Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Deadly Perfume Rumors

Middle East Monitor
30 August 2017

The Algerian Ministry of Defence is thought to be behind a warning against purchasing and wearing a deadly perfume. […]

The document claimed to be issued by the Algerian Ministry of Defence that dates back to 17 August and was posted by the Regional Directorate of the Military Health, which is affiliated with the first military district. It suggests that “available information suggests that the perfume is a poisonous substance with a delayed effect that appears after 3 or 4 days of spraying it on the body, resulting in sudden death.”

The document also unveiled that the “toxic perfume has been discovered in Arab and Islamic countries such as Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan, and Kuwait”. […]

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Drinking Coca-Cola Darkens the Skin

Will Storr, The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (New York: The Overlook Press, 2015), 38-9.

[Storr is granted a ten-minute audience with Swami Ramdev, who is in London for a series of lectures on yoga.]

I move on to the reports that I have read in the Indian press of Ramdev telling children that Coca-Cola will turn their skin dark, a powerful message for vanity-conscious youngsters to whom pale complexions are desirable – and a statement that is unarguably wrong. I am curious to see if Ramdev will admit to saying this as, presumably, he is smart enough to realise that I know it to be untrue.

‘Did you once claim Coca-Cola darkens the skin?’ I say.

His eyes slide sideways, towards Shipra [his translator].

‘Even in the USA, the government has banned it in schools,’ he says.

‘But did you claim it darkens the skin?’

‘There has been scientific research that says it can be harmful to health.’

I put down my pen.

‘But did you say it darkens the skin? I just want to establish, for the record, if you’ve ever claimed this.’

He looks toward Shipra once more. I watch as a hot conference takes place between them in Hindi. Eventually, she tells me, ‘Swamiji just says that to the kids. It’s not necessarily true.’

Starving Goat Eats Flesh from Baby’s Arm (Somalia)

New York Times
13 August 2017


Mogadishu, Somalia — As I waited for my ride to collect me from the Mogadishu airport, an officer told me an apocryphal tale: A starving goat, blind from hunger, mistook a baby wrapped in a green cloth for grass and bit off a mouthful of emaciated flesh from the baby’s upper arm. The baby’s anguished cry brought the mother to her knees and she wept in prayer. The next day, a friend I met in Mogadishu repeated a variation of the same tale.

I saw the story as encapsulating much of what everyone needs to know about the goat-eats-baby severity of the current famine in the Somali Peninsula, with more than six million affected, crops wasting away, livestock dead or dying, water and foods scarce. […]