Iranian woman ‘gives birth to frog’

An Iranian newspaper has reported the controversial story of a woman who claims to have given birth to a frog.

The Iranian daily Etemaad says the creature is believed to have grown from larva to an adult frog inside her body.

While it is unclear how this could have happened, the paper carries quotes from medical experts who say there are human characteristics to the animal.

It has been speculated that the woman, who has not been named, unknowingly picked up the larva while she was swimming in a dirty pool.

The woman, from the south-eastern city of Iranshahr, is a mother of two children.

The “so-called frog”, as the newspaper puts it, has yet to undergo precise genetic and anatomic tests.

But it quotes clinical biology expert Dr Aminifard as saying: “The similarities are in appearance, the shape of the fingers and the size and shape of the tongue.”

Medical history recounts stories of people who believed they had frogs – or even lizards or snakes – living and growing in their bodies.

One of the most famous was the 17th Century case of Catharina Geisslerin, known as “the toad-vomiting woman” of Germany.

When she died in 1662 doctors are said to have performed an autopsy, but found no evidence animals had ever lived inside her body.

Japanese boy writes apology in blood

I’ve seen quite a few people pointing to this Reuters story, but I was a bit disappointed at the lack of detail so I found another story from a different source to compare. I’ve posted the original story, and the translation (from Asahi newspaper) below it.

Japanese boy writes apology in blood
TOKYO, Japan (Reuters)—A Japanese teenager was forced by his teacher to write an apology in blood after dozing in the classroom, the school’s principal said on Monday.

The teacher later went to high school principal Hiroaki Dan and confessed what he had done, Dan told Reuters.

The teacher had apologized to the 17-year-old boy and his parents, Dan said, confirming a local media report of the incident, which happened last Thursday.

He said the boy was taken to the staff room of the school in Fukuoka City, southern Japan, after being caught asleep during a lesson. The 40-year-old male teacher handed the boy a box-cutter and paper and told him to write an apology in blood.

The teacher left the student, who then cut his finger and began to write an apology using his own blood.

Other teachers in the staff room did not notice what was happening, Dan said.

“To ask a student to write in their own blood is something I just can’t imagine,” he said.

He said the boy was back in school, and neither he nor his parents had asked to switch teachers. The teacher involved is expected to resume classes in a few days, Dan said.

The incident comes on the heels of an attack in which an 11-year-old girl killed a classmate by slashing her throat with a box cutter, also in southern Japan.

Sleeping student at a highschool in Fukuoka made to cut his finger and write ‘reflection letter’ in blood
It was discovered on the 18th that at Fukushou public highschool in Fukuoka City, Minami district (Principal: Hiroaki Dan, 971 students), a student caught sleeping in class was handed a cutter-knife[note: probably something like an x-acto knife] by a male teacher in his 40’s and told to write a ‘reflection letter’ with blood from his finger. Later in the day, the principal, head teacher and the student’s homeroom teacher[literally ‘responsible teacher,’ which is as the name implies a position with more responsibility to the students than a homeroom teacher in the US], along with the class teacher, went to see the student’s guardian and apologized for the event.

According to people from the same school, at about 3pm on the 17th, this teacher called to the teacher’s office a male student who had been trying to sleep during his class. The teacher warned him ‘If you’re going to sleep, then go to the nurse’s office,’ but as the student’s expression showed no remorse, he handed him a B4 sized sheet of paper and a cutter knife and told him to ‘write with blood, not pencil,’ urging him to use the knife to cut his finger, and then write a reflection letter with that blood.

After that, the teacher went to another office to do some other job, and when he returned a few minutes later the student had cut his right index finger with the knife and written a reflection statement in blood. Apparently the teacher then tried to change his story, saying that the student was supposed to write in pencil after all. The school’s explanation is that ‘He truly did not think that the student was going to write in blood.’

Principal Dan gave the following statement to Asahi Newspaper: ‘I think that he was trying to get across the feelings that he has as a teacher, giving his earnet guidance, but it was inappropriate. Even despite the recent incident in Sasebo in which a knife was used [referring to the incident just a couple of weeks ago in which an 11 year old girl murdered a classmate for no apparent reason] for a teacher his guidance was most inadequate.’

When a relatively minor incident like this gets picked up by an international wire service it’s very rare for a second article from another source to be translated as well, so I thought it would be interesting to give people the opportunity to make a comparison. I’ll check again later and see if there have been any more recent articles with more information.

Yonghe Gong

March 8 2004
Yonghe Gong is a large Tibetan Buddhist temple complex in Beijing. It was originally the palace of a high ranking Beijing noble by the name of Yin Zhen, but was given to a group of Mongol and Tibetan monks in 1744 following its owners ascession to the Imperial throne and became Emperor Yong Zheng in 1723.

One of the temple buildings…

And a closeup of the sign being obscured by the lion’s head in the previous picture. The sign is the name of the temple in four language, which I believe are (from right to left): Modern Mongolian, Chinese, Tibetan and Classical Mongolian- although I’d say about 50% odds that I have the modern and classical Mongolian backwards since I don’t know anything about that language. I know I should be able to read the Chinese characters, but I can’t seem to recall what the first one means, but the second and third are ‘good-fortune’ and ‘hall.’

Japanese Money in North Korea

I’d like to thank the English edition of the Korea Times for reporting on this newest boast of superiority by the North.

North Korea Boosts Cider Production

According to the June 5 edition of Rodong Sinmun, the Workers Party’s newspaper, Kyongnyun Patriotic Cider Factory in Pyongyang is pushing for a rise in production, as well as modernizing its facilities.

The factory is named after Japanese-Korean businessman Park Kyung-ryun, who donated $150 million worth of cider manufacturing machines to set up a factory in the North Korean capital on the 70th birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung in 1982. The facility currently produces 5,000 bottles of cider per hour.

Leaving aside sarcasm over the ludicrousness of a ‘Patriotic cider factory,’ it’s actually interesting to see the North Korean media bragging about an investment from overseas North Korean citizens residing in Japan. For those who don’t know, there somewhere in the neighborhood of a million people of Korean descent born and bred in Japan, but for the most part hold citizenship in either North or South Korea, and not Japan. Cash sent from North Korean-Japanese to their often unknown relatives back ‘home’ has actually been one of the things keeping people in the DPRK alive for years now. It is well known in Japan that one of the largest sources of this money is North Korean-Japanese owned pachinko parlors. Some readers may be unlucky enough to have experienced Pachinko, but for the rest- Pachinko is a mind-numbing Japanese passtime best described as a cross between a slot and pinball machine, and the most popular form of gambling in the country. Gambling is illegal in Japan, but Pachinko parlors get around it by giving you ‘prizes’ instead of cash when you trade in your winnings. You take the prize around the corner to an exchange counter (probably with no registered relationship to the parlor itself) where you then sell these prizes for cash, thus evading the letter but certainly not the spirit of the law. In any even, Pachinko’s ubiquity is proof that the government and police have no interest at all in controlling it. The following chart gives an idea of the high level of popularity that pachinko has in Japan.

(Image from here.)

Here is a good collection of links to articles discussing the connection between pachinko in Japan and North Korea.

A recent article in The Japan Times writes that:

[A new] ship bill stipulates that the government can ban, for a certain period of time, port calls by ships from a designated country or those that have stopped at that country.
The bill is designed to give the government another diplomatic card in its dealings with Pyongyang, allowing Japan to halt the flow of people, goods and hard currency between the two countries.
It follows on the heels of legislation that revised the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law, enabling the government to slap unilateral sanctions on the North by halting cash remittances to the reclusive state.

The ‘cash remittances’ mentioned in the article are gifts, donations and investments made by Japan resident North Korean citizens, and the Japanese government is finally making some attempt to control this cash flow after many years of turning a blind eye.


March 8 2004
Can a travelogue which includes Beijing NOT have a picture of Tiananmen?
Tiananmen, whose name means ‘Gate of Heaven’s Peace’ is the main gate to the former Imperial Palace, aka the Forbidden City. There is a moat surrounding the wall, and three bridges span the moat to lead into Tiananmen. The center bridge was reserved for the Emperor himself, so when Chairman Mao crossed the center bridge when he entered the gate to proclaim the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1 1949 he was graphically demonstrating the fall of the Imperial state. Ironically, today the center gate is again closed by chains, and overshadowed by a massive portrait of Mao (which is the backdrop for thousands of Chinese tourists’ photographs every day).

This is the one of the two towers which once guarded Qianmen, the front gate to the walled inner city area of Beijing. The remains of the walls were destroyed by government authorities during the absurd purges of the Cultural Revolution, but luckily the large towers were preserved well.