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Good riddance:

A Japanese court on Friday convicted a U.S. military contractor of murder and rape charges in the death of an Okinawa woman and sentenced him to life in prison.

The Naha District Court also found Kenneth Shinzato, a former Marine, guilty of abandoning the victim’s body, court officials said.

Half of about 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan are on Okinawa.

The U.S. military says the crime rate among its ranks in Japan is lower than among the general public.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government wants Japan to play a greater military role internationally and in Japan-U.S. security alliance amid escalating missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.

There is no place in the world, much less Japan, for people like Shinzato.

After reading a story of a man who seduced the United States Navy’s Seventh Fleet I cannot help but feel this is unsurprising:

The target was not a terrorist, nor a spy for a foreign power, nor the kingpin of a drug cartel. But rather a 350-pound defense contractor nicknamed Fat Leonard, who had befriended a generation of Navy leaders with cigars and liquor whenever they made port calls in Asia.

Leonard Glenn Francis was legendary on the high seas for his charm and his appetite for excess. For years, the Singapore-based businessman had showered Navy officers with gifts, epicurean dinners, prostitutes and, if necessary, cash bribes so they would look the other way while he swindled the Navy to refuel and resupply its ships.

The downfall of the mighty United States military will not come about because of another major military player, but sadly, by imploding due to an entitlement and “look the other way” culture.

Terrorism is not a problem only technology can solve but one requiring strong police work:

The account emerging from French officials, witnesses and those who interacted with the suspected terrorists shows how the operation hinged on Mr. Abaaoud’s ability to use the tools of everyday modern life to lay the groundwork for the massacre. The ease with which he and his teams moved—all while avoiding detection by France’s security apparatus—suggests the challenges in identifying would-be terrorists and preventing further attacks in the fluid, digital and transnational world of today, especially when they are European citizens.

The array of car rentals, cellphones and online lodging reservations allowed Mr. Abaaoud to organize his militants as separate cells to ensure the plot wouldn’t unravel if one of the teams was compromised. Likewise, Mr. Abaaoud exploited Europe’s porous border system, sneaking stadium bombers into the continent amid the crush of Syrian refugees washing over Greece and tapping European nationals who could wield their own passports to move freely about the region.

This is just unbelievable and completely unjustified no matter what the Santa Monica Police Department would like everyone to believe:

I said it was only me and, hands still raised, slowly descended the stairs, focused on one officer’s eyes and on his pistol. I had never looked down the barrel of a gun or at the face of a man with a loaded weapon pointed at me. In his eyes, I saw fear and anger. I had no idea what was happening, but I saw how it would end: I would be dead in the stairwell outside my apartment, because something about me — a 5-foot-7, 125-pound black woman — frightened this man with a gun. I sat down, trying to look even less threatening, trying to de-escalate. I again asked what was going on. I confirmed there were no pets or people inside.

I told the officers I didn’t want them in my apartment. I said they had no right to be there. They entered anyway. One pulled me, hands behind my back, out to the street. The neighbors were watching. Only then did I notice the ocean of officers. I counted 16. They still hadn’t told me why they’d come.

It is unfortunate America has become so afraid these days that so many people are willing to sacrifice their humanity in the name of perceived safety.

In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks it is important to recognize a few important points as the media bombards the world with comments from scared politicians, especially in the United States more than anywhere. Like with any form of security, the primary operating foundation is risk management. This is in stark contrast to what the average citizen believes – the ability to prevent every terrorist attack.

Like in the ephemeral world of cyber security, it is impossible to stop every single attack, every day, from now through eternity. In cyber, attacks happen constantly – not a minute passes without some cyber weaponry being fired. Malicious actors continuously launch operations designed to disrupt or compromise their targets.

The differentiators in cyber are the low threshold to arm oneself, and the ability to attack without causing any form of physical harm. This makes it easy to constantly pull a so-called cyber trigger without ever needing to stop. People almost never face actual bodily harm.

