The usual problem is that I feel I should distinguish between what comes in from the Japanese press and which therefore has some immediate currency in Japan and what I get from the Web, which has no special relation to any place or time. At least this blogger software addresses the time relation part. Right now I have two kinds of primary Japanese news sources, but the English-language newspapers published in Japan are far more accessible to me than true Japanese media (usually television). My favorite is The Daily Yomiuri, which has the advantage of being tightly linked to the largest Japanese newspaper, but there is still a slant in their sources and priorities. The most obvious aspect is that Japanese TV news generally tends to give lower priority and less coverage to international news.
From the last entry, I mentioned that I wanted to say more about the drug topic, but it's so appalling that I really can't see what to say about it. From memory, there were 143 countries involved in negotiating an agreement to allow the production of certain medicines for use in poor countries. Since those countries are poor and can't afford the regular prices, the core of the agreement was to allow them to produce and sell these life-saving drugs more cheaply. Finally, 142 countries were agreed on the terms and conditions, and the U.S. said "No." This effectively blocks the agreement, and the decision is reported to have come directly from Dick Cheney. I already thought he was an evil fellow, basically serving his own interests first and then the interests of the oil companies. So now we add in the pharmaceutical companies, too. There's no way to squeeze blood from these turnips, so this is not a matter of additional profits. It's just a matter of we Americans (insofar as the Bushies speak for us) don't care a fig about how many of those impoverished non-Americans die from diseases that could be easily cured.
I've been reading various summaries of the last year and predictions of the year just started, but the only adjective that seems to apply is "bleak". Unless you're extremely rich, in which case you can probably afford it, and may even turn some extra profit at public expense.
This is just my first test effort using the blogspot system. Basically realized that this part of my Web site was very much like what blogs sound like (even though I've never seen more than excerpts of a blog), so I decided to try out this tool.
So I guess I'll start with a summary of some recent events that I hadn't written up...
The election was a debacle for non-conservative candidates. Dubya summed it up best with one of his not-funny jokes. He said that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones he's focusing on. Unfortunately, in a voting system which has been fairly evenly balanced between the two parties, that focus is sufficient leverage to twist the outcomes. I also suspect some voter fraud in a few key contests, but with the new electronic voting systems the GOPpies rammed through, there's not even the possibility of asking for a recount. No paper trail at all. On top of that, the exit polling system mysteriously broke down at the last minute, so that resource disappeared, too. There were also a few critical races that were decided by fairly blatant appeals to racism, which is pretty hilarious given what happened to Lott a few weeks later.
Now for the Lott story itself. He basically made a little mistake at Strom Thurmond's going away party (and good riddance, too). Somehow the racist remarks got enough attention that the Bushies decided to jettison Lott as Senate Majority Leader. Only took about a week to pressure him into resigning, and there's even some talk he'll eventually be forced completely out of the Senate. He was replaced with another racist, but one who has mostly been more circumspect about it. New fellow is named Frist, but his main traits are being rich, as usual, and profiting from a family-owned hospital system that has specialized in taking over hospitals and getting rid of those nasty low-income patients. This should be funny, except that Frist is a physician. Can't recall anything in the doctors' oath about only helping sick rich people.
On the resignation topic, Kissinger made a brief appearance. This was kind of a bizarre one. Many people have been calling for an impartial, open, and honest investigation into the 9/11 tragedy, focusing on what made it possible and how another such tragedy could be prevented. Dubya has fought quite hard against such an investigation, but finally someone, probably Cheney, hit on the very twisted inspiration of using Kissinger to bury the truth. Pretty bizarre to nominate such a biased, secretive, and dishonest investigator for the job, but what the heck. I guess they figure the voters will buy anything these days. A few days later Kissinger resigned. Optimistically, he made a few calls, found out the smelly truth, and decided it was going to come out eventually and he didn't want any part of the resulting stink. However, with Kissinger, who knows? Please to compare with the Warren Commission, which LBJ ordered to begin work about one week after the assassination.
Guess that's enough for today, but want to be sure to mention the drug topics in more detail...