Rumble in the bank

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February 2013 was an unfortunate moment for one of the world’s largest financial institutions, HSBC.

To know further why, read the full article on Rolling Stone, released exactly during the hype about the banking giant’s alleged misdeeds.

And here are some of the excerpts, provided as always:

For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years – people so totally evil, jokes former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, that “they make the guys on Wall Street look good.” The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.

“They violated every goddamn law in the book,” says Jack Blum, an attorney and former Senate investigator who headed a major bribery investigation against Lockheed in the 1970s that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “They took every imaginable form of illegal and illicit business.”

Inside America’s dildo industry

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Published on Buzzfeed in May 2013, a journalist entered what is dubbed ‘America’s largest dildo factory’, to get in-depth insight about the current situation of the industry that has also sustained porn, and other related industries, as it is increasingly facing an intense competition from China. Read the full article here.

Excerpt:

It is here, in this cavernous warehouse vibrating with the hums and murmurs of a bustling 500-person workforce, that one of the last bastions of old-fashioned American manufacturing labors on, using 2.5 million pounds of rubber per year to churn out a staggering 15,000 sex toys per eight-hour day, which amounts to 5 million a year. Dongs, cock rings, dick pumps, pocket pussies, strokers, suckers, strap-ons, ticklers, teasers, vibrators, ropes, whips, ball gags, anal invaders, pussy trainers, and “love spit ” lubricant pour out of here at a rate that would wow Henry Ford.

But if you look at almost any rubber vagina or string of anal beads today, they will be embossed with the epitaph that decimated much of American manufacturing: “MADE IN CHINA.” According to a 2010 estimate, 70% of sex toys produced in the world are made there; 50% of those were imported to four U.S. companies — California Exotics Novelties, Pipedream, Doc Johnson, and to a lesser extent, Topco — that dominate American sex toy sales. While the others do the bulk of their manufacturing overseas, Doc Johnson is the only one manufacturing most of its products here in the U.S. of A.

Analyzing Kafka

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This is how Kafka interprets the world: a man wakes up to find himself transformed into a huge bug (literally) with no obvious cause. An ordinary employee was, against his own destiny, detained by unknown agents, and put into trial for unclear reasons. A lonely old man is disrupted by two rolling balls with origins totally unknown. And these all resonate pretty well with the oftentimes disturbing, and incomprehensibly enigmatic, reality of our universe.

The Atlantic provides an in-depth analysis of Kafka’s literary realm. Read the full article here.

Excerpt:

Kafka created “obscure lucidity,” Erich Heller wrote in his book on Kafka. “His is an art more poignantly and disturbingly obscure,” he added, “than literature has ever known.” One thinks one grasps Kafka’s meaning, but does one, really? All seems so clear, yet is it, truly? A famous aphorism of Kafka’s reads: “Hiding places there are innumerable, escape is only one, but possibilities of escape, again, are as many as hiding places.” Another runs: “A cage went in search of a bird.”

As with Kafka’s aphorisms, so with his brief parables. The parables, Walter Benjamin wrote, are “never exhausted by what is explainable; on the contrary, he took all conceivable precautions against the interpretation of his writings.” Whatever these precautions may have been, they were inadequate, for the works of Franz Kafka—apart perhaps only from the Bible and the works of Shakespeare—may be the most relentlessly interpreted, if not overinterpreted, in the modern world.

Interview with a cannibal

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A bizarre interview with Issei Sagawa, a notorious Japanese cannibal. Read the full interview on Vice.

And here’s his little profile, as excerpted from the website:

On the afternoon of June 12, 1981, a Japanese man named Issei Sagawa walked into the woods in Bois de Boulogne, France, carrying two suitcases. The postgraduate student at the Sorbonne had shot and killed a female exchange student, a classmate of his, the day before. After eating portions of her body, he tried to dump the corpse in a remote lake. Witnesses saw him and he was soon arrested. According to reports, Issei uttered the following to the French police who raided his home: “I killed her to eat her flesh.”

French psychologists found Sagawa to have been legally insane at the time of the crime and, therefore, unfit to stand trial. He was subsequently exempted from prosecution. He returned to his homeland, where Japanese authorities tried to put him on trial for murder. French justice officials refused to hand over the necessary documents to carry on and he was again set free.

A quiet second home

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Think this is somewhere in a Southeast Asian country? Completely false. This picture is set in French Guiana.

The only French-speaking region in Latin America with a population of no more than 250,000 people, French Guiana is a hodgepodge of various ethnic groups, ranging from Indians, French, Africans, native Indians, Han Chinese, Arabs, Brazilians, mestizos, and most recently, and most under-reportedly, ethnic Hmong.

Once penniless back in their home country, the Hmong, thanks to their decades of perseverance, have achieved considerable success in the brand-new region they adopted. With a tropical setting tantamount to that of Laos, they found themselves easier to adapt to life here, compared to their counterparts who encountered more difficulties in adjusting to life in United States, Australia, or any other developed countries. Representing only 1% of total population, or approximately 2,500 people, Hmong in French Guiana reportedly control 70% of the region’s agricultural industry, giving them disproportionate amount of wealth.

Most of them are concentrated in a small town named Cacao, one that gives any visitor a bizarre atmosphere as though they were transported back to Laos.

Read the full article on The New York Times.

Excerpt:

The first Hmong arrived from France in 1977 and were greeted with protests from the Creoles, an ethnic group descended from African slaves, who chafed at what was viewed as preferential treatment for a new ethnic group in an impoverished area. French authorities initially gave each Hmong a few dozen francs a day on which to survive.

The settlers pooled those payments to buy fertilizer and tractors. Slowly, after years of labor, the Hmong became self-sufficient. They now grow large quantities of previously scarce vegetables, like lettuce, and tropical varieties of fruit like cupuaçu, which is oblong, has a white pulp and is found in the Amazon basin.