2016.12.01 English

1 Sir Ralph Kohn
2 USA Election: Recount in 3 Battleground States and Global Uncertainty.
3 China Takes the Lead
4 Diabetes UK: 65 people die each day.
5 Let’s All Join the 150 Year Old Club
6 Brexit
7 UK Child Abuse Scandal
8 Japan News
9 Japanese Efficiency
10 Most Popular UK Surnames

1 Sir Ralph Kohn
Sir Ralph Kohn, eminent medical scientist, philanthropist and baritone singer, and a good friend of Sunstar, died peacefully after a short illness, days before his 89th birthday.

Sir Ralph’s family escaped the Nazis and came to England. At University he studied pharmacology and was awarded a PHD. He then worked with Nobel Prize winning scientists in Rome, New York and London, before setting up his own respected and successful drug testing business the ‘Advisory Service’. His company flourished and he received the Queen’s award for Export Achievement.

He married Zahava Kanarek, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen and had three children.

Sir Ralph was a polymath. He spoke fluent French, English, German, Italian and Yiddish, and he was also an accomplished musician. He trained with Beniamino Gigli in Rome, gave many performances at world renowned venues and recorded 16 CDs.

He was elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society in 2006 and Knighted by the Queen in 2010. In 2004 he was invited to be on the prestigious BBC radio programme Desert Island Disc, where famous people are asked to chose their all time favourite records.

Sir Ralph and the family had close links with Sunstar and with the Kanada family.
A representative of Sunstar attended the funeral and brought the condolences of Sunstar to Lady Zahava and her daughters.

I am including a YouTube video of a historical important lecture given by Lady Zahava and her daughter Hepzibah Rodofsky about her concentration camp experience.

Both the London Times and The Telegraph published extensive obituaries.
Wikipedia biography is included for your information.

2 USA Election: Recount in 3 Battleground States and Global Uncertainty.
A recount challenge in three battle-ground States (Pensilvania, Wisconsin and Michigan) gives a little hope to US progressives still reeling from Trump’s shock victory, but the omens are not good. Clinton would have to win in all three states to overturn the result. Meanwhile President elect Trump continues in the task of selecting the men and women who will be his advisors in the White House. With Republican majorities in both Congress and the Senate and Trump nominating right-wingers to the Supreme Court, there is little doubt that the regime which will be inaugurated by the billionaire property tycoon, now champion of the common people and scourge of the elites, will bring a big wind of change to the US political landscape. Commentators are drawing parallels between former PM Berlusconi, another tycoon, that got into power and Donald Trump. The Washington Post: Trump is America’s Berlusconi

Two major “Western Leaders” Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were at their most diplomatic in welcoming Trump’s success. PM Abe, no doubt concerned about TTP and the importance of strong links to the US in the face of Chinese territorial ambitions, was quick off the mark to New York to meet Trump. Both men said it was a friendly and open meeting, though both chose not to divulge the content of their discussion. Angela Merkel on the other had a very well crafted message in which she said: “Germany and America are bound by common values — democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin colour, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments.”

However storm clouds are gathering over Europe. On December 4th Austria will hold the re-run of its Presidential Election. Last time Norbert Hofer, the populist far-right candidate of the “Freedom Party” was defeated by a whisker, but the vote was declared null because of an irregularity with the postal vote. Should he win in December it will be the first time since the war that a major European country is headed by a party of the far right. Meanwhile on the same day Italy will go to the polls to decide on the Constitutional Reforms proposed by their PM Matteo Renzi. Should the Referendum result go against him and he resigns as he has promised to do, Italy will be in crisis. This could be a boost for the anti-Euro Movimento 5 Stelle (5 Star Movement). The three main Italian opposition parties are against the Euro and should any of them attain power it is likely that they will try to take Italy out of the single currency. It is questionable if the Euro would survive.

Trump’s Election has been welcomed by the European Far Right parties. The UK’s Nigel Farage, was in the US giving support to Trump during the election and was photographed laughing with the President Elect in Trump Tower’s golden lift, but it is in France and the Netherlands were the next shocks could be felt. On March 17 the Dutch will go to the polls and the far right, anti EU and anti immigration politician Geert Wilders is just behind in the polls. Next will be the French Presidential Elections. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the nationalist, anti-EU and anti-immigration Front Nationale, was one of the first to congratulate Trump on his victory. The election is to be held on April 23 and should no candidate get over 50% of votes then a run-off will be held between to two frontrunners two weeks later. Commentators believe that she will be in the top two in the first round, but lose in the second round. After Brexit and Trump it is a brave person who will make a strong bet. Should Le Pen win, Europe will be in serious crisis. Can Marine Le Pen win?

