to help pinpoint approaching enemies.

After a ban on weapons exports that the Japanese government had maintained for nearly 50 years, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Hitachi, Toshiba, and other military contractors in this semipacifist country are cautiously but unmistakably telling the world they are open for business.

A maritime security exposition here in May was the first military industry trade show in Japan, organizers and participants said. And it was the first anywhere to feature the Japanese manufacturers.

“I’ve never seen them,” said Major General Mick Fairweather, a procurement specialist with the Australian armed forces who regularly attends such expos around the world. “It’s going to be a growing thing.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the prohibition on military exports last year, part of a loosening of restrictions on Japan’s military power that were put in place after its defeat in World War II.

While much of the Japanese public opposes the changes, Abe says they are long overdue. The growing might of China, Japan’s close but not always friendly neighbor, has added force to his argument.

Abe is counting on increased military-related trade to help cement ties with other countries in the region that share Japan’s wariness of China. Southeast Asian nations and India are high on the list of potential customers.

Japan hopes Australia, a fellow Pacific democracy, will be a receptive market for Soryu-class submarines, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Shipbuilding. The subs, which cost about 50 billion yen, or $410 million, use ultraquiet diesel-electric drives that make them hard for adversaries to detect.

Mitsubishi Heavy is also working on a prototype amphibious assault vehicle, used for landing troops on hostile seashores, that could eventually compete with American-designed vehicles used by the Marine Corps.

Some of the country’s large industrial conglomerates have long had sidelines in military production, supplying a variety of equipment, including tanks and planes, to the Japanese military, the Self-Defense Forces. With rare exceptions, the Japanese government has been their only customer.

“When you don’t fight wars, it doesn’t exactly help the arms industry,” said Masahiro Matsumura, a professor at Momoyama Gakuin University who specializes in politics and national security.

Only four Japanese companies are among the top 100 arms producers ranked by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a watchdog group. The biggest, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, earns less than a 10th the revenue from military sales as the top US military contractor, Lockheed Martin.

Small production runs make Japanese hardware relatively expensive, Matsumura said. And a lack of real-world experience presents an additional hurdle.

“The US fights a lot of wars, so they get feedback on the performance of their weapons,” he said. “Japan doesn’t fight, so there’s no feedback.”

Japan has not sent troops into combat since World War II, and its postwar constitution renounces the use of force “as a means of settling international disputes.” Among the changes Abe’s government is enacting are new laws that will allow the Self-Defense Forces to operate abroad in a wider array of circumstances, including to defend allies like the United States.

India has expressed interest in a large-capacity seaplane, the US-2, built for the Japanese navy by ShinMaywa Industries, a manufacturer better known for dump trucks and the passenger boarding bridges used at airports. The US-2 could help the Indian military patrol distant island chains like the Andaman and Nicobar, hundreds of miles from the mainland across the Indian Ocean.

Breaking into a market dominated by established giants, often with close ties to governments, will not be easy. In many areas, specialists say, Japan’s best bet is probably to cooperate rather than compete head-to-head.

Japan’s most marketable products, they say, are relatively inconspicuous components, like image sensors and carbon-fiber aircraft parts, many originally developed with civilian applications in mind.

“We make some excellent parts and subsystems, but if we intend to produce whole systems, like next-generation fighters, it’s impossible to develop these things on our own,” said Satoshi Morimoto, a former defense minister.

Japanese companies already sell a small number of high-tech military components to the United States, such as missile-tracking sensors used in ballistic missile defense systems, under exceptions to the export ban introduced beginning in the 1980s.

Despite their new freedom to export, Japanese companies remain wary of being associated with a controversial industry...

The Boston Globe, Published: July 13, 2015
Ban lifted, Japanese companies cautiously look to export arms
By Jonathan Soble, New York Times

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corals in crisis

TODAY is World Ocean Day, an event to raise global awareness about threats to the oceans and promote marine conservation. The special day has been recognised by the United Nations since 2008.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), more than 80 per cent of marine pollution is caused by land-based activities, such as oil spills, fertiliser and toxic chemical run-off and the discharge of untreated sewage.

It is up to each of us to ensure that oceans are protected and conserved for future generations. World Ocean Day encourages us to think about what the ocean means to us and what it has to offer, so that we can conserve it for our children and grandchildren.

It also tries to push us to discover the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats and how our actions affect these creatures and how we are interconnected.

Though we may or may not know it, whether we live inland or on the coast, we are all connected to the ocean. By taking care of our own surroundings, we are taking care of the ocean.

One example is by not throwing rubbish into rivers or drains, because this rubbish will find its way into the ocean...

As marine explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau put it: “The very survival of the human species depends upon the maintenance of an ocean that is clean and alive, spreading all around the world. The ocean is our lifebelt.”

Letter to The New Straits Times, Published: 8 July 2015 at 12:00 PM
Sea of change can save oceans
By Lionel Perera, Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/node/91284

A massive coral bleaching event currently ravaging coral reefs across the globe could destroy thousands of square kilometres of coral cover forever, US government scientists have said.

In figures exclusively released to the Guardian, scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) said about 12% of the world’s reefs have suffered bleaching in the last year. Just under half of these, an area of 12,000 sq km of coral, may be lost forever.

But the devastation is only getting started. The event could continue well into 2016. Noaa announced on Monday that the western Atlantic is about to heat up, turning the corals of the Caribbean bone white. When this occurs, bleaching will have hit every tropical ocean basin on Earth since June last year.

In all, scientists forecast a total of 15,000 sq km of reef may not recover and losses to the world’s remaining coral reefs would be a devastating 6%...

In 1998, a massive El Niño (an upwelling of warm water in the Pacific) set off a chain of warming events in oceans across the world that killed off 16-19% of the world’s coral reefs. Mark Eakin, the co-ordinator of Noaa’s Coral Reef Watch programme, said this year’s El Niño was playing a part, but “it’s almost certainly being driven largely by global warming”.

A huge patch of climate change-generated hot water, known as ‘the blob’, has been wobbling across the northern Pacific since this time last year. It first bathed the reefs of the Hawaii and the Marshall Islands in June 2014. It has now returned to where blitzed reefs have only just begun the slow process of rebuilding.

Other hot patches of water washed through the South Sea Islands during the southern Pacific summer. Reefs in the Indian Ocean were also hammered by warm temperatures.

“We are seeing real changes in the ocean as related to climate change,” said Eakin.

The Guardian, Published: Tuesday 7 July 2015 17.21 BST
15,000 sq km of coral reef could be lost in current mass bleaching, say scientists,
Noaa predicts third-ever global bleaching event could cause a 6% global reduction in coral reefs in less than two years. More than a third of coral reefs affected may be destroyed forever
By Karl Mathiesen

Furthermore, is there a man-made destruction?

Large concrete blocks weighing 10-45 tons have damaged coral in Oura Bay, Nago, the planned site of the replacement base for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau has installed blocks on the seabed to fix floats marking a temporary restricted areas.

On February 14, a photographer of the Ryukyu Shimpo took a picture of the scene. This photograph proves that corals have been hurt outside the area that the Okinawa Prefectural Government approved for the defense bureau to crush coral reefs.

Photo: Hamasango corals or Porites cylindrica were crushed by large concrete blocks. Photograph taken by Takaya Kinra on seabed about five meters deep in Oura Bay, Nago, at 04:05 p.m. on February 14.

Rykyu Shinpo, Published: February 15, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
Corals destroyed in Oura Bay

US defence officials say the new base, which is expected to cost at least $8.6bn (£5.8bn), is an essential part of the White House’s strategic “pivot” towards the Asia-Pacific, amid rising concern over Chinese military spending and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

Okinawa, about 1,000 miles south of Tokyo, hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan and three-quarters of US bases. Many Okinawans, angered by pollution, crimes involving servicemen and the risk of aircraft accidents, are demanding that Futenma be closed and any replacement be built outside of the island.

Campaigners say the new base, with its v-shaped offshore runway, would cause irreparable damage to the marine ecosystem, home to one of the world’s few dugong – a large see mammal related to the manatee – populations, and threaten public safety.

The Guardian, Updated: Monday 23 March 2015 09.49 GMT
Okinawa governor blocks controversial US marine base,
Escalation in dispute poses diplomatic headache for prime minister Shinzo Abe and threatens to sour relations between Japan and the US

The vast majority of people in Okinawa continue to oppose the construction plan. According to the latest telephone polls conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo on May 7, 2014, 74% of the people of Okinawa oppose the construction plan. Only 16% support construction. These numbers have remained constant for the last 18 years. And, as mentioned above, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution on January 10 calling for the resignation of Governor Nakaima for his approval of the reclamation work.

Many individuals have taken or are willing to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the construction. The sit-in protest at Henoko Tent village continues, with more people visiting the village. People have started practicing “sit-in on the water” protests with canoes and small boats. Rallies and gatherings have been held in various parts of Okinawa against the construction (see Ryukyu Shimpo for the latest protest rally at Henoko Tent village on June 28).

People have filed a lawsuit against Governor Nakaima claiming that the governor’s approval for reclamation breaches the public land reclamation law. They demand that Governor Nakaima retract his approval.

Nago City, headed by Mayor Inamine, continues to oppose the construction plan. The City Office has been sending letters of inquiry and questions to the Okinawa Prefecture Government as well as to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, demanding explanation for details of the construction plan and refusing to issue permits to the Bureau (see Ryukyu Shimpo). Also, Mayor Inamine recently visited NY and Washington D.C., lobbying US policy makers for the withdrawal of the construction plan (see New York Times).

On the environmental front, NGOs are asking the international community to examine and voice against the impacts of the base construction/operation on the environment.

Ryukyu Shinpo, Published: Jul. 08, 2014
Urgent Situation at Okinawa's Henoko and Oura Bay: Base Construction Started on Camp Schwab
(辺野古と大浦湾、緊急事態 キャンプ・シュワブで基地建設始まる)

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the feeding and care of the animals

Python in Sarawak, Malaysia
VILLAGERS in Limbang, Sarawak, shot dead a 19m python and divided up the meat for dinner, reported Harian Metro.

Residents of the Eling Bungan Ensurai Mendamit longhouse spotted the python a number of times and claimed that the reptile might be responsible for the disappearance of their livestock.

Former ranger, Baing Jelawak, 71, stumbled upon the snake coiled up in a river nearby while he was fishing at around 4pm on Friday and shot it.

The python, which can grow to over 10m in the wild, was seen soaking in the river to cool itself down from the heat.

“I had to kill it as its size was very intimidating and I feared for the safety of the villagers,” said Baing, adding that the villagers used the river for bathing, fishing and washing.

The carcass of the python was brought back to the village and its meat distributed among the villagers for dinner, he said.

The Star, Published: Monday July 13, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Villagers have python they shot for dinner
Compiled by Ng Si Hooi, D. Kanyakumari and R. Aravinthan

Panda in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR: Practice makes perfect, and practice is certainly what Fu Wa the giant panda needs if he is to produce an offspring.

Fu Wa and his mate Feng Yi have yet to conceive despite arriving in Malaysia over a year ago. This is the panda’s second attempt at mating.

Malaysian Zoological Society Giant Panda Conservation Centre and veterinary services director Dr Mat Naim Ramli said captive-born male pandas like Fu Wa were known to “underperform” at the tender age of nine.

“Probably when he reaches his 14th year and with enough exposure to the female panda, he will get the hang of it,” he told reporters during a briefing on the giant panda breeding programme at Zoo Negara here on Saturday.

Despite Fu Wa’s inexperience, Dr Mat Naim said the male panda should have no problems to reproduce as he has quality semen and normal-sized genitals.

The female panda Feng Yi previously gave birth in China several years ago.

Dr Mat said Zoo Negara was also considering prolonging the time for the two pandas to socialise.

“They can probably socialise in the observation area during visiting hours or we (may) shut the observatory for three to four days to allow them maximum time.

“Pandas have no qualms doing it while in full view of the public and this has been done in China. But it would be tricky if we have schoolchildren that day.

“If we close the observatory, then they can socialise for one whole day,” he added.

In Malaysia, Fu Wa is named “Xing Xing”, which means prosperity, while Feng Yi is “Liang Liang” or pretty.

Dr Mat Naim also said that at one point, the panda couple were slightly overweight, which was not conducive for mating.

