Home' Greymouth Star : November 22nd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, November 22, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
“ To conquer without risk is to triumph
without glory.” — Pierre Corneille, French
“ But you will receive power when the Holy
Spirit comes on you; and you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
— Acts 1:8
It is no longer
“sissy” for a husky
New Zealand male
to smell of perfume.
In less than five years, scented toiletries have
become so fashionable that thousands of men
are pouring virtually gallons of fragrant lotions
on to themselves. And the people chiefly
responsible for this are New Zealand women!
Even the biggest footballers buy perfumed
lotions and lathers in Greymouth chemist
shops. There certainly had been an upward
trend in the sales of men’s toiletries, said a local
“ Men are usually introduced to them by their
wives. Many get them first as presents, like
them and develop the habit,” he said.
“ Everyone buys them,” said another chemist ’s
assistant, “including miners and bushmen. The
sales in these things have just rocketed in the
past two years.”
Any overseas beachcomber currently out of
work could spend a spell on the West Coast
shoreline. He might not make any money
but he would experience some thoroughly
interesting fossicking along the beaches. The
reason is that some strange objects have been
washed up by the surf lately.
First was lumps of pumice, possibly from
the island of Bali in the Java Sea, but more
probably from South Georgia in the South
Latest on the list coughed up from the
Tasman are a number of glass spheres. One
was found at Meybille Bay, another on the
sand at Barrytown. Two more were picked up
at Camerons and others along the coast from
Greymouth to Hokitika. The glass balls are
used as floats and probably come from Japanese
uFood for thought
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1718 - English pirate Edward Teach —
better known as Blackbeard — is killed during
a battle off the Virginia coast.
1906 - The SOS distress signal is
adopted at the International Radio
Telegraphic Convention in Berlin.
1935 - The flying boat, The China
Clipper, leaves San Francisco on
the first trans-Pacific airmail flight.
1947 - Iran Assembly nullifies oil
agreements with Soviet Union.
1956 - The first Olympics held in
the southern hemisphere opens in
Melbourne with junior world mile
record holder Ron Clarke lighting the flame.
1962 - Soviet Union announces end of
combat-readiness alert of its armed forces
imposed at start of Cuban missile crisis.
1963 - US President John F Kennedy is
assassinated as he rides in motorcade in Dallas,
Texas. Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson
becomes the 36th president.
Charles de Gaulle, French general-statesman
(1890-1970); Benjamin Britten,
English composer (1913-1976);
Terry Gilliam, UK filmmaker
(1940-); Jamie Lee Curtis, US
actress (1958-); Mariel Hemingway,
US actress (1961-); Robbie Slater,
Australian footballer (1964-); Boris
Becker, former German tennis
player (1967-); Scarlett Johansson,
US actress (1984-).
Predators such as leopards and cheetahs
are not the biggest mortal threat to baby
Chacma baboons, large and aggressive
monkeys that live across southern Africa.
That threat comes from adult males of their
“Up to 50% of the infants might be killed
by males in these populations, a massive
impact more important than disease or
University of Cambridge
behavioral ecologist Dieter Lukas said.
This behavior is not limited to these
baboons. Scientists next week unveiled the
most detailed study to date of infanticide
by adult males among the world’s
mammals, a practice documented in
numerous species including many primates.
The researchers studied 260 species
including 119 that practice infanticide and
141 that do not, looking for patterns that
may explain a behavior seen in very few
“It is a sexual strategy,” behavioural
ecologist Elise Huchard of the National
Center for Scientific Research’s Centre
for Evolutionary and Functional Ecology
in France, who with Lukas conducted the
study published in the journal Science said
Huchard said males kill babies fathered
by others to make the dead infant ’s mother
available for mating. Huchard estimated
infanticide occurs in about 25% of mammals.
Mammals in which infanticide is common
typically live in groups — as do Chacma
baboons — in which reproduction is
monopolised by a small number of males
that often cannot keep their dominant
position for long due to many challengers.
Infanticide is rare in solitary or monogamous
Infanticide was found to be widespread,
occurring in rodents including mice and
squirrels, carnivores including lions and
bears as well as in hippos, horses and
even the white-throated round-eared
bat. Many primates practice infanticide
including chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons
and langurs while others do not, including
orangutans, bonobos and mouse lemurs.
The researchers said females of some
species use strategic promiscuity to stop
males from killing their babies.
By mating with as many males
as possible in a short time, they
make it hard to discern infant paternity.
“Males stop killing offspring if there is a
risk that the offspring might be their own,”
Infanticide was not seen in mammals with
seasonal reproduction because there is no
benefit to males that still would need to
wait until the following breeding season for
females to become fertile again.
