CraigHicks comments

Posted in: 22-year-old man held over murder of 11-year-old boy in Wakayama town See in context

I suspect that behind this crime is a case of mental illness - one of the least understood areas of human health.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe defends handling of hostage crisis See in context

The questioning of Abe's decision to provide humanitarian assistance is unwarranted - I would say it falls in the unfortunate category of "reflex" opposition.

However, Abe has unfortunately fallen short in his response to Goto's death - where Abe should have shown appreciation and respect for Goto's efforts to show the plight of children and civilians in war, Abe instead has responded that journalists don't belong there - implying Goto's work was useless - and taken a faux stance that Goto both could and should have been rescued. (Never mind Goto's whereabouts were unknown, and sacrificing more lives to save Goto would only have added to tragedy of Goto trying to save Yukawa's life).

Does Abe prefer journalists who act like obedient miniature dogs and don't go outside?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Abe wants SDF to be allowed to rescue Japanese citizens in danger See in context

There is no relevance between this proposal and Goto's particular case. By not making that clear, Abe is muddying the discussion - why?. It is in fact an insult to Goto - a poor substitute for recognizing the work and risks taken by a journalist. There is a legitimate case for considering the rescue of hijacked passengers, kidnapped businessmen, etc. However, even then such cases would not likely be in power vacuum area, but rather in a sovereign nation which already has its own military force for dealing with such situations and would be unlikely to welcome another countries commandos.

Abe should not try to leverage emotions but instead focusing on rational realities - hostage rescue is but one approach, which is not practical or justifiable in many cases - certainly not in Goto's.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe calls 24-hour hostage deadline despicable See in context

Isreal released 1,027 prisoners, included 280 charged with terrorism, in exchange for 1 Isreali prisoner in 2011 (the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange).

The US sold thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, during a US embargo on such sales to Iran, in exchange for 7 hostages held in Lebanon in 1985-6. (Iran-Contra)

The following article:

http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/09/no-ones-really-in-charge-in-hostage-negotiations/

suggests that ransoms have been paid for US hostages since 9/11. My impression is that foreignpolicy.com is a generally reliable website in terms of not fabricating/exaggerating news.

The logic for not paying for US and European hostages is obvious. However, the number of Japanese is the area is far fewer. There is not as much risk of future kidnappings of Japanese. If at some time kidnappings of Japanese became endemic, it is quite likely that Japanese public/govt opinion would move away from the idea of paying ransoms - much as has happened over time in the US.

This case however, is no longer a cash ransom case - on the surface anyway - but perhaps we should assume that cash is involved in all hostage releases. The failed woman suicide bomber for whose release they are willing to trade Goto is not an important prisoner - as a prisoner swap it would be a good deal.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Gov't to tighten penalties for dangerous bicycle riding See in context

@some14some ... "people aged 70 and over should be banned from riding bicycle."

Check out this book blurb on amazon "More Than a Race: Four 70-Year-Old Cyclists Ride the Race Across America ... Leaving Oceanside CA on June 12, 2012, the team and their hard-working support crew of 15 raced to Annapolis MD in 6 days, 13 hours, 13 minutes, at an average of 19.04 mph. They not only broke the 70+ record by 27 hours, but also bested the 60+ record by more than 3 hours."

Not so many people can do that even in their youth. Mental and physical health is never guaranteed, but anyone can live a lifestyle which is more likely than not to result in their safely being able to ride a bicycle at 70+. You too!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: S Korea balks as U.S. picks Japan, Australia to service F-35s in Asia See in context

For added context, it is worth pointing out that in 2014:

Imports from Japan to Korea = 4.6 billion $US Imports from Korea to Japan = 2.9 billion $US

From my own first hand experience I met many Koreans working in manufacturing industry, dealing on a regular basis with Japanese counterparts, who could speak communicable Japanese, and would enjoy business eating and drinking "parties" with Japanese. (In contrast virtually none of the Japanese spoke any Korean at all).

So while the political drama regularly appearing in the newspapers is true, it only shows one aspect of a larger picture.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Black companies' getting worse See in context

Abe better hurry up with the war, or the revolution will come first.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Obesity clips up to 8 years off your life, says study See in context

I see so many obese people walking or sitting around sipping on sports drink, which is just fructose and water. Without the "sports", it builds up fat cells but provides nothing to build up the extra immune system requirements for all that extra flesh, leaving the body open to all kinds of diseases (including cancer) that it cannot fight off properly.

