Earthquakes & Tsunami

Sayonara Japan

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Today CM leaves Japan after 20 years. This was the first time I’d actively seen passport control beg me to keep my permanent residency. For 5 minutes she painstakingly asked her senior colleagues and tried to reason with me. My comment to her was “don’t worry, I’m not drunk” after repeatedly checking whether I was sure about the decision. She asked what were the reasons. “Where do I start?”

First of all I want to thank the Japanese for their custom, politeness and privilege to stay in their country. It has been truly amazing and life changing.

Sure the honest service drives one batty with its inflexibility but to those who whine about it can always choose to live somewhere else. Respecting a culture is true of any land one visits. Note to Western civilizations. It’s up to others to fit in with the host, not the other way around. Japan has this nailed.

What was the lasting memory of Japan? Simple really. The earthquake, nuke explosion  and tsunami of 2011. What it allowed was a clear cut look at a society that is so well bonded. People didn’t loot. Nor did they greedily hoard essentials. People just took what they needed. Had this been HK or anywhere else it would have been pandemonium. Keep calm and carry on typified Japan.

The lasting photo memory was during a motorcycle trip to MinamiSanriku. This image of a tsunami darkened Minnie Mouse sent chills down my spine. Staring up at the trees on the hillside, the leaves had turned purple because of the sea water which had risen almost 20 metres high. Car wrecks ragdolled in the rip. Windows smashed out of all levels of a 5 storey apartment block. Mother Nature was angry.

When my kids begged to go to Hawaii, they protested about my suggestion to see the devastation first hand. To see with their own eyes. Video and pictures do no justice, I told them. It turns out they appreciated the experience. I gave my younger daughter – then 7 years old – my camera because I wanted to capture images through her eyes. Amazing results.

There is too much to write about with 20 years under the belt.

As the sun sets in the land of the rising sun for me personally journey it shines brightly 9,000km south.

The next stage was a no brainer. So much for dealing with alpha types in finance, many of who’d sell their grandmother given half a chance. I’m overwhelmed with excitement about the prospects of saving the lives of people who know sacrifice and have protected our freedoms. The small team I will work with are as dedicated, hungry and inspired as I am.

My life needed a reboot. Sometimes there is a touch of Tom Cruise in Risky Business in our lives where we must make hard decisions and simply say, “what the f”

Writing this novel about my grandfather’s experiences in WW2 has inspired me to think of living life to the full. How most of us have got it so easy even though some pretend we’ve never had it so bad.

I will always have a soft spot for Japan. Handing back a permanent residency might seem mad in the overall scheme of things but it was the right decision. You can’t make a new start holding onto the past.

Sayonara Japan.

40 Maseratis for PNG shows commitment to combat climate change

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Last month Australia was beaten over the head for not helping the Pacific Islands cope with the dangers of climate change which is causing those countries to supposedly slip below the waves. What better way to use part of the $150mn in aid money from Australia to buy gas guzzling sports limousines from Italy.

Of all the 4-door cars least suited to the PNG climate, Maseratis would be top of the list. Pot holed roads, firm suspension  and 20inch alloy rims wouldn’t work so well neither would the high performance V6s help lower the CO2 content that is such a grave risk to their survival. Lord only knows why anyone would pick an Italian car to stand up to corrosion by the sea side?!? To the best of CM’s knowledge a Maserati Port Moresby dealership does not exist,

Yet we shouldn’t forget that as angry as we have every right to be in Australia, these islands know how strategically important we are to them for national security that we should count ourselves lucky they didn’t go for the 4.7 litre high performance V8s with the optional high performance pack.

China’s President Xi has visited these islands in the Pacific. Our Aussie PMs Turnbull and Morrison have just sent the Foreign Minister showing a lack of priority. We just take for granted that cutting cheques should be enough to curry favour.

Do we really believe the $12mn gift from China to install CCTV cameras in PNG is for the locals’ benefit? Beijing will happily monitor everything, including facially recognizing our politicians when they visit. Might as well bug the meeting rooms while they’re at it! All because we’re too daft to think just because we have history that gives us a leg up over China. Best think again.

At the very least signing FTAs with these island nations won’t even be a rounding error for China’s GDP but there is no question we are way behind on diplomatic negotiations.

So when they buy Maseratis with our taxes we should not bat an eyelid. It’s a pittance in terms of what places like PNG mean to our long term security.  In fact we might have been better off suggesting the PNG government buy Rolls-Royce Cullinans as  a more sensible alternative given its SUV abilities.

Post Tsunami Tohoku – 2017 update

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Six years after the Great East Japan Disaster we visited the devastated towns that were all but wiped out by the tsunami that followed the M9.0 earthquake. Some 16,000 lives were lost and another 2,600 missing due to the events of March 11, 2011 according the Reconstruction Agency. More than 60% of casualties were over 60 years old. Over 400,000 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed. 726,000 homes were partially damaged. 470,000 people were evacuated from their homes. As of July 2016, the number of evacuees has decreased to less than 150,000 people, among 50,000 are still in temporary housing. We look at the changes in 2017. Report here Tohoku Recovery – Analogica KK

The tragedy which revealed even in death the mainstream media wants clickbait

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I remember 2:46pm on March 11, 2011 like it was yesterday. On the 20th floor of my then company it was swaying like a palm tree in a hurricane. The building next door which was built in 1974 didn’t meet the latest earthquake codes and it oscillated in the reverse and I swore it was going to hit. For the life of me I wasn’t scared. The brain is spinning too fast to keep uP with data it’s never encountered before. Yet, I like many others, were lucky. 16,000 were wiped out by a tsunami and 370,000 homes destroyed. Then the nuke disaster that followed.

The sad part of the disaster was the reckless media eager for sensational click bait. Reporting empty supermarkets, panic and general mayhem. My experience was the opposite. It was orderly, polite, selfless and supermarkets were replenished almost immediately. My former company held drinks every night for clients who stayed in the thick of it while many competitors fled (some with proper business continuity plans) in fear of their lives. Even senior managers (known as fly-jin) paid a king’s ransom deserted their troops. It was a disgrace.

I said to family, friends and clients alike that the further you got from the reactor the more hysterical the reporting became. People wearing masks because of the hay fever season were reported as trying to filter out nuclear fallout. A plane was reported to have higher radiation levels than normal but when the payload was studied it was carrying x-ray equipment.  One journalist from the Daily Mail stumbled on the pub we hosted drinks at and wanted us to paint a picture of horror but we have him such  a bollocking that he was lucky to escape us. I said “why not report the truth? You might find your readers will discern from the rubbish they’re reading now which is causing many trying to cope more anguish.”

I can handle fake news when it comes to politics but when it comes to massive loss of life you’d hope humankind would take a rational approach to reporting the truth. Alas they can’t help being attention whores. I shall forever remain in awe of the truth and how proud I was of the Japanese ability to endure such pain in so orderly a fashion. That’s why I love this place for all of its foibles.

Who is Beppo Grillo? Sweeping the swamp

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An interesting blog from 5-Star Movement’s (M5S) head Beppo Grillo. He has been convicted himself so can’t run for parliament but he gels with many Italians for his insults and barbs of incumbent politicians. To understand the M5S is to know that none if its members can be current/former career politicians. This blog sort of speaks volumes as to why the NO vote won today. They are currently 28% of the national vote and likely to be higher after Renzi’s resignation.

It is not hard to work out why Italian’s rejected the status quo, especially in the south which I wrote earlier was responsible for the highest referendum rejection levels throughout Italy. As Grillo writes,

“Sicily is on the verge of being without water. A state of emergency has been declared in Messina. 259,000 people are without running water. In Gela, they just get water once a week. In Agrigento the provision of water has been suspended because of the presence of bacteria.

