The world is losing the fight against child pornography. Today’s widespread use of home computer technology has led to a staggering number of people trading and distributing child pornography online. No country is immune to this form of child sexual exploitation. As two of the world’s biggest consumers of child pornography, the United States and Japan must work together to combat its spread.

The term “child pornography” misrepresents the heinous nature of this crime. Unlike some people in adult pornography, children are not willing or paid participants. In fact, the majority of images and videos depict the violent and brutal sexual assault of children, most of them younger than 12 years old. We are talking about child rape.

Any discussion of child pornography must acknowledge the devastating and lasting effect it has on the children who are victimized. In addition to any physical injuries and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, child victims also experience depression, withdrawal, anger and other psychological disorders, usually continuing into adulthood. The lives of children displayed in these images are forever altered, not only by the molestation, but by the permanent record of their victimization. Once these images reach cyberspace, they are irretrievable and can continue to circulate forever. The child is victimized over and over each time the images are viewed.

We should also recognize the strong link between viewing child pornography and sexually abusing children. A 2007 U.S. government study showed that more than 85 percent of people convicted for child pornography crimes admitted to sexually abusing children. Child pornography consumers participate in online networks, which makes them feel they are part of a vast community of like-minded people. This sense that it is “normal” to engage in sexual fantasies about children lowers their inhibitions about acting on their fantasies, increasing the likelihood that they will actually molest children. Child molesters also use child pornography to seduce children by showing them images that appear to depict other children enjoying sexual activities with adults.

The United States has a serious child pornography problem, but effective laws against production, distribution and possession give investigators the critical tools they need to go after people who victimize children. Japanese law enforcement authorities are praised throughout the world for their professionalism and competence, but their ability to investigate child pornography crimes is severely limited by the fact that it is legal to possess child pornography in Japan. The vast majority of child pornography prosecutions today around the world involve images contained on computer hard drives and computer disks. But, because it is legal in Japan to possess child pornography, it is almost impossible for investigators here to obtain search warrants to confiscate and search suspects’ computers. Without the vital evidence stored on these hard drives, police cannot effectively investigate child pornography crimes, which in Japan are defined as production and distribution of child pornography. Child pornography investigations inevitably involve more than one country. Law enforcement officials from the United States and around the world enjoy tremendous cooperation from Japanese police on a wide variety of issues, but international investigations of child pornography are significantly hampered by the inability of Japanese investigators to participate or contribute their expertise.

Criminalizing the possession of child pornography does not compromise the rights to privacy or free speech. Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States are all countries where a high value is placed on the rights to privacy and free speech, but all six countries have found it possible to criminalize the possession of child pornography without undermining these rights. Virtually all child pornography is obscene under international standards. The victimization of children is not entitled to protection.

Among the Group of Eight countries, Japan and Russia are the only two countries that do not criminalize the possession of child pornography. On May 24, 2007, Japan signed a declaration at the G-8 justice and interior ministers meeting in Munich that: “We commit to ensuring the implementation and effectiveness of our own laws relating to child pornography, and to taking steps to update and improve those laws when necessary and where appropriate.” The Law Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography was due for its three-year review in 2006. We hope the Diet will revise this law to criminalize the advertisement, access, purchase, and possession of child pornography. This revision would allow U.S. and Japanese law enforcement officials to cooperate on investigations. Increased cooperation between our two countries would improve the protection of children throughout the world.

(Jan. 31, 2008)

Tax authorities believe a company run by a member of NHK’s decision-making body hid about 150 million yen in corporate income over seven years up until January 2007 by padding salary payments to the firm’s board directors, sources close to the issue said Wednesday.

Sugahara Institute, a research firm based in Minato Ward, Tokyo, run by Akiko Sugahara, 60, a member of the public broadcaster’s Board of Governors, was ordered by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau to pay about 50 million yen in back and penalty taxes. The company also has revised its tax reports. The company initially reported it had paid board members salaries to Sugahara’s husband and some of her relatives. But the relatives did not work for the company and the taxation bureau judged the company had underclaimed its corporate income by reporting fictitious labor costs, the sources said.

(Jan. 31, 2008)

A total of 10 people in three families in Chiba and Hyogo prefectures developed symptoms of food poisoning after eating frozen gyoza dumplings made in China between Dec. 28 and Jan. 22, with nine of them hospitalized, it was learned Wednesday.

A 5-year-old girl in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, briefly fell unconscious after consuming one such product, according to the Chiba prefectural police.

The two prefectural police forces found an organic phosphorus agricultural chemical, methamidophos, in the dumplings and in the packaging.

As no holes were found in the packaging indicating that the chemical was injected into the products, the police believe it is highly likely that methamidophos was added during the production process.