Fu Wa had weighed 153kg, while Feng Yi was 118kg then.

“We reduced 10kg from their 40kg bamboo diet. Fu Wa’s weight dropped to 127kg, while Feng Yi weighs around 105kg and that is ideal,” he said, adding that the pandas were not too happy at first when they had less to eat.

Dr Mat Naim said they were hopeful that the pandas would succeed at natural mating by next year.

The pandas are on a 10-year stay here to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.

The Star, Published: Monday July 13, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Panda needs more practice to get the hang of mating
by Nurbaiti Hamdan

Chimpanzees in Monkey Island (Liberia)
A speedboat laden with fruit approaches and four chimpanzees come bounding over from the dense forest, screeching excitedly as volunteers throw them pineapple and mango chunks.

The apes are part of a colony of former research lab captives enjoying retirement uncaged on an atoll deep in the jungle of southern Liberia, known as Monkey Island.

The only significant inhabitants of the six islets, the chimps have been living an idyllic existence, fed by human volunteers on their very own 'Planet of the Apes' -- a nickname given to the archipelago by local media.

But the colony of 66 chimps has been at the centre of an international storm since the New York-based blood bank funding it announced in March it was stopping the cash.

The New York Blood Center (NYBC), which carried out about 30 years of biomedical research on the animals, had publicly committed to their lifelong care after they were retired in 2005.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is supporting the colony through emergency fundraising as the Liberian government and the blood bank lock horns over who should be responsible for their care.

"NYBC may believe that people will forget and that this will go away, but I can assure you that it won't," HSUS vice-president Kathleen Conlee told AFP in an email from Washington DC.

"They are absolutely responsible for the long-term care of these chimpanzees."

Conlee described the chimps' care costs -- estimated at $30,000 (27,000 euros) a month -- as "a mere drop in the bucket for this organisation that has hundreds of millions in revenue annually".

'Moral obligation'
The Liberia Biomedical Research Institute (LBRI) entered into an agreement with the NYBC in 1974 to carry out research in a lab about 65 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Monrovia, capturing or buying the chimpanzees.

The research project had gained a world class reputation in the field of viral infections, particularly hepatitis, by the time it ended and the NYBC appeared to make a commitment to the chimps in retirement as a reward for their contribution.

NYBC director Alfred Prince wrote in the American Society of Primatologists Bulletin in 2005 that Monkey Island was to become "a dedicated full-time sanctuary".

"NYBC recognises its responsibility to provide an endowment to fund the sanctuary for the lifetime care of the chimpanzees," he wrote.

The chimps are entirely reliant on humans for their survival, as there is no year-round fresh water supply or enough food on their islets.

LBRI head Fatorma Bolay said initial emergency funding from the HSUS, pooled with cash from other sources, had probably saved the animals from dehydration and starvation.

World-renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall sent an open letter to the NYBC in May urging the organisation to consider its "moral obligation" to continue funding the chimps' care.

"I find it completely shocking and unacceptable that NYBC would abandon these chimpanzees and discontinue support for even their basic needs," she wrote.

AFP emailed and telephoned the NYBC but the centre did not respond to requests for comment.

'No different from humans'
John Abayomi Zeonyuway, a volunteer at the institute, showed AFP the animals' care routine on a recent visit to Monkey Island, a 25-minute speedboat ride up the John River from Roberts International Airport.

As the boat approached the first of the islets, a nine square-kilometre patch of jungle known as Island Five, a welcoming party of four chimps began screeching and jumping up and down excitedly.

"This is their way of saying that the food is here," Zeonyuway explained as he threw pawpaws, bananas and other fruit for the animals.

Zeonyuway visits the colony every second day, and each time he does a mental roll call to ensure all are present and in good health.

"I can't see Samanta. Bullet is here -- he's already eating," he called out to his crew as the rest of the residents came to join the feast.

The boat then proceeded to Island Four, 15 minutes away, where the clan of 10 apes included four unplanned babies, the result of failed vasectomies, according to the HSUS.

Birth control efforts have since been stepped up so that the population doesn't grow further.

At all six of the islands the routine was the same: an excited greeting and a feast for the animals.

"The chimps are part of me. I am glued to them because I see them every other day," Zeonyuway told AFP.

"They are no different from humans. They fight and they make peace. They need help, they need attention. We cannot afford to lose these animals to hunger and sickness."

Mail Online, Updated: 07:40 GMT, 12 July 2015
Liberia's 'Planet of the Apes' chimps facing starvation

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sweet oportunity

Realtors in Australia, Britain and Canada are bracing for a surge of new interest in their already hot property markets, with early signs that wealthy Chinese investors are seeking a safe haven from the turmoil in Shanghai's equity markets.

Sydney realtor Michael Pallier said in the past week alone he has sold two new apartments and shown a A$13.8 million ($10.3 million) house in the harbourside city to Chinese buyers looking for an alternative to stocks.

"A lot of high net worth individuals had already taken money out of the stock market because it was getting just too hot," Pallier, the principal of Sydney Sotheby's International Realty, said. "There's a huge amount of cash sitting in China and I think you'll find a lot of that comes to the Australian property market."

Around 20 percent has been knocked off the value of Chinese shares since mid-June, although attempts by authorities to stem the bleeding are having some effect...

Since 2000, China has had the world's largest outflow of high net worth individuals. Around 91,000 wealthy Chinese sought second citizenship between 2000 and 2014, according to a report by residence investment broker Lio Global, a factor that is fuelling demand to buy foreign property.

Most of these individuals, defined as those with net assets of $1 million or more excluding their primary residences, are moving to the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore and Britain...

Reuters, Sat Jul 11, 2015 10:16pm EDT
China's rich seek shelter from stock market storm in foreign property
By Jane Wardell and Kate Holton

The trend has already hit Sydney, Vancouver and the U.S. Now it’s happening in Japan: busloads of real estate buyers from China coming in, buying up homes and pushing prices higher.

Realty agencies in Beijing are organizing twice-monthly tours to Tokyo and Osaka, where 40 Chinese at a time come for three-day property-shopping trips, seeking safe places to invest their cash abroad. They’re being prompted by the yen’s decline to 22-year lows and excitement over the 2020 Tokyo Olympics driving up prices, as they did in Beijing in 2008. Property tours will soon start from Shanghai too.

Partly as a result of nascent Chinese buying, Tokyo apartment prices have reached the highest levels since the early 1990s, up 11 percent over two years, according to the Real Estate Economic Institute Co.

“The demand is like water exploding up from a well,” said Zhou Yinan, an Osaka-based agent at Chinese brokerage SouFun Holdings Ltd., who said his mainland buyers are about 20 percent more numerous than at this time last year. “The Chinese buyers had mainly been from Taiwan until last year, but that trend reversed since October as the yen weakened against the yuan.”

Thousands more mainland Chinese are coming on their own, hitting real estate agencies in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro Chinatown district. Classified advertisements including properties for sale are piled up in free Chinese newspapers outside a Chinese supermarket that sells frozen dumplings and spicy sauces.

Paying Cash
“There are so many Chinese buyers recently,” said Song Zhiyan, a broker at BestOne Co. realty in Ikebukuro, who uses the messaging application WeChat to reach thousands of potential customers in China, who can then fly to town to complete purchases. “I only work with clients who can pay cash. Why waste everyone’s time?”

She tells them to hurry: Properties are gone so fast that those who try to negotiate the price find them already sold. Her transaction volume exclusively for mainlanders buying in Tokyo has tripled over the past six months, Song said...

Bloomberg, July 3, 2015 − 5:00 AM HKT
The Chinese Descend on Japan's Property Market, Pushing Prices Up
By Kathleen Chu and Katsuyo Kuwako

Mr Yohho wants to put in Singaporeans flood into Malaysia as well:

Sales have doubled at Uncle Lim’s durian farm as Singaporeans flood over the border into Malaysia to buy the spiky, stinky fruit, lured by the cheapest exchange rates since the countries separated 50 years ago.

The Malaysian ringgit’s weakness means they can now buy at least two top-grade durians there for the price of one in Singapore. The Southeast Asian native fruit -- known for its sweet, custardy flesh and banned from the city-state’s subways and hotels because of its pungent odor -- can retail for more than S$40 ($30) apiece in Singapore.

“I receive a call every 10 minutes right now, on top of Facebook and WhatsApp messages,” said Wesley Loo, who organizes bus tours to his father-in-law’s orchard in the southern Malaysian state of Johor. “One of the reasons is the weaker ringgit.”

Singapore’s dollar rose to a record 2.80 ringgit on Thursday, up more than 5 percent this year, and currency forwards project it will strengthen to 2.84 in 12 months. More than three decades ago, the currencies were close to parity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg that go back to 1981...

The biggest winners as the ringgit slides may well be those who reside in Malaysia and commute to the city state to earn Singapore dollars.

Nazzi Beck lives in Johor but works in Singapore as the acting head of Islamic global banking at Malayan Banking Bhd., Malaysia’s biggest lender. He’s considering investing in more properties in Kuala Lumpur or Penang, adding to the two apartments in Johor he already owns.
‘Lot Less’

“With the ringgit’s depreciation, the obligation will get a lot less,” said Beck, who takes as long as two hours to drive to Maybank’s offices in Singapore’s central business district from Johor. “I would first probably take advantage of the weaker ringgit to pay down my mortgage.”

Bloomberg, June 19, 2015 − 8:38 AM HKT
Weak Ringgit Makes King of Fruits a Bargain
By Netty Idayu Ismail

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working together

MANILA (AFP): A homeless Filipino boy has been overwhelmed with aid after a heart-wrenching photo of him studying on the pavement and using faint light from a McDonald’s outlet went viral on the Internet.

Nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera will fulfil his dream of becoming a policeman after donations of cash, school supplies and a college scholarship poured in, his mother, Christina Espinosa, told AFP on Friday.

“We’re overjoyed. I don’t know what I will do with all of these blessings,” the stunned 42-year-old grocery store employee and domestic helper told AFP.

“Now, Daniel will not have to suffer just to finish his studies.”

The photo, posted on Facebook last month by a college student, showed Cabrera doing his homework on a wooden stool placed close to a McDonald’s window to catch the light from the store.

The 20-year-old medical technology student, Joyce Torrefranca, captioned her Facebook post: “I got inspired by a kid.”

It was then shared close to 7,000 times on the social networking site and reported by local television.

Espinosa and her three youngest children, including Cabrera, have been living in her employer’s mini-grocery store since their shanty home was gutted by fire five years ago.

Espinosa said she earned just 80 pesos (US$1.77) a day working at the store and as a domestic helper for the store’s owners in their nearby home. She augments the income by selling cigarettes and candy on the streets on Mandaue, an urban centre on Cebu island in the central Philippines.

Their grocery store home is close to the McDonald’s outlet that had served as Cabrera’s study nook, she said.

Cabrera’s father died in 2013 due to severe diarrhoea, said Espinosa, who has three older children, all married and living separate from her.

She described the boy as a tenacious child with a single-mined focus on getting an education.

“He is a very studious and determined boy... he would insist on going to school even without his lunch money because I have no money to give,” Espinosa said.

“He always tells me: ‘Mama, I don’t want to stay poor. I want to reach my dreams’.”

The New Straits Times, Published: 10 July 2015 at 3:07 PM
Aid after Filipino boy studying on street goes viral

EARLIER this year, when I was visiting women in a village in northeastern India, a casual conversation made my heart ache. We were chatting about our lives and families, sharing stories about our children. Then, I asked if anyone had lost a child.

Almost every woman raised her hand. Most of the children, it turned out, had died during the rainy season from cholera or other diarrhoeal diseases. One woman told me she had lost three children.

Those deaths could have been prevented − in 2015, diarrhoeal diseases don’t have to be fatal. And yet, they remain the second leading cause of child mortality, and malnutrition is often a critical factor. If kids don’t receive enough of the right kinds of nutrients, they become more susceptible to diarrhoea, which further weakens their young bodies.

It’s hard to think of another issue that wreaks as much havoc as malnutrition does, yet receives so little attention. Malnutrition plays a role in nearly half the deaths of children under 5. And, the hundreds of millions of malnourished kids who survive those first five years suffer lifelong effects. Across the globe, one in four children is stunted, which means the body and brain will never fully develop. A quarter of the people on this planet won’t reach their full potential simply because they aren’t getting the nutrients they need.

