Your Health & Happiness: Stevia, perhaps an answer to low sugar diets, still banned in Thailand
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) is a natural herbal
sweetener. Currently its use is banned in Thailand by the Ministry of Public
Health as a food ingredient. However, research into the herb is continuing, and
recently the Institute for Science and Technology Research and Development and
Pharmaceutical-Cosmetic Raw Materials and Natural Products Research and
Development Center, Chiang Mai University organized the 6th
biotechnology pharmacy seminar, to discuss the future of Stevia in Thailand.
The seminar took place on August 11 at Chiang Mai University.
Both organizations believe in the importance for Thailand of
Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, so they are continuing their research to provide
answers for the government and to ask for permission to import it legally.
The herb is native to Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and
Paraguay where the indigenous Guarani have used caa-ehe (stevia) for
over 1,500 years to sweeten otherwise unpalatable medicinal drinks. Other uses
for the plant and its extracts are in weight-loss programs because of its
ability to reduce the cravings for sweet and fatty foods. The plant has also
been used to treat diabetes, hypoglycemia, candidiasis, high blood pressure,
skin abrasions and inhibit growth and reproduction of bacteria-like plaque, but
much more research would need to be done to confirm these wide-ranging claims.
Stevia’s greatest economic potential is as a natural
alternative to artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame or sodium saccharin).
Dry stevia leaf is up to 30 times sweeter than sucrose. The sweetness is mainly
attributed to two compounds, viz stevioside (3-10 percent of dry leaf
weight) and rebaudioside A (1-3 percent), which can be up to 250 times sweeter
than sucrose. Stevioside has a few advantages over artificial sweeteners in
that it is stable at high temperatures (100 C) and has a pH range of 3-9 and
does not darken with cooking.
In Japan about 40 percent of the sweetener market is
stevia-based. It has been called Yerba dulce in Spanish meaning sweet grass
herb and used for sweet flavor both in food and drink and to drink as Mate tea
for 1,500 years.
The main current commercial constraint on the stevia
industry is a ban on its use in food products in the US. This is based on the
suspicion that a derivative of stevioside may be harmful to humans.
Stevia grows naturally on infertile, sandy acid soils with
shallow water tables. This is normally in areas like the edge of mashes and
grassland communities. The natural climate is semi-humid subtropical with
temperature extremes from 21 to 43 C, averaging 24 C. Stevia grows in areas
with up to 1375mm of rain a year. It is a short day plant, growing up to 0.6
meters in the wild. Flowering under short day conditions should occur 54–104
days following transplanting.
The Doctor's Consultation: Cat Scratch Disease or
the Marauding Moggie
by Dr. Iain Corness
Almost every household has at least one cat, and often
more. Cats are affectionate, warm pets that will sit on your lap for hours,
purring away, while it licks your hands. During that time, it may even be
giving you more than love. It may be giving you a little present called
Bartonella henselae, or simply, Cat Scratch Disease!
Tell me more, you say, while wondering if you should
strangle the cat now or later! But first a little history. A little over 50
years ago, the clinical signs of Cat Scratch Disease were described, called
romantically “La Maladie des griffes du chat.” However, the symptoms of
this ailment are far from romantic.
Cat Scratch Disease affects between 2-10 people per 100,000
head of population in America, so whilst it isn’t an every day diagnosis,
most doctors will come across a few cases in their medical lifetime.
The presenting symptom is a regional swelling of the lymph
nodes, generally in a young person or a child, and the usual scenario involves
a panicking parent who is sure the child has lymphatic cancer.
What actually happens is that the cat is carrying the
organism, known as Bartonella henselae, which it inoculates into the human
system. This bug in turn is trapped by the lymph glands, within which one
almighty fight takes place, with the end result being that the glands swell
dramatically and can even burst through the skin as a suppurating discharge.
Other signs and symptoms include a fever, sore throat and headache.
Now there are many causes for swollen glands, fever,
headache and sore throat, so how do we pick on the family pussy cat? Quite
simply, there will be a history of having been bitten or scratched by the
family moggy, and the inoculation site will drain into the affected lymph
So just how does the cat give you a “shot” of bugs?
Well, firstly somewhere between 20-40 percent of cats are carrying the
organism, and it lives in the cat’s saliva as well as in its blood. While
licking its claws, puss leaves a collection of the organism there, which in
turn becomes yours when the cat scratches you.
