Cuban Gracial hits two more homers in Japan

HAVANA, Cuba, Aug 23 (ACN) Cuban ballplayer Yurisbel Gracial hit two home runs today, thus amounting three in the last two matches, during the continuation of the regular stage in the Japanese Professional Baseball League (NPB).

According to the NPB official website, Gracial, who batted third in the line-up of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, first blasted a three-run homer in the very first frame to then hit another one in the ninth but this time with only one teammate on base for his squad, which finally beat 9-6 the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

The day before, the outstanding Cuban utility had achieved his first homer in NPB after being hired by the Hawks last February.

Now, he has batting average of .340 (18 hits in 53 AB), with three homers and 9 RBIs in the tough NPB Pacific League.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, franchise in which also play Cubans Alfredo Despaigne (OF/DH), Livan Moinelo (LHP) and switch-hitter Oscar Colas, the latter is in the farm system, appear third in the standings in the Pacific League with 55 wins and 49 losses, behind the Seibu Lions (64-42) and the Fighters (57-50), in that order.

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US used Hiroshima atomic bomb victims as ‘guinea pigs’, survivor tells RT

Survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb were used as lab rats for US research, and the post-war occupation forces censored media reports attempting to shed light on the atrocity, a survivor of the nuclear attack told RT.

Setsuko Thurlow, a nuclear weapons disarmament activist and survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze that US forces occupying Japan after the end of World War Two were more interested studying the effects of nuclear warfare than they were in helping victims of the attack.

 

Hidehiko Yuzaki, governor of Japan’s Hiroshima Prefecture

“The United States established an institution called ABCC (Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) and people were very happy that finally we got some medication, medical experts who knew what this was all about, who would help Japanese doctors who were at a loss,” Thurlow said while speaking on Shevardnadze’s SophieCo program.

“But the sole purpose of the ABCC was to study the effects of radiation on human bodies, not to help the people sick because of the radiation. The survivors felt they were used as guinea pigs twice: first time as a target, second as a subject for research.”

To make matters worse, the US occupation forces did all they could to suppress media coverage about the deadly attack and its horrific aftermath, Thurlow said.

“Occupational forces didn’t want the media, newspapers to write anything that could be seen as disadvantageous to occupational forces. And if a newspaper writes something about the destruction and especially human suffering in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this would be considered disadvantageous, this would have stop. So they censored and forced some media companies to close the shop. This is not exactly a democratic thing to do.”

According to Thurlow, tens of thousands of personal items such as diaries, photographs and even haiku – Japanese poetry – were confiscated by the US authorities in order to prevent the world from understanding the full consequences of nuclear war.

“The scientific triumph of the United States of producing the atomic bombs was okay, the world could find out. But the human suffering these bombs caused - this was not to be found out by the world. That was the reason why [these things were confiscated].”

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Peace Boat Arrives in Cuba

Japan's Peace Boat arrives today in Cuba, where its crew and passengers will convey messages about global solidarity and promote a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Peace Boat, belonging to the homonymous non-governmental organization, departed from the port of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on May 8, on its 98th Global Voyage for Peace.

This is the eighteenth time that the vessel comes to Cuba, this time with 1,200 people on board.

barco por la paz

Of that total, 900 are Japanese and the rest comes from other Asian countries, coordinators of the initiative said during a news conference held last week at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

The visitors will participate here in a forum on youth, nuclear disarmament and peace. In addition, three hibakushas (survivors or descendants of the US atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945), will present their testimonies.

They will also visit health, education centers and communities, where they will learn about the development of the comprehensive local health program, mainly related to elderly care.

 

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Deaths In Japan Rains Rise To 100

Tokyo: Desperate relatives braced for bad news Monday as rescuers dug through landslides in the wake of severe floods that have killed 100 people and left swathes of central and western Japan under water.

As floods receded, emergency workers were able to reach previously cut-off places where authorities fear they could find more bodies in the wreckage of homes devastated by rivers of mud and debris.

"I have asked my family to prepare for the worst," said Kosuke Kiyohara, 38, as he waited for word of his sister and her two young sons.

"I can't reach her phone," he told AFP, sitting across from a house that had been ripped apart and tossed on its side by a huge landslide.

At the end of last week rivers engorged by more than a metre (three feet) of rain burst their banks, engulfing entire villages and forcing people to rooftops to await evacuation by helicopter.

japan rainAuthorities warned the downpours had loosened earth on hillsides and mountain slopes creating new risks.
 

Hillsides gave way under the weight of water, with deadly landslides crushing wooden houses and erasing roads.

On Monday morning, with the sun finally out and temperatures rising, rescue workers dug through mud in a desperate search for survivors, or victims.

The government said at least 100 people had been killed, and with many people still missing, the tally was expected to rise further.

Search for survivors

"A total of 73,000 police, fire department, Self-Defence Forces and Japan Coast Guard personnel, with 700 helicopters, are doing their best as part of the rescue effort," government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.