Why has the world allowed this to happen?
Based on our own experience, Bill and I can say one thing for sure about combating malnutrition: the more you learn about its terrible impact, the more you want to fight it. And the good news for families like the ones I met in India is that, working together, this is a fight we can win.

The New Straits Times, Published: 11 July 2015 at 12:01 PM
Towards a more nutritious world
By Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

I thought I knew the basic life story of my friend Clemantine Wamariya. She was born in Rwanda 27 years ago. When she was 6 − though she didn’t understand it − the genocide began and her world started shrinking. Her father stopped going to work after dark. Her family ate dinner with the lights off.

To escape the mass murder, Clemantine and her older sister, Claire, were moved from house to house. One night they were told to crawl through a sweet potato field and then walk away − not toward anything, just away.

They crossed the Akanyaru River (Clemantine thought the dead bodies floating in it were just sleeping) and into Burundi. Living off fruit, all her toenails fell out. She spent the rest of her young girlhood in refugee camps in eight African nations.

Claire kept them on the move, in search of a normal life. Clemantine wrote her name in the dust at various stops, praying somehow a family member would see it. One day, they barely survived a six-hour boat ride across Lake Tanganyika fleeing into Tanzania. Their struggles in the camps, for water and much else, were almost perfectly designed to give a sense that life is arbitrary.

In 2000, Claire got them refugee status in the United States through the International Organization for Migration. Claire went to work as a hotel maid in Chicago. A few years later, Clemantine was one of 50 winners of Oprah Winfrey’s high school essay contest.

In the middle of the 2006 show celebrating the winners, Oprah brought Clemantine and Claire on stage. Oprah asked when was the last time the girls had seen their parents. It had been 12 years. Then Oprah gave them a surprise: “Your family is here!” Her parents, brother and sister had been found in Africa, and now walked onstage. They all fell into one another’s arms. Clemantine’s knees gave out, but her mother held her up.

Clemantine’s story, as I knew it then, has a comforting arc: separation, perseverance, reunion and joy. It’s the kind of clean, inspiring story that many of us tell, in less dramatic form, about our own lives − with clearly marked moments of struggle and overcoming...

The New York Times, Published: JULY 7, 2015
The Courage of Small Things
By David Brooks(1961-), 'NYT' columnist

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the "new normal"

The Chinese are on the verge of leapfrogging the Germans and Americans to become the nation whose tourists spend the most money overseas, as the idea of foreign travel captures the imagination of millions of newly affluent citizens in the world's most populous country.

The World Tourism Organisation predicts that the number of overseas trips made by Chinese people will surge from 70m last year to 100m by the end of the decade, from just 5m 15 years ago.

Though they spend on average less than their western counterparts, the number of travellers means the total is high – and rising. China's travellers overseas spent $54bn (£35bn) in 2010 and $72bn last year, compared with $84bn ($78bn in 2010) for Germans and $79bn ($75bn in 2010) for the US. Officials say the first five months of 2012 saw a 20% increase in Chinese tourists leaving the country.

The vast majority of Chinese citizens still holiday at home, if they are lucky enough to afford a trip at all. For those who venture further afield, the top destinations are Hong Kong and Macau – both part of China, but ruled under separate systems. Many of those journeys are little more than day trips to shops or casinos.

But thanks to the expanding middle class, a surge of Chinese tourists has helped to fill hotel beds and cash tills from South Africa to Italy. The luxury stores of Paris are well-staffed with Mandarin speakers, while hotels in London are learning to offer congee (rice porridge) as well as croissants for breakfast and quilts instead of blankets. Selfridges and Harrods started taking China's Union Pay bank card last year.

The Guardian, Published: Friday 17 August 2012 15.11 BST
Chinese to become biggest spenders as record numbers head overseas,
Expanding middle class fuels boom, with growing demand for scenery and culture on itineraries as well as shops
By Tania Branigan in Beijing

GEORGE TOWN: Meng Chumai from Henan, China, has travelled to many countries in Asia but counts Malaysia as special.

“I have been with my company for 10 years, but I have always missed the trip here,” she said.

The 52-year-old said she had heard a lot about Penang, its people and food.

“I can sense it’s going to be a memorable trip,” she said shortly after arriving at the Penang International Airport yesterday.

Guo Limau, 35, also from Henan, is also on his first visit to Malaysia.

“Its my first incentive trip to Penang. I’m looking forward to cycling here and visiting the Botanical Gardens.

“I’ve heard a lot from my friends who came here last year,” he added.

The duo are among the first batch of 4,000 visitors who will be here on an incentive trip sponsored by Perfect (China) Co Ltd, a multi-level-marketing company founded by Malaysian Tan Sri Koo Yuen Kim.

This is the fourth consecutive year they are visiting Penang, but this is the largest batch.

A total of 80 guests arrived on the first flight in the morning with 1,120 touching down later in the day.

Another group of 2,010 visitors will be here on July 10, and the rest later on.

Sunflower Holidays Sdn Bhd executive director Terry Lee, the operator of the tour group, said the visitors from China will be arriving in batches in 40 flights.

“We have prepared more than 120 tour buses to ferry them to various city and beach hotels,” he added.

Lee said the visitors will take part in a cycling event and trishaw ride today at the Esplanade.

“They will then visit a hawker centre at the same venue where 40 different types of food will be served.

“The Botanical Gardens tour is always an attraction,” said Lee...

The Star, Published: Sunday July 5, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Perfect trip for 4,000 from China

I AM not sure who first coined the term “the new normal”, but it is increasingly being used worldwide to mean that something that was unusual is now becoming quite usual and we should become used to this new situation.

Last week, during a trip to China, I heard this phrase quite a lot. It was used by several Chinese officials and scholars to describe the changed or changing situation in their country.

The “new normal” is indeed an apt way to describe or analyse several things taking place in China.

I was there mainly for a Think Tank summit which brought together leaders from research institutions and former political leaders, many of whom had joined think tanks or created institutions of their own.

About 40 of the foreign participants had a one-hour dialogue session with Premier Li Keqiang. He was asked questions, mainly by Western leaders such as former president of the European Commission Romano Prodi, former Australian premier Kevin Rudd, and US President Obama’s former special climate change envoy John Podesta who now heads Hilary Clinton’s election campaign.

The visitors were clearly impressed by China’s recent economic performance but also had big worries about many issues, including the country’s impact on global climate change and the geo-political implications of its new initiatives such as the huge “one belt, one road” project that will involve many countries from China through Central Asia to Europe.

Premier Li handled the questions very well without referring to notes or to aides. Speaking in a steady tone and with up-to-date facts and statistics, he tried to assure the group that China recognised the global and national problems and that its new initiatives would involve cooperation and not conflictual competition with Europe or the US.

If his aim was to assure his audience that China was seriously tackling issues like air pollution, economic slowdown, the remaining poverty and increased inequality, as well as to join in the fight against global problems such as climate change, economic slowdown, financial crises and political instability, he succeeded.

When someone asked the Premier to get China to assume more global leadership, Li said, “China has a long way to go to achieve modernisation. China does not have an intention to lead the world but to assume the responsibility of a big country.”
Being intensely scrutinised by the world is thus also a “new normal” for China. What remains in my mind after leaving China is Premier Li’s answer to the question of whether China is willing to lead: “We still have a long way to go. We have no intention to be a world leader, but we will take on our responsibilities as a big country.”

Smaller countries, including in neighbouring Southeast Asia, will want to be assured that China also does not have ambitions that encroach on their rights.

How China plays its role in the present and future will be a developing story, which is new rather than normal.

The Star, Published: Monday July 6, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
‘The new normal’ economy and policies of China
By Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre

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Beijing hits out at Tokyo

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday, "Both the US and Japan have a duty to ensure that their alliance does not infringe the interests of third parties, including China, or the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region."

China's territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and affiliated islets "remains intact no matter who makes remarks or (takes) action against them", he said. He also said the way in which the US-Japan treaty alliance, formed during the Cold War, develops "deserves attention from all parties".

Abe, the first Japanese leader to visit the US since 2006, was scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

Yang Bojiang, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Washington is trying to champion its leadership over the region through the evolving US-Japan agenda, and Japan's influence appears to have increased within the alliance.

"The US is trying to tie Japan tightly to its future strategies. ... Also, China's latest strategic proposals with regional influence − including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank−have impressed Washington," Yang said.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the US is adding weight to Japan's role in its global security strategy. Ruan said, "Washington's security policy support has sent a misleading signal to Abe − that he can gloss over Japan's historical issues."

Washington has said it takes no position over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands. But Obama for the first time officially included the islands within the area of Japan's administration during a visit to Tokyo in April last year, which triggered protests from China.

During a meeting on Tuesday with students at Harvard's Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Abe drew criticism as he again defined "comfort women" − a euphemism for Asian women forced by the Japanese Imperial Army into sexual slavery−as victims of "human trafficking".

In response to a student's question, Abe said, "It's heart-wrenching to think about women who fell victim to human trafficking and suffered unspeakable pain."

China Daily, Updated: 2015-04-29 04:28
China hits out as Abe visits the US
By CAI CHUNYING in Washington and ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing

BEIJING − China opened an exhibition of guns and photos of massacres to commemorate the World War II victory over Japan, part of a propaganda push to stir up nationalism by observing the 70th anniversary of the war's end in Asia with great fanfare.

Soldiers and children stood in silence outside the museum in suburban Beijing at Tuesday's opening ceremony for the "Great Victory and Historical Contribution" exhibition on the 78th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and President Xi Jinping visited later in the day. A clash at the Marco Polo Bridge in 1937 is regarded as the first battle of the second Sino-Japanese war, which lasted until Japan's defeat by the Allies in 1945.

Relations between the two Asian giants have long been affected by what Chinese see as Japan's failure to sufficiently atone for the suffering it caused during the war. They have also worsened in recent years over competing claims to islands in the East China Sea. China has sought to underline what it maintains is Japan's renewed militarism, while at the same time becoming more aggressive in pressing its own territorial claims.

China's ruling Communist Party leadership also wants to highlight the Communists' role in fighting the Japanese, though technically Japan surrendered to the U.S.-led Allies in the Pacific and then days later on the Chinese mainland to Chiang Kai-shek. He was the Allied military leader in China and head of the Nationalists, who later fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war with the Communists.

With the Chinese flag flying Tuesday outside the entrance to the Museum of the War of the Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, Liu Yunshan, the Communist Party's propaganda chief, said the exhibition was to remember the "martyrs, to cherish the peace and look ahead to the future."

Xi and all other members of China's top leadership panel, the seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, visited the exhibition later Tuesday and laid flowers inside, state media reported.

The exhibition includes handguns, machine guns, a cannon as well as toxic shells and gas masks said to have been used by Japanese troops. Photos show troops fighting and the aftermath of massacres by Japanese soldiers, including heads on wooden stakes.

Liu said the exhibition "demonstrates the bravery of all Chinese people in this anti-Japanese war and the critical role played by the Chinese Communist Party." It also serves as "an excellent platform for patriotic education," he added.

As part of Xi's drive to stir patriotism, China is promoting its participation in World War II as never before. Last year, it created three new annual national holidays linked to the war.

In September, China will hold a military parade to mark the anniversary of the end of the war in Asia. So far, only Russia has confirmed it will send officials and soldiers to take part in the Sept. 3 parade.

On Monday, culture officials announced that "to increase patriotism," 183 war-themed concerts, operas and other performances would be staged over the next two months, along with the screening of new movies, TV series, documentaries and cartoons.

Stars and Stripes, Published: July 7, 2015
China opens exhibition to mark the war victory over Japan
By Louise Watt, The Associated Press

Beijing has criticised Tokyo’s response as “ludicrous” after a Japanese Cabinet spokesman publicly denounced Chinese events to mark the fight against the Japanese invasion more than 70 years ago.

A range of commemorative events were held around China on Tuesday to mark the 78th anniversary of the start of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

On Tuesday morning, Japanese chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that China is underpinning the events by “making the history issue an international one”.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the events won’t be dis-agreed by “people who approach history with honesty and frankness, and dedicate themselves to peaceful development.”

