2nd anniversary of fatal bus crash in Nagano marked

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Representatives of a bus company, passengers, relatives and friends of victims of a fatal bus crash on Monday marked the second anniversary of the accident that claimed the lives of 13 passengers and two drivers in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, on Jan 15, 2016.

All passengers killed were university students; 26 others were injured. The group which gathered Monday included students who survived the crash and the bus company president, as well as the mayor of Karuizawa and other officials. They placed flowers at the site of the accident and prayed for the deceased, Fuji TV reported.

The charter bus from Tokyo careened off a road while traveling downhill in Karuizawa, killing 13 students, the 65-year-old driver and a relief driver.

A transport ministry commission that investigated the accident pinned the blame squarely on the driver, saying he lost control of the bus after allowing it to gain speed by driving downhill with hardly any application of the brakes, Kyodo News reported.

Based on its findings from a simulated crash and roadside camera footage, the commission concluded that the bus was traveling downhill for about one kilometer with hardly any engine or foot braking. The bus eventually went off the road after failing to negotiate a left curve at a speed of 95 km per hour, far above the speed limit in the area.

The commission said in a report that the Tokyo-based bus operator increased the risk of accidents involving its drivers by not ordering them to take regular health checks or conducting roll calls before they set off.

While the commission called for the transport ministry to increase its checks on bus operators, the ministry has already toughened its supervision of charter bus operators, now requiring them to renew their business permits every five years.

© Japan Today/Kyodo

Source  :  Japan Today

Foreign trainee work deaths highlight safety, exploitation issues

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Twenty-two foreign trainees died in work-related incidents in the three years from fiscal 2014, government data showed Sunday, indicating people brought to Japan to work may face dangerous or exploitative conditions.

While most of the 22 deaths are believed to be accidents, one resulted from overwork, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare data showed. The figures are the first government statistics released on work-related deaths among foreign trainees.

Over the three years, there were on average 475 cases of work-related accidents involving foreign trainees that were subject to compensation from industrial accident insurance and required four or more days of leave, the data showed.

Japan introduced the training program for foreign workers in 1993 with the apparent aim of transferring skills to developing countries. But the scheme, applicable to agriculture and manufacturing among other sectors, has drawn criticism at home and abroad for giving Japanese companies cover to import cheap labor.

Cases of illegally long working hours, unpaid wages, violence and other harsh conditions have also been reported.

According to the Justice Ministry, the number of foreign trainees is on the rise, with 167,641 registered in 2014, 192,655 in 2015 and 228,589 in 2016. With 22 deaths over the three year period, the ratio of work-related deaths is roughly 3.7 deaths per 100,000 trainees.

As a nation as a whole, meanwhile, labor ministry data shows that work-related deaths in all industries totaled 2,957, or 1.7 per 100,000 workers.

Akira Hatate, director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union, who is an expert on the trainee system, points out that there could actually be more cases of workplace accidents among foreign trainees due to lax reporting standards.

He said work-related accidents are more frequent among foreign trainees because they are “unfamiliar with Japanese workplaces (and) as they are usually working for small and medium-sized companies who give little consideration to safety and health in the workplace. Trainees (also) cannot communicate fluently in Japanese.”

“There are also cases where trainees, who cannot work due to an injury, are forced to return home. Concealment of work-related accidents is rampant,” Hatate said.

The latest data showing the difficult and potentially dangerous conditions faced by foreign trainees in Japan comes to light as the government is expanding the scope of the system.

Under a new law that came into effect last November, nursing care has been added to the list of fields in which foreign trainees can work.

The change was implemented as Japan looks to overcome an acute shortage of care workers in an industry that is becoming all the more important due to Japan’s rapidly aging population.


Source  :  Japan Today

Man stabbed to death, another wounded on street in Hiroshima

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Police in Hiroshima have arrested an unemployed 33-year-old man on suspicion of murder and attempted murder after he stabbed to death a 75-year-old man and seriously wounded a 20 year-old man on a street on Sunday night.

According to police, the stabbings took place at a bus stop in Asakita Ward at around 10:15 p.m. Fuji TV reported that police received a call from a pedestrian, saying that two men had been attacked by a man with a knife.

Police rushed to the scene and found Norio Zayama, 75, bleeding from a stab wound to his stomach. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. Nearby was a 20-year-old university student who had been stabbed in the back. Police said he was taken to hospital but his wound is not life-threatening.

The student, who was stabbed first, said he did not know the man who attacked him.