I know this is just a single aspect of the problem, but it might be a good place to start.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Australian retail giant pulls Grand Theft Auto V after protests See in context

@HonestDictator ... Easily impressionable idiots and mentally disturbed people are the only ones who would believe what's done in a fictional game is what should be done in real life.

"Easily impressionable" and "mentally disturbed" sounds like a stage of development that a lot of teenage boys have always gone through. So maybe you're right, and these games are indeed one factor in the surge of school shooting massacres.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Inside Takata, tantrums, but little sense of crisis over air bags See in context

Maybe Takata should take the big step and switch away from ammonium nitrate, the explosive chemical which is used by Takata, and not used by any other airbag maker. Apparently ammonium nitrate allows for a more compact design, so if a car was designed around a smaller airbag supplied by Takata, that could pose a big problem. Might require changing the airbag, the steering wheel, and maybe even the steering column!

I can't imagine that any new car designs would include ammonium nitrate airbags in the near future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo metropolitan gov't building accepting applications to watch first sunrise of 2015 See in context

This new years I got a room with a "sea view" booked in a west Izu pension, only 3,500 yen per person per night! Hopefully the sunrise is included in the view, otherwise we'll go down to the seashore to watch.

If you are stuck in Tokyo, the Chuo line and Keio line trains run special early trains out to Takao-san so you can watch the sunrise. BUT, if you go all the way to the top of Takao-san, where it is most crowded with people and a Shinto priest chants a prayer over loudspeakers, the trees block the view, so I find it better to choose a spot further down where the sunrise can be seen. Be prepared for low temperatures slightly below 0 c.

A Tokyo-to mountain for fantastic sunrises is Kumotori-san, whose peak is at the junction of Tokyo-to, Gifu pref., and Yamanashi pref. The peak is over 2000 meters high. There are two yama-goya (mountain huts with futons which charge a fee) available about 30 minutes down from the peak, and there is a "free" emergency shelter on the peak where you can sleep in a pinch but you should bring a sleeping bag. I've experienced pre dawn temperatures of -12 c, but I've heard it can get much lower than that. (If you stay in the "new" yama-goya which is on the dark side of the mountain you will need eizen spikes on your boots to walk down the icy slopes). From Okutama station there is a bus to Kamozawa, where a trail on the sunny of the mountain begins - 3 to 4 hours to the top walking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: E-cigarettes contain up to 10 times carcinogens: Japan researchers See in context

"Formaldehyde—a substance found in ... embalming fluids—was present at much higher levels than carcinogens found in the smoke from regular cigarettes, the official said."

This is pretty efficient. Pre-embalming while imbibing carcinogens will make the whole funeral process go more smoothly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Four polio vaccinators shot dead in Pakistan See in context

In an unfortunate and unwise choice of strategy to locate Osama Bin Laden, information was gathered under the false front of an immunization program in Pakistan. In fact it yielded no information of value, but incurred a great and lasting cost on health care efforts in Pakistan and elsewhere, and unnecessarily put health workers lives at risk. Could it be that both Muslim terrorists and Muslim haters would prefer to see moderate peaceful thinkers of any religion killed? I would hope the answer is no, but then I cannot understand how such a misguided was formed.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-cia-fake-vaccination-campaign-endangers-us-all/

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110714/full/news.2011.418.html

https://ispub.com/IJPH/2/1/13962

http://news.sciencemag.org/2011/07/cias-fake-vaccination-drive-angers-public-health-world

http://www.wired.com/2012/05/pakistan-polio-fake-cia/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: 12-year-old boy with fake gun dies after shot by Ohio officer See in context

@WA4TKG ... Sorry, I am one of those DREADED NRA members you obviously HATE.

Sorry, I wouldn't waste my mental energy hating YOU when I need that mental energy to think logically and clearly. An exponential increase in gun rage incidents/accidents (sometimes committed by juveniles) is logically incompatible with "open carry" laws. Your logic is broken - HATE is not acceptable substitute for logic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Surrogate sushi: Japan uses biotech for bluefin tuna See in context

@Kearimashita - ... prolifeation of diseases that spread to the wild population ...

