dinsdag, november 19, 2002

Around The World Errata

Investment Opportunities?

The Shanghai Star reports that on November 5, Li Hongfang, a 45-year-old woman and laid-off worker, became the first to strike gold in the new sweepstakes for investing in public washrooms. She won the bid and became the manager of a star-graded public washroom on Huaihai Zhonglu. This marks the launch of the pilot reform programme to privatize public washrooms and breaks the monopoly of the public sanitation bureau. Cheng Jianzhong, an official from the city appearance management bureau in Luwan District, said the transfer fee was 200,000 yuan (US$24,158) with a term of 10 years. The recipient can keep all income without turning in any to the public sanitation bureau.

So, if you're looking for investments, it appears saving up a few bucks and dropping them into China's toilets might be a good plan. In addition, the most seductive aspect of the policy is that each year the government will allocate 32,000 yuan (US$3,865) as a subsidy for public causes and an extra amount for renovation every four years. Now I'm just wondering how much it costs to run a toilet and why one would need a subsidy to do so. Ok, maybe not merely a toilet but a "public washroom", but still, in essence, it is the maintenance of a hole in the ground. China, so I've heard, has some of the worst toilets in the world so upkeep can't be too expensive.

According to that same paper, "it was reported that one old man in his seventies lacking the money to enter the public restrooms and barred from nearby factories had no alternative but to soil himself. This was a shameful event for the city." Having no alternative but to soil onesself is a shameful event indeed. There's one vote for toilet subsidies that won't be lost.

Nazis On Speed

The German news magazine Focus reports that Nazi researchers used concentration camp inmates to test a cocaine-based "wonder drug" they hoped would enhance the performance of German troops. The pills contained a mix of cocaine, the amphetamine pervitin and a morphine-related painkiller and Nazi scientists began experimenting with the drug in 1944. Prisoners at Sachsenhausen who were given the drug, code-named D-IX, were forced to march in circles carrying 20kg packs. They were able to march 55 miles without resting. There was also an eye-witness report by a prisoner who wrote: "At first the members of the punishment battalion whistled and sang songs. [But] most of them had collapsed after the first 24 hours."
Maybe they should have tried the hash brownies.

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