War of words over calls for independence


Leading pro-Beijing leaders on Thursday came out to back government’s warning to prosecute those calling for Hong Kong’s independence, but some legal scholars pointed out it’s rather difficult to incriminate those who advocate it.

The Justice secretary Rimsky Yuen on Wednesday said promoting the idea of independence could be a breach of the Basic Law, and that violation of the mini-constitution would constitute a criminal offence.

Executive Councillor Fanny Law reiterated the view and said the Justice Department was right in rejecting a registration for the Hong Kong National Party.

Law, who’s also a deputy to the National People’s Congress, said no organisation can register in Hong Kong if they want to set up a base here and advance the idea of independence.

But another executive councilor, Bernard Chan, skirted the issue of the legality of justice department’s warning, saying he’s no legal expert. But he stressed the independence advocates will only do harm to Hong Kong.

A Hong Kong member of the CPPCC standing committee, Anthony Wu, said Basic Law makes it quite clear that the territory can never be independent. He said the SAR should focus on more important issues than debating about such issues.

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau said there’s nothing wrong with people who want independence expressing their opinion, even if it’s not the mainstream view. She also said she doesn’t agree that Hong Kong should only focus on economic development.

Legal scholar Eric Cheung from the University of Hong Kong, meanwhile, said the community should not overreact to calls for independence because the freedom of expression should be respected in the SAR. He said it would be an overstatement to say that such views could endanger national security.

Deregulation of Japan’s electricity market goes into effect




Japan’s power utilities will lose their monopoly over electricity on Friday in an unprecedented shakeup that could give a much needed jolt to Japan’s long stagnant economy.

The utilities have resisted attempts since the 1990s to liberalize the industry. The companies and their affiliates have ties with politicians, fund their campaigns and often give government officials executive roles.

The monopolies were set up in 1951 during the American occupation after World War Two and followed the U.S. model at the time, with regional utilities controlling all aspects of generation and transmission.

Already, a price war has broken out among many of the more than 260 companies that will be allowed to sell electricity to more than 80 million households in Japan’s 8 billion yen retail market.

From Friday, Japanese consumers will be able to buy electricity from suppliers ranging from telecoms conglomerate SoftBank and trading firm Marubeni to travel agency H.I.S. and a Hokkaido-based supermarket co-operative that has branched out into solar parks.

They and others like Japan’s biggest city gas operator, Tokyo Gas, are packaging other services, offering loyalty programs and even employing, in the case of Marubeni, the magic of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation powerhouse that won an Oscar for “Spirited Away.”

The new entrants are betting they can make money in a low-margin business by undercutting the monopolies brought low financially by the Fukushima disaster and saddled with a high-cost business model after decades of guaranteed profits.

The government is hoping increased competition in the final remaining restricted part of the electricity market will boost efficiency and innovation and cut prices that are among the highest in the world.

But the new entrants are competing for space in a market in long-term decline as the population falls and consumers from factories to households look to trim power use.

What is more likely to happen is regional monopolies would merge and relatively few of the newcomers would survive the coming battle for market share, according to industry officials and specialists, analysts and others contacted by Reuters for this article.

The regulatory overhaul will only add to the state of flux in the energy sector since the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011 shut down Japan’s 54 nuclear plants. Only two of the remaining 42 usable reactors are operating. The disaster led to rolling blackouts in parts of the country and helped build public support for the liberalization.

The overhaul leaves the question of nuclear power hanging. Major utilities, which still control power distribution grids, are reserving some of that capacity for nuclear, according to a Reuters survey of the utilities.

Japan has seen explosive growth in renewable energy, particularly solar, since preferential rates were introduced in 2012. By last summer, solar contributed to 10% of peak power demand from almost nothing before 2012.

Wind power could get a boost as well from the regulatory overhaul. Local and foreign companies are stepping up investment with the government maintaining high guaranteed rates for this energy source but cutting those for solar.

Japan’s record use of coal is likely to keep rising, as companies such as Nippon Paper and trading house Mitsubishi Corp plan to build 43 new coal-fired units.

