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Canadian mining, oil and gas companies are Colombia’s third biggest source of foreign investment, operating almost exclusively in remote zones of the country where armed protection is a precondition to profit. The question is, protection from whom? Both Plan Colombia and the new Defense Cooperation Agreement identify FARC as the enemy, a view now echoed from Ottawa: speaking in favor of the Canada-Colombia free trade deal last fall, Liberal MP Scott Brison claimed that “Enbridge [a Canadian energy company] has been recognized for human rights training that it has provided to security personnel which are required to protect its investments and its workers against FARC.” –“Canada Backs Colombia’s Growing Embrace of US Military,” Arno Kopecky, The Tyee
To dissimulate my tentacular greed, I worked full-time without compensation at a leading liberal magazine that is well-known for their criticisms of unfettered global capitalism, your major recent accomplishment. I hold a masters degree in journalism from one of your favorite institutions, so I have been amply prepared to control the media to your—our—advantage. Now, as a fact-checker, I’ve positioned myself at an ideally pathetic level in the hierarchy that you dominate: who, but who, would suspect the lowly factchecker? Please don’t take my lack of apparent power or authority as anything but the cleverest ruse. To reassure you, I can pass along the contact information of several Jewish intellectuals who would be more than willing to attest to my devious potential. –“A Cover Letter for Employment Opportunities with the Elders of Zion,” Joseph Asher Bernstein, The Awl
As Thomas Barfield pointed out to me the other day, for most of its history Afghanistan has actually been the cradle of empires, not their grave. Barfield, an anthropologist at Boston University, has been studying Afghanistan since the early 1970s, and he has just published a book — Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History — that takes issue with the hoary stereotypes that continue to inform our understanding of the place. One of those myths, for example, is that Afghanistan is inherently unconquerable thanks to the fierceness of its inhabitants and the formidable nature of its terrain. But this isn’t at all borne out by the history. “Until 1840 Afghanistan was better known as a ‘highway of conquest’ rather than the ‘graveyard of empires,’” Barfield points out. “For 2,500 years it was always part of somebody’s empire, beginning with the Persian Empire in the fifth century B.C.” –“Bury the Graveyard,” Christian Caryl, Foreign Policy
More from TedRoss:
Chances that a Soviet woman’s first pregnancy will end in abortion:
Peaceful fungus-farming ants are sometimes protected against nomadic raider ants by sedentary invader ants.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."