“Are Japan’s repeated actions even facilitating regional peace and stability as it dodges the history issue and even downplays and beautifies the history of aggression?” Hua asked at a news conference on Wednesday in Beijing.

China urged Japan to “face responsibility squarely and repent its history” with honesty in order to convince Asian neighbours and the international community, Hua said.

Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, warned that there is a popular belief within Japan that “the number of apologies over the wartime past should be limited” and “are our apologies not enough?”

Li highlighted the German approach. It has officially apologised on a number of occasions over the past 70 years, and this represents “a totally different way of thinking”, Li said, adding “it will take quite a long time to help China and Japan regain mutual trust”.

Cheng Yonghua, China’s ambassador to Japan, said on Sunday in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture that “there are still some forces within Japan who are unwilling to acknowledge responsibility for the aggression, or sincerely repent on the past”.

The Star, Published: Friday July 10, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Beijing hits out at Tokyo

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History will prove me right

America needs to provide Vietnam with more defensive weapons, Senator John McCain said Saturday as tensions in the Asia Pacific region heightened over China’s expanding land reclamation projects in the South China Sea.

But US efforts so far are focused on delivering some of the limited maritime weapons allowed under last fall’s easing of the weapons sales ban on Hanoi.

According to a senior US official, defense secretary Ash Carter will meet with Vietnam officials in the coming days to discuss the US providing the defensive maritime weapons already allowed. Carter spoke at an international security conference here Saturday at the start of an 11-day Asia trip.

McCain, who also was attending the International Institute for Strategic Studies summit, wants to see a gradual removal of the US ban, and said the US should provide additional defensive weapons that could be used in case of a conflict with China. He added that the US should continue its ban on weapons used for crowd control or to commit human rights abuses.

The US last October partially lifted its ban on weapons sales to Vietnam to boost the country’s ability to defend itself in the South China Sea. Only the sale of lethal maritime security and surveillance capabilities are allowed on a case-by-case basis, including boats and air assets based on an evaluation of Vietnam’s needs. But the US official said that to date no weapons have flowed to Vietnam.

The official was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity...

Vietnam has been pressing for the lifting of the US ban, and officials there have argued that if the country can’t buy weapons from the US, it could still buy from other nations. Russia is currently Vietnam’s main source of armaments.

The Guardian, Published: Saturday 30 May 2015 14.00 BST
John McCain urges US to provide more defensive weapons to Vietnam
US defense secretary Ash Carter to meet with Hanoi officials to discuss providing maritime weapons amid Chinese land reclamation on South China Sea
Photo showing that John McCain speaks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 29 May
By Associated Press in Singapore

And then...

Washington (AFP) - Half a century after getting shot down over Vietnam, where he would languish as a prisoner of war for more than five years, John McCain shared images of his painful past Wednesday with an unlikely visitor.

Vietnam's Communist Party boss Nguyen Phu Trong, the party's first general secretary to visit the United States, was accorded a high-profile Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

A day later he made a low-key trip to Capitol Hill to see the lawmaker who perhaps more than any other has guided the rapprochement between Washington and its former foe.

McCain, 78, held closed-door talks with Trong -- Vietnam's most powerful policymaker -- in the meeting room of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which McCain chairs.

Posted: July 9, 2015, 9:01 am
POW-turned-Senator McCain hosts Vietnam party chief

20 years after normalizing diplomatic ties with its one-time foe, the U.S. is eager to improve relations with Vietnam. To boost the arm sales, "Greed is Better" policy should be implemented. Furthermore, the article is continued as follows:

"That was Truc Bach, part of the West Lake," McCain said, tugging gently on Trong's elbow as he showed him photographs of the Hanoi landmark where a Vietnamese mob pulled a wounded McCain from the water on October 26, 1967.

Trong nodded in recognition of the familiar scene, where a statue of McCain now stands.

"That's the peace signing on the (USS) Missouri, in the war with the Japanese. My grandfather is standing in front," McCain said, referring to John S. McCain Sr, a commanding US admiral during World War II.

He also pointed out a photograph of his father, who commanded US Navy operations in the Pacific during the Vietnam War.

Will the Japanese enjoy again the War Games instead of Peace Building in the region? Is he paranoid? Mr Yahoo will vote "No" in the coming referendum because Mr Yahho is absolutely not him.

TOKYO (AFP): Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed his push to beef up Japan’s military in the face of public and parliamentary opposition would be vindicated by history.

Abe, who is being assailed for security Bills that opponents say will drag Tokyo into American wars, invoked his grandfather, former premier Nobusuke Kishi – who was arrested, but never charged, for war crimes – as a man who had been proved right by the passage of time.

“At the time of the renewal of the Japan-US security treaty in 1960, there was strong opposition and even criticism inside the party,” Abe said.

“My grandfather said that in 50 years his move would be understood, but only 25 to 30 years later a majority of the public supported the renewal of the Japan-US security treaty,” he said.

As it was with Kishi, so would it be with him, the prime minister hinted.

“As to the revisions (to security legislation) this time, the situation in the world, especially in Asia, is changing, with North Korea having hundreds of ballistic missiles while developing nuclear warheads.

“To protect Japan, it is necessary to strengthen Japan-US security ties,” Abe said.

Abe, a robust nationalist, has pushed for what he calls a normalisation of Japan’s military posture.

He has sought to loosen restrictions that have bound the so-called Self-Defence Forces to a narrowly defensive role for decades.

But unable to muster the public support to amend the constitution imposed by the United States after World War II, Abe opted instead to re-interpret it for the purpose of his Bills.

Chief among the changes is the option for it to go into battle even if there is no direct threat to Japan or its people, something successive governments have ruled out.

Washington, which for 70 years has been the guarantor of Japan’s security, has welcomed the move, which to many foreign eyes seems relatively uncontroversial.

However, it has proved deeply unpopular among academics and Japan’s public, who are deeply wedded to the commitment to pacifism.

Many legal experts warn the Bills – based not on amendment to the pacifist constitution but changes in interpreting it – are unconstitutional.

At the forum in Tokyo, hosted by The Economist magazine, Abe noted the comparison with his grandfather extended only so far; Kishi resigned in return for parliament’s passage of the treaty renewal.

“I’m not thinking at all of calling a snap election,” he said dismissing chatter that he might be forced to go to the people in a bid to rekindle his public popularity.

“As we proceed with discussions, I think people will get to understand the Bills step by step, so we will explain carefully and in plain words,” he said.

The Star, Published: Friday July 10, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Abe: History will prove me right

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Paul Krugman

Europe dodged a bullet on Sunday. Confounding many predictions, Greek voters strongly supported their government’s rejection of creditor demands. And even the most ardent supporters of European union should be breathing a sigh of relief.

Of course, that’s not the way the creditors would have you see it. Their story, echoed by many in the business press, is that the failure of their attempt to bully Greece into acquiescence was a triumph of irrationality and irresponsibility over sound technocratic advice.

But the campaign of bullying − the attempt to terrify Greeks by cutting off bank financing and threatening general chaos, all with the almost open goal of pushing the current leftist government out of office − was a shameful moment in a Europe that claims to believe in democratic principles. It would have set a terrible precedent if that campaign had succeeded, even if the creditors were making sense.

Whta's more, ther weren't. The truth is that Europe’s self-styled technocrats are like medieval doctors who insisted on bleeding their patients − and when their treatment made the patients sicker, demanded even more bleeding. A “yes” vote in Greece would have condemned the country to years more of suffering under policies that haven’t worked and in fact, given the arithmetic, can’t work: austerity probably shrinks the economy faster than it reduces debt, so that all the suffering serves no purpose. The landslide victory of the “no” side offers at least a chance for an escape from this trap...

Would Greek exit from the euro work as well as Iceland’s highly successful devaluation in 2008-09, or Argentina’s abandonment of its one-peso-one-dollar policy in 2001-02? Maybe not − but consider the alternatives. Unless Greece receives really major debt relief, and possibly even then, leaving the euro offers the only plausible escape route from its endless economic nightmare.

And let’s be clear: if Greece ends up leaving the euro, it won’t mean that the Greeks are bad Europeans. Greece’s debt problem reflected irresponsible lending as well as irresponsible borrowing, and in any case the Greeks have paid for their government’s sins many times over. If they can’t make a go of Europe’s common currency, it’s because that common currency offers no respite for countries in trouble. The important thing now is to do whatever it takes to end the bleeding...

The New York Times, Published: ULY 5, 2015
Ending Greece’s Bleeding
A 'yes' vote on Sunday would have condemned the country to more years of suffering
Campaign to bully Greece
By Paul Krugman (1953-)

Novelist Charles Dudley Warner wrote that “politics makes strange bedfellows.” That’s true, but it can also apply to other fields.

Here’s an example. A chance meeting between Paul Krugman (a liberal U.S. economist) and Etsuro Honda (economist and adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a conservative) may have just saved the Land of the Rising Sun from economic ruin.

Mr. Honda has been a vocal opponent of the prime minister’s proposed sales tax increase next year. According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Toru Fujioka and Simon Kennedy, “Evidence was mounting that the world’s third-largest economy was struggling to shake off the blow from raising the rate in April, which had triggered Japan’s deepest quarterly contraction since the global credit crisis.”

Alas, Mr. Honda’s efforts in delaying this tax hike had failed, and the December deadline was fast approaching. When he heard that Mr. Krugman, who supported a delay in some of his New York Times columns, was coming to Tokyo, he quickly arranged a meeting between the economist and the prime minister during a limousine ride.

It was an interesting tactic. As Mr. Fujikora and Mr. Kennedy wrote, “The concept of outside opinion influencing Japanese decision-making is known as gaiatsu, or foreign pressure, in Japanese.” There is “historical precedent since at least the arrival of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry’s squadron in 1853 in Tokyo Bay, which led to an opening in the nation’s trade policies.” In fact, “[g]aiatsu also has been used as cover by Japanese officials when they’ve pushed through controversial measures.”

No one is exactly sharing what was discussed in the limo or in the Nov. 6 meeting.

Mr. Krugman said Mr. Abe “was very straightforward. He had questions and I hope I answered them clearly. I told him the kinds of things I’ve been writing − I hope I made a good case.” Mr. Honda was more definitive, saying this tete-a-tete “nailed Abe’s decision − Krugman was Krugman, he was so powerful. I call it a historic meeting.”

The result? Last week, Mr. Abe put off the sales tax increase for another 18 months (and, one hopes, even longer). Mr. Honda is breathing a heavy sigh of relief. Mr. Krugman made this simple statement: “I’m happy to see what they’re doing.”

In fairness, Mr. Krugman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist who has been consulted on financial matters by various individuals from all walks of life. His beliefs are an odd mix of Keynesian economics (i.e., belief in “discretionary” government intervention, dislike of business cycles) with, of all things, a pro-free-trade agenda.

Even so, it’s strange that Mr. Abe, a fiscally conservative politician, took the advice to delay a tax increase from a politically liberal economist. It makes you wonder about Japanese politics and the state of political and economic conservatism in that country.

Since the end of World War II, Japan has served as an admirable model for running a free market economy within a democracy (banking crises aside, of course). Mr. Abe, who has been prime minister since September 2012, has been called everything from a political conservative to a right-wing nationalist.

He also has governed under a definitive economic model, Abenomics. As defined by the Financial Times, Mr. Abe’s “aim was to revive the sluggish economy with ‘three arrows’: a massive fiscal stimulus, more aggressive monetary easing from the Bank of Japan, and structural reforms to boost Japan’s competitiveness.”

The first couple of arrows reformed fiscal and monetary policy and improved Japan’s economic fortunes. The third arrow was designed for his Liberal Democratic government to increase women’s roles in the public and private sectors, establish more child care facilities in urban areas and high-wage jobs in rural communities, reform pensions, and spur trade liberalization.

Mr. Abe wrote in a Sept. 18 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal: “We have already seen improvements in the employment rate and wages. Make no mistake, Japan will emerge from economic contraction and advance into new fields and engage in fresh challenges.” Yet Mr. Abe’s proposed sales tax increase could have done the reverse: ruined the country’s economy and sent it into a long-term downward spiral.

That’s a thing of the past, however. Mr. Abe called for snap elections on Dec. 14. In spite of his recent economic shenanigans, he is leading in the polls. If he is re-elected, it will be in large part because of a liberal economist’s advice to his conservative government to avoid raising taxes, which is rather anti-conservative in nature.

‘Tis a strange world we live in.

Wasington Times, Published: Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The strange saga of Paul Krugman and Abenomics
By Michael Taube, a contributor to The Washington Times
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/nov/25/michael-taube-paul-krugman-saves-japan-from-shinzo/#ixzz3fGc4w8Po

''The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy: They get others to fight and die for them.'' So said Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, at an Islamic summit meeting last week. The White House promptly denounced his ''hate-filled remarks.''

Indeed, those remarks were inexcusable. But they were also calculated -- for Mr. Mahathir is a cagey politician, who is neither ignorant nor foolish. And to understand why he made those remarks is to realize how badly things are going for U.S. foreign policy.

The fact is that Mr. Mahathir, though guilty of serious abuses of power, is in many ways about as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we're likely to find. And Malaysia is the kind of success story we wish we saw more of: an impressive record of economic growth, rising education levels and general modernization in a nation with a Muslim majority.

It's worth reading the rest of last week's speech, beyond the offensive 28 words. Most of it is criticism directed at other Muslims, clerics in particular. Mr. Mahathir castigates ''interpreters of Islam who taught that acquisition of knowledge by Muslims meant only the study of Islamic theology.'' Thanks to these interpreters, ''the study of science, medicine, etc. was discouraged. Intellectually the Muslims began to regress.'' A lot of the speech sounds as if it had been written by Bernard Lewis, author of ''What Went Wrong,'' the best-selling book about the Islamic decline.

So what's with the anti-Semitism? Almost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act, something I learned about the last time he talked like this, during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.

At that time (*), rather than accept the austerity programs recommended by the U.S. government and the I.M.F., he loudly blamed machinations by Western speculators, and imposed temporary controls on the outflow of capital -- a step denounced by all but a handful of Western economists. As it turned out, his economic strategy was right: Malaysia suffered a shallower slump and achieved a quicker recovery than its neighbors.

What became clear watching Mr. Mahathir back then was that his strident rhetoric was actually part of a delicate balancing act aimed at domestic politics. Malaysia has a Muslim, ethnically Malay, majority, but its business drive comes mainly from an ethnic Chinese minority. To keep the economy growing, Mr. Mahathir must allow the Chinese minority to prosper, but to ward off ethnic tensions he must throw favors, real and rhetorical, to the Malays...

The New York Times, Published: October 21, 2003
Listening to Mahathir

Malaysia was hit hard by the East Asian financial crisis of 1997 - not as hard as its neighbours Indonesia and Thailand, but it was a traumatic experience nonetheless... Unlike Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia did not seek financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

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turtle eggs

Today Mr Yahho is thinking about a greedy and a materialistic human behaviour reading the articles as under:

KUANTAN - The move to bar tourists from a atretch of Cherating beach at night has yielded positive results in turtle landings over the past 3 years...

State Fisheries director Adnan Hussain said yesterday since the night closure, there was a marked improvement in turtle arrivals, especially the Green spepcies.

he said the number of turtle landing has dropped from 317 in 2007 to 306 in 2008, 252(2009) and 189 (2010) when turtle-watching was allowed at night.

He said the lowest number on record were in 2011, with only 176 Green turtles landing.

"Because of this, we decided to forbid the public from entering the gazetted conservation site at night," he said, adding that the correlation between the closure and improvement in turtle landings had not yet been scientifically proven...

"The landing peaked at a high of 516 in 2013 before easing to 317 last year."
"We will continue with the policy to bar people from entering the gazetted area at night to improve turtle landings in the future"

New Straits Tinmes, Published: Thursday, June 18, 2015
Turtles returning to Cherating beach
By Nik Imran Abdullah

KOTA KINABALU: Thousands of turtle eggs were seized from an abandoned speedboat in east coast Sandakan.

The eggs, found in six large plastic bags on Tuesday, were believed to have been stolen from various nests before they were packed and sold.

Sandakan marine police commander Assist Comm Mohamad Madun said a team of patrol police had noticed a speedboat near Kg. Forest filled with goods and had approached it for inspection.

However, the boatman sped off and jumped into the sea when he neared the seashore and escaped, he said in a statement.

In an unrelated incident, marine police seized about RM29,000 worth of contraband cigarettes from a speedboat at a river in Kg Mangkalinau.

ACP Mohamad said several people earlier seen carrying boxes onto the boat fled when they saw authorities approaching.

The cigarettes were believed smuggled from the neighbouring country to be sold in Sandakan.

The Star, Updated: Thursday June 25, 2015 MYT 7:45:34 AM
Cops seize turtle eggs

KOTA KINABALU: Selling or eating turtle eggs should be banned nationwide, not just in Sabah and Sarawak, said the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The conservation body made this call once again following the rampant smuggling of turtle eggs in several states.

These activities were causing a reduction in the nesting areas and taking some turtle populations to the brink of extinction, said WWF Malaysia executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma.

He said that a recent survey in Terengganu led to the discovery of hundreds of turtle eggs up for sale.

The eggs were believed to have come from another state, possibly Sabah, or from another country, such as the Philippines, he said in a statement yesterday .

WWF Malaysia believes that the challenges of stopping turtle egg smuggling did not rest with Sabah alone and it was a threat to Malaysia’s biodiversity and national security, he said.

He said Malaysia has had little success with turtle conservation because the states were left to make the laws relating to turtles, resulting in varying standards.

“While the sale of turtle eggs is prohibited in Sabah and Sarawak, this is not explicitly forbidden in Terengganu, with the exception of leatherback turtle eggs,” he said, citing an example.

He said the situation was worsened by the fact that the lack of a national ban meant the sale of turtle eggs claimed to come from another state or internationally was permitted.

Since it was difficult to differentiate turtle eggs by place of origin, enforcement was challenging, he added.

Dr Sharma commended the Sabah marine police for seizing more than 2,000 turtle eggs in Sandakan recently.

But he said it would have been better if the smuggling did not happen at all.

“If left undisturbed on the nesting beach, 70% to 80% of those eggs would have hatched.

“We have lost about 1,500 hatchlings now,” he said.

Malaysia is fortunate to host four species of marine turtles – leatherback, green, hawksbill and Olive Ridley.

The Star, Updated: Tuesday June 30, 2015 MYT 7:36:41 AM
WWF: Ban selling and eating of turtle eggs

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particular tragedy

Today Mr Yahoo decided to buy and read the undermentioned book;

Guardian columnist Natalie Haynes (born 1974), a classicist whose debut novel The Amber Fury draws on the Electra story, similarly offered a feminist explanation for the grip that Greek tragedy has had on her since her teenage years – she was drawn to strong heroines such as Medea, believing the infanticidal mother “was right” when she saw the play at 16 – and suggested a related reason for there being three productions of the Oresteia in the UK this year. Greek drama offers better, more central roles for women, she pointed out, than most plays written in English.

When discussion turned to the current vogue across different art forms for reviving and tinkering with old stories, it was handicapped by the fact that Warner – the only participant capable of addressing the whole range of myth and fantasy fiction – was posing the questions rather than answering them: understandably, the others mostly stuck to the one form that inspired them. Haynes, though, was prepared to propose that ancient narratives were being updated and tweaked to “impose a magical version of reality” on “parts of the world we can’t control”, things such as “random violence” or financial chaos – she had made a radio documentary linking the recent resurgence of vampires and zombies in various media to, respectively, the bankers and victims during the 2008 crash.

The Guardian, Published: Friday 3 July 2015 15.30 BST
Falling under the spell of fairytales and myths
From folk tales to Greek myth, ‘old stories’ are fuelling a fantasy boom. In a recent discussion chaired by Marina Warner at the Royal Society of Literature, four authors explored the reasons why
By John Dugdale

Another myth in Yemen and the tragedy of the refugee as human wave...:

Yemen is central to the story of mankind: Sixty thousand years ago, early man walked through Yemen along the Bab al-Mandab, one of the major out-of-Africa routes that Homo sapiens took to colonize Eurasia. Archaeologists like me have found the remnants of prehistoric cultures that navigated the Red and Arabian Seas 8,000 years ago; these early travelers and traders left behind impressive megaliths...

The desecration of these archaeological sites and monuments, as well as the architecture and infrastructure of Yemen’s historic cities, can be called only a targeted and systemic destruction of Yemeni world heritage. Yet it has not been named as such.

The international media has devoted extensive coverage to the barbaric destruction of museums and archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State. This is not the case with the continuing aerial vandalism perpetrated in Yemen by Saudi Arabia.

The same obscurantist ideology by which the Islamic State justifies its destruction of cultural heritage sites appears to be driving the Saudis’ air war against the precious physical evidence of Yemen’s ancient civilizations. There is no other explanation for why the Saudi-led offensive should have laid waste to these irreplaceable world archaeological treasures.

In fact, several sources have confirmed that Unesco and the State Department gave the coalition a list of specific sites to avoid. But far from rebuking its ally for ignoring this advice, the United States is providing logistical, intelligence and moral support for the Saudi air campaign.

Saudi Arabia is thus responsible not only for devastating a country of 25 million impoverished people, who are now suffering from famine, deteriorating sanitary conditions and a lack of medical supplies, but also for a strategy of demolishing significant world heritage sites. This Saudi cultural vandalism is hard to distinguish from the Islamic State’s.

The United States itself has a deplorable record of protecting irreplaceable archaeological treasures during its occupation of Iraq from 2003. It could start to atone for that cultural catastrophe by reining in the regional and ideological ambitions of its Saudi partners. Only the United States has the capacity to stop the Saudis before their bombs rob the world of even more of its precious heritage.

International New York Times, Published: JUNE 26, 2015
Yemeni Heritage, Saudi Vandalism
By LAMYA KHALIDI, an archaeologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research who has excavated mainly in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

New York Times − PARIS − On June 11, the bodies of 18 African migrants were found in the Sahara. According to Giuseppe Loprete, Niger’s chief of mission for the International Organization for Migration, they had died more than a week earlier − most likely from dehydration. Caught in a sandstorm between Arlit, in Niger, and Algeria, they lost their way, he said, and “the heat and lack of water did the rest.” A few days later, the remains of 30 more migrants were discovered in the desert.

This sad news didn’t reach the front pages in Europe: The Continent has been too busy trying to grasp the scale of the wave of migrants landing on its southern shores to pay attention to 48 unlucky Africans. Nobody here will see those bodies; no one will tell their stories. This particular tragedy will remain an African one…

The other tragedy, the drama of hundreds of thousands of people on the move, risking their lives on the Mediterranean, is now a European story. And as it unfolds before our eyes, we have no clear idea of what to do...

The Continent is now the premier destination for the world’s migrants. Last year, 626,000 people requested asylum in Europe, a 45 percent increase over 2013. (North America also registered a 42 percent increase but deals with far smaller numbers: 134,600 asylum seekers.) These figures go beyond the already high levels of legal and illegal immigration − an inflow of people that has spurred a populist and anti-immigrant backlash among voters across Europe. Further confusing the picture, the difference between refugees fleeing war or persecution and economic migrants has blurred, as the latter suffer grave human rights violations on their odysseys, especially at the hands of traffickers in Libya.

Faced with this rapidly expanding crisis, the European Union has reacted as it often does: slowly, burdened by the lack of a common immigration and asylum policy.

A few leaders in Brussels seem to have understood the scale of this massive movement of people and the challenges it poses to Europe’s identity as well as to its ideals of solidarity and shared human values. In May, the European Commission belatedly came up with “A European Agenda on Migration” that asked Union members to share 40,000 refugees among themselves according to predetermined quotas. The idea of quotas was quickly rejected by several countries, including France and some Central European nations. Instead, Brussels is now talking about a relocation scheme based on the somewhat more palatable notion of a “distribution key” that sets out the criteria under which member states would absorb the migrants.

Some of the Commission’s proposals amount to positive steps in the right direction, but most of its agenda remains focused on preventing people from coming to the European Union in the first place. This human wave cannot be stopped. The sheer nature of the conflicts raging in parts of Africa and in the Middle East, along with the powerful demographic dynamics of Africa, means that migration will be a European feature for many years to come. This is an exceptional situation − in need of an exceptional response.