They are also checking the domestic distribution process.

JT Foods Co., an affiliate of Japan Tobacco Inc., imported and sold the products. The Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo-based firm started Wednesday a voluntary withdrawal of all 23 products it imported that were made at a factory in China’s Hebei Province, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

According to JT Foods, the two frozen gyoza products in question are Co-op Tezukuri Gyoza (handmade dumplings) and Chuka de Gochiso Hitokuchi Gyoza (Delicious Chinese-style one-bite dumplings). Sojitz Foods Corp., a trading firm in Minato Ward, Tokyo, placed orders at Hebei Foodstuffs Import and Export Group’s Tianyang Food Plant in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, which is in charge of the manufacturing process from processing to packing of the products.

Sojitz Food checks the quality and safety standards of the products in China before JT Foods imports and markets them.

The products consumed by two of the three families were made at the factory on Oct. 20, according to the police and ministry.

It was confirmed that 6,816 packages of Tezukuri Gyoza and 4,104 packages of Hitokuchi Gyoza made the same day have been imported, they said. The health ministry Wednesday requested two other domestic companies importing gyoza from the same Chinese firm to stop selling the products.

According to JT Foods and the police, The 10 people are a 47-year-old woman of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, and her four children; a woman and her daughter in Inage Ward in Chiba; and a 51-year-old man and two members of his family in Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture.

The five family members in Ichikawa complained of nausea and diarrhea after eating frozen dumplings purchased at Chiba Co-op’s Co-op Ichikawa shop in the city on Jan. 22. The 47-year old woman, her 18-year-old eldest daughter, 10-year-old eldest son and 8-year-old second son reportedly were in a serious condition after consuming the dumplings, and the 5-year-old second daughter briefly fell unconscious. The five were taken to a hospital.

The three members of the Takasago family were hospitalized on Jan. 5 after eating the dumplings.

Also on Dec. 28, the Chiba woman and her daughter became ill after eating the dumplings. The mother was hospitalized, and the daughter received treatment as an outpatient.

Meanwhile, in Kanagawa Prefecture, two people who said they ate the dumplings complained of symptoms of food poisoning. The prefectural government is investigating whether this case was also caused by the dumplings.

(Jan. 31, 2008)

Send Load to Philippines

January 28, 2008

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Hashimoto wins Osaka governorship/ Kumagai’s defeat seen blow to DPJ
Toru Hashimoto gives a banzai cheer with his supporters at his campaign headquarters in Osaka on Sunday night.
Toru Hashimoto, a lawyer and TV personality backed by the prefectural chapters of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, won Sunday’s Osaka gubernatorial election.Hashimoto defeated four other candidates, including one backed by the Democratic Party of Japan.Hashimoto gave a banzai cheer with his supporters at his campaign office in Osaka at about 9 p.m. and said, “I’m only 38 years old, but with my energy and explosive force, I want to reconstruct Osaka from the ground up.”He will become the nation’s youngest serving governor on Feb. 6, and the third youngest since the start of the public election system in 1947.

The 38-year-old garnered 1,832,857 votes. Sadatoshi Kumagai, a former Osaka University professor backed by the DPJ, the Social Democratic Party and People’s New Party, won 999,082 votes, followed by Shoji Umeda, a lawyer backed by the Japanese Communist Party, with 518,563 votes. Masaaki Takahashi, chairman of a residents’ association, took 22,154 votes, and Seiichi Sugiura, a volunteer probation officer, 20,161.

For the first time in 33 years, three candidates separately backed by major parties ran in the race. However, Umeda’s campaign was overshadowed by the fierce tussle between the other two major-party-backed candidates.

The voter turnout was 48.95 percent, up from 40.49 percent in 2004, when incumbent Fusae Ota was reelected after the lowest turnout in Osaka gubernatorial election history.

The race attracted nationwide attention as it was seen to be a harbinger of the lower house election expected later this year.

Sunday’s results are a blow to the DPJ, which gave Kumagai full organizational support. The DPJ gained a boost after it and the PNP backed Kunio Hiramatsu to victory in November’s Osaka mayoral election, defeating the ruling coalition-endorsed incumbent Junichi Seki, and therefore believed victory on Sunday would bring further advantage in the lower house poll.

Nevertheless, Hashimoto’s win may not strengthen the ruling coalition’s performance in the lower house poll, as they blurred party lines to help Hashimoto attract floating voters.

Hashimoto is believed to have earned most of the so-called owarai ballots–those cast by voters who tend to select TV personalities. It is said that there are about 1 million such voters in the prefecture.