About 90 minutes later, near the south exit of JR Hiroshima Station, which is 14 kilometers from the crime scene, police found the suspect, Go Takahashi. Police said Takahashi had called a friend and said he had stabbed two men and that he was at Hiroshima Station. The friend called 110.

Police said Takahashi has admitted to the charges and quoted him as saying he also wanted to kill himself. The knife was left at the scene.

© Japan Today

Source :  Japan Today

King receives message from Azerbaijan’s president

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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman received a message from President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The message was delivered to the King by Azerbaijan’s Minister of Energy Parviz Shahbazov at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Monday. — SPA


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Over 9,000 women attend two league matches

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Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — More than 9,000 women attended two Saudi soccer league matches last week after they were allowed to enter stadiums for the first time in the history of the Kingdom.

As many as 4,411 women attended the match in Jeddah between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin at Al-Jawhara Stadium on Friday while 5,000 attended the match between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.

The women increased the number of spectators at Al-Jawhara Stadium to more than 24,000 which was four times the number of spectators from the last match held at this stadium while those who attended the match in Riyadh were 26,602.

The attendance of women at the soccer matches also raised the performance of players on the field.

“The women’s attendance has tremendously raised the performance of players,” said Al-Ahli Serbian coach.

Many goals were scored during the match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin while the Riyadh match was described to be the toughest so far played in the Saudi league which entered its 17th week.

The attendance of women also created some jobs for women as 254 of them were employed at Al-Jawhara Stadium to supervise the entry and seating of women spectators.

They received the women at the entrance, sold them tickets and seated them on the 14,000 seats designated for families.

There were 150 women organizers at the Riyadh venue under the supervision of Princess Reema Bint Bandar, undersecretary of the General Authority of Sports for development and planning.

As many as 7,500 seats were reserved for families at King Fahd Stadium.

Some 80 female medical doctors, paramedics and nurses were present to extend any required medical help to families.

A number of women security guards were also present during the two matches to ensure the safety of families.


Source :  Saudi Gazette

Saudi Arabia begins screening films

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People arrive to watch first cinema in Jeddah. — Reuters


JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia began screening feature-length animated children’s films this weekend in a makeshift theater, after a 35-year-old ban on cinemas was lifted.

The first permanent theaters could open as early as March, part of a liberalizing reform drive that has already opened the door to concerts, comedy shows and women drivers over the past year.

For now, the authorities are sponsoring temporary settings, like the state-run cultural hall in Jeddah equipped with a projector, a red carpet and a popcorn machine.

“Until now, there is no infrastructure for movie theaters, so we are trying to take advantage of (alternative) venues to approximate the cinematic form,” said Mamdouh Salim, whose Cinema 70 brand organized the week-long screenings.

“We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision on Dec. 11 to permit movie theaters.”

Films will be censored to make sure they remain in line with the Kingdom’s moral values.

After watching The Emoji Movie with his wife and daughter on Sunday evening, 28-year-old Sultan Al-Otaibi said Saudis are happy to see movies in the theater instead of staying at home.

“It’s more comfortable, more fun to have a change of scenery and an activity on the weekend. It is a step that was very late in coming but thank God it’s happening now.”

Thousands of Saudis currently travel to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other countries for entertainment. The government wants to retain the money spent on those trips.

The authorities expect to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry it hopes will contribute more then SR90 billion to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs.

Regional and international cinema chains are also eyeing the Saudi market, keen to tap the spending power of the young people who make up roughly 70% of the population.

“I want to see everything because it is something new for Saudi,” said 30-year-old movie-goer Ibtisam Abu Talib.

“I hope everything is available — action, romance, children’s films, comedy. Everything, God willing.” — Reuters

Source :  Saudi Gazette

WA police left high and dry as cannabis plants stolen from under their noses

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JANUARY 15 2018 – 5:22PM

Hannah Barry

WA Police have been left red-faced after a thief stole nearly 100 cannabis plants from under their noses in Perth’s southern suburbs.

Police attended a semi-rural home in Anketell after they were tipped off about an alleged cannabis cultivation project on the property.

It's understood hundreds of cannabis plants were found at the Perth home.

An initial search of the house found a large number of cannabis plants being hydroponically grown inside building structures at the home.

Officers arrested a 61-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman at the property, and charged them with growing the plants.

While police investigated, they established a crime scene and officers were assigned to guard the property overnight.

 However, when police executed a search warrant the next morning, they found the scene had been breached and around 100 cannabis plants removed from the property.

As a result, the Internal Affairs Unit is now investigating how people were able to get into the property and steal the cannabis plants.

