Japan’s New Era | Trump Lawsuit Or Cover Up? | Ostracism

MAY 2, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



“Happiness [is] only real when shared.”

“We like companionship, see, but we can’t stand to be around people for very long. So we go get ourselves lost, come back for a while, then get the hell out again.”

– Jon Krakauer




Akihito Jumpstarts A New Era In Japan: On Tuesday Japan’s Emperor Akihito, 85, abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne, something a Japanese monarch hadn’t done in over 200 years. The last emperor to abdicate was Kokaku in 1817. Akihito’s eldest son, 59-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, will officially assume the symbolic role and sacred imperial regalia in a ceremony Wednesday morning. Akihito’s health has been an issue, and he apparently wanted to spare his son having to wait out any prolonged illness. He first expressed a desire to step down three years ago, but could not do so until a special act of Parliament was passed.

Akihito became emperor in 1989, succeeding his father, Hirohito, who reigned during WWII. Akihito set about atoning for the country’s militaristic sins, traveling widely throughout Asia to countries that had been attacked or conquered by Japan during the war in an effort to spread a message of peace. The emperor and his wife, Empress Michiko, have been hugely popular as they continued to work to bring the monarchy closer to the people. They were especially comforting when traveling to disaster sites to console the victims. While in the Kobe region after 1995’s earthquake that killed 6,500 people, Akihito broke with tradition and kneeled before survivors. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed almost 16,000 people and caused a nuclear disaster, Akihito gave an unprecedented nationally televised address urging everyone to act with compassion “to overcome these difficult times.”

Akihito now will be known as the Heisei emperor, after the name given to the era in which he reigned. His son’s new era will be known as Reiwa. Visitors to the palace grounds Tuesday expressed the hope that Naruhito’s wife, Masako, who had been a diplomat in the Foreign Ministry before marriage, will be instrumental in pushing Japan closer to gender equality. As a young office worker said: “I hope she will be active in international relations…[and] society will be better so that women can participate more.”





Venezuela’s Civil War: In a bold move early Tuesday to oust Venezuelan’s incumbent president, Nicholas Maduro, powerful opposition leader Juan Guaido released a three-minute video from an air base in eastern Caracas in which he described the people’s fight, and called for them to take to the streets to end the “usurpation,” a term he has often used to describe Maduro’s hold on the once-oil-rich nation. In the video, 35-year-old Guaidó stood near another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, a prominent politician who led anti-government protests, served jail time and had been living under house arrest. The two, flanked by men with helmets and weapons, called for an uprising as opposition demonstrators began clashing with soldiers loyal to Maduro. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was one of several officials who welcomed the start of “Operación Libertad” and said “The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy.” The embassy in Caracas advised US citizens to shelter in place and avoid the public demonstrations. It’s unknown how many members of the military may be siding with Guaidó and whether he’s received any assistance from the US. (NPR)

I’ve Got A Sinking Feeling We Should Move: Indonesian president Joko Widodo has announced he wants to move the country’s capital of Jakarta off the main island of Java, the most populous of Indonesia’s archipelago of thousands of islands. Jakarta, on the western edge of the archipelago, is facing massive challenges. It struggles with pollution and traffic gridlock. It’s also the fastest sinking city in the world — almost half its area is below sea level. Models suggest by 2050 about 95 percent of North Jakarta will be submerged. The new capital’s location has yet to be announced, but the planning minister said his government is looking for a location on the eastern side of Indonesia. (NPR)




Superbugs VS The Super Broke: The rise of antibiotic-resistant infections is a growing global health crisis. Such infections in US children surged by 700 percent between 2007 and 2015. This year a Nevada woman died from an infection impervious to every available antibiotic in the US. Monday, the World Health Organization announced a list of the 12 most dangerous superbugs, urging the pharmaceutical industry to find new treatments for them, and fast. That’s not likely to happen. Big firms are disinclined to make more antibiotics because, despite the dire need, it’s just not profitable. In 2018 alone, three large pharmaceutical firms shut down their antibiotic research programs.

Last week, the biotech (antibiotics) company Achaogen announced that it was filing for bankruptcy. Founded in 2002, its first drug, Zemdri (plazomicin), was approved by the Food and Drug Administration less than a year ago. Achaogen hit all the marks that should have signaled success. It recruited experienced developers, targeted an infection that the WHO considers a critical unmet need, stuck with its compound through 15 years of testing, scored several rounds of public investment and private philanthropy, and got its drug approved. But the market didn’t reward the company for producing a new antibiotic: on the day the FDA announced its decision, Achaogen’s stock price actually dropped by 20 percent. Almost a year later, it has earned less than $1 million on the drug, not enough to stay alive.




If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Save, Don’t Bank At All: Emboldened by a protective Justice Department and Republican-controlled Senate, President Trump continues to defy the constitutional authority of the House as it attempts to carry out its executive branch oversight duties. On Monday he filed a lawsuit in federal court against Deutsche Bank and Capital One in an attempt to block the banks from responding to subpoenas from two House panels seeking the president’s personal and business financial documents.

Trump, his three oldest children, and The Trump Organization claim investigations by the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees are overbroad and serve no purpose beyond harassment.

A Loyola Law School professor said Trump’s lawsuit may slow down the congressional investigations but is unlikely to stop them in the long run. “Particularly with a president like this, who’s involved in so many foreign business dealings and tax issues and emoluments issues, this is actually a prime case for Congress to say, ‘We need your financial records,’ ” she added. A Harvard Law professor noted that the Supreme Court has traditionally given Congress broad power to investigate and has been reluctant to intervene when lawmakers issue a subpoena. Absent a court order, the banks will have no choice but to comply with Congress’ demands and turn the records over to investigators. (NPR)




Emotional & Physical Hurt Lockers: Psychologist Naomi Eisenberger took an early interest in the emotional life of the brain. She found it curious that people often describe being rejected in terms of physical pain: ‘My heart was broken’, ‘I felt crushed’, ‘He hurt my feelings’, ‘It was like a slap in the face’. She set out to try and understand whether there might be a deeper connection between physical and emotional pain. In a landmark experiment in 2003 she and her colleagues had test subjects, strapped with virtual-reality headsets, play a computer game they called Cyberball. The game was programmed to eventually begin rejecting certain participants so that scientists could see how exclusion — what they called ‘social pain” affects the brain. Those who felt the most emotional distress also showed the most pain-related brain activity. In other words, being socially rejected triggered the same neural circuits that process physical injury, and translate it into the experience we call pain. (Aeon)

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