The achievements of Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru, a former TV personality, in publicizing his prefecture may have contributed to Hashimoto’s win.

“You’re the one who’ll make a historic change tomorrow,” Hashimoto yelled to supporters from atop his campaign vehicle, where he was joined by the Miyazaki governor, on Saturday in front of JR Osaka Station.

Hashimoto asked Higashikokubaru, who defeated the LDP-backed candidate in the Miyazaki gubernatorial election a year ago, to make a support speech, although Hashimoto has declined offers from party heavyweights and popular TV personalities for such speeches. “Hashimoto is the only one who can publicize Osaka [across the nation],” Higashikokubaru said.

During the campaign, Hashimoto often encouraged the young voters who flocked around him to go to the polls, rarely explaining the details of his platform.

Party policy forbade LDP and New Komeito heavyweights and local assembly members belonging to the parties from canvassing for Hashimoto on the streets, leading to some campaigning taking place behind the scenes.

(Jan. 28, 2008)

Hakuno stops Asa/ Beats fellow yokozuna for 6th Emperos’s Cup
Asashoryu hits the dirt after being thrown to defeat by fellow yokozuna Hakuho in the final bout of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament. The win earned Hakuho the first Emperor’s Cup of 2008.

In probably the most important bout of his short but illustrious sumo career, yokozuna Hakuho beat Asashoryu on Sunday to win the first Emperor’s Cup of 2008.

It was Hakuho’s third straight makuuchi division championship, but those victories had taken place with Asashoryu absent, suspended for playing hooky from a regional tour in the summer.

Throughout the second week of the New Year Tournament, the 22-year-old Hakuho had faced questions about how he would match up against his fellow Mongolian, a 21-time Emperor’s Cup winner who had beaten him 10 times in 15 career meetings.

Hakuho’s response on Sunday was to throw Asashoryu to the dirt to win the sixth Emperor’s Cup of his career.

“Since the summer tour, I’ve been working really hard for this bout,” Hakuho said ringside after he had received the cup from Japan Sumo Association chairman Kitanoumi.

“I didn’t want to lose to a yokozuna who was coming back [from an absence]. I didn’t want to let down my supporters–their expectations were very high.

“Of course, now I want to go for four in a row.”

There is no reason Hakuho can’t, although the smart money is on Asashoryu coming back strong after he was bested in a contest of two immensely proud men.

The two yokozuna refused to back down as they prepared for the bout, and once it started, lived up to their rank.

Hakuho was always on the attack but as with everyone who faces Asashoryu, had trouble turning that into victory.

A double-handed belt grip gave Hakuho a chance to force Asa to the bales, but Asa had the same grip on Hakuho’s belt and fought back, returning the contest to the middle of the ring.

Hakuho attacked again, forcing both into Asa’s side of the ring. Asa’s response was to lift his younger compatriot into the air, but it was an empty gesture. When Hakuho touched down, he started a left-hand, overarm throw that seemed to happen in slow motion before Asashoryu somersaulted to defeat.

Asashoryu’s performance over 15 days confirmed his recovery from the stress-related illness that left him a shadow of his former self in the summer. Sunday’s loss and a Day 2 reversal to No. 1 maegashira Kisenosato aside, the yokozuna swept aside every wrestler he met in the ring.

The rest of the day’s action paled in comparison to the final bout at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, but there was still more than pride on the line for some wrestlers.

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September 26, 2006

NEW YORK – AP Images, a division of The Associated Press, today announced that it has launched a new photo Web site. The new site is a centralized platform that makes it easier for buyers to search and download from millions of images available from The Associated Press and its diverse content partners.

A key feature of the site is an enhanced search engine that allows users to quickly find the images that meet their needs. Users can save searches and will be able to receive custom e-mail alerts when new images match their search parameters. The site also includes advanced lightbox features such as image grouping, drag-and-drop editing and user notation, all of which make it easier for users to manage their photo projects.

The new photo platform is part of AP Images’ strategy to offer customers greater access to a wide variety of content for editorial and commercial use from AP’s award-winning photographers and its growing list of content partners, including Tim Graham, the UK Press Association, VII, Women’s Wear Daily, and many newspapers around the country.

“The new AP Images site is a powerful distribution platform that gives our customers unparalleled access to the millions of images we offer,” said Ian Cameron, Vice President of AP Images. “This is just one of the many steps we are taking to offer image buyers greater access to the world’s best images.”

Those interested in browsing the new AP Images Web site may register at


Heath Ledger dies at 28

January 24, 2008

NEW YORK (CNN) — Actor Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday of a possible drug overdose in a Lower Manhattan apartment, the New York Police Department said.

The Academy Award-nominated actor was 28.

