GlobalPost - Offbeat http://www.globalpost.com/feed/dispatch/full/26331/18814 C. 2011 GlobalPost, only republish with permission. Subscribers must independently license photographs supplied by third-parties en Turns out Valeria Lukyanova, Ukraine's human Barbie doll, is kind of a racist lunatic http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/offbeat/140408/turns-out-valeria-lukyanova-ukraines-human-barbie-doll-kind-racist-luna <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> She seemed so normal until now. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Timothy McGrath </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Back in 2012, the internet <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/wanderlust/barbie-ukrainian-woman-mattel">discovered</a> a 21-year-old Ukrainian woman named Valeria Lukyanova, whose life goal was to look exactly like a Barbie doll. Through a combination of plastic surgery, makeup, and self-starvation, she achieved the look in uncanny fashion.</p> <p>She really did look like a Barbie doll. And not just in some general way: you know, insanely small waist, large bust, long blonde hair. She looked just like a Barbie doll: all those things, plus plastic-looking skin and a vacant stare.</p> <p>It was easy to assume that Lukyanova was just another young woman in a world of global popular culture who'd internalized oppressive beauty ideals.</p> <p>Well apparently there are some other oppressive ideals at work in her Barbie doll image.</p> <p>Lukyanova sat down recently for an interview with <a href="http://www.gq.com/women/photos/201404/valeria-lukyanova-human-barbie-doll?currentPage=2">GQ magazine</a>. She offered some insight into the motivations behind her transformation. And they aren't pretty.</p> <p>She first told her interviewer that her image was the same one that women around the world were striving for.</p> <p>"Everyone wants a slim figure," she said. "Everyone gets breasts done. Everyone fixes up their face if it's not ideal, you know? Everyone strives for the golden mean. It's global now."</p> <p>When her interviewer noted that beauty ideals had changed over time, Lukyanova offered a strange observation.</p> <p>"That's because of racial mixing."</p> <p>Wait, what?</p> <p>She explained:</p> <blockquote><p>For example, a <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/russia">Russian</a> marries an Armenian. They have a kid, a cute girl, but she has her dad's nose. She goes and files it down a little, and it's all good. Ethnicities are mixing now, so there's degeneration, and it didn't used to be like that. Remember how many beautiful women there were in the 1950s and 1960s, without any surgery? And now, thanks to degeneration, we have this. I love the Nordic image myself. I have white skin; I am a Nordic type—perhaps a little Eastern Baltic, but closer to Nordic.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well thanks for letting us know.</p> WTF Strange But True Culture & Lifestyle Offbeat Tue, 08 Apr 2014 19:57:00 +0000 Timothy McGrath 6116577 at http://www.globalpost.com This is what happens when you hold The X Factor in a prison http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/140121/what-happens-when-you-hold-the-x-factor-prison <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> ‘Their CD will be out before they are.’ </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jessica Phelan </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>PARIS, <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/france">France</a> — Rap and prison go together like … well, like playas and playa haters.</p> <p>But if most of the US rappers who’ve penned albums in the pen have treated it as a temporary inconvenience, for one group debuting this week in France, without the bars, there’d be no beats.</p> <p>They are <a href="http://shtaracademy.com/" target="_blank">Shtar Academy</a> — a play on the name of the French American Idol, called Star Academy, and “chtar,” a slang word for jail — and they were formed, as their alias suggests, in a talent contest. A talent contest in a prison.</p> <p>Thankfully, Simon Cowell had nothing to do with it. Shtar Ac, as the group’s known, was the brainchild of <a href="http://www.franceinfo.fr/societe/itineraires/mouloud-mansouri-un-souffle-de-liberte-en-prison-929647-2013-03-24" target="_blank">Mouloud Mansouri</a>, an ex-con turned DJ who now organizes writing groups and concerts in penitentiaries across France — a country with one of the fastest-growing prison populations and highest rates of prisoner suicides in <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/europe">Europe</a>.</p> <p>In 2012, Mansouri began auditioning inmates at a detention center near Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France. Three made the final cut: Malik, aged 21 and serving three years for burglary and extortion; Mirak, 36, sentenced to four years for selling drugs; and Badri, 21 and with a seven-year sentence for burglary and organized robbery.</p> <p>With the mentoring of some of the top names in French rap, the three men have just released their <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/fr/album/shtar-academy/id779317500" target="_blank">debut album</a>. Self-titled, it includes songs such as "Yo Jailbirds" and "The Penitentiary Doors" (sample lyric: “Lots of people take inspiration from our story/Because theirs is just a con/You want to know what prison smells like/Listen to Shtar Ac’s album”). Said album came out on Monday and by Tuesday afternoon had reached number five on <a href="http://www.apple.com/euro/itunes/charts/top10albums.html" target="_blank">France&rsquo;s iTunes chart</a>.</p> <p>Amid the rounds of newspaper interviews and TV appearances, there’s one notable absence: Badri, who remains locked up. The group hopes he’ll be given special dispensation to take part in at least some of the concerts — in prisons, naturally — they have planned.</p> <p>For him, if not the others, it’s just like their website prophesied: “Their CD will be out before they are.”</p> <p>Check out two of their videos below; more <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/shtaracademy?feature=watch" target="_blank">here</a>. </p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hdTA9qPXkqw" width="640"></iframe></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/A4e_kiLvpt4" width="640"></iframe></p> Johnny Cash it ain't Entertainment France Strange But True Offbeat Wed, 22 Jan 2014 07:18:18 +0000 Jessica Phelan 6048990 at http://www.globalpost.com In Zambia, don't call the president a potato (and other handy insults from Africa) http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/140107/zambia-dont-call-the-president-potato-and-other-helpful-insults- <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> GlobalPost's senior correspondent in Africa decodes "potato" and other headline-grabbing insults from around southern Africa. Use with caution. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Erin Conway-Smith </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>JOHANNESBURG, <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/south-africa">South Africa</a> – In Zambia, call the president a “potato” at your peril.</p> <p>Yes, a potato.</p> <p>This seemingly innocuous word, used to describe Zambian President Michael Sata during a radio show Monday, got an opposition leader thrown in jail and charged with defamation. If convicted, Frank Bwalya faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.</p> <p>Points for calling your leader a spud.</p> <p>But this is hardly the most colorful insult one finds in the region.</p> <p>As a public service, GlobalPost here decodes "potato" and other headline-grabbing insults from around southern <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/africa">Africa</a>.</p> <p>Use with caution.</p> <p><strong>"Potato"</strong></p> <p>In comparing Zambia's president to a potato, the actual phrase used was “chumbu mushololwa,” a Bemba term that literally means a sweet potato that breaks easily when bent. It refers to someone who is stubborn and inflexible, and who won’t listen to the opinions of others.</p> <p>Bwalya’s supporters argue that this is not an insult, but rather “a perfectly legitimate way for one politician to describe a fellow politician, if indeed that person is stubborn by nature.”</p> <p>Either way, it seems an apt description for President Sata, who is known for his sharp tongue and increasingly autocratic behavior since being elected president in 2011.</p> <p><strong>"Limping donkey"</strong></p> <p>In <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/zimbabwe">Zimbabwe</a>, dozens of cases have been filed in recent years under a law that makes it a crime to insult the president — and which is often used to harass and intimidate critics of President Robert Mugabe, who turns 90 next month.</p> <p>Opposition activist Solomon Madzore was arrested last May after allegedly calling Mugabe a “limping donkey.”</p> <p>In the Shona language, the phrase “dhongi rinokamina” refers to a lame draft animal that is no longer of any use and must be put out to pasture.</p> <p>A Zimbabwe court ruled in November that the “insult law” is unconstitutional, and said prosecutors should not be overzealous about charging people who make comments about Mugabe “in drinking halls and other social places.”</p> <p>But reports from Zimbabwe suggest that despite the court ruling, the law is still being used.</p> <p>So maybe hold off on calling Mugabe a “limping donkey” just yet.</p> <p><strong>"Bushman"</strong></p> <p>This one wasn’t intended as an insult. But when a South African tourist spotted a framed portrait of Botswana's president at a border post and remarked that he “looks like a Bushman,” she quickly found herself in a world of trouble.</p> <p>The woman was interrogated, kept in jail overnight and forced to pay a fine before being freed.</p> <p>The Bushmen — also known as the San, or the Khoi — are the original people of Southern Africa, some of whom still follow a traditional lifestyle as hunter-gatherers.</p> <p>In Botswana they have faced discrimination and persecution by government officials. Ian Khama, the president of Botswana, once described their way of life as “an archaic fantasy.”</p> <p>"A South African person thought resembling a Bushman was complimentary, but Botswana officials took it as an insult,” the director of Survival International, a group that campaigns for the rights of indigenous people, said after the tourist's arrest in 2009.</p> <p>“You couldn't have clearer evidence of the racism towards Bushmen in Botswana than this incident.”</p> <p><strong>“Tjajarag”</strong></p> <p>In South Africa, insults won’t get you locked up.</p> <p>President Jacob Zuma has been called a “monster,” a “tyrant” and “illiterate,” among many other things. The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buyelekhaya_Dalindyebo" target="_blank">abaThembu king</a> called him “a liar who doesn’t use condoms.”</p> <p>Zuma too has been known to take mean swipes, for example calling the opposition party's parliamentary leader “ntombazana,” the Zulu word for a “young girl."</p> <p>But one of South Africa's more colorful taunts made headlines a few years ago thanks to Julius Malema, the loudmouthed former African National Congress youth leader, who called a BBC journalist "tjatjarag."</p> <p>Not the easiest of words, but a useful one, meaning someone who is annoying, in a hyper and overly excitable sort of way.</p> <p>The pronunciation goes something like this: "cha-cha-raa-ch."</p> <p>Tjatjarag. Keep that one in your back pocket.</p> Africa World Leaders Want to Know Politics Offbeat South Africa Zimbabwe Tue, 07 Jan 2014 18:11:00 +0000 Erin Conway-Smith 6037213 at http://www.globalpost.com Just how corrupt is Afghanistan? http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/131206/corruption-afghanistan <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Reporter’s notebook: A peek behind the curtain at one of the world’s shadiest nations. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jean MacKenzie </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>It&rsquo;s now official: Afghanistan ranks as one of the three most corrupt nations on Earth &mdash; splitting the crown with Somalia and North Korea, according to Transparency International&rsquo;s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index.</p> <p>This is the second year in a row that the trio leads the list of the world&#39;s bad guys. In previous years, the best Afghanistan could muster was first runner up.</p> <p>But just how pervasive is the problem? Can it really be true that after more than a decade under international stewardship, the most widespread skill the population has honed is graft?