November 2007


Guilty Verdict in Sudan for British Teacher – New York Times

A British teacher accused of insulting Muslims after her class called a teddy bear Mohammad was found guilty and jailed for 15 days, a defence lawyer said on Thursday.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, was ordered to be deported after she had completed her sentence.

“She was found guilty of insulting religion and the sentence is 15 days (in jail) and deportation,” defence lawyer Ali Ajib said after the trial in a Khartoum courtroom, which lasted less than a day.

The London Times have been covering this story all week but this is from the New York Times. I’m astounded at how quickly the events unraveled. She could have received of 40 lashes and a six-month jail sentence so I guess the 15 days in jail and deportation is equivalent to a slap on the wrist in Sudan.

Here is a link to the London Times version of this story. They’ve covered it very well (IMHO).

Who would have thought a person could go to jail for a teddy-bear (one that wasn’t stuffed with drugs)?

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Can baking soda curb global warming? | CNET News.com

Some scientists have proposed compressing carbon dioxide and sticking it in underground caves as a way to cut down on greenhouse gases. Joe David Jones wants to make baking soda out of it.

Jones, the founder and CEO of Skyonic, has come up with an industrial process called SkyMine that captures 90 percent of the carbon dioxide coming out of smoke stacks and mixes it with sodium hydroxide to make sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. The energy required for the reaction to turn the chemicals into baking soda comes from the waste heat from the factory.

“It is cleaner than food-grade (baking soda),” he said.

The system also removes 97 percent of the heavy metals, as well as most of the sulfur and nitrogen compounds, Jones said.

I really hope there is something to this story – I’m all for more baked goods.

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Tightening the Beltway, the Elite Shop Costco – New York Times

It’s so strange to see this article from the New York Times about Washington’s elite shopping at Costco. I’ve been shopping there for years so it’s no surprise to me that there are deals to be had there, especially for party planners.

To its benefit, Costco has carefully fashioned an upscale-downscale image, and their stores do better in high-end locations, said the company’s chief financial officer, Richard Galanti. In the Washington area, the highest volume location is its store in the Pentagon City neighborhood of Arlington, Va.

“WE knew that we would attract government, we would attract ambassadors, we would attract military personal, we would attract the parties and embassies,” said Joe Potera, the chief operating officer, referring to the Pentagon City store. “We have thousands of sheet cakes during all the major holidays for Pentagon parties, for ambassador parties, for staff parties in the capital. It’s kind of a destination.” Costco also has a chocolate shop that produces molds of the Capitol as well as the Pentagon.

In case you are wondering, the woman in the picture is Sally Quinn, journalist and Washington hostess and wife of Ben Bradlee (former editor of the Washington Post).

I shop at the Pentagon City Costco, too. I’ve never noticed a famous Washingtonian there but I probably wouldn’t recognize them.

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Wipe Away a Tear For Mr. Whipple, And 2-Ply Times – washingtonpost.com

Dick Wilson, the actor who played Mr. Whipple in more than 500 Charmin commercials from 1964 to 1985, died Monday at age 91, at a hospital for ailing movie and television actors, way out in the San Fernando Valley. He’d done other parts, in sitcoms, but showbiz can only be counted on to give a guy one sure thing, if he’s lucky, and Wilson got to be Mr. Whipple, forever.

Wilson died on what just happened to be World Toilet Day, in which global health advocates and public bathroom accessibility proponents annually remind us that not even 20 percent of the planet’s population enjoys daily access to a clean, working toilet — to say nothing of “squeezably soft” rolls of tissue.

This just made me smile.

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Tavares' cocoa plantation. A cacao tree in a yard in eastern Brazil.

NPR : How Chocolate Can Save the Planet

Sounds so ideal – grow cacao and save the planet. Well, not quite but there is a group trying to save the Brazilian rain forest using selective tree removal and then planting cacao trees in their place. The product yield isn’t as high as traditional farming but the benefits (less disease, fewer insects, less invasive farming) can give the farmers a premium price for their crop since it’s more environmentally-friendly.

Check out the podcast or read the linked article. There are more pictures and links to other related sites.

Also, keep eating chocolate so we can make this happen.

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Seeing the Light at Last – washingtonpost.com

This weekend saw the opening of the courtyard at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture (aka the Old Patent Office Building and home of the National Portrait Gallery). So far the reviews have been good. The link above is for the Washington Post article. I won’t post one for the Washington Times – they hated it.

Staff were given a coupon for a free “non-alcoholic” beverage from the new cafe so I went over and got a hot chocolate and sprang for a chocolate brownie, too. It was good hot chocolate but could have been a touch richer in flavor. The brownie was thickly iced and very fudgey – and expensive at $3.85.

The courtyard is quite stunning and I’m certain it will be the place that parents will bring their kids to run and burn off energy. I just hope they don’t wipe their grimy fingers on the cases in the galleries – just another thing to clean in the morning.

If you are in DC, I recommend dropping by to see the courtyard but please stay to see the collection, too.

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Live! – washingtonpost.com

This time a not-so-shameless plug. My brother’s group, Woods Tea Co., is playing tonight at the Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center here in northern Virginia. The Washington Post called Howard (second from the left in the photo) for an interview and ran the linked piece in the Fairfax edition last Thursday. Soon I shall head out to see the show.

Check out the band’s website for sound clips and schedule.

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