Offbeat World News

USA: Powdered Alcohol Off The Shelf
USA: Powdered Alcohol Off The Shelf
USA: Powdered Alcohol Off The Shelf
USA: Powdered Alcohol Off The Shelf

USA: Powdered Alcohol Off The Shelf

Powdered alcohol poised to hit US stores

A US company says its new powdered alcohol product was approved by US regulators and poised to hit stores in coming months. Palcohol is made by an Arizona company called Lipsmark and made in six varieties of single-drink pouches. Drinkers can stir in simple water for a shot of rum or vodka, add cola or orange juice for a mixer or create a cocktail – eithera Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Margarita or Lemon Drop. The company said the product would be sold to people of legal drinking age and could even be sprinkled on food. “Think of Palcohol as liquor… just in powder form. It will be sold anywhere where liquor can be sold,” said the company, adding it will be available in the United States, as well as abroad and online. A patent for the mixture is pending. In response to consumer inquiries about whether the product could be snorted, the company described the askers as “goofballs” and said it would take a half cup of powder to equal one drink. “Don’t do it! It is not a responsible or smart way to use the product,” it urged. However the product then lost federal approval, with some experts saying it could provide a serious health risk to those who consume it. A representative from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau said in an email to The Associated Press that the approvals were issued in error. Powdered alcohol has already been approved for sale in Japan and some European countries.

CUBA: Running Out of Condoms

Cubans have grown accustomed to shortages. From food staples to energy to toilet paper, basic goods regularly become unavailable due to the island’s isolation from key international markets. The newest item on Cuba’s list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms. In 2012, when millions of condoms imported from China were set to expire, the government ruled that the expiration labels were incorrect and that they should be re-dated for 2014. The ensuing backlog pushed up the price of a condom from a few cents to about $1.30 (a day’s earnings for the average Cuban), and is the proximate cause for the current shortage. Cuban bloggers first started reporting the scarcity last month, when pharmacies in one central province began running out of the government-subsidized condoms. Now, the shortages have reached Havana suburbs (where Cubans apparently also frequently use condoms to smuggle cheap rum into nightclubs). Now, Cuba’s remarkable achievements in keeping HIV/AIDS rates low – admittedly by unethical means, at times – are now imperiled, not by a dearth of advanced medical treatment, but because of a scarcity of the most basic and inexpensive sexual health product.

China: Honky Tonk Woman Banned at Stones Gig
China: Honky Tonk Woman Banned at Stones

China: Honky Tonk Woman

Banned at Stones Gig The sexual lyrics of Honky Tonk Woman were apparently too much for China’s Communist fathers as the Rolling Stones said the charttopping song was “vetoed” for their second ever show in the country. “About now we’d usually play something like Honky Tonk Woman … but it’s been vetoed,” front man Mick Jagger said at the show. The song describes a “bar-room queen” who “tried to take me upstairs for a ride” and another woman who “blew my nose and then she blew my mind”. The enduring rock band played in commercial capital Shanghai once previously, eight years ago, when several songs fell victim to the censor, including Brown Sugar. But other classic Stones numbers passed muster, including Street Fighting Man and You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

EGYPT: Massive Necropolis

With Some 50 Mummies Found A vast necropolis with some 50 mummies, including pharaonic royalty, has been discovered in Egypt’s famed Valley of the Kings near the temple city of Luxor. “The immense necropolis contains the remains of mummies that could have been members of the royal family, in particular the sons of the Kings Tutmoses III and Tutmoses IV of the 18th dynasty,” which ruled from 1550-1292 BC, the Antiquities Ministry said. Archaeologists, including experts from the University of Basel in Switzerland, found wooden sarcophagi, death masks and canopic jars used to store organs removed during the embalming process. The mummies included newborn babies. An examination of the inscriptions on the jars allowed them to identify more than 30 of the dead by name, including previously unknown princesses, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a statement. The cemetery, which like many such sites had been looted in ancient times, is in the extreme northwest of the Valley of the Kings, a popular tourist site which also includes the tomb of Tutankhamun, better known as King Tut.

Diet of worms for Chinese astronauts
Diet of worms for Chinese astronauts

Diet of worms for Chinese astronauts?

Three researchers have been eating worms for 105 days, while living in a sealed laboratory in Beijing, to test whether astronauts could use them as their main source of protein. The volunteers fattened up the worms on plants grown inside the Moon Palace One biosphere at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the South China Morning Post reports. They had various preparations for eating the worms – using a bean sauce and other seasonings to make the dish as appealing as possible. The idea of feeding protein-rich mealworms to astronauts was apparently raised as early as 2009, but scientists at western space agencies worried they would be unappetising and lower astronaut morale. But researcher Hu Dawei says that throughout the current experiment the volunteers seemed “healthy and happy” on their worm diet. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has said edible insects could make a “promising alternative” to traditional protein sources. “It did take them some time to adapt,” Hu adds. “None of them had ever tried them as food before. Worms may look disgusting at first glance, but they are actually the cleanest and healthiest food source.” But one restaurant owner is more sceptical, saying: “Worms on the menu might put off some people who dreamed of being an astronaut.” The experiment’s results may be reviewed by China’s space authorities in the planning of future manned missions. China put its first man into space in 2003, and has plans to launch a space station by 2023.

AUSTRALIA: Financial Review Newspaper Cover is a Hot EBay Item

The cover of a weekend edition of a usually rather conservative Australian publication was recently released with a series of copy mistakes that certainly raised eyebrows. The Australian Financial Review’s editor has since apologised to readers over the “unacceptable state” of the issue. Attempts to recall the early edition were unsuccessful. “It is an extreme one-off and we are going through our processes to make sure it does not happen again,” he said. Instead of the usual $AUS 3.50 price, copies of the now infamous edition are being offered online for up to $AUS 49. Rather than to describe the errors that caused such a reaction, we’ve included a photo of the cover. A picture tells a thousand words!

Fish Rain Down on Sri Lanka Village

Villagers in west Sri Lanka have said they have been surprised and delighted by an unusual rainfall of small fish. The edible fish fell during a storm and are believed to have been lifted out of a river during a strong wind. Villagers in the district of Chilaw said they heard something heavy falling and found scores of fish with a total weight of 50kg (110lbs). It is not the first such incident in Sri Lanka – in 2012, a case of “prawn rain” was recorded in the south. Scientists say that “fish rain” usually occurs when swirling whirlwinds over relatively shallow water develops into waterspouts and sucks in almost anything in the water including fish, eels and even frogs. The marine life can be carried long distances by buffeting clouds even when the waterspout stops spinning. Villagers say that the “fish rain shower” included creatures falling on the village green, roads and roofs. Some of the fish – each three to five inches (5cm-8cm) in length – were still alive and were put in buckets of water to eat later.