Nara mascot seeks breakthrough in Year of the Dog

Masaki Fukunaga, The Japan News Published 7:41 am, Thursday, January 25, 2018 Photo: Japan News-Yomiuri Photo Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 A Yukimaru-shaped drone flies in Oji, Japan, last May. A Yukimaru-shaped drone flies in Oji, Japan, last May. Photo: Japan News-Yomiuri Photo Nara mascot seeks breakthrough in Year of the Dog 1 / 1 Back to Gallery NARA, Japan - A white dog owned by an ancient prince was the inspiration for the mascot character Yukimaru, now the face of Oji, Japan. The character has attracted attention thanks to new technology that lets him talk and fly. The Oji town government hopes this year will be the "year of Yukimaru," as 2018 is also the Year of the Dog in the 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar. It hopes to raise his profile to a level comparable to that of Hachiko, the famously loyal dog memorialized by a statue in Shibuya, Tokyo. Prince Shotoku (574-622) owned a dog named Yukimaru, which according to legend could understand human speech and read Buddhist scriptures. A statue of the dog stands on the premises of Oji's Darumaji temple, which is known for its connections to Prince Shotoku, one of the first proponents of Buddhism in Japan and a regent. Yukimaru the mascot was born in 2013. He wears an eboshi cap and carries in his paw a shaku baton, items that were fashionable for aristocrats in ancient Japan. The canine character placed 11th in the 2014 Yurukyara Grand Prix, an annual popularity contest of characters representing local governments and other entities. The character inspired the creation of more than 50 kinds of stuffed toys and other merchandise featuring his likeness. LATEST SFGATE VIDEOS Now Playing: Now Playing Rainy night on Highway 80 in S.F.: January 24, 2018 Amy Graff The Story of the Burke Junction Railroad NK Media Continue Reading

Letters to the Editor, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017

More parking spaces neededMy wife and I arrived in Naples Oct. 31 (yes, Halloween night) after a 2,200-mile road trip from Boulder, Colorado. When we turned west on Third Avenue South from U.S. 41, all we saw were cars parked all along Third Avenue and the side streets. We learned the following morning of the Halloween parade celebration.Fifth Avenue South in Naples is truly a very attractive destination for people of all ages. It is equally true that we do not have sufficient parking for businesses, their employees, patrons and people watchers. Parking on grass areas is not a solution; it is part of the traffic problem in that visitors prowl our streets in search of a parking spot.Also, while driving, visitors have less time for shopping. Will the lack of public parking discourage them from other impulsive visits where they spend valuable dollars?We need convenient public parking to support our business community and to discourage visitors from parking on our side residential streets. One option is an additional public parking garage and another could be a parking lot east of Ninth Street with electric buses running from the offsite location down Fifth Avenue South to Third Street South, and perhaps extended to the Third Street South Historic District, with pickup and drop-off spots along the way.Fifth Avenue restaurants and retail businesses are expanding. To support this expansion we need additional low-impact parking. The solution is not in more cars searching for a parking spot in our immediate residential areas. Ken Wood, Boulder, Colo., and Naples  Fracking fableA recent guest commentary by Nicole Johnson of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, professing that the fracking ban would protect the state’s water resources, was a joke. It was a lesson in propaganda for a burn-out cause and a promotion for an “educational” lecture from a retired Cornell professor, Anthony Ingraffea, who has created a cottage industry for himself by Continue Reading

Al Sharpton rips Trump’s apparent approval of police brutality at NYC rally ahead of Ministers March for Justice in Washington

They plan on keeping the faith. In light of President Trump’s casual comments appearing to endorse police brutality, Rev. Al Sharpton’s Saturday rally at his National Action Network headquarters in Harlem was even more spiritual than usual. Sharpton was joined by Gyalwang Drukpa, the head of the Drukpa lineage of Buddhism, ahead of next month’s planned Ministers March for Justice in Washington. The march will mark the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed “I have a dream” speech. “We have to get out on the street and work for the people,” said Gyalwang Drukpa, draped in burgundy and canary yellow robes. “Without disrespecting the prayers, without disrespecting the meditation ... we physically have to go out and interact with the people and save the people,” he said. The Aug. 28 rally will include 1,000 ministers from a variety of faiths who will march from the MLK memorial on the National Mall to the Department of Justice. Sharpton invoked King’s speech Saturday as he promised to fight the Trump administration. “The basic tenets of that dream were fighting poverty, fighting for voter rights, fighting for criminal justice reform, as well as dealing with the critical issue of health,” he said. “Those are all threatened today.” Trump’s comments, made during a speech in front of cops on Long Island, came as he called for a crackdown on MS-13 gang members. “Don’t be too nice,” the President encouraged a crowd of uniformed police officers. “When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, like don’t hit their head? They just killed somebody, don’t hit their head? I said you can take their hand away,” Trump said. Sharpton railed against the comments Saturday, calling them “a reckless disregard for Continue Reading

