Rat meat has become such a popular alternative to other dearer meats in Cambodia that its price has increased fourfold.
As inflation pushes the price of beef beyond the reach of the poor, increased demand for rat meat has pushed up rodent prices. A kilogram of rat meat now costs 5,000 riel (69p) compared with 1,200 riel last year. Spicy field rat dishes with garlic are increasingly on the menu as beef costs 20,000 riel a kilo.
Officials said rats were fleeing to higher ground from flooded areas of the lower Mekong Delta, making it easier for villagers to catch them.
"Many children are happy making some money from selling the animals to the markets, but they keep some for their family," said Ly Marong, an agriculture official. "Not only are our poor eating it, but there is also demand from Vietnamese living on the border with us."
He estimated that Cambodia supplied more than a tonne of live rats a day to Vietnam.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Lorie Kane believes members of the LPGA Tour already have a universal language - golf.
But the LPGA thinks differently. It will require golfers to speak English starting in 2009, with players who have been members for two years facing suspension if they can't pass an oral evaluation of English skills.
"I am of a strong belief that, yes, we need to learn to communicate," Kane, a 12-year tour veteran, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. "But whether or not you can communicate shouldn't determine whether or not you have a card on the LPGA Tour."
The tour held a mandatory meeting with South Koreans at the Safeway Classic last Wednesday to inform them of the new policy, which will be finalized with a detailed criteria by season's end.
There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the LPGA Tour, including 45 players from South Korea. With such diversity, the tour sees the policy as a necessary step for its players.
"Why now? Athletes now have more responsibilities and we want to help their professional development," deputy commissioner Libba Galloway told The Associated Press. "There are more fans, more media and more sponsors. We want to help our athletes as best we can succeed off the golf course as well as on it."
The international players have had no shortage of success on the course.
Sixteen of the top-20 current money earners were born outside of the United States. Eight of those women are South Korean followed by two Swedes, two Australians, a Mexican, a Norwegian, a Brazilian and a Taiwanese.
It's looking that way:
China has resorted to stealth intervention in the currency markets to amass US dollars, using indirect means to hold down the yuan and ease the pain for its struggling exporters as the global slowdown engulfs the economy.
A study by HSBC's currency team in Asia has concluded that China's central bank is in effect forcing commercial banks to build up large dollar reserves, using them as arms-length proxies in a renewed campaign of exchange rate intervention.
Beijing has raised the reserve requirement for banks five times since March, quickening the pace with two half-point rises in late June.
This is having major spill-over effects into the currency markets because banks in China have been required over the last year to hold extra reserves in dollars rather than yuan. The latest moves have lifted the mandatory deposit from 15pc to 17.5pc of total lending since March.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So the system is useless, as far as actually defending against missiles. It is, however, very useful for other purposes:
The system has been in development since 1946, and so far it has achieved a grand total of nothing. You wouldn't know it if you read the press releases published by the Pentagon's missile defence agency: the word "success" features more often than any other noun. It is true that the programme has managed to hit two out of the five missiles fired over the past five years during tests of its main component, the ground-based midcourse missile defence (GMD) system. But, sadly, these tests bear no relation to anything resembling a real nuclear strike.
All the trials run so far - successful or otherwise - have been rigged. The target, its type, trajectory and destination, are known before the test begins. Only one enemy missile is used, as the system doesn't have a hope in hell of knocking down two or more. If decoy missiles are deployed, they bear no resemblance to the target and they are identified as decoys in advance. In order to try to enhance the appearance of success, recent flight tests have become even less realistic: the agency has now stopped using decoys altogether when testing its GMD system.
This points to one of the intractable weaknesses of missile defence: it is hard to see how the interceptors could ever outwit enemy attempts to confuse them. As Philip Coyle - formerly a senior official at the Pentagon with responsibility for missile defence - points out, there are endless means by which another state could fool the system. For every real missile it launched, it could dispatch a host of dummies with the same radar and infra-red signatures. Even balloons or bits of metal foil would render anything resembling the current system inoperable. You can reduce a missile's susceptibility to laser penetration by 90% by painting it white. This sophisticated avoidance technology, available from your local hardware shop, makes another multibillion component of the programme obsolete. Or you could simply forget about ballistic missiles and attack using cruise missiles, against which the system is useless.
