A Tamil-language newspaper in Malaysia has had its printing permit suspended for one month as punishment for publishing an image of Jesus that many Christians, as well as people of other faiths, found offensive.
The picture depicts Jesus holding a cigarette and what looks like a can of beer. The caption accompanying the image translates roughly as "If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits them." The picture appeared as part of the newspaper's regular "thoughts for the day" feature, which spotlights quotes from famous leaders and philosophers.
Last year, two Malaysian newspapers got shut down after publishing offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed—the notorious ones that were the subject of protests from Nigeria to Indonesia. In the case of the Jesus image, some Malaysian Christians have demanded that the newspaper that published it, Makkal Osai, receive the same treatment.
At least one Malaysian Christian blogger, however, believes that shutting down civic discourse isn't consistent with the principle of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). I would add that at the very least, it isn't consistent with the principle of free speech, which requires us to defend the right of people to say things that offend us deeply.
Remember our blog post about those 1,500 prisoners in the Philippines who were jamming out to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? Well, ABC News went behind the scenes and visited the Cebu province prison to find out how it all got made.
They talk to warden Byron Garcia, who conceived of the routines for prison yard exercise and YouTube fame (and whose sister happens to be the local governor). Are the prisoners actually enjoying themselves? According to a journalist interviewed by ABC who has visited the prison, the enforced dancing may actually be a violation of their human rights. He says:
I think Byron sees his prisoners as his dancing monkeys.
Garcia, however, thinks everything is copacetic:
We have a good relationship. Whatever I tell them to do, they do.
Check out the ABC News video here:
Question: How do you discipline bad cops who litter, arrive late, park where they aren't supposed to, and commit other misdemeanors?
Answer: Make them wear Hello Kitty armbands as punishment.
In Thailand, police officers who behave badly will now have to wear a hot pink armband—picturing Hello Kitty sitting on two hearts—as a mark of shame. A police official explained the rationale by saying: "[Hello] Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It's not something macho police officers want covering their biceps."
The only concession is that officers receiving the armband punishment will have to stay in the division office all day. They won't have to wear Hello Kitty in public.
It's easy to see globalization at work in the Philippines, as long as you just add a couple decades and throw in 1,000 orange jumpsuits. Nearly 24 years after the premier of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, prisoners in the central Philippine province of Cebu groove out during their morning exercises by re-enacting the zombie dance moves that became so famous on MTV.
The jailbirds also perform to Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" and don nuns' habits when dancing to "Hail Holy Queen" from the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie "Sister Act." Warden Byron Garcia introduced the choreography to the prisoners last year, but only uploaded the videos recently. They've been tearing up cyberspace ever since.
I want the prison system to learn from this," Garcia told Reuters. "The inmates are after all human beings and the inmates after all, once inside, know that they have committed mistakes, let them enjoy their stay."
If non-Koreans know the name of one Korean food, it's kimchi. Every year, South Korea exports some 35,000 tons of the traditional Korean dish, which is made of fermented vegetables—usually cabbage or radishes. You can buy it by the truckload at Korean-American megastores like Super H-Mart.
Yet, concerned that foreigners just aren't eating enough kimchi, the Korean government made like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and created a kimchi alert system to make it easier for consumers to tell what kind of kimchi—mild, slightly hot, moderately hot, very hot, or extremely hot—is right for them.
The Thai junta that took power in a coup last September has demanded that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra return to Thailand or face charges on financial misdeeds. He was never going to get the welcome mat rolled out for him, but check out what the heavies are saying:
Pallop Pinmanee, a former general who was appointed in May as the junta’s security adviser, laughed when asked by telephone today whether Mr. Thaksin’s safety would be assured.
“How can I guarantee that for him?” he said.
Guess that's a no?
Imagine that First Lady Laura Bush had died in the fall of 2005. (I realize this is morbid, but stick with me.) Now imagine that U.S. President George W. Bush, a scant 19 months later, announced to the nation that he would be getting remarried—not to just anybody, but to the ex-wife of Laura's younger brother. How would that play in the red states? Probably not well.
For the citizens of Malaysia, no imagination is necessary. The country's widower prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has fallen in love again. He'll soon wed Jeanne Abdullah, a longtime friend and, incidentally, the ex-wife of his late wife's brother.
By all accounts, the Malaysian people are elated. Malaysian Minister of Works S. Samy Vellu has gone so far as to pen a poem in celebration of the happy couple. An excerpt follows:
A mountain needs a valley to be complete;
the valley does not make
the mountain less, but more;
and the valley is more a valley because
it has a mountain towering over it.