3 China Takes the Lead

One of President Trump Elect first acts was to declare he will abandon the TPP agreement. This free trade deal between 12 Pacific region countries, and excluding China, was the mainstay of Obama’s Asian Pivot Policy. Attending the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting in Peru, China was pushing their Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) which up to now had not included the Americas. Speaking in Peru a senior member of the Chinese delegation announced that Peru and Chile would now be joining. The APEC final communique stated that both TTP are the RCEP are both valid routes to promote free trade in the Pacific Rim. As the US seems to chose a more isolationist route, China seeks to take advantage.

4 Diabetes

65 people each day die because of complications due to diabetes. UK Diabetes, the national charity, stated that it is the biggest epidemic of our time. 4.5 million people suffer from Diabetes 1 and 2. The government and the national health service are beginning to recognise the importance of early detection and intervention.

5 Lets All Join the 150 Year Old Club?

Evidence now suggests that one of the major drivers of the ageing process is an accumulation of molecular and cellular damage throughout the body. Treat this, and there is a real possibility of banishing age-related illness and of humans reaching the age of 150. The accumulation of biological waste products that disrupt processes in cells seems to be one factor in the damage we call “ageing”.
Research has also found that telomeres, the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, protect our DNA from becoming frayed. With time they become shorter and eventually become so short they stop working and the cell begins to malfunction in ways associated with disease and “ageing”.

Diet is a key factor is maintaining the health of our DNA. Japan and the Greek island of Ikaria are examples of places were people reach an older age. Some have emphasised superfoods, but experts are talking about combinations of foods. They believe contributing dietary factors on the Okinawan plate include regular eating of squid and octopus (high in cholesterol-reducing taurine), sweet potatoes (rich in flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin E and lycopene) and a local bitter melon – called goya – that has been shown to reduce blood sugar in diabetics. This very interesting article in the UK Telegraph is well worth reading.

6 UK: Child Abuse Scandal Continues
Apart from the usual celebrity gossip, the big story, other than Brexit, continues to be about ‘child abuse’ perpetrated by men in authority: be they teachers, priests or TV personalities. The latest scandal is about a number of top footballers who have come out to say that they were abused by their sports coaches. The UK has been rocked by abuse scandals. A far reaching enquiry ordered by the Government has seen four of its Chairs resign because of disagreements. Even the BBC had to face up to the fact that the late Jimmy Savile, one of its biggest stars, a friend of Prime Ministers and celebrities, abused hundreds of children under their very noses.

7 Brexit
Parliament, both Commons and Lords, are now trying to understand the detail of the negotiations which will follow. Stage one will be the triggering of Article 50 and the “divorce”: negotiations between UK and EU.
For now the British economy seems to be withstanding the shock of Brexit. Unemployment is at an all-time low, growth higher than predicted and the stock market is doing well. However Sterling has fallen and prices are beginning to rise and the Government has accepted independent economic figures indicating that the country will need to borrow an extra £70 billion in the next 5 years. InFacts is a very good website produced by top UK journalists about different aspects of Brexit.

8 Japan News
Japan News is a most interesting BBC webpage drawing attention to news about Japan. This week they cover Tokyo getting its first November snow dusting in 54 years; the story the newsreader Mao Kobayashi who is writing a blog about her cancer experience; and an article about how the elderly people are encouraged to hand over their driving licences in exchange for good ramen.

9 Common Surnames in UNITED Kingdom

A new UK study has revealed that many surnames were associated with occupations such as Baker, Tanner or Smith (blacksmith), and others had to do with location for example Green, Hill or simply denoting a relationship such as Jackson or Johnson (son of). Interestingly there were 100,000 people in the UK with the Indian name Patel .

10 UK Astonished by Japanese Speed
The UK is notoriously slow at approving infrastructure projects. The British side of Eurostar was modernised only 10 years after the official opening, and the government is still discussing building a third runway at Heathrow Airport. In fact the last runway built in the UK was some 60 years ago and discussion about a third runway at Heathrow started in 1978 and is still ongoing.

Same goes for the construction of a High Speed train (HS2) linking London to Scotland. The decision has now been taken, although the line will be built in stages and the route is still not defined . Opposition is huge. Landowners don’t want to sell, villagers that don’t want the line near them (NIMBIES: Not In My Back Yard), and townspeople don’t want the train to go near their shops.

So examples of Japanese efficiency are always welcome. The London Guardian was astonished that only one week after the Fukuoka Sink Hole had appeared, with the usual Japanese efficiency, the road had been repaired and the re-opened to the public.
Fukuoka Sink Hole: The Guardian