Military spending continues to fall in the West but rises everywhere else, says SIPRI - Press release
The next three highest spenders—China, Russia and Saudi Arabia—all made substantial increases, with Saudi Arabia leapfrogging the United Kingdom, Japan and France to become the world’s fourth largest military spender. China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the 23 countries around the world that have more than doubled their military expenditure since 2004.
U.S. and China appeal WTO rulings | Reuters
(Reuters) - The United States and China have both appealed against recent rulings in disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO), filings published by the WTO showed on Friday.
The United States said it wanted to correct some legal issues in a case that it brought jointly with the European Union and Japan, handing China a heavy defeat over its restrictions on exports of rare earth metals.
The filing said the U.S. concerns would not need to be dealt with if there was no appeal from China. China has not appealed the ruling, but it still has time to do so, with a 60 day window from the time of the ruling on March 26.
In a separate filing, China lodged an appeal in a WTO case that it brought to challenge U.S. punitive tariffs on exports including photovoltaic cells and modules, windtowers and certain steel and aluminum products.
Although Beijing scored a partial victory in that case, by successfully saying the United States had been wrong to punish some Chinese exports twice over, it lost the bulk of the argument against U.S. laws targeting unfair trade subsidies.
Sparkly Mints May Help Explain Puzzling “Earthquake Lights” - Facts So Romantic
Agriculture inspector Jim Conacher photographed these earthquake lights over Tagish Lake, in Canada’s Yukon Territory, in 1972Jim ConacherFor centuries, people have been reporting mysterious lights along the ground and in the sky soon before an earthquake hits. But it wasn’t until 1966 that there was some solid evidence of the lights, when one man was to photograph of the phenomenon, during a series of earthquakes in Japan. Since then the evidence has mounted that accounts of lights aren’t just crazed delusions, but in fact a real yet mysterious phenomenon. There have been lots of guesses about what causes the lights. Earlier this month, Brandon Keim covered one of those theories—Friedemann Freund’s idea that shifting tectonic plates create enough pressure to break weak links between (...)
UN climate change report spells out growing dangers - World Socialist Web Site
UN climate change report spells out growing dangers
By Fred Mazelis
7 April 2014
The report issued last week by the United Nations-chartered Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the gravity of a crisis that is already having its effects in every corner of the globe.
The 2,500-page assessment, issued in Yokohama, Japan, is the first full report of its kind since 2007. The product of 66 main authors and bearing the signatures of 271 officials from 115 different countries, it sets the stage for a 2015 climate change conference charged with working toward drastic limitations of greenhouse gas emissions on an internationally coordinated basis.
Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come - NYTimes.com
YOKOHAMA, Japan — Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.
The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.
Japan, Korea, Singapore and the Arctic Sea Lanes | The Diplomat
When the Arctic Council admitted a bevy of new official observer states to its ranks to great fanfare in May 2013, China and India’s accession dominated the headlines.
But three other key Asian nations – Japan, Singapore and South Korea – also joined this intergovernmental forum for coordinating among Arctic nations and are no less poised to play a part in the future of Arctic development. Like their larger Asian neighbors, Japan, Singapore and South Korea aim to participate in energy resource development and climate change research in the polar north. Yet the primary interest driving the Arctic engagement of all three countries is the increasing accessibility of northern waters to commercial shipping.
Unskilled and Destitute Are Hiring Targets for Fukushima Cleanup - NYTimes.com
NARAHA, Japan — “Out of work? Nowhere to live? Nowhere to go? Nothing to eat?” the online ad reads. “Come to Fukushima.”
That grim posting targeting the destitute, by a company seeking laborers for the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is one of the starkest indications yet of an increasingly troubled search for workers willing to carry out the hazardous decommissioning at the site.
H5N1: Japan: Why Onagawa wasn’t another Fukushima
Most people believe that #Fukushima Daiichi’s meltdowns were predominantly due to the earthquake and tsunami. The survival of Onagawa, however, suggests otherwise. Onagawa was only 123 kilometers away from the epicenter—60 kilometers closer than Fukushima Daiichi—and the difference in seismic intensity at the two plants was negligible.
Furthermore, the tsunami was bigger at #Onagawa, reaching a height of 14.3 meters, compared with 13.1 meters at Fukushima Daiichi. The difference in outcomes at the two plants reveals the root cause of Fukushima Daiichi’s failures: the utility’s corporate “safety culture.”
New book Arctic Opening: Insecurity and Opportunity
In May 2013, five Asian countries – China, India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea – became observers on the Arctic Council, underlining the growing world focus on the northern polar region as global warming makes it increasingly accessible. Now a new book from the International Institute for Strategic Studies offers a comprehensive assessment of just what is happening in the Arctic in the twenty-first century.
Some commentators are forecasting a new gold rush as melting sea ice opens new areas for oil and mineral exploration and unlocks hitherto impassable shipping routes. Others fear a new form of Cold War as military forces are deployed northwards. In Arctic Opening: Insecurity and Opportunity, authors Christian Le Mière and Jeffrey Mazo bring much-needed sobriety to the discussion, outlining the possibilities of, and limits to, economic opportunities in the High North, while providing a detailed examination of the political and military changes this might bring.
Japan in the 1950s
After Japan surrendered in 1945, ending World War II, Allied forces led by the United States occupied the nation, bringing drastic changes.
Golf enjoyed some popularity in Japan before World War II, but became a national obsession in the later years of postwar Japan. Here, a three-story driving range in use in Tokyo. (AP Photo)
Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm
le billet du jour de M K Bhadrakumar – March 4, 2014
However, what hits the Obama administration most is that the European Union will be extremely chary of any US move to impose sanctions against Russia. On the face of it, half of Russia’s trade is with the EU and any sanctions by the latter would have crippling effect on Russia. But the devil lies in the fine print, as always.
The point is, Germany accounts for one-third of the EU’s exports to Russia, the Baltic states and several countries in Central Europe depend on Russia to meet 100 percent of their needs for natural gas, and the EU trade sanctions are decided unanimously. See the excellent blog, here, on the issues involved.
No wonder, the G7 statement condemning Russia’s moves in Crimea altogether steers clear of the sanctions route. Interestingly, at his press conference today, Putin mentioned that confidential exchanges are going on between Moscow and the western capitals.
Take Japan’s predicament. Although Japan has heeded the US demarche and signed up on the G7 statement, it cannot be very pleased with the prospect of freezing relations with Russia just when things are looking up and a full-fledged strategic dialogue has commenced between Tokyo and Moscow. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already made amends.
Tokyo has signaled that the planned visit by the Japanese foreign minister to Moscow is still on course. Putin is also expected to visit Japan later this year. For Japan, normalization of relations with Russia and the conclusion of a peace treaty settling the dispute over the Kurile islands is a top foreign-policy priority, given the rising tensions in relations with China.
Equally, beneath the placid surface of the US-Japan relations, there are undercurrents, the latest evidence being Washington’s insistence that Japan returned to the US over 300 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium.
Japan’s former defence minister and national security advisor Yuriko Koike wrote an insightful analysis recently on the strains that have appeared lately in the US-Japan relationship. Evidently, getting Japan on board any US-led initiative to ‘isolate’ Russia is not going to be easy. Tokyo will factor in that Beijing has taken a stance broadly supportive of Russia in the Ukraine crisis.
Palestinian development conference focuses on peace talks
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (at podium) delivers his speech as Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and South African Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (front row in front of podium), pay attention during the opening of the second Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD) in Jakarta on March 1, 2014. (Photo: AFP - Bay Ismoyo)
Representatives of 22 nations met in Jakarta on Saturday to discuss Palestinian development, with co-chairs Japan and Indonesia reiterating their support for a two-state solution. The second Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for (...)
Japan Rejects China’s Claim to Air Rights Over Islands - NYTimes.com
TOKYO — Japan’s foreign minister on Sunday refused to recognize China’s newly claimed air defense zone over disputed islands, signaling that Japan would not back down as tensions increased in the maritime dispute.
How the U.S. Maps the World’s Most Disputed Territories - Wired Science
When the United States decides to recognize a new government, or an existing country changes its name, Leo Dillon and his team at the State Department spring into action.
A 2011 map of South Sudan made by the State Department’s Office of the Geographer. Image: Library of Congress
Dillon heads the Geographical Information Unit, which is responsible for ensuring the boundaries and names on government maps reflect U.S. policy. The team also keeps an eye on border skirmishes and territorial disputes throughout the world and makes maps that are used in negotiating treaties and truces. These days, Dillon says, maritime borders are where much of the action is. (The recent political squabbling and military posturing between China and Japan over the tiny islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan is one potentially worrisome case in point.)
Dillon’s been at the State Department since 1986, and he says his job remains as fun as ever. “The landscape of political geography is constantly changing,” he said. “Every day I come in here and there’s something new.” We spoke with Dillon to learn more about it.
One case I worked on that was kind of fun involves a tiny island off the coast of Morocco. It’s very, very small. 11 years ago Morocco sent a few troops there and Spain swooped in with helicopters and expelled them and it became a big deal.
Colin Powell was asked to mediate the conflict.[In Powell’s plan everyone was going to leave the island, with no prejudice as to who it belonged to. But the problem was the name. The Spanish wouldn’t use the Moroccan name and the Moroccans wouldn’t use the Spanish name.
I was at a dinner party that Saturday night and I got a call from the Secretary’s staff saying that instead of a name they wanted to use the coordinates for that island.
It’s a great example of how geographic names matter.
A State Department map illustrating disputed borders in South America. Image: courtesy of Leo Dillon
A propos du Kosovo :
When we [united States] recognized Kosovo there were many sets of boundaries. The peacekeeping forces there were using boundaries that weren’t really the legal boundaries at all. Their job was to keep peace in a buffer zone, so they’d set up working boundaries in a way that made it easier for them to keep people with guns apart.
The names were an issue. Before, Serbian names were all we used, but now the State Department said we can’t do that, we have to use both Serbian and Albanian names for each and every town and feature. We had to go chase down an authoritative source of Albanian place names, which had never really existed. The Kosovars did a reasonably good job of tracking them down. But then we had to make a basic reference map, and I couldn’t include as many towns as I wanted to because I couldn’t fit all the labels.
Wired: What kinds of information do you use when you’re working on a border dispute?
Dillon: "It’s mostly whatever commercial satellite imagery we have available. Honestly, these days it’s a lot of good old Google Earth. We prefer commercial because it’s neutral. But we also use terrain data from SRTM [the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission] or LIDAR or whatever else we need.
A propos de la frontière Kosovo-Macédine
My colleague went to the capitals of both Kosovo and Macedonia. Their borders weren’t all that properly defined, and they needed to normalize their borders to have proper diplomatic relations. But they were very mistrustful of each other. He showed up with some Google Earth and Landsat images and showed them that there was this ridge line. He showed them that it’s not a big deal, you might have to give up an acre here or there, but if you just follow the ridge line that’s where the boundary should be. And they agreed. So it was a kind of technical solution to a politically charged situation. It worked out very quickly.
A propos de l’Irak et de la zone kurde... Un témoignage qui montre que les choix territoriaux reposent parfois sur n’importe quoi :
During the Iraq war, our embassy staff were trying to negotiate with the Kurds in the north, and the Kurds were saying these lands used to belong to us, and our folks there had no way of knowing if that was true.
I got tasked with finding old maps that would corroborate what these guys are saying. So I went to the Library of Congress and found old maps of the area. I was able georectify them and put them up against Kurds’ claims, and that was used as a negotiating tool.
Our folks were able to say look, you said this whole area used to be in this particular province, but you can see here that only half of it was. And they’d say, “Oh yeah, maybe you’re right.”
Wired: Do you work with a lot of classified maps?
Dillon: “Most classified maps we deal with are something that’s going on at a given time. They show the movement of rebel groups or narcotics or something like that. But they’re ephemeral. I don’t like to make them because why make a map that only a small number of people will see and is only useful for a short time?”
Wired: Have open access cartography tools like Open Street Maps impacted your work?
Dillon: “In a way, yes. Not so much with boundaries because boundaries are legal instruments. Anybody can put down a boundary in OSM but nobody’s going to pay attention to it because there’s nothing backing it up. But in the realm of names, definitely so. People are putting down names in OSM that are quasi-official or not official or local, and those are very interesting. We look at them and we collect them.
Before the internet, we had a much easier time defending the names we used because we were considered much more of an authority.
Now, if you want to find out how to spell a town in an Arabic country, if you go to Wikipedia you may find a name that’s more commonly used on the ground. It’s something we’re having a hard time keeping up with.
The democratization of cartography, much like the internet as a whole, has opened up the world of geographical knowledge to a much bigger degree.”
Fukushima: An Ongoing Warning to the World | Democracy Now!
The government’s refusal to grant Funahashi access is indicative of another significant problem that has emerged since the earthquake: secrecy. Japan’s conservative prime minister, Shinzo Abe, enacted a controversial state secrecy law early last December. Here in Tokyo, Sophia University Professor Koichi Nakano says of the new law, “Of course, it concerns primarily security issues and anti-terrorist measures. But ... it became increasingly clear that the interpretation of what actually constitutes state secret could be very arbitrary and rather freely defined by government leaders. For example, anti-nuclear citizen movements can come under surveillance without their knowledge, and arrests can be made.”
Sea of Japan dual name bill introduced in New York State | The Japan Times
Via Martine Bulard qui me signale cette info exceptionnelle qui va ravir le MAF à Tokyo. J’attends de voir les réactions.
NEW YORK – Two New York state lawmakers said Monday that they have introduced legislation to require all new public school textbooks used in the state to refer to the waters between Japan and South Korea as the East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.
The East Sea is South Korea’s preferred name. Korean Americans in the state have been pressing for textbooks to use both names for the body of water.
The bill was introduced to both houses of the state legislature after Virginia state lawmakers passed similar legislation last Thursday.
Cette histoire me rappelle ma toute première interaction avec toi. Il y a bien longtemps (décembre 2006) ▻http://blog.mondediplo.net/2006-12-19-Nommer-c-est-exister
Japanese government promotes militarism in media and schools - World Socialist Web Site
In line with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s boosting of the military and aggressive stance toward China, his government is seeking to refashion both the media and school curriculum to promote Japanese nationalism and militarism.
Abe’s agenda has become evident in the remarks of Katsuto Momii, who was appointed chairman of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK in December. The government stacked the NHK’s 12-member board of governors with four right-wing appointees to implement a shift in the company’s political orientation and programming. Momii, who was regarded as Abe’s preferred candidate for chairman, is a former vice president of the trading arm of Mitsui, a leading Japanese trust.
Le recrutement de #Snowden raconté par son ancien employeur
Ex-NSA Chief Details Snowden’s Hiring at Agency, Booz Allen - WSJ.com
Mr. Snowden was a security guard with the NSA, moved into its information-technology department and was sent overseas, Mr. McConnell [vice chairman of Booz Allen and former NSA director] said. He then left the agency, joined another company and moved to Japan. But Mr. Snowden wanted back in with the NSA. He then broke into the agency’s system and stole the admittance test with the answers, Mr. McConnell said. Mr. Snowden took the test and aced it, Mr. McConnell said. “He walked in and said you should hire me because I scored high on the test.”
The NSA then offered Mr. Snowden a position but he said didn’t think the level—called GS-13—was high enough and asked for a higher-ranking job. The NSA refused. In early 2013, Booz Allen hired Mr. Snowden.
“He targeted my company because we enjoy more access than other companies,” Mr. McConnell said. “Because of the nature of the work we do…he targeted us for that purpose.”
Évidemment, il est entré par effraction…
En plus, en vérité, il ne sait rien…
Inside the NSA are four levels of information. Level 1 is of basic administrative. The next level consists of reports, written in a way that give information without revealing sources. Levels 3 and 4 “gets into how we do what we do,” Mr. McConnell said. He said that Mr. Snowden had very limited access to the third tier and almost no access to the fourth.
« Farmers create pentagon-shaped fruit »
Farmers in Japan have created pentagon-shaped fruits.
The iyokan citrus fruits or ’Gokaku no Iyokan’ were handed out as a good luck charm for students in the upcoming entrance exam season in Yawatahama, Ehime.
’Gokaku no Iyokan’ also means ’sweet smell of success in exams.’
qui commente :
Flat sided fruits seem to have some positive aspects: they are easier to put into a box or in the refrigerator than round fruits, and their peculiarity could encourage people to eat them, arousing curiosity. We guess in the near future more fruit varieties will develop angles!
Japan: Smart Green Homes on the Horizon
Smart green homes are in Japan’s future. Home Energy Management Systems are among some of the hottest technologies being developed in Japan to make households energy efficient and eco-friendly...
#Rohani: #Iran-Europe relations to be normalized with nuclear accord
Iranian President Hassan Rohani, center, sits next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif during the World Economic Forum in #Davos on January 22, 2014. (Photo: AFP - Eric Piermont)
Iran’s President Hassan Rohani said Thursday relations with #Europe would be normalized once an interim nuclear accord is implemented. The Iranian leader took center stage at the Davos World Economic Forum Thursday, as he seeks to drum up investment for his sanctions-hit economy amid thawing relations with the West. Rohani leads a delegation that includes Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh to the snow-covered Swiss ski resort as Iran bids to come out of the diplomatic cold. read (...)
Worse cyclones will hit East Asia | Climate News Network
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines are trying to piece together their lives after the devastation caused late last year by tropical cyclone Haiyan. New research shows that while such cyclones are growing in strength they are increasingly tracking northwards to hit the coasts of China, Korea and Japan.
LONDON, 16 January – It will be of little comfort to people in the southern and central Philippines repeatedly hit by tropical cyclones over the years, but a new study indicates that storm patterns might be shifting northwards.
The study, by a team of scientists at Seoul National University and other South Korean scientific institutions, looks at tropical cyclone activity across the north-west Pacific between 1977 and 2010.