Makes a fair amount of sense actually. Thanks to Frustrated Mess in this babble thread for the link (also being discussed in this Kitco thread).
So why commit endless billions to a programme that is bound to fail? I'll give you a clue: the answer is in the question. It persists because it doesn't work.
US politics, because of the failure by both Republicans and Democrats to deal with the problems of campaign finance, is rotten from head to toe. But under Bush, the corruption has acquired Nigerian qualities. Federal government is a vast corporate welfare programme, rewarding the industries that give millions of dollars in political donations with contracts worth billions. Missile defence is the biggest pork barrel of all, the magic pudding that won't run out, however much you eat. The funds channelled to defence, aerospace and other manufacturing and service companies will never run dry because the system will never work.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Like they say, you can't make this shit up:
A powerful gust of wind recently swept a house-sized sculpture of dog feces from its display outside a Swiss museum, an art official in Berne said Monday.
The incident took place on the night of July 31, but details of the artwork's escape — and the havoc it caused before its eventual landing — emerged just this week.
The massive inflatable sculpture, created by U.S. contemporary artist Paul McCarthy and titled Complex Shit, is part of the Paul Klee Centre's exhibit East of Eden: A Garden Show.
Maybe you've seen this picture; it was published by Reuters with a title stating that the person being carried is dead. Note the "deceased's" hand appears to be quite able to hold onto that other woman's arm. Indeed, there were a whole bunch of pictures like this of, shall we say, dubious authenticity. More details may be found here.
At a Shell petrol station in Washington, Rocky Twyman and an unusual group of activists were mad as hell about soaring fuel prices.
"Last week, this station was $US3.51 ($A3.72). Now it's practically $US3.60 ($A3.82). So it's gone up nine cents in one week," Twyman said as he pumped five dollars worth of petrol into his thirsty American car.
"Someone's making a lot of money and it's really, really wrong," added Twyman, who founded the Prayer at the Pump movement to seek help from a higher power to bring down fuel prices, because the powers in Washington haven't.
The half-dozen activists - Twyman, a former Miss Washington DC, the owner of a small construction company and two volunteers at a local soup kitchen - joined hands, bowed their heads and intoned a heartfelt prayer.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
To this day, the Green party is the only party prepared to call for an end to asbestos mining and exports.All very well, except for this:
In light of the World Health Organization’s conclusion that “there is no evidence for a threshold for the carcinogenic effect of asbestos” and that “the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos,” the government should apply the precautionary principle and proceed to a ban on asbestos through phasing out the use and export of asbestos.Oh well, she's almost right. The Green party is the only party except for the NDP prepared to call for an end to asbestos mining and exports.
Georgia has filed a law suit against Russia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for ethnic cleansing, the secretary of Georgia's Security Council, Kakha Lomaia, said on Tuesday.The article does not go into detail about these allegations; it's all rather vague. It's also rather odd, given the timescale of these alleged atrocities, that they didn't file suit before -- if the Russians were indeed conducting some sort of atrocities by proxy in South Ossetia, you'd think they could have filed suit before. Also interesting are the death tolls reported in the same article:
Separately, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he had been contacted about the conflict in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia and may launch a preliminary investigation.
The ICJ rules on nation versus nation disputes while the ICC was set up to try individuals for serious crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Both courts are based in The Hague in the Netherlands.
"Today, the Georgian ambassador to the Netherlands filed a law suit to the International Court of Justice called 'The state of Georgia against the state of Russia' because of ethnic cleansing conducted in Georgia by Russia in 1993 to 2008," Lomaia told Reuters.
Russia says 1,600 South Ossetian civilians have been killed, while Georgia has reported close to 200 killed and hundreds of wounded. Neither set of figures has been independently verified.So even Georgia is only claiming 200 deaths in the conflict. Whether the South Ossetian death toll is as high as Russia is claiming, only time will tell.
Equally interesting is this video. An American citizen, who lives in the conflict zone with his wife and daughter, has some pretty damning things to say about Georgia's conduct -- and America's support of Georgia. Thanks to N. Beltov in this babble thread for that second link.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
However you describe it -- distinct, peculiar, or stubborn -- it's undeniable: Albertans possess a unique propensity for bucking national trends.
Not that we're troubled by it, mind you; quite the opposite, in most cases. When Albertans are seen to be out of step with much of the country, we wonder what's wrong with everyone else.
This is a case, however, where we should be wondering what's wrong with us -- a case where Alberta's anomalous body of opinion is not a source of pride, but rather a deep embarrassment.An Angus Reid poll released last week asks Canadians their views on the question of evolution versus creation.
Overall, 58 per cent of Canadians say they are believers in evolution. By region, the numbers are more or less in keeping with the national average.
However, there's one notable exception in this poll: Alberta.
A shockingly low 37 per cent of Albertans supported the position that humans beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years. An even greater number of Albertans -- 40 percent -- agreed that humans were created by God within the last 10,000 years.
From this babble thread. My dad has often said that Albertans are pretty darn close to being Yankees, and this certainly offers support to his claim. Especially with stuff like the Big Valley Creation Museum.
From here. I suppose there are similarities, but there are much more recent examples of similar justifications for military action, which Mr. Brzezinski seems to have forgotten about. And in any case, Russia doesn't seem to be interested in occupying Georgia:
The foreign policy adviser of US presidential candidate Barack Obama has called on the world community to isolate Russia in protest over its campaign in the Caucasus, likening its tactics to those of "Hitler or Stalin".
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was the national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, and is now advising the Democratic candidate, said the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, was "following a course that is horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s".
He said that Putin's "justification" for splitting up Georgia - because of the Russian citizens living in South Ossetia - could be compared to when Hitler used the alleged suffering of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland as a pretext for annexing Czechoslovakia in 1938.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, the Kremlin says.
He told officials he had decided to end the campaign after restoring security for Russian citizens and peacekeepers in South Ossetia.
From the Beeb. I don't recall the Nazis pulling out of the rest of Czechoslovakia after securing the Sudetenland, which sort of weakens Brzezinski's analogy, don't you think?
Monday, August 11, 2008
With its editorial, “Stopping Russia: the US and its allies must unite against Moscow’s war on Georgia,” the Washington Post has established a world record for the maximum number of lies in the minimum number of words.
Except for the Washington Post, the entire world knows that Georgia (the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, not Georgia USA) initiated the aggression that killed Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians in South Ossetia, peacekeepers who were there with the blessing of Georgia and international agreements.
The true facts are available all over the world press. But the “liberal” Washington Post serves up the lie that Russia has attacked Georgia and conceivably plans to conquer all of Georgia. “This is a grave challenge to the United States and Europe,” thunders the Bush Regime’s mouthpiece, aka, “the liberal media.”
Thirsting for blood, the “liberal media” declares: “The United States and its NATO allies must together impose a price on Russia.”
Here we see the combination of idiocy and delusion in one sentence. The United States has proved that it is incapable of occupying Iraq, much less Afghanistan. Russia has a large trade surplus. America’s NATO allies are dependent on Russian natural gas. Yet the “liberal” Washington Post wants a bankrupt US and “its NATO allies” who are dependent on Russian energy “to impose a price on Russia” for defending its peacekeepers!
Seldom has the world seen such total insanity as the neoconservative Washington Post, a propaganda sheet as far from “liberal media” is it is possible to be.
The dramatic military attack by the military of the Republic of Georgia on South Ossetia in the last days has brought the world one major step closer to the ultimate horror of the Cold War era—a thermonuclear war between Russia and the United States—by miscalculation. What is playing out in the Caucasus is being reported in US media in an alarmingly misleading light, making Moscow appear the lone aggressor. The question is whether George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are encouraging the unstable Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili in order to force the next US President to back the NATO military agenda of the Bush Doctrine. This time Washington may have badly misjudged the possibilities, as it did in Iraq, but this time with possible nuclear consequences.
The underlying issue, as I stressed in my July 12 Global Research article entitled Georgia, Washington and Moscow: a Nuclear Geopolitical Poker Game , is the fact that since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 one after another former member as well as former states of the USSR have been coaxed and in many cases bribed with false promises by Washington into joining the counter organization, NATO.
Rather than initiate discussions after the 1991 dissolution of the Warsaw Pact about a systematic dissolution of NATO, Washington has systematically converted NATO into what can only be called the military vehicle of an American global imperial rule, linked by a network of military bases from Kosovo to Poland to Turkey to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1999, former Warsaw Pact members Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia followed suit in March 2004. Now Washington is putting immense pressure on the EU members of NATO, especially Germany and France, that they vote in December to admit Georgia and Ukraine.
Again, I don't think it will come to this; even world leaders generally recognize that a nuclear war between the US and Russia is more than most people, including them, are likely to be able to survive. But this kind of brinksmanship is scary.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The Italian government has deployed 3,000 soldiers in cities across the country as part of a plan to fight street crime.
In the capital Rome, about 400 soldiers were stationed at underground stations and at an immigrant centre on Monday.
"This morning we have deployed about 350-400 soldiers of the Italian army at institutional sites and sensitive sites," Lieutenant Colonel Claudio Caruso said.
The Italian opposition and police unions have criticised the use of troops, accusing the government of seeking to "militarise" city centres and using the measure to mask budget cuts in the security forces.
One opposition MP expressed fears that the move at the height of the tourist season could alarm visitors to the city.
But Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, said no soldier would patrol in the historic centre where most tourists are concentrated.
Roberto Maroni, the interior minister, told reporters in Rome last week that he wanted to "give the public a better perception of security".
From here. Between this and the mass fingerprinting of the Roma, fascism seems to be on the resurgance in that country.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
From The Onion, natch. Except that someone seems to have made this suggestion for real:
As they said at Sadly, No!, this is beyond fucking parody. The freaking Wall Street Journal has seen fit to write an article about Obama's failure to conform to the all-American ideal of a guy sitting on his couch watching TV and eating pork rinds.
Speaking to donors at a San Diego fund-raiser last month, Barack Obama reassured the crowd that he wouldn't give in to Republican tactics to throw his candidacy off track.
"Listen, I'm skinny but I'm tough," Sen. Obama said.
But in a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.
Thanks to zetawoof, posting on atomicat's LJ, for the tip.
Friday, August 1, 2008
From here. There are a few curious things about this story; the one that initially leaped out at me was this:
A U.S. military scientist committed suicide as federal prosecutors readied an indictment alleging he mailed anthrax-laced letters in 2001 in what authorities said Friday may have been a bizarre attempt to test a vaccine for the deadly poison.
The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, worked at the army's biodefence labs at Fort Detrick, Md., for 18 years until his death on Tuesday.
He had a long history of homicidal threats, according to papers recently filed in local court by a social worker.
Letters containing anthrax powder turned up at congressional offices, newsrooms and elsewhere weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, killing five and sending numerous victims to hospitals with anthrax poisoning.
Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told the Associated Press that his other brother, Charles, had told him that Bruce committed suicide and Tylenol might have been involved. The Los Angeles Times, which first reported that Ivins was under suspicion, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine.Now maybe this is true. However, that seems to me to be an unlikely way for a biologist to commit suicide. If the codeine kills you, great- but if it doesn't, you're likely to die much more slowly, as your liver shuts down from the effects of the Tylenol. And Ivins would likely have known that. Of course, a severely despondent person might not be thinking clearly enough, so there's some plausibility... but one has to wonder.
Glen Greenwald has a great deal more on Ivins' death:
So it does make you wonder, doesn't it? If Ivins was party to this deception, or simply was aware of it, it might be a wee bit awkward if he were about to be cross-examined in court. Maybe someone decided to make sure that didn't happen...
We now know -- we knew even before news of Ivins' suicide last night, and know especially in light of it -- that the anthrax attacks didn't come from Iraq or any foreign government at all. It came from our own Government's scientist, from the top Army bioweapons research laboratory. More significantly, the false reports linking anthrax to Iraq also came from the U.S. Government -- from people with some type of significant links to the same facility responsible for the attacks themselves.
Surely the question of who generated those false Iraq-anthrax reports is one of the most significant and explosive stories of the last decade. The motive to fabricate reports of bentonite and a link to Saddam is glaring. Those fabrications played some significant role -- I'd argue a very major role -- in propagandizing the American public to perceive of Saddam as a threat, and further, propagandized the public to believe that our country was sufficiently threatened by foreign elements that a whole series of radical policies that the neoconservatives both within and outside of the Bush administration wanted to pursue -- including an attack an Iraq and a whole array of assaults on our basic constitutional framework -- were justified and even necessary in order to survive.