Water in Sicily is managed (if you can say it’s managed at all) by a private firm (Siciliacque, 59.6% of which is owned by the French firm, Veolia) to whom Cuffaro gave the job of managing it for 40 years. The wishes of the citizens expressed in a referendum on the management of water, were completely ignored. There was a similar situation in Campania, where nine towns were without water yesterday. We have to return to the public management of water. The leaking network needs to be brought back to a good state with investment from the public purse and the risk of hydrological disturbances has to be eliminated as these disturbances are destroying the reservoirs. This is what Italy needs, but instead we are now being taken for a ride with the umpteenth announcement from someone who seems less like a statesman and more like the comic character lngegner Cane from the Gialappas, talking about the construction of the bridge over the Straits of Messina.

A mammoth task that will never see the light of day. It has already cost the tax payer about 600 million euro and 3 years ago the Monto government allocated 300 million for the payment of penalties if the project is NOT completed. According to the economic plan approved by the Board of Directors of the company called Stretto di Messina Spa on 29 July 2011, the overall cost of the project was to be 8.5 billion euro, which is half what’s needed for the Citizens’ Income with which the M5S will save 10 million Italians from hunger and unemployment. Up until now, a bridge measuring 3,000 metres with an aerodynamic profile has never been built. There’s no certainty that it will stay standing and especially in a zone that has a high seismic risk (do you remember the Messina earthquake?) and really strong currents. The news about the construction of the bridge is just a way of taking us for a ride. It’s useful to the PD to have something to talk about on a talk show and to cover up its every day failures. It’s useful to the mafia to open up construction sites that will never get closed down and that will cost a further hundreds of millions to the citizens who are now experiencing thirst.”

He followed up this blog which threw stones at convicted politicians still siphoning off the public purse.

Enough!

Clean up Parliament!

We’ve had enough! Clean up Parliament!

Members of Parliament cannot represent citizens if they’ve been convicted by the courts.
And if the law allows it, the law needs to be changed.

The thousands of citizens that subscribed to Beppe Grillo’s appeal on his blog http://www.beppegrillo.it and ask that those convicted of a crime should not represent citizens in any Parliament any more, starting from the European Parliament.

It’s profoundly immoral that they are allowed to represent us.

Below is the list of names of Italian representatives in the Italian and European Parliaments that have been convicted of a crime:

Berruti Massimo Maria (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

Biondi Alfredo (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)
The guilty sentence that was given by the Genoa court to Alfredo Biondi was taken away on 28 September 2001 because the crime was abrogated.

Bonsignore Vito (Udc – Member of European Parliament)

Borghezio Mario (Lega Nord – Member of European Parliament)

Bossi Umberto (Lega Nord – Member of European Parliament)

Cantoni Giampiero (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

Carra Enzo (Member of Parliament Ulivo)

Cirino Pomicino Paolo (Member of Parliament Democrazia Cristiana – Partito Socialista)

De Angelis Marcello (Member of Parliament Alleanza Nazionale)

D’Elia Sergio (Member of Parliament Rosa nel Pugno)

Dell’Utri Marcello (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

Del Pennino Antonio (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

De Michelis Gianni (Nuovo Psi – Member of European Parliament)

Farina Daniele (Member of Parliament Rosa nel PRC)

Jannuzzi Lino (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

La Malfa Giorgio (Member of Parliament mixed group)

Maroni Roberto (Member of Parliament Lega Nord)

Mauro Giovanni (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

Nania Domenico (An)

Patriciello Aldo (Member of Parliament Udc)

Sterpa Egidio (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

Tomassini Antonio (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

Visco Vincenzo (Member of Parliament Ulivo)

Vito Alfredo (Member of Parliament Forza Italia)

Previti Cesare (FI)

To read the charges See below:

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Three new entries in Clean Up Parliament. I know. I know. I’ve cottoned on late. A few of you have already given me the information. But it’s difficult to stay on top of all this coming and going of convicts in Parliament. Now we’ve arrived at twenty. The judicial route to politics. That’s what we’ve got to. To delinquents who make laws after having violated them. Well then, I’m saying this softly softly to these twenty people: GETOUTOFOURHAIR!

If they want to make a new life for themselves, let them do it with discretion, far away from the media. No one will say anything to them. There are so many other activities other than representing the citizens. Listen to D’Elia in the evening News programme “redeemed and in Parliament”. This isn’t democracy. It’s being taken for a ride. And the same is true for the other 19. The crimes are not all the same. But anyone who has been convicted should have the honesty to do something else, to go somewhere else. Not to sit in Parliament and make the citizens give them a living. To end up, here are the new convicts:

Borghezio Mario (euro parliamentarian Lega Nord): convicted of setting fire with aggravating circumstances as an act of discrimination for having set fire to mattresses of some immigrants from outside Europe who were sleeping under a bridge in Turin. He was sentenced to 2 months and 20 days in prison but this was changed to a fine of 3,040 Euro.

– De Angelis Marcello (senator AN): convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison for being in an armed band and for subversive association as an important member of the neofascist group, Terza Posizione.

D’Elia Sergio (member of the Lower House, Rosa nel Pugno): convicted and sentenced to 25 years for being in an armed band and for collaborating in homicide. He was a leader of Prima Linea and participated in the planning of the assault on the Florentine prison delle Murate. On 20 January 1978, it was attacked and one of the prison officers, Fausto Dionisi, was killed. As soon as he was elected as a member of the Lower House, he was nominated by the Unione as Secretary of the Lower House.

It is so easy to see Beppo Grillo’s appeal to the Italians. M5S is pointing out the obvious blindness displayed by the incumbent politicians and his broom across the Italian flag shows exactly why the EU should be worried. The Italians care less and less about the Eurozone. They are next in line to be treated like the Greeks. If Mr Schauble gets his wish for the Greeks to leave the Eurozone then don’t expect the Italians to pick up the mantra as whipping boy of the EU. They’ll happily express vafunculo and I word of warning to the EU – they’ll mean every bit of it.

 

Japan Earthquake

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This morning I didn’t need a 6am wake up call. Mother Nature decided to rattle the earth with a M7.4 off the coast of Fukushima. In Tokyo it wouldn’t have been much more than a M4.0. Still it was one of those long and low quakes. Enough to trigger tsunami warnings although only likely to be 140cm in height at the peak versus the 1,700cm during the Great East Japan Disaster when the quake hit M9.0. We’ve had quite a few rattlers recently and the memory banks default to what happened leading up to the massive quake of March 11, 2011. Eerily similar although I couldn’t quantify it. It’s an instinct.

On that day I was on the 20th floor with my then colleagues and the mind has little capability to comprehend the dynamics. Of course the idea of a building swaying from side to side 3m each way just doesn’t make sense – why isn’t it collapsing? The metal groans, the plasterboard cracks and the brain is racing to put it all into perspective. The weird thing is that it wasn’t so much scary but unfathomable. I mean you don’t have time to comprehend what is going on around you. The adrenaline is pumping so fast that survival instinct kicks in. It was only after that I had a far more acute awareness of the power of quakes.

Of course for those who were caught in the thick of it – that was a completely different story. The force of the tsunami (which isn’t a wave but a wall of water) that was 17m high just wiped everything out of the way. A few months later I rode up to the disaster zone to get a truer understanding of just what those people went through. Speechless. Here are some photos. Cars washed on top of 3 story buildings, huge boats washed in land. Minnie Mouse perhaps spoke of how horrible it all was.

This quake taught me a lot about the stoicism of Japan. The people here united, bonded together and set to help each other rebuild. People didn’t go into convenience stores and buy 30 drinks. They bought one. Only what was absolutely necessary. They marched home in single file in pretty much complete peace and order.

On the bright side, Fukushima nuclear plant is said to be stable (at this point).