Solar Impulse begins Pacific crossing

Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg has begun his bid to cross the Pacific, from China to Hawaii, in the zero-fuel Solar Impulse aeroplane.

The experimental aircraft, which has a wingspan bigger than a jumbo but weighs little more than a large car, left Nanjing at about 18:40 GMT.

It is likely to take Mr Borschberg five to six days of continuous flight to reach his central Pacific destination.

He will try to stay awake for much of that time, taking only short catnaps.

His progress will be monitored the entire way from a control room in Monaco…

The journey is the seventh leg in the single-seat, propeller-driven aircraft’s quest to circumnavigate the globe using just the energy of the Sun…

Solar Impulse needs not only favourable winds to help push it forward, but also clear skies to enable its 17,000 wing-mounted photovoltaic cells to achieve peak performance.

These cells must have the vehicle’s lithium-ion batteries fully topped up at dusk to sustain flying through to dawn the next day.

Mr Borschberg is a highly experienced pilot, and as a trained engineer is completely familiar with the plane’s systems…Nonetheless, he is in no doubt how tough the mission will be.

“It’s more in the end about myself; it’s going to be an inner voyage,” he told the BBC before departure.

“It’s going to be a discovery about how I feel and how I sustain myself during these five or six days in the air.”…

If he succeeds in reaching Kalaeloa airport, he will set several aviation records – not least the longest-duration journey for a single-seater plane.

And then – he will carry on to North America, to Europe, and back to AbuDhabi.

Solar Impulse lands in Nanjing

solar impulse

The Solar Impulse 2, the world’s largest solar-powered aircraft attempting to fly around the world, has just made its sixth stop in the Chinese city of Nanjing.

It arrived in Nanjing on Tuesday night after a 17-hour flight. Previously, it had been stranded in China’s Chongqing Municipality for 21 days due to bad weather.

The Solar Impulse 2 will stay in Nanjing for another two weeks, after which it will begin its 5-day non-stop flight across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.

Kicking off its journey on March 8th in Abu Dhabi, the plane stopped at Muscat, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Mandalay and Chongqing, and has been flying a total distance of 6,000 km for 75 hours. It will then fly across the U.S. and the Atlantic Ocean, pass Southern Europe and North Africa, and then head back to Abu Dhabi, finishing its round-the-world journey.

Just keeping up with one of the more inspiring flights in recent decades.

China holds a Memorial Day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre

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If there is anything I truly hate it is war.

I’ve experienced some small participation in wars. I have had dear friends more directly affected over longer periods. Now gone. One who survived the Warsaw Ghetto uprising – made it through the sewers of Warsaw, through the countryside eventually to the Soviet Union. After healing physically, she went back to Poland to fight in the underground against the Germans.

I asked her once why she kept her Polish name from the Underground instead of returning to her Jewish family name. She told me that all of that life died with her husband and her daughters in a German death camp. Who she became after that was a different person.

My closest friend most of my life was the most decorated soldier in WW2 from our home state in New England. He was awarded every medal except the Congressional Medal of Honor and he was nominated for that. Surviving injuries at the Battle of the Bulge he was severely wounded at the liberation of the Buchenwald Death Camp – and had sixteen months in a veterans’ hospital to reflect upon how he got there.

They’re both gone, now. Someone like me has to remember.

It doesn’t matter where or when my thoughts are stirred to recall. I’ve written about Nanjing before; but, tonight I happened to switch over to CCTV America just as the ceremonies at the Memorial Site in Nanjing were wrapping up.

I sat and watched the last half-hour of the live telecast. I cried some for 300,000 civilians slaughtered by Japanese soldiers over a few weeks starting on December 13, 1937. I won’t forget Nanjing. China won’t forget Nanjing.

Nagoya Mayor denies historic massacre – Nanjing suspends relations with Nagoya

Nanjing Massacre Museum
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

The Chinese city of Nanjing has suspended its sister-city relationship with Nagoya, Japan, after Nagoya’s mayor expressed doubts that the Japanese Army’s 1937 Nanjing Massacre actually took place…

The falling out began Monday, when Nagoya’s mayor, Takashi Kawamura, told a visiting delegation of Chinese Communist Party officials from Nanjing that he doubted that Japanese troops had massacred Chinese civilians. Most historians say that at a minimum, tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered in Nanjing in one of the most infamous atrocities of Japan’s military expansion across Asia in the early 20th century.

The falling out underscored how differing views of history remain a problem in Japan’s ties with the nations that it once conquered. While such denials are common by Japanese conservatives like Mr. Kawamura, they are rarely raised in such a public manner, or directly to Chinese officials…

Still, the Japanese government scrambled to head off a full-blown diplomatic quarrel. The top government spokesman restated Japan’s official position that the massacre did, in fact, take place…

On Wednesday, Mr. Kawamura remained unrepentant, saying that he did not intend to retract the statement or apologize…

Such disagreements between Japan and its neighbors have quieted from the early 2000s, when Junichiro Koizumi, then prime minister, angered many in China and South Korea by visiting the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo that honors Japan’s war dead, included executed war criminals.

I’ve written about this before. People in China haven’t forgotten. Why should I?

US to attend Hiroshima anniversary for first time

Candles float in the Motoyasu River before the Peace Memorial Park
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The United States has confirmed that the ambassador to Japan will attend a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Hiroshima atom bomb drop for the first time.

PJ Crowley, a spokesman for the US State Department, said it would be the first time a US ambassador will attend the August 6 anniversary.

About 140,000 people were killed or died within months when an American B-29 bombed Hiroshima.

Mr Crowley would not say if US officials would attend ceremonies in Nagasaki, where 80,000 people died after the United States attacked three days later. Japan surrendered on Aug 15, ending World War II.

Embassy officials from wartime allies and currently nuclear-armed Britain and France also plan to attend the event for the first time, state broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News said, citing unidentified diplomatic sources.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will also attend the ceremony this year, becoming the first chief of the world body to do so…

Many Japanese – including survivors of both atomic bombings known as “hibakusha” – hope Mr Obama will visit Hiroshima in November when he travels to Japan for a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

In a related note [does that sound diplomatic enough], I believe the people of China are still awaiting a visit from Japan’s head of state at the ceremonies honoring the anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre.

300,000 Chinese were murdered by invading Japanese soldiers – well before the United States entered the war in the Pacific.

Nanjing Massacre survivor wins final libel suit

Nanjing Massacre Museum
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

The Japanese Supreme Court has decided in a final ruling to reject an appeal by the Japanese author and the publisher of a book on the Nanjing Massacre to pay a total of 4 million yen, or about $40,000, in compensation to Xia Shuqin, the Chinese plaintiff, for libel.

The Supreme Court upheld earlier judgment made by the Tokyo High Court and the Tokyo District Court.

The earlier ruling noted the book, entitled “Complete Investigation into the Nanjing Massacre,” damaged the reputation of Xia Shuqin, a woman survivor of the massacre by leaving readers with the false impression that she was not a victim of the notorious mass homicide during World War II.

Xia was 8 when her family were all slaughtered during the Nanjing Massacre. She was referred to in a document produced by an American priest. The book, however, denied the authenticity of her existence as a survivor.

On December 13, 1937, Japanese invading troops occupied Nanjing after fierce combats with the Chinese army, and then launched a six-week long massacre. Historical records showed that more than 300,000 Chinese people, not only disarmed soldiers but also civilian victims, were massacred in the holocaust.

Like deniers of other Holocausts better-known in the West, the point of this right-wing exercise is to build a case against admitting that any portion of Japanese genocide during World War 2 existed. Nibble away at the truth long enough – with lies that suit the mythology of imperial racism – and you can continue to claim the mantle of patriotism dear to the heart of reactionaries.