Thai police have arrested a Japanese yakuza boss on the run for 15 years after pictures of his tattoos went viral on Facebook.

Shigeharu Shirai is accused of murdering a gang rival in 2003.

The photographs of the 74-year old fugitive's elaborate yakuza tattoos were taken by a local person in Thailand unaware of his identity.

The mafia-like yakuza gangs have been part of Japanese society for centuries and have an estimated 60,000 members.

While the gangs themselves are not illegal, much of their earnings are gained illicitly through gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking and cyber-hacking.

When the pictures of Mr Shirai went viral they caught the attention of Japanese police who requested his arrest.

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Police detained him in the town of Lopburi, north of Bangkok, for visa violations and he will be extradited to Japan to face the murder charges.

According to Thai police, he admitted he was a member of a yakuza gang but did not confess to the 2003 murder. He fled Japan for Thailand in 2005.

Tattoos and a missing finger
The Facebook pictures show an old and frail-looking man with his entire back and most of his chest covered in tattoos. He is seen playing a board game with other retirees by the side of the road.

Pictures also show that he is missing part of his little finger, often a self-administered punishment for members of Japan's yakuza gangs to atone for mistakes.

 

It's January, which means you may have stood on the scales and decided to go on a diet. But what sort?

For many years, low-carb diets have been in fashion - based on the belief that eating lots of carbohydrates, particularly in the form of sugary treats such as white bread, rice or pasta, is bad for your waist and for your blood-sugar control.

The reasoning is that if you eat lots of carbohydrates and sugars, particularly the sort without fibre that get quickly absorbed, they will rapidly push up your blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Unless you burn this glucose off by doing exercise, your pancreas will pump out lots of the hormone insulin to bring these levels back down to normal.

It does this by storing the excess sugar from the carbs as fat. Too much stored fat, particularly visceral fat (inside the abdomen) can lead to serious health problems such as type-2 diabetes.

As well as concern about the amount of carbs we eat, people also worry about when they get eaten.

It's widely believed, for example, that eating carbs in the evening is worse for you than having them for breakfast.

That's because first thing in the morning your body is raring to go and should soon burn up the glucose released from the carbs. When you eat late at night your body is preparing to sleep, so the body should take longer to clear it.

That's the theory. But is it really true?

Morning v evening carbs
On Trust Me I'm a Doctor, with the help of Dr Adam Collins, from the University of Surrey, we set up a small study.

We recruited healthy volunteers to see how well their bodies coped with eating most of their carbs in the morning, or in the evening.

We also wanted to see if the volunteers' bodies would adapt over time.

All of our volunteers were asked to eat a fixed amount of carbs every day; things such as vegetables, bread and pasta.

For the first five days they were asked to eat most of their carb allowance for breakfast, leaving only a small amount for dinner time.

Then they had five days of normal eating before switching to low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners for a final five days.


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Dr Collins's team was monitoring their blood-glucose levels throughout. So what did he think he would find?

"It's always made sense to me that we process carbs better if we have a whole day of activity ahead," he said.

"So, I expect having most of their carbs at breakfast will be easier for their bodies to cope with.

"But we don't really know what happens if you regularly follow an evening-carbs diet.

"There's never been a study like this before, and as a scientist I'm excited to see what happens"

So what did we find?

Well, there was a clear winner. And it wasn't the one I was expecting.

When the researchers tested the volunteers on the day after a run of high-carb breakfasts and low-carb dinners, they found their average blood glucose response was 15.9 units.

This was roughly as predicted.

But when they did the same tests after five days of low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners?

Remarkably, their average glucose response went down to 10.4 units, which was considerably lower than we were expecting.

So what happened? Well, it could be that what matters is not so much when you eat your carbs but the length of the carbs-free "fasting" period that precedes your meal.

If you've had a big gap since your last carb-rich meal, your body will be more ready to deal with it.

That happens naturally in the mornings because you've had the whole of the night, when you were asleep, in which to "fast".

But our small study suggests that if you go low-carb for most of the day, that seems to have a similar effect.

