NEWS

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.

 

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.
 

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 sudden death of Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan at the age of 46 has shocked fans, who remember the band best for rock pop 90s hits such as the yearning love song Linger and the politically-charged Zombie.

O'Riordan, the youngest of seven children, was born in Limerick, Ireland, and began writing songs when she was 12-years-old.

She joined the band - then called The Cranberry Saw Us - when she was a teenager, after answering an advert for a female singer to join brothers Mike and Noel Hogan and Fergal Lawler.

In a Rolling Stone interview, O'Riordan said of her audition with the band: "It was easy for me because I knew, no matter what their first impressions were, that the minute I opened my mouth that they were going to be impressed."

Soon after, the name was shortened to simply The Cranberries.

While their subsequent demo started a bidding war between UK record companies, their first EP was not a success and they soon changed managers.

Notoriously hard to crack for British and Irish artists, it was actually the US which gave the band their first taste of big success.

The group spent six months touring the States in 1993 - their first album, Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, originally peaked at number 78 on the UK chart but after US fans packed stadiums to see them support Suede and they came to the attention of MTV, the album went platinum on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some fans were a bit bemused by her earlier performances - according to a 1995 piece in the Orlando Sentinel, "even staunch followers were less than dazzled by the band's early live shows. O'Riordan refused to face the audience, standing sideways while she sang".

The reason was shyness but she would soon come out of her shell.

And it wasn't just the US, Ireland and the UK who were enthralled by O'Riordan and her cohorts - they were a hit across the globe, including Asia.

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O'Riordan's distinctive voice soon led to comparisons with her compatriot Sinead O'Connor, though the singer said in a 1995 interview: "What I do is so different. I might have been singing before she ever sang - who knows? It's not like I'm not going to sing because somebody from up the road got there first because she was a few years older than me."

She often recalled being a bit of a rebel in her youth: " The boys (her brothers) were always allowed to come home late, do all the things I wasn't allowed to do because I was a girl," she told Melody Maker in 1994 when she was 23.

"Any time I went to a disco - until I was 19 years old! - one of my brothers would have to go with me. That seemed so old - like, nearly dead! And still not free, either!

"I was a good little Catholic girl, mind - but I was always rebellious underneath."

Her free spirit led her to hurtling down a mountain at top speed while skiing in 1993 - even though it was her first time on the slopes. She underwent major surgery and was left unable to run again.

O'Riordan married Don Burton, Duran Duran's former tour manager in Tipperary a year later, wearing cream knee-high boots, lace tights, and a see-through wedding dress.

The couple, who had three children along with Burton's son from a previous marriage, split in 2014 and later divorced.

While O'Riordan and her bandmates went on to enjoy huge success with their first two albums - the second, No Need to Argue, was released in late 1994 - their peak commercial success was relatively short-lived.

The third album, 1996's To the Faithful Departed, could not live up to its predecessors in terms of sales and the band cancelled an Australian and European tour later that year.

Bury the Hatchet, was released in 1999 but only made it to number 7 and 13 in the UK and US charts respectively, although their world tour, which they embarked on the same year, was a big success.

Their next album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, came out in 2001 and peaked at number 61 on the UK chart.

The Cranberries split in 2003, and O'Riordan briefly pursued a solo career before the band reunited in 2009.

They made the album Roses, which was released in 2012 and an acoustic Cranberries album titled Something Else came out in spring last year, featuring three new songs as well as re-workings of older tracks.

The Cranberries then announced a tour including dates in Europe, the UK, and the US.

But in May - shortly into the European tour - the group had to cancel the remainder of the European dates as a result of O'Riordan's health issues.

The official Cranberries website said the singer had "an ongoing back problem" which prevented her from performing.

Then just before Christmas, O'Riordan posted a message on Facebook saying she was "feeling good" and had done her "first bit of gigging in months", leading fans to believe she would soon be performing again.

'Sick of being famous'
As the frontwoman and only female in the band, O'Riordan was always the focus and she admitted she found fame difficult, taking time out away from the spotlight as she hit her 30s.

"I just wanted to stay at home, do the laundry, take my children to school. Just switch off and be a mother... I became a volunteer at my children's school, I went into the classroom. It was very grounding. I got sick of being famous," she told The Independent in 1999.

Three years ago she became a judge on The Voice of Ireland, saying she was hoping to find someone who was "unique" and described appearing on the show as "a new adventure in my life."

The singer has also been open about her mental health.

O'Riordan was arrested over an alleged air rage incident in 2014 but was released without charge, after a stewardess was reportedly attacked on a flight from New York to Shannon, County Clare.

Two years later, the singer was ordered to pay 6,000 Euros (£5,300) to charity for headbutting a police officer after a separate alleged air rage incident.

'Salvation'
She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015, which she said explained why she was in a "manic" state on the plane.

In an interview in 2013 she said that she had been abused as a child, which led her to develop an eating disorder, and she subsequently suffered a breakdown.

O'Riordan described her family, especially her children, as her "salvation".

 

The singer also acknowledged her songs were often borne of melancholy.

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