Experts know that solutions exist, but changing the political discourse on immigration requires courage and long-term vision, something not widely shared in Western capitals these days. When they gather this week in Brussels, the Union’s 28 heads of state and government may be reminded of a tragic precedent: the Évian conference of July 1938. Convened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was intended to address the plight of hundreds of thousands of German and Austrian Jews desperate for refuge after Hitler had expelled them. As Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote in late May: “The Évian conference was a catastrophe. ... The outcome of the meeting was clear: Europe, North America and Australia would not accept significant numbers of these refugees. In the verbatim record, two words were uttered repeatedly: ‘density’ and ‘saturation.”’

May this catastrophe not be repeated.

International New York Times, Published: JUNE 22, 2015
Facing Europe’s Refugee Tragedy
By Sylvie Kauffmann, the editorial director and a former editor in chief of Le Monde.

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Democracy in Greece

The democracy was born in Greece and even now still alive in Greece.

However everyone should be more sincere to think about the life after his or her retirement. And this is not the private issue but the public issue from not the warfare but welfare point of view.

Myth: I’m young – I don’t need to consider saving for retirement until later.

Since the dawn of time – from seeking the fabled fountain of youth and mythical phoenix to discovering penicillin and finding a cure for cancer – humanity has been on a relentless search for immortality. Or, at least, to prolong our lifespan.

While it is great to be able to live longer – we all know we can reasonably expect to live longer than our grandparents – what this really means is that our retirement years are getting longer. Apart from the increased health issues due to old age, the other major concern is the need for more money to fund those extra years.

Statistics from the United Nations tell us that an average 60-year-old in Malaysia today is expected to live another 19 years; this means another 19 years of living to fund. We can only expect the number to continue to increase as medical advancement and general living standards continue to improve.

Thankfully, for those of us who are gainfully employed, the requirement to contribute to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) forces us to save from the first day at work. Unfortunately, banking on your EPF savings as your primary source of retirement income will not be sufficient (okay, it might be, but only to a miniscule fraction of our population).

According to the 2014 EPF annual report, a 60-year-old EPF member has an average savings of about RM116,000. Assuming a consistent 6% investment return, a monthly withdrawal of RM2,000 and no significant purchases or expenses, the amount would be depleted in less than six years.

So what should you do? In addition to your EPF contributions, commit to putting aside a fixed amount each month or year for your retirement plan. Depending on how substantial this fixed amount is, you may want to consider a combination of the instruments that can generate a consistent income stream to supplement your EPF savings. You could:

> Set your salary account to automatically transfer an amount each month into a high yielding savings account.

The Star, Published Monday, 6 July 2015
Start planting your retirement tree while you’re young
By: Evelyn Yeo, head of wealth management, OCBC Bank (M) BHD

In 1989, 11.6% of the population of Japan was over 65. In 2006, it hit 20%. In 2055, it is expected to reach 38%.

I assert that it is possible to have economic abundance with a shrinking and graying population. But, not if you do things the same old way.

How should a government deal with this? Care of the elderly has been a part of human society from prehistoric times. But, there have never been so many elderly.

This is not a uniquely Japanese problem...

Alas, it seems like nobody today wants to think about these things. They would just like to continue the present, unsustainable status quo. Even Japanese intellectuals, I am told, are again “looking to the West” for solutions – and none are forthcoming, as the West is itself looking to Japan, to perhaps provide an example that they too can follow.

When nobody even tries to solve the problems of the day, they tend to not get solved. In any case, a round of crisis and default is perhaps necessary in Japan to clear the decks of the detritus of past error. Nothing particularly good is going to happen as long as the government continues down the path of increasing taxes, increasing indebtedness, and printing money to somehow keep the whole thing from falling apart.

Forbes , posted: Sep 11, 2014 9:47 PM
Japan's Graying Population Needs New Solutions, Not Old Failures
By Nathan Lewis, Contributor

ATHENS − Greece on Sunday delivered a resounding "no" to international creditors' stringent lending terms. The historic vote jeopardizes European economic unity, sets Greece on a collision course with the region's political leaders and casts the nation of 11 million on an uncertain financial course.

Greece's Interior Ministry showed 61.3% of voters rejected the terms with all of the votes counted, according to the ministry's website.

"No more blackmail," said supermarket employee Vasilis Rigatos, 45, a "no" voter who joined the celebration in the square.

Speaking to supporters Sunday night, Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras said the "no" vote was not a vote for Greece to leave the 19-nation eurozone, and added that he wanted negotiations to resume straightaway. "(The vote) is not a mandate against Europe," he said.

Greece's left-wing government had urged a "no" vote, saying the new tax hikes and benefit cuts demanded by the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission were too onerous for a nation that has suffered a severe, five-year depression, the worst slump of any European nation.

USA Today, Published: 10:49 p.m. EDT July 5, 2015
Greek government wins decisive bailout vote victory

Greece yesterday accused the European Union of attempting to 'terrorise' it into accepting the latest proposals on a default saving loan deal.

The European Commission last week presented Greece with a five-page list of proposals, including sales tax hikes and cuts in civil servants' salaries and pensions.

But Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis yesterday said: 'It was an aggressive move designed to terrorise the Greek government'.

In an interview with a Greek newspaper he added: 'this Greek government cannot be terrorised'.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday the proposals as 'absurd' and insisted Athens would not accept a deal unless it included a restructuring of the country's massive debt.

Mail Online, Updated: 10:10 GMT, 8 June 2015
EU is trying to terrorise us in to accepting latest proposals for rescue deal, says Greek finance minister
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3114749/EU-trying-terrorise-accepting-latest-proposals-rescue-deal-says-Greek-finance-minister.html#ixzz3f52uLmsQ

The US and Australia kicked off a massive joint biennial military exercise on Sunday, with Japan taking part for the first time as tensions with China over territorial rows loom over the drills.

The two-week “Talisman Sabre” exercise in the Northern Territory and Queensland involves 30,000 personnel from the US and Australia practising operations at sea, in the air and on land.

About 40 personnel from Japan’s army – the Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) – will join the American contingent, while more than 500 troops from New Zealand are also involved in the exercise, which concludes on July 21.

“It is a very, very important alliance,” the prime minister, Tony Abbott, said on Friday in Sydney on board the USS Blue Ridge, which is taking part in the exercise, referring to Australia-US ties.

“It’s a very important relationship and right now we are facing quite significant challenges in many parts of the world, but particularly in the Middle East.”

The war games, being held for the sixth time, come as China flexes its strategic and economic muscle in the region.

Beijing has been building artificial islands and facilities in disputed waters in the South China Sea, and has a separate territorial dispute with Japan over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands – which it calls the Diaoyus – in the East China Sea.

“There’s subtle message going out that at every level – from hardware to technical and strategic expertise and co-operation – the main American allies and America are working very closely together largely to account for China,” said a China specialist at the University of Sydney, John Lee.

In the other side of planet, a top leasder of some country wants to enjoy the war game...

Japan’s involvement has in part also been driven by domestic politics, an Asian security specialist at Deakin University, Craig Snyder, said, as Abe’s right-wing government tries to increase Tokyo’s participation in regional security.

The Guardian, Published: Sunday 5 July 2015 05.18 BST
Japan joins US-Australia war games in NT and Queensland amid China dispute
For the first time, Japan is taking part in major US-Australia military exercises as tensions rise with China over islands in the South China Sea
By Agence France-Presse

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Greek pensioner in trouble

Now, even as their austerity policies have driven more Greeks out of the work force and into the pension system, the creditors are seeking deeper cuts still.

Ms. Meliou, who started working at the bank at 18, has already seen her pension payments cut by 35 percent. She says she sometimes cannot sleep for fear of what might happen next.

In 2012, the pension funds, which were obliged under Greek law to own government bonds, were hit by a huge debt write-down as those bonds plummeted in value. As a result they lost about 10 billion euros, or $11.1 billion − roughly 60 percent of their reserves.

Greece’s creditors, seeking to make the Greek labor market more competitive, insisted that the government reduce the amount companies and workers must contribute toward pensions. And they insisted that Greece reduce its minimum wage so that those who do contribute have smaller outlays.

At the same time, the pension system was becoming an even bigger component of the social safety net, absorbing thousands. People like Ms. Meliou retired early, either because of the sale of state-owned companies, because they feared their salaries would be cut and thus their pensions would be smaller, or simply because their businesses failed. Few are living comfortably, and many support unemployed children.

As it confronts creditors over its huge debts and how best to recover from a still-crippling downturn, Greece’s left-wing government faces few problems that are more substantively and politically daunting than how to meet pension promises to retirees.

In the latest round of negotiations, Greece’s creditors are demanding that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras make further cuts in pensions as a condition of continuing to help Greece pay its enormous debts.

Mr. Tsipras and his radical-left Syriza party, elected on a promise that they would reject continuing austerity demands by the creditors, are flatly refusing, saying that additional cuts would lead to a humanitarian crisis and cast another blow to a flailing economy, reducing consumer spending power at a time when it is desperately needed.

New York Times, Published: JUNE 8, 2015
Pensions in Greece Feel the Pinch of Debt Negotiations
By SUZANNE DALEY, a foreign correspondent covering Europe for The New York Times

A TINGE of sadness came over me after watching BBC news on the Greek meltdown in my Singapore hotel room. Sad to watch the old folks lining up just to withdraw a maximum of 60 euros from ATM machines for their daily sustenance and not knowing whether their next pension cheque will be paid.

Just could not help comparing poor old Greece with young rich Singapore. Both have relatively small populations (11 million vs 6 million) so technically speaking, it is easier to manage these countries. So why is one country broke and the other a thriving developed nation?

For comparison sake, from 50 years ago, we can witness the Greek tragedy unfolding while observing the rise of Singapore. The Greek problem has been attributed to many reasons, from a bloated and corrupted civil service and politicians to poor collection of taxes while incurring a huge liability of social pension welfare that is just not sustainable.

Then you have the little red dot of an island called Singapore with a super efficient and clean civil service, not forgeting the “cleaner than thou” politicians with effective tax collection strategies and enabling more than 90% of its first generation citizens to own a home. The highly controversial Central Provident Fund is carefully managed to ensure a sustainable pension scheme for its aging work force.

In my humble opinion, if Greece had Lee Kwan Yew as its prime minister 50 years ago, Greece would now be standing side by side with Switzerland and lending money to Spain, Italy and France. I stand corrected of course, but you will not disagree with me if I say that the key to success for any country or organisation rests with the ability of its chief executive officer...

Just imagine a scenario where our retired civil servants do not receive their monthly pensions and everybody can only withdraw a maximum of RM60 a day from the ATM. Civil servants are retrenched in big numbers or forced to take a pay cut of up to 40%. No more free BR1M money and no ability to borrow from any banks as our government guarantees are not recognised anymore.

While the corrupt elites enrich themselves in the spirit of qualified entitlement, the mass poor will be standing in line at the ATM machines hoping that there is still cash in the machine to be withdrawn. Or they go hungry for the day.

If this happens, it will be because of the lack of moral integrity among our Malaysian leaders.

The Star, Published: Saturday, 4 July 2015
Qualities of a successful CEO
By Tan Thiam Hock, an entrepreneur who hopes to share his experience and insights with readers who want to take that giant leap into business but are not sure if they should.

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Yesterday's News From Taipei

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) − Taiwan marched out thousands of troops and displayed its most modern military hardware Saturday to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Chinese Communists, led the campaign that routed imperial Japan from China 70 years ago.

The military staged an unusually large two-hour parade of homegrown missiles, Apache attack helicopters and a mountain bike team designed for stealth missions, followed by awards for aged World War II veterans in their attire from the 1940s.

China and Taiwan split during civil war in 1949 and today’s China − more militarily and economically powerful than Taiwan − claims that the Chinese Communists had directed the resistance against the Japanese. Mainland officials have argued that the Communists’ advice and fighting skills were crucial to the victory.

Taiwan’s Nationalist Party ruled all of China when Japan invaded parts of the country from 1931, forming a central stage of the Asian World War II theater. In one attack, the Japanese massacred between 40,000 and 300,000 Chinese in what has become known as the Nanjing Massacre.