</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/131202/the-corruption-perceptions-index-2013-the-winners-and-losers" target="_blank">Turns out almost 70 percent of the world&#39;s nations are seriously corrupt</a></strong></p> <p>Let me start by saying that I loved every minute of my seven years in Afghanistan, and am fortunate to count many Afghans as close friends. I have happily put my life in their hands on more than one occasion, and would do so again.</p> <p>But in many Afghans courage, nobility of spirit and graciousness toward guests exist side by side with rampant venality, fed, no doubt, by a lingering resentment of the foreign occupation.</p> <p>A feeling that Afghans are owed some reparation for their pain doesn&#39;t help much, either.</p> <p>I have spent significant time in several of Transparency International&rsquo;s pantheon of the crooked: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Russia &mdash; all old haunts of mine &mdash; share the bottom third of the scale with Afghanistan.</p> <p>None of them comes close to the casual disregard for what&rsquo;s normally considered legality that I saw in my years in Kabul.</p> <p>It starts at the very top.</p> <p>One evening several years ago I was invited to a dinner at the US Embassy in Kabul. I was seated next to an Afghan-American official, and we were discussing corruption.</p> <p>&ldquo;How can we expect to make any progress when one of the most corrupt people in the country is the minister of counternarcotics?&rdquo; I fumed.</p> <p>Ahmed Zarar Moqbel, who had been interior minister until the graft and malfeasance in that organization proved too much for the international community to stomach, had recently been <a href="http://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/comeback-of-some-well-known-faces-election-related-mini-cabinet-reshuffle" target="_blank">made drug czar</a>. The British government, which had taken the lead on counternarcotics, cut off funding to the ministry upon his succession, apparently convinced that Moqbel himself was involved in drug smuggling.</p> <p>Even in Afghanistan, he stands out.</p> <p>The official looked at me, amused.</p> <p>&ldquo;Zarar is my relative,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>I choked simultaneously on my food and my foot, and tried to stammer out an apology, but he just leaned toward me and laughed.</p> <p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t worry, I agree with you,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I do not allow my family to see him.&rdquo;</p> <p>Moqbel has recently been named to head the Foreign Affairs Ministry.</p> <p>In my experience, corruption in Afghanistan is everywhere, from the smallest office to the largest contractor. Examples range from the mildly irritating to the downright dangerous.</p> <p>President Hamid Karzai insists the problem came with the foreigners. In an interview with author William Dalrymple, he shifted blame to his major benefactor.</p> <p>&ldquo;There is corruption, no doubt,&rdquo; he <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/magazine/how-is-hamid-karzai-still-standing.html?pagewanted=7&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">said</a>. &ldquo;Our own petty corruption in the delivery of services was there before, is here today and will continue for some time. The big corruption was designed by the Americans. The contracts were used by the US government to buy influence in Afghanistan. It was designed to corrupt the Afghan political leadership so as to be usable by them.&rdquo;</p> <p>There may very well be some substance to Karzai&rsquo;s accusations. After all, if the United States and its allies had not <a href="http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/12/03/is_afghanistan_as_corrupt_as_north_korea" target="_blank">funneled nearly $700 billion dollars</a> into Afghanistan over the past 12 years, it would not have been there to steal.</p> <p><strong>More GlobalPost analysis: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/131105/aid-afghanistan-asap" target="_blank">Should we send more aid to Afghanistan?</a></strong></p> <p>Many in the international community also have a habit of looking the other way when it suits them.</p> <p>Take the example of <a href="http:// http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/world/asia/05afghan.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Karzai&rsquo;s half-brother</a>, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who was widely believed to have been a major figure in the drug trade before he was assassinated in 2011.</p> <p>Ahmed Wali enjoyed good relations with the US &mdash; in fact, he was <a href="http:// http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28intel.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">a paid CIA informant</a>.</p> <p>But the bulk of the responsibility has to lie with the Afghans, who have seized opportunities with alacrity.</p> <p>In one office where I worked, the office manager was an expert at procurement. He had scoped out all the best suppliers in Kabul, and had a list of places to go. Very efficient, I thought, until I went to one of his favorite shops to buy a circuit breaker.</p> <p>When I mentioned the name of my office, the store manager smiled understandingly.</p> <p>&ldquo;Ah, yes, this is what you want.&rdquo; He fetched a raggedy-looking piece of equipment from in back. &ldquo;It is reconditioned. Costs just a third of what a new one would. But don&rsquo;t worry &mdash; we&rsquo;ll give you a receipt for the full cost. We have an arrangement with your chief.&rdquo;</p> <p>A quick count of circuit breakers in the office ran to several dozen &mdash; the office manager was making $100 or so on each one. He also had a habit of hiring his relatives for minor jobs &mdash; guards, drivers. He would pay them a small fee and pocket the bulk of their pay.</p> <p>Our resourceful manager was doubling or tripling his salary.</p> <p>After I left, one of my former colleagues left behind sent me a message, typos and all:</p> <p>&ldquo;Im so sad of that situation witch is going on in our office in Kabul&hellip; corruption is in high level, making of corrupt invoices &hellip; hiring of relatives in office etc. ... I want to send some documents to head office.&rdquo;</p> <p>But the head office was not interested. Exposing corruption is bad for business.</p> <p>Our office was not a rich one; just imagine the scams the big boys must have thought up.</p> <p>When I worked in Helmand, we liaised with a local official in Lashkar Gah, the capital. For the roughly two years of our stay we had to pay him a monthly &ldquo;facilitation fee&rdquo; not to make trouble for us.</p> <p>While there, I lived in the governor&rsquo;s guesthouse overlooking the river. It was lovely, except for the fact that the Taliban were across the water and occasionally fired automatic weapons in our direction. By the end of my sojourn the window was sandbagged to keep out stray bullets.</p> <p>Helmand is a dodgy province: bombings, kidnappings, outright battles were common. Security seemed tight around the governor&rsquo;s compound, except that one of our acquaintances, let&rsquo;s call him Araf, would slip the guards a tab of hash to let him in without searching his car.</p> <p>Araf, I should explain, was collaborating with the Taliban. He and his brothers used to make trips to the Iranian border to swap drugs for guns, which they would hand over to the insurgents. His father was arrested and incarcerated for his sons&rsquo; crimes, and Araf was desperately looking for money to buy him out of jail.</p> <p>We stopped going to Helmand shortly after that, partly out of fear that our faithful &ldquo;friend&rdquo; would sell us to the Taliban to get the necessary funds.</p> <p>Afghanistan is a world of fun-house mirrors.</p> <p>One journalist I knew was insistent on bringing down a lawmaker from his home district, which bordered Tajikistan. The official, he claimed, was smuggling drugs.</p> <p>An obliging governor from a poppy-growing province had made a helicopter available to get the parliamentarian home; since it was a government vehicle it was not searched. On every trip home the chopper was loaded with heroin or opium; the lawmaker&rsquo;s brothers would then take the drugs and smuggle them across the border.</p> <p><strong>More GlobalPost analysis: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/131115/afghan-poppy-opium-heroin-drug-war-taliban" target="_blank">The rise to a narco state</a></strong></p> <p>Ahmed (not his real name) brought me the helicopter pilot, who confirmed the story.</p> <p>&ldquo;But how do you know about the drug trafficking through Tajikistan?&rdquo; I asked.</p> <p>Ahmed laughed.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because my brothers are in business with them!&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>The story went untold, although it is common knowledge among many Afghans.</p> <p>The ultimate in corruption was the presidential election of 2009.</p> <p>Vote rigging was rampant, and far from subtle. Any election worker could produce sheaves of ballots all marked with the same distinctive squiggle &mdash; hastily filled out by the same hand.</p> <p>According to one United Nations election monitor, there were at least 1,500 &ldquo;ghost&rdquo; polling stations &mdash; meaning that the hundreds of thousands of mostly Karzai votes they sent to Kabul were fraudulent.</p> <p>The international community hailed the elections as a success, anointed Karzai as the legitimate winner, and, for good measure, fired the <a href="http:// http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2009-10-04/opinions/36777768_1_afghanistan-s-independent-election-commission-afghan-election-fraud/2" target="_blank">pesky official who tried to expose the fraud</a>.</p> <p>Afghan malfeasance reinforced by international complicity &mdash; come to think of it, maybe Karzai&rsquo;s got a point.</p> <p><em>Journalist Jean MacKenzie worked as a reporter in Afghanistan from October 2004 to December 2011. </em></p> Afghanistan Blatant Corruption Business Want to Know Politics Culture & Lifestyle Offbeat United States Mon, 09 Dec 2013 18:03:27 +0000 Jean MacKenzie 6012217 at http://www.globalpost.com This is Howard. He's the world's foremost impersonator of Kim Jong Un. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/north-korea/131203/kim-jong-uns-impersonator-howard <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> It pays off to look like an evil dictator. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Emily Lodish </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Kim Jong Un isn't known for giving people breaks.</p> <p>On the contrary, he is associated more closely with purging the ranks — just this week rumor has it that he <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/north-korea/131203/north-korea-kim-jong-uns-top-purges">ousted his No. 2</a>, Jang Sung Taek.</p> <p>But there is one man by the name of Howard who received his biggest break yet when the third son of Kim Jong Il assumed the mantle.</p> <p>"When he first came on the scene, just before his dad Kim Jong Il introduced him and promoted him to the head of the army or something. I thought, 'Man, that's my face,'" Howard recently told <a href="http://m.vice.com/en_uk/read/an-interview-with-kim-jong-un-ish" target="_blank">Vice magazine</a>.</p> <p>So closely does Howard, a music producer from <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/china">Hong Kong</a>, resemble Kim Jong Un that over the last couple years he has patched together a side gig of impersonating the supreme leader.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RlOaxe5C2nE" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Howard, who doesn't use his last name in public in order to protect himself from the hermit kingdom's wrath, posted a few pictures of himself on Facebook after Kim Jong Un took over.</p> <p>It didn't take long for an <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/israel-and-palestine">Israeli</a> production house to take notice. They were making a commercial for a McDonald's competitor called Burger Ranch, which makes burgers for Orthodox Jews who keep kosher and don't eat milk with meat.</p> <p>Here's the commercial below. It has English subtitles, but what you need to know is that Kim Jong Un does not like McDonald's and so he nukes Washington, DC, after which he eats a Burger Ranch patty and muses: "How can I send the Israelis to hell with such a taste from heaven?" </p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/TS7g1Mpl12o" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Since the above commercial aired a few months ago, Howard has received a string of other requests for his body double services.</p> <p>"It is fun to play Kim Jong Un because it freaks people out," Howard told Barcroft TV.</p> <p>"The key is to always look unhappy and dissatisfied. It is his trademark look."