Cat Scratch Disease, although generally localized, can end
up infecting internal organs such as the liver, spleen heart and brain, though
this is very rare. For most people who contract the illness they quietly
recover, though it can sometimes take some months. However, for people with
compromised immune systems, spontaneous recovery is not the norm.
There is treatment, with one of the most appropriate
antibiotics being Doxycycline, while the most usually available penicillins
are fairly ineffective. There are tests which can be done in the laboratory to
prove or disprove infection by Bartonella henselae, so what we call a
“Definitive” diagnosis can be made. Again you can see the dangers in self
medication. If you do indeed have Cat Scratch Disease from the cat bite, the
penicillin you bought is useless!
So should we all go out and take our cats down to the vet
and consign them to the great veterinary hospital in the sky? The simple
answer is no, but the moral to this tale is that we should be on our guard.
Cat scratches and bites should not be taken lightly. Immediately after any
injuries you should wash the wounds with soap and water and after a thorough
cleansing only then apply your favourite antiseptic, and at the first sign of
problem, pop into the hospital and get it checked. But please leave the cat at
My wife thinks I’m mad, but this is really bugging me. We have visited
Chiang Mai twice in the last 12 months, Spring being the latest, and
tonight a friend who has not been to Thailand for at least five years
asked us how much a small bottle of Singha beer costs in the beer bars
these days. Top of my head I answered, about 70 baht give or take a few
baht. Straight off he ridiculed me saying that it should be about 35 baht.
My wife, who normally holds the purse strings on our visits, she being
arguably the sensible one, agreed with me. Adding that she had seen it in
the smaller shops at 30 baht. Now, the two chaps who where sitting
opposite us at the time, are frequent visitors to Chiang Mai, three or so
times a year, so I asked them to back me up. Imaging my surprise when they
agreed with him saying that they would normally pay 35 baht a bottle in
the majority of beer bars. Hillary, I don’t for one instant entertain
the thought that you frequent beer bars at the drop of a hat, but if you
can’t trust a journalist to point you in the direction of a good
watering hole and know the meaning of value for money, then just what in
life can you trust? Can we ask you to intercede in this matter as it will
be 2006 before my wife and I will be able to return “home” and it will
pray on my mind until I find out the truth? If we are proved wrong then I
promise that on our next visit we will consume vulgar quantities of the
amber nectar (instead of vast amounts), if in the right then I assure you
that a bottle of bubbly and some chocs will find it’s way to you on our
next visit (will my personal favourites Demi Sec and hand made Belgium
suffice?) actually right or wrong you can have the goodies, not only
because you are a good read, but also in the vague hope that it might spur
the scoundralous Mistersingha into action. As a Scot who is residing in
the Channel Islands may I sign off as,
The Gordon Islander
Dear Gordon Islander,
Of course you can get a small bottle of beer for 35 baht in every beer
bar, provided you go back in time to around 1985! The average price is now
around 50-70 baht, with go-go bars around 120 baht. My authority tells me
that if you go to some small beer bars up sois where nobody else would go,
you can get the 35 baht bottles still, but you probably wouldn’t want to
drink there. It is also definitely not the ‘majority’ of beer bars as
your friend is claiming, either. So my Gordon Islander Petal, I look
forward to your bottle of bubbles and the hand made choccies in 2006. I
can taste their sweetness already and the bubbles foaming around my teeth!
My wife, whom I love dearly, has but one fault, if you want to call it
that. We have a large house, and everyone from her village seems to need
to stay with us, “just for one night on their way back to the
village,” which seems to stretch out into two or three nights, as
transport arrangements seem to change hourly! Should I just ignore this,
or should I put my foot down. I really would like your idea on what I
Dear Easygoing Ernie,
This is fairly standard practice for families, and villagers from the
country. They do not have spare cash that they can waste on a 500 baht
room, especially as they probably only make around 200 baht a day in
wages. If your house is large, then you should be able to keep part of it
free of villagers for yourself. Remember that it is also a sign to her
former friends in the village that she is doing well, now the ‘lady of
the house’. However, I do put forward a caution, my Petal. Make sure the
duration of the stay is spelled out to all concerned, and I would put a
three day maximum on it, or else you will find that you have become the
village big house, something you obviously do not want.
