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Subsidized Bread Staving Off Starvation & Uprisings

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Tue Apr 29th, 2008 at 05:24:53 PM EST

You better get used to this sort of headline. It's going to get a lot tougher for most of us on this planet. You heard about poor Haitians having to eat mudcakes as "food" of the last resort. Let me give you an account of another country on the brink of disaster: Egypt's government is now struggling to contain a political crisis as violent clashes have broken out at long lines for subsidized bread, and the president, worried about unrest, has ordered the army to step in to provide more. The president himself had to intervene. You might say, that's his job. Well, yes, but he is unable to control soaring food prices, none of us can. The Egyptian authorities are fearful that this could be a prelude to a chronic shortage of wheat worldwide and a return to lawlessness.

Nearly 40 percent Egypt's 76 million people live below or near the poverty line of $2 a day and quite a few on less than a dollar a day. The prices of staples such as cooking oil and rice have nearly doubled in recent months forcing them to ban rice export for a period of six months.

Cross-posted from PolitiCook & DKos

Diary rescue by Migeru

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The Source of Life is Ebbing Away From Us

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Tue Apr 29th, 2008 at 12:40:05 PM EST

New Ageism? No. Stark reality. As I was returning home late last night, I was listening to a BBC report on the radio. Damning report indeed. By 2025, two thirds of the population will experience a severe shortage of water. I can't find the audio, but believe me, we are facing a serious crisis. The amount of water in the world is limited. The human race, and the other species which share this planet, cannot expect an infinite supply. The world is incurring a vast water deficit. It is largely invisible, historically recent, and growing fast.

The main conflicts in the world during the next 25 years could be over that most precious of commodities as countries fight for access to scarce resources. We have available less than 0.08% of all the Earth's water. Yet over the next two decades our use is estimated to increase by about 40%. Something has to give.

The inconvenience of a lengthy US presidential election means that a great amount of time is being lost. Instead of preparing for this incoming disaster, we are bombarded with inanities from the right wing nuts about Obama's choice of orange juice over coffee and idiotic accusations of bitter elitism. WTF is wrong with them?
Cross-posted from Politicook.net and DKos

Diary rescue by Migeru

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A Culinary Tour of the Maghreb

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 11:22:10 PM EST

When I turned seventeen, as part of having successfully finished my end of school exam, one of my uncle took me to Tunisia for a week of R&R. That same uncle had taken me to Senegal a few years earlier, and my encounter with an elephant foot was part of a What's For Dinner  diary a few weeks ago.

Tunisia made a huge impact on me with its rich history, the constant explosions of colors, the sparkling Mediterranean sea, the ruins of Carthage and beyond Tunis, its capital, the road leading to the beautiful sea-side village of Sidi Bou Said lined with olive groves, citrus orchards and endless vineyards, its remarkable architecture, beige sun baked bricks set in geometric patterns, Moorish arches and high vaulted ceilings, the throngs of shops offering locally woven carpets, Berber jewelry and ornaments...and the smells, and the food, the glorious food!

Let me tell you about my North African adventure as seen through the eyes of an excitable youth with a ravenous appetite. I hope you will enjoy this Sunday diary, a nice break from my usual grim news diaries about food & water shortages.

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The Obscene Scam that is Food Flavorings

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 04:19:25 PM EST

I have often wondered if there could be an actual chemical causing the massive obesity epidemic we seem to be having, worldwide, and if so, could it be related to the equally massive injection of flavors into our food, particularly MSG. The answer is maybe, in fact quite possibly.

Have you noticed that pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars developing glutamate blockers with which to fight neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer's disease, while the glutes are pouring (often hidden) processed glutamate (MSG) into our food? Their answer to this: the glutamate industry claims that glutamic acid and aspartic acid are natural components of protein and, therefore, cannot be harmful.  What they fail to mention is that when glutamic acid and aspartic acid are freed from protein through a manufacturing process, they will invariably be accompanied by contaminants.  If the manufacturing process used to free amino acids from protein is acid hydrolysis, carcinogenic propanols will be included as contaminants.

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Food Crisis Looms: the Cost of Uncertainty

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 06:21:15 AM EST

The sharp increase in food prices over the last couple of years has raised serious concerns about the food and nutrition situation of poor people in developing countries, about runaway inflation, and in some countries, growing civil unrest, as food riots break out across the globe.

Much has been written in these boards about the causes of rising prices and it should be noted that one of the major culprit is the shadow of "a new hunger" that has made food far too expensive for millions. Rising prices for all the world's crucial cereal crops and growing fears of scarcity are sending shivers through international markets, creating turmoil and, as GWB is fond of stating his newly found word, uncertainty.

Uncertainty creates panic buying. Brokers know this well.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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Earth Day Water News Roundup

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Tue Apr 22nd, 2008 at 12:43:32 PM EST

The problem of water scarcity is a growing worldwide phenomenon. Net renewable water resources per capita have declined dramatically over a single generation, and in little less than 20 years from now will reach dangerously low levels. Water scarcity already affects every single continent and four of every ten people in the world. The situation is getting worse due to population growth, urbanization and the increase in domestic and industrial water use. By 2025, nearly 2 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water shortage, where water resources per person fall well below the recommended level of 500 cubic meters per year (this is the amount of water a person needs for a healthy and hygienic living).

Poor water quality increases the risk of diarrhoeal diseases including cholera, typhoid fever, salmonellosis, other gastrointestinal viruses, and dysentery. Water scarcity may also lead to diseases such as trachoma, plague and typhus. Everyone needs water and everyone needs to take responsibility. Actively support governments, non-governmental organizations and private foundations which are making it a priority to deliver affordable good quality water to people. In short, do your part by conserving, recycling and protecting water more efficiently. Here are the news:

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Peak Champagne Sparks Panic in Boardrooms

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 07:14:06 PM EST

It had to happen, sooner or later: whilst Jérôme a Paris was busy tracking the $100 to $200 oil barrels and the rest of us arguing about who's the best candidate, another peak raised its ugly head, so to speak, setting off an avalanche of unfortunate events, upsetting the powers of the predatory class, stupefying tycoons, despots and rock stars alike into mere babbling idiots.

This is likely to come as very distressing news for most patriotic Americans and the Bush family, but this year French Champagne vintage has been ruined by a combination of late freak frosts, unbridled consumption in the boardrooms of hedge fund & leverage managers (though not those unfortunate souls at Bears & Stearns) and exacerbated by continuous celebrations in K Street resulting in a severe drought of the prized bubbly.

Follow me over the jump for the horrid, horrid news.

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Buyer Beware: Tainted Mafia Wine

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 01:57:06 PM EST

A few days ago I wrote about Italian buffalo mozzarella which was found to be contaminated with dioxins as a result of a long drawn garbage crisis. As I wrote, the Neapolitan Mafia, the "camorra", is believed (or should I say alleged) to have had a major responsibility for the rubbish crisis since it has long operated huge scale illegal dumping (a lot of it being industrial toxic waste) in and around Naples.

Last week, authorities in Italy "suspect" some 70 million liters of cheap wine on sale in local shops and supermarkets could contain illegal, harmful substances, a weekly magazine reported Friday. And in a separate report that threatens to harm the image of one of Italy's most prized vintages, L'Espresso magazine also said a probe is underway on an alleged scam to mislead consumers by falsely labeling bottles.

Who is responsible this time? The Mafia. Read on.

Cross-posted from http://politicook.net/

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Climate Change: Bad News for Beer Drinkers

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 12:47:30 PM EST

Climate change will force the beer lovers around the world especially in Australia & New Zealand (right now) to shell out extra money to buy the drink, which could taste different, a scientist warned on Tuesday. Climate change could cause a drop in beer production within 25 years, worldwide.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger said climate change could see a decline of malting barley production in parts of New Zealand, Australia and spreading to the rest of the world.

Sen. Inhofe (R.OK) and countless other doubters will tell you that it's a Giant Hoax, doncha know? Bleh, I hope they find flies in their small beer!

Searching the web for articles related to this, I am astounded that not a single site has mentioned water, odd since the water content in any beer is more than 90% and consequently plays a major role in the final product.

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n Vino Veritas. A guide to New World Wines, part 1

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Tue Apr 8th, 2008 at 01:05:22 PM EST

Good afternoon Eurotrib. Jerome a Paris has kindly invited me to cross-post a few of my wine diaries from DKos and my own site, PolitiCook. So here's number 1! I hope you'll enjoy it.

There isn't a Latin expression that rings truer to me. Ne plus ultra may come a close second. I have seen people confessing to unusual habits and revealing their innermost secrets when thoroughly sozzled. That may be the reason why I don't drink in public anymore, for fear of my neighbor knowing all about my passing interest in playing mini golf in the nude or worse, my newly found liking of Doris Day's & Harry James recordings from the notable film "Young Man With A Horn".

I dabble in wine and I have managed to make a living out of it in the last few years. Having been born in France to a family of hoteliers, I remember that as young as seven I was told the difference between a Bordeaux and a Burgundy and was made to sniff out many premier crus though I wasn't allowed to even take a small sip (this I did under the table with my cousins whenever there was a family reunion.)

In this diary I will deal with some of the New World wines, some of which seem fairer to me in pricing (I mean, who can afford $1.600 for a bottle of Chateau Petrus, still my "ne plus ultra" wine of choice if I had Bloomberg's bank account).

So if you want to splurge on ten Euros for a relatively good bottle of wine follow me over the bump.

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