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Weekend World Links 7/19 & 20

July 19, 2008

Cause of deaths in doubt after Sino-US blood thinner probe

BEIJING  — The joint investigation by Chinese and US drug authorities has not found out the exact cause of the deaths said to be related to a substance in blood thinner exported from China to the United States, said the Ministry of Health here Friday.

Both sides detected an ingredient called *Hypersulphated Chondroitin Sulphate from the heparin products exported to the United States by SPL’s Changzhou factory but could not confirm whether the ingredient was to blame for the adverse reactions, Yan said.

*Hypersulphated Chondroitin Sulphate is a substance derived from pig cartilage.

Bengal farmers in potato protest

Angry farmers in the Indian state of West Bengal have been dumping their potato crop on roads in protest against poor prices.

Farmers say they are selling at a loss because a bumper crop and lack of storage facilities has led to a dramatic fall in prices.

They say a bumper potato crop has led to a huge surplus of more than 15,000 metric tones and there’s not enough cold storage facilities in the state to preserve it for off-season sale when prices are better.

The price of potatoes has fallen across West Bengal this month by almost half – to around four to five rupees (12 US cents) a kilogram.

The farmers say they get only half that much – the rest is pocketed by middlemen who the government has so far failed to control.

Somalia pop stars take on tradition

What an inspiring group this is! I guess what with Angelina having the twins and Paris doing whatever it is that Paris does, there just isn’t any space to devote to stories like this.

Deep in the heart of Little Mogadishu, a suburb in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, a pop group called Waayah Cusub (New Era) is causing a storm.

Frustrated with the traditional norms of living within the Somali community, which to a large extent restricts open expression; this group of young men and women are now using music to break the barriers.

Most of them are in their early twenties and have been living as refugees in Kenya for more than a decade.

…”We are not happy with what is happening back home, in fact we have recorded a thought-provoking song that we hope will bring our leaders back to their senses,” Ms Jamma says.

The song, entitled Somalia, rebukes the country’s leadership and warlords for causing the pain and destruction as they fight for power and challenges them to outline what they will do to restore order to the country.

The best places in the world to have cancer

Cuba? Women have a better chance of survival in Cuba? Sign me up. You don’t suppose it could have anything to do with their health care program do you? Earlier detection…better survival? Nah…it couldn’t be that simple or our mighty elected officials wouldn’t have to be forced to come up with universal health care. There’s also an interactive map with the story.

Women with cancer of the breast, colon or rectum have the best chance of survival if they live in Cuba. Algeria, in contrast, is one of the worst places to be if you have cancer.

Those are just two of many conclusions from a worldwide study comparing survival rates in nearly 2 million cancer patients.

In general, people in North America, Western Europe and other developed countries do better than people from Africa, South America and Eastern Europe.

Smell of fresh earth traced to bacteria genes

Everybody recognises the earthy smell of a field that’s been freshly tilled, but how this smell forms has so far remained a mystery. A team at Brown University has now identified the bacterial genes responsible for the scent.

Agro-dementia: Why Romanian farmers are turning their backs on European money

Those readers who are not familiar with the complexities of Romanian society will be scratching their heads when reading that less than 3% of available European funds available to subsidise and develop agriculture were taken up in 2007.  The reader will become more perplexed when informed that at least 40% of Romania’s population live in rural areas and are dependant upon subsistence farming.

Add to the confusion the fact that Romania has some of the best agricultural land in Europe. To take the reader to the point of questioning his sanity add for some spice the fact that Romania imports, wheat, corn, poultry, pork, onions and garlic the imported food bill exceeding € 2.5 Bn!

Unemployment forces refugees back to Iraq

I can’t imagine making that choice. Keep them in your thoughts & prayers.

Iraqi refugees are facing an uncertain life in Iraq over unemployment in Denmark.

Many of the 100 Iraqi interpreters and aid workers granted asylum in Denmark last year are choosing to return to Iraq.

The Iraqis, who had worked for the Danish military in Iraq, arrived in Denmark with their families last July when the army withdrew its troops. The government granted them asylum for fear they could face reprisals from insurgent groups for working with coalition forces.

Weak dollar makes American cars a bargain: Imported cars are often half the price of similar European

models

Big car lovers are in seventh heaven these days. Thanks to the weak dollar, importers are bringing in more and more high-end American vehicles, often ones that are no longer in production.

‘Figuring in the Danish excise system, the dollar is valued at around 4.2 kroner,’ said Ulrik Høyer of US Autocenter in Karlslunde, south of Copenhagen. ‘That means we can sell the cars at prices that allow buyers to live out their boyhood dreams.’

Many of the American cars being purchased are already available on the European market. For example, the Chrysler Crossfire – built in Germany – would normally cost around 800,000 kroner new in Denmark. But imported from the US it has a sticker price of 550,000 kroner.

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