If these are caused by virus or bacteria to which their farmed siblings are immune, it is likely the wild fish will eventually also develop immunity, especially if they interbreed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 12-year-old boy with fake gun dies after shot by Ohio officer See in context

@WA4TKG ... When an ARMED Policeman is ( likely ) pointing HIS GUN at YOU, DO WHAT HE SAYS.

Unless you are an "open carry advocate" backed by the NRA. Then you strut your feathers, fully armed with guns and secret camera in front of policemen hoping they will stop you and your can post your video on you tube, as well as suing the police department.

Go search on you tube for "open carry", I got 726,000 hits. You won't be able to watch them as fast as they are being added. Who needs logic when you've got guns.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Plant with troubled past at center of Takata air bag probe See in context

There has been a trend, a global trend, clearly seen if compared to circumstances 60 years ago, to denigrate engineers and engineering, and replace them/it in management with financial wizards and wizardry. Since financial wizardry has no tools but to lower costs and float imaginary balloons, the resulting entropy inevitably leads to a collapse of quality, long term financial ruin, injury and death. It can be seen clearly in the Takata case, where Takata engineers were overruled by Takata management who were unable to grasp the engineering risk and unwilling to defer to those engineers who could.

Fortunately there are companies that buck this trend, so there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Police find cyanide at home of 'black widow' suspect See in context

Of course I think she is -probably- a murderess because of the circumstantial evidence and motive. However, reporting "traces" of cyanide in the men's bodies and in the trash, is highly irresponsible. The case is now prejudiced - as in "already judged". As a matter of principle the police (anywhere) should err on the side of caution before releasing information, unless perhaps it is necessary for the purpose of protecting the public or gathering more information.

For example, the police leaked information that Yoshiyuki Kouno was the man who released poison gas in Matsumoto, killing seven (that number seven again!), sickening many more and sending even his own wife into a coma. It was revealed that Kouno had a large amount of pesticides stored at his residence. But it later turned out that Kouno was not involved at all, it was in fact a test run executed by Aum Shinri Kyo in preparation for their Kasumigaseki sarin attack.

Trace amounts. Many many people have been wrongly punished for trace amounts of opiates showing up in their blood tests, when the actual reason is substances in poppy seeds commonly found on bagels, rolls, breads, and in salad dressing. Here is a partial list of cases: http://www.snopes.com/medical/drugs/poppyseed.asp

Being thorough about justice is well worth the effort.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Police find cyanide at home of 'black widow' suspect See in context

"and reportedly recovered cyanide from her trash"

Cyanide is present in acetonitrile false fingernail remover, and false fingernails are popular in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Black widow' still on hunt as husband No. 4 died: reports See in context

She wanted the man to be “elderly” and “living alone,” the paper said, citing an investigator. She also made remarks suggesting that “it would be better if he has an illness”.

This statement should actually work in her favor, as it indicates that her partners were already likely to be close to death, so it is not unusual that they should die soon.

Furthermore, arsenic is ever present in the environment, and in our own bodies. Levels vary between individuals by a factor of 100 or more [http://www.greenfacts.org/en/arsenic/l-2/arsenic-3.htm]. In the debate over whether Napoleon died of arsenic poisoning it has been argued that the traces of arsenic found in his hair could have come from his environment [http://www.napoleon-series.org/research/napoleon/c_arsenic.html]. So the statement "traces of arsenic" taken literally is not proof of anything. It should be "levels of arsenic impossible to occur naturally, 10,000? or whatever times the normal for smoking, fish eating, elderly Japanese gentlemen living in an industrial area".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Beheading of U.S. aid worker in Syria draws condemnation See in context

@WillB ... ISIS represents 100% pure, fundamentalist, unadulterated, Sunni islam. Which is precisely why they attract to so many fanatical believers. You can dislike them, but you can not argue against them on religious grounds.

You appear to have allied yourself with ISIS - "you can not argue against them on religious grounds". Just what they need as weapon against the majority of Sunni Muslims who argue against them on religious grounds.

Whose side are you on?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Dump truck, minivan collide, leaving four dead in Chiba Prefecture See in context

http://www.xanthous.jp/2014/11/18/sodegaura-city-fatal-accidents/

@donAlbert ... Anyway, if passengers on the back seats were wearing seat belts, they probably had bigger chances to survive than without strapping in.

From the pictures, I agree with donAlbert. The back seat area is intact.

