2024年5月29日水曜日

OWL NEST AT TELOK BLANGAH DRAWS CROWDS, NPARKS ADVISES PUBLIC TO KEEP THEIR DISTANCE - SINGAPORE

OWL NEST AT TELOK BLANGAH DRAWS CROWDS, NPARKS ADVISES PUBLIC TO KEEP THEIR DISTANCE - SINGAPORE


@Jackie San


SINGAPORE – The National Parks Board (NParks) has cordoned off an area in Telok Blangah after crowds started gathering near a nest of owls, which sparked concern from some about the well-being of the cute creatures.


The owls – identified as Otus lempiji, or Sunda scops owls – are native to Singapore, and known to nest in natural tree hollows and cavities. In this case, the nest was located next to a bus stop in Telok Blangah Rise, which made it easy for passers-by to spot.


The Singapore Wildlife Sightings Facebook group began seeing a deluge of photography posts featuring the baby owls – called owlets – around May 6, with the posts revealing the location of the nest.


On May 6, Facebook user Alvin Lim posted images of a large group of people attempting to photograph the owls. “Can we give some space for the birds?” he asked.


Commenting on another post, user Lim Khieng Siong said that while members of the Facebook group love to share and enjoy sightings of wildlife, he hoped everyone would keep a distance from the nest. “After all, most of the photographers are equipped with a good camera and lens, and should be able to capture photos from afar,” he wrote.


Echoing similar sentiments, another group member called Catherine Paul said it would be sad if the owlets died because their parents are “too scared” to approach the nests.


On May 7, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) advised people to keep their distance from wild owls in Singapore.


“While it’s incredibly tempting to capture those enchanting moments of wild owls in our urban jungle, their peace and quiet is very important when they are at a crucial phase of parenting – when the baby owls fledge and leave their nest,” said Acres.


“Approaching a wild owl’s family, especially during these moments, can put their well-being at risk – when they take those important steps to learn from their parents to fly, to feed and hunt!”


In response to queries from The Straits Times on May 9, NParks said that after it learnt of the nest on May 6, it cordoned off the area near the tree and installed signs to advise the public to maintain a safe distance.


It also urged people to refrain from visiting the site as large crowds and the resulting noise could disrupt the owls’ natural behaviour and cause undue stress.


“NParks would like to advise the public to appreciate wildlife from a distance and avoid disrupting their natural behaviours,” said NParks’ group director of wildlife management How Choon Beng.


“When photographing nesting birds, one should keep a distance to give them space and observe them in their natural state. Refrain from feeding or the use of artificial lures and calls to attract them and do not shine light or use flash photography as it may cause the birds to become stressed.”


People can call the NParks helpline at 1800-476-1600 if assistance is required.


As at May 9, there were more than 30 posts in the group on the owl nest, with the majority of them being photographs of the owlets and some debating the actions and intentions of those crowding around the area.


However, there were those who saw the increased human presence there in a positive light. “We need to come together and not point fingers at any one group,” commented Ng Jasmin on various posts. “Each has a role to play. To take images of our wildlife as documentary and data keeping.”


A post in the group by Art Toh also featured a video shared by his friend at the scene, showing a member of the crowd returning to the nest an owlet that had fallen out at about 2am on May 8.


“The few birders on site at this ungodly hour managed to return the owlet back to its nest, thus (preventing) a potentially tragic outcome,” he said.


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@Jackie San

2024年5月28日火曜日

Saga Castle Hommaru History Museum

  
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YOKOHAMA - 15 YEAR OLD HIT AND KILLED BY TRAIN 


@Jackie San


A 15-year-old girl was hit and killed by a train in Yokohama on Monday.


The incident occurred at around 10:45 a.m. on a crossing on the Sotetsu line in Asahi Ward, Kyodo News reported.


According to police, a passerby saw the girl walk onto the crossing after the gates went down. The driver of the train was quoted by police as saying he saw the girl and applied the emergency brake but couldn’t stop in time.


Sagami Railway said 31 train services were suspended, affecting about 8,100 people.