Officials in Taiwan say that the Communist forces had a minor role in fighting the Japanese alongside the Republic of China troops, and that during China’s eight-year resistance against Japan they were mainly building up their own ranks and fighting a civil war they would eventually win.

“The war of resistance was led by the Republic of China and Chairman Chiang Kai-shek was the force behind it,” Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said in a speech after the parade, referring to the old Nationalist government’s strongman. “No one is allowed to distort that.”

After losing the civil war, the Nationalists rebased in Taiwan in the late 1940s, and their constitutional Republic of China government has governed the western Pacific island since then.

China’s Communists also claim sovereignty over Taiwan and insist that the two sides eventually reunify, though opinion polls on the island show most Taiwanese prefer self-rule.

Taiwan’s effort to cast the war in its favor comes as it seeks to avoid being eclipsed internationally by China, which has eight times more diplomatic allies.

“It’s because the rest of the world is ignoring the Republic of China, so they want their contribution to be well recognized,” said Kweibo Huang, associate professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “At least there’s a domestic outcome, which is that everyone in Taiwan shares awareness as a nation or a sovereign state.”

China will offer a three-day public holiday in September to mark the war anniversary, and the official Xinhua news agency says the government will hold its first World War II memorial parade that month.

Beijing had invited Taiwan representatives, but the island government said in April that officials would be banned by law and that any private citizens should attend with caution.

The Seattle Times, Updated July 4, 2015 at 12:41 am
Taiwan stands up to China with World War II military parade
By Ralph Jennings, The Associated Press

Yesterday's News from US

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, on Friday ordered heightened security measures across the state over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, in response to a call for vigilance by the federal government.

“We are keenly aware that New York state remains a top target for terrorists,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued an alert calling for local authorities and the public to remain vigilant for possible threats following recent calls for violence by Islamic State militants.

In New York City, the nation’s largest municipal police force assigned about 7,000 officers and nearly all its counter-terrorism personnel to handle security around Independence Day events.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said: ‘New York state is taking steps to increase monitoring and communication with our local, state and federal emergency management and law enforcement partners.’

New York state tightens 4 July security in response to national terror alert
Last week, terror attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France prompted the homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, to issue a statement calling for increased vigilance over the patriotic holiday in the US. The French attack was on a US-owned gas company.

In Washington, nine security checkpoints will be set up to screen the tens of thousands of visitors expected for fireworks and festivities on the National Mall. Coolers, backpacks and packages are subject to inspection, and about 18,000 feet of chain link fencing will be installed, the National Park Service said.

The Guardian, Published: Friday 3 July 2015 18.29 BST
New York state tightens 4 July security in response to national terror alert
Reuters in New York

Yesterday's News from Melbourne, Australia

HUNDREDS of Australians are rallying in solidarity with Greece ahead of the make-or-break weekend referendum on austerity measures.

As nearly 10 million Greek voters prepare to the ballot booths on Sunday to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in a referendum asking if they accept more austerity measures in return for bailout funds, Greek communities in Australia − mainly Melbourne − have come out to support the flagging nation...

Melbourne has been dubbed the third largest Greek city in the world, and many at the rally on the steps of Victorian Parliament held strong connections with the country.

“I just want to let everyone know that Greece is still beautiful despite all their economic challenges at the moment and that they should definitely visit Greece,” Greek national Paris Kakridas said...

One man in the crowd, who gave his name as Arthur, said he had come back to Australia to escape the high unemployment in Greece and find “another job and be able to live”.

“A lot of people don’t have that option,” he sais.

“They’re not Australian citizens and only have a Greek passport ... they’re doomed living in Greece.”

Others in the crowd were sceptical of renewed austerity measures.

“Everyone is innocent,” said Christine Dallas. “They want to transfer loans onto the taxpayer of Greece and they come in, they take out assets and the Greeks have got nothing left.”

Tens of thousands of people gathered at rival rallies in Athens on Friday, at which Tspiras urged a ‘No’ vote so the country could “live with dignity in Europe”.

These words were echoed at a much smaller rally in Sydney at which ‘No’ placards were prominent.

“It’s nothing to do with economics, it’s purely a political situation,” organiser Eleni Pitsilioni-Alexiou told the gathering of several dozen people, adding that Greek people wanted to be “equal citizens of Europe”.

July 04, 2015 6:25PM
Seven key questions and answers about the Greek bailout referendum

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Greece in crisis

Tomorrow Japan and its rival US are gearing up for the Women's World Cup final in Vancouver.

In addition, tomorrow, Greece will vote for the referendum on European bailout proposals.

Wall Street is hoping for a "yes" vote when the Greek people vote Sunday on whether to agree to onerous bailout terms from creditors, as a "no" vote would carry with it more serious economic repercussions for the debt-strapped nation and create more uncertainty and turbulence in financial markets.

The general consensus on Wall Street is that the referendum is a key turning point in the crisis. It could either move Greece and its creditors closer to an eventual deal or create even greater confusion as questions over Greece's place in the eurozone increases exponentially. The Greek people are basically voting on whether they want to accept the onerous terms the creditors demand -- such as pension cuts and higher taxes -- in order to receive fresh bailout funds.

"A 'No' vote is the worst outcome, as the market would view it as increasing the odds of a "Grexit," which would add to uncertainty," says Nick Sargen, senior investment advisor forFort Washington Investment Advisors.

In contrast, Skrainka argues, "a 'Yes' vote means the Greek government collapses and a new government will be formed, (but it will be) much more favorable for investors because there is a greater chance Greece adheres to the European Union's demands."

USA TODAY12:12 a.m. EDT July 3, 2015
Wall Street's vote: 'Yes' in Greece referendum
By Adam Shell

It is a scene that speaks of suffering and exhaustion, and one that may well become the lasting image of the Greek debt crisis.

An elderly man, sitting on the ground outside a bank, was photographed crying on Friday morning.

The image, taken in Thessaloniki by AFP's Sakis Mitrolidis, was widely shared on social media as soon as it was published.

The man, whose name was not disclosed, was helped away soon after it was taken.

His story is not known, but those of plenty of other pensioners are.

Monthly pensions have gone down to an average of €833 ($924; £594) from an average of €1,350 in 2009, according to INE-GSEE, the institute behind Greece's biggest union.

BBC News of 3 July 2015
Greece debt crisis: Tsipras urges 'No' to 'blackmail'

Greece’s membership in the European Union gives its creditors significant leverage, but evidently not enough to change the fundamental calculus. Greece remains very much a sovereign country, not a sub-sovereign state. The “troika” of creditors – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission – simply do not enjoy the kind of leverage over Greece that, say, the Municipal Assistance Corporation wielded over New York City when it teetered on the edge of bankruptcy in the mid-1970s.

The best structural-adjustment programs are those in which the debtor country’s government proposes the policy changes, and the IMF helps design a bespoke program and provides the political cover for its implementation. Imposing them from the outside is simply not an effective option. So, for reforms to take hold, the Greek government and its electorate must believe in them.

Left-wing ideologues have long viewed structural-reform programs with deep suspicion, accusing international lenders like the IMF and the World Bank of being captured by neo-liberal market fundamentalists. This critique has some truth in it, but is overblown.

To be sure, structural reforms often favour policies like labour-market flexibility. But one should not make the mistake of viewing these interventions in black-and-white terms. Breaking down dual labour markets that are excluding young workers (as they do in much of southern Europe, including Italy and, to some extent, France) is very different from making it easier to fire all workers. Making pension systems sustainable does not amount to making them stingier. Making tax systems simpler and fairer is not the same as raising all taxes.

Recently, opponents of structural reform have put forward more exotic objections – most notably the problem caused by deflation when policy interest rates are at zero. If structural reforms simply lower all wages and prices, it may indeed be difficult in the short-term to counter the drop in aggregate demand. But a similar critique could be made of any other change in policy: If it is poorly designed, it will be counterproductive. The truth is that the way forward in Europe requires achieving greater productivity.

The Globe and Mail (CANADA), last updated Friday, Jul. 03, 2015 10:34AM EDT
Why the Greek bailout failed
Contributed by Kenneth Rogoff, a former chief economist of the IMF, is professor of economics and public policy at Harvard University.

Alexis Tsipras is leader of the left-wing Syriza party which came second in the recent Greek election, earning widespread support for its anti-austerity message.

As Greece faces the consequences of an inconclusive election, BBC Radio 4's Profile looks at the rise of the leader of the left-wing Syriza Party who rejects EU austerity plans as "null and void" and is now playing a critical role in determining the country's future.

Alexis Tsipras was born in Athens three days after the fall of the Greek military junta in 1974.

At 37, Alexis Tsipras is Greece's youngest political leader - and a champion for Greek voters, young and old, outraged by tax rises and spending cuts.

His hard-hitting campaign in last week's election catapulted his Syriza coalition of left-wing and green parties into an unexpected second place, presenting a potentially historic opportunity for the Greek left to establish itself as one of the country's main political forces.

Over the past two years, he has repeatedly condemned government support for the Greek financial recovery plan proposed by the so-called "troika" - the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He has insisted cutting jobs and services is a failing policy and, as international creditors demanded more job cuts and privatisation, Mr Tsipras declared "soon they will tell us to abolish democracy".

BBC News of 14 May 2012
Alexis Tsipras: Syriza leader 'symbol of new generation'
By Andy Denwood

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Yemen crisis

This early morning Mr Yahho, he did really miss Turkish coffee at dawn and he surprised to know that the most important of Turkish coffee is its preparation, but Turkey doesn't grow its own coffee beans and relies on imports from Arabica, in particular, Yemen.

Mocha is one of the more confusing terms in the coffee lexicon.

The coffee we call Mocha (also spelled Moka, Moca, or Mocca) today is grown as it has been for hundreds of years in the mountains of Yemen, at the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

It was originally shipped through the ancient port of Mocha
, which has since been replaced by a modern port and has fallen into picturesque ruins.

The name Mocha has become so permanently a part of coffee vocabulary that it stubbornly sticks to a coffee that today would be described more accurately as Yemen or even Arabian.

Coffees from Africa and Arabia: Yemen

The United Nations has declared its highest-level humanitarian emergency in conflict-torn Yemen, where it’s estimated more than 80 per cent of the population now needs assistance.

The news came as the director of Aden’s health services said rocket fire killed at least 18 civilians in the southern city on Wednesday, where fierce fighting has raged for months.

The conflict pits Houthis, and allied troops loyal to a former president against southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants, and loyalists of the current, but exiled, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, in September and swept south, forcing President Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia and a Saudi-led, US-backed coalition began airstrikes against the Houthis in March. Riyadh views the Houthis as an armed proxy of its regional rival, Shiite Iran. Tehran supports the rebels but denies arming them.

Health officials and eyewitnesses said at least seven civilians were killed and 18 wounded in the Mansoura area of Aden when the Houthis fired Katyusha rockets into a street overnight. Ahmed Munir, a local resident, said a rocket fell on the street, and that when people rushed to help the injured, another rocket hit the same spot.

A UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, said its agencies agreed to declare a “Level 3” humanitarian emergency. The UN is already scrambling to respond to top-level humanitarian emergencies in Iraq, Syria and South Sudan.

In Yemen, the UN says more than 21.1 million people need aid while 13 million face “a food security crisis” and 9.4 million have little or no access to water. Around 11.7 million have been targeted for assistance under a UN response plan.

UN agencies say airstrikes and ground fighting have killed more than 1,400 civilians since March and displaced more than a million amid shortages of fuel and medical supplies. The World Health Organisation says 3,083 people have died and 14,324 have been wounded.

Independent, Published: Thursday 02 July 2015
Yemen crisis: UN declares a 'Level 3' humanitarian emergency as situation worsens

LONDON, June 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The price of water is rising steeply in Yemen, which may run out of water for its 25 million people, experts say, adding to the misery caused by Arab air strikes and the civil war ravaging one of the world's poorest and driest countries.

An Arab military coalition has since late March been bombing the Iran-backed Houthi militia that has taken over much of the country.

The bombing is aimed at restoring Yemen's exiled president to power, and the alliance's virtual blockade of Yemen's airspace and ports has cut off supplies of food and fuel to the impoverished country.

Most of the gas-powered pumps providing water are now inoperable, and water from those that still work doesn't come cheap.

"Ordinary Yemenis now pay more than 30 percent of their income just to get water in their houses, the highest rate in the world," said Abdulkhaleq Alwan, a senior expert at Yemen's water and environment ministry...

In a country where more than half the population lives on less than $2 a day, some simply can't afford to buy water at all.

"Poor families in both urban and rural areas are absolutely unable to purchase clean and safe water at such prices and therefore started to fetch water in cans on their heads," Alwan said.

In some cities and suburban areas, including the capital Sanaa with its two million people, wealthy residents pay water well owners and drivers to deliver water for free to poor areas, where women and children, who are usually responsible for fetching water, can fill their containers.

But as prices keep rising, Yemenis may before long have to accept that their water supply is running out - though no one knows exactly when the wells will dry up...

Mon Jun 29, 2015 3:00am EDT
Rising water price hits Yemenis, shortage may become bigger problem than war, experts say
By Magdalena Mis

Shall we be keeping in touch each other for building the world peace together!!

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garbage management

UNTIL recently, I smugly considered myself a conscientious and knowledgeable greenie. Two months ago, our maid returned home on an emergency and the family has had to do all the household chores. That includes clearing the huge laundry basket, which acts as our recycling bin where we put our plastic, paper and glass discards.

When the maid was doing it, I assumed she knew how to separate the items and place them in different bags for the garbage collectors to take for recycling.

Now that I am sorting the trash, I have discovered how difficult it is to separate the waste intelligently...

So it is good that our Government is finally enforcing the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007, although I don’t understand why there was a delay of eight years.

Solid Waste and Solid Cleansing Management Corp (SWCorp) chief executive Ab Rahim Md Noor said that compulsory waste separation would start in September in six states: the Federal Territory comprising Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kedah and Perlis...

In Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, refuse sorting is an exact science and the municipal councils in charge take great pains to inform residents on what can be recycled. Nagoya’s Guide to Sorting Recyclables and Garbage has nine categories, while Yokohama distributes a 16-page booklet listing 10 categories covering more than 500 items. (This information is available online.)

They separate food waste from recyclables and enforce a volume-based trash collection fee. Fines, public shaming and civic responsibility are used very effectively to ensure compliance.

To be fair, these countries started decades ago using a combination of factors to create what Japanese environmental consultant Kanji Tamamushi described as a “closed loop economy”, where the primary aim is to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills and reuse materials in new products.

They did it through legislation, education, efficient collection of sorted waste products and by investing in state-of-the-art facilities to reuse and recycle, and clean incinerator technology to burn instead of burying the rest.

I doubt we are anywhere near a closed loop but rather at the beginning of a loose string. So far, we have a law which needs mass education and awareness for it to work – which is sorely lacking...

Is this for real? Most households don’t even own a tong sampah (rubbish bin) and many even hang their trash bags on nearby branches. Now they need to provide their own recycling containers?

Does SWCorp really think sorting out household waste is that easy and straightforward? Does every family member really know how to do it and dispose of household waste properly, as claimed by Ab Rahim? Did I miss something? Maybe I did. After all, I live in Selangor.

The Star, Updated: Wednesday July 1, 2015 MYT 8:34:34 AM
Up close and personal with trash
Come September, mandatory household waste separation begins in six states. Are you ready for it?
by June H.L. Wong
Aunty wonders how the appointed collectors will check for non-compliance. Will they open up every bag looking for ill-sorted items or will they just do random searches? She wishes her fellow citizens in the six states good luck! (*)

THAT Malaysians think little about putting to waste about 270,000 tonnes of leftover food that can still be consumed during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan every year is heartbreaking at the very least. It borders on arrogance even.

The Solid Waste And Public Cleansing Management Corporation said the volume of food wasted could have fed 180 million people, six times the country’s population of 27 million.

It was late one afternoon when I stepped onto the wharf area of the Port of Conakry in the West African state of the Republic of Guinea some years ago. Conakry reminded me of my birthplace, Port Dickson, but in the 1960s. Located near the equator, Guinea has a climate very similar to ours, hot and humid.

I recalled seeing numerous mango trees in the capital city. Guinea was once a French colony and to this day remains an impoverished nation falling under the World Bank’s category of a “poor state”.

The boys used pieces of cardboard to gather the fallen grains into heaps, supposedly to bring home. But as I watched the heaps of grains grow, there came a group of youths who shoved and kicked the smaller boys before taking away all the grains they had gathered.

When I got to the unfortunate boys, some of them were weeping. They had nothing to bring home that day and I had tears in my eyes.

Some years earlier, I was in Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was just a few months after the bloody Bosnian civil war had ended.

They lived only within parts not facing the hills. Then, with a weak voice, he told me about that afternoon when their mother sent his 8-year-old brother down the apartment to fetch water from a fire hydrant on the street below. The boy never returned and the family spent the rest of the day trying to pull his lifeless body out of the alley while Serb snipers fired from the hills in front. He said, however, that the most unbearable challenge was having to sleep on empty stomachs on most of the days and nights during the siege of Sarajevo. For the boys with me that afternoon, all they thought of during those long nights was food. I said goodbye to them after we finished sharing the chocolate bar and the bottle of water...

Unfortunately, by the look of things, the likelihood of that happening is remote. We will most likely continue to let our food go to waste, perhaps thinking nothing of it since we are not facing hardships like those faced by many other less fortunate people. Sheer arrogance.

New Straits Times, Published: 1 July 2015 12:04 PM
Sheer arrogance (**)
By Mustapha Kamil, emeritus professor at the Fletcher Scool of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, United States
Read More: http://www.nst.com.my/node/90444

Yet Malaysians remain in the dark over the new approach with only 10.5% of Malaysians practising recycling of waste.

"What is waste separation? I know nothing about the Act being implemented in September".

"Is it true that action will be taken on home and business owners if they don't separate the waste? It feels like a burden".

"Why there has not been any news on this new regulation? I have no qualms about following the new rule as recycling is already practised in my household".

These are among the responses received by Bernama recently when members of the public were asked on their preparedness to recycle in line with the implementation of the Act.

A random survey on housewives, business owners and passers-by generally indicated that the majority are unaware of the new ruling.

The Malaysian Insider, Published: 27 May 2015 9:19 AM
Public still ignorant of waste separation rule beginning September 1
See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/citynews/greater-kl/article/public-still-ignorant-of-waste-separation-rule-beginning-september-1/public-still-ignorant-of-waste-separation-rule-beginning-september-1#sthash.TQKiurXq.dpuf

WASHINGTON − With millions of households across the country struggling to have enough to eat, and millions of tons of food being tossed in the garbage, food waste is increasingly being seen as a serious environmental and economic issue...

Food waste is not only a social cost, but it contributes to growing environmental problems like climate change, experts say, with the production of food consuming vast quantities of water, fertilizer and land. The fuel that is burned to process, refrigerate and transport it also adds to the environmental cost.

Most food waste is thrown away in landfills, where it decomposes and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Globally, it creates 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, about 7 percent of the total emissions, according to the report...

“Awareness of food waste has risen, but we need to do more to tie that awareness to actions on the ground,” he said. “We need to find better ways to deal with food waste, but we need to prevent it in the first place.”

New York Times, Published: FEB. 25, 2015
Food Waste Is Becoming Serious Economic and Environmental Issue, Report Says
By Ron Nixon

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Malaysian Nature Society at 75

WASHINGTON (AP) − Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they did before humans arrived on the scene, and the world on the brink of a sixth great extinction, a new study says.

The study looks at past and present rates of extinction and finds a lower rate in the past than scientists had thought. Species are now disappearing from Earth about 10 times faster than biologists had believed, said study lead author noted biologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University.

"We are on the verge of the sixth extinction," Pimm said from research at the Dry Tortugas. "Whether we avoid it or not will depend on our actions."

The work, published Thursday by the journal Science, was hailed as a landmark study by outside experts.

Pimm's study focused on the rate, not the number, of species disappearing from Earth. It calculated a "death rate" of how many species become extinct each year out of 1 million species.

In 1995, Pimm found that the pre-human rate of extinctions on Earth was about 1. But taking into account new research, Pimm and his colleagues refined that background rate to about 0.1.

Now, that death rate is about 100 to 1,000, Pimm said...

Pimm and Jenkins said there is hope. Both said the use of smartphones and applications such as iNaturalist will help ordinary people and biologists find species in trouble, they said. Once biologists know where endangered species are they can try to save habitats and use captive breeding and other techniques to save the species, they said.

One success story is the golden lion tamarin. Decades ago the tiny primates were thought to be extinct because of habitat loss, but they were then found in remote parts of Brazil, bred in captivity and biologists helped set aside new forests for them to live in, Jenkins said.

"Now there are more tamarins than there are places to put them," he said.

TheHuffingtonPost, Posted: 05/29/2014 2:47 pm EDT
World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction, Species Disappearing Faster Than Ever Before
By Seth Borenstein

Today’s animal species are disappearing at a rate up to 100 times higher than they did in the past -- and humans are responsible, a new study warns.

Since the year 1500, at least 338 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have become extinct, researchers reported Friday in the journal Scientific Advances. Among the vanished are the Caribbean monk seal (Neomonachus tropicalis), the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) and the dodo (Raphus cucullatus). Crucially, 198 of these species have been wiped out since 1900...

“We are on the trajectory of seeing a mass extinction in two human lifetimes if we just keep doing business as usual,” said Anthony Barnosky, a paleontologist in UC Berkeley’s integrative biology department and one of the authors of the study...

Five mass extinctions have occurred so far in the history of life on Earth. The most recent of these events happened when a giant asteroid hit the planet about 65 million years ago, sealing the fate of the dinosaurs.

We’re now on the brink of a sixth mass extinction, the study authors said...

“There is so much at stake,” said Gerardo Ceballos, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the lead author of the study. “Unless we do something radically different soon, we may end up having a big catastrophic collapse of humans, not only animals."

Los Angeles Times, Published: June 19, 2015 11:10 PM
Earth is on track for a mass extinction, and humans are to blame, study says
By Sasha Harris-Lovett

In the news is a story that Earth is in the middle of its sixth mass extinction.

Dr Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his colleagus have stated that humans will be the cause of the disappearance of close to half of all living aspects in the next 85 years.

This information casts a pall over the news that one of Malaysia's oldest environmental non-governmental organisations, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), is celebrating its 75th birthday this year.

But IS Shanmugaraj Subramaniam, 40, the new MNS executive director, is not suprised by this Mexican study. Aftter all, closer to home, 80% of the oldest forest reserve, the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve, has succumbed to deforestration in the name of development.

Oil palm plantations have replaced more than half a million hectares of forest in the peninsula. Almost all the freshwater swamp forests are gone. The Javan rhinoceros and green peafowl have been hunted to extinction and the Malayan tiger is almost extinct. What then is our legacy for the next generation?

Call of the wild
The son of a chief clerk in Sunggai Tinggi Estate, situated near Kulaa Selangor Nature Park, Shan says that in 1930s, a group of British expatriates decided that the abundant collection of field notes and natural history records which they'd accumulated awas vital to the country's heritage and should be published.

In 1940's, with the publication of the Malayan Nature Journal Volume 1, the Malaysian Nature Society was born.

Of his own childhood and youth, the father of one confides: "I was the naughty one. We're 4 brothers and I'm the second. Most of the time, we'd be playing in the rubber estate, fishing, chasing monkeys and cows or," and he breaks out into a cheeky grin, "stealing fruit - like when it's rambutan or mango season - from someone else's garden. That's the thrill"

Adding, he shares: "We never had to worry about the right shoes. Not like children now. We just wore those Japanese slippers and played in the rain. We felt cool in the forest. It was safe. No one bothered to look at the background of the children you're playing with. We just played."

When he completed his schooling, he pursued a course in computers, but the "call of the wild" was too strong. In 1994, he was offered a full time post in the MNS and has been with it ever since.

Good old days
"It was OK in the 1970s and 1980s," he says. "But from 1990s, everyone became more materialistic. There was less agriculture and more indusrilaisation. We didn't realise what we're losing"...

New Straits Times, Published: June 27, 2015
Make your voice heard
The Malaysian Nature Society needs the support of all to preserve our environmental and natural heritage
By Aneeta Sundararaj

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