Liquefied natural gas will remain a key contributor to electricity production in the world’s biggest consumer of the fuel.

TEPCO seen losing

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), owner of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant and the largest of the regional monopolies, is likely to be the biggest loser in the overhaul. Tokyo Gas and JX Holdings are among those targeting TEPCO’s 29 million customers.

Six other regional utilities have announced plans to sell electricity to TEPCO be eliminated.

Anticipating competition, TEPCO has dropped prices for some customers and targeted other regions in Japan. It is changing its logo and tying up with billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Corp to package mobile phone and electricity supplies.

The second-biggest operator, Kansai Electric Power, is in a more precarious position as the utility most reliant on nuclear power before Fukushima. None of its plants have reopened, after a court order earlier in March kept two reactors at its Takahama plant shuttered.

“Because of the injunction on Takahama nuclear plant, we were forced to scrap plans to lower fees and we compare very unfavorably in price competition with others,” said Kansai Electric chief Makoto Yagi, when asked about the overhaul at a recent press conference.

Because the utilities still control the grids, they can charge high fees for access to them from newcomers to the industry. Plans to separate the transmission and generation business at the existing monopolies won’t be implemented until 2020.

All the players will be competing in a stagnant market. The industry ministry forecasts annual power demand to rise less than 0.1% to 981 billion kilowatt-hours by 2030 from 969.4 billion kWh in the year through March 2015 – and that is based on an optimistic assumption of 1.7% annual economic growth.

Confusion over profusion

Meanwhile, Japan’s airwaves have been bombarded with the profusion of new entrants advertising various plans and packages to supply power.

Tokyo Gas and Japan’s biggest refiner JX Holdings, which markets oil products under the Eneos brand, are offering discounts of around 10%.

“Given so many options, I still don’t know which service works the best for our family,” said Shinei Sato, a 70-year-old musician who lives in Tokyo with his wife and son. He says he is leaning toward choosing Tokyo Gas, as “we use gas anyway and it is a brand we can trust.”

Companies such as railway operator Tokyu Corp and Mitsubishi, which is joining forces with Japan’s second-biggest convenience store chain operator Lawson, are linking power sales to Internet and cable TV services or offering point programs and even free recipes services popular among cooking-buffs in Japan.

Mitsubishi and Lawson Inc have set up a joint venture. The new company, MC Retail Energy Co Ltd, has been receiving advance orders for electricity services since February. As the first convenience store in Japan to enter the electricity retailing business, MC Retail Energy will mainly supply households and small offices.
MC Retail Energy’s electricity supply will be centered around the Kanto region. Under its “Machi-Ene” brand name, MC Retail Energy said it is aiming to provide electricity services that offer “dependability”, “good value” and “convenience” to local communities. Notice of MC Retail Energy’s services will be issued through Lawson’s approximately 4,000 convenience stores across the Kanto region.

Marubeni is tying up with online retailer giant Rakuten and aims to win a 5% market share by 2020. It is offering a menu of services under which part of consumers’ bills pays to support Ghibli’s museum and its effort to preserve nature.

A survey late last year by advertising agency Dentsu showed 80% of users will consider a switch to new suppliers, with price their top priority when making a selection.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016.

General election campaigns kick off in S.Korea



Campaigns for South Korea’s parliamentary elections kicked off nationwide on Thursday.

All 300 seats in parliament are up for grabs in the quadrennial election to be held on April 13th. Lawmakers will be selected either through direct elections or proportional representation.

In central Seoul, one of the most contested constituencies, candidates of the ruling and opposition parties delivered speeches or shook hands with voters on the first day of their campaigns.

Opinion polls show that the ruling Saenuri Party is likely to win a majority in the race. But its support rate has declined after a scandal over the party’s selection process for candidates surfaced.

Legislators in the governing party who are close to President Park Geun-hye obtained the party’s endorsement while others not close to her did not.

Attention is focused on whether the party can maintain a majority in the national legislature and whether it can boost its standing.

The results may affect Park’s management of her government with less than 2 years of her term remaining.

The results are also expected to influence the presidential election scheduled for December next year.

Her Husband ‘Seemed Sensitive, Kind, Intelligent, Liberal, and Feminist . . .’



Oh, that was a very bad omen, really. It is difficult for me to imagine what a “feminist” husband would be, considering that for more than four decades, feminists have argued against marriage, per se.

Exactly why would a feminist want a husband? This is the great riddle.

Fish don’t need bicycles and feminists don’t need men. Such was the doctrine proclaimed by Gloria Steinem, anyway, but nevertheless some women ignore these contradictions and thus, sadly, we have the phenomenon of The Feminist Man. These seem so rare they may be entirely mythical — unicorns, minotaurs, mermaids, Feminist Men.

In theory, a relationship based on a radical egalitarian ideology seems possible. However, feminism’s doctrinaire belief that men and women are fundamentally the same (androgynous) and that there are no natural distinctions between them, inevitably raises the question, “Why”?

That is to say, if men do not possess any specifically masculine traits or characteristics that she admires, why does she associate with him? What purpose does The Feminist Man fulfill? What is his value to her?

According to feminist theory, masculinity is an artificial product of patriarchy, socially constructed by the gender binary within theheterosexual matrix. The male has no essential raison d’être in the feminist scheme of things. He is entirely useless and irrelevant and it is impossible to imagine how a woman who finds males attractive — desirable and perhaps even necessary — could call herself a “feminist.”

Nevertheless, despite these ideological contradictions, The Feminist Man is alleged to exist, and here is the tale of a woman who married one:

I lived happily — blissfully unaware how happily — for 14 years with a man who seemed sensitive, kind, intelligent, liberal, and feminist. We were deeply in love and the kind of couple people looked up to. My marriage was permanent; it defined my future. Two years ago, I would have told you we were unshakable. I couldn’t imagine a scenario that could break us up. My husband was also, to all outward appearances, happy. He enjoyed life and was uniquely easygoing and content. Those qualities made him a joy to chat with, to vacation with, and to live with.
Then my husband woke up one day feeling a little “gender-fluid.” Within three months he developed the conviction that he was a woman and he “came out” to everyone he knew. . . .
He cried because someone “misgendered” him. He cried because his shoulders were too broad for his new dress. He cried because he couldn’t completely eradicate the stubble on his face. He cried because his new habit of flipping his hair back with a limp wrist had gotten him mistaken for a gay man. . . .
He got counseling and joined support groups, where he “learned” that he was “literally” a woman, and not just someone who identified as one. He announced to all comers thathe’d found his “true self” and had become “happy” for the first time in his life. His alleged happiness didn’t stop him from spiraling into an even deeper despair. He became suicidal. He was prescribed antidepressants. He adopted bizarre beliefs and became hysterical if anyone questioned them.
All interests were abandoned for endless monologues about transgender rights and his “gender identity.”


Yeah, she married The Feminist Man, and when he turned out to be not actually a man at all — well, she was deeply hurt by this. She searched online forums of other women who had gone through a similar trauma:

This is just the transgender experience. Narcissism, sexual dysfunction, partner neglect, childishness, temper tantrums,lack of impulse control. Tell me again why this is a normal human variation?
It didn’t matter that I thought my marriage was stronger than most, that I thought that my husband was smarter and kinder than most.This was my inevitable trajectory.


Inevitable? Well, if you find The Feminist Man attractive — so “sensitive”! so “kind”! so “liberal”! — what do you really expect? Somewhere behind that “easygoing” façade, your husband was slowly losing his mind as he gazed into the abyss of existential despair. To repeat: The male has no essential raison d’être in the feminist scheme of things.

Feminism is a philosophy that declares men to be utterly useless. It is astonishing how so many women are eager to advocate “equality” — i.e., the eradication of all social distinctions between male and female — and yet do not follow this argument to its logical conclusion.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . .”
Romans 1:22 (KJV)

Once a society embraces certain ideas — syncretistic paganism, for example — the descent into madness is really just a matter of time.