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@Jackie San

THE NAGASAKI MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND CULTURE

  
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2024年5月27日月曜日

JAPAN GOLDEN WEEK - WRAPS UP AS TRAVELERS RETURN HOME

JAPAN GOLDEN WEEK - WRAPS UP AS TRAVELERS RETURN HOME 


@Jackie San


Train stations and airports were bustling with travelers returning from trips Monday, the last day of the Golden Week holidays, with people experiencing the first spring holiday period completely unaffected by coronavirus-related travel restrictions in four years.


Despite higher costs resulting from the yen's sharp decline against other currencies, many travelers opted for overseas destinations nearly a year after the government downgraded COVID-19 to a lower-risk disease category.


Shinkansen bullet trains reached peak congestion Monday as carriages with unreserved seats were overcrowded, with occupancy reaching 100 percent on some trains, according to Japan Railway companies.


At Tokyo Station, where an announcement alerted passengers that some shinkansen services were delayed due to overcrowding, Mariko Ohira from Tokyo's Ota Ward expressed relief that she had reserved seats for herself and her son on their return trip from her parents' home in Yamagata Prefecture.


Tokyo's Haneda airport and Narita airport near the capital saw an influx of Japanese travelers returning home. Takehito Shibuya, a company manager from Shizuoka Prefecture who traveled to Taiwan said, "I was surprised as everything was expensive" because of the weak yen.


On May 8 last year, the government reclassified coronavirus as an infectious disease on par with the seasonal flu, facilitating the normalization of social and economic activities.

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@Jackie San

2024年5月26日日曜日

Nagasaki Penquin Museum SightSeeing

  
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ISSUES APOLOGY FOR BAD TOURIST MANNERS, ADDS MULTILINGUAL SIGNS - MOUNT FUJI CONVENIENCE STORE

ISSUES APOLOGY FOR BAD TOURIST MANNERS, ADDS MULTILINGUAL SIGNS - MOUNT FUJI CONVENIENCE STORE


@Jackie San


The most recently popularized Mount Fuji viewing spot is also one of the most unexpected: the parking lot of a convenience store in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture. With a population of less than 30,000, Fujikawaguchiko doesn’t have many tall buildings, and travelers and photography fans have taken notice of the photogenic way that Mount Fuji visually pops up from behind a local branch of the Lawson convenience store chain.


However, despite the tourist-attracting view, this location wasn’t designed as a tourist attraction. In order to get the best viewing angle, large crowds coming to see and snap photos have been congregating across the street from the Lawson, in the private-property space in front of a dentist’s office. Add in tourists jaywalking back and forth across the street, increased littering, and second-hand smoke, and the sudden tourist presence has become a problem for the town and its residents.


In response, at the end of April the decision was made to install opaque black screens between the dentist’s office and road, in order to block the view of Mount Fuji. Now, Lawson itself has issued a statement regarding the situation, posted to its official website on Sunday, which reads:


Thank you for your continued patronage of Lawson.


We wish to deeply apologize to the local residents, store customers, and the many other people who have been inconvenienced and troubled by the Lawson Fujikawaguchiko-ekimae and Fujikawaguchiko-Yakubamae branches becoming popular Mt. Fuji photography spots.


In the interest of strengthening safety measures, we have already dispatched staff from Lawson headquarters to the Fujikawaguchiko-ekimae branch, and as of [May 4] we have put up signs, in multiple languages, stating that crossing the street in front of the store is prohibited.


We are also planning to install multilingual etiquette warning signs stating that it is dangerous to take photos while standing in the parking lot or road, and that littering is prohibited, as soon as possible.


In the interest of preventing accidents, after consulting with the local police department and government, we are also considering posting private security staff at the site.


We are planning to install similar signs at Lawson Fujikawaguchiko-Yakubamae as well.


We will be continuing to consult and coordinate with local authorities and police in order to take measures to maintain the living environment of local residents and safety of our customers.


Thank you for your understanding.


As the most iconic symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji is always going to attract attention, and the mountain’s size means that it’s viewable from countless locations in the surrounding regions. Depending on the angle it’s viewed from and the surrounding scenery, the mountain can take on different atmospheres, especially when it’s paired with features that artistically frame it or incorporate some other aspect of life in Japan. As such, it’s likely only a matter of time before somewhere else becomes the next trendy spot to take photos of Mount Fuji from, but hopefully when that happens those coming to take the photos will be a little more considerate of the people who have been living in the community since before its 15 minutes of Fuji fame.