The type of terrorism experienced in Paris causes actual physical harm, as we can all witness on the 24-hour news cycle. However, although one form of terrorism is kinetic and the other is not, they both are identical in one aspect: the ability to prevent every form of both malicious acts is unattainable. While the goal is lofty, it is impractical to believe security professionals are capable of thwarting every act of terrorism, no matter the form it takes.

We need to recognize the goal of terrorism is to scare people. However, by giving in to the terror by enacting laws and policies designed to drastically modify the American way of life, we allow the terrorists to win. This is what they want to happen – they want us to change. If we become more personally vigilant through education, rather than expecting our government to save us from future cowardly acts of murder, we win.

Do not let the media sway us from the truth: terrorism will continue no matter the loose or strict our laws we pass. Whether America – or other countries throughout the world – take additional steps towards the inevitable police state or not, there will be future acts of terrorism. They will happen in the United States or somewhere else in the world. It is inevitable. Why?

We cannot stop every act of terrorism. Nobody can. It is an impossible task, and something we should not expect of law enforcement and our intelligence agencies. Hindsight is absolutely 20/20, so it is easy to look back on an incident and theorize how it could have been prevented. In some cases that may be true, but mostly it is a false assumption.

The best thing we can do now is to continue living our lives as we always have – be the consummate American, but grow and learn from these terrorists. As in cyber security, our goal in fighting terrorism is to assume compromise but minimize the damage the malicious actors can inflict. There is a delicate balance between security and liberty; we should err on the side of liberty otherwise we lose and allow the terrorists to dictate the message.

That can never happen. We can, and will, overcome these trying times thanks to our resilience, so long as we keep our eye on what is important.

Toyota’a former highest ranking female executive ever learned a tough lesson about mailing drugs to Japan after having spent three weeks in a Japanese prison while the police conducted an investigation into the incident:

Hamp, 55, who resigned as Toyota’s communications officer last week from a Japanese jail, has been detained since her June 18 arrest for allegedly importing prescription painkillers that require prior approval before being brought into Japan. Prosecutors will decide on July 8 whether Hamp, who hasn’t been formally charged, is to be indicted.

Her experience, and that of others like 26-year-old Carrie Russell, an English teacher held for 18 days in February for possessing prescription drugs sent from the U.S., offers a warning to visitors: Japan has tough laws for possession of prescription drugs, even when those medications may have been recommended by doctors abroad.

“When you get medicine from your physician, you assume it’s OK to bring it with you,” said Russell, who’s been taking medication for attention deficit disorder since she was 10. “I was completely wrong,” she said in a phone interview from Oregon.

Tokyo metropolitan police arrested Hamp of Toyota Motor on suspicion that she had imported the pain medication oxycodone. Hamp had her father send 57 tablets containing oxycodone to a Tokyo hotel where she was staying, according to Kyodo News, citing a Tokyo police representative.

Look, I am no rocket surgeon or brain scientist, but I am quite certain it is common knowledge to never send drugs, prescription or otherwise, in the mail, especially to a foreign country. The fact that the pills were hidden inside jewelry boxes points towards firsthand knowledge and thus I honestly believe she got what she deserved.

If Hemp really required the medication then she should have visited a Japanese hospital. It is likely the doctors would have prescribed her something equivalent without any fuss whatsoever. My experience with the Japanese medical system is that it is exceedingly easy to get a prescription for whatever you need just by talking to your doctor about the need for the medicine. They will generally hand it out like candy, so long as the prescription falls within the quantity guidelines outlined in Japanese law.

So yeah, I do not feel bad for Hemp. She should have known better, especially someone as high ranking as her. Hemp was lucky enough to be let free after the police determined she had no criminal intent and had suffered enough as a result of her arrest and subsequent resignation from Toyota.

The tinfoil hat inside me says someone in Toyota who resented her rising to this position knew of her drug issue and informed the Japanese police about it, knowing she would be arrested and likely would not survive staying at Toyota thanks to the ordeal.