The Organised Crime Squad is also investigating the theft of the cannabis plants and a range of serious drug offences linked to the property.

The two people charged were remanded in custody and will appear in the Perth Magistrates Court on Tuesday.


Source  :  WA Today

Why we shouldn’t be too scared of dramatic house price drop predictions

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Michael Pascoe

Multibillionaire Meriton tsar Harry Triguboff has picked up this year where he left off last year, and the year before – decrying any and all moves to tighten up on foreign investors buying the apartments he churns out.

Harry talking his own book, who’d have thought it?

The interesting thing about Triguboff’s recent warnings in The Australian Financial Review is that the story contains good reasons to think the much-headlined cooling of the housing price boom will be mild.

“Government taxes and credit restrictions have started to hit foreign buyer demand for residential property so hard in Australia that major developers are either pulling out of the apartment market altogether or, like Meriton’s Harry Triguboff, are left grappling with Chinese investors who can’t settle on pre-sold apartments,” it says.

Building approvals actually peaked back in 2016. An odd surge in Footscray high-rise approvals distorted the November figures, but the completely expected pullback from unsustainable growth is in place. And not all approvals will turn into commencements.

That’s the reassuring thing about the latest instalment in the multi-year saga of scary housing-related headlines.

Developers responding to reduced demand by reducing new supply means less chance of a fat overhang seriously damaging the market. Past property busts had developers going full tilt up to and over the edge.

Pulling back now means even the oversupplied markets, such as Brisbane high-rise units, could have space to clear in time given the increasingly strong domestic demand fundamentals of employment and population growth.

A series of graphs by property analyst Peter Wargent neatly summarises how strong this week’s job vacancy figures were, including good growth in the often-maligned manufacturing and mining industries.

On the evidence, Wargent dares suggest Sydney could see record low unemployment in 18 months or so.

Not that there aren’t/won’t be pockets of actual house price stress, as opposed to exaggerated and highly subjective “mortgage stress” figures so loved by the doom-and-gloomers. (You know the “if rates rise 25 points we’ll be ruined” stories? Most people could save more than that by comparison shopping.)

But back to Triguboff. In April 2016, he was slamming the NSW government for increasing stamp duty for foreign buyers, saying Chinese buyers were disappearing.

That was when he wasn’t bagging local councils for stopping him building more apartments and criticising the Reserve Bank and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for tightening up on local banks’ lending to foreign buyers.

By the end of the year, all was again well with Meriton’s outlook, aside from “idiots” on councils not approving his projects quickly enough.

Five months later, Triguboff said apartment prices were weakening and he would finance about $200 million of the $1.4 billion of apartment sales he expected to make in 2017 thanks to local banks’ policies and Beijing’s crackdown on money leaving the country.

In July, there was another slowdown after another NSW stamp duty hike but Triguboff said demand was slowly shifting to local buyers.

“The problem with Australians is they are very slow,” he told the AFR. “They ask their lawyer, they ask their financial adviser, they ask their family, they ask everybody. The Chinese don’t ask anybody, they come off the plane, buy their unit and go.”

But now it seems Meriton has problems with some of those hot-off-the-plane-and-plan buyers.

“Many of the Chinese can’t settle,” he said in the AFR earlier this month.

“So now we have to resell them – there is another problem. And everyone thought that the Australian buyer would come in when the prices started coming down – they haven’t – I knew they wouldn’t – it wouldn’t make any sense if they did.”

With an estimated wealth of $11.4 billion, I suspect Triguboff will be fine, and Meriton more than capable of riding the market’s ructions.

For a correction of some parts of the market to turn into a housing crash, the usual requirements are one or more of a sharp rise in unemployment, a sharp rise in interest rates or a fall in population.

The multi-year housing bears continue to be denied all three, but have seized on the idea of the “IO cliff” – the bunch of interest-only loans that the authorities are pressuring banks to turn into principle-and-interest to ensure the stability of the financial system.

That comes with a consequent jump in monthly repayments, mainly for speculators who have been betting on rapid capital growth continuing.

There was no better example of that than the recent story of a real estate marketing company’s founder claiming the outfit’s “20,000” customers couldn’t afford their mortgage repayments when their banks switched them out of IO loans.

Kevin Young, founder of Queensland’s Property Club (previously called The Investors Club) had said: “We’re advising our members to get themselves into conflict with their bank, to say they can’t afford principal and interest repayments without ending up in financial stress.

“Most of the time, the bank will acquiesce.”

Through the usual seminars and such, Property Club markets property for developers to “members” with inhouse brokers and service providers helping with the details.