Having had a rather rude shock with a “lady boy” the other evening, is
there any foolproof way you can tell, short of DNA typing? I am sure I am
not the first to have been fooled (well almost), so how do we poor men
discover “true” identities? More than one of us is waiting for your
Too easy, Petal. Any lady who is taller than you are and drop dead
gorgeous and flaunting it, just has to be a lady boy. It is somewhat
difficult to tell at a distance, in these days of excellent plastic
surgery, but even if they have had a total make-over, landing gear gone
and enhanced superstructure as well, listen for the deeper voice, large
hands and feet and tiny hips! Some of them do it for love, but many for
money. Like all commercial deals, ‘Caveat emptor!’
Camera Class: Recognizing ‘good’ photographs - and selling them
by Harry Flashman
I received an email a few weeks back from a keen photographer
called Tom. He asked, “How do you recognize a ‘good’ photograph when you
have taken one? I have attached two photos that I think are OK but would value
your opinion and, if they are OK, are they in any sense saleable? And if so,
Firstly, Tom, sorry it has taken a little while to answer
you, but these columns are written some weeks in advance. You have really asked
three questions - what do I think of your photos, are they saleable and how.
That’s a big ask, Tom, but I’ll do my best.
have been a couple of topics recently, dealing with this subject generally, but
here’s what I feel about your photos. I looked at them, as if I were judging
them in a competition. I will be brutally honest, so forgive me if you don’t
agree with my opinion - but you did ask!
First off, the cook in the Malibu shot. I liked this as it
had some immediate impact, and the happy smile of their cook just added to that.
It was also a classic of the ‘frame within a frame’ genre, where the serving
window delineated the subject. It was also easy to see just who or what was the
‘hero’ (in this case ‘heroine’). The overall darkness was (partially)
offset by the bright yellow label on the Maggi sauce bottle, the blue plastic
strainer on the left and cook’s white hat. Even the sloppy white paint around
the serving hatch added authenticity to this ‘cinema verite’ grab-shot.
I did not like, was the fact that it was still too dark, and unfortunately there
was flare in the cook’s spectacles. This really was a pity, as up till then,
this shot was doing well. Did you only take one shot? With anyone who wears
glasses, always take a few shots, as flare will kill these photos every time.
As regards saleability - for any shot to be sold, it must
fill a need in a marketplace. Where would we sell our cook? That’s difficult.
It would not be suitable for a Tourism Authority of Thailand brochure on local
restaurants. It could be used in a Health and Hygiene setting (she is wearing a
hat), but then it gets hard from there. Chances of selling this to a stock
agency would be around 10 percent.
Now the three monks. This one I did not like, sorry Tom. It
was too difficult to see what or who was really the hero. Was it the Million
Year Stone Park? Was it the three monks standing in the vast background with
grounds, trees, stones and acres of sky, or perhaps it was the koi, echoing the
saffron robes? You were standing far too far away, Tom, sorry. Look at my
cropping of the photograph, at least now the monks are the main feature. Since
the monks look posed to me, it would have been a better picture to have them
crouching down and feeding the koi, getting in close with a telephoto lens and
making the crop fairly tight.
Who would buy this? Perhaps the Million Years Stone Park for
a brochure, but I can’t see anyone else lining up for this particular shot.
Chances of selling this to a stock agency would be around zero, I’m afraid.
So what should you do? Definitely do not throw the camera in
the pond with the koi, because you do have an eye for detail, and for something
different. You have to continue to take photographs, as it is all good practice
(that makes perfect). Get in close, get in close, get in close! Decide who or
what is the subject of the shot and think about how you can show that subject to
best advantage. Think about lighting, colours, placement, position. Take
numerous shots using different frame-ups, viewpoints and lighting. Don’t take
12 identical shots of the same subject, but take 12 different shots of the same
That’s about it, Tom. Thank you for the nice words, and keep shooting. You
have definitely stepped on to the lower end of the ladder, so now start
Money Matters: A short history of nearly every fiat currency
MBMG International Ltd.
As promised in the opening part of his series, I feel the
need to share with you the history of the US dollar. If you don’t have an
aptitude for history and/or useless information, now is a good time to roll
over and switch off that bed lamp.
Legal Tender cases involve lawsuits brought to the U.S.
Supreme Court involving the constitutionality of the Legal Tender Act of
1862, which was passed to meet currency needs during the Civil War. The act
had authorized the issue of $150 million in “United States notes”
without any reserve or specie basis. Intended originally as only a temporary
measure during wartime, about $450 million had been issued in greenbacks by
the end of the war. The paper money depreciated in terms of gold and became
the subject of controversy, particularly because debts contracted earlier
could be paid in this cheaper currency.
Many cases concerning the greenbacks were entered in the
courts, but it was not until 1870 that the Supreme Court attacked the
constitutionality of paper money.
On June 20, 1860, a certain Mrs. Hepburn made a
promissory note, by which she promised to pay to Henry Griswold on Feb. 20,
1862, eleven thousand two hundred and fifty “dollars.” At the time when
the note was made, and also at the time when it fell due, there was,
confessedly, no lawful money of the United States, or money which could be
lawfully tendered in payment of private debts, but gold and silver coin.
Five days after the day when the note by its terms fell due, that is to say,
on Feb. 25, 1862, congress passed the first legal tender act, commonly so
called, by which the United States notes issued there under were made a
legal tender for “all debts, public and private, within the United
States,” except certain public debts. In March, 1864, Mrs. Hepburn
tendered payment of the debt, principal and interest, in the United States
notes issued under this act. The amount tendered, $11,250 in legal-tender
notes, at that time was worth only about $7,000 in coin. The tender was
refused. She was sued in the Louisville chancery court in the state of
In Hepburn v. Griswold (1870), the Majority opinion,
written by Chief Justice Samuel P. Chase, declared the act unconstitutional
as a violation of Fifth Amendment protections against the taking of property
without due process.
The chief justice declared that the act was obnoxious to
those clauses of the constitution which forbade the impairment of the
obligations of contracts, the taking of private property for public use
without compensation, and the deprivation of any person of his property
without due process of law. And that the constitution was ordained to
“establish justice,” which this act did not do, so far as regards
Justice Clifford showed that the words “and emit bills
on the credit of the United States” were originally reported in article
seven, in the draft of the constitution as submitted to the convention. Mr.
Governor Morris moved to strike the clause out on the ground that it was
unnecessary, and a vicious suggestion of a power which would be
unquestionably used anyhow without it. Mr. James Madison thought it would be
sufficient to let the clause remain, as it did not contain the hurtful power
to make such bills legal tender, but finally voted in favor of striking out
the clause entirely, as was done, as eliminating even a “pretext for a
paper currency, and particularly for making the bills a tender either for
public or private debts,” without disabling the government from the use of
President Ulysses Grant, angered by the decision,
promptly nominated two Republican justices to the Court who reversed the
decision in Knox v. Lee and Parker v. Davis (1871), ruling that the act was
valid on the basis of the implied powers of Congress. The constitutionality
of the act was more widely sustained in Juillard v. Greenman (1884).
The Hepburn decision was handed down by the Supreme Court
in February 1870 during the time of what was arguably the most corrupt
administration in American history. On the day the decision was given
President Grant nominated 2 new judges, who were known to favor Legal
Tender, for appointment to the Court. The origin of Court stacking is
popularly associated with President Roosevelt and the New Deal of the 1930s.
However as the Legal Tender cases show, Roosevelt was not the first to think
Four days after the appointment of the new judges was
confirmed in March 1870, the Attorney-General moved the Court to consider 2
further Legal Tender cases. By a vote of 5-4 the Court voted to reconsider
Hepburn v Griswold. The Court then took up the 2 new cases and again by a
vote of 5-4 in Knox v Lee overturned its 15 months earlier decision. A
casual reading of the report clearly reveals some of the bitterness that
accompanied this divided judgment.
The court said, in reference to the case of Hepburn vs.
Griswold: “That case was decided by a divided court and by a court having
a less number of judges than the law then in existence provided this court
shall have. These cases have been heard before a full court, and they have
received our most careful consideration.”
And Justice Bradley, in his separate concurring opinion
said: “And in this case, with all deference and respect for the former
judgment of the court, I am so fully convinced that it was erroneous and
prejudicial to the rights, interest and safety of the general government,
that I, for one, have no hesitation in reviewing and overruling it. It
should be remembered that this court, at the very term in which, and within
a few weeks after, the decision in Hepburn vs. Griswold was delivered, when
the vacancies on the bench were filled, determined to hear the question
reargued. This fact must necessarily have had the effect of appraising the
country that the decision was not fully acquiesced in, and of obviating any
injurious consequences to the business of the country by its reversal.”
In 1884, in Juillard v Greenman, by a vote of 8-1 the
Court upheld the constitutionality of the peacetime issue of fiat money.
With the rationale of wartime necessity not available the justices
effectively fashioned one of economic necessity in its place; only by the
mandated use of paper money could there be sufficient currency available for
economic growth and to enable Congress to benefit the people. The economic
reasoning of the majority has been criticized by economists as na๏ve.
The conclusion of the dissenting judge in Juillard’s
case, Justice Stephen Field is worthy of quote:
“From the decision of the court I see only evil likely
to follow. There have been times within the memory of all of us when the
legal tender notes of the United States were not exchangeable for more than
one half of their nominal value. The possibility of such depreciation will
always attend paper money. This inborn infirmity no mere legislative
declaration can cure. If Congress has the power to make the notes a legal
tender and to pass as money or its equivalent why should not a sufficient
amount be issued to pay the bonds of the United States as they mature? Why
pay interest on the millions of dollars of bonds now due, when Congress can
in one day make the money to pay the principal?
And why should there be any restraint upon unlimited
appropriations by the government for all imaginary schemes of public
improvement, if the printing press can furnish the money that is needed for
Until next week.
The above data and research was compiled from sources
believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its
officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above
article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of
any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above
article. For more information please contact Alan Hall on
Life in the Laugh Lane: The S.S. Cellulite: Chapter One
by Scott Jones
In America, I performed in all 50 states,
including the states of shock and confusion. (With an act like mine, you had to
keep moving.) I mainly played colleges since students still have open minds and
attend concerts even if the artist’s name isn’t a household word. (I
considered changing mine to Luke Warm, C.D. Player or Hammond Cheeze, though
students may have related more to Jim Nasium, Ed U. Cate or Dick Shunary.)
The ivory tower conquered, I wanted to tackle the open sea.
After viewing a video of my show, an agent hired me to perform on the Christmas
Caribbean leg of a world cruise on the QE2, a ship that was longer and taller
than any buildings in our ports of call. I assumed I should perform what was on
the video. No one told me otherwise and the bronzed cruise director was too
busy charming elderly blue-haired ladies to pay any attention to the new kid on
It was an entertainment extravaganza. A group of dancing
singers actually lived on ship and did schmaltzy musical reviews. There was a
generic magician, a geriatric comedian and a lounge lizard dressed in a cowboy
outfit, who hopped around frantically, playing the world’s greatest hits on
the violin. We were the ‘stars’ who did the ‘big shows’. Banal bands
performed in bars around the ship and wherever three or more people had
gathered. Every band could play any song requested and every song sounded like
‘Feelings’. An ancient organist played music from the Paleozoic Era
wherever food was served.
As the ship left New York, I was relieved to learn I
didn’t have to perform for two days. Valuable time to observe my audience. My
first and lasting impression was that of being trapped on a floating geriatric
club. Everyone was very large, old or some combination of the two. One woman
had a pet Pterodactyl and was married to Methuselah. Seven meals were scheduled
everyday and none were missed. These folks had come to do some serious eating
and wanted to get their money’s worth. If you were shaped like a world at the
end of the cruise, you got a discount on the next one. I gained weight just
watching them eat and went to my cabin to dream it off.
In the middle of the first night, the ship entered the Storm
From Hell. The world’s second largest cruise ship became a bath toy on the
world’s largest bath tub. The only way I could have remained in the bed was
with Velcro pajamas and sheets. I peered out of the porthole, but it was like
looking into a window of a washing machine. My brain turned green and I crawled
to the bathroom. There were white caps on the water in the toilet bowl. The
Technicolor yawns began.
I spent eternity turning myself inside out and outside in. I
understood how a goldfish feels inside that bag of water as its new owner skips
home. The terrible spectre of performing on a reckless, shifting stage haunted
me, so I dragged myself out of the cabin to practice the fine art of walking.
Crew members were splayed out on the couches. Seasickness bags had appeared
everywhere. A few diehards entered the dining room but poured their lunches
directly into the bags to save one step. I tried to watch a performance by the
singing dancers in the theatre, but the curtains hung straight as the stage
rocked back and forth. I pursed my lips and raced to my cabin. I resumed the
kneeling position and drove the white porcelain bus for the rest of the