“Infanticide by males
evolved in lineages in which males
females and where females can give
birth throughout the year,” Lukas said.
Infanticide is not uncommon with mammals
“I need to hear the voice of the people,”
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
“ I will step down if we fail to keep our
majority because that would mean our
Abenomics is rejected.” And with that
feeble excuse he announced that he was
calling an election two years earlier than
necessary, on December 14.
Abenomics, the prime minister’s drastic
strategy for kick-starting Japan out of
twenty years of deflation and economic
stagnation, has not actually been rejected
by the public, but it is failing nevertheless.
After an initial burst of growth last year,
Japan has fallen into a recession despite
the trillions of yen that the central bank
has pumped into the economy.
Japanese voters would love to see
“Abenomics” succeed. It ’s no fun living in
a no-growth economy, and Abe’s plan was
the first they had seen in a long time that
had even a chance of turning that around.
But two years in the kick-start has stalled,
and Abe’s public approval rating recently
fell below 50% for the first time. Maybe
he’s just going for another four years now
because he fears that later the prospects
will be even worse.
To be fair to the prime minister,
Abenomics did not actually cause the
recession. The problem was that Abe
raised the sales tax from 5% to 8% last
April, in obedience to a law passed by
the previous government. Unfortunately,
Japanese consumers responded by cutting
their spending, especially on big-ticket
items — and so the economy tumbled into
Abe has learned his lesson, and he is now
promising that the scheduled second rise
in the sales tax next year, from 8% to 10%,
will be postponed until 2017 if he wins
the election. In fact, he is portraying the
election as a referendum on whether the
public wants him to kill the next tax rise
— a s if they were likely to demand that he
go ahead with it.
If he can keep the debate centred on
the economy, Abe should cruise to an
easy victory, for the opposition parties
are divided and disorganised and have no
plausible alternative solution. However, if
the focus shifts to Abe’s plans to restart
the country’s nuclear power stations
and remove the pacifist elements from
the Japanese constitution, the election’s
outcome will get much harder to predict.
On the nuclear issue, as on the sales tax,
Abe is doing the sensible thing. Nuclear
power used to provide 30% of Japan’s
electrical power, and the shutdown of
all the country’s reactors has compelled
it to spend huge amounts of money on
It’s now high time to turn the nuclear
reactors on again. But the Japanese
public, post-Fukushima, has an acute
nuclear allergy, and the opposition to
re-starting the reactors is large, vocal, and
well-organised. If that becomes a central
election issue, Abe will lose a lot of votes.
And then there is the constitutional
question. Abe has long detested the
constitution, written by Americans during
the post-1945 occupation, that forbids
Japan to send military forces abroad. He
says he wants to rewrite it to allow Japan
to send its troops to the aid of allies
who are under attack. His critics see it
as the entering wedge for a full-scale
remilitarisation of the country.
“The global situation surrounding Japan
is getting ever more difficult,” Abe said in
a televised press conference last summer,
in an attempt to
justify his proposed
He was really talking
about the growing
tension and even
Tokyo and Beijing, of
course, and China’s
Xinhua news agency
replied with an
editorial that verged on the hysterical.
Abe is “ leading his country on
a dangerous path” by “gutting the
constitution,” Xinhua wrote. “ No matter
how Abe glosses over it, he is dallying
with the spectre of war.” And it really does
not help that some of Abe’s hard-right
friends and political associates dabble in
anti-Chinese invective and deny Japan’s
war crimes before and during World War
There are a great many people in Japan
who find this attempt to change the
constitution frightening. Nobody knows
exactly how many (it depends on how the
opinion pollsters pose the question), but
it may well be a majority. So Abe really
needs to keep this from becoming the
dominant issue in the election.
The fact that it will be a relatively short
campaign helps Abe, but if these two
issues catch fire he will be in serious
difficulty. It’s unlikely that his Liberal
Democratic Party, in power for 53 of the
past 59 years, will actually lose control of
the Lower House of the Diet, but it could
lose enough seats to force him to drop his
nuclear and constitutional projects.
There is an outside chance that he could
actually lose the election.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Abe’s gamble: snap election called for Japan
f all the overfished
fish in the seas,
luscious, fatty bluefin
tuna are among the
Marine scientist Goro
Yamazaki, who is
known in this seaside community as Young
Mr Fish, is working to ensure the species
Yamazaki is fine-tuning a technology
to use mackerel surrogates to spawn the
bluefin, a process he hopes will enable
fisheries to raise the huge, torpedo-shaped
fish more quickly and at lower cost than
The aim: to relieve pressure on wild
fish stocks while preser ving vital genetic
Yamazaki, 48, grew up south of Tokyo in
the ancient Buddhist capital of Kamakura,
fishing and swimming at nearby beaches.
His inspiration hit 15 years ago while he
was out at sea during graduate studies at
the Tokyo University of Marine Science
and Technology, and a school of bluefin
tuna streaked by.
"They swam just under the boat, and they
were shining metallic blue. A beautiful
animal," Yamazaki said. "Before that, tuna
was just an ingredient in sushi or sashimi,
but that experience changed bluefin tuna
into a wild animal to me."
An animal, that like so many other
species, is endangered due to soaring
consumption and aggressive modern
har vesting methods that have transformed
the bluefin, also known as "honmaguro"
and "kuromaguro," from a delicacy into a
commonly available, if pricey, option at any
This month, experts in charge of
managing Atlantic bluefin met in Italy and
raised the quota for catches of Atlantic
bluefin tuna by 20% over three years.
Stocks have recovered somewhat after a
severe decline over the past two decades as
fishermen har vested more to meet soaring
demand, especially in Japan.
Virtually in tandem with that, the
International Union for Conservation of
Nature put Pacific bluefin tuna on its Red
List, designating it as a species threatened
About a quarter of all tuna are consumed
by the Japanese, according to the
United Nations Food and Agricultural
Organisation. They gobble up most —
between 60% and 80% — of all bluefin.
Rosy, fatty chu-toro from the upper part of
bluefin bellies, is especially prized for sushi
Latest reproduction attempt
Out at his seaside lab in Tateyama, on the
far northern rim of Tokyo Bay, Yamazaki
and other researchers are hoping their latest
attempt to get mackerel to spawn bluefin
will prove a success. An earlier attempt
failed due to what he thinks was a problem
with the water temperature.
Yamazaki's technique involves extracting
reproductive stem cells from the discarded
guts of tuna shipped by cold delivery from
fish farms and inserting them into mackerel
fry so tiny they are barely visible.
The baby fish are put in an anaesthetic
solution and then transferred by dropper
onto a slide under the microscope.
Researcher Ryosuke Yazawa deftly inserts a
minute glass needle into one's body cavity
Under the right conditions, the tuna stem
cells migrate into the ovaries and testes
of the mackerel. The team is now waiting
to see if the mackerel, when mature, will
spawn tuna, and if the tuna will survive.
Following that, they could be released into
the sea or farmed.
The research team has already succeeded
in using surrogate technology to produce
tiger puffer fish, the poisonous "fugu" used
in sashimi and hotpot, using smaller grass
puffer fish. It has produced trout spawned
by salmon. Companies that import rare
and tropical fish also are interested in the
The method could help reduce pressure on
wild populations, Yamazaki hopes, and also
help ensure the greater genetic diversity
needed to preser ve various species.
Though he started out working in the
field of genetic modification, Yamazaki
emphasises that his techniques involve only
surrogate reproduction, not GM.
The main "tricks," as he calls them,
are using baby fish as future surrogates,
because their immature immune systems
will not reject the tuna cells, and relying on
the natural tendency of the reproductive
stem cells to mature and produce viable
offspring. To simplify matters, the lab
is using triploid, or sterile hybrid fish
commonly bred at fish farms, that will not
develop eggs or sperm of their own species.
Yamazaki expects his research to be
useful for commercial purposes. Though
researchers elsewhere have succeeded in
breeding tuna in captivity, the process is
costly and sur vival rates are low. Mackerel,
less than a foot long when caught, are much
easier to handle and keep in land-based
tanks than tuna, which can grow to nearly
the size of a small car and require far more
food per fish. The mackerel also mature
more quickly and spawn more frequently,
if they are well fed and kept at the right
Not all experts favour such high-tech
Not all experts favour such high-tech
solutions for the bluefin.
Amanda Nickson, director of global tuna
conservation for The Pew Charitable Trusts,
said the partial recovery of Atlantic bluefin
stocks shows that enforcement of catch
limits, backed by threats of trade bans, can
Earlier this year, the multi-nation fisheries
body that monitors most of the Pacific
Ocean recommended limiting the catch
of juvenile bluefin tuna to half the average
level of 2002-2004. Scientists found that
stocks of the species had dwindled to less
than 4% of their original size. It also found
that most fish caught were juveniles less
than three years old, before they reach
The group set a 10-year target of
rebuilding the population to 8% of its
"As long as you don't take too many, those
populations can rebuild and rebuild fairly
effectively," she said.
Perhaps so, said Yamazaki, but over the
centuries, humans have repeatedly over
consumed resources, sometimes past the
point of no return.
"Japanese people eat tuna from all over
the world. We have to do something. That
is the motivation for my research." — AP
The International Union for Conservation of Nature put Pacific bluefin tuna on its "Red List".
Biotech for bluefin
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