A land without guns: How Japan has virtually eliminated shooting deaths

“What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller?” writes the Atlantic.

“In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

“Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

“The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it’s not easy to do.

“To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class.

“Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle.

“Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.

“Even the most basic framework of Japan’s approach to gun ownership is almost the polar opposite of America’s. U.S. gun law begins with the second amendment’s affirmation of the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” and narrows it down from there.

“Japanese law, however, starts with the 1958 act stating that “No person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords,” later adding a few exceptions.

“In other words, American law is designed to enshrine access to guns, while Japan starts with the premise of forbidding it.”

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Giving Back


Gratitude Bowl

From the current issue of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

More restaurateurs, grocers and artisan food makers are recognizing that community involvement counts. Our region has long been a leader when it comes to charity work and giving back. Here are some innovative examples:

The Gratitude Bowls project partners with restaurants such as Matteo’s Public, South Pine Cafe and Java John’s, all in Nevada City, and the Ridge Cafe in North San Juan, to provide free, nourishing meals to people in need. The Gratitude Bowls project pays restaurants for each bowl served, so their businesses prosper as well. GratitudeBowls.org

Each quarter, Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli in Grass Valley highlights three local nonprofit groups. Their posters are hung on the wall, and a black box sits below each poster. For every $5 spent, customers receive a wooden nickel to drop into the nonprofit box of their choice.

At the end of the quarter, Summer Thyme’s donates a percentage of its profits to the nonprofits based on the number of nickels dropped into the box. “We have a two-year wait to display posters,” says Summer Thyme’s owner Amy Cooke.

Restaurants, wineries, breweries and coffee houses throughout the region regularly give back. They host fundraisers, donate food and wine, or donate a percentage of their sales to nonprofits for health care, animal welfare, education and arts and culture.

Matteo’s Public donates 15 percent of sales on a certain night to a nonprofit, such as California CareForce. This year Matteo’s is offering a free Thanksgiving meal to people in need. “Matteo’s was founded on the belief that only through the success of our community will we prosper,” says owner Matt Margulies.

Now in its eighth year, the John Kane Penny Pitch is a fundraiser for the Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Coalition. The event is patterned after San Francisco’s 38-year-old penny pitch fundraiser for the St. Anthony Foundation.

Nevada County’s version is on the patio and sidewalk in front of Kane’s Restaurant in Grass Valley. Contestants pitch pennies against a wall, and the closest to the wall wins. Kane’s offers a special food menu, along with music and a raffle.

This year, some 175 players pitched pennies raising $5,900 for DVSAC. Chief sponsors and hosts are Nevada County Broadcasters (KNCO-830AM & STAR 94FM) and Kane’s Restaurant.

As they check out, BriarPatch customers can ask the cashier to round-up their total payment to the nearest dollar or more. The amount over and above the purchase total — 100 percent of it — is donated to a designated project.

BriarPatch sponsors many community events, and its community fund has given more than $45,000 to 55 local groups, such as Hospitality House. BriarPatch also donates food to nonprofits, such as 875 pounds of chicken to the Food Bank of Nevada County.

Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. in Nevada City released Endangered Ale, a limited edition red ale. Some of the proceeds from the sale of the beer benefitted the South Yuba River Citizens League’s work to restore wild salmon to the Yuba watershed.

In a global adventure, Cello Chocolate, an artisan chocolate maker in Nevada City, is donating its know-how to help third-world cacao growers create their own chocolate making operations.

“Most cacao growers only grow the beans, but don’t process them into a finished product, which is a much more profitable enterprise,” says Debi Russell, who owns Cello, along with husband Ned.

The Russells, joined by Peace Corps volunteers, are aiming to change that. They recently traveled to Equador to help a village refine its chocolate making operations. Debi and Ned teamed up with Peace Corps volunteer Henry Harrison, whose parents live in Nevada City. They met when the Russells were selling their fair-trade chocolate at Victorian Christmas. CelloChocolate.com

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A visit to Japan


A 500-600 year-old pagoda

No, this three-story pagoda is not the latest proposed “granny” unit in historic Nevada City, but I joked that it might as well be a candidate for one. In truth, it is a pagoda in the Chinzano Garden in Tokyo. The garden is now ablaze in fall colors, and it is one of our sights this week.

We are enjoying Thanksgiving week in Tokyo. We are visiting temples and shrines, the world’s largest fish market called Tsukiji, the Imperial Palace Gardens, museums, the Giant Pandas at the Ueno Zoo, the world-leading electronics shops in Akihabara, the Sony building, the food halls in department stores such as Mitsukoshi, a Sumo wrestling “stable” and more. We also went to Suntory Hall to hear classical pianist Emanuel Ax and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. The concert hall is a real gem.