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@Jackie San

2024年5月25日土曜日

NAGASAKI CITY SCIENCE MUSEUM ( ナガサキシカガクカン(スターシップ)

  
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JAPAN PROBING VIDEO OF MSDF SHIP POSSIBLY TAKEN BY UNAUTHORIZED DRONE - TOKYO

JAPAN PROBING VIDEO OF MSDF SHIP POSSIBLY TAKEN BY UNAUTHORIZED DRONE - TOKYO


@Jackie San


The Japanese Defense Ministry is examining a video that purports to show a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel in port, suspecting it may have been taken by an unauthorized drone, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.


The video, which was posted on a Chinese social media platform, stirred controversy earlier this year as it appears to provide a clear shot from above of the deck of the helicopter carrier Izumo. Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters last month the ministry would investigate whether the imagery was fabricated or authentic.


According to the sources, the ensuing analysis led the ministry to believe the video was possibly taken from a drone that flew without permission above the vessel while it was anchored at an MSDF base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo.


The video also showed what is believed to be buildings and facilities of the port in the city of Kanagawa Prefecture, which also hosts a U.S. naval base.


Unauthorized drone flights are prohibited near the MSDF's base in Yokosuka.


The ministry will explain the result of the examination to lawmakers in a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday, the sources said.


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@Jackie San

MOUNT INASAYAMA OBSERVATORY PARK NAGASAKI, JAPAN [ONE OF JAPAN 'S THREE ...

 
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2024年5月24日金曜日

PRECISION MEDICINE AND HOW IT WILL HELP WITH CANCER TREATEMENTS, RISING COSTS

PRECISION MEDICINE AND HOW IT WILL HELP WITH CANCER TREATEMENTS, RISING COSTS


@Jackie San


Cancer is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many.


In Singapore, where one in four residents is expected to confront this diagnosis at some point, the concern isn’t just about health outcomes but also the financial toll.


While the Singapore Government has been actively working to ease the burden, there is always room for other potential solutions that could help alleviate these concerns.


A prime example: Precision medicine, an approach that dovetails perfectly with Singapore’s emerging focus on preventive health.


Traditionally, cancer treatment has been a complex and costly endeavour, marred by fragmented care, a deluge of information for clinicians, and non-standardised medical technology infrastructures.


These challenges could lead to compromised treatment plans that come with no guarantee of success.


The same treatment that proves effective for one patient might not work for another, leading to wasted resources and, more tragically, lost time.


Time is of the essence in cancer care; delays can result in a decreased effectiveness of treatment and an increase in the cost of care.


Add to this the prevailing notion among patients and caregivers that the most complicated and expensive treatments are the best, and you’ve got a recipe for skyrocketing costs.


This is why precision medicine is poised to be a game changer in cancer care, offering not just personalised treatments but also a more streamlined pathway to care.


This innovative approach tailors treatments to individual patients by using their genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environmental factors as a blueprint, accelerating the journey from diagnosis to treatment.


Diagnostics imaging, a key contributor of the acceleration of the journey, spans the whole process of the cancer care continuum, not just for screening and early detection, but also through diagnosis, therapy and survivorship.


The molecular-level imaging has allowed for more accurate decision-making through each stage and complements the precision medicine process.


By leveraging the power of machine learning and the burgeoning field of panomics (the combined analysis of multi-dimensional data), precision medicine can analyse massive sets of data and turn them into actionable decision-support tools, providing healthcare providers with the insights they need to create highly personalised treatment plans.


This is particularly relevant for cancer care because of the disease’s inherent complexity and the multitude of types, each requiring different treatment modalities.


Precision medicine promises to not only produce better outcomes but could also lower the costs of cancer treatment in a number of important ways.


The first is in the realm of cancer screening.


Traditional screenings can be costly and uncomfortable, leading some to avoid them unless symptoms appear.


Precision medicine can more accurately identify those most at risk for specific cancers, making screenings more targeted and, by extension, more cost-effective.


Early detection often leads to less invasive and less expensive treatments.


But it’s not just about early detection; it’s also about smarter detection.


Precision medicine leverages a wide array of data, from genomics to lifestyle, which in turn sharpens diagnostic accuracy.


Armed with this knowledge, doctors can identify the most effective treatments, side-stepping unnecessary and costly procedures and medications.


Precision medicine’s cost-cutting benefits may apply most significantly to complex cancer cases.


By integrating a wide variety of data, ranging from the specific type of cancer involved to the patient’s genetic makeup and family history, treatments can be highly tailored to each individual case, making them far more effective and efficient.


But knowing the potential of precision medicine is one thing; implementing it is another.


The reality is that most cancer treatments are still rooted in a one-size-fits-all approach, often boiling down to surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.


This is largely due to systemic constraints.


Our current healthcare systems are not yet equipped to handle the data-intensive nature of precision medicine.


There’s also a lack of flexibility in treatment decision-making, a crucial component in individualised care.


Singapore is uniquely poised to overcome these challenges.


The creation of specialised cancer care centres of excellence offers a promising avenue for addressing obstacles such as fragmented care and technology gaps.


These centres would offer integrated, multimodal cancer care, harnessing advancements in diagnostics, genomics, robotic surgery, and radiotherapy.


These flagship establishments combine facilities, equipment and specialists under one roof to share precision cancer care resources among wider healthcare networks, increasing efficiency and reducing the costs of implementing large-scale precision medicine.


Singapore’s National Cancer Centre building, which recently opened new facilities and is five times larger than its previous premises, is perfectly positioned to serve this purpose as a hub for precision medicine approaches across the country’s healthcare system.


Public-private collaborations are another way to realise this route towards the wider adoption of precision medicine.


Singapore is also well ahead of the curve in terms of digitising healthcare data thanks to its smart health initiatives, with platforms like HealthHub and genetic studies like SG100K setting the stage for the data-centric needs of precision medicine.


The kind of highly customised cancer treatment plans that are the ultimate promise of personalised medicine require groups known as molecular tumour boards, in which healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines come together and use molecular and clinical data to ensure that treatment decisions are properly optimised for each individual patient’s unique case.


In the past, such groups would have been difficult to convene, but the normalisation of remote consultations and virtual meetings in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era has made them a far more practical option.


So, as we grapple with the rising tide of healthcare costs and cancer cases, we need to ask ourselves: Can we afford to ignore the potential of precision medicine any longer?


It’s time for a radical rethinking of how we allocate healthcare resources, perhaps even considering outcome-based payment systems as a way to encourage more effective, less costly care.


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@Jackie San

2024年5月23日木曜日

NAGASAKI PENGUIN AQUARIUM

  
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CAN FORESTS BE MORE PROFITABLE THAN BEEF NOW A DAY?

CAN FORESTS BE MORE PROFITABLE THAN BEEF NOW A DAY?

@Jackie San


MARACAÇUMÉ, Brazil – The residents of Maracaçumé, an impoverished town on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, are mystified by the company that recently bought the biggest ranch in the region. How can it possibly make money by planting trees, which executives say they’ll never cut down, on pastureland where cattle have been grazing for decades?


“We are killing pasture that a lot of farmers need,” said Josias Araújo, a former cowboy who now works in reforestation, as he stood on a patch of soil he was helping to fertilize. “It’s all strange.”


The new company, which is also Araújo’s new employer, is a forest restoration business called Re.green. Its aim, along with a handful of other companies, is to create a whole new industry that can make standing trees, which store planet-warming carbon, more lucrative than the world’s biggest driver of deforestation: cattle ranching.


It’s the holy grail of the forest economy. And now it might be within reach.


The stakes are high. About one-fifth of the great rainforest is already gone. And scientists warn that rising global temperatures could push the entire ecosystem, a trove of biodiversity and a crucial regulator of the world’s climate, to collapse in the coming decades unless deforestation is halted and an area the size of Germany is restored.