In my opinion, from the safety point of view, the design of passenger seats in cars, trains, and planes is completely wrong. They should all be facing backwards - then the impact would be absorbed without slack evenly along the back from head to bottom - there would be many fewer injuries - even if seatbelts weren't being worn!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Rape testimony proven false See in context

"unspecified objective evidence refuting the claims of both the alleged victim and the eyewitness"

This is very vague. It's entirely possible that there is not really sufficient evidence to either convict the man of rape or the woman/eyewitness of perjury.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Honduras beauty queen, sister found dead See in context

I imagine one or both of the ladies failed to show the proper obsequious deference towards Ruiz on his birthday, which caused him to throw a murderous temper tantrum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Black widow' with seven dead partners arrested See in context

@Frungy ... I am dubious about these charges. ...

But surely it could not be merely a coincidence that on the same day as "Black widow with seven dead partners arrested", we also have "7 children injured by dog in Oita" reported in the same edition of the Japan Times, could it?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Aso says sales tax hike delay must not happen again See in context

Nobody told poor Aso-san that he was supposed to say this AFTER the election.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: S Korea puts economic unification tab at $500 billion See in context

It cost the Germans almost 2 trillion dollars for the first 20 years of re-unification.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/11/07/us-germany-wall-idUSTRE5A613B20091107

IF change were going to occur in the next 20 years, I think a Chinese supported coup d'etat would be the most likely given the historical connections between Chinese military and North Korean military. And it would probably turn out to be a big headache for the Chinese.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Iran to resist excessive demands in push for nuclear deal See in context

This is an inevitable consequence of US decision to place ISIS as enemy number one placing US in parallel with Shia Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Iran correctly judges it has more leeway now. Of course there is nothing to stop the US from taking on every battle at once, however strategically unsound that might be.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Erdogan says Islamic explorers discovered America 3 centuries before Columbus See in context

If one wishes to actually investigate the evidence for these claims, it would helpful to remember that the use of the compass and devices for calculating the height of constellations in order to locate a ships position were in use in China and the Islamic culture from at least the twelfth century. In fact Christian Spains initial naval success was in part due to inheritance of middle eastern knowledge though the previous Islamic control of Spain, which continued over parts of Spain up to 1492, the year of Columbus' famous first voyage.

Some claims of evidence for Islamic journeys to the America's can be found on the URL: http://historyofislam.com/contents/the-classical-period/the-african-and-muslim-discovery-of-america-before-columbus/

A quick glance reveals some claims that look like they might be reasonable, and others that to me appear highly improbable. There are references that could be followed up. There is a claim that Al-Masudi, a verified Islamic historian with a wide array of world knowledge from China to Europe and Russia, recounted a 9th century voyage from Spain to the Americas in his book "The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems". Unfortunately, only part of the book is available in English online, and I could find nothing there.

To me it seems quite plausible (but not necessarily true) that Columbus had heard garbled rumors though verbally transmitted history of previous sailing voyages to the West, and it was part of his inspiration.

If Erdogan's claims bring more focus on clarifying this interesting subject, I would welcome it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan CO2 emissions hit record yearly high See in context

A pitch for energy use reduction as the "main arrow". Since 1990 Japanese industrial output has remained overall unchanged (red dotted line):

-- http://www.peterfrase.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/man_intl_1.png

But energy costs per unit of manufacture have increased by 15 to 20%:

-- http://www.natureasia.com/ja-jp/advertising-sponsors/img/energy.gif

The total energy usage of all Japan has increased about 17% since 1990:

-- https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-HeyhiYs54YI/TYC-an4TkgI/AAAAAAAAC_E/S-bPGIRDQwU/s1600/japan+energy.png

I would assert the same phenomena happens across services and home use also - energy usage bloat over time.

The promise of increased capacity through cheap energy - with BWR nuclear energy as the main arrow (and borrowing from the future) - but increased production failed to materialize and in its place came increased inefficiency - the fruit of the "Energy Welfare State".

The answer is not doubling down on this bad policy. Rather than having sales tax increase, decrease sales tax and let energy prices rise so that infrastructure, home, building and factory construction will place more emphasis on energy efficiency - don't forget increased energy efficiency technology is as exportable as Japanese gas efficient cars. Energy costs should reflect the need to fund research and development in safe and improved energy systems.

Let's pull out the old kotatsu and go back to the time of san-cho-me-no-yuhi - happiness awaits.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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