The electoral seat of Bontoc (175 miles north of Manila) was decided by the toss of a coin in yesterday's local election in the Philippines. The two candidates, Byran Byrd Bellang and Benjamin Ngeteg, received exactly the same number of votes for the last of eight council seats. The election supervisor asked the candidates if the wanted to break the tie by tossing a coin or drawing lots, both permitted under the local election rules. They chose a coin toss. Bellang opted for heads and won, and the two men sealed the outcome with a handshake. Dennis Dimalnat, a provincial elections supervisor, said that the two candidates set a refreshing example:
I hope others would see the beauty of this kind of peaceful resolution."
He may have a point. The Philippines is notorious for electoral violence. So much so, in fact, that the recent elections on May 14 were praised for being "generally peaceful"; a mere 121 were killed this year compared to the 189 dead in 2004. But the outcome of both elections remains the same: Gloria Arroyo once again looks in good shape to hold onto her country's top position—without the aid of a coin, though possibly with the aid of some other, less fair, tactics.
Reporting on the Russia-Burma nuclear deal Christine covered yesterday has been somewhat inconsistent, so I'd like to clarify some details for Passport readers.
First, it is unclear what sort of uranium fuel the facility will require. Some reports say 20 percent enriched; others say under 20 percent (civilian reactors generally use 3-5 percent). Since any level of enrichment above 20 percent is usable in a weapon, this is a crucial distinction.
Second, the size of the reactor doesn't matter if Burma wants a uranium bomb—it could only serve to justify purchases of highly enriched uranium. IAEA safeguards and Russian controls on the fuel supply will be the real barriers to a Burmese nuclear weapons program.
One thing to keep in mind: Talks over the reactor are "only preliminary." As Christine said: Watch closely.
Lost in the hubbub surrounding Condoleezza Rice's Russia visit earlier this week was some disturbing news out of Moscow. Pretty much as soon as Rice boarded her plane to return home, Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom announced that it would help build a nuclear energy research facility in Burma. The facility will have a 10MW light-water reactor, use 20 percent-enriched uranium-235, and have processes for storing nuclear waste. Russia plans on training some 300 scientists for the center.
With such low-grade uranium, and with a relatively limited reactor, the center will not have capabilities to develop a nuclear weapons program. Also, Burma is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Moreover, Rosatom promises its activities will be supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Nevertheless, the news is troubling on many fronts. Russia has history of exporting nuclear science to regimes that the West considers sketchy. And for the past 45 years, Burma has been controlled by a military-led junta that Human Rights Watch describes as one of the most repressive in the world. Since 1996, when the United States and the EU imposed sanctions on Burma for its human rights violations, Russia has become a leading supplier of weapons to Burma's military.
According to The Irrawaddy (a Thailand-based publication about Burma that FP covered last year), Burma has been trying to develop a nuclear energy since 2000, when science and technology minister U Thaung visited Moscow to solicit support. The resulting agreement fell through when questions arose about how the impoverished Burmese would pay for Russia's assistance. But now, evidently, Burma's vast natural gas reserves have provided the necessary capital.
So far, the cost and specific location of the project has not been disclosed. And obviously, it will be some time before ground is broken, and even more time until the facility is up and running. But still, this is something to watch closely. Very closely.
Cambodia is finally taking a baby step to address its ugly history. A new book by Khamboly Dy, an expert on Cambodia's genocide, came out on Wednesday. Dy's A History of Democratic Kampuchea is significant because it's the first history book written by a Cambodian on the period from 1975 to 1979, when the Khmer Rouge terrorized the population and caused the deaths of some 1.7 million people. However, it was only approved for use a "reference text" in schools, so Cambodia's government—which is led by people with Khmer Rouge pasts—isn't exactly embracing truth and reconciliation with open arms. But it's a start.
You can download a PDF of the book here from the Documentation Center of Cambodia's website. Eighty-four pages are in English, with the other 125 pages in Khmer.
It begins eloquently:
Many Cambodians have tried to put their memories of the regime behind them and move on. But we cannot progress—much less reconcile with ourselves and others—until we have confronted the past and understand both what happened and why it happened. Only with this understanding can we truly begin to heal.
Agakhan Sharief has either made a foolish gamble, or is keenly aware that Osama Bin Laden remains a popular figure on the insurgency-plagued Phillipine island of Mindanao.