Re.green plans to restore native trees in deforested areas and sell credits that correspond to the carbon they lock away. Those trees will be protected, not logged. Then, businesses will use those credits to offset their own greenhouse gases in emissions accounting.


The bet hinges on the success of a system that’s being built from scratch and comes with some big challenges. Measuring the carbon held in trees and soil is complex. And many conservationists worry that carbon credits could easily be abused by companies that want to appear environmentally conscious while sticking with fossil fuels.


Still, reforestation projects have created a buzz in the northern Amazon, where companies are rushing to buy up big plots of land with restoration potential.


“You know that people who handle cattle don’t care much about this reforestation stuff,” said Anderson Pina Farias, a rancher whose farm is almost completely deforested. But, he added, “if selling carbon is better than ranching, we can change businesses.”


Challenging an Empire

A backlash from nature seems to be helping the restoration companies win hearts and minds in a region where ranching culture runs deep.


Jose Villeigagnon Rabelo, the mayor of Mãe do Rio, a city in the northeastern part of the Amazon, is worried. A brutal drought fuelled by climate change and deforestation has recently dried out much of the grass that ranchers there use as feed. And after decades of pounding by hooves, millions of acres across the region have become so degraded, they can’t nourish much of anything.


“The cattle are starving,” Mr Rabelo said sitting in his office, with wooden paneling and benches made of angelim-vermelho, a tree that’s become hard to find in the region. “We’ve never had a summer like this.”


The crisis has prompted ranchers to dedicate bigger and bigger parts of their farms to feed ever-shrinking numbers of cattle. Now fewer than half of the ranches registered with the city have any cattle on them.


But around a year ago, a restoration company called Mombak started a 7,500-acre (3,035 hectares) project on one of the region’s biggest ranches. Mr Rabelo said he is hopeful the new industry will offer the community a lifeline.


The idea is simple: A credit for each tonne of carbon dioxide that the trees pull out of the atmosphere can be sold to companies that want to compensate for their own pollution.


Environmental disruptions, combined with growing interest in carbon credits, have created an opening to challenge the beef empire’s hold on vast stretches of the rainforest, experts say. According to a 2023 report by BloombergNEF, carbon markets could be valued at US$1 trillion (S$1.36 trillion) by 2037, double what the global beef market is worth now.


Growing a large, biodiverse forest on degraded land can cost tens of millions of dollars. For years, forestry projects had to rely on multiple revenue streams, including sustainable timber harvesting, to restore soil and grow different types of natives trees.


But companies looking to burnish their climate credentials are increasingly willing to spend more to fund projects they deem to be high-quality. It’s why companies like Mombak and Re.green are now developing a business model that relies almost solely on carbon credits, with little or no logging.


Microsoft has bought a major project from Mombak, and Re.green said it expects to announce buyers soon. The two companies have raised about US$200 million from investors – including large pension funds, the Brazilian Development Bank and global asset managers – to reforest hundreds of thousands of acres by the end of the decade.


“Scaling all of the other carbon-removal sectors, it’s just going to move too slow,” said Brian Marrs, Microsoft’s senior director of energy and carbon. “I don’t think there’s a solution to carbon removal without global forestry included.”


Part of the strategy of companies like Mombak and Re.green is to help farmers improve land and intensify cattle ranching in some degraded areas while restoring forests on others. On average, Amazon ranches support one animal on every 2 acres. That could rise to three animals with little investment, researchers say.


Most projects employ a few dozen local people to plant trees, fertilize the soil and stand lookout for fires. The companies are also funding and training local businesses to provide much-needed native seeds and seedlings.


In some projects, as the forests grow, local communities can also make a living from collecting and processing Brazil nuts, andiroba oil and other forest products they can sell to food, beauty and pharmaceutical companies.


When a standing forest becomes an answer to people’s range of needs, that becomes a powerful reason for communities to protect it, said Luiza Maia de Castro, an economist who is managing community relations for Re.green. Right now, razing trees is a perfectly acceptable livelihood in most of the Amazon.


“To break that cycle,” she said, “you have to change how people make a living.”

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@Jackie San

Featured post

PREVIOUSLY KARATSU OLD BANK, SAGA PREFECTURAL JAPAN

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