It’s been a long week, full of grim news at home and abroad: we’ve seen our CIA director resign in disgrace, an outbreak of violence in the Gaza strip, tension in Congress over the “fiscal cliff.” Enough already! Why not just kick back and relax with the Latitude News Mishmash, our weekly round-up of the three weirdest stories from the global press.
Azerbaijani Fried Chicken
They must really love their fried chicken in Azerbaijan.
KFC, which owns 18,000 franchises in 120 different countries, has announced it is building its largest ever restaurant in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. The 17,000-square-foot chicken joint will seat around 300 and is housed in the city’s historic train station, built in 1926. It plans to serve around 1.5 million meals a year, according to Radio Free Europe.
Fast food is an easy sell in the former Soviet Republics, where McDonald’s, Burger King, Papa John’s, Subway and Pizza Hut have all made inroads over the last 20 years.
A visit to the website 4square reveals that six of the top eight fast-food restaurants in Baku are McDonald’s. The other two are Cinnabons.
As incomes rise in the region, people have more pocket money to spend on fast food, and, if the guy quoted below is any indication, health is not a big concern in the local diet.
“All I have in the refrigerator is a jar of lightly salted pickles,” a Russian diesel mechanic tells the New York Times. “I thought, that’s not really something to eat. It’s easy and fast to order pizza. And pizza is tasty.”
Boy poops on train, becomes Internet celebrity
China’s newest Internet celebrity will think twice before he poops on a train again.
A photo of a young boy relieving himself on a Guangzhou subway has gone viral on Sina Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, after being posted by a fellow commuter.
“Yes, you are not imagining it. That boy is using the corner as a toilet . . . and his father was standing calmly next to him,” the Weibo user wrote in a caption.
The South China Morning Post reports that the picture was reposted 17,000 times in three days and garnered more than 4,000 comments. Many commenters were understandably furious and demanded that the boy and his parents be forced to do community service.
But was the boy completely at fault?
A reporter for the SCMP called a Guangzhou Metro spokesperson, who admitted that only 16 of 131 subway stations in the city have public toilets.
When you have to go, you have to go. At least he had some toilet paper handy.
And before you get your hopes up, the young man was riding the number three train. Doing number two on the number two would have been too perfect.
An undiscovered inner life
For 12 years, doctors thought Scott Routley of London, Ontario was trapped in a vegetative state.
Then a team of British scientists discovered a way to communicate with him using an advanced MRI brain scanner.
The Independent of Ireland writes that this is the first time “a person believed to be lacking all awareness has been able to communicate information relevant to their medical condition.”
Routley suffered brain trauma during a serious car accident. Doctors in Canada performed standard visual, auditory and tactile tests on Routley and concluded that he was vegetative. But his parents maintained their son was communicating with them by lifting his thumb and moving his eyes.
Dr. Alex Owen , a British neuroscientist, was able to prove that Routley could communicate. Owen asked the seemingly comatose man to imagine himself either playing tennis or walking through his home. A brain scan revealed that Routley’s brain activity differed depending on which situation he was imagining. Owen described the results of his test:
Scott has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind. We have scanned him several times and his pattern of brain activity shows he is clearly choosing to answer our questions. We believe he knows who and where he is. Asking a patient something important to them has been our aim for many years. In future we could ask what we could do to improve their quality of life. It could be simple things like the entertainment we provide or the times of day they are washed and fed.
It’s a groundbreaking medical discovery, one Routley’s parents knew was possible all along.