Fresh crab at Tsukiji Fish Market

We are enjoying sushi, sashimi, Kobe beef, yakatori, teppanyaki and other local food. We also signed up for a Japanese cooking class outside the Tsukiji market, a bustling place with every imaginable kind of fish and shellfish.

The fruit and vegetable stalls at the Tsukiji market have Satsuma mandarins, akin to the ones that are now in season in Placer County.

Tokyo is an expensive city, but the dollar is strong, and that helps out. Though its population exceeds 13 million now and it might seem intimidating, we find Tokyo to be an easy, accessible and friendly city. A little bit of Japanese on our end, and a little bit of English on the other end goes a long way. It’s totally manageable.


Narrower WSJ has big, white borders in Japan

Old habits die hard in Japan. To cut costs, U.S. newspapers have become thinner. But Japan still publishes on broader sheets of newsprint. So when the Wall Street Journal is printed in Japan, it has a big white border. LOL.

Japan’s economy has just slipped into another recession, causing some political rifts. Critics blame “Abenomics,” a program of aggressive money printing that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered upon taking office a few years ago to jump start the Japanese economy. Others point to Japan’s shrinking working-age population in a country with full employment.

Earlier this week, Japan celebrated Labor Thanksgiving Day, an occasion for commemorating labor and production and giving one another thanks.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Small-town columnist clueless about “Ess Eff” media scene

CNBC@1Market, includes a small studio with views of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. - See more at: http://www.newscaststudio.com/2015/04/06/cnbc-broadcasts-from-new-san-francisco-bureau/#sthash.CRdA74BZ.dpuf

CNBC@1Market, includes a small studio with views of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.

“When the cable news networks interview somebody live in their San Francisco studios, they typically use a background picture of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Transamerica Pyramid. Lately, some of them have been giving some love to the Bay Bridge,” George Boardman writes in his weekly column.

“The late columnist Herb Caen came up with one of the best puns ever when he referred to the Bay Bridge as the ‘car-strangled spanner.'”

What George doesn’t seem to realize is that CNBC recently opened a studio at the iconic One Market Street building, with views of the Bay Bridge. It is not a “background picture.” The details are here. LOL.

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California economic summit sets bold goals for year ahead

“When California Forward and the California Stewardship Network conceived the California Economic Summit several years ago, it was hoped it could start a real conversation about job creation in California. Mission accomplished,” according to CaFwd.org.

“The fourth annual meeting of the Summit concluded last week in Ontario, attracting 400 private, public and civic leaders from diverse regions across California.

“’Hundreds of public, private and civic leaders have worked tirelessly in the last year to find ways to improve our ability to create the right kind of jobs in California,’ said James Mayer, president and CEO of California Forward. ‘At the Summit, we sharpened our strategies of how to create more jobs and more opportunity in more sustainable communities.’”

“Summit participants developed actionable plans on how California can address its infrastructure, housing, and workforce needs over the next 10 years, in order to meet the ‘Million Challenges’ of one million more skilled workers, one million more homes and one million more acre-feet of water each year.

“The 2015 Summit developed a number of goals to train more workers, build more homes and save more water. Among them are:

“To support state policies that will orient community colleges to prepare Californians for quality jobs and support regional coordination among colleges and employers.

“To work with the California legislature in 2016 to promote increased production and find ways to reduce costs for both market-rate and affordable housing

“To use Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts, which have long been advanced by the Summit, to fund regional water management that will conserve, capture, and reuse water.

“’The California Economic Summit has achieved a proven track record of effecting real change and influencing policy,’ said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Superintendent-President of Long Beach City College and co-chair of the California Economic Summit Steering Committee. ‘The achievements thus far are a clear indication of the power in implementing a regional approach to solving some of the state’s toughest economic challenges.’”

The rest of the article is here.

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Complaints about late newspaper

A reader here (and subscriber to The Union) sent along this email this morning: “My wife drives down the mountain at the stroke of 6 a.m. every morning. Half the time the paper isn’t in the sleeve at 6 a.m. We have called, and the reply was that ‘since the paper is delivered up from Sacramento, they have to wait for delivery.’

“So the paper isn’t in the sleeve just now at 6:30 a.m. Everyone who would normally take a morning paper with them to work now has to have a job that starts after 8 a.m. Pathetic.”

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Nevada City council passes Airbnb initiative

“Wow! We did it,” Kathy Dotson writes on her Facebook page. “Our short-term rental initiative just passed at the City Council! Thank you to all who supported us. And a big thanks to those who showed up and spoke in favor.”

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