China, Japan Ground Ferries, Flights As Typhoon Approaches

By Associated Press
September 4, 2022

Typhoon Hinnamnor is forecasted to move gradually northward into the East China Sea with maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 miles per hour.

Cities in eastern China suspended ferry services and classes and flights were canceled in Japan on Sunday as Typhoon Hinnamnor, the strongest global storm this year, blew its way past Taiwan and the Koreas with fierce winds and heavy rains.

Shanghai grounded ferry services and deployed more than 50,000 police officers to aid with rescues and guide traffic away from danger areas. The eastern business hub of Wenzhou ordered all classes suspended on Monday.

Hinnamnor is forecasted to move gradually northward into the East China Sea with maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 miles per hour, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.

Evacuations and flight cancellations have been ordered in Japan’s southern Okinawa Island. The typhoon is also expected to bring intense rainfall to the Korean Peninsula, bringing the possibility of flooding.

China’s National Meteorological Center issued a yellow typhoon warning at 10 a.m. Sunday, and warned of heavy rains in northeastern Zhejiang, Shanghai and self-governing Taiwan.

Ships were told to return to port to take shelter from the wind, and the center also urged people against large gatherings both indoors and outdoors.

In Japan, the typhoon lashed Okinawa and nearby islands with heavy rain and fierce winds, threatening flooding and grounding more than 100 flights connecting the islands and parts of the main southern island of Kyushu.

Footage on Japan’s NHK national television showed trees violently shaken by the storm, with fierce rainfall hitting the pavement. A greenhouse for mangoes on Ishigaki Island was knocked down. On the main Okinawa island, two elderly people fell down and were slightly injured, according to media reports.

Officials said the slow-moving typhoon could add to rainfall and risks of flooding in the southern region where dense rain clouds have been stuck.

In Taiwan, over 600 residents in New Taipei, Taoyuan and Hsinchu counties were evacuated to shelters on Saturday amid the heavy rain and strong winds, according to the island’s Central News Agency.The typhoon caused a landslide in Miaoli county and blew over some 100 roadside trees. About 40 flights and more than 100 ferry services across Taiwan were also canceled Saturday.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.



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Why Does U.S. Life Expectancy Rank Poorly?

Life expectancy is a key metric used to determine the heath of a country. The World Bank says it’s improving around the world.

How long will you live? It could be an inspiring or scary question.  

But to a demographer It’s neither. It’s a key metric that says a lot about the health of a country.  

In 1960 the average American’s life expectancy was almost 70 years old, according to the World Bank. 

The U.S. ranked 189th in the world. 

Today the nation has made progress, with an average life expectancy of 77. 

But other countries have made greater strides. As of 2020, the U.S. was ranked 61st out of  237 nations. 

Why have other countries surged ahead? And how could the U.S. improve? 

To answer these questions we’re focusing on three countries: the U.S., the richest country in the world, according to the World Bank; Japan, the third richest; and Chile, ranked 43rd.  

We spoke to Joseph Chamie. He’s the former director of the United Nations Population Division. 

“The U.S. was doing very well right after World War II in 1950, ’55, relative to those countries,” said Chamie. 

During the post-war boom, Americans benefited from medical advances, like penicillin and open heart surgery.  

Japanese men had a life expectancy of 24 during the war, thanks in part to combat and food shortages. 

“Japan’s life expectancy was lower than the U.S. in the early fifties. Of course they have to rebuild their societies,” said Chamie. 

The new Japanese government passed 32 health laws between 1946 and 1955 aimed at regulating doctors and nurses, requiring school lunches, reducing pollution and preventing infectious disease.  

Japanese life expectancy shot up 14 years between 1947 and 1955, according to government data.  

“In the case of Chile, it was even more remarkable,” Chamie said.  

Chileans’ life expectancy was 54 years old in 1950. 

“Chile in particular saw a dramatic increase in life expectancy. They were able to provide health care systems, developing that preventive care, dropping infant mortality rates,” Chamie said.  

Meanwhile in 1961, Japan established universal health insurance.  

The government covered half of everyone’s medical costs.  

“But there are many factors in Japan that were contributing to a lower mortality. One of them, of course, was diet and obesity. Eating more fish and more vegetables than the American diet,” Chamie said.

Americans lived longer as the 20th century progressed, but we also developed some unhealthy habits. 

“In the U.S. the diet started increasing with greater and greater reliance on prepared foods, commonly called junk foods, fast foods. More and more people involved in work and doing less exercise.”

“In the U.S., many people are lacking health care systems in place, so they are not taking preventive action early enough to deal with illnesses. Especially the last 20, 30 years, drug addiction, opioids have gotten a become an epidemic level proportion. Obesity has also gotten much higher,” said Chamie. 