The 71yo Japanese man who self-immolated on an Osaka-bound shinkansen last week was apparently so poor he claims he could not live on his government funded pension, according to his neighbor:

The neighbor said Hayashizaki had repeatedly complained that he only received a pension of ¥240,000 ($1,960) every two months, despite having made payments for 35 years.

He said he had almost nothing left after paying taxes and utility costs, and that he was unable to live on the pension after quitting the cleaning company.

A woman in her 50s who lives near the apartment said Hayashizaki was a long-term resident. She said he was already living there when she moved to the neighborhood 20 years ago.

“He seemed to stay in his apartment during the daytime. I could hear the sound of a television there,” she said. “He barely interacted with his neighbors. . . . I have never seen him with someone else.”

Nothing will ever excuse his dastardly suicidal deed. There was no need to take additional innocent lives.

The Guardian has some additional information about yesterday’s nutso who set himself on fire while aboard an Osaka-bound shinkansen. Apparently the Japanese woman who died during his suicide attempt was on the way to a major shrine to give thanks for her peaceful life:

A woman killed when a man deliberately set himself on fire aboard a moving bullet train in Japan was on her way to a shrine to give thanks for her “peaceful life”, it emerged on Wednesday.

Yoshiko Kuwahara died after 71-year-old Haruo Hayashizaki doused himself in fuel and sparked the fire on the busy train.

“Today I’m visiting Ise shrine to give thanks for my calm, peaceful life,” 52-year-old Kuwahara wrote on her Facebook page on Tuesday morning as she boarded the super-fast Nozomi bullet train at Yokohama.

Ise shrine is one of the most sacred spots in Japan’s native Shintoism, and a major tourist attraction.

How sad is that?

The Japan Times on two dead after suspected self-immolation on Osaka-bound Shinkansen:

According to NHK, JR Tokai has reported a man poured an oil-like liquid on his head and attempted self-immolation around 11:30 a.m. on Tokaido Shinkansen.

He, and a female passenger, are believed to have died aboard the bullet train south of Tokyo on Tuesday, reported the fire department in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Two other passengers were reported to be severely injured.

These selfish individuals need to stop inconveniencing and harming other Japanese citizens with their self-masturbatory suicide plans.

Japan Today on a 14-year-old girl jumping to death at Tama Plaza Station on the Den-en-Toshi Line in Kanagawa, just outside of Toyko:

According to police, the incident occurred at around 6:30 a.m. on the Tokyu Denentoshi line. Sankei Shimbun reported that the girl, who attended a private junior high school, was in her uniform. Witnesses and station surveillance camera footage showed her leaving her bag on the platform, then run a few steps and jump onto the tracks as the train came in.

Police said no passengers on the train were injured, but services were delayed for about 90 minutes, affecting an estimated 17,000 commuters, Tokyu Corp said.

So sad that someone so young believed this was their own recourse.

As an aside, I was one of the 17k+ commuters affected by the train delay. It was unbelievable how crazy the trains were that morning. It is unfortunate it was due to suicide-by-train, something that is all too common in Japan.

The barriers preventing this very type of behavior cant be built fast enough.

The Japan Times on Japan executing a convict for murdering a woman in Nagoya:

The ministry says Kanda kidnapped his victim from a Nagoya street with the intention of mugging her. After confining her in his vehicle, he robbed her of a cash card and “coiled layers of adhesive tape around her head” before bludgeoning and fatally strangling her.

He then drove her body to neighboring Gifu Prefecture and dumped it in a forest to conceal his crime, the Justice Ministry said.

In March 2009, Kanda was sentenced by the Nagoya District Court to hang. The ruling was finalized a month later when he dropped an appeal. Both of his accomplices have been sentenced to life in prison, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Japan and the United States are the only members of the Group of Seven industrialized countries that carry out executions.

