Saturday, December 29, 2018

In a Tokyo neighbourhood's last sushi restaurant, a sense of loss

29 December, 2018

TOKYO — "I'll have a draft," says Mr Yasuo Fujinuma, heaving himself down at the sushi counter. He pulls a pack of cigarettes from a frayed pocket of his sweater. From the corner of the restaurant, a small TV hums the noon weather forecast. He never drinks at noon.

"I've just come from the hospital," he says, tapping the filter end of his cigarette on the bar. "My sister died."

The chef puts his knife down. Another customer peers over the top of his sports pages. After a pause, the chef returns to his cutting board.

"You took good care of her," he says, placing a sheaf of haran leaf on the chipped black counter. He lines the leaf with a dozen nigiri sushi and hands Mr Fujinuma a mug of beer.

Conversations roll on like this at the Eiraku sushi bar. They start mid-sentence with no hellos or how-are-yous and veer into private thoughts without much fanfare, punctuated by news of ordinary tragedies.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The gig worker’s lament


By Amber Petrovich

December 26, 2018

Washington Post

Amber Petrovich is a writer and editor in Los Angeles.

You’ve probably seen me around your office. Maybe we’ve even had lunch together. I’m the contract (or freelance, contingent, temp, outsourced) worker your company hired on a short-term basis to get that project done or cover the busy period. I’ll be here anywhere from two weeks to two years, depending on your state’s labor laws.

Have you noticed an increase in temp people such as me? That’s because, according to a 2016 study, “94 percent of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work.” In July, the human-capital consultants G. Palmer Associates forecast a 3.4 percent increase in demand for temporary workers for the 2018 third quarter: “The momentum in the temp help employment market continues to be positive due to GDP growth and the expected effects around lower corporate tax rates and less government regulation.”

Friday, December 21, 2018

Beat the heat: More affluent households turn on air-con, lower-income ones use water

By Wong Pei Ting

20 December, 2018

SINGAPORE — A study of water and electricity bills of more than 100,000 households here has found a marked difference in the way Singaporeans of different socio-economic statuses cope with the heat.

Higher-income households tend to use electricity — likely through the use of air-conditioning — for relief when temperatures rise, while those with lower incomes tend to rely on water — by bathing more often, and longer.

A 1°C rise in temperature can cause an average household living in a two-room apartment to increase its water use by nine litres a day, showed the research conducted by National University of Singapore (NUS) economics professor Alberto Salvo.

This translates to one additional shower daily for every 2.3 households.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The problem in France

France’s protesters are part of a global backlash against climate-change taxes

France suspends planned fuel tax to 'bring back peace and calm’

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Dec. 4 that fuel tax hikes would be suspended in response to nationwide anger that he said has “deep roots.” (Reuters)

By Steven Mufson and
James McAuley

December 4, 2018

The single most effective weapon in the fight against climate change is the tax code — imposing costs on those who emit greenhouse gases, economists say. But as French President Emmanuel Macron learned over the past three weeks, implementing such taxes can be politically explosive.

On Tuesday, France delayed for six months a plan to raise already steep taxes on diesel fuel by 24 cents a gallon and gasoline by about 12 cents a gallon. Macron argued that the taxes were needed to curb climate change by weaning motorists off petroleum products, but violent demonstrationsin the streets of Paris and other French cities forced him to backtrack — at least for now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Singapore-Malaysia relations - Transportation


Southern Johor airspace arrangements 'have worked well', changes will affect many: MOT
04 Dec 2018

SINGAPORE: The current airspace arrangements over southern Johor have benefitted both Singapore and Malaysia, and any changes will impact many stakeholders, Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec 4).

The statement was made in response to remarks by Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who said in parliament on Tuesday that Malaysia wants to reclaim its "delegated airspace" in southern Johor.

In its statement, MOT pointed out that under current airspace arrangements, the provision of air traffic services in the airspace over southern Johor was delegated to Singapore, and that airspace in this region was one of the "most complex in the world".

"Air traffic growth is one of the fastest in the world. The benefits to both our economies and our people have been tremendous," said MOT. "The current airspace arrangements have been working well and have facilitated this growth.

"Hence, any proposed changes will impact many stakeholders. Consultations will therefore be required to minimise the impact on airlines and passengers."

Monday, December 3, 2018

Behind a tall order: Goh Chok Tong reflects on succession and politics past and present

By Jaime Ho

Chief Editor, Digital News


02 Dec 2018

SINGAPORE: My interview with Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong following the publication of his authorised biography, Tall Order,happens at a fortuitous time.

We speak three days after the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) announcement on Nov 23 that Mr Heng Swee Keat had been chosenas the party’s presumptive next-generation leader.

Political succession within the PAP today and Mr Goh’s story of his own ascension within the party as told in the book are natural parallels. We therefore start by discussing Mr Heng’s appointment.

The former prime minister gives a solid endorsement– not only of the finance minister’s capabilities and experience – but also of the team that has emerged, with Mr Heng having chosen Mr Chan Chun Sing as his deputy in eventually leading the party.

He agrees with the notion that had it not been for the stroke that Mr Heng suffered in May 2016, the fourth generation of PAP leaders might have come to the decision on their leader earlier.