In other words, after a few days of low-carb breakfasts and high-carb dinners your body becomes trained for this - it becomes better at responding to a heavy carb load in the evening.

Dr Collins is now launching a much larger study, which will hopefully provide more definitive answers.

In the meantime, his advice is not to worry too much about what time of day you eat carbs, as long as you're consistent and don't overload with them at every meal.

It's more about achieving peaks and troughs, If you've had a lot of carbs in the evening, try to minimise them in the morning.

On the other hand, if you've had a pile of toast for breakfast, go easy on the pasta that night.

The only Malian to be included in the collection, Fototala King Massassy, puts this down to generations of Malian photographers "tending to fall back on tradition".

 

Stranger in a Familiar Land is the work of Uganda's Sarah Waiswa, who says she left a job in the corporate world to follow her passion for "creating visual poetry".

"The beautiful, the ugly and all that is in between" are what 27-year-old self-taught photographer Girma Berta says he tries to capture in his work.

 

Taken in 1971, this photo of a shop assistant in Accra by James Barnor shows his signature observation of style, during a career which took him from Ghana to London.

Education is Forbidden, a series by Rahima Gambo, considers how schoolchildren in northern Nigeria are coping as Islamist militants violate "neutral safe spaces where knowledge is transferred to students".

 

Everyday scenes of "queer life" in Ghana are at the heart of Eric Gyamfi's series Just Like Us.

 

Rencontres de Bamako is jointly run by Mali's government and the Institut Francais and works are on display until 31 January 2018.

 

Members of the European Parliament have voted to ban commercial fishing using an electric current in EU waters, so-called pulse fishing.

Opponents say the method is equivalent to putting a Taser in the water.

The European Commission and the Dutch government say it is better for the environment than traditional trawling.

The Netherlands has been testing the controversial technique as part of scientific research.

How is electricity used in fishing?
This is about a technique called pulse fishing, where trawlers use nets that generate an electric current.

Fish - particularly sole - are stunned, which forces them to float upwards, making them easier to catch.

What does the law say?
Like the use of explosives and poison, pulse fishing is technically illegal in the EU. The US, China and several other countries have a ban too.

But there is an exception which allows EU countries to catch up to 5% of their annual fishing quota in the North Sea using "innovative methods" in the name of research.

Pulse fishing counts as one of those innovative methods.

Why is there a campaign against it?
The French conservation group Bloom is leading the campaign against electric fishing.

They say the technique harms the fish it is designed to catch and kills marine life that is supposed to be left alone.

"If you electrocute marine life you have an ecosystem-wide problem," says Claire Nouvain, Bloom's president.

"You wipe out the resource in the ocean. You transform it into a real desert."

She is also the one who says it amounts to putting a Taser into the water.

Bloom is supported by organisations representing smaller-scale fishermen in France and the UK.

The luxury hotel chain Relais & Châteaux is on board, along with a group of Michelin-starred chefs who say they will not cook with pulse-caught fish.

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The British and French supermarkets Waitrose and Intermarché have also said they will not sell fish caught in this way.

Why do the Dutch like it?
The Netherlands is the biggest user of this method in the EU. The Dutch government has issued permits to around 80 trawlers. ("Err... how many boats do you need for an experiment?" ask campaigners).

The Dutch point to studies which suggest their pulse-equipped fleet use 46% less fuel and catch 50% less unwanted marine life than other trawlers.

"The Dutch position is clear: pulse fishing is the future," according to Dutch Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten.

"This innovation is better for the environment, does less damage to our seas and the life there, saves fuel and has less unwanted by-catch."

She said the MEPs' vote to ban the method was "difficult to understand".

"It seems like emotions and sentiments prevailed over independent research results and facts. That's very unfortunate.

"We will continue to defend the interests of Dutch pulse fishers in Europe and will fight this decision."

What is happening now?
There were cheers and applause in the European Parliament as the result of the vote was announced.

The parliament will now enter into long negotiations with the European Commission and member states to agree a package of measures to streamline regulations for fishing.

The Netherlands can continue testing pulse fishing until the new legislation comes into force.
 

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