I will never understand how people can do things like this and still live with themselves afterward.

The Los Angeles Times on how the LAPD shot an unarmed man who had his hand wrapped in a towel while waiving down the police for help:

Los Angeles police shot and critically wounded a man after he raised his arm, wrapped in a towel, toward officers Friday in Los Feliz, police said.

Police said officers thought the man had a gun, but he turned out to be unarmed.

The man flagged down officers about 6:35 p.m. at Los Feliz Boulevard and Tica Drive south of Griffith Park, according to a police account.

“This person extended an arm wrapped in a towel. The officer exited the vehicle and said, ‘Drop the gun, drop the gun,'” LAPD Lt. John Jenal said.

Then at least one officer shot the man, officials say. He was taken to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition.

After being shot in the head by the LAPD, while the victim lay motionless on the ground, literally with his brains falling out of his head (caution: graphic video), these two smart cops thought it necessary to place him in handcuffs as if he were going to escape Terminator-style.

Unbelievable.

Ars Technica on UK’s Sunday Times sending DMCA notices to attempt to silence critics of its craptacular Snowden hacking story from this weekend:

This morning, lawyers at Times Newspapers took a step to limit Greenwald’s criticism, sending a notice telling The Intercept that Greenwald’s story, which included a low-res image of the Times‘ front page, violates their copyright. The Intercept quickly published the takedown notice, and on Twitter Greenwald made clear that his publication won’t be deleting his copy of the Times’ “humiliating headline.”

The “infringing” picture of The Sunday Times’ front page, reproduced in part, above, doesn’t have sufficient resolution to allow the article to be read. And Greenwald didn’t reproduce the Timesstory in full, although considering how much he had to say about the piece, doing so would likely be well within his rights.

Sending legal threats was obviously a much smarter strategy than say, you know, basing their reporting on facts and the truth.

Japan Today on a Tokyo man arrested for confining a woman in his apartment for one week:

According to police, the 22-year-old woman, who is from Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, was found with her hands and feet bound by wire, inside a closet in Junichi Watanabe’s apartment, at around 8 a.m. on Monday, Sankei reported.

Police said the woman had been confined in the first-floor apartment for one week. She was rescued after a passerby heard her screaming for help and alerted police.

Watanabe turned himself in at a police “koban” on Monday afternoon.

The woman told police she first met Watanabe on an Internet dating site in January and that they met a few times. But she became uneasy about him and stopped seeing him. Police said Watanabe called the woman, pretending to be one of her friends, and arranged a meeting at 9:30 p.m. on June 1 outside JR Kawaguchi Station. When the woman got there, Watanabe talked her into getting into his car, then he bound her arms, legs and mouth with tape and put a bag over her head, before taking her to his apartment.

WTF? This story does not add up.

Tokyo Reporter on Tokyo cops arresting a hostess in a standard Kabukicho overcharging scam:

On March 11, Nozomi Kojima, a 22-year-old employee of Lumine, located in the Kabukicho entertainment area, is alleged to have lured two male customers to the club at a price of 3,000 yen for an unlimited time period.

After one hour of service, the customers were presented a bill for 240,000 yen. Staff members indicated that total included a a 70,000-yen table charge.

Last month, police arrested the club’s manager, Yoshihiko Okumura, 36, and one other staff member for allegedly threatening the customers in the same incident.

Since Lumine opened in February, police have received 239 complaints from customers who patronized the club, according to the Asahi Shimbun (June 8).

It sounds like Lumine needs to be shutdown for good. Their entire business model appears to be predicated on scamming drunk customers out of their money after offering a salacious sounding deal to get them into the bar.

Kabukicho is probably the one area in Tokyo where you really have to be very careful of what establishment you patronize. In my experience, it is all too easy to get scammed by any of the small bars hiding in the depths of the Kabukicho underworld.

One good rule to live by anywhere, but especially in Shinjuku: if it sounds too good to be true, then it is likely a scam.