Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Sunday, March 10, 2002 Permanent link to this day

Players on a rigged grand chessboard: Bridas, Unocal and the Afghanistan pipeline - part 1 and part 2

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Argentine oil company Bridas, led by its ambitious chairman, Carlos Bulgheroni, became the first company to exploit the oil fields of Turkmenistan and propose a pipeline through neighboring Afghanistan. A powerful US-backed consortium intent on building its own pipeline through the same Afghan corridor would oppose Bridas' project.

Spraying Columbia

Drug War Spraying Colombia To Death

Jena Matzen has a carousel of slides from her trip to Colombia, and she's giving slide shows throughout the Triangle. These are not your standard shots of smiling couples standing in front of national landmarks.

One image shows a farmer at the center of his 12-acre field, a former corn crop now utterly decimated. Another shows a white flag raised over a black pepper crop, as a signal to airplanes that this is a legal crop.

According to Matzen, a Hillsborough resident, the white flag did not have the desired effect; the pepper crop was destroyed nevertheless, by planes dropping enormous quantities of an herbicide called glyphosate -- marketed by Monsanto in this country under the brand name Round-Up -- as part of the U.S. war on drugs.

See also: Deadly Fumigation Returns to Putumayo: a report to Congress from Witness for Peace.

On November 13th the first DynCorp spray planes and their helicopter escorts could be heard coming over the horizon. For the people of El Paraíso, a small group of communities in Valle de Guamuez, the sound of helicopter blades signaled everything was about to change. The families of El Paraíso are among the 37,000 families in Putumayo that signed agreements with the national government over the course of the past year. In these "social pacts," as they are called, the small farmers agreed to replace coca with legal crops like corn and rice over a 12-month period. In turn, the government agreed to make the less lucrative crops more viable by creating transportation infrastructure and providing small farmers with the technical assistance, supplies, and market guarantees necessary for a production shift.

[via ghost rocket]

SSSCA reaction

Antipiracy bill a high-tech threat, Hollywood-style

It's possible to fight by adding copy-protection features to the original video and audio files, but such systems are beatable. It'd be much harder to defeat hardware, features built into the digital devices to block illegal copying.

Enter the Hollings bill, which seeks to mandate the inclusion of exactly this sort of technology into every device capable of running digital media. Read it and gasp: "It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies."

Yes, that includes your desktop computer, your TiVo recorder, your PlayStation 2 and TV set-top box. Everything. Suddenly, the US government is in the business of designing the next generation of electronic devices.

[via rc3]

Blame the victim

Blaming the Hindu Victim: Manufacturing Consent for Barbarism: on media response to the firebombing attack that started the latest round of religious violence in India. [via little green footballs]

Fusion heat

'Science' Magazine: Researchers Claim Tabletop Fusion Success: Erik Baard describes the controversy over the publication of Talevarkhan and Lahey's fusion results.

Still, that hasn't stopped critics from blasting the paper as cold fusion reincarnate. Dr. Robert Park of the American Physical Society, who has for a decade ridiculed new-energy theorists for not publishing papers in respected journals, broke a Science embargo Friday to lash out against the prestigious publication for going ahead with the paper. Park's What's New weekly e-mail bulletin made reference to the "cold fusion fiasco of 13 years ago" when discussing the "bubble fusion" paper.

Science moved up its publication date to an online edition on March 7 and lifted its embargo today because "the reports were getting increasingly distorted," according to Ginger Pinholster, a spokesperson for the magazine and its publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Pinholster specifically cited Park in the decision. "We knew the paper would be controversial, but it went through a rigorous peer-review process. We felt the best service would be to get it out in the public domain and let scientists debate it and try to reproduce the experiment, and assess if it's a viable energy alternative or not," she explained.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley