Fascinating story from Agence-France Presse,
A Thai fireman turned superhero when he dressed up as comic-book character Spider-Man to coax a frightened eight-year-old from a balcony, police said.
Teachers at a special needs school in Bangkok alerted authorities when an autistic pupil, scared of going to lessons, sat out on the third-floor ledge and refused to come inside, a police sergeant said.
Despite teachers’ efforts to beckon the boy inside, he refused to budge until his mother mentioned her son’s love of superheroes, prompting fireman Sonchai Yoosabai to take a novel approach to the problem.
“My fireman rushed back to the fire station and took out his Spider-Man costume… The boy immediately ran into his arms with a smile,” sergeant Virat Boonsadao said.
He said the fireman keeps the costume at work to liven up school fire drills.
Wow. I can’t even coax my wife to dress up as Wonder Woman to … uh … coax me off a balcony … yeah, that’s it.
In the wake of the devastating tsunami that parts of Asia in December, the World Trade Organization’s Supachai Panitchpakdi urged developed nations to lower trade barriers with nations hit by the tsunami.
How pathetic. The developed world should eliminate their ridiculous trade barriers with developing nations permanently. Such barriers have done far more long-term damage to the developing world than the tragic — but one-time — horrors created by the December 2004 tsunami.
Along with further worsening poverty in those countries, trade barriers directly contribute to corruption and other problems in developing nations by making it difficult for enterprising individuals to succeed in the market.
Anti-free traders shouldn’t worry, however — special interest groups here in the United States were quick to defend their particular fiefdoms from liberalization.
Deborah Long, the hack in charge of speaking for the Southern Shrimp Alliance, argued that suspending duties on Asian shrimp imports would be unfair. Lloyd Woods, who serves the same role with the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, argued that the best way to help Sri Lanka, Thailand and India wasn’t to eliminate textile tariffs against those country, but rather impose import quotes on Chinese textiles!
Straight from the land of the tariff and the home of the scared s–tless by the prospect of truly free trade.
Rich nations are urged to ease trade with affected countries. Elizabeth Becker, The New York Times, January 15, 2005.
Sometimes there are stories which are so self-refuting that it’s hard to provide further commentary. Such is the announcement that China, India, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam are investigating ways to cartelize world rice markets. They want to do for rice what OPEC has done for oil.
Rice prices have been in free fall since 1997, losing more than a third of their value in just 5 years. World projections show rice production continuing to increase, so the price of rice is likely to fall even further over the next few years while global consumption is projected to decline.
Under those conditions a cartel is a great idea for producers, but how do they ever expect to enforce cartel agreements? OPEC has had a nightmare enforcing its cartel agreements on oil which is a relatively easy commodity to track and exclude potential competitors (not to mention monitor violators). Since rice can be grown throughout most of the world, there is almost no way cartel efforts can succeed.
Ironically, each of the governments involved has had disastrous experience with state subsidies and internal control of food markets. Apparently they believe that if they simply try the same failed policies on a bigger scale that they might finally work. Don’t bet on it.
Rice producers in ‘cartel’ talks. The BBC, October 9, 2002.