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Global Quickies: Saints, Smoke, and Axolotls

CHINA
The Ministry of Education has banned smoking in kindergartens, elementary and middle schools, and vocational schools. Yes, apparently, smoking was permitted in kindergartens.

UK/MEXICO/THAILAND/PHILIPPINES/LEBANON
Gary Bolton, who was sentenced to seven years in jail for selling fake bomb detectors, paid the UK government to enlist serving soldiers and a British ambassador in the sale of the dangerous devices overseas.

MEXICO
The axolotl, a very cute salamander-like cutie much studied by scientists for its ability to regenerate limbs, eyes, and even parts of the brain, might be extinct in the wild. I suddenly feel very guilty about going on party boats throughout my college years in the lake I now know it’s their only known habitat.

CANADA (from lashingtail)
Will the Quebec Secular Charter help or hurt Quebec? CBC held a panel on this subject and you can listen to it in the link. To know more about the proposed secular charter, check out Dan’s post from a few months ago: Quebec Helpfully Shows How NOT to do Secularism.

SPAIN
Spanish government questioned over claims of divine help in economic crisis. Seeing how the country’s economy is still in the toilet, I’d like to ask those ministers to pray the saints stop “helping”.

UK< a href=”http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2014/01/why-we-must-end-detention-female-asylum-seekers-uk”>
Interesting article on the treatment of female asylum seekers in the UK.

INDIA
Scary headline: Homoeopathy healing 80 % leprosy patients, claims Ayush. Scary but not holy-shit-they’re-treating-leprosy-patients-with-sugar-pills-scary article content: homeopathy has proven successful in restoring sensation to the affected parts of body of leprosy patients, claims the Directorate of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.

MAURITANIA
Remember that story I linked to a couple of weeks ago about a writer convicted of insulting the prophet? Sadly, he’s not the only Blogger being accused of apostasy.

CHILE (from Deemonita)
The congresswoman who proposed a bill to ban the use of thimerosal in vaccines copied the part of the text on mercury from Yahoo Answers. Fortunately, the president has vetoed the bill.

Featured image: an axolotl

Daniela

Born and raised in Mexico City, Daniela has finally decided to abdicate her post as an armchair skeptic and start doing some skeptical activism. She is currently living in Spain after having lived in the US, Brazil and Italy. You can also find her blogging in Spanish at esceptica.org.

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8 Comments

  1. I am sad for the axolotls. For many years I kept them as pets, at one point there were 8 of them.
    They all had names and individual personalities and were fascinating little critters.I stopped because it’s too hard to look after them properly in our hot summers.

    Vaguely related, there was a TV documentary called Foodie Planet last week. The topic was Mexican food, filmed on location, with a segment about cooking iguana in Juchita south of Oaxaca. According to this, eating iguanas is traditional there but prohibited elsewhere. Here is the link, just in case it works outside Oz, it will be good for a few days.
    http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/11874883981/Foodie-Planet-Destination-Mexico

    I would not have a problem with that but was horrified by what the man of the family had to say.
    “Iguana are becoming extinct. Now is the time they reproduce. Traditionally this is also the time they are hunted and eaten. They reproduce in Holy Week. They are doomed to extinction because they are not allowed to reproduce.”

    Do we NEVER learn?

    1. Wow, I never imagined people kept axolotls as pets. Growing up in Mexico, I had heard about them all my life but never really knew what they looked like until a few years ago, when I saw them in a European aquarium. And I didn’t know they had personalities, that’s very cool.

      About the iguanas, I used to see a few on the backyard growing up. We would leave out fruit for them sometimes, which they seemed enjoyed. I think they are all gone now, and I don’t know if it’s because people eat them, because the area is becoming much more urban, or if it’s because a neighbor thought it would be nice to have squirrels running around in the trees, and they didn’t play nice with the iguanas. It probably is all of the above.

      In case you’re curious, people say iguanas taste like chicken. I was horrified by people eating them, not because I thought they were in danger, but because they were sold by the side of the road, alive, with their mouth sewn shut. I used to beg my dad to stop and buy one so we could release it back into the wild (of course, I meant my backyard).

      1. I don’t remember it myself, but my family says when I was a kid and we used to drive down to Rosarito Beach every year, the kids would be standing along the roadside with iguanas hanging from sticks by their tails.

  2. Yes, people used to look at me funny and back away slowly when they found out I had axoltls as pets. Today it is becoming a bit more common.

    One of our friends adopted some and together we exhibited one at the Royal Show, where he won Second Prize! He was a big black male whose name was Aristotle Axolotl. (I maintain it was not fair, the winner was a female with eggs so was more bloated and seemed bigger!
    That’s cruel that the iguanas’ lips were sewn shut, I think your instincts were right.
    I’d really dig to know if that filmclip works at all outside Australia? The relevant bit is about halfway through. There was a big green one and three smaller black ones all trussed up, alive and trying to wriggle free. It broke my heart actually.

    1. “The selected item is not currently available” it said in the US, after making me sit through a 30-second ad (twice, because I clicked it again just to be sure.) Not that I really wanted to see iguanas being tortured.

  3. Yeah, I get the same message as Buzz. I was really curious, not because of the tortured iguanas, but because I always find fascinating (and often infuriating) how Mexico is portrayed in other countries.

  4. Don’t get me wrong though – despite my personal feelings I would support the right of native peoples to hunt their traditional food.
    But not if it’s an endangered species and not in the breeding season! Even then, the beast should be dispatched as quickly and painlessly as possible. I would have thought that was fairly basic hunting practice.

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