SARS fears have stopped the Chinese from eating civet cats. But that hasn't turned off others from sipping the strangest of brews -- one they insist is made from coffee beans eaten, partly digested and then excreted by the weasel-like animals. \nThe story goes like this: Civets live in the foliage of plantations across Southeast Asia. These fussy foragers pick the best and ripest coffee berries. Enzymes in their digestive system break down the flesh of the fruit before the animals expel the bean. \nWorkers collect beans from the plantation floor, wash away the dung and roast them to produce a unique drink that devotees might say is good to the last dropping. \nSkeptics, though, dismiss it all as a weird and unverifiable marketing gimmick. \nStill in Indonesia's capital Jakarta, the owner of three fashionable cafes, Agus Susanto, sells what he claims is a mix of regular beans and those that have passed through civets. The blend and the cafes are both called "Kopi Luwak" -- in English: "Civet Coffee." \n"Our coffee has a strong taste and an even stronger aroma," Susanto said by telephone from his factory in central Java. \nIn Vietnam, now the world's second-largest regular coffee grower, a blend supposedly containing some civet beans is produced by the Trung Nguyen company under the "Weasel Coffee" brand. \nIn the Philippines, the Old Manila Coffee House used to sell a civet brew, but supplies have dwindled over the years, said Ellen Tuason, its finance officer. \n"Some of our guests said it was an aphrodisiac. It has a strong coffee smell, but different. There is a distinct odor and flavor," she said. \nThe beans are also marketed internationally. Several US-based Internet coffee traders claim to offer them for up to US$325 a kilogram, placing it among the world's most expensive beverages. \nHowever, many in Asia's coffee trade doubt whether the beans are truly produced in significant quantities, if at all. \n"There are maybe a few bags here, a few bags there, but mostly its just a myth," said Victor Mah, a Singaporean who has been selling coffee from Southeast Asia for more than 25 years. \nOthers just won't swallow the claims. \n"I think it's a big scam," said Mark Hanusz, who has spent eight months traveling Indonesia researching his book about coffee called A Cup of Java. \nIn the past few weeks, authorities in southern China have exterminated thousands of civet cats on fears that they carry and spread the SARS virus. \nThe World Health Organization also sees a potential relationship between the furry black-and-white animals and the disease that killed 774 people worldwide last year. \nIf that link is confirmed, consumer interest in civet coffee could plummet. \nBut in Jakarta, Susanto isn't worried. He expects to keep selling what he claims is 100 tonnes of civet coffee a month. \n"There are many different kinds of civets in this world. The Indonesian ones are different from those in China," he said. \nHenry Harmon, an American from Boston, Massachusetts, who owns a chain of coffee shops in Indonesia, said he thinks the drink is for real, though he has no plans to introduce it in his stores. \n"It has a nice romantic -- well semi-romantic -- twist to it, but I'd be worried about product liability lawsuits," Harmon said.
Choosing a full-fledged confrontation with the US due to the loss of a megacontract for submarines for Australia, France is making a risky bet and other nations are not rushing to its defense. After Australia renounced its deal for conventional submarines in favor of US nuclear-powered ones, France took the extraordinary step of pulling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations. Bertrand Badie, an international relations professor at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, said France had put itself in a position where it can only appear to be backing down or losing face once its ambassador returns to the US,
Could delivering COVID-19 immunity directly to the nose — the area of the body via which it is mostly transmitted — help conquer the pandemic? The WHO says clinical trials are under way to evaluate eight nasal spray vaccines that target COVID-19. The most advanced effort so far by China’s Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy has completed phase 2 trials. “When the virus infects someone, it usually gets in through the nose,” said researcher Nathalie Mielcarek, who is working with the Lille Pasteur Institute to develop a nasal spray vaccine against whooping cough. “The
PLANNING TO REOPEN: Amid 1,607 new COVID-19 cases, the country is making a shift away from lockdowns, acknowledging that outbreaks will happen Australia reported 1,607 new coronavirus cases yesterday as states and territories gradually shift from trying to eliminate outbreaks to living with the virus. Victoria, home to about a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, recorded 507 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews said a weeks-long lockdown will end once 70 percent of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are new cases. Andrews said the state might reach that vaccination threshold around Oct. 26. About 43 percent of Victorians have been fully vaccinated, 46 percent nationwide. “We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place
OLD WAYS: The Ministry of Women’s Affairs also seems to have closed, as its sign was replaced with one for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice The Taliban have effectively banned girls from secondary education in Afghanistan, by ordering high schools to reopen only for boys. Girls were not mentioned in Friday’s announcement, which means boys would be back at their desks next week after a one-month hiatus, while girls would still be stuck at home. The Taliban Ministry of Education said that secondary-school classes for boys in grades 7 to 12 would resume yesterday, the start of the Afghan week. “All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” the statement said. The future of girls and female teachers, stuck at home since the Taliban took