When property prices are soaring and property investment is touted as a sure way to wealth, well, a rising tide lifts all boats. When the price of marginal new properties doesn’t rise and 20,000 customers have been encouraged to take IO loans during sales seminars, gee, what could go wrong?

Fortunately, for the broader market, it doesn’t look as bleak as the local UBS office likes to paint it. With the banks now well under their IO ceiling and cheaper rates available by shopping around for P&I, the “cliff” is more likely to be a hill. But don’t let that get in the way of a scary story.


Source  :  The Canberra Times

Queensland’s new trains struggling to cope with summer heat

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By Tony Moore

Rail commuters have complained the airconditioning in south-east Queensland’s new trains is not coping with hot, steamy summer temperatures.

Commuters have left posts on the Facebook page of public transport advocacy group, Rail Back on Track.

Doubts about the airconditioning in Queensland's new trains are re-emerging.
Doubts about the airconditioning in Queensland’s new trains are re-emerging.

Photo: Supplied.

The New Generation Rolingstock trains began to collect passengers last month.

Rail Back on Track’s Robert Dow said the passenger carriages on the 23 NGR trains now in south-east Queensland were stuffy and humid.

Five of those trains have been approved and are running on the CityTrain network.

“We have been getting some feedback and complaints for quite a while,” Mr Dow said.

“People are saying that it is just hot and humid inside the new trains. It has come up enough times now and for long enough for us to think this could be a bad problem.

“We think the temperature needs to be turned down a few degrees.”

Commuters seem to agree.

Damian Jones posted on Rail Back on Track’s website that the airconditioning in the new trains could not handle Queensland’s heat.

“Another air-con system from overseas that can’t handle Queensland’s humidity and high temperatures,” he posted.

Another commuter, Imran Isawi, agreed.

“Why can’t QR have decent, reliable (airconditioning) when other states can?” he asked.

“Sydney’s trains put ours to shame. Queensland is sub-tropical, mostly warm to hot and frequently humid. Proper air-con is just a basic necessity on public transport.

“You see business professionals in, or others, in collar and tie/uniforms, running to the platform to catch a train that isn’t even there yet. Then get on board and it’s stuffy and sweaty.”

Others said the airconditioning temperatures in the new trains varied between carriages.

A TransLink spokesman confirmed a trial to improve airconditioning on the new trains had started.

“The New Generation Rollingstock project team has taken note of feedback from some customers regarding the temperature of the airconditioning system in the NGR trains, and is actively investigating the issue,” he said.

“A trial is under way which involves a slight lowering of the airconditioning temperature, which includes a detailed analysis of the temperature across the carriages to ensure customer comfort.

“Early feedback from this trial has been positive. If this adjustment to the temperature resolves the issue, it will be made on all NGR trains in passenger service by the end of this week.”

The TransLink spokesman said the airconditioning issue was not stopping the new trains from being added to service.

“This issue is not a fault with the units and is not affecting the introduction of new trains into service,” he said.

Queensland Rail hopes to have between 10 and 15 new trains in place by the Commonwealth Games in April. Overall, 75 new trains have been ordered.

Problems with the airconditioning on the Indian-built trains was one issue identified in March 2017, when delivery of the new trains was halted. 

Mr Dow said the airconditioning in the new trains contrasted with the rest of the trains in south-east Queensland’s train fleet, nicknamed EMUs, which stands for electrical multiple units.

“The EMUs, which the NGR trains are destined to replace, have, in our opinion, the best airconditioning of the entire train fleet,” Mr Dow posted.

“There is a marked difference between the cool environment on an EMU, compared to the hot, humid environment on a NGR train.”

Commuters say the airconditioning in Queensland's new trains leaves the carriages 'hot and humid'.
Commuters say the airconditioning in Queensland’s new trains leaves the carriages ‘hot and humid’.

Photo: Supplied

One comment suggested airconditioning problems were delaying QR’s formal acceptance of the NGR trains.

This was denied by Queensland Rail’s TransLink.

Mr Dow said he travelled on one of the new trains to test the airconditioning after hearing complaints.

“It seems to be variable,” he said.

“It seems to vary from carriage to carriage and it depends on where you sit in the carriage but, as I say, it is coming up enough times now to suggest this could be bad problem.”

Maximum south-east Queensland temperatures were above 30 degrees last week, with Brisbane topping 37 degrees on Sunday.

Brisbane’s maximum temperatures are this week were predicted to be between 30 and 32 degrees.


Source  : The Brisbane Times

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