Blood Money

Digging for Gold &
Finding a Rat, Instead

There are two sure ways to change one’s social status, we’re told: win the lotto, or find a lot of cash. What we’re rarely told about, though, is that pesky moral itch that troubles some: where’s this coming from? That’s surely enough to put a chill on that big blast in Vegas.
What if you’d come across a cache of dough? Yay, you’re rich. But wait, you’d say. Was this stolen from natives? Jews? drug fiends? If you’d been in the mountains of Poland, or in the sea and farms of Colombia, in the past few months, you’d certainly wonder. As you should.
So, fine, what if you don’t ask those questions? No sweat, take the money and run. Who knows, you may have people you want to help, will wind up running a charity or something. Good for you. Just be sure not call anyone from that bus station, once you’re done and broke.
The Internet is full of heart-warming stories, about nice chaps finding cash and instead of running, returning it all. Which is great but doesn’t turn anyone into a certified saint. Then again, there’s always the possibility that it’s too good to be true. A con. A hoax.
There are many ways to screw up the few chances one gets in this life. Even if there’s no nobility on starving, or natural enlightenment for being poor, time on Earth goes very fast. That means that, even making a wrong detour may lead you to redemption. Or something. Just don’t call, etc.

A 2-PART, 300-YEAR BATTLE
The Spanish Armada’s 1588 defeat to the British didn’t stop their nations’ centuries-old rivalry (which set today’s dominance of their languages). In May of 1708, one of its ships, the Galleón San José, lost another battle to the Royal Navy and sank off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia.
Last week, when Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted the wreck’s discovery, staking a claim over its estimated record $17 billion treasure, he immediately set up yet another 3-way battle, this (more)
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Whistle Blown

Truth Telling Costs
Manning His Freedom

The military trial and conviction of Pvt. Bradley Manning, for revealing classified information about the U.S. intelligence and armed forces to the public, marks one of the darkest moments in the history of democratic dissent and freedom of the press in this country.
His verdict and sentencing today to a possible maximum of 136 years in jail, have shaken all progressive forces fighting for individual rights in the world, and chipped even further the U.S.’s already tarnished image of the land of the free and home of the brave.
Even before being convicted of 19 offenses, including five counts of the WWI relic Espionage Act, Manning had already spent three years in solitary and brutal confinement, and had the grand total of just one chance for speaking his version of the facts to the public.
Despite having been justly acquitted of the unfounded charge of aiding the enemy, the trial most certainly ended the 25-year old’s hopes of ever regaining the right to tell the American people what he saw in Iraq, apart from the shocking videos and cables he’s passed along to WikiLeaks.
But as we grieve over the personal sacrifice that this young idealist was willing to go through, in order to reveal some of the behind-the-scenes actions of the corporation he once joined out of pride and honor, we’re also sure his courage will outlast the secretive establishment that now is sending him to the gallows.
We may not hear again his voice for a long time, even if that was never his intention to begin with. But someday his example will be honored just as many a fine American has in the past, who like him, sacrificed everything but in the end, were vindicated by history.
Bradley Manning is not a traitor, neither he lied or risked his freedom for personal gain. Unlike many of his accusers, his actions will be remembered perhaps as the first steps of a great turnaround of hearts and minds in this country, to put an end of this endless cycle of wars and intimidation of those who oppose them.
The trial of Pvt. Manning is a complete denial of everything that the U.S. has stood for over two centuries, as a nation of laws and still the inspiration for millions of oppressed and unjustly persecuted people around the world. And as such, it will never represent the real aspirations of the American people.
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Not Food

Think Things Don’t Change?
Try a 14-Year Old McDonald’s

Not many corporations convey so well both the state of the economy and our social mores as McDonald’s, the world’s former biggest restaurant chain. And for its product’s poor nutritional value and the environmental impact of its business practices, it’s doing just fine.
Or so it seems. For news about a 1999 burger looking eerily ‘fresh,’ and of a CEO making $8.75 million, while the average patty-flipper earns $8.25 a hour, were both received with jaded nonchalance. No wonder an artist made a life size mummy out of McDonalds.
It’d be stupid to blame solely the economy on the company’s success. Granted, its origins are in fact linked to the Great Depression, and it’s no wonder that now, during such an extended reenactment of those empty pocket years, it remains the compulsory choice for those who can’t afford to embrace the organic, cage-free craze of the era.
It may also be the power of its muscular business model, the 1980s expansionary pull through emerging economies, what may have guaranteed its staying appeal. Such aggressive strategy made possible for McDonald’s to become more popular (read, cheaper) than Indian food in India, for instance.

But who can deny that other element that the most American of all corporations possesses, to which only a overused and detested word can be applied: iconic. The red and yellow colors, the rings, and that obnoxious clown are so infused in urban culture, that artists such as Andy Warhol had no choice but to incorporate it into their work.
As for those who see signs of hope, since McDonald’s no longer the world’s No. 1 food chain, let’s keep things in perspective. Researchers Continue reading

The Hunted

The Haunted Beauty of Albinos
& the Bigots Who Can’t Bear it

After months of relative peace, the brutal chase seems to be on again. Last week, a seven-year old Tanzania boy had his hand hacked off by thugs disguised as spiritual healers. That false beliefs and carnage never cease to fester in such impoverished land is no surprise.
As it’s nothing new that a supernatural being is ‘ordering’ the murder and dismemberment of innocent humans, exacted in the hands of their ignorant priests. But it’s still staggering that what’s essentially a medical condition would incite such unconscionable acts for so long.
We could spend the day here discussing this and many other cases, with their particularly gruesome patterns and all the gory details. Instead, we choose to celebrate what’s considered the ‘otherness’ of albinos who, after all, have to put up with all the limitations of their own condition.

The work and lives of South African models Thando Hopa, and Refilwe Modiselle, Tanzania Albino Society’s Ernest Kimaya, Afro-Brazilian Rosemere de Andrade, the India’s Pullan family, documentarian Harry Freeland, Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda, plus a cadre of highly successful artists and thousands others, only assert the power of their dignity as human beings.
We offer today’s post as a solidarity gesture to albinos everywhere and their plight, not a repulsive patronizing pat on their scared backs, because it’s clear that neither such condition is an impediment to greatness, nor that to stand with Albinos requires preaching and outraged diatribes.
We hope the boy, Mwigulu Magessa, recovers, of course, he being only the latest in what appears to be an increasing series of savage attacks for their supposedly ‘magical‘ flesh. Let’s hope too that TAS gets the resources it needs to go after the culprits and those who cover up for them. In the real world, ignorance should never be a bliss.

Sleeping With the Fishes

Salmon, the Frankenfish & the
Truth About the Tuna You Eat

Contrary to the old saying, and paraphrasing it too, the life aquatic is no longer plenty. It’s hard to tell what’s depleting it faster, whether overpopulation or ocean pollution. Short of an unlike miracle, we may be heading to a time when eating fish will no longer be an option.
Which is too bad, of course, but we’re not getting into that now. Because be it as it may, many think there must be another way. Fair enough, but what? Either call tilapia, red snapper, and tuna, escolar. Or please get that salmon loaded with some extra genes.
We’ll skim over these slightly deranged options, and those unstoppable depleting factors in a minute, but let’s agree first that we’re facing a quagmire, here. Our seven billion-strong mouths won’t stop devouring, anytime soon, whatever is closer in order to keep their hosts from collapsing, that’s for sure,
On the other hand, since even before we’ve reached the top of the food chain, we’ve been serving ourselves with everything this planet has bred and nourished way before our great entrance in the concert of species. Thus we turned every other animal into just another dish, and never looked back.
As we colonized flora and fauna to our own sustenance, we grew stronger and multiplied faster. As we’ve occupied every corner of the globe, we’ve also incorporated ever more species into our diet. Until the number of human digestive systems started to shadow the overall number of living organisms used to sustained it.
That delicate balance between what we demand to survive and what’s available to the taking seems about to be tipped. That and, of course, the widening disproportion in the distribution of natural resources, and what’s with the outrage about horse meat, anyway? After all, isn’t that leaner? But that too, is a fish for another water.
So to show how this long and winding intro can manage to land right on top of your dinner plate, let’s see what’s cooking, so to speak, about the seafood we think we’re eating, but that we’re not, and the fish that we thought that we knew, but soon enough we may not recognize.
Japan UN Saving Species
THE TRUTHNESS OF TUNA
It may have all started with the study conducted by Oceana, an advocate group for the preservation of the world’s oceans. Between Continue reading