Wine - Seeing the World Through the Bottom of a Glass (4)

Cross-posted from

What can wine tell us about the world? Plenty, it turns out.  It is one of civilization's oldest products.  At one time it was a necessity, when food was served rotten and water was where you washed and evacuated.  Now it is enjoying a resurgence.  It is an agricultural product, and a unique one.  You see, vineyards have kept records of temperature, yield, and ripeness-dates for centuries, giving us incredibly precise records that tell us reams about the global environment. It is also a luxury item, particularly at the top end.  As such, its sale and purchase can tell us volumes about the global economy.

Today we look at how modern technology is changing the way people sell, and the way people buy.

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China Plans Tour For Select Journalists As Western Opinion Sides With Dalai Lama and Tibet

First, more news about brutality being used against protesters in Qinghai:

"They were beating up monks, which will only infuriate ordinary people," the source said of the protest on Tuesday in Qinghai's Xinghai county.

A resident in the area confirmed the demonstration, saying that paramilitaries dispersed the 200 to 300 protesters after half and hour, that the area was crawling with armed security forces and that workers were kept inside their offices.

The Beijing source said resentment at the paramilitary presence around Lhasa's monasteries prompted one monk at the Ramoche temple to hang himself.


"It's very harsh. They are taking in and questioning anyone who saw the protests," the source said. "The prisons are full. Detainees are being held at prisons in counties outside Lhasa."

link: sis/idUSPEK369654

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A Reason for Alarm

Cross posted at The Word Smiths

While it remains to be seen how any of this will affect U.S. foreign relations, over the past couple of years, I have noticed an alarming trend in worldwide elections:  the right is on the rise.

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Residual Troops Around the World

A lot of discussion happens on MyDD about how fully to withdraw the troops from Iraq. Should we leave embassy troops is pretty much a consensus yes. When discussing if there be counterterrorism operations, humanitarian missions or soldiers training Iraqis, though, there is a lot of disagreement.

I thought it would be useful to gather the opinion on America's many other foreign bases as a way of narrowing in on why troops should or should not stay in Iraq at all.

We have 71,000 troops stationed in Germany, 47,000 in Japan, 37,500 in South Korea. The German divisions patrolled the Iraqi no-fly zone prior to 2003, take care of the seriously wounded from Iraq, fought in Bosnia and Kosovo and provide a huge amount of logistical support. The Asian troops largely practice for the possibility of a North Korean attack. There are also large bases in Britain, Italy, and Turkey. In total, the US military has at least 700 bases in 130 countries (this does not include embassies).

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Good Candidates Can Win Everywhere! (eg my hometown!)

I was born and raised in a very catholic, very conservative county. The less evil German equivalent to the Republican Party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has run this county continuously for the last 60 odd years raking in election results between 60 and 85% in all towns.

As everywhere, majority parties can get arrogant and complacent. This has been the case in the county of Vechta as well. The CDU is so used to winning that losing never came to mind. Traditionally, the parliamentary district comprised of the counties of Vechta and adjoining Cloppenburg always end up as the district with the best election results for the CDU in all of Germany. That is how conservative this area is.

However, voters in this county - like voters everywhere - aren't as stupid as many politicians make them out to be. The CDU made some really bad choices when looking for candidates for mayor in several towns in the last few years which has led to the result that as of now only six out of ten towns have a CDU mayor.

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