Readers sound off on Islam, Charlie Hebdo and Taylor Swift

Hear Islam’s moderate majority Spokane, Wash.: As an American who has lived both in the U.S. and the Middle East, I’m noticing a huge problem with the American media’s coverage of issues such as ISIS and the Charlie Hebdo attack. People are asking, “Where are the moderate, non-violent Muslims? Why aren’t they speaking up?” They are, but we aren’t giving them enough media coverage. Islamic authorities all over the world are denouncing terrorism publicly, and many Muslim communities have even organized protests, but we never hear about them. Imagine what would happen if just 50% of what the news covered about Islam was Muslims condemning the attacks, instead of giving terrorists all of our attention? We’re creating a distorted and inaccurate view of Islam, causing mass Islamophobia and misunderstandings, and widening the cultural gap between the West and the East. Let’s switch it around and give the majority of Muslims who condemn terrorism at least half of the airtime. Sarah Cockey Goose and gander Little Neck: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s article calling on Muslims to repudiate terrorism (“Muslims’ challenge after the massacre,” Op-Ed, Jan. 11) is a welcome first step toward peaceful coexistence. The next step, as he points out, must be to have people not feel “marginalized.” But this must go both ways. Muslims do not want to feel marginalized in their new countries in Western Europe and America. But how about Christians, Jews, Kurds, Copts and other groups in Arab lands? These groups have been persecuted and murdered to the point that there are almost none of them left in Arab countries. That is the ultimate in marginalization. Reena Fettner Voicers to Voicers: Be quiet Bronx: Voicer Brenda Nicholls is correct. Voicers who think the press should reprint the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are advocating religious intolerance. Robert G. Gallimore Case in Continue Reading

Vanderbilt’s policies pull campus away from Christianity

I am often asked what it’s like to be a high-profile, black, conservative woman on the Vanderbilt University campus. At times it is challenging, but I am encouraged by the support I have received from students, faculty and administrators since returning from my sabbatical. In case you missed the hoopla, I was almost run off campus in 2015 by student protesters and petitions denouncing me for bigotry and hatred. All this was because of an opinion piece I wrote for The Tennessean about the Islamic faith and the need for Muslims to fully integrate themselves into our society. I became the target of harassment and a petition demanding I be suspended until I submitted to mandatory sensitivity training. That’s a rather odd request of a first-generation college graduate and a person of color who grew up in poverty, attained tenured positions at Princeton and Vanderbilt and had her research cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. My Christian faith, not my race and gender, shapes the perspective I now share with you about Vanderbilt, where I have taught for 16 years.Vanderbilt excels in many ways, but in other areas, such as religious freedom and free speech, its policies have made it difficult for some students to thrive spiritually and mentally. Start with a series of untimely deaths that secular-minded people will dismiss as coincidental. In 2016 one current student (Taylor Force) and two former students (Justin and Stephanie Shults) have been killed in separate terrorist attacks. Force died March 8 during a school trip to Israel. Two weeks later, the Shultses died in the Brussels airport bombing. Those deaths must defy actuarial tables for one university, which happens to be in denial about the threat of radical Islam. In April, two undergraduate students were found dead in their respective dorm rooms. We grieve their deaths and pray for their parents and loved ones. We also wonder if more could have been done for them. In a recent Continue Reading

‘This is history,’ tribes say of Dakota Access pipeline halt

OCETI SAKOWIN CAMP, N.D. — A day that began with prayers ended with victory dances Sunday as Native Americans and environmentalists here celebrated the news that the Obama administration was halting construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.In the most substantial blow yet to the highly contested project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the oil pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, a Corps-managed reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota. That remained the only contested portion of the 1,172-mile pipeline, which runs through four states and is nearly completed."Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it's clear that there's more work to do," Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army's assistant secretary for civil works said in a statement Sunday afternoon. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."In a statement late Sunday, pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners said it remained committed to completing the project without a reroute."The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions," the statement read, "by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency."The pipeline was set to cross the river a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation border in North Dakota. Tribal members for months have protested the project, worried that a pipeline breach could threaten their drinking water.Darcy said the pipeline should undergo an environmental impact statement — a process that could take months. The decision means construction likely won't be completed during Obama's remaining weeks in office.President-elect Donald Trump's administration, widely viewed as more friendly to traditional Continue Reading

Charlie Hebdo attacks prove critics were right about Islam

What would it take to make us admit we were wrong about Islam? What horrendous attack would finally convince us that Islam is not like other religions in the United States, that it poses an absolute danger to us and our children unless it is monitored better than it has been under the Obama administration?Over the past few years, we have had a man in Middle Tennessee who, like the founders of our nation, has risked his life, fortune and reputation to sound an alarm. After many years of his fighting alone in the wilderness, Andrew Miller Jr. and his Tennessee Freedom Coalition continue to be vindicated by current world events.Dismissed by some as a kook, a hater and a bitter man, Miller, in my eye, has revealed himself to be a deeply committed man who sounded an alarm about Islam long before comedian Bill Maher and others were finally willing to admit that Islam is positively dangerous to our society.More and more members of the PC crowd now acknowledge that Islam has absolutely nothing in common with Christianity, nor is it a worthy part of the brotherhood of man I long felt was characteristic of the Abrahamic religions. A younger, more naive version of myself once believed in a world where the people of the Book could and would get along because they all claimed Abraham as their father. No more!I met Miller a few years ago and heard his story of how he worked on Wall Street and survived the deaths of more than 200 friends in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Those attacks transformed him into a crusader who has risked his life and reputation to warn us about the dangers of radical Islam. He and the coalition have paid a price by being labeled as haters for engaging in activities designed to educate and awaken a sleeping public.It is fascinating today to watch how world events have vindicated Miller in his warnings about the dangers of radical Islam. It becomes clearer every day that Islam is not just another religion to be accorded the respect given to Continue Reading

Albom: Anthem protesters may want to look at a calendar

On this day 15 years ago, a group of terrorists boarded airplanes, hijacked them and crashed them into New York skyscrapers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.By that night, our country was unified.Remember the feeling? We were all together. We were all one. We felt a deep sense of national community, and our individual complaints seemed small. We sang “Proud to be an American” without a hint of sarcasm.Time fades everything. ►Must see: Kate Upton blasts NFL players kneeling during anthem ►Rochelle Riley: Colin Kaepernick is not wrong; he's teaching America ►Mitch Albom:  Last of big 3, Matthew Stafford labors on for LionsToday, on the anniversary of that attack, we’re in the midst of a presidential campaign whose candidates are all but using bazookas on one another. An NFL quarterback will likely kneel down again Monday night during the national anthem, and many will hail him as a hero. Our president defended that man’s “constitutional right” to sit, even credited him for stirring conversation on “topics that need to be talked about.”And recently, in Chicago, a 15-year-old high school student refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. He reportedly told his teacher, “America sucks.”His mother later told the media she was “so proud” of her son’s convictions.So this isn’t your old 9/11. Kaepernick should standPerhaps we need a reset. We shouldn’t require burning buildings to fuel national pride. But it seems the less we worry about enemies destroying our country, the more we rip it apart ourselves.Let’s consider that quarterback, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, and the debate his actions have spawned. A biracial American male raised by two adoptive American white parents, Kaepernick told the media that America oppresses black people — and cited recent police abuse cases as reason for kneeling during the national Continue Reading

Dalai Lama supports Olympics, but says no one can tell protesters ‘to shut up’

NARITA, Japan - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said he supports China's hosting of the Summer Olympics, but insisted Thursday nobody had the right to tell protesters demanding freedom for Tibet "to shut up." "We are not anti-Chinese. Right from the beginning, we supported the Olympic Games," he told reporters outside Tokyo on a stopover on a trip to Seattle. "I really feel very sad the government demonizes me. I am just a human, I am not a demon." Protests have been held in cities around the world in a show of sympathy for Tibet, where anti-government riots erupted last month. The Olympic torch relay has faced massive demonstrations, most recently in San Francisco. The Dalai Lama said the demonstrators had the right to their opinions, though he called for nonviolence. "The expression of their feelings is up to them," he said. "Nobody has the right to tell them to shut up. One of the problems in Tibet is that there is no freedom of speech." Chinese authorities have tightly restricted access to Tibet and Tibetan areas of western China, where protests also broke out. The sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations were the largest among Tibetans in almost two decades. "Autonomy (in Tibet) is just in name, it is not sincerely implemented. The crisis is the expression of their (Tibetans') deep regret," he said. The Chinese government responded harshly. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu repeated Chinese accusations that the Dalai Lama was "engaging in activities aimed at splitting China in the name of religion." Japan's government has been relatively quiet about the violence in Tibet and, out of deference to Beijing, does not deal officially with the Dalai Lama. It does, however, grant visas to the exiled Buddhist leader, who has visited Japan fairly frequently. Buddhism is one of Japan's main religions, along with the indigenous Shinto faith. More than a dozen Buddhist monks protested Wednesday in front of visiting Continue Reading