In Kumano, soldiers and other emergency workers were using diggers to clear crushed cars and mangled homes.

But they were moving carefully, looking as they went for survivors, or the remains of those killed in the disaster.

In one part of Kumano, the nose of a white car was just visible underneath the top floor of a home that had been torn from the rest of the building and swept down a hillside.

Much of the road that once led into the upscale district of a town known for brushmaking was no longer visible, and water was still flowing from the surrounding hillsides around the feet of shellshocked residents.

In neighbouring Okayama prefecture, rescue workers flew in helicopters over areas that are still submerged and otherwise unreachable, looking for signs of life.

"As far as we could see from the helicopter, no-one is now waving for help," a rescue worker from Kurashiki city told AFP.

Local government officials said pumping trucks were being deployed to help restore access to some of the worst-hit areas.

"Rescuers had to go by boat yesterday due to flooding but the water is gradually receding today," a spokeswoman at the area's disaster control office said.

"If the water level drops low enough, they may be able to access hard-hit areas by road or on foot."

Landslide risk

Even as the rains let up, authorities warned the downpours had loosened earth on hillsides and mountain slopes creating new risks.

"We urge residents to remain cautious about possible landslides," a weather agency official told AFP.

And with many people stuck in modestly equipped shelters with few possessions, or living in damaged homes with no running water or electricity, the rising temperatures posed a new problem, authorities said.

At one point around five million people were told to evacuate, but the orders are not mandatory and many people remained at home, becoming trapped by rapidly rising water or sudden landslides.

In the town of Mihara, roads were transformed into muddy rivers, with dirt piled up on either side as flood water gushed around the wheels of stranded cars.

"The area became an ocean," 82-year-old resident Nobue Kakumoto told AFP Sunday, surveying the scene.

In the town of Saka, Eiichi Tsuiki opted to stay in his home, and survived only by moving to the top floor as flood waters rose, washing away cars outside.

"I've lived here for 40 years... I've never seen this before," the 69-year-old oyster farmer told AFP.

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62 Dead, Dozens Missing After 'Unprecedented' Rain In Japan

Tokyo: The death toll from unprecedented rains in Japan rose to at least 62 on Sunday as widespread flooding forced several million from their homes, with more rain set to hit some areas for at least another day.

Torrential rains that saw some parts of western Japan pounded with three times the usual precipitation for a normal July set off landslides and , trapping many people in their houses or on rooftops.

"We've never experienced this kind of rain before," an official at the Japanese Meteorological Agency told a news conference. "This is a situation of extreme danger."

At least 62 people were dead and 44 missing, national broadcaster NHK said. Among the missing was a nine-year-old boy believed trapped in his house by a landslide that left at least three others dead, one of them a man in his 80s.

Japan's government set up an emergency management centre at the prime minister's office and some 54,000 rescuers from the military, police and fire departments were dispatched across a wide swathe of southwestern and western Japan.

"There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

Emergency warnings for severe rain remained in effect for three prefectures, with 300 mm (11 inches) predicted to fall by Monday morning in parts of the smallest main island of Shikoku.

Evacuation orders remained in place for some 2 million people and another 2.3 million were advised to evacuate, although rain had stopped and floodwaters retreated in some areas. Landslide warnings were issued in over a quarter of the nation's prefectures.

Rain began late last week as the remnants of a typhoon fed into a seasonal rainy front, with warm air pouring in from the Pacific making it still more active - a pattern similar to one that set off flooding in southwestern Japan exactly a year ago that left dozens dead.

Though the Japanese government monitors weather conditions closely and issues warnings from an early stage, the fact that much of the country outside major cities is mountainous and building takes place on virtually every bit of usable land leaves the nation vulnerable to disasters.

Reforestation policies after World War Two that saw many mountains logged and replanted with trees whose roots are less able to retain water has also contributed to the danger.

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SIX TEAMS LINE UP FOR VOLLEYBALL CHALLENGER CUP AND ONE OPEN BERTH IN 2019 MEN'S VNL

Portugal, Chile, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia and Kazakhstan gather this week in Matosinhos, just north of Porto, where Portugal host the 2018 FIVB Men's Volleyball Challenger Cup, starting Wednesday, to determine one team to gain promotion to the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

The winner of the Volleyball Challenger Cup, a new competition to complement the Volleyball Nations League, gets promotion to next year's edition, replacing the bottom-ranked of the Challenger teams in the VNL.

Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Korea are this year's Challenger Teams in the VNL. After Week 4 of the VNL, Korea are bottom of the table, with no chance of catching up with any of the other contenders in their last three remaining matches of pool play.

The six participating teams in the Volleyball Challenger Cup (1 host and 5 teams from continental VCC qualification tournaments - two from Europe and one each from Asia, South American and North Central America & Caribbean) will be divided into two pools of three. The top two of each pool will meet in crosswise semifinals, followed by the bronze medal match and final.

