END THEME ~ Japanese director Shunji Iwai and middle school student-turned anti-nuclear activist Fujinami Kokoro survey the almost surreal devastation in the aftermath of the triple disasters that hit Iwai’s native northeastern Japan March 11, 2011. Music: “Breath” by alternative rock band Radwimps.

VIENNA, NHK~Japan’s minister in charge of the nuclear disaster says reactors at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant will be cooled to below 100 degrees Celsius by the end of 2011.
Goshi Hosono spoke at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual ministerial meeting on Monday.
Hosono said that decontaminated water has been successfully used to cool down the troubled nuclear reactors, bringing the temperature close to 100 degrees Celsius. He also said spent nuclear fuel pools have been cooled in a stable manner.
Hosono also said the spent nuclear fuel has been steadily cooled and will fall below 100 degrees by the end of this year, instead of early next year as initially predicted.
When the reactors and spent fuel have been cooled below 100 degrees, radiation emissions can be kept very low.
The minister also said Japan will work with the IAEA to remove radioactive materials from areas near Fukushima Daiichi.
He explained the plan to separate the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, saying it will be merged with the Cabinet Office’s Nuclear Safety Commission to create a nuclear safety agency under the Environment Ministry by next April.

Here’s NHK World anchor Catherine Kobayashi bringing news of Minister Hosono’s bold announcement on her Tuesday morning (8 am JST) newscast.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 07:00 +0900 (JST)

Japanese American nuclear physicist Dr. Michio Kaku appeared on CNN’s “In the Arena” news program Aug. 2 to discuss the disclosure this week that lethal levels of radiation have been detected outside reactors #1 and #2 at the earthquake and tsunami ravaged Fukushima Daiichi complex. Kaku’s CNN appearance Tuesday marked the first time in more than a month that he has taken to the airwaves to discuss developments at the Japanese reactors.

The recent admission by the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that owns and operates the stricken reactors, came amid reports of radiation in water, soil, crops, beef and seafood across a more widespread area of Japan than previously reported, stretching in an arc up to and even beyond 200 miles away from the melted down reactor cores. (Note: Tokyo is a mere 140 miles from the Fukushima reactors.) The Japanese government announced Wednesday that it will soon begin testing rice across 14 prefectures from the northeast through central Japan to ensure the safety of the country’s staple dietary component.

Kaku says

  • “They (TEPCO) haven’t even begun cleaning up the operation. It’s not stable yet. Maybe next year it might be stable.”
  • Lethal radiation in the ventilator shafts is a leftover from the original accident. Workers have to stay away from the ventilation shafts; it’s no-man’s land. Robots at Fukushima Daiichi are not automatons that can perform repairs. “That is beyond our capability.”
  • “Hitachi Corp. has estimated 30 years for cleanup~in other words, up to 50 years. Three Mile Island took 14 years to clean up. Chernobyl after 25 years is still not cleaned up. It’s still melting into the ground.”
  • “The Japanese people don’t trust the utility’s (radiation) figures anymore. Either they were incompetent or they were lying.”
  • Physicists in the U.S. using independent computer simulations of the Fukushima Daiichi accident suspected early-on that the Japanese utility was low-balling their estimates of radiation damage.

WATCH… via Somalian Pirate Media (video swiped using HTC Sensation)

By Jonathan Stein, Mother Jones, April 27, 2009

It stuns me that we are still having a debate, as a country, over whether or not what the Bush Administration did to detainees in the war on terror was actually torture. I would hope that this helps settle things. The fact-checking outfit called PolitiFact confirms that a McCain statement from 2007, dredged up recently by Paul Begala, is accurate:

“I forgot to mention last night that following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding,” [McCain] told reporters at a campaign event.

“If the United States is in another conflict … and we have allowed that kind of torture to be inflicted upon people we hold captive, then there is nothing to prevent that enemy from also torturing American prisoners.”

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Obon In America Animation

Japanese Americans all across the land from Vermont to Hawaii will celebrate the ancient Buddhist Obon festival in the coming weeks with joyous folk dancing, religious observances and traditional Japanese foods in what is the most authentic cultural event remaining in Japanese America.

Obon Festival season continues through August and marks the zenith of the Buddhist year. But more than just a chance to take colorful photos and eat Japanese comfort foods, Obon is a Buddhist teaching come alive.

Obon [ お盆 ] originates from the story of Mokuren, a disciple of the Buddha, who during a meditative trance saw his deceased mother suffering in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (the Buddhist equivalent of purgatory). Greatly disturbed, he went to the Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this suffering. Buddha instructed him to make offerings and to meditate on the life of his mother. Mokuren followed the Buddha’s instructions and he began to see the true nature of her past unselfishness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother’s release and grateful for his mother’s kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy came Obon, which has been celebrated for thousands of years as a time in which ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.

Hundreds of yukata-clad dancers jam Halldale Ave. in Gardena, Calif. to dance the Bon Odori in memory of departed loved ones. The Gardena Buddhist temple will host its annual Obon on Aug. 1 & 2


Aug. 1-2—Gardena Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 1517 W. 166th St., Gardena, CA 90247; (310) 327-9400; 3-10 p.m. Sat./2-9 p.m. Sun.

Aug. 1—Buddhist Temple of San Diego Obon Odori, 2929 Market St., San Diego, CA 92102; (619) 239-0896: 5-9 p.m.

Aug. 1—Oregon Buddhist Temple “Obonfest 2009,” 3720 SE 34th Ave., Portland, OR 97202; (503) 234-9456: 4-9 p.m.

Aug. 1—San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 6996 Ontario Rd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93405; (805)-595-2625: 1-9 p.m.

(408) 424-4105

Aug. 1—Waialua Hongwanji Temple Obon, 67-313 Kealohanui St., Waialua, HI 96791; (808) 637-4395: from 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 1-2—Palo Alto Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 2751 Louis Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303; (650)856-0123: 5-11 p.m. Sat./noon-10 p.m. Sun.

Watsonville Obon

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The U.S., for now, has moved on from the so-called “swine” flu, but much of the rest of the world continues to apply measures to stem the spread of the H1N1 virus and drug companies rush to bring a vaccine to the market.

The mainstream media in the U.S. has turned its attention away from the swine flu and redirected its focus to the economy, crime and American Idol.

This despite the fact that confirmed cases continue to rise on the east and west coasts and reports that a H1N1 vaccine isn’t due for several more weeks.

Fresh outbreaks of the virus are being reported in the northeast region of the United States, centered around the greater New York City area, and health officials now fear that H1N1 now appears to be spreading in Japan, pushing the world to the brink of a full-fledged swine flu pandemic.

A headline in the May 21 global edition of the The New York Times read: “Japan Is in Crisis Mode,” and detailed the growing fears about the the spread of H1N1 virus in what is perhaps the world’s most hygienic nation.

Meanwhile, the EU this week issued a travel advisory about travel to the U.S.

Track the spread of the H1N1 cases in the U.S. and around the world with FluTracker interactive maps:

FluTracker_US_county FluTrackerWorldUpdate

fun-suicide_136x277A suicide technique that uses a mixture of household products to produce a deadly hydrogen sulfide gas became a grisly fad in Japan last year. Now it’s slowly seeping into the United States over the internet, according to emergency workers, who are alarmed at the potential for innocent casualties.

[The graphic that accompanies this post comes from a Japanese website 3yen.com]

The first sign that the technique was migrating to the United States came in August, when  a 23-year-old California man was found dead in his car behind a Pasadena shopping center. The  VW Beetle’s doors were locked, the windows rolled up and a warning sign had been posted in one of the windows.

The 517 self-inflicted deaths by hydrogen sulfide poisoning this year in 2008 are were part of a bigger, grimmer story: Nearly 34,000 Japanese killed themselves last year, according to the Japanese national police. That’s the second-highest toll ever in a country where the suicide rate is ninth highest in the world and more than double that of the USA, the World Health Organization says.

H/T Babamoto, WIRED, Kevin Poulsen


Rumors had been spreading through the Japanese American community for the past six months that Little Tokyo’s Mitsuwa Market would be closing in 2009, and now it has been confirmed that the L.A. Nihonmachi’s landmark supermarket will close its doors for the last time on Jan. 25.

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TOKYO—Jerrold Jerome White, a 27-year-old African-American from Pittsburgh who learned to sing in the traditional Japanese enka style by listening to his grandmother’s records, was named 2008 Best New Artist at the 50th Annual Japan Record Awards Dec. 31.jerobarkbiteblog

And it was a fitting end to a storybook year which saw White, known as “Jero” in Japan, rise from an English language teacher in Wakayama to a household name in Japanese entertainment. Later, that same evening, Jero, a 2003 information science graduate from the Univ. of Pittsburgh, fulfilled a promise he made to his dying grandmother to sing enka on NHK’s fabled Kouhaku Utagassen New Year’s Eve broadcast.

White who traveled to Japan during his high school days to compete in a speech contest, learned the language from his grandmother, in high school and at Pitt. He returned to Japan in 2003 as an exchange student. He later found work as a computer engineer and English teacher.

Jero’s mother flew from Pittsburgh and was in the Kouhaku audience to hear her son keep his promise to her mother who passed in 1998.

The lawyer for a Japanese businessman, whose Parker Center jail cell death was declared suicide, says a pathologist has concluded that Kazuyoshi Miura was killed, The Associated Press is reporting.

Mark Geragos, Miura’s lawyer, said Sunday the pathologist found deep tissue injuries on Miura’s back that indicated a beating. He said Miura’s larynx also had a hematoma that could have come from a forced choking.

The pathologist, hired by Geragos, concluded the injury could not have been caused by a self-inflicted hanging.

Miura, 61, was found dead Oct. 10 in his jail cell. Police said he hanged himself with a piece of his shirt less than 24 hours after he was returned to the United States to stand trial for the murder of his wife 27 years ago.

Hear LAPD Chief William J. Bratton get a good laugh in reaction to my question about the jail cell death of Kazuyoshi Miura on Patt Morrison’s “Ask the Chief” segment over KPCC-FM Wednesday, Oct. 15

The Olympic Decathlon, the two-day, ten-event test of all-around athletic skill and human endurance, has produced some of the greatest icons of the American sports pantheon. Decathlon gold medalists Jim Thorpe, Bob Mathias, Rafer Johnson and Bruce Jenner were easily the biggest names to emerge from their respective Olympics. But comes along 28-year-old, Kaneohe, Hawaii-born Bryan Clay and the mainstream media seems a bit skeptical.

Beijing is Clay’s second Olympics. He won a silver in Athens as the event’s rising star. Following Athens, Bryan captured a World Track Championship gold in 2005 and was ranked as the No. 1 decathlete in the world by 2006. Last year, he forced out of the World Championships in Osaka with a foot injury. Earlier this year, 12 pounds lighter and injury-free, he stunned the track and field world with a remarkable 8,832-point performance in winning the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.

Ten years ago, Clay was a troubled kid. The product of a broken home, Bryan is the son of Japanese American mother Michelle Ishimoto and an African American father, Greg Clay, who divorced when their son was in the fifth grade.

At the Athens Olympics, Bryan’s mother, stepfather and wife, Sarah, stayed away not wanting to be distractions. In Beijing, however, the Ishimoto clan will be in full force. Sharing the two-day event with Bryan at the “Bird’s Nest” will be his maternal grandparents—84-year-old Tsumoru and 82-year-old Kay Ishimoto—along with “a bunch more family and many friends” to root Bryan over the top.

About his Japanese heritage, Clay reveals, “Japanese culture and food were a huge part of my life growing up. My mother made sure I knew who I was and where I came from. Our house was always full of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We ate ozoni [a traditional Japanese rice soup] on New Year’s Eve. My life was very Japanese.”

Earlier this month, Clay told NBC, “I think that if I am healthy, and if I am competing well and in shape, I don’t think there’s anybody out there that can beat me. I really don’t think so.

UPDATE—As I key this in real time, it’s already Thursday, Aug. 21, 2:45 p.m. in Beijing, and Bryan Clay has won the 100 meters and long jump and placed second in the shot put. He leads Oleksiy Kasyanov of the Ukraine and American teammate Trey Hardee of Birmingham, Ala. Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, who edged out Clay for the gold in Athens is in 10th place in the early going. I plan to update here as results become available.
UPDATE 2—(Thursday, Aug. 21, 7:20 a.m. PST) With the first five events of the men’s decathlon completed, Hawaii-born Japanese American Bryan Clay held an 88-point lead over his closest rival, Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus. Clay, who attends Azusa-Pacific Univ. in Southern California, won a rain-drenched 100 meters in 10.44 seconds and followed with the top mark in the long jump with a leap of 25-6¼. Clay then recorded a lifetime best heave of 53-4½ in the shot put. He high jumped 6-6¼ (11th best), and finished day one of the grueling event after 10 p.m. Beijing time with a 48.92 in the 400 meters. Trey Hardee (USA) is holding on to third place 93 points behind Clay who is favored to the the gold. Day 2 of the decathlon begins at 9 a.m. Beijing time (today at 6:00 p.m. PST) and will include 110 meter hurdles. discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500 meters.
UPDATE 3—(Thursday, Aug. 21, 5:00 p.m. PST) Bryan Clay left the following comments on his blog a little after midnight after completing Day 1 of the decathlon in Beijing: “I had three very, very good events. Then I had one not so good event, a poor event, which was high jump. Then just an OK event in the 400, nothing special in the 400, but it was OK. I don’t know about scores. I really don’t pay attention to scores until we get to about the javelin, then I look to see what I need to do to stay in the position that I’m in. I’m coming out tomorrow just trying to compete against the conditions and the competitors. Hopefully, I’ll be the best one there and be at the top of the podium at the end of the day. I think every event in the decathlon is important. You can’t win the decathlon without having all ten events. Anytime you have a poor event, that’s going to set you back a bit, and every time you have a good event, that’s pull you ahead. I don’t think it was the rain. I think that I was a little fatigued. We started in the rain and mentally and physically, it takes a lot to get through that and I think I did it very well. That made me a little fatigued going into the high jum and the 400.”
UPDATE 4—(Thursday, Aug. 21, 7:00 p.m. PST) We’re live blogging the Olympic decathlon results as they come out of Beijing. U.S. decathlete Bryan Clay recorded the second fastest time of all four heats of the 110 meter hurdles Friday morning in Beijing to start day two of the decathlon. Yordani Garcia of Cuba had the fastest time with a 13.90 to Clay’s 13.93. Andres Raja of Estonia had the third lowest time at 14.06. Clay netted 984 points in the event and now has a leading total of 5505 points. We’re awaiting the start of the decathlon discus throw.
UPDATE 5—(Thursday, Aug. 21, 8:00 p.m. PST) Japanese American gold medal hopeful Bryan Clay has won the decathlon discus competition with a season’s best heave of 176 feet 10 inches and added 950 points for a leading total of 6455 with the pole vault, javelin and 1500 meters to follow in Beijing, where it is Friday morning.
UPDATE 6—(Friday, Aug. 22, 2:10 p.m., Beijing, China CST) The decathlon pole vault is underway in the “Bird’s Nest,” and American Bryan Clay has cleared a qualifying height of 4.80 meters on his first attempt and shares the lead with four other decathletes—Andrei Krauchanka, Belarus; Andre Niklaus, Germany; Alexander Pogorelov, Russia; Andres Raja, Estonia.
(Aug. 22, 2:24 p.m., Beijing) Belarus’ Krauchanka has cleared 4.90 meters. We’re blogging real time from Silver Lake 90026!
(Aug. 22, 2:27 p.m., Beijing) Bryan Clay regains the pole vault lead clearing 4.90 meters on his first attempt. Roman Barras is also over 4.90, a season’s best for the Frenchman.
(Aug. 22, 2:50 p.m., Beijing) Glendora, Calif.’s Bryan Clay has cleared a season’s best 5.0 meters in the decathlon pole vault and leads the event on the basis of fewer misses. Krauchanka, Pogorelov, Niklaus and Barras are also over the height.
(Aug. 22, 3:15 p.m., Beijing) Andre Niklaus of Germany has cleared 5.20 meters, a season’s best for him, to take the lead in the decathlon pole vault. Bryan Clay, US; Krauchanka, Estonia Belarus; Pogorelov tied for second in the event. Clay leads overall with 6455 points after seven events.
(Aug. 22, 3:35 p.m., Beijing) After missing 3x @ 5.10 meters Clay is out of the vault in 2nd place. He leads the decathlon with 7365 points and leads Krauchanka by 316. The final two events—javelin and 1500 meters—are scheduled for 7:00 and 10:20 p.m. Beijing time.

Final decathlon update



Shane Kim, head man at Microsoft’s Game Studio, struck back at critics Tuesday. Redmond is banking that Kim’s much-ballyhooed release this week of the final iteration of its hit FPS, Halo 3, will drive four of its shaky business units into profitability.

A massive invasion of Asian-made androids overran WIRED’s L.A. NextFest Sept. 13-16. Chinese, Japanese and Korean robotics manufacturers left the crowds and media buzzing. The Zou Ren Ti android clone was disturbingly well done as was Kiyomori, Waseda University’s smooth-striding samurai bot.


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