Powerful typhoon approaches Okinawa's Miyako Island amid storm surge warning


Typhoon Neoguri, called Typhoon No. 8 in Japan, is seen from the International Space Station in this photo recently posted to the Twitter account of U.S. astronaut Reid Wiseman.TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A powerful typhoon approached Okinawa's Miyako Island on Tuesday, with the Japan Meteorological Agency issuing an emergency storm surge warning for the island and adjacent islets in the southwestern prefecture and urging residents to be on maximum alert.

The weather agency has kept the highest-level storm and high-wave warnings already in place against Typhoon Neoguri for Miyako and the main island of Okinawa.

The season's eighth typhoon, described by the weather agency as the strongest-level typhoon for a July, is forecast to head northward over the East China Sea by gradually taking an easterly course, approaching the main island of Kyushu in southwestern Japan on Thursday and possibly making landfall there.

There is also a possibility that the typhoon may make landfall on the main island of Honshu, where Japan's large cities like Tokyo and Osaka are located.

As of noon, Typhoon Neoguri was heading north around 110 kilometers west-southwest of Kume Island at a speed of 25 km per hour, with an atmospheric pressure of 935 hectopascals at its center and gusts of up to 252 kph.

The typhoon is expected to maintain strong winds and heavy rains through Wednesday in Okinawa with gusts of up to 234 kph, hourly rainfall of up to 60 millimeters and waves reaching as high as 14 meters, according to the weather agency's forecast.

Miyako, Ginowan and 10 other cities, towns and villages issued evacuation advisories to a total of 530,000 local residents.

Japanese referee a candidate for World Cup final


In this Dec. 10, 2010 file photo, Japan's referee Yuichi Nishimura officiates a FIFA Club World Cup qualifying soccer match between TP Mazembe and Mexico's Pachuca in Abu Dhabi, UAE. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The Japanese referee who gave Brazil a controversial opening-day penalty is a candidate to handle the World Cup final.

FIFA says Yuichi Nishimura is among 15 referees retained on World Cup duty in Brazil, with 10 sent home.

Nishimura has not had another match since Brazil beat Croatia 3-1, helped by a penalty awarded when forward Fred fell after slight contact on his upper left arm.

Referees staying for the rest of the tournament include Howard Webb, the 2010 final referee from England; Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, whose nine career World Cup matches is a record; and American Mark Geiger.

Six European referees remain, including Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey.

FIFA says referees from semifinalist nations Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands will now leave. However, Sandro Ricci of Brazil is available for selection.

  Missing Japanese Important Cultural Property Turns Up In
                       Vegas "Gold & Silver" Pawn Shop

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- In the wake of news reports in Japan that "at least one National Treasure and at least 108 Important Cultural Properties have gone missing", at least one has turned up in the most unlikely of locations-the "Gold & Silver" pawnshop of reality show star Rick Harrison.

It was verified early Monday morning that a katana (Japanese style sword) on display in the shop was the Usu-Midori "Light Green" sword of a twelfth century warlord, Minamoto no Yoshitsune. How it came to be in Harrison's possession is likely as interesting as the history of the sword itself.

"This happened several months back. The gentleman who pawned the sword was here on vacation from Japan. Like a lot of travelers, he had run through all of his cash at the casinos and was looking to recover some of it before his wife found out. Mostly he had old Japanese gold coins-they're called Kouhan-and I gave him the going rate for the metal value on those. He had some old scrolls from an artist I've never heard of-Takezaki Suenaga. I passed on those since my friend who knows everything to know about ancient Japanese picture scrolls-they're called Emac-e-was out of town".

"But he did have one more thing," said Harrison. "An old sword that had seen better days. But since Americans are crazy about anything samurai related, I thought I'd take a chance on picking it up. I offered him like 10 bucks for it-after all, if he ended up not claiming it I'd have to have Rick's Restorations restore it, buy it a sword rack, and it would still probably sit on the shelf for months before it moved. I also told him I'm pretty sure my grandma had something like that when I was a kid. I made it a condition of the gold buy and let him bargain me up to twenty just so he could walk away feeling like he'd won."

"But it turns out he gambled away all the cash from the gold sale, too, and couldn't come up with the payment on the claim check until his father-a man of some import, I gather-wired him some money. This wasn't until two days after the claim check expired. He was pretty upset when he found out he wasn't getting it back, but I told him there was nothing I could do. Next time, he'll probably read the fine print better. I did feel bad for the guy-he walked away mumbling how Masako was going to kill him and that it was the worst loss of a sword for his family since Dan-no-ura. I didn't know what that guy from Hawaii 5-0 had to do with a sword, so I told him 'whatever' and had security help him find his way out".

Harrison sent the sword to Rick's Restorations to be brought back to life. "Man, that thing was in really bad shape!" laughed Harrison. "Rick really knocked it out of the park. He buffed it out with steel wool, took off the sharkskin on the grip and replaced it with some really sharp looking nylon, and sharpened the hell out of the blade with a grindstone. He stripped the lacquer off the scabbard and gave it a nice coat of bright red paint that really makes it stand out". Harrison put it on a sword stand and then basically forgot about it as the months rolled by and it failed to sell.

The sword was spotted by vacationing Japanese historian and martial artist Brick McBurly. "I knew right away that the sword was sumtin' special," explained McBurly. "If I'da hit it big at the craps tables, I'd be walkin' outta here strapped with that baby, even though Yoshitsune was a snivelin' whiny crybaby who depended on his pal Benkei to deal with the real world fer him. But as luck would have it, I'm here divestin' myself of some rare antiques of my own, hopin' to refinance my streak'a bad luck. Hopefully my father-in-law don't notice them missin' until I can get them outta hock-or worse, my wife finds out".

McBurly reported his discovery to the local Japanese consul, who forwarded a request to local law enforcement to investigate. Armed with photos, a detailed description of the piece, and Japanese sword expert Clyde Sinclair, Las Vegas Pawn Shop Detail Lt. Clancy O'Hara made a positive ID. "Sure'n it was the real thing. God bless that foine McBurly lad fer openin' our eyes. 'Tis a cryin' shame that such a sad state of affairs can take place here in the heartland of the Home of the Free, but since Mr. Harrison obtained the glarified pig-sticker legally, there's not much we can do. We can only hope that pompous waddlin' master of foul play chooses to do the right thing".

And what will Harrison have to say when the Japanese government comes calling?

"Hey, their money is as good as anyones, as long as they're bringing good American dollars. I'd be happy to give them a 6% discount to help smooth things over. But if the Chinese pony up the cash first, well, I am a businessman, and need to put food on the table for the Old Man and Big Hoss, so they better not drag their feet".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The restored sword on display.