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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:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”