Pool A: Portugal, Estonia, Kazakhstan.
Pool B: Chile, Cuba, Czech Republic.

Full schedule of the 2018 FIVB Men's Volleyball Challenger Cup in Matosinhos (all times local, GMT+1):

Wednesday, 20 June:
18:00 - Cuba v Czech Republic
21:00 - Portugal v Estonia

Thursday, 21 June:
18:00 - Estonia v Kazakhstan
21:00 - Czech Republic v Chile

Friday, 22 June:
18:00 - Chile v Cuba
21:00 - Kazakhstan v Portugal

Saturday, 23 June:
15:00 - Semifinal 1A v 2B
18:00 - Semifinal 1B v 2A

Sunday, 24 June:
15:00 - Bronze medal match
18:00 - Final

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Cuban Despaigne´s bat gets scorching hot in Japanese baseball

Cuban Alfredo Despaigne had an amazing performance last weekend in the Japanese Professional Baseball League (NPB).

Despaigne, who plays for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the NPB Pacific League, hit homeruns in three consecutive games and now amounts 16, thus ranking second in this stat tied with two other players and only behind Hotaka Yamakawa (18) of the Saitama Seibu Lions.

Last Friday, he batted 1 for 3 with a 3-RBI homer in the 8-0 win of the Hawks, which won again 6-2 on Saturday with Despaigne hitting 1-3 again, including a solo homer and two RBIs.

But on Sunday, the NPB defending champions lost 4-13 despite the Cuban player batted 2 for 4, with two homeruns and three runs batted in.

Despite having a terrible start this season, the Cuban slugger has considerably improved his performance and now has batting average (BA) of .233 in 62 games, in addition to 41 RBIs, appearing 6th in this stat.

Two other Cubans, LHP Livan Moinello and utility Yuribel Gracial, also play for the Hawks; the latter is currently injured, while Moinello ranks 6th among the best setuppers in the NPB this season.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks appear 4th in the NPB Pacific League, 4 ½ games behind the leader Saitama Seibu Lions, but only 2 ½ and ½ behind the Nippon-Ham Fighters and the Orix Buffaloes, who rank 2nd and 3rd in that order.

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Trump Wants to Ship 25 Million Mexicans to Japan: Report

That would make the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe lose an election, President Trump argued during the recent G7 summit.

President Donald Trump told Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he could send 25 million Mexicans to the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, in an attempt to argue that immigrants are bad for electoral victories and trying to prompt a sense of empathy from Abe but failing dramatically.

RELATED: Trump's Tariffs, Protectionism Debated at Disjointed G7 Meeting

The most recent G7 meeting turned out to be a diplomatic disaster as the leader of the world's new rogue state, U.S. President Donald Trump, made a series of unfortunate remarks that will actually affect international affairs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, at one point of the G7 discussion Trump attempted to appeal to his counterparts by saying that immigration is a big problem for Europe, and then directed his words to Abe: “Shinzo, you don't have this problem, but I can send you 25 million Mexicans and you'll be out of office very soon.”

Among all Trump's disappointing remarks, this one certainly created a sense of irritation among world leaders, who struggled with the POTUS during the whole meeting.

Trump didn't specify where he would get the Mexicans from, if he would ship them from the 36.3 million legally residing in the U.S., from the unknown number of immigrants that crossed the border risking their lives to search for a better future, or take them directly from Mexico.

The summit ended in failure when Trump rejected the joint statement and bashed Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was hosting the meeting, for being “very dishonest and weak.”

The leaders gathered at the summit, including Germany's Angela Merkel, Canada's Trudeau, Japan's Abe, France's Emmanuel Macron, Italy's Giuseppe Conte and the U.K.'s Theresa May were reportedly “dismayed by [Trump's] verbal jabs” during the discussions ranging from wide and sensitive topics such as terrorism and migration, according to the WSJ.

When the discussion reached Iran's nuclear deal and terrorism, Trump turned to Macron and made some serious accusations.

“You must know about this, Emmanuel, because all the terrorists are in Paris,” Trump was reported saying.

The meeting focused on patching the wounds between traditional allies resulting from the new tariff regime imposed on Europe, Mexico and Canada by the Trump administration.

"The EU believes these unilateral U.S. tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules. This is protectionism, pure and simple," Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

Other world leaders also tried to confront Trump's threats to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

In response, Trump described Juncker as a "brutal killer" in reference to the European Union's antitrust and tax fines against U.S. tech companies.

While some of the world's top Western leaders struggled to find common ground, small groups of protesters clashed with riot police on the highways leading to the summit. A hundred or so protesters, dressed in black, burned couches to block the entrance of Highway 440.

G7 summits have frequently been met with mass protests, notably in 2015 when protesters managed to make it to the security fence surrounding the meeting.

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