To the Chinese capital, the dawn of November long meant one thing -- the invasion of winter cabbage, the government-subsidized, not-too-tasty "patriotic vegetable" that sustained the masses through the icy months. \nRickety trucks from one-horse towns streamed into the city, laden with heads of da baicai -- big cabbage. Folks queued their donkey carts and wheelbarrows, anxiously stocking up. Refrigeratorless families by the millions lined gray rooftops with edible green shingles. \nThis week, the cabbages are coming, right on schedule. But it's not like it used to be. \nWith each November's passing, the fuel of the proletarian revolution is becoming simply another lifestyle choice in a shiny city of dizzying selections. And therein lies a tale -- of economic progress, increasing affluence, and a generation of palates weaned on Pizza Hut. \n"Old grandpas still fondly remember da baicai. But for people my age, it's just like any other vegetable," said Dong Yue, 34. He oversees marketing for Dayanglu, one of Beijing's largest wholesale produce markets. Its inventory this week includes 109 varieties of vegetables. \nIn recent days, vendors from all corners of the land have brought their perishable harvests to Dayanglu for the pre-winter rush. Color is splashed everywhere: scarlet bell peppers, emerald hot peppers, eggplants in deep purple. \nArmed with the inventory of available vegetables, Dong ticks off those that many farmers hadn't heard of a decade ago. When he's done, 50 of the 109 items are checked -- everything from iceberg lettuce to celery to the more exotic "monkey-head mushrooms." \n"Lines for da baicai? You won't see that anymore," said Gao Zhanmin, laughing as his half-full truck of cabbages loomed behind him. "They want one bunch, they just go out and buy it. They don't need to fill their homes with it anymore." \nTwenty years ago, 95 percent of sales at Beijing's wholesale produce markets came from da baicai. Ten years ago, it was between 50 and 70 percent. This year, Dong expects just 9 percent of Dayanglu's sales to come from the cabbage. \nOn Monday, the government's Xinhua News Agency said demand for da baicai -- known to most Americans as Napa cabbage or by its Cantonese name, bok choy -- was expected to plummet yet again, this time by 8.3 percent from last year. \n"The house vegetable of Beijing has lost its vaunted position," Xinhua said with a whiff of lament. \nIt's hardly disappearing: In 2001, the average Beijing resident consumed 35kg of the cabbage. But China's two-decade experiment in capitalism has brought extraordinary changes to everyday life, and even to cabbage. \nWhen economic reform began in the late 1970s, Beijing was emerging from Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Cultural Revolution. Restaurants, scorned for years as bourgeois, were rare. Among winter's few certainties were the odor of burning coal, the wizened men on street corners selling sunflower seeds from burlap sacks, and the cabbage. \nDa baicai became Beijing's culinary canvas. There was cabbage in sour sauce. Cabbage soup. Cabbage and bean curd. Braised cabbage over rice. And on special days, cabbage dumplings -- sometimes with a bit of minced pork. \n"There were no other vegetables. And no one could have afforded them anyway," said Ma Laicang, owner of the Old Beijing Zhajiang Noodle King, a restaurant offering several cabbage dishes. \nA 1988 shortage caused panic buying, and a glut the following year left 80,000 tonnes of cabbage piled in the streets. The mayor invoked patriotism and ordered public offices, schools, factories and army units to stock up. The cabbage crisis ebbed. \nIn 1992, the government cut its cabbage subsidy. Five years later, it deregulated the price. Popularity plummeted. Why hoard cabbage when so many other delicacies were available? \nIn today's Beijing, the French superstore Carrefour sells fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, nine varieties of mushrooms and an entire aisle of canned vegetables -- a sharp contrast to Beijing of 1980, when an average Chinese couldn't buy a Coca-Cola without knowing a foreigner.
Philippine vlogger Rosanel Demasudlay holds a heart-shaped “virginity soap” bar in front of the camera and assures her hundreds of YouTube followers that it can be safely used to “tighten” their vaginas. The video is part of a barrage of bogus and harmful medical posts on social media platforms where Filipinos rank among the world’s heaviest users. Even before COVID-19 pandemic restrictions confined people to their homes and left them fearful of seeing a doctor, many in the Philippines sought remedies online because they were cheaper and easier to access. During the pandemic, the Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) Fact Check team saw an explosion
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LEADERS MEET: Australia’s Anthony Albanese met Fiji’s Sitiveni Rabuka to reiterate that the submarines would not carry nuclear weapons, amid unease over the plan A former Australian prime minister yesterday rubbished the country’s landmark nuclear-powered submarine deal, saying that it unnecessarily targeted China and could have “deadly consequences.” Australia on Monday announced that it would buy up to five US submarines in an ambitious effort to bulk up Western muscle in the face of a rising China. With the help of the US and UK, Australia is also embarking on a 30-year plan to build its own fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that the deal was the country’s biggest-ever military upgrade, while US President Joe Biden said it would ensure that the
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