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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:
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature