Zooming In

February 16, 2006

Condom Nation

Gelf highlights overlooked coverage from local media around the world. In this edition: A prophylactic push; a defiant editor; and a lot of missing teeth.

David Goldenberg

Zooming In
Paul Antonson
Some of the most insightful writing from outside the U.S. comes from local media. In this occasional feature, Gelf identifies noteworthy stories that haven't gotten much attention outside local borders.

Thailand: According to a report in ThaiDay (mirrored in the Asia Times), the country has the potential to become the leading condom exporter in the world. With an abundant supply of natural rubber and a corporate-friendly government, Thailand is looking to woo more condom manufacturers to the country. Last year, more than three billion Thai condoms were sold—15% of the global market. The best part of the article, though, is the condom shaped graphic, titled "Big player."

Mongolia: Child jockeys aged 7-14 competing in the annual Tsagaan Sar horse races were exposed to the coldest day of the year in early February, according to a story in the UB Post. After racing in temperatures below -50 degrees Fahrenheit, many of the jockeys came down with cold-related sicknesses and injuries. The winning horse belongs to the country's new prime minister, Miyeegombo Enkhbold.

New Zealand: The country plans to stop jailing low-level offenders who previously would have been incarcerated for fewer than six months (New Zealand Herald). While the list of those who will instead be performing community service and paying fines includes people charged with assault and minor theft, most of the beneficiaries of the new program will be those charged with driving violations, including drunk driving. Many drug and alcohol counselors seem to be happy with the changes, as the jail sentences were previously too short to include rehabilitation programs.

Pakistan: An editorial in the Pakistan Observer notes President Pervez Musharraf's overwhelming interest in cricket. He consistently makes appearances at national matches and meets and encourages the players. The editorial worries that Musharraf's bias towards cricket means that other sports including hockey—the national pastime—are neglected. Pakistan is still the world champion, the editorial states, "but our hockey team's pathetic performance in the recent international tourneys speak volumes about lack of attention towards its sustenance much less its promotion. President Musharraf should not only look into the affairs of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, but also goad its officials to promote the game to regain its past glory, besides showing up at important events of the game in the country."

Russia: A dentist in Moscow is under investigation for a scam that left many of his patients toothless. According to the Moscow Times, police have uncovered evidence that the dentist removed teeth from over 50 patients, sending them home to heal before he put in their pre-paid falsies. He then allegedly fled before the second operations, taking with him all of the money.

Sudan: As fast-food chains move into Sudan, a peculiar problem is emerging. Many of the restaurant owners—generally from South Africa and the Middle East—are reluctant to hire Sudanese employees (Inter Press Service). It seems the Sudanese have a reputation for poor customer service that even their countrymen acknowledge. Shihab El Tay, the Sudanese owner of Steers restaurant, a South African fast food chain, tells the paper, "I can't say Sudanese are perfect for these jobs. They are not familiar with the fast food service. They are missing the attitude of 'the customer is always right.' " Additionally, the country's Muslim traditions mean that Sudanese women are not allowed to wait tables. As a result, many restaurants are staffed by foreigners, most from the Philippines.

Sweden: Last week, Michael Moynihan, the editor of the Stockholm Spectator, decided to take a stand against what he claims is a government crackdown on freedom of the press. After the Minister of Foreign Affairs Laila Freivalds hammered the website SD-Kuriren for posting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, the site's service provider took it offline. (Frievald's statement read, in part: "I will defend freedom of the press no matter what the circumstances, but I strongly condemn the provocation by SD-Kuriren. It displays a complete lack of respect.") On the Spectator's blog, Moynihan posted one of the most offensive images, along with the contact information for the police and his service provider, and dared readers to complain. As of now, his site's still online.

Korea: As the first part-Korean Super Bowl MVP, Hines Ward has engendered a lot of pride in his birth country. He is also the subject of a lot of discussion. While many newspapers are now lauding the Steelers wide receiver, OhMyNews has an interesting piece that discusses the prejudice that has surrounded mixed-race children in the past. Ward's mother, a Korean nightclub waitress, left the country with her husband, a black soldier, because, according to the article, she "quickly decided her son would have no future in the country where the obsession with 'pure blood' is such that schools teach the 'proud history of maintaining the pure blood of Korean people for over five thousands years despite numerous invasions by neighboring countries.' " There's an interesting discussion about Korean racism in the comments section.

Post a comment

Comment Rules

The following HTML is allowed in comments:
Bold: <b>Text</b>
Italic: <i>Text</i>
<a href="URL">Text</a>


Article by David Goldenberg

Contact this author