</p> <p>Oh, and in case you know anyone who looks like the North Korean first lady, Ri Sol Ju, Howard would like your number.</p> <div id="fb-root">  </div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=471981449586688&amp;set=a.379683512149816.1073741829.361346080650226&amp;type=1" data-width="550"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"> <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=471981449586688&set=a.379683512149816.1073741829.361346080650226&type=1">Post</a> by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/KimJongUnLookAlike">Kim Jong "Um"-Kim Jong Un &#44608;&#51221;&#51008; Look alike/Impersonator</a>.</div> </div> Things that look like other things World Leaders Entertainment Strange But True China Offbeat North Korea Tue, 03 Dec 2013 21:19:00 +0000 Emily Lodish 6008041 at http://www.globalpost.com The story of Thanksgivukkah http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/entertainment/131128/the-story-thanksgivukkah <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> As told by Moses Fletcher, the lone Jew aboard the Mayflower. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Moses Fletcher, the lone Jew aboard the Mayflower </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Admittedly, it is the lesser told story. But the story of Thanksgivukkah packs as much of a punch as the traditional Hanukkah saga, and leaves you feeling as warm and fuzzy as the Thanksgiving tale. Believe you me.</p> <p>It is like the latke that you put sour cream on without noticing that the edge already had some apple sauce on it — a slightly confusing mouthful, but not one you can say you regret. Thanksgivukkah. It really is the best of both worlds.</p> <p>I should know, you see, because I, Moses Fletcher, the lone Jew aboard the Mayflower, was there when it all began. And tonight, a night unlike all other nights for the last 125 years and unlike any to come for the next 77,798, a night when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah once again coincide, I will finally tell my story.</p> <p>I guess it really all started when the Mayflower finally made landfall in Plymouth. Why Plymouth? Beats the crap outta me, but that’s where Capt. Christopher Jones said he was going to land and I’ll be darned if Christopher Jones didn’t get every last thing he wanted save the late Humility Cooper’s hand in marriage.</p> <p>Plymouth was the destination, something about the land already being cleared or somesuch. If you ask me, the land was clear because every living thing in a 70-rod-and-chain radius turned tail and got the hell out of there before winter.</p> <p>To say that winter was harsh in Plymouth is an understatement. December 1621 felt longer than the Curse of the Bambino. That winter sucked. We lost more than half our original 102. We were tired. We were cold. We were at each other’s throats. Well, truthfully, a few pilgrims were taking the brunt of it, mainly Bartholomew’s crew, but that goes back to what happened between William Bradford and John Carver back in Yorkshire before we even set sail, so.</p> <p>Anyway. There are a couple miracles at the heart of the Hanukkah story, as you probably know. There’s the miracle of how the measly Maccabee army succeeded in liberating <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/israel-and-palestine">Israel</a> from Hellenic dominance. And there’s the miracle of how seriously just a tiny thimbleful of oil lasted for a whole eight long days.</p> <p>So, I guess you could say what Hannukah is really about is a how a little can really be a lot, or how a small bit of the right effort can get the job done swimmingly or something along those lines. Which is all really great and good, but I’ll tell you what the real miracle was.</p> <p>The real miracle was that we pilgrims hadn’t torn each other limb from limb by the time Hanukkah rolled around. I mean, it was a small group and getting smaller with every cough and wheeze. We had already journeyed together across the Atlantic for four hellish months, cramped most of the time down below, coming up for air really only to empty a chamber pot, if that.</p> <p>But what they don’t tell you in the history books is that we were still living on that frigging ship by the time it was Hannukah! Can you believe that? I mean we were in Plymouth and everything, we had been there for a few weeks, but we just for the life of us couldn’t figure out how to make a house with a roof that didn’t ignite at the first spark of Gilbert Winslow’s pipe.</p> <p>“Look,” I said to William and John and Francis, “my people have been through harder times than this and —“</p> <p>“We know, we know,” Francis croaked. “You got through it and not only that but it made you stronger. We know, Moses. We’re happy for you. Now fer chrissake give it a rest.”</p> <p>“My brothers,” I said, “I vow this time will be no different. If there is one thing our trans-Atlantic trip reinforced for me, it is that G-d gives us intestinal fortitude to stomach even the thinnest of porridge. Stay with me on this. I know a way.”</p> <p>In truth, I did not know a way, but I knew that Hanukkah was nigh and I knew that a little really can be a lot when it’s the right bit, and, well, I had a little faith.</p> <p>On the eve of Dec. 12, 1621, the first night of Hanukkah for the lunar year 5381, what transpired can only be called a divine act.</p> <p>Our barrels of rice, peas and biscuits were nearly empty. The men had not been lucky in the hunt. What kind of Hanukkah would it be without even a morsel to eat, I thought to myself. No kind of Hanukkah, that’s what.</p> <p>A very curious looking man showed up at the edge of the shore where the Mayflower sat. Soft deerskin draped over his loins. I remember thinking his deerskin looked very soft. Much more so than our breeches. This was my first clue.</p> <p>Capt. Jones said we weren't to go meet him, but cowering in fear is no way to greet Hanukkah, I thought to myself. I resolved to go and meet the man.</p> <p>As I lowered myself to shore, the wind howled mightily. Whole drifts of snow obscured my vision. I could barely make out the cries of my fellow pilgrims still aboard the Mayflower, begging for my return. I could barely make out the man in the deerskin before me. </p> <p>The storm grew in intensity. I had to cover my eyes with my arm to withstand the chill. The blistery chaos of the weather was matched in that moment only by the emotional turmoil beneath my short coat and doublet.</p> <p>I stood still for what felt like an eternity, growing colder and more afraid. When the wind finally quieted and I was able to lower my arm and raise my gaze, the man was nowhere to be seen. But before me on the ground, glowing and afire, was the most peculiar kind of waterfowl. </p> <p>In truth, I may not have gone near the bird had we all not been so desperate and had it not been Hanukkah and had I not promised William and John and Francis that something miraculous was going to happen. But go toward it I did and thank goodness.</p> <p>In no time at all, the lot of us had each tasted, nay feasted, upon the sweetest, most succulent meat our weary bodies had known in months. Hanukkah was upon us and our bellies they were full, and I'll be darned if they didn't stay that way for eight whole days.</p> <p>Oh, it’s true the natives showed us how to plant corn and all the good places to hunt and all that, but that wasn’t until spring. The real Thanksgiving was Thanksgivukkah, in the middle of December.</p> <p>In the dead of winter, when a man leaves you a <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/turkey">turkey</a>, you thank the good Lord and you eat it.</p> Satire Entertainment Strange But True World Religion Offbeat United States Thu, 28 Nov 2013 13:58:13 +0000 Moses Fletcher, the lone Jew aboard the Mayflower 6002390 at http://www.globalpost.com Things rich people do: have 'receipt wars' http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/131011/russian-millionaires-dom-perignon-cristal-kitsch-nightclub <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Two Russian millionaires battle it out to see who can spend more at a night club in London. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Emily Lodish </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: &quot;Things rich people do&quot; is a GlobalPost series on the global 1 percent. See the last installment: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130812/rich-people-chinese-villa-culture">Things rich people do: build buildings on top of other buildings</a>.</em></p> <p>Ever hear the one about the Russian millionaire who walked into a bar?&nbsp;</p> <p>He met this other Russian millionaire there and they proceeded to try to one-up each other in terms of what they could purchase and ingest.&nbsp;</p> <p>The punchline? More than $200,000 in combined bar tabs over the course of three hours.&nbsp;</p> <p>This apparently really happened in London at a nightclub called <a href="http://www.kitschlondon.com/" target="_blank">Kitsch</a>, when two unnamed Russian millionaires started going head-to-head ordering bottles of Dom Perignon and Cristal, according to <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/101102372" target="_blank">news reports</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>When the bar closed at 3 a.m., the bills were totaled and one table won by less than $4,000. Folks at that table were reportedly seen jumping up and down, ecstatically waving their bill in the air.</p> <p>One club-goer told the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2452020/Russian-millionaires-rack-130k-bar-Kitsch-London-just-THREE-hours.html" target="_blank">Daily Mail</a>:</p> <blockquote><p> &#39;It was one of the most bizarre nights I&rsquo;ve ever seen.&nbsp;</p></blockquote> <blockquote><p> &#39;These two guys were competing with each other to buy more and more champagne. Each time one would buy five bottles the other would order six, then seven, then eight.&#39;</p></blockquote> <p>Between the two, they ordered 84 bottles of Dom Perignon, 55 bottles of Cristal and 44 cans of Red Bull, among other beverages. <span style="font-size: 13px;">And, gulp, they didn&#39;t even drink it all.</span></p> <p>Meanwhile, Russia has the highest rate of wealth inequality of all the countries in the world. According to the latest <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/putting-russias-unparalleled-wealth-disparity-in-perspective-2013-10" target="_blank">Credit Suisse Wealth Report</a>, 110 billionaires lay claim to 35 percent of the country&#39;s wealth.&nbsp;</p> Russian millionaires Travel/Tourism Entertainment Food & Drink Strange But True Global Economy Offbeat Russia United Kingdom Fri, 11 Oct 2013 18:21:00 +0000 Emily Lodish 5958524 at http://www.globalpost.com Venezuela's 'smells like sulfur' diplomacy http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130930/venezuelan-maduro-assad-syria-general-assembly-sulfur <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Update: Washington has responded to Caracas’ expulsions by kicking out three Venezuelan diplomats, the latest tit-for-tat between Venezuela and the northern superpower it says stinks like Satan. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Girish Gupta </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>CARACAS, Venezuela &mdash; The US government is kicking out three Venezuelan diplomats, the latest tit-for-tat move against South America&rsquo;s loudest critic of Washington.</p> <p>The State Department said late Tuesday it had told Venezuela&rsquo;s charge d&#39;affaires in Washington, Calixto Ortega, and two other diplomatic corps members they had 48 hours to leave the United States &mdash; an echo of a similar order by Venezuela to the US Embassy in Caracas earlier this week.</p> <p>&quot;It is regrettable that the Venezuelan government has again decided to expel US diplomatic officials based on groundless allegations, which require reciprocal action. It is counterproductive to the interests of both our countries,&quot; the State Department said.</p> <p>On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he&rsquo;d ordered the expulsion of three US Embassy staff members, including Washington&rsquo;s top envoy to Caracas, accusing them of meeting with the Venezuelan &ldquo;far right&rdquo; and funding economic moves to sabotage the economy.</p> <p>&quot;Yankees go home! Get out of Venezuela! Enough of this abuse!&quot; Maduro said Monday on state television, giving them 48 hours to leave.</p> <p><em>Below is a YouTube video from Venezuelan television of his address in Spanish.</em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vQdRz5oPyTE?rel=0" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>Venezuela has expelled several US officials and <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130605/timothy-tracy-venezuela-frees-expels-us-filmmaker" target="_blank">citizens</a> since Maduro took over after his mentor Hugo Chavez&rsquo;s death in March. The allegations have ranged from spying to working to destabilize the oil-rich South American country.</p> <p>This latest accusation is not new. &quot;Far right&quot; is a label the leftist government uses to criticize the opposition, which is made up of politicians of various political stripes. The Venezuelan government has long accused Washington of colluding with them.</p> <p>As far as heightening tensions with Western foes, it has been a busy few weeks for Maduro.</p> <p>He&rsquo;s leveled accusations that France-based aircraft maker <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130925/venezuelas-maduro-considers-legal-action-against-airbus-over-fa" target="_blank">Airbus sabotaged</a> his presidential plane and that <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130926/venezuelas-maduro-skips-unga-citing-us-led-death-thr" target="_blank">the United States plotted to kill him</a>.</p> <p>Last week, he had a phone call with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and voiced his support for the embattled regime amid wide international condemnation.</p> <p>What Maduro may lack in his predecessor&#39;s charisma and cult-like popularity, many observers say, he has sought to make up for with attempts to imitate Chavez&rsquo;s characteristic anti-Western imperialist bravado.</p> <p>Beyond revolutionary heroics, critics say Maduro&rsquo;s mostly unsubstantiated allegations point to troubles at home.</p> <p>Prices here have risen more than 45 percent in the last year. Shortages of basic items such as toilet paper and newsprint persist, as the US dollar becomes more difficult to obtain thanks to currency controls enacted a decade ago.</p> <p>Maduro&#39;s allegations against the US diplomats recalled another important problem. Venezuela has suffered blackouts for years. In September, when a big power outage hit, <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130903/venezuela-hit-blackout-government-blames-sabotage" target="_blank">Maduro blamed his &quot;far right&quot; opponents</a> once more. Now he&#39;s alleged the embassy staff worked to &quot;encourage actions to sabotage the power system and the economy.&quot;</p> <p>US officials deny the accusations.</p> <p>&ldquo;We completely reject the Venezuelan government&rsquo;s allegations of US government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government,&rdquo; the US Embassy said in a statement. The statement did acknowledge holding meetings with politicians across Venezuela&#39;s political spectrum.</p> <p>Opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, a centrist who lost elections against both Chavez and Maduro in the last year, reacted to the latest US diplomat expulsions <a href="https://twitter.com/hcapriles/status/384773163155873792" target="_blank">over Twitter</a>: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a smokescreen to cover up their inability to manage the country.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130903/venezuelan-economics-newspaper-shortage" target="_blank">Venezuela&#39;s press is dying from a paper shortage</a></strong></p> <p>Venezuelans judge Maduro harshly against his predecessor. As divisive as he was, Chavez was wildly popular during his 14-year presidency and won his final election in October by 11 percentage points.</p> <p>Maduro, on the other hand, mustered an election victory in April of fewer than 2 points. His approval ratings have now dropped, according to some local pollsters, lower than his opponent.</p> <p>To counter that, observers say, government rhetoric is following the same line it did under Chavez &mdash; sometimes with even more bite. The moves are designed to play well at home, analysts say, regardless of the damage they do in international circles.</p> <p>Maduro boasted of his 20-minute phone conversation with Assad, who had given a rare interview to Venezuela&rsquo;s pro-government Telesur TV channel.</p> <p>&ldquo;I told him that the Venezuelan people support and accompany the people of Syria in their fight against the terrorist armies that the United States and the West armed to overthrow him [Assad],&rdquo; Maduro <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euH4c7_h8jo" target="_blank">said</a> on state television late on Thursday night. &ldquo;Syria is not alone.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130829/venezuelan-syria-war-assad-Abdel-el-Zabayar-Maduro" target="_blank">Venezuelan lawmaker vows to fight for Syrian army</a></strong></p> <p>Indeed, Syrian authorities say they&rsquo;re keen on Latin America as a model for their own region.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Assad&amp;src=hash">#Assad</a>: Arab states should follow the path of Latin America if we want to make a mark in the world, to be independent and advanced.</p> <p> &mdash; Syrian Presidency (@Presidency_Sy) <a href="https://twitter.com/Presidency_Sy/statuses/383046281091747842">September 26, 2013</a></p></blockquote> <p>Maduro said Assad told him Syria&#39;s government &mdash; which has waged a bloody two-and-a-half-year war against partly Western-backed rebel groups &mdash; this week would announce plans to send a &ldquo;high-level delegation&rdquo; to Latin America to &ldquo;bring the truth&rdquo; to the region.</p> <p>Maduro was foreign minister under Chavez for six years and is responsible for implementing his firebrand predecessor&rsquo;s policies abroad. They&#39;ve been highly controversial: Venezuela warmed up not just to Assad but to international pariahs from&nbsp;former Iranian leader <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/120622/chavez-and-ahmadinejad-affair-remember" target="_blank">Mahmoud Ahmadinejad</a> to late Libyan dictator <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/news/regions/americas/venezuela/chavez-speaks-out-gaddafi-death" target="_blank">Muammar Gaddafi</a>.</p> <p>With those friends, Caracas shared a love of hating the Great Satan of American superpower.</p> <p>The fraught relationship between Chavez and the US came to a nadir in 2006 at the United Nations General Assembly when the self-styled socialist stood at the lectern and theatrically sniffed the air. &ldquo;The devil came here yesterday,&rdquo; <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOsABwCrn3E" target="_blank">he said</a>, referring to then US President George W. Bush. &ldquo;It smells of sulfur still.&rdquo;</p> <p>Maduro missed the latest UN General Assembly last week. Yet his trip that ultimately avoided the New York event did feature drama of its own.</p> <p>Two weeks ago, before the 50-year-old president even took off to China to sign oil and lending agreements, he <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130919/venezuela-says-us-bans-maduro-flying-over-puerto-rico" target="_blank">accused US authorities</a> of refusing to allow his plane to fly over the US airspace of Puerto Rico.</p> <p>&ldquo;Denying a head of state permission to fly through airspace that they [the US] colonized, as in Puerto Rico, is a grave error,&rdquo; Maduro said on state TV.</p> <p>But the US flatly denied Maduro&rsquo;s accusation, saying Venezuelan authorities failed to make a proper request yet permission was granted regardless.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not clear why the row erupted. Puerto Rico is far from any direct flight path between Caracas and Paris (Maduro&rsquo;s stopover on the way to Beijing).</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130501/signs-venezuela-us-washington-rocky-relations" target="_blank">5 signs Venezuela-US relations are still rocky after Chavez</a></strong></p> <p>On his way back from China, Maduro stopped off in Vancouver before the UN General Assembly in New York. However, intelligence of &ldquo;<a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130926/venezuelas-maduro-skips-unga-citing-us-led-death-thr" target="_blank">provocations</a> that could threaten [his] life&rdquo; led him to skip the UN meeting entirely and fly straight back to Caracas.</p> <p>When he arrived here, Maduro <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=Xjdn4S7hczU#t=31" target="_blank">added Airbus</a> to the list of those out to get him.</p> <p>After five months of maintenance in France, Maduro said technicians here found a &ldquo;serious fault&rdquo; in one of the wings of his presidential plane. The company, he said, would have to answer for the fault, as legal action is prepared.</p> <p>Airbus in response said that it would help Venezuela investigate.</p> <p>After the &ldquo;provocations&rdquo; that persuaded Maduro and his entourage to sidestep New York and the UN, the president suggested that the headquarters of the international organization be moved to a &ldquo;safer&rdquo; location such as &ldquo;Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro or some other place in Latin America.&rdquo;</p> <p>On Saturday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua spoke at the UN in lieu of his boss to little of the fanfare received by Chavez seven years ago.</p> <p>&ldquo;Sadly,&rdquo; he <a href="http://t.co/s9KpYf0sVk" target="_blank">said</a>, &ldquo;it still smells of sulfur.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;</p> Syria Want to Know War Politics Offbeat United States Venezuela Tue, 01 Oct 2013 04:16:00 +0000 Girish Gupta 5949344 at http://www.globalpost.com Skateboarding goat among entries to the 2014 Guinness Book of World Records http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/2014-guinness-book-of-world-records <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The latest edition of the Guinness world records book features more than 3,000 new or updated entries. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Allison Jackson </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>A tightrope walking dog, a vacuum cleaner collector and a skateboarding goat are among the record breakers featured in the <a href="http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2013/9/from-the-smallest-dog-to-the-largest-motorcycle-–-the-latest-and-greatest-to-make-it-into-the-new-guinness-world-records-2014-book-51203/" target="_blank">2014 Guinness World Book of Records</a> released Thursday.</p> <p>The latest edition features <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57602559/guinness-out-with-its-latest-book-of-world-records/" target="_blank">more than 3,000 new and updated entries</a>, including the fastest sprinter in high heels and an iPhone-sized dog.   </p> <p>Guinness, the company responsible for assessing and compiling often bizarre record breaking achievements around the planet, has been publishing the book for nearly 60 years and claims more than 130 million copies have been sold worldwide. </p> <p>Among this year’s entries is Fabio Reggiani of <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/italy">Italy</a>, who created <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1140716/guinness-world-records-skate-goat-features" target="_blank">the world&rsquo;s largest &ldquo;rideable&rdquo; motorcycle</a>. Measuring 16 feet, 8.78 inches from the ground to the top of the handlebars, the 5-tonne motorcycle is six times the size of a normal motorbike. </p> <p>In the U.K., a canine called Ozzy was recognized for the “fastest crossing of a tightrope by a dog” after wobbling across an 11.5-foot rope in 18.22 seconds. </p> <p>Fellow Briton James Brown’s collection of 322 vacuum cleaners was enough for a mention in bible of record-breaking accomplishments.</p> <p>In one of the more unusual additions, <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iNxxBmFkvbcSrqR56tlnacPlD0Cg?docId=CNG.a82ed5deac2ef5dbc7ef7b55d0300b0c.3b1" target="_blank">a goat in the U.S. called Happie</a> clocked the longest skateboard ride by a goat – 118 feet in 25 seconds.</p> <p>No less impressive was <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/germany">German</a> woman Julia Plecher, who ran her way into the record book after posting the fastest 100 meters in high heels, crossing the line in 14.531 seconds, while a 3.8-inch tall Puerto Rican Chihuahua was awarded the title of “world’s smallest dog.”</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <style id="_clearly_component__css" type="text/css"> #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }</style><style id="_clearly_component__css" type="text/css"> #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }</style><p class='u'>http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/2014-guinness-book-of-world-records</p> Offbeat Weird Wide Web Thu, 12 Sep 2013 18:00:00 +0000 Allison Jackson 5932450 at http://www.globalpost.com Step aside Miley Cyrus, here comes K-Porn http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/130828/k-porn <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Some Koreans cry foul over K-Pop’s growing raunchiness. Others revel in it. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Geoffrey Cain </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p><em>Editor's note: We publish thousands of stories at GlobalPost every year. But some of these don't receive the reader attention they deserve. Our series "20 Must-Reads of 2013" fixes that problem. Here's a look — maybe a second one — at some of our best journalism of the year.</em></p> <p>SEOUL, <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/south-korea">South Korea</a> — Miley Cyrus may have ticked off American parents with her salacious “twerking” dance, grabbing her crotch and grinding in nude-colored hotpants.</p> <p>But Americans aren’t the only ones on edge about sleazy stage tricks.</p> <p>On the other side of the Pacific, South Koreans are stirring up a similar commotion over skin-boasting pop stars and their raunchy music videos.</p> <p>You may know K-Pop, or Korean pop, thanks to Psy and Rain. But the industry has far wider appeal in South Korea, where training schools churn out legions of upcoming stars, urging them to get plastic surgery and dance dirty for the camera.</p> <p>K-Pop has always had a reputation for risqué depictions, although the intensity of sex-charged videos appears to be on the rise this summer.</p> <p>James Turnbull, a commentator on Korean gender issues, lists <a href="http://busanhaps.com/article/hot-summer-screen-sizzling-it-more-provocative-k-pop" target="_blank">examples</a> at the magazine <em>Busan HAPS</em>: in “Be Ambitious,” girl group Dal Shabet rips off skirts to reveal camel toes. Ladies from another troupe, After School, dance on stripper poles in “First Love.” </p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RjXXSsVNncQ" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>Last October, one artist kicked up the steam factor even further. In “Bloom,” pop singer Ga-in played a young woman experiencing a sexual awakening, masturbating on her kitchen floor. Scandalously, the vocalist said she got inspiration from <a href="http://thegrandnarrative.com/2012/12/09/ga-in-bloom-female-empowerment/" target="_blank">all sorts of adult movies</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/K64mb5KUhhs" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>Of course, such images are tame by MTV standards. South Korea is still a society steeped in traditional norms, where online pornography is blocked, and authorities can review and censor music videos before reaching the public eye. Acts that get the government’s dreaded 19+ rating are banned from airtime before 10 p.m., although many managers anticipate this and put out tamer versions for daytime hours.</p> <p>Even 30-second teasers are getting adult ratings, like Seungri’s trailer for his upcoming single “Let’s Talk About Love” — which includes a shot of a man taking off a woman’s lingerie.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IOLWAh9m9LY" width="420"></iframe></p> <p>Some Korean pop artists, too, are lashing back against management companies that rely on sex appeal more than music. Lee Seung Chul, a 1980s K-pop veteran, <a href="http://mwave.interest.me/enewsworld/en/article/39264" target="_blank">tweeted</a> in protest, “Naked legs, underwear teasers … optical illusion outfits?? TT TT. It′s not right to promote like this." (TT is a Korean emoticon for sadness.)</p> <p>Even if the number of salacious videos is on the rise, Koreans have repeatedly staged uproars against pop music for the past five years or so, Turnbull tells GlobalPost — for example in 2011, when the government restricted one video simply because fully clothed girls spread their legs on the floor.</p> <p>South Korea’s censorship is a lingering product of its autocratic history. For decades, K-Pop was an obscure and heavily <a href="http://thegrandnarrative.com/2011/04/14/4minute-rania-leg-spread-dance/" target="_blank">restricted</a> genre under successive Korean dictators. Still, early artists from the 1950s and 1960s took inspiration from American servicemen, who brought rock and roll and other popular art forms to the impoverished peninsula.</p> <p>As the country rose out of poverty, K-Pop made its first footprints throughout Asia in the late 1990s, and became hot by the mid-2000s — years before the Gangnam Style sensation we know today. Today, bands have found enormous popularity as part of the “Korean Wave,” or the spread of Korean culture mostly throughout Asia.</p> <p>But the notoriously cyclical entertainment industry goes through good and bad years, possibly explaining the libertine videos this summer. Turnbull says the K-Pop scene has long relied on sex to keep groups in the public eye.</p> <p>Sex, of course, is appealing to the legions of K-Pop fans in their teens and 20s. Tumblr is full of micro-blogs of the <a href="http://kpop-porn.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">men</a> and <a href="http://fuckyeahkpop-porn.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">women</a> of K-pop, showing off their poses and suggestive dance moves in what many jokingly call "K-pop porn."</p> K-Porn Want to Know Culture & Lifestyle Offbeat South Korea Sun, 01 Sep 2013 10:02:00 +0000 Geoffrey Cain 5919984 at http://www.globalpost.com Brazil bans batch of Heinz ketchup after rodent fur found http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/brazil-bans-batch-heinz-ketchup-after-rodent-fur-found <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Health officials in Brazil ban batch of Heinz ketchup after traces of rodent fur were found in a Mexican-made lot. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jill Langlois </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>SAO PAULO, Brazil — Health officials in Brazil have banned a batch of Heinz ketchup after traces of rodent fur were found in the lot from <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/mexico">Mexico</a>.</p> <p>In a <a href="http://portal.anvisa.gov.br/wps/portal/anvisa/anvisa/busca/!ut/p/c5/jZDJboNADIafhQeIxqFhKEcyLMMSlhTCckEQAkUQoCVqRzx9QOo1qPbJ-vXZ8odStHSf_zR1_miGPu9QjFKcWT41dABecoN3BYxDcKaSRVxtv1_yBGfwomRYaaLL9CDay4yPBAxdcLDguwDuH_0y5_9ze2P7Nm2itO6GYvkxUq4tUwa5VlTlPM1H6GjBm-6gN6pJCv-UeLZw8t7aqpRYIIoDkRNghZdO9az4bHcZfe2760mFx6aPXFX7KvmYlz5CWpYX9gtOGcBjZ0-qY8kdte0r83CRfdKQQ9Hqe9vAmm_4dehwv6HxHobxfGsrmeOeNybe4g!!/?1dmy&urile=wcm%3apath%3a//Anvisa%20Portal/Anvisa/Sala%20de%20Imprensa/Assunto%20de%20Interesse/Noticias/Anvisa%20suspende%20lote%20de%20catchup%20da%20marca%20Heinz" target="_blank">statement from Anvisa</a>, Brazil's health surveillance agency, the government said it had banned all sales, distribution and marketing of the specific 2k04 batch of Heinz tomato ketchup.</p> <p>While the extent of the contamination and <span style="letter-spacing: 0px; line-height: 1.2;">the amount of product in the batch is unknown, Heinz has said it has already been taken out of circulation, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23777310" target="_blank">BBC said</a>.</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23777310" style="letter-spacing: 0px; line-height: 1.2;" target="_blank"></a></p> <p>Brazil's consumer advocacy group <a href="http://noticias.uol.com.br/cotidiano/ultimas-noticias/2013/08/20/proibicao-de-lotes-de-ketchup-da-heinz-com-pelo-de-rato-comeca-a-valer-hoje.htm" target="_blank">Procon</a> sent a note to Heinz, notifying the company that it needs to provide more details about what happened and to clarify how the incident could have occurred.</p> <p>"Along with other information, the company must describe the nature of the defect and the potential risks it caused to the health and safety of consumers, as well as the procedures adopted in order to repair the defect," said the note.</p> <p>Mexican authorities have launched an inquiry into the incident, and an inspection of the factory where the ketchup was produced has been ordered.</p> <p>Cofepris, Mexico's hygiene agency, has also requested a visit to check on the standards of the factory and has asked Heinz for a "detailed report" on the batch of ketchup where the rodent fur was discovered.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/130808/international-cat-day" target="_blank">Happy International Cat Day! Guess which country has the most pet felines?</a></strong></p> <p class='u'>http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/brazil-bans-batch-heinz-ketchup-after-rodent-fur-found</p> Food & Drink Brazil Offbeat Health Mexico Weird Wide Web Wed, 21 Aug 2013 18:19:00 +0000 Jill Langlois 5914695 at http://www.globalpost.com Kyrgyz authorities discover vodka pipeline http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/offbeat/130820/vodka-pipeline-shut-kyrgyzstan <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Oil isn't the only liquid flowing underground in Central Asia. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Angus West </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>The authorities in Kyrgyzstan shut off a pipeline carrying <a href="http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2013/08/kyrgyzstan-uncovers-alcohol-pipeline/">alcohol from Kazakhstan</a> after it was discovered last week, the&nbsp;Kyrgyz news agency&nbsp;AKIpress reported.&nbsp;</p> <p>It&#39;s believed to have carried mostly vodka through an 8 inch-wide tube over a third of a mile under the Chu River, which divides the two countries. The pipeline ended in the city of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23723092">Tokmok</a> in northern Kyrgyzstan.</p> <p>Kyrgyz border guards found the pipeline during a routine search.</p> <p>&quot;We assume that thousands of liters of alcohol were smuggled,&quot; a Tokmok police official told&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/08/18/vodka-pipeline-kyrgyzstan-plugged">AKIpress</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Police are searching for the pipeline&#39;s operators.</p> <p>Kyrgyzstan, a majority Muslim country, has a growing demand for cheap alcohol from Kazakhstan, one of the largest grain producers in the region.</p> <p>Last fall, the authorities discovered a <a href="http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Illegal-oil-pipeline-discovered-at-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-border-15978/">similar pipeline</a> smuggling oil under the Chu River.</p> <p><img src="http://editor247.globalpost.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/gp3_slideshow_large/photos/2013-August/photo_24308.jpg" width="670" /><br /> <span style="color: rgb(59, 58, 38); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10px;"> Tengrinews via sibnovosti.ru</span><em> </em></p> Vodka Asia-Pacific Food & Drink Strange But True Offbeat Tue, 20 Aug 2013 15:51:00 +0000 Angus West 5913732 at http://www.globalpost.com What China wants: Breast milk and tiger penis http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130813/breast-milk-tiger-penis-rich-vices <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> 6 vices of China’s rich and infamous. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Benjamin Carlson </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>HONG KONG &mdash; Every new generation of nouveaux riches has its vices.</p> <p>Nineteenth-century American industrialists were fond of marrying European royalty. In the 1980s, Japanese millionaires got their kicks from buying Rockefeller Center. In recent decades, Emirati princes have shown a predilection for building vast indoor snow machines.</p> <p>Now it&rsquo;s China&rsquo;s turn.</p> <p>The country&rsquo;s newly-minted millionaires are second to none in their unusual tastes. Here&rsquo;s a guide to some of the strangest vices preferred by China&rsquo;s new super-rich.</p> <p><strong>Breast milk</strong></p> <p>Earlier this summer, Chinese social media erupted after a report in Southern Metropolitan newspaper claimed that rich adults had taken to hiring wet nurses not simply to feed their babies &mdash; but also themselves.</p> <p>&ldquo;Adult [clients] can drink it directly through breastfeeding, or they can always drink it from a breast pump if they feel embarrassed,&rdquo; the owner of the wet-nurse agency in Shenzhen reportedly said.</p> <p>At $2,600 a month, the suckling service does not come cheap, but to wealthy clients who believe that breast milk grants enormous health benefits, it&rsquo;s apparently worth it.</p> <p>While the company has subsequently denied the report (and GlobalPost tried and failed to confirm it), the queasy feeling remains: some people just never got weaned.</p> <p><strong>Tiger thingy</strong></p> <p>Think of it as a substitute for Viagra &mdash; but more expensive, less effective, wildly unethical, downright illegal, and dangerous to the future of a charismatic species.</p> <p>In China and across Southeast Asia, dried tiger member is still believed to be a potent sexual medicine for men, despite a notable lack of empirical evidence. Poaching bans and modern medicine have dented demand only modestly.</p> <p>Though eating the phallus of an endangered cat may not sound appetizing, tiger penis soup can command up to $300 a bowl. You want the whole shebang, so to speak? That&rsquo;ll cost you $5,000.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Qigong masters</strong></p> <p>Hollywood celebrities have their psychics and gurus. Wealthy Chinese have their qigong masters &mdash; at least until the Communist Party cracks down.</p> <p>In a country that remains officially atheist, qigong masters at their best offer spiritual guidance to an elite looking for deeper beliefs.</p> <p>At their worst, they&rsquo;re something close to charlatans.</p> <p>Just last week, one of the more famous qigong masters, Wang Lin, fled China for Hong Kong when state-run media began denouncing him as a &ldquo;vulgar magician,&rdquo; spurring rumors of an imminent arrest.</p> <p>Wang had amassed a fortune thanks to followers that included a who&rsquo;s-who of China&rsquo;s rich and famous: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Internet tycoon Jack Ma, several high-ranking Communist Party officials. Wang claimed that he could cure cancer, conjure snakes, and steer his car handlessly, among other things.</p> <p>The fees for a qigong master can be steep. One Chinese businessman claims he <a href="http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1293677/wang-lins-last-trick-magic-act">paid Wang</a> millions of yuan to learn his secrets, but only got a mattress, a book, and a whole lot of disappointment.</p> <p><strong>Rhino horn</strong></p> <p>They&rsquo;d be just as well off swallowing their toenail trimmings, but that hasn&rsquo;t stopped China&rsquo;s well-heeled from paying loads to eat rhino horn.</p> <p>For centuries, Chinese traditional medicine has seen rhino horn as a rare and powerful remedy for inflammation and fever. In reality, the horn is simply compressed hair and keratin &mdash; which is what fingernail is made of.</p> <p>It has zero medical effect.</p> <p>Nevertheless, China&rsquo;s newly rich pay up to $30,000 a pound for the stuff, leading to a furious rise in rhino poaching across Africa and Asia. (In Vietnam, the elite use rhino horn as a <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/south-africa/120823/rhino-horn-party-drug-vietnam-south-africa-poaching" target="_blank">party drug</a> and hangover cure.)</p> <p>While the Chinese government has started to crack down on smuggling, the toll on rhino populations is already harsh. More than 668 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2012, up roughly <a href="http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/rhino-horn-crisis-and-the-darknet" target="_blank">3000 percent</a> since 2007.</p> <p><strong>Moutai Baijiu</strong></p> <p>To the uninitiated, the first sip of baijiu &mdash; a highly alcoholic liquor distilled from sorghum &mdash; tastes a bit like rubbing alcohol mixed with motor oil.</p> <p>Frequently referred to as &ldquo;China&rsquo;s national drink,&rdquo; Moutai baijiu is China&rsquo;s most expensive, and most prestigious, domestic spirit. It is the preferred drink of the elite, accompanying official banquets and business deals.</p> <p>As a result, the price has inflated radically over the last decade. Ten years ago, a bottle could be bought for $30. Now it runs from about $300 to over a million dollars. Last year, a 1980 vintage sold for $1.3 million at auction.</p> <p><strong>Gold-plated cars</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s not exactly performance enhancing, but it gets the message across. That message being: I&rsquo;m very, very rich.</p> <p>Yes, the latest and greatest way for China&rsquo;s most flamboyant rich to outdo one another is to encase their luxury cars in solid gold.</p> <p>Recent favorites include a gold-plated <a href="http://autochunk.com/4834/2012/11/01/ferrari-458-italia-gets-gold-makeover-in-china/" target="_blank">Ferrari</a>, <a href="http://www.carnewschina.com/2012/05/17/bling-lamborghini-gallardo-in-gold-from-china/" target="_blank">Lamborghini</a>, <a href="http://luxurylaunches.com/transport/goldblack_bentley_continental_supersport_spotted_in_china.php" target="_blank">Bentley</a>, <a href="http://www.bmwcartuning.com/2012/09/chinese-widebody-e92-bmw-m3-with-gold-wrap/" target="_blank">BMW</a>, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/spotted-a-gold-glittering-boxster-s-in-china-2012-10" target="_blank">Porsche</a>, <a href="http://www.carnewschina.com/2012/11/06/rolls-royce-ghost-is-a-bit-bling-in-china/" target="_blank">Rolls Royce</a>, <a href="http://www.autoevolution.com/news/police-seize-chinese-gold-car-for-being-for-being-33515.html" target="_blank">Infiniti</a>, and <a href="http://www.carnewschina.com/2012/12/20/bling-lincoln-town-car-stretched-limousine-is-gold-in-china/" target="_blank">Lincoln stretch limousine</a>. &nbsp;</p> Vices Strange But True Wildlife News China Culture & Lifestyle Offbeat Tue, 20 Aug 2013 10:08:00 +0000 Benjamin Carlson 5909214 at http://www.globalpost.com Just how racist is Switzerland? http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/offbeat/130809/switzerlands-biases-exposed-the-world <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Oprah, estimated to have raked in $77 million last year, has a Pretty Woman moment. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Angus West </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/oprah-gets-swiss-apology-racist-encounter-0">Oprah Winfrey</a></span><span class="s2"> claims to have been a victim of racism while shopping at a mall in Switzerland. Although the Swiss Tourism office was prompt in issuing an apology to Oprah, the event brings into question a trend of hostility towards foreigners&nbsp;</span>in Switzerland.</p> <p class="p2">The country recently voted to maintain <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23599502"><span class="s1">restrictions</span></a> placed on asylum seekers last June, eliminating&nbsp;<a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-10/swiss-vote-for-tougher-asylum-laws/4743236"><span class="s1">military desertion</span></a> as a reason for asylum and the ability (unique in Europe) to apply through Switzerland&rsquo;s embassies.</p> <p class="p2">The not-so-neutral rules add to a law first implemented in 1981, which has been periodically amended to increase limitations on foreigners seeking refuge in Switzerland.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2">Some towns want to segregate asylum seekers to live in designated areas&mdash;often old military barracks&mdash;and limit their ability to leave the compounds outside the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They even seek to prevent asylum seekers from entering public spaces, such as pools, soccer pitches, libraries and retirement homes.</p> <p class="p2">Opponents of the legislation&mdash;which passed with an overwhelming majority&mdash;deride the restrictions as unfair.</p> <p class="p2">What&#39;s more, it may be overreaching.</p> <p class="p2">According to&nbsp;human-rights advocacy group&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/08/07/switzerland-asylum-seekers-stay-out-pool">Human Rights Watch</a>: &ldquo;Under international law, Switzerland must formally justify any prohibition on free movement as the least restrictive measure necessary to protect national security, public order, or public health. In addition, any such policy may not discriminate between Swiss citizens and foreign nationals.&rdquo;</p> <p class="p2">The Swiss People&rsquo;s Party (SPV), which supported the new measures, pushed for a constitutional referendum to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/world/europe/30swiss.html?_r=0">ban minarets</a> in Sweden in 2009. The referendum passed with over 50 percent&nbsp;voting in favor, but another attempt supported by the SPV, criticized in a report by <a href="http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/annual-report-switzerland-2013">Amnesty International</a>,&nbsp;to outlaw full-face veils failed.</p> <p class="p2">So where did all the anti-immigrant sentiment arise from?</p> <p class="p2">Switzerland experienced a rise in refugees during the Kosovo conflict in 1999, but declined during the proceeding decade. The number of asylum seeker&nbsp;<a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130716/asylum-seeker-numbers-slump-switzerland">dropped precipitously</a> this year, after rising sharply the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.</p> <p class="p2">Many Swiss fear a coming influx of immigrants, particularly from the Muslim world, for economic reasons, and also harbor widespread anti-Muslim feelings. The SVP has been adept at playing off a mix of religious tensions and xenophobia.</p> <p class="p2">Switzerland&rsquo;s Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/world/europe/01swiss.html?pagewanted=all"><span class="s1">town councils</span></a> voting to decide on granting individuals citizenship was unconstitutional. A failed referendum in 2008, initiated by the <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/swiss-referendum-a-debacle-for-the-xenophobes-a-557089.html">SVP</a>, attempted to make the votes legal again.</p> <p class="p2"><a href="http://www.pbs.org/pov/specialflight/photo_gallery_background.php%23.UgUz0mTF0Xh">Naturalization laws</a> in Switzerland are some of the most stringent in the world. A law backed by the SVP prevents &ldquo;<span class="s1"><a href="http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Legality_of_Swiss_marriage_law_questioned.html?cid=29957390">convenience</a></span>&rdquo; marriages by outlawing foreigners from marrying Swiss citizens without a visa.</p> <p class="p2">Switzerland&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2112rank.html"><span class="s1">net migration rate</span></a>, the effect of migration on population change, is the third highest in Europe, trailing only Luxembourg and Spain. There are over 50,000 refugees in Switzerland, according to the <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4a013eb06.html"><span class="s1">UN Refugee Agency</span></a>. With 332 asylum seekers per capita, Switzerland&rsquo;s rate is double the European average.</p> <p class="p2">The recent exclusion of military desertion as a reason for granting asylum was particularly harmful to applicants from Eritrea, which make up the largest portion of Switzerland&#39;s asylum-seekers.</p> <p class="p2">In April, Switzerland reached an agreement with the <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2013/04/201342420555521299.html"><span class="s1">European Union</span></a> to restrict the total number of asylum seekers from all EU countries not capped under earlier arrangements.</p> Want to Know Offbeat Fri, 09 Aug 2013 20:01:00 +0000 Angus West 5906457 at http://www.globalpost.com 7 things you can do to donuts http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/food-drink/130806/sushi-donuts-doughnuts-sushido-cronuts <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> You know about cronuts, but have you heard of sushi doughnuts? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Emily Lodish </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Here at GlobalPost, we are interested in the intersection of cultures. It happens all around us, all the time.</p> <p>It happens when<a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/111209/sesame-street-afghanistan-education-big-bird" target="_blank"> Sesame Street goes to Afghanistan</a> and when <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/111020/k-pop-japan-thailand-korea-music-culture">K-pop comes to America</a>. It happens when <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/morocco/090825/morocco-loving-the-mcarabia">McDonald&#39;s goes to Morocco</a> and when <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/entertainment/130701/celebrities-dictators-jennifer-lopez-turkmenistan-gaddafi-beyonce">J Lo goes to Turkmenistan</a>.</p> <p>But perhaps most importantly, it happens when donuts take the form of sushi. Yes, that&#39;s a thing now.</p> <p>Actually, it has apparently been a thing for a couple years, according to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/sushi-donuts-mister-donut_n_3504781.html" target="_blank">HuffPo</a>, but netizens have been raging about it this week due to a Japanese Twitter user who spotted the gems while visiting Thailand.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>タイのミスドがやりよった! <a href="http://t.co/I6JN6wpZsX">pic.twitter.com/I6JN6wpZsX</a></p> <p> &mdash; Chaiyo106 (@Chaiyo106) <a href="https://twitter.com/Chaiyo106/statuses/349531724008529921">June 25, 2013</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>SushiDo are more donut than sushi, in the sense that you will get a mouthful of sweet and doughy instead of briney and spicy. But you can still eat them with chopsticks if you want.