“Chile and Japan, they’re providing health care systems, and also supporting people so they feel integrated in society,” Chamie said. “They did some comparisons of Japanese who went to Hawaii and California. And you find that they changed their diet, increased obesity and also lower life expectancy because of that diet change.”

“We’re spending a great deal of money on our health care and doing not as well as many other countries, including China, Japan and Chile,” he continued. “Individual responsibility is certainly one area. Second, providing health care systems and adequate services to assist people so that they will live to old age.”

So many factors determine how long we’ll live. But Chamie says learning from other countries’ successes might help us improve longevity here at home. 



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Taiwan Forces Fire At Chinese Drones Flying Off Coast

By Associated Press
August 31, 2022

Amid rising tensions, Taiwan’s forces said warning shots were fired after drones were spotted flying 9 miles off China’s coast.

Taiwan’s military fired warning shots at drones from China flying over its outposts just off the Chinese coastline, underscoring heightened tensions and the self-ruled island’s resolve to respond to new provocations.

Taiwan’s forces said in a statement that troops took the action on Tuesday after drones were found hovering over the Kinmen island group. Dadan, one of the islands where a drone was spotted, lies roughly 9 miles off the Chinese coast.

The statement Wednesday referred to the unmanned aerial vehicles as being of “civilian use,” but gave no other details. It said the drones returned to the nearby Chinese city of Xiamen after the shots were fired. Taiwan previously fired only flares as warnings.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions after China fired missiles into the sea and sent planes and ships across the dividing line in the Taiwan Strait earlier this month. It followed angry rhetoric from Beijing over a trip to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. dignitary to visit the island in 25 years.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and its recent actions have been viewed as a rehearsal of a possible blockade or invasion. China’s drills brought strong condemnation from Taiwan’s chief ally, the U.S., along with fellow regional democracies such as Australia and Japan. Some of China’s missiles early in August fell into nearby Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Taiwan maintains control over a range of islands in the Kinmen and Matsu groups in the Taiwan Strait, a relic of the effort by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists to maintain a foothold on the mainland after being driven out by Mao Zedong’s Communists amid civil war in 1949.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said China’s actions failed to intimidate the island’s 23 million people, saying they had only hardened support for the armed forces and the status quo of de-facto independence.

Officials said anti-drone defenses were being strengthened, part of a 12.9% increase in the Defense Ministry’s annual budget next year. The government is planning to spend an additional $1.6 billion, for a total of $13.8 billion for the year.

The U.S. is also reportedly preparing to approve a $1.1 billion defense package for Taiwan that would include anti-ship and air-to-air missiles to be used to repel potential Chinese invasion attempt.

Following the Chinese drills, the U.S. sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait, which China has sought to designate as its sovereign waters. Foreign delegations from the U.S., Japan and European nations have continued to arrive to lend Taipei diplomatic and economic support.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is currently visiting Taiwan to discuss production of semiconductors, the critical chips that are used in everyday electronics and have become a battleground in the technology competition between the U.S. and China.

Ducey is seeking to woo suppliers for the new $12 billion Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (TSMC) plant being built in his state.

Taiwanese Air Force pilots have also trained at Luke Air Force Base outside Phoenix for more than 25 years, an indication of continuing U.S. support for Taiwan’s defense despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties.

Reacting to Ducey’s visit, China on Wednesday reaffirmed its opposition to any official contacts between the U.S. and Taiwan. That was a further reminder of the Communist Party’s refusal to acknowledge the separation of powers within the U.S. government and the right of American local officials to operate independently of the administration.

“We urge the relevant parties in the U.S. to … stop any forms of official contacts with Taiwan, and refrain from sending wrong signals to the Taiwan independence forces,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing.

“China will take strong measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.



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Chemical Tanker, Cargo Ship Crash Near Southwestern Japan

By Associated Press
August 20, 2022

Some oil leaked from the engine area of the cargo ship, which initially started to sink, but it was brought under control.

A Japanese chemical tanker ship crashed into a cargo ship off the coast of southwestern Japan, the coast guard said Saturday.

No one was injured among the six Japanese crew members aboard the tanker Ryoshinmaru and 14 Chinese crew members aboard the Belize-registered cargo ship Xin Hai 99.

The crash early Saturday was under investigation and both ships were anchored in the area, about 2.2 miles off the coast of Wakayama prefecture, according to a Kushimoto Coast Guard official.

Some oil leaked from the engine area of the cargo ship, which initially started to sink, but it was brought under control, the official said.

The tanker had left Kobe port to pick up chemicals from another Japanese port and did not have any chemicals on board at the time of the accident.

Divers were sent to the scene and GPS records pursued to determine the cause of the accident. The Chinese crew told the coast guard the tanker had suddenly veered toward them, the official said.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.



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