Canine nursing home touted
A new nursing home has everything seniors could want, from a hair salon and 24-hour medical care to comfy beds and a swimming pool to keep those legs in shape — all four of them. The facility in a Tokyo suburb is throwing open its doors to aging dogs of all shapes and sizes, with the promise of a comfortable retirement for the elderly canines and their equally wrinkly human owners. Aeonpet Co, a unit of major shopping mall operator Aeon, billed its nursing home as just the ticket for a pet-loving nation which also has a rapidly aging population. “Many pets are getting old, while their owners are also aging. This is a serious social issue,” company president Akihiro Ogawa said during a media tour on Wednesday. “I hope this business will provide part of the solution for this problem.” Owners who worry about their pet’s future after they die need not fret — the pool has dog-sized life jackets and there is a CT scanner for thorough medical checkups, and when those beloved pets are not getting a shampoo and trim, the home offers memory games to help ward off dementia and comforting care during the final stage of life. There is an interview to make sure owners are not just trying to get rid of old pets, with costs ranging from ￥100,000 (US$1,000) a month for small pets to double that for bigger dogs. The nursing home is to open next week.
Teary lawmaker goes viral
A video clip of a weeping politician accused of dubious spending on trips to hot springs has gone viral, leaving many outraged and puzzled. The video shows Ryutaro Nonomura, 47, a Hyogo Prefectural lawmaker, bursting into tears, uttering nonsensical phrases and banging on his desk. “To change Japan and society,” he said in a choked voice, stopping mid-sentence, sometimes sobbing so loud he was shouting. “I’m putting my life on the line.” One site showing the video drew nearly 640,000 views as of yesterday. His press conference on Tuesday followed a Kobe Shimbun report this week that raised questions about Nonomura’s visiting hot springs 106 times last year, using public money. Such visits are not illegal and had been reported to the assembly office, but totaled ￥3 million. Calls are rising for Nonomura to give an explanation. Hyogo legislators get ￥500,000 a month for expenses, including travel, but the spending is supposed to be for official travel, research and other costs related to activities of elected office. Nonomura, who does not belong to a major political party, was found to have gone on other day trips, racking up expenses, including visits to Tokyo and the southwestern city of Fukuoka. Of his 195 day trips, ones to the hot-springs resort town of Kinosaki were the most frequent. Nonomura’s behavior has been widely seen as extreme, perhaps even a sign of illness.
Ancient gene aids Tibetans
A new study says a gene that helps Tibetans cope with the thin air there came from an extinct relative of humans. Researchers say they found the Tibetan version of that gene in DNA from Denisovans, a poorly understood group known only from 50,000-year-old fossils in a Siberian cave. Other studies have found Denisovan DNA in modern populations, but the new study says the Tibetan high-altitude gene is virtually absent outside of Tibet. Researchers believe the Denisovans passed it on by interbreeding with ancestors of today’s humans, but that it remained rare except in people who faced the high altitudes of Tibet. For them, it would confer a survival advantage, which would make it more common over time.