</p> <p>What else can you do with donuts if you want? That&#39;s a really good question. GlobalPost is on it:</p> <p>1) <strong>Sushi donuts</strong> &mdash; Sushi only in appearance, these <a href="http://en.rocketnews24.com/2013/06/27/enjoy-sushi-doughnuts-at-mister-donut-in-thailand/" target="_blank">donuts made adorable</a> are available in Thailand.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="414" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/9ehxeFaU2wM" width="576"></iframe></p> <p>2)<strong> Cronut</strong> &mdash; Cross between a donut and a croissant, these little guys have been <a href="http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/90DVXt9dN3CAlHYSMRoD5J/The-cronut-craze.html" target="_blank">taking off around the globe</a>. They are called <a href="http://vietnomnom.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/a-cronut-in-ho-chi-minh-city/" target="_blank">&quot;crossnuts&quot;</a> in Vietnam, but word on the street is that Americans find &quot;cronuts&quot; more appetizing.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vswiimBEvCk" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>3) <strong>Pizza donuts</strong> &mdash; Donut on the outside, <a href="http://laughingsquid.com/deep-fried-pizza-donuts/" target="_blank">pizza on the inside</a>.</p> <p>4) <strong>Grilled cheese donuts</strong> &mdash; Cincinnati, Ohio, apparently, is famous for these.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="414" scrolling="no" src="http://www.travelchannel.com/Embedded?id=7229d7b2173f2310VgnVCM1000001a08330aRCRD" width="576"></iframe></p> <p>5)<strong> Donut sandwich</strong> &mdash; Bostonites everywhere rejoice. Dunkin Donuts has improved upon the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich in the only way possible: encasing it inside a donut. Those who&#39;ve sampled it say it <a href="http://www.boston.com/businessupdates/2013/06/07/early-reviews-dunkin-doughnut-sandwich-are-tastes-like-pancake-and-eggs/OdghER5CBunHSNWX0AvQPI/story.html" target="_blank">tastes just like a pancake and eggs</a>.</p> <p>6)<strong> Donut ice cream sandwich</strong> &mdash; In case you want to <a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2013/06/ice-cream-doughnut-sandwich.html" target="_blank">keep your sandwiches sweet</a> as opposed to savory.</p> <p>7)<strong> And dude, it&#39;s a <a href="http://bostonrestaurants.blogspot.com/2013/06/griddlers-burger-and-dogs-union-square.html" target="_blank">bronut</a></strong> &mdash; By which I mean, a burger inside a donut.</p> Travel/Tourism Food & Drink Strange But True Global Economy India Offbeat Japan United States Thailand Vietnam Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:54:00 +0000 Emily Lodish 5904013 at http://www.globalpost.com 15 songs for Hollywood's next prison break movie http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/offbeat/130730/15-best-songs-terrorists-the-lam <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> These inmates fought the law, and won. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> James Miller </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>In the last month four prison riots across the Muslim world have set free over 2,000 inmates.</p> <p>Breakouts occurred in <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/130729/pakistan-prison-holding-taliban-militants-attacke" target="_blank">Pakistan</a>, <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130727/over-1000-escape-libya-prison-break-0" target="_blank">Libya</a>, <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130722/500-prisoners-flee-abu-ghraib-al-qaeda-iraq" target="_blank">Iraq</a> and <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/indonesia/130712/10-terror-suspects-the-run-after-deadly-indonesi" target="_blank">Indonesia</a> with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda claiming responsibility for the attacks on prisons in Pakistan and Iraq, respectively.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iraq/130724/interpol-issues-global-alert-following-al-qaeda-prison" target="_blank">Interpol issued</a> a global security alert last Wednesday after news that dozens of terrorists associated with Al Qaeda were among the escaped in Iraq.</p> <p>For now, they fought the law &mdash; and won.</p> <p>Yikes.</p> <p><strong>More from GlobalPost: <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/130730/prison-breaks-rule-of-three-benghazi-pakistan-iraq-abu-ghraib">Prison Breaks: </a><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/130730/prison-breaks-rule-of-three-benghazi-pakistan-iraq-abu-ghraib">Three&#39;s a trend</a></strong></p> <p>Considering the series of prison breaks is sounding more and more like the movies, we offer you the potential soundtrack from The Clash, to Johnny Cash, Public Enemy, 2Pac and more.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="500" src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:globalpost:playlist:69Wx8SlzjL8i1mRSdfFTTg" width="650"></iframe></p> Terrorist's Playlist Conflict Zones Want to Know Iraq Offbeat Indonesia Pakistan Tue, 30 Jul 2013 19:12:00 +0000 James Miller 5897923 at http://www.globalpost.com SmartPorn: India's other mobile revolution http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130726/smartphones-india-mobile-porn-rape-debate <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cheap smart phones have put porn in the palms of millions. Indians debate if it is triggering a rape epidemic. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Overdorf </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>NEW DELHI, India &mdash; Call it India&#39;s other mobile revolution.</p> <p>With sub-$100 smart phones <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/india/100721/mobile-phones-market-micromax?page=0,1" target="_blank">hitting the market</a> and savvy entrepreneurs hawking downloaded clips, once-innocent Indians are watching hard-core porn like never before.</p> <p>That smut flood is sparking a serious debate about the impact on society.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&#39;re raising up an army of rapists in India by not warring against internet pornography,&rdquo; Abishek Clifford, who runs a moral awareness program for Indian colleges called <a href="http://www.rescue108.com/index" target="_blank">Rescue</a>, told GlobalPost.</p> <p>He&#39;s not the only one concerned.</p> <p>Since the December gang rape of a Delhi student, who <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/121229/india-protests-resume-delhi-gang-rape-victim-dies" target="_blank">died from internal injuries sustained during the attack</a>, the entire country has been wrestling with what many regard as a spike in sexual violence.</p> <p>Although possessing or watching porn is permitted in India, distributing it is illegal. And now, the authorities are moving to crack down on web porn &mdash; even as in many other areas the country grows more liberal in its attitude toward sex.</p> <p><strong>Flood of free porn</strong></p> <p>Ancient India had no qualms about graphic depictions of sex. Consider the luxurious illustrations of the Kama Sutra, or the carvings on the 1,000-year-old temples of Khajuraho &mdash; which<a href="http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/in-indias-ancient-khajuraho-eroticism-mingles-with-international-commerce/" target="_blank"> depict everything from threesomes to bestiality</a>. But, until recently, modern India has been decidedly more prudish.</p> <p>In the &#39;80s and &#39;90s, films with lascivious dialogue and a few shots of buxom women in wet saris were<a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/110906/india-soft-core-porn-pornography-bollywood-cinema" target="_blank"> considered softcore porn</a>. Bollywood didn&#39;t even dare show kissing until a few years back. And the country&#39;s <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/india/090430/indias-first-porn-star" target="_blank">first &ldquo;real&rdquo; porn star was a cartoon</a>.</p> <p>Now, suddenly, affordable smart phones have put hardcore porn in the palms of millions.</p> <p>According to statistics from Manwin Holding, the Luxembourg-based owner of the world&#39;s largest free porn sites, YouPorn and Pornhub, India&#39;s 150 million-odd internet users visit those two sites alone at a clip of around 2 million hits per day. The presence of Indian-themed content (&ldquo;naked desi babes in bath&rdquo; is one of the few printable titles) and advertisements confirms that the multibillion dollar industry has taken note.</p> <p>Meanwhile, reported incidents of rape have nearly doubled since 1995, when the internet first came to India, <a href="http://ncrb.nic.in/ciiprevious/main.htm" target="_blank">according to the National Crime Records Bureau</a>. More recently, rape reports have spiked 12 percent since cheap smart phones hit the market two years ago, although it&#39;s impossible to parse how much of that increase stems from the greater willingness of victims to come forward.</p> <p>To some, that correlation signals causality.</p> <p>&ldquo;Pornography is en masse perverting the lifestyles and behaviors of young people in India,&rdquo; said Rescue&#39;s Clifford, citing Rescue surveys in which college students confessed that each week they watch an average of two hours of &ldquo;violent porn.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>More porn, more rape?</strong></p> <p>The media and the authorities, too, have been quick to draw a connection between the increased availability of pornography and the apparent increase in sexual violence.</p> <p>A <a href="http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/porn-in-smartphones-pen-drives-easily-available/1/287084.html" target="_blank">recent article in India Today</a>, a leading weekly magazine, drew attention to the prevalence of rape fantasy porn and other violent clips at local &ldquo;download centers&rdquo; &mdash; kiosks where entrepreneurs illegally load porn onto customers&#39; thumb drives and memory chips. And it cited Google AdWords statistics to point out that &ldquo;Mobile phones were used nearly 4.1 million times a month on average to search with the keyword &#39;rape&#39; over the past year&rdquo; and &ldquo;search keywords included &#39;Indian girls raped&#39;, &#39;raping video&#39;, &#39;raping stories&#39;, &#39;raped in public&#39;, &#39;little girl raped&#39;, &#39;raping mom&#39;, &#39;father raping daughter&#39; and &#39;raped to death&#39;.&rdquo;</p> <p>In June, the department of telecommunications <a href="http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-06-26/internet/40205551_1_isps-websites-urls" target="_blank">banned 39 websites</a>, all hosted abroad, that allow users to share pornographic content.</p> <p>And this month, a parliamentary committee <a href="http://newindianexpress.com/nation/Parliament-panel-to-apply-brakes-on-cyber-porn/2013/07/12/article1679554.ece" target="_blank">was formed to explore ways to block internet pornography</a> altogether in response to the latest of many petitions that have demanded a blanket ban.</p> <p>But is the flood of smut really to blame for an epidemic of violent gang rapes?</p> <p>If so, India may not exactly be an outlier.</p> <p>The country&#39;s 4.1 million monthly searches for the keyword &ldquo;rape&rdquo; amounts to one search per month for every 30 internet users. In comparison, US mobile users also searched for &ldquo;rape&rdquo; an average of 4 million times per month last year, along with key phrases like &ldquo;women getting raped,&rdquo; &ldquo;men being raped&rdquo; and &ldquo;kids being raped.&rdquo; That&#39;s one search per month per 60 internet users.</p> <p>For both countries, those figures include not only the apparently heinous phrases highlighted by India Today, but also every search for rape counseling, rape news reports, rape crisis centers and so on. In India&#39;s case, for instance, there were an average of around 100,000 searches for &ldquo;raping video&rdquo; (or one search per month for every 1500 internet users). The average was 246,000 searches for &ldquo;Delhi gang rape&rdquo; and 90,500 for &ldquo;rape victims.&rdquo;</p> <p>Incidentally,<a href="https://www.google.com/sites/help/intl/en/program_policy.html" target="_blank"> Google indicates</a> that it removes suspected &ldquo;commercial&rdquo; and child pornography from its products, and reports criminal activity to the authorities. A quick search suggests the rape-related search terms don&#39;t return graphic pictures and videos &mdash; although a disturbing proportion of the YouTube results for &ldquo;rape&rdquo; are clips from mainstream Indian movies.</p> <p>After years of debate, academics and psychologists both in India and abroad are still at odds over whether pornography turns men into rapists. Bangalore-based neuroscientist Sai Gaddam, co-author of &ldquo;A Billion Wicked Thoughts,&rdquo; argues that there is precious little data to support most of the claims about the disastrous impact of ubiquitous web porn.</p> <p>&ldquo;We found that they&#39;re inversely correlated,&rdquo; Gaddam told GlobalPost. &ldquo;The more easily available pornography is, the less the incidence of sexual crimes.&rdquo;</p> <p>Still, nobody contends that the proliferation of smart phone smut is improving men&#39;s attitudes toward women.</p> Indian Porn Entertainment Want to Know Politics India Offbeat Mon, 29 Jul 2013 10:35:00 +0000 Jason Overdorf 5894914 at http://www.globalpost.com Motown Rocks: 26 Detroit musicians who kick out the jams http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/offbeat/130719/27-detroit-based-musicians-who-kicked-out-the-jams <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Detroit may have declared bankruptcy. But from Motown, to Iggy, to techno and beyond, there's still reason to dance. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> James Miller </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Marvin Gaye, Eminem, Iggy Pop and Madonna.</p> <p>In addition to defining the sounds of their respective decades, all these musical greats have another thing in common: they&#39;re all from Detroit.</p> <p>Yes, despite economic ruin, America&#39;s &quot;worst city&quot; has produced some of the most influential musicians from the last 60 years. Kick out the jams and boogie chillen, Detroit rocks!</p> <p>Detroit&#39;s musical legacy spans decades and genres including boisterous anthems of rebellion, timeless soul classics and incisive critiques of income inequality.</p> <p>The place has always pioneered music &mdash; and done so in a way that is very Detroit.&nbsp;</p> <p>From <a href="http://blog.kexp.org/2011/11/10/kexp-documentaries-electronic-innovators-the-belleville-three/">three high school students</a> inventing techno in their basements to an<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/berry-gordy-motown_n_3530793.html"> unemployed ex-boxer borrowing $800</a> to found the legendary record label that would define 60s soul music (and plenty more), Detroit has approached music with gritty determination and fearless innovation.&nbsp;</p> <p>To all those Detroiters and others feeling gloomy about this week&#39;s bankruptcy news, crank these 26 Motor City anthems to remember why Detroit rocks. Still.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="600" src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:globalpost:playlist:5ciApNGj152ZHlUYTNYml8" width="670"></iframe></p> Want to Know Culture & Lifestyle Offbeat United States Fri, 19 Jul 2013 19:55:00 +0000 James Miller 5888452 at http://www.globalpost.com India: If you have casual sex, you are legally married http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130628/india-if-you-have-casual-sex-you-are-legally-married <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Madras High Court ruling has far-reaching consequences for young couples living on a tumultuous sexual landscape. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Overdorf </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>NEW DELHI &mdash; In India, there&#39;s no sex without marriage &mdash; literally, according to a new court ruling.</p> <p>&ldquo;Any couple who choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow,&rdquo; the Madras High Court <a href="http://www.legallyindia.com/201306193766/Bar-Bench-Litigation/read-full-madras-high-court-judgment-on-pre-marital-sex-marriage-more" target="_blank">ruled in a recent palimony case</a> in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.</p> <p>The grammatically inclined will note that&#39;s not actually a sentence. That&rsquo;s true of most of the clauses in the judgment. But the meaning is decipherable: In Tamil Nadu, if two single adults have sex, even a one night stand, the legal system may consider them to be married.</p> <p>In context, the ruling made sense. The court simply upheld a lower court judgment awarding monthly support to a woman who had lived with a man for several years and had two children with him. The father attempted to skirt financial obligations by asserting that they had never married.</p> <p>However, in India&#39;s rapidly changing sexual landscape, the sweeping and ambiguous judgment could have far-reaching legal consequences.</p> <p>&ldquo;Indian society is grappling with sexuality, and patriarchal norms are coming into play,&rdquo; Geeta Ramaseshan, a lawyer who practices in the Madras High Court, told GlobalPost.</p> <p>India has long had a conservative streak. Families have historically shunned Western-style courtship, preferring instead to pair off their children through arranged marriages.</p> <p>These days, however, dating and premarital sex are considered normal by a growing portion of the population, yet such relations remain scandalous to many.</p> <p>All too often, the law is called in.</p> <p>For instance, police frequently file rape charges against men who have had consensual sex with their girlfriends &mdash; sometimes for years &mdash; if they fail to follow through on their promises to get married.&nbsp;</p> <p>Using the high court&rsquo;s ruling as precedent, jilted women (and men, too) could claim that vows and registration notwithstanding, the sex itself entitles them to divorce proceedings, Ramaseshan said.</p> <p>&ldquo;What this will do, I think, is cause confusion in the trial courts,&rdquo; Ramaseshan said in a telephone interview.</p> <p>Under Indian law, the judgment could only become a binding precedent in Tamil Nadu, and then only if it is inscribed in the law books. Either way, throughout the country lawyers can cite the Madras High Court to persuade their own state judges to copy its ruling.</p> <p> At a minimum, legal experts say that it could result in a lot of new litigation.</p> <p>&ldquo;It has, in a vast sweep, generalized all kinds of relationships and intimacies that could give rise to a lot of confusion in trial courts,&rdquo; Ramaseshan wrote in The Hindu. &ldquo;The implication of the court&rsquo;s observations is that if both parties have a casual relationship they would require dissolution of a nonexistent marriage.&rdquo;</p> <p>For a culture in the throes of a sexual revolution the impact could go beyond the court room. As the cases equating consensual sex on an alleged &ldquo;false promise of marriage&rdquo; with rape indicate, legal definitions and cultural morays are easily confused.</p> <p>In one recent case, for instance, Ramaseshan fought to extricate a young woman from a relationship in which her former boyfriend had claimed they were married on the basis of Facebook photos, among other things.</p> <p>At the same time, by arguing that sex is legally tantamount to marriage, the court inadvertently goes further than protecting women from being exploited or from discouraging young people from getting it on.</p> <p>It underscores the deplorable premium placed on virginity by India&#39;s major religions, and demonstrates the willingness of officials to intrude in intimate matters &mdash; with seemingly arbitrary penalties. As <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130625/pregnant-indian-women-marriage-pregnancy" target="_blank">GlobalPost has reported</a>, officials in Madhya Pradesh state allegedly forced young tribal women to undergo pregnancy tests before allowing them to participate in a mass marriage ceremony earlier this month.</p> <p>And while nobody can deny that millions of Indian women and girls are abused and exploited by their fathers, husbands and boyfriends every day, state paternalism of the type demonstrated by the Madras High Court will prevent these women from seizing power over their own sexuality.&nbsp;</p> Want to Know Culture & Lifestyle India Offbeat Sun, 30 Jun 2013 10:34:40 +0000 Jason Overdorf 5870665 at http://www.globalpost.com Wanted in China: blind date with a millionaire http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/130628/china-blind-date-millionaire <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Skills required: ironing, cooking, tying a necktie </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Zhao Chen </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>HONG KONG &mdash; Want to marry a millionaire in China? You&#39;d better be hot and know how to clean house.</p> <p>At least that&rsquo;s the message from a high profile mainland contest, and not everyone&#39;s happy about it.</p> <p>Last week in Jinan, China, more than 1,300 women wearing exquisite make-up and elegant dresses were asked to iron, cook, and tie a necktie. The goal: to qualify for a competition that will match 50 women with 50 millionaires for a blind date this July.</p> <p>The men&rsquo;s identities are kept secret, but their net worth isn&#39;t. Organizers say they&#39;re worth an average of $25 million each.</p> <p>In addition to being judged on their looks and cleaning ability, the women were asked to draw a picture for psychologists to evaluate. Organizers also interviewed their friends and colleagues to assess their associates and connections.</p> <p>While the women spared no efforts to show that they would make perfect wives, the millionaires were not at the scene. Only when the field has been whittled down to 50 women will the millionaires show up for a final party.</p> <p>News and photos of the event have triggered heated debate on Weibo, China&rsquo;s Twitter-like service. Although it wasn&#39;t the first time a pageant-style matchmaking gig created controversy, many micro-bloggers bitterly denounced the Jinan event as a sign of money worship, a serious social illness in China, they argued.</p> <p>One Weibo user wrote: &ldquo;Are we going backward to the feudal society where the emperor held mass-selection to choose his concubines? What a lamentable society, all about money, all after money, do the women still have their self-esteem?&rsquo;&rsquo;</p> <p>Cheng Yongsheng, the CEO of the Chinese Entrepreneurs Club for Singles (CECS), which has organized the blind date for four times since May 2012, defended the event by saying that it serves a real need that rich people have.</p> <p>&ldquo;I had the idea of creating CECS in 2012 originally because one of my friends who is also a millionaire told me how he is frustrated about finding a wife. It struck me for the first time that even these seemingly omnipotent rich guys have their weaknesses and vulnerabilities just like normal people,&rdquo; Cheng said.</p> <p>Moreover, Cheng believes it is even harder for millionaires to find wives because they are not as resourceful and sociable as people assume. More importantly, they are so engaged with their work that they don&rsquo;t have the time and energy to go on dates.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s where Cheng saw the market potential.</p> <p>In recent years, China has grown obsessed with money and millionaires, thanks to the country&rsquo;s economic boom and to the skyrocketing list of rich people. A 2010 study jointly conducted by Reuters and Ipsos revealed that 70 percent of Chinese agree that money is the best sign of personal success &mdash; a higher rate than in almost any other country.</p> <p>As such events seem to show, love and marriage aren&#39;t immune to the influence of money.</p> <p>However, criticism of that mindset is equally impassioned.</p> <p>In 2010, a contestant on a TV matchmaking program attempted to show her determination to marry a rich man by saying she&rsquo;d &ldquo;rather cry in a BMW car than smile on a bike.&rdquo; That remark immediately frayed public nerves, and ignited widespread condemnation of such millionaire-baiting contests that are gaining momentum in recent years.</p> <p>Some argued that such matchmaking transforms women nothing more than men&rsquo;s property.</p> <p>Ma Guanghai, a sociology professor at Shangdong University agreed. &ldquo;Although I don&rsquo;t want to be judgmental on this matter, I felt it very improper in the light of gender equality. Women are inspected from every angle in the strictest way possible while the millionaires enjoy the prestigious right of choice just because they are rich, &rdquo; Ma said.</p> <p>For 27-year-old Liu Ying, who participated a blind date selection this April in Chengdu, however, matters aren&#39;t so complicated. &ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t thought of money-worshiping stuff or anything related to gender discrimination. I came just because I want to find a husband as good as myself, whether it is in terms of education, background or salary. I just want find the right one who can match me. &rdquo;</p> Want to Know China Culture & Lifestyle Offbeat Sat, 29 Jun 2013 10:35:19 +0000 Zhao Chen 5870408 at http://www.globalpost.com