Sunday, April 26, 2009

Joel Brouwer reviews four books in today's NY Times:


Afghanistan has more varieties of the fruit tree than any other part of the world, leading botanists to suggest this is the birthplace of pomegranate cultivation.

The export business has been badly hit by 30 years of invasion and civil war, and most of the country's harvest is sold to India and Pakistan.

But now western donors and Afghan farmers hope they can cash in on the fruit's popularity further afield.

Demand for the fruit, said to be beneficial for anything from heart disease to prostate cancer, has soared in the West in the past five years. The seedless bedana variety has been singled out as a potential "billion-dollar product" because western consumers prefer seedless fruit.


The war of words between a celebrity blogger and a beauty-pageant contestant started Sunday at the Miss USA competition, when Perez Hilton asked Miss California Carrie Prejean if more states should legalize same-sex marriage. Prejean stated her opinion that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

On Tuesday (April 21), the feud continued as both Hilton and Prejean took to the TV networks to defend their positions — and criticize each other.

"When I first heard her answer, I was shocked, because I thought having been from California, a state that recently passed Proposition 8 outlawing same-sex marriage, she should have been better prepared to answer that question," Hilton said on CBS' "The Early Show." "There are various other ways she could have answered that question and still stayed true to herself without alienating millions of people."

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