Japan Today

Laguna comments

Posted in: 13,670 bear sightings reported in Japan in April-Sept period See in context

...obviously the solution would be some kind of seeding/reforestation program.

Right. A huge problem is that natural forests which provide the type of forage bears need have been clearcut and replaced by cedar plantations, which provide no food for any animal. They are eerily silent.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: N Korean test missile explodes on launch See in context

Any military action against NK will trigger an all-out war; this is not the Middle East, where "messages" can be delivered by Tomahawk. Hopes that China will be able to resolve Kim's nuclear weapon/ballistic missile dreams by restricting trade are dim at best: The NK regime exists for the sole purpose of perpetuating itself, and these programs are as essential to this as oxygen (not to mention China's split interests on the issue). Every president since Bush Sr. has run into the same conundrum, and all have resorted to simply kicking the can down the road. Policy-wise, I'm afraid I am at an impasse over whether ripping off the bandaid now or allowing the underlying wound to fester is best. It's a hell of a decision. All I can say is that I wish that decision were not up to Trump, and I worry for those who live in Seoul.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan eyes putting TPP into force without U.S. See in context

TPP without the US is like natto without soybeans.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: What is the worst experience you have had with an airline? See in context

Narrow body, window seat with a boy and his father adjacent landing in Dallas. The boy starts to look a bit green and then commences projectile vomiting. Childless at the time, I was surprised at how much a small thing could actually vomit, and anyone watching from the terminal would have seen my body crammed into the window frame as much as possible.

The father gathered his son and left without so much as a word. Not a nice thing to do, but with experience raising two kids now, I can to an extent sympathize.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Trump and taxes: Back to drawing board, seeks GOP consensus See in context

The right has been after payroll taxes for years for this reason: Linking payroll taxes to entitlements gives the taxpayer a feeling of stake and thus a stronger desire for their continuance. De-linking them might well be the first step in eliminating entitlements altogether. That's always been the GOP's Holy Grail, after all; they just approach it from devious angles.

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Posted in: Global reaction mixed after U.S. attacks Syrian gov't base with cruise missiles See in context

And I'm amazed by some posters who think this attack will make Kim more docile. You seriously think so? The main and the only lesson Fat Boy took from the fates of Saddam and Quaddafi - never surrender your nukes, or you're dead. Trump's actions will only strengthen this belief, now he'll double his efforts to build capable nuclear ballistic missile deterrent.

Amazed I agree for once with Asakaze. Missile strikes are a message, not a strategy. Trump yesterday was all for banning Syrian refugees (including children) to the US and discussing a post-war scenario with Assad still in power. Today, both of these are reversed. What will tomorrow bring? I doubt that even Trump knows.

Trump has said many times that he will bring unpredictability to US foreign affairs. That is a very, very bad idea. If Trump wants to send a message, whether to Assad or to lil' (fatty boy) Kim, he must adopt a theme and stick to it. The problem with Trump is that he only remembers the opinion he derived from the last person he talked with.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Global reaction mixed after U.S. attacks Syrian gov't base with cruise missiles See in context

Unclear also is whether Trump is adopting any broader effort to combat Assad.

Won't get down on Trump for this except to note he's been all over the map on Syria (some say Trump's suggestion two days before the attack that Assad could remain may have emboldened the government to use chemical weapons). The conflict has been and will remain a mess.

Cruise missiles are a message, not a solution. Trump just recently blamed the impasse on Obama. We'll see soon if he has any better ideas.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch heads for confirmation as Senate tears up own rules See in context

Okay, Bass, have it your way. According to your logic, if the Dems take the Senate in '18, Trump (or, more likely by that point, Pence) will just have to suck it. Goose - gander thing, you must agree.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch heads for confirmation as Senate tears up own rules See in context

Ah. The stubbornness of the Dems to nominate a SCOTUS in an election year. What is this - Calvinball?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch heads for confirmation as Senate tears up own rules See in context

....or, when the presidency and senate are held by different parties, that no nominee will be considered in an even-numbered (i.e., election) year - that's another precedent the GOP has graced us with.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch heads for confirmation as Senate tears up own rules See in context

arrestpaul, lower-court judges are required to conduct the nation's business, and with the GOP slow-walking each and every Obama nominee, the US had reached a crisis point - imagine being a victim of a crime and being told to wait a year for a trail as no judge is available.

The Supreme Court is different - it can function with eight or even fewer justices - a point many in the GOP made when they were afraid Clinton would win.

Vindictive hypocritical cowards are the GOP. That's another asterisk the will haunt Gorsuch's career and another chapter for historians to write of this tragic administration.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: Trump removes Bannon from National Security Council See in context

Bannon said yesterday:

Susan Rice operationalized the N.S.C. during the last administration. I was put on the N.S.C. with General Flynn to ensure that it was de-operationalized.

so Blacklabel says today:

Bannon was put there to undo the damage that Susan Rice did by politicizing the National Security Council.

It's not just the parroting of marching orders that's hilarious, nor is it the complete lack of evidence

it's the entire premise: that appointing a political adviser to the NSC for the first time in history was necessary because it had been "politicized."

Thanks, Blacklabel - you made my night. Par for the course, though, considering most all of Trump's cabinet picks are committed to the destruction of the departments they head.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese high school students fail to meet English proficiency target See in context

Eiken levels 5-3 are not bad, but above that and it's just a list of vocabulary - you either know it or you don't (the latter far more likely).

The TOEIC is vastly more realistic as the questions provide multiple hints about which word is most suitable. No one can be expected to master the entire lexicon no matter what language they're studying; contextual clues are priceless. Learning to speak around an unknown word or guessing it based on knowledge of grammatical context - and vice-versa - is exactly what mastering a language is.

The Eiken upper levels should be scrapped as a benchmark (won't happen - it fills too many pockets in Japan) and replaced by the TOEIC, and education should be made more enjoyable by encouraging fulfilling comprehension of not just what is correct but why.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Trump removes Bannon from National Security Council See in context

NYT says Trump was angered that his advisers did not sufficiently warn him of the implications of adding Bannon to the NSC. This surprise at the friggin' obvious is another sign that Trump has no business being president. Why Bannon was demoted now is under several orders of spin depending on Administration faction. Someday, a book will be written about all of this, and it'll be a helluva read.


8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Trump condemns Syria chemical attack but won't say what action U.S. will take See in context

...a warehouse full of chemicals....

One chemical weapons expert I'd read refuted the argument that an Assad airstrike could have unintentionally released chemicals the rebels had prepared themselves by noting that such chemicals - particularly sarin - would have been mostly incinerated.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Posted in: Chemical attack kills at least 58 in Syria; U.S. blames Assad See in context

Trump was silent for almost 24 hours following the attack - probably trying to figure out the best way to blame Obama - then says:

These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.

Pretty typical of Trump; that is, not simply to blame others for bad stuff that happens on his watch, but by reversing a long history of saying the exact opposite. For example:

We should stay the hell out of Syria, the "rebels" are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO 9:33 AM - 16 Jun 2013


What I am saying is stay out of Syria. 11:00 AM - 4 Sep 2013



There are more, but these give you an idea. I'm not saying that he was incorrect. The Syria conflict's complexity confounds any simple solution - or perhaps any solution at all save for letting themselves knock each other out. The point is Trump's hypocrisy, mendacity, and cowardice.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Posted in: Border agency fields pitches for Trump's wall with Mexico See in context

“We don’t need a great wall of the United States. We do not need 2,000 miles of border wall. I will tell you, however, that a wall in strategic locations is absolutely necessary,” Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said.


1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Border agency fields pitches for Trump's wall with Mexico See in context

The border patrol does not want it - they'd prefer the style they have now as it allows them to observe what is happening on the other side.

The people who live along the border do not want it. Their land must be expropriated, and they will sue, tying this up in court for years and costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

It will be an environmental disaster, particularly for wildlife living in the area.

Most major companies, including the three largest recipients of federal government contracts - Bechtel, Fluor Corp., and Turner Corp. - are smart enough not even to bid, and one of the largest cement producers in North America, Mexico's Cemex, refuses to take part.

It will not be built. This is all kabuki intended to show that Trump is doing something - ANYTHING! - to fulfill a major campaign promise. In a few years, it will all be forgotten.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: St Petersburg subway bomber identified as Kyrgyz-born man See in context

Laguna - you said "radicalized" but left out the ideology.

Good point, clamenza, and I apologize for my oversight! It wasn't even close to Icelandic-level - Anders Breivik took out 77 alone. Fourteen deaths is a tragedy and a horrendous crime; what makes it terrorism is simply the ethnic bacground of the perpetrator. If this had been a white postman in America, we'd all forget about it by tomorrow.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: St Petersburg subway bomber identified as Kyrgyz-born man See in context

Sad to see that Kyrgyz is getting radicalized - I've had several delightful students from the country. My guess is that it's sandwiched between two very large rivals to the north and west which are also Russia client states - Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan - and some terrible stuff going on to their east (Xinjiang) and south (Afghanistan). Still, a few bad apples does not a country make. Let's hope that pressure to resist radicalism bears fruit.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Bill O'Reilly and ex-Fox chief hit with more sexual harassment allegations See in context

Susan Rice was the National Security Adviser - she had a job to do. Whether "unmasking" Trump transition members caught in contact with foreign officials under surveillance overstepped that line is doubtful - even most right-wing publications admit this, instead simply milking Rice as a Republican bête noir (just as Trump and others still harp on Hillary. Those days are gone, my friends - you're on your own now). As such, it is really a non-story.

Poppa Bear O'reilly's story is fresh, him being newly sued and revelations regarding the multi-millions paid out coming to light. Blacklabel, which would you run with: a National Security Adviser doing her job, or an influential anchorman caught repeatedly harassing female subordinates? This is not 4-year old news, and that is exactly why FOX is panicking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Bill O'Reilly and ex-Fox chief hit with more sexual harassment allegations See in context

Nice timing of this. Right when Fox News reports that the unmaskings we were told didnt happen actually did and that the surveillance that wasnt going on actually was. So this is the time to bring up things that have been known since 2013 at least. Deflect, deflect.

Sorry, Blacklabel, but I can't keep up with you here. Are you saying that the subject of some $13,000,000 in payments over the last few years to women sexually harassed at Fox News over a period of decades is somehow related to a pseudo-scandal Trump tweeted two months ago? It appears you're suggesting collusion between news networks and some unknown left-wing entity.

If you could provide a scintilla of proof, the Pulitzer Prize is yours.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: IT agency cautions businesses about fake e-mail scam See in context

It's pretty identical to the 'ore ore" scam, except it's "oyaji, oyaji."

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Posted in: Trump says Flynn should seek immunity in Russia probe See in context

Even CNN pulled the Flynn story from their main page because it's such a snoozer.

Last time I checked, CNN hadn't pulled the story; they'd blended it with other, similar scandals engulfing the Trump administration. There are so many, this saves headline space. How much fire is the to accompany this choking smoke? - No one knows yet! But is the smoke choking? - well, BB, how is the Trump administration going? Any legislative victories yet?

Serious people do care about this. The administration is clearly paralyzed, and apparent trends are not good. What we have is a caretaker government. The president is uninformed uninterested in becoming so. Talented staff has not been hired in sufficient number, and those that have are jumping ship. Play this down all you'd like. It is, however, no snoozer.

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Posted in: NHK fee collector arrested for forcibly kissing woman See in context

NHK again forcing unwanted material down your throat.

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Posted in: Democratic opposition to Trump's court nominee grows See in context

This is the undeniable reality: Democrats must be bipartisan, particularly when it comes to SCOTUS, but Republicans may simply refuse to consider a legitimate Democratic nominee with no consequences. Something I learned back in kindergarten tells me this is inequitable.

Is Sean Spicer a goldfish? - That is, does he not remember events older than a few days? Consider this:

Republicans in the past have allowed Democrat presidents to have their SCOTUS nominees voted on up or down. And for the most part, when you go back through President Obama or President Clinton…Republicans have joined with Democrats to allow people who are qualified to go onto the court.

Gursuch seems qualified except for this: Any GOP nominee for SCOTUS with even a scintilla of probity would refuse the nomination in favor of Merrick Garland. Gursuch will probably be confirmed, but in history, his name will always be accompanied by a scarlet asterisk. Where has the sense of honor gone?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Former Trump advisor Flynn offers testimony for immunity: report See in context

"There are strangers in the house," as the phrase goes, and they have deep connections with many in the GOP - and not just Trump's gang. Trump has simply been a vehicle. Coincidentally, just as the GOP is rupturing between the Freedom Caucus and normal humans, they will now have a much more serious issue to deal with.

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Posted in: Former Trump advisor Flynn offers testimony for immunity: report See in context

Hmm. That's a rather large crack in the dam.

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Posted in: As GOP schism grows, Trump attacks fellow Republicans See in context

Fun to watch, sure, but remember: When elephants fight, it's the grass that is hurt.

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Posted in: Ivanka Trump to become official White House unpaid employee See in context

I for one am glad to see her there. At least she is more competent than her father. (My, what an amazingly low bar has been set.)

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