The ultimate 'carding'

From the Canadian Press:

EDINBURGH, Scotland — An Internet campaign to ban Britain's treasury chief from the country's pubs seems to be striking a chord.

Earlier this month, treasury chief Alistair Darling (seen at right) raised taxes on cars and cigarettes. But it is his new alcohol duties -- which raised the price of a pint of beer -- that have Britons' backs up.

So, when a pub landlord here in Darling's hometown barred the chancellor from his establishment, drinking holes across the country followed suit. Many are posting pictures of the white-haired, bespectacled treasurer above the big red word "barred."

Bar manger Andrew Little at the Utopia pub, which kicked off the campaign, says the poster is "tongue in cheek." But, he says, it seems to have "touched a nerve."

Hundreds have joined Internet groups devoted to running Darling out of every pub in the country, and establishments from the Tap & Spile in the north England town of Lincoln to the Plough Inn in Finstock, near Oxford, said Darling would not allowed to partake of their booze.

The government has raised taxes on alcohol by 6% above the rate of inflation, which translates to an extra four pence (about eight cents Canadian) for a pint of beer, 13 pence (around 26 cents) for a bottle of wine and 55 pence (around $1.12) a bottle for spirits such as whisky.

The duties are scheduled to rise by another 2% above inflation in each of the next four years.
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Street art that looks good enough to eat

It does get awfully hot in the summer on the streets of Adelaide, South Australia, but this?

It's street art of a very convincing sort -- an ice cream truck experiencing a grand meltdown.

No word on whether this was the work of some publicity shy artist(s), but it doesn't seem to be an advertisement for any company since no logo or signage were included.

Guide to Adelaide
Atlas of South Australia
Australian Explorer.com
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Obama beer, when you're having more than 1

When Jimmy Carter occupied the White House, his n'er-do-well brother, Billy, took advantage of his nearness to greatness to come up with his own beverage, a little something called "Billy Beer."

With Barack Hussein Obama getting close to snaring the Democratic Party nod to make the same leap as Jimmy Carter, a Brooklyn brewery is using his nearness to greatness to peddle "Hop Obama" ale in both New York and Massachusetts.

Sixpoint Craft Ales has just begun distributing the limited-edition beer. The 30-keg supply is estimated to be large enough to last only through the rest of the Democratic primary activities, which run through April 22.

Sixpoint brewmaster Shane Welch said that, in keeping with the Illinois senator's unifying theme, the "Hop Obama" is an indefinable ale that doesn't adhere to traditional style guidelines. The 5.2% ABV creation contains five different kinds of European crystal malt and three different kinds of Pacific Northwest Hops. It also includes a Scottish yeast strain for fermentation.

"Although we do not intend this beer to be a direct Sixpoint endorsement of Obama," Welch said, "we believe the delicious and refreshing quality it represents reminds us of the senator's successful grassroots campaign that positively blossoms each and every day."

The Brooklyn brew no doubt will be merely a tiny footnote in brewing and political history -- unless, of course, Obama becomes president and Sixpoint continues making the brew.

Billy Carter became a tiny footnote when his beer venture went bust, he had to sell his house to pay off back taxes, and he went public with his alcoholism before dying of pancreatic cancer in 1988 at the age of 51.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, the ancestral land of Obama's father, sales and consumption of something called "Senator" beer are hitting records.

The brew, named for Obama after his visit to the African nation and his success in a string of U.S. primaries, is being downed at victory parties and in taverns all across the land.

Here's a CNN report on the African "Senator" beer phenomenon:

What of Obama opponent Hilary Rodham Clinton when it comes to alcoholic products? More of a sweet tooth thing, as I reported on this site a year ago.

Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife/Kenya
Impact of violence on Kenya tourism (video)
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'Bama beer battle hits legislature

In most states there is no restriction on the types of beers consumers can enjoy. "Most" being the key word.

In Alabama, for example, it is illegal to drink beer containing more than 6% alcohol. Violators face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

However, a bill in the state legislature would more than double the allowable alcohol content in beer. And legislators were recently treated to a beer tasting in Montgomery that offered numerous foreign and domestic beers well above the alcohol limit.

Stuart Carter, a Scotsman who heads a beer advocacy group called Free the Hops, says: "To people in Alabama it looks like there's a huge range of beers in the store already. They're saying, 'Wow, there's 300 beers.' From my perspective, being someone who came into Alabama more recently, I see 300 beers and think, 'Where's the beer?' "

National Public Radio has an interesting report on the topic. Go here to access it.