Sharief, a candidate for a legislative council seat in upcoming provincial elections, adopted "Bin Laden" as his nickname after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo jokingly called him the "young bin Laden of Mindanao" at a public appearance in 2002. But Sharief isn't a militant; he just looks somewhat like the al Qaeda leader, dresses in white and sports a long beard. Sharief is known locally as a "peacemaker" for his role as an intermediary between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mindanao's main insurgent group. Yet, Sharief has also expressed ambivalence about the other bin Laden's involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Given his unorthodox campaign strategy, we can probably infer that his would-be constituents feel much the same way.
China is the latest country to be hoarding its bird flu samples, according to a Reuters report today. China has not shared any human H5N1 samples of bird flu with World Health Organization-accredited laboratories since April 2006—even though it has seen five more human infections—leading to fears that the country may be obstructing global efforts to track changes in the virus and fight it. Indonesia has also been refusing to share its bird flu samples with the WHO (opting for a private deal instead), and only consented to resume sample-sharing after reaching an agreement with the WHO after a two-day crisis meeting last month in Jakarta. The meeting concluded with the WHO promising to develop a new mechanism for sample-sharing that would be fairer to poorer countries.
Indonesia had stopped sharing samples because, the country's officials argued, the samples led to expensive vaccinations, which Indonesia then found difficult to afford. China's decision, however, has less to do with drug access than with protecting the samples for its own homegrown laboratories. But China also resents the way scientists and health experts in the developed world monopolize drug production and knowledge. Chinese scientists were particularly irked when, after sending samples to the WHO in 2004, their analyses and work were published in a journal by foreigners—with no credit given to the Chinese scientists. The foreign researchers have since apologized, but the experience has clearly impacted China's views about collaborating with international experts. Even so, Henk Bekedam, the WHO's representative in China, is confident that China will soon resume its sample-sharing. But without guarantees of the same nature as Indonesia's, there's good reason to be skeptical.
The earthquake off the coast of Indonesia in March 2005 not only killed over 900 people, but scientists have now found that the quake lifted an island almost four feet out of the water—causing one of the biggest coral die-offs ever recorded. Andrew Baird, one of researchers on the team that surveyed the area, explained that "[t]he scale of it was quite extraordinary .... Exposed corals were everywhere." A number of species that lived in the corals were completely wiped out at several sites.
Sadly, this is just the latest in a long series of devastating problems afflicting coral reefs around the world. Some scientists fear that half the world's coral reefs have already disappeared, and the other half will be completely destroyed in just fifty years due to a toxic combination of pollution, coastal development, overfishing, deadly diseases (such as "white-band" and "black-band"), and climate change. Perhaps the single greatest threat to corals around the world is higher sea temperatures, which causes thermal stress for corals, resulting in coral "bleaching." This causes corals lose much of their symbiotic algae, which leads to irreversible damage and death after a prolonged period of time. Aside from their intrinsic value and their fundamental importance in preserving marine biodiversity, coral reefs also sustain a global coral tourism industry worth several billion dollars, offer medicinal properties for combating human diseases, and, when healthy, provide some (but obviously not total) protection against tsunamis. And since the reefs already have to battle natural disasters, it's even more important for humans to avoid doing their part to destroy the increasingly few that are still left.
The march of democracy has hit yet another road bump. Hopes had been that presidential elections in tiny Timor-Leste would help the country move on from widespread violence and disorder that had broken out last year. Sadly, that looks not to be the case. Five opposition parties are disputing the results and the party leading at the polls has made accusations of "manipulation"—before any results have even been announced. Heavy United Nations support and the sign-off of the EU on the fairness of the process have not put these concerns to rest. More violence before a likely run-off election is possible.
The importance of the elections go far beyond the well-being of the country's estimated one million inhabitants, most of them desperately poor. In 1999, when the territory then known as East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia, it was seen as a test case for the ability of the international community to help along political and economic development. The U.N. ran the place as a fiefdom for three years and maintained a peacekeeping contingent there through 2005. Whatever lessons it tried to teach obviously didn't take. Now, the U.N. is back, albeit in a supporting role and with the help of Australian troops. And still, there seems to be no obvious path to political stability or even the beginnings of economic development.
It's a sobering thought that the best of intentions and the support of the entire international community have not been enough to help a country with a population roughly the same size as San Diego's.
For Thailand's "Council for Democratic Reform"—that is, the military junta that seized control of the country last September—no politics is good politics, it seems. Last week, the Thai government, no doubt nervous about widening opposition to military rule, banned Google's YouTube because of a video mocking King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The latest shoe to drop: Temporarily banning politics from Pantip.com, the country's top chat site, after it made the mistake of hosting chatter about the YouTube ban. Al Jazeera reports:
The site initially posted a notice saying that its political forum, known as the Rajdamnoen Room, was suspended at the ministry's request for "national security" reasons. The notice was later withdrawn. [...]
[O]n Monday, pantip.com urged members to post messages condemning Google for not removing the video clips that mocked the king.
More than 1,000 people had posted messages, including one that said Google's reaction had "really hurt the people of Thailand" and showed a lack of respect for the country's culture and traditions.
No doubt Pantip.com is hoping to avoid sharing the fate of the 45,000 other sites (most of them pornographic, but some political) that are reportedly blocked in Thailand. Ultimately, this all raises the question: If the Thai government intends to make good on its (shaky) promise to hold parliamentary elections in December, how is campaigning supposed to work in such a chilly media climate?
In 2001, atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen theorized that particles suspended in the atmosphere (dust and soot) were blocking up to 15 percent of the sunlight meant to reach the ground in many parts of Asia. Back then, this was considered to be a bad thing—but today, aerosols are hailed as a potential foil to global warming. The map above is a NASA image generated by two of their Earth-imaging satellites, Terra and Aqua. The dark orange areas represent high concentrations of airborne particles, while the lighter areas depict clearer atmosphere. The grey areas have not been mapped.
The global aerosol patterns in 2006 were similar to previous years. High aerosol concentrations were observed over western and central Africa (a mixture of dust from the Sahara and smoke from agricultural fires), northern India (where urban and industrial pollution concentrates against the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains), and northeastern China (urban and industrial pollution). Aerosol optical depth appeared unusually high in 2006 over Indonesia, probably as a result of increased fire activity there. The image also shows the impact of fires in Russia’s boreal forest, which spread aerosols into the Arctic.
The high res version is splendid.
Despite Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's 20-year crusade to appease Vietnamese territorial demands, all while suppressing widespread indignation at home over the concessions, a quiet storm of discontent continues to brew over the historically Cambodian Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, home to more than one million ethnic Khmer Krom. With the help of a small but vocal Western diaspora, the "Khmer from below" (if we translate from the Vietnamese) have grown increasingly savvy in voicing their nationalist demands, which range from re-unification with Cambodia to full independence.
Last Wednesday, in anticipation of a visit by Vietnam's president, Nguyen Minh Triet, about 50 Buddhist monks staged a rare public protest near the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia. The monks' immediate concern was with Hanoi's alleged defrocking of dissident monks around the Mekong Delta. The Cambodia Daily reports:
Son Hai, a 26-year-old monk who claimed he recently fled Vietnam, said the monks timed their protest with the president's two-day visit to attract maximum attention. 'We want to meet [Nguyen Minh Triet] face-to-face and ask him to stop defrocking monks and pressuring the Khmer Kampuchea Krom,' he said."
Hanoi's efforts to "Vietnamize" the Khmer Krom have long alarmed human rights groups and are the subject of Rebecca Sommer's widely screened 2006 documentary, "Eliminated without Bleeding."
A Michigan couple got a macabre surprise recently when they received two packages that they thought contained the table they'd just bought on eBay. Instead, inside the bubble wrap, they found a human liver and ear that had been culled from corpses in China and plasticized. As the New York Times reported last August, Chinese companies are churning out body parts, mostly for museums:
Inside a series of unmarked buildings, hundreds of Chinese workers, some seated in assembly line formations, are cleaning, cutting, dissecting, preserving and re-engineering human corpses, preparing them for the international museum exhibition market.
Thankfully, it sounds as if the delivery service DHL is to blame for the mistake and that eBay is still refusing to allow the sale of body parts. The liver and ear were bound for a medical research lab nearby. Police think another two dozen plasticized body parts from China are on their way to wrong addresses across Michigan. So, if you're expecting a parcel, you may want to double check the return address before opening.
CISARUA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 26: Dema (male) the 26-day-old endangered Sumatran Tiger cub cuddles up to 5-month-old female Orangutan, Irma at the 'Taman Safari Indonesia' Animal Hospital, on February 26, 2007 in Cisarua, Bogor Regency, West Java, Indonesia. Irma and another orangutan have been rejected by their mothers while two Sumatran tiger-cubs (including Dema) also born in the hospital, have also been rejected by their mother Cicis and are being looked after by staff at the Animal Hospital.
The United Nations-sponsored international tribunal charged with bringing the remnants of the Khmer Rouge to justice looks set to collapse, following the latest round of dithering by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Despite near universal support for the tribunal in Cambodia and in the international community, Hun Sen has trotted out the old red herring that has doomed so many similar efforts: concern over the tribunal's threat to national sovereignty.
Exactly whom is Hun Sen protecting? Himself? He was, after all, a mid-level soldier for the regime. But he ultimately defected. Old Khmer Rouge cronies? Quite possibly, given that Sen's ruling party, the CPP, is a notorious haven for former members of the Pol Pot regime. Der Spiegel offers another plausible explanation:
[Hun Sen's] delay tactics may not just be a function of his powerful friends. The Khmer Rouge had support from China, and current Chinese leaders have made it clear to their tiny neighbor that Beijing's role in the 1970s bloodbath shouldn't be revisited.
If the tribunal does collapse and Chinese pressure on Hun Sen is seen as the culprit, international outrage will probably be minimal. After all, amid breathless reports on the country's GDP and the occasional bit about urban-rural stratification, China's ghastly human rights record doesn't get nearly as much play in the press as it did in the 1990s.
Forget Kyoto, carbon trading, and renewable resource targets.
Just change your light bulbs, says Australian Prime Minister John Howard. In an effort to reduce his country’s carbon emissions (and to simplify his party’s environmental policy) Howard’s government will outlaw the antiquated incandescent light bulb by 2010. Australians will have to use more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, which are about five times more energy efficient and last much longer than standard bulbs.
(Hat tip: Slashdot)
Although neither as famous nor as cuddly as the koala (yes, koala, not koala bear), Australia's tasmanian devils are a national icon, even inspiring the Warner Brothers cartoon character Taz.
But for at least a decade, a deadly cancer has been killing off these native creatures to the point where the tassie devil is now officially set to become an endangered species. The cancer, Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), causes lesions usually around the mouth of the devils, which then develop into tumors that make it impossible for the animals to eat. Eventually they die of starvation. DFTD is killing almost three out of four of the animals, such that the total population of wild tasmanian devils has declined from 200,000 ten years ago to around 50,000 today.
Scientists still don't know what causes DFTD, or how to detect it before it strikes. While there is some hope that isolated populations may be able to escape the tumors, many researchers fear that this might be the end of the natural population of tasmanian devils on the island of Tasmania. This is because even if they do survive, their dwindled numbers mean that other foreign predators, such as foxes or feral cats, could end up dominating areas once occupied by the devils. This would be a tragic end for the voracious Taz, but Tasmanians aren't giving up just yet.
Papua New Guinea, a small group of islands east of Indonesia, is home to some of the most isolated communities on the planet. Its dense jungles and impassable mountains, however, have not been able to shield its people from one of the outside world's worst scourges: HIV. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 1 million people, more than one-fifth of all Papua New Guineans, may be infected with the AIDS virus by 2015.
The epidemic is already exacerbating the inevitable clashes between traditional and modern in the tiny country. AIDS deaths are often attributed to witchcraft and followed by brutal retribution against those deemed responsible (usually women). The government is trying to devise a comprehensive approach to the disease, but it will have to contend with deep-grained beliefs, like this matter-of-fact justification by a farmer who killed his neighbors:
We ran after them and we chopped their heads off with an axe and a bush knife. I felt sorry for them but they were witches, they deserved to die. If they were still alive they could hurt people with their magic.
Indonesia, the country with the highest number of human bird flu victims, has decided to share samples of its H5N1 virus with drug manufacturer Baxter International instead of the World Health Organization. In return, Indonesia will gain full access to any vaccine Baxter develops, according to the agreement. The move comes as the WHO is striving to extend international sharing arrangements for seasonal flu strains and potential pandemics, so the global health body is very concerned about the deal.
Baxter has made it clear, though, that Indonesia's decision not to share with the WHO has nothing to do with its agreement. So why is Indonesia refusing to collaborate now? Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari explains:
[Specimens sent to the WHO] have been forwarded to their collaborating centre. There they have been used for various reasons such as vaccine development or research.
Later they sold the discovery to us… This is not fair. We are the ones who got sick, they took the sample through WHO and with WHO consent and they tried to produce it for their own use.”
The WHO fears that everyone will lose out if other countries follow suit. Drugs would likely become more expensive for those countries not party to a private deal with a drug company. Ironically, through its arrangement with Baxter, Indonesia could actually be making its problems worse in the long run.
What's up with women going missing in Southeast Asia?
Last month, a Vietnamese woman missing for 19 years emerged from the jungle. In Malaysia, an ethnic Chinese couple wants to sue a hospital for giving them the wrong, dark-skinned son ... 30 years ago. Now a Thai woman has been reunited with her family 25 years after boarding the wrong bus.
The woman boarded the wrong bus when leaving on a shopping trip, and ended up 800 miles north in Bangkok. She only spoke Yawi, a dialect of Muslims in southern Thailand, and couldn't communicate with anyone in Thai or English. In hopes of returning home, she took another wrong bus to a city near the border with Burma and ended up being a beggar there for five years. In 1987, police who suspected she was an illegal immigrant arrested her, but they couldn't identify where she was from. So they put her in a social services center, where she remained for the next 20 years.
The staff at the center thought she was a mute until last month, when Yawi-speaking students happened to visit the center and the woman could finally talk to people who could understand her.
Back in 2000, I sat in on our interview with anti-globalization activist Lori Wallach. (I was the guy running the tape recorder). Wallach had this great line, which she has often repeated, about two ships passing in the night. One ship is loaded with chopsticks cut from wood in the Pacific Northwest and being shipped to Japan. The other ship is loaded with toothpicks cut from trees in Malaysia and packaged in Japan on their way to California. How could these two companies possibly be profitable?
Wallach's illustration comes to mind when I read sustainability engineer Pablo Päster's latest column. Producing and shipping one bottle of Fiji bottled water around the globe consumes nearly 27 liters of water, nearly a kilogram of fossil fuels, and generates more than a pound of carbon dioxide emissions. No wonder that stuff is so overpriced.
Australia's water crisis has gone from terrible to dire. The country's drought, the worst ever on record, has caused one Australian farmer to commit suicide every four days, according to research findings announced by a national health body in October 2006. Last week, Australian Prime Minister John Howard declared water security to be Australia's biggest challenge, and unveiled a controversial $10 (AUD) billion plan to increase the country's water efficiency. Howard, who has been criticized in the past for refusing the sign the Kyoto Protocol, now considers himself a "climate change realist," acknowledging that climate change is affecting the nation's water supply.
Now, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has announced that his state will be the first to use recycled water for drinking—a measure he predicts will soon be needed in the rest of the country. The concept of drinking purified recycled water (also known as "gray water") doesn't exactly appeal to everyone in Australia, as the stigma of seeing it as "effluent" water remains prevalent for the moment. But sophisticated technology in use in Israel, Singapore, the United States and parts of Europe has already proved treated waste water to be a viable solution. Given their country's enormous and growing water problems, purified recycled water should ultimately be an easy pill for Australians to swallow—and it just might give depressed farmers another reason to live.
A 2-meter-high baby diaper made out of police uniforms has been banned by communist authorities in Vietnam. The artwork is the same light brown color as the uniforms of Vietnam's traffic police, and the inside of the giant diaper is lined with pockets—each fastened by a police button.
The artist, Truong Tan, was merely trying to make a coy statement on official corruption by comparing the absorbent capacities of diapers with the pockets of police officers. But he wasn't coy enough. All cultural events in Vietnam need to be approved in advance, and organizers must submit photos of artwork along with descriptions. In this case, the photo was submitted sans description, so authorities were a bit slow in picking up on the sculpture's hidden meaning. But after one member of the police department saw it up close, he got the joke—and the giant diaper was duly banned from the exhibition.
A girl who went missing in the jungles of Cambodia in 1988 has miraculously been found 19 years later, identified by her father through a scar on her arm. Now a 27-year-old woman, she speaks no intelligible language, and was found with hair down to her legs.
From USA Today's On Deadline:
When I saw her, she was naked and walking in a bending-forward position like a monkey ... She was bare-bones skinny," her father told the Associated Press. "She was shaking and picking up grains of rice from the ground to eat. Her eyes were red like tigers' eyes."
In 1988, the woman—then an 8-year-old girl—vanished while herding buffalo in a remote area on the western edge of Vietnam's Central Highlands. She was found Saturday when a villager noticed that food had been taken from the lunch box he left near his farm.
The woman's father said that she initially resisted wearing clothes, bathing, and eating with chopsticks, but has since started cooperating.
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