Mad dogs, a R75 pint and Mugabe

A shift in the pattern of the world’s wealth was illustrated last week as the ancient Viking hangout of Oslo gained the dubious title of being the world’s most expensive city. Thanks to an offshore oil-fuelled boom, the Norwegian capital, where a pint of beer is R75 and a CD nearly R215, is now the costliest place on the planet. It is the first time since 1991 that a Japanese city has not topped the poll by the Economist’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey—Tokyo held the title last year—but the economic slowdown in Japan and the declining value of the yen eased it down to second place, with Reykjavik in third position, Paris in fourth and London ranking seventh.

Aid workers once again issued warnings about the plight of millions of Kenyans who face a second season of drought-induced crop failure.
Famine could be weeks away for an estimated 11-million people across east Africa, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.

More nastiness from the man starving his own people: President Robert Mugabe has begun confiscating and vandalising white-owned property in Zimbabwe’s cities. He and his cronies have already organised the takeover of most white-owned farms and now attention has turned to the suburbs as police evicted hundreds of people from their homes near Harare.

Mugabe’s campaign against his people escalated last winter when he sent bulldozers to flatten hundreds of thousands of homes and markets. John Worsley-Worswick, of Justice for Agriculture, said: “This is the first wholesale attack on a huge tract of land within the city limits. This is not anarchy by default. It has been well designed.”

In Romania, a massive cull of dogs began on the streets of Bucharest, after one killed a 68-year-old Japanese businessman in the city centre. Hajime Hori bled to death outside his apartment. Mayor Adriean Videanu issued an urgent call for 1 000 trainee vets from EU countries to help put down packs of feral dogs. Former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is blamed for turning Bucharest into a city of two million humans and 200 000 strays. To build tower blocks, broad boulevards and monuments to his own power, Ceausescu flattened swaths of Bucharest and pets were abandoned en masse as families were moved from houses into cramped flats. Health officials say stray dogs attacked 15 000 people last year.

There were more animal disasters in Canada when 1 500 seal cubs were drowned by a tidal surge off its eastern coast. Global warming had forced their mothers to give birth on a small island instead of the safer pack ice floes. - Guardian Unlimited Â

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