Alabama Breweries
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Colorado repeals Sunday spirits ban

Colorado has become the 35th state to repeal its ban on Sunday spirits sale. Thirteen states, counting the imminent Colorado change, have passed Sunday sales laws since 2002.

A bill co-authored by Sen. Jennifer Veiga and Rep. Cheri Jahn passed the Senate Thursday by a 24-9 vote. It now moves to the desk of Gov. Bill Ritter for final signature. If he approves it, the bill becomes law on July 1.

"This is a terrific victory for the benefit of consumer convenience, market modernization and free enterprise," said Peter Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

He noted that this year marks the 75th anniversary of national Prohibition repeal that left behind it a ban on Sunday sales under so-called "Blue Laws" based on religious preferences for banning sales on the traditional day of worship.

A recent economic analysis shows that year-round Sunday sales of distilled spirits in Colorado alone would lead to an estimated retailer revenue impact range of $23 to $32 million and between $1.8 and $2.6 million for the state in additional sales tax revenue.

• Colorado Taverns and Bars
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Everyone in Waco is a Pepper this weekend

Waco, TX, is the gathering point for fans and collectors of all things Dr Pepper this weekend.

The nation's oldest major soft drink company, founded in 1885 when the soft drink was invented at a Waco drugstore, is being celebrated at the Waco Convention Center during the 24th annual convention.

Dr Pepper collectors are in town to show off their favorite Pepper memorabilia at the soft drink's 24th annual convention.

According to the Dr Pepper Museum, the drink was first offered to the public at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store. Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist working at Morrison's, is believed to be the inventor of the now-famous drink.

"Alderton spent most of his time mixing up medicine for the people of Waco," the museum says, "but in his spare time he liked to serve carbonated drinks at the soda fountain. He liked the way the drug store smelled, with all of the fruit syrup flavor smells mixing together in the air. He decided to to create a drink that tasted like that smell. He kept a journal, and after numerous experiments he finally hit upon a mixture of fruit syrups that he liked.

"To test his new drink, he first offered it to store owner Morrison, who also found it to his liking. After repeated sample testing by the two, Alderton was ready to offer his new drink to some of the fountain customers. They liked it as well. Other patrons at Morrison's soda fountain soon learned of Alderton's new drink and began ordering it by asking him to shoot them a 'Waco.'

"Morrison is credited with naming the drink Dr. Pepper (the period in Dr. was dropped in the 1950s). Unfortunately, the origin for the name is unclear."

• Waco Tourism Information
Dr. Pepper Museum
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Huge coffee cafe debuts in Paris

The world’s largest Nespresso boutique has joined the Champs-Elysées, Paris's famous and historic boulevard.

Actress Sharon Stone presided over the unveiling of the 16,150 square foot bi-level establishment.

It boasts such elements as the Barista Bar, the Gallery of the Senses where temporary exhibitions take place, the Collection Gallery for limited edition series and accessories, the Dressing Room, an artsy space where clients can customize their machines, and the Lounge for relaxation with an electro-jazz atmosphere.

Nespresso is a division of Nestlé, concentrating on the high-end of the coffee market. Its products include patented coffee-capsule technology and the associated machinery, to coffee capsules.

The Champs-Elysées
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In NY, the drinks are on Eliot

It didn't take long for the well-known humorous spirit of Brooklyn to emerge in the Spitzer scandal.

In anticipation of the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the midst of a prostitution case, Teddy's, a longtime popular watering hole, began offering Spitzer-related drink specials such as the "Spitzer Spritzer" and the "Hypocrite's Delight."

Now that the governor has announced he'll step down on Monday, the bar is continuing the special offerings. If you're in the city and want to check out Teddy's, it is located at 96 Berry Street, between 8th and 9th streets, in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section.
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Peekaboo technology to scan travelers

From the BBC:

A camera that can "see" explosives, drugs and weapons hidden under clothing from 25 meters has been invented.

The ThruVision system could be deployed at airports, railway stations or other public spaces.

It is based on so-called "terahertz," or T-ray, technology, normally used by astronomers to study dying stars. Although it is able to see through clothes it does not reveal "body detail" or subject people to "harmful radiation," according to the designers.

"It is totally and utterly passive. It receives only," said a spokesperson for Thruvision.

The portable camera, which has already been sold to the Dubai Mercantile Exchange and Canary Wharf in London, will be shown off at the Home Office scientific development branch's annual exhibition later this week.

Go here for the complete story.

Homeland Security Travel Safety & Procedures
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Taking 'hospital food' to a new level

Can't wait to dig into a plate of hospital food?

If you're on Taiwan, lucky you. The D.S Music Restaurant in the island nation's capital city of Tapiei has put together a medical them for its restaurant and bar.

Customers are seated around a hospital bed as drinks drip into their glasses from a IV-style container hanging from the ceiling.

This isn't the only such place in Asia. At a bar in Shenzhen, China, staffers dressed as nurses provide drinks from syringes and test tubes.

Mmmm, mmm.

CIA Factbook: Taiwan
Shenzhen Travel Guide
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Brit pubs on endangered list

The iconic image of pubs as a part of England that will always endure is in trouble.

The number of pub closings last year hit a rate 14 times higher than the prior year, according to a new report just released by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

The BBPA says 1,409 pubs closed in 2007, a rate of 27 per week.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has published its own survey showing a slightly slower pace -- 57 a month -- but notes that 31% of those closed are being demolished, 36% are converted to shops, cafes and restaurants and 33% are converted to some other use, mostly residential.

It is this changeover that is concerning people who want to preserve the country's pub structure. CAMRA is pushing for changes to planning laws to prevent pub demolitions and change of use without planning permission.

So, what is causing the phenomenon?

BBPA Chief Executive Rob Hayward said he blames rising costs, falling sales and the impact of the smoking ban.

“These figures show the reality of the pub trade today," he said, "in contrast to the hype surrounding the myth of '24 hour drinking'."

BBPA statistics say beer sales in pubs are at their lowest level since the Depression in the 1930s. Today's pubs are selling 14 million fewer pints a day than they did when sales were at their peak in 1979.

• The British Pub Guide
• UK Good Food & Ale
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When my baby smiles at me I go to Rio

If you weren't in Rio de Janiero for the recent Brazilian Underwear Day, here's some of what you missed:

When is a pint not a pint?

If you've ever traveled in the United Kingdom and wondered whether the pint drawn for you at one pub was a different sized "pint" than at another, you're not alone.

Paul Rowen, a member of Parliament (MP) from Rochdale, is demanding pubs serve full pints of beer and stop shortchanging customers. In fact, he has signed a Parliamentary motion expressing concern that bar staff are legally permitted to sell a glass containing as little as 95% liquid as a full pint.

The motion, signed by more than 40 MPs, supports a drive by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to push the government to legislate for a pint to be defined as 100% liquid.

CAMRA estimates short pours cost consumers more than $2 million US on a daily basis.

CAMRA: Campaign for Real Ale
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Of all the gin joints in all the world ...

Photo courtesy of the "new" Rick's

Much of the world is intimately familiar with Rick's Cafe Americain, the site of most of the action in the 1942 film classic "Casablanca."

In fact, some are so smitten with the film they feel as if they've been to Rick's. Not possible, of course, since it was merely a movie set on a Hollywood back lot.

However, Kathy Kriger, a 61-year-old former U.S. diplomat, took care of that the last time Leap Year Day rolled around.

She captured the ambience of the film and has turned a 1930s seaside mansion into a landmark in the exotic Moroccan city, giving it the look and atmosphere of the film. She marked the fourth anniversary of the "re-opening" of Rick's this Feb. 29.

Check out a Reuters feature story on the enterprise here, or go right to Rick's Web site here.

The Marvels of Casablanca
Lonely Planet Guide to Morocco
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Well, if you have to be stranded ...

From the DailyRecord.com.uk

• Islanders had just caviar and whisky to live on after their supply ship was cut off for a week by storms

The 125 residents on Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides are completely dependent on the mainland for all their food. They're used to keeping plenty of dry and powdered goods stored away for rough weather, but milk and fresh produce can run out after just a few days.

Last week, after a bout of stormy weather, the island missed two vital deliveries, leaving the only shop with just a few jars of caviar and bottles of whisky on the shelves.

Shopkeeper Mike McNicholl said: "When you miss one boat, you have a run on supplies but it's not normally too bad. Once we miss two, however, we're really in trouble."

Islanders were left fighting over the last of the rations before a ship managed to make the journey across with much-needed supplies on Wednesday night.

Mike added: "We have a perfect, idyllic lifestyle -- apart from when we don't get the boat and we don't have anything to eat."

Inner Hebrides
• Visitor's Introduction to Colonsay
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