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South Korea Targets Smuggled Capsules of Human Flesh

Pills
© Psychonaught via Wikimedia
Unmarked Pills. No telling what's in there.
South Korea is saying this morning that its customs officials are stepping up their inspections targeting smuggled capsules that contain the powdered flesh of dead human babies.

How's that for something to wash down with your third cup of coffee this morning?

The capsules originate in northeastern China, probably in Jilin province, which shares a border with North Korea.

Since August, South Korean authorities have thwarted 35 smuggling attempts accounting for 17,450 capsules containing the powdered flesh of human babies whose bodies were "chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder," the Associated Press reports.

It's uncertain where exactly the babies are coming from or who is making the capsules, but it is known that some people consider such pills to be a panacea for a range of physical ailments.

Real science tells us that they are actually chock full of potentially harmful bacteria. Plus, they are made from human babies. We can't stress that enough.

Camera

Tourist mauled by cheetahs as she protects children from attack at game reserve in South Africa, Husband stands by to take photos

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© Archibald D'Mello
The photos taken by a tourist from Scotland show his wife on the ground, hair flying, blood on her neck, with two cheetahs nearby.

The Port Elizabeth Herald reported Friday that Violet D'Mello of Aberdeen, Scotland, was attacked by cheetahs on April 28 while in a petting pen with the animals at a game reserve near Port Elizabeth in southeastern South Africa.

It says she was attacked while trying to protect young children from another group that was in the enclosure at the same time. Her husband took photos of the attack, which were published by the local newspaper and others.

One of the photos taken by Archie D'Mello shows Violet D'Mello smiling and posing with a cheetah raised by humans in the enclosure, before, as she told the Herald, "it became serious very quickly."

Wall Street

Argentine Economic Expansion Led by Domestic Consumption and Investment, Not a Magic Soybean!

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© Diego Giudice/Getty Images
Soybeans sit in a field before being harvested in Ines Indart, Argentina.
Argentina's record levels of employment and massive reductions in poverty have little to do with exports

One of the great myths about the Argentine economy that is repeated nearly every day is that the rapid growth of the Argentine economy during the past decade has been a "commodity export boom". For example, the New York Times reported last week:

"Riding an export boom for commodities like soybeans, Argentina's economy grew at an average rate of 7.7% from 2004 to 2010, almost twice the average annual growth of 4.3% in Chile, a country often cited as a model for economic policies, over the same period."

Michael Shifter, the president of the inter-American dialogue and probably the most quoted source on Latin America in the US press, wrote in a disparaging article about Argentina this week that "If the sales and price of soybean, Argentina's principal export (mainly to China), remain high, then the country may be able to continue its path of economic growth."

I haven't seen any economists make the claim that Argentina's remarkable economic growth over the past nine years - which has brought record levels of employment and a two-thirds reduction in poverty - has been driven by soybeans or a commodities export boom. Maybe that is because it is not true.

Magic Wand

People Power! Thousands March in Japan Against Nuclear Power as Final Reactor Switches Off

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© Itsuo Inouye / AP
Participants raise banners with a slogan, "Good bye, nuclear power station", at a rally protesting against the usage of nuclear energy in Tokyo Saturday, May 5, 2012. Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the last of this nation's 50 nuclear reactors switching off Saturday, shaking banners shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol.
Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the switching off of the last of their nation's 50 nuclear reactors Saturday, waving banners shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol.

Japan was without electricity from nuclear power for the first time in four decades when the reactor at Tomari nuclear plant on the northern island of Hokkaido went offline for mandatory routine maintenance.

After last year's March 11 quake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, no reactor halted for checkups has been restarted amid public worries about the safety of nuclear technology.

"Today is a historic day," Masashi Ishikawa shouted to a crowd gathered at a Tokyo park, some holding traditional "koinobori" carp-shaped banners for Children's Day that have become a symbol of the anti-nuclear movement.

Chart Pie

Plutocracy: Extreme Income Inequality the Major Reason for the Great Recession

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© epi.org
Before the Great Recession, I would sometimes give public lectures in which I would talk about rising inequality, making the point that the concentration of income at the top had reached levels not seen since 1929. Often, someone in the audience would ask whether this meant that another depression was imminent.

Well, whaddya know?

Did the rise of the 1 percent (or, better yet, the 0.01 percent) cause the Lesser Depression we're now living through? It probably contributed. But the more important point is that inequality is a major reason the economy is still so depressed and unemployment so high. For we have responded to crisis with a mix of paralysis and confusion - both of which have a lot to do with the distorting effects of great wealth on our society.

Put it this way: If something like the financial crisis of 2008 had occurred in, say, 1971 - the year Richard Nixon declared that "I am now a Keynesian in economic policy" - Washington would probably have responded fairly effectively. There would have been a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of strong action, and there would also have been wide agreement about what kind of action was needed.

But that was then. Today, Washington is marked by a combination of bitter partisanship and intellectual confusion - and both are, I would argue, largely the result of extreme income inequality.

Comment: Our entire political and economic system has been taken over by pathologicals. To really understand this, read Political Ponerology: A Science of Evil Applied for Political Purposes


Book

Pathological Liar? New Biography of Lillian Hellman Shows Her True Character

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© en.wikipedia.org
Lillian Hellman
Respected historian Alice Kessler-Harris recently published a biography of Lillian Hellman entitled "A Difficult Woman" -- which book critic Maureen Corrigan describes as the most tactful adjective one can use to describe Hellman. Hellman was likely the most successful American woman playwright of the 20th century -- one who also drank heavily, chain-smoked, and lived a sexually liberated life, while also having a 30-year open relationship with fellow writer Dashiell Hammett.

Hellman's success as a playwright began with her 1934 play "The Children's Hour," telling the story of a two teachers at a girls' school falsely accused of lesbianism -- a subject so explosive at the time that when the play was adapted into the movie "These Three" in 1936 the accusation had to be changed to a conventional affair with a man. Over the years, Hellman achieved financial success with other plays like "The Little Foxes," "Watch on the Rhine," and "Toys in the Attic."

Hellman lived a controversial life -- besides her unconventional personal life, she was an avid supporter of the Soviet Union even after Stalin's crimes became well-known, and refused to "name names" before Congress during the early 1950s; yet, she escaped punishment and became something of a hero for refusing to testify. After giving up play-writing, she wrote three best-selling memoirs.

And there her reputation might have rested were it not for an incident in 1979 when Dick Cavett interviewed writer Mary McCarthy.

People

Serbia presidential elections: Tadić leads as voting heads for second round

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© Reuters
Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic casts his ballot at a polling station in central Belgrade, May 6 2012.
Boris Tadić, president of Serbia from 2004 until he resigned ahead of the May 6 2012 elections, was said to have gained the largest share of votes but would face off against second-placed Tomislav Nikolić in a run-off presidential election on May 20, going by exit polls.

Media in Belgrade reported Tadić as having got somewhere between 26 and 27 per cent of the vote, with the vote for Nikolić, of the Serbia Progressive Party, estimated at 25.6 to 25.9 per cent.

Socialist Party of Serbia leader Ivica Dačić was said to have got just more than 14 per cent and Democratic Party of Serbia leader Vojislav Koštunica just more than seven per cent.

Voter turnout was close to 59 per cent, out of about 6.7 million eligible voters, in an election reported to have passed without serious incidents in Serbia, barring some opposition allegations of irregularities and at least one arrest for vote-buying.

Election campaigns ahead of Serbia's May 6 presidential and parliamentary vote were dominated by concerns about the country's economy. Unemployment is said to be about 24 per cent in a country that lately has been turning in an extremely poor economic growth performance, and where average salaries are said to be the equivalent of 350 euro monthly.

Bizarro Earth

Trinity Televangelist Profits From the Flock

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© Brian Blanco / New York Times
The Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando, Florida is part of the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s operations.
For 39 years, the Trinity Broadcasting Network has urged viewers to give generously and reap the Lord's bounty in return

The prosperity gospel preached by Paul and Janice Crouch, who built a single station into the world's largest Christian television network, has worked out well for them.

Mr. and Mrs. Crouch have his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community here, provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings. But Mrs. Crouch, 74, rarely sleeps in the $5.6 million house with tennis court and pool. She mostly lives in a large company house near Orlando, Fla., where she runs a side business, the Holy Land Experience theme park. Mr. Crouch, 78, has an adjacent home there too, but rarely visits. Its occupant is often a security guard who doubles as Mrs. Crouch's chauffeur.

Stormtrooper

Georgia opens first jail devoted to U.S. veterans

prison cell
© Dylan Oliphant
The problem of US military veterans falling into a life of crime after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has reached such levels that a law enforcer in Georgia has opened what is believed to be America's first county jail devoted to veteran inmates.

John Darr, the sheriff of Muscogee County in Columbus, Georgia, has created the new facility in an attempt to break the cycle of recidivism by providing them with specialist services to help them deal with the problems they carry with them when they decamp.

"It's really unique. What we're bringing together is a lot of resources," Darr told the local Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Among the partnerships that are being set up is a link to Veterans Court, a community group that works with veterans in prison suffering from mental illness. The new dormitory, that will house 16 incarcerated veterans, will also provide those soon to be released with advice and support as they transition back into the community.

Chart Pie

Greek main parties 'suffer big losses' at polls

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Exit polls in the Greek parliamentary election suggest the two main parties have suffered dramatic losses.

The latest polls put centre-right New Democracy in the lead with 19-20.5% of the vote, down from 33.5% in 2009.

Centre-left Pasok is put in third place with 13-14%, down from 43.9%. Syriza, a left-wing coalition, is put ahead of it in second place with 15.5-17%.

Pasok and New Democracy, in coalition since last November, were expected to lose support to anti-austerity parties.

There is widespread anger across Greece to harsh measures imposed by the government in return for international bailouts.

Syriza opposes the government's austerity measures.