Ledger was found naked and unresponsive, facedown on the floor at the foot of his bed by a housekeeper trying to wake him for an appointment with a masseuse, said police spokesman Paul Browne.

“Pills were found in the vicinity of the bed,” he told CNN.

“This is being looked at as a possible overdose, but that is not confirmed yet.”

Browne later told reporters some prescription medications were found in the room, including sleeping pills.

But he stressed police have made no determination of the cause of Ledger’s death — that would be done by the medical examiner.

He said the pills were not “scattered about.”

No note was found and there was no indication of foul play, Browne said. Ledger was found at about 3 p.m., and was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel about 3:30 p.m.

A crowd of onlookers, photographers and reporters gathered outside the apartment building after news of Ledger’s death was reported. Police officers were guarding the doors.

Browne said he did not know how long Ledger had been renting the apartment, which he said took up the entire fourth floor.

An autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office.

Ledger’s family called his death “very tragic, untimely and accidental.”

“Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life, but few had the pleasure of truly knowing him,” his father said.

“He was a down-to-earth, generous, kindhearted, life-loving, unselfish individual extremely inspirational to many.”

Hollywood reacts

Condolences began pouring in from Ledger’s friends and co-stars.

“I had such great hope for him,” said Mel Gibson, who played Ledger’s father in “The Patriot,” in a statement.

“He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Actress Nicole Kidman, a fellow Australian and close friend of Ledger’s, said in a statement, “What a tragedy. My heart goes out to his family.”

At the time of his death, Ledger had just finished playing the villain The Joker in “The Dark Knight,” the latest installment in the Batman series. The film is to open in July.

Ledger was born in Perth, Australia, and named Heathcliff Andrew after the main characters of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” He began acting at a local theater as a child.

Ledger’s first American film was the teen comedy “10 Things I Hate About You” in 1999, and he immediately attracted attention from Hollywood. He passed up several scripts before taking a role in the Revolutionary War drama “The Patriot” in 2000 and “A Knight’s Tale” in 2001. He also played a supporting role in “Monster’s Ball,” among other films.

Controversial role

But Ledger was perhaps best known for his 2005 portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain,” about two cowboys who had a secret romantic relationship. The role earned him an Oscar nomination.

“I felt that choices were being made for me, so I feel this has been my time now to find the good stories and test myself,” Ledger told the Glasgow Herald in the 2005 interview. “It has been an interesting year, where I finally have a sense of accomplishment.”

Asked how he felt about filming love scenes with another man, Ledger said he and his co-star Jake Gyllenhaal simply focused on their roles.

“We can’t say that we weren’t nervous about it,” Ledger told Oprah Winfrey in 2006. “But once the first take was over, it’s like, ‘OK. So what? It’s kissing another human being. How are we going to finish this scene? Let’s get on with it and let’s get out of here.’ ”

In a written statement, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said it mourns Ledger’s death, adding that his portrayal of Del Mar “changed hearts and minds in immeasurable ways.”

Ledger has a daughter, Matilda Rose, born in 2005 to his then-girlfriend, Michelle Williams, who played his on-screen wife, Alma, in “Brokeback Mountain.” The couple have since separated.

“He was just so respected in the industry,” said Kim Serafin, senior editor of In Touch Weekly.

“It’s just horribly tragic. He was just a fine actor and a good person, so this is horribly sad and very unexpected.”

taken from:

Cute, tiny animals

January 23, 2008

Here are some amazing and lovely photographs of tiny creatures found from various sources in the net.


Chomp! Meat-Eating Plants

January 22, 2008

A cricket crawls toward the leaves of a Venus flytrap that can shut tight, trapping the insect.

“I want people to get passionate about plants,” says Lisa Van Cleef about a new exhibit at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. “Everybody gets excited about the zoo and animals, but once you start looking at plants you find they have a lot going on, too!”

Especially the carnivores, or meat eaters, that use the sneakiest of tricks to trap their insect dinners. Take bladderworts, for example. They appear so small and delicate growing in a quiet pond. But these are the fastest-known killers of the plant kingdom, able to suck in unsuspecting mosquito larvae in 1/50 of a second using a trap door!

Once the trap door closes on the victim, digestive enzymes similar to those in the human stomach slowly consume the insect. When dinner is over, the plant ejects the remains and is ready to trap again.

Pitcher plants feed on insects that slide into their pitcher-shaped leaf structures and get stuck.

The Cape sundew traps insects with sticky hairs on its leaves.

Sticky dew-like droplets on the leaf hairs of the Alice sundew trap insects that become “glued.”

This Titan butterwort feeds on insects trapped on its sticky fly-paper-like leaves.

read more here: