Friday, June 10, 2011

Harvard Ruins Africa, Re-Rewriting the American Civil War, and Defining "Flash Mob" (Link Round-Up 6/10/11)

[via reddit]

Poison Ivy League
Ivy League Hedge Funds Buy Up African Land and Displace People
"No one should believe that these investors are there to feed starving Africans, create jobs or improve food security," said Obang Metho of Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia. "These agreements – many of which could be in place for 99 years – do not mean progress for local people and will not lead to food in their stomachs. These deals lead only to dollars in the pockets of corrupt leaders and foreign investors."
"The scale of the land deals being struck is shocking", said Mittal. "The conversion of African small farms and forests into a natural-asset-based, high-return investment strategy can drive up food prices and increase the risks of climate change.
Foreign Foreshadowing
Argentina and what happens when a country's economy collapses
When you ask any Argentinean person what concerns them the most, the first thing they’re going to be telling you is the crime problem. And the second one is the financial problem. Those are by far the top concerns the average Argentinean person has and I think that eventually it will happen in the U.S.A., as well. I think that five years from now or so you’re going to be talking to people and the thing that’s going to be concerning them is that Joe down the street suffered a home invasion and got beaten up, maybe even got killed.  All kinds of crime that didn't used to happen in the good parts of town. It’s going to be one of the greatest concerns people will have eventually.
The War Between the (White) States
American Civil War: a struggle over competing ideas of white, Protestant supremacy?
Goldfield shows how leading Union generals almost immediately became warriors on the frontier, bringing the zeal with which they decimated the backward South to the task of decimating backward "savages." That new crusade had direct ramifications for Southern blacks. Even when President Ulysses S. Grant tried to use the military to beat back white Southern paramilitary groups literally massacring African-Americans trying to execute basic rights, he couldn't, because soldiers were deployed out West in the new Civil War against Indians. One hero of the book, Mississippi Republican Gov. Adelbert Ames, tries to use his power to protect blacks from Southern Democratic violence, but there were no Federal soldiers left in his state to call upon, they were all on the anti-Indian front. As the state's "White Line" paramilitary group tore through Mississippi to violently intimidate black voters, Ames was forced to give up his governor's position and flee. Early in the book, Goldfield quotes a Northern newspaper editor proclaiming "We can have no peace in this country until the CATHOLICS ARE EXTERMINATED." Near the end, he finds a Birmingham News headline that reads: "We intend to beat the negro in the battle of life, and defeat means one thing: EXTERMINATION." That doesn't feel heavy handed; it's fact, and it's tragic.
Media Buzzwords
Whatever you wanna call the recent attacks in Chicago, don't call them "flash mobs"
The alleged attackers were black, the victims white. This has happened before, believe it or not, it has even happened on the Gold Coast before, though you wouldn’t know it, judging from the clamor of those certain Chicago is suddenly facing social breakdown. 
"We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat"
DNA proves early South Americans settled Easter Island
Thorsby says there may have been a Kon-Tiki-style voyage from South America to Polynesia. Alternatively, Polynesians may have travelled east to South America, and then returned. There is already evidence for that: chicken bones found in Chile turned out to be Polynesian, so we know that the eastward journey did happen at some stage.
All Work And No Play You a Dull Billionaire
One of China's richest men only spends $20 a day
Zong's monk-like devotion to duty is legendary. A former employee remembers he personally reviewed every office expense, including the purchase of a broom.
He still personally signs every major spending decision. In his office are two safes in which he told me he keeps the company seals of each of his approximately 200 subsidiaries. 
He says he lives on $20 a day. "My only exercise is doing market research... my only hobbies are smoking and drinking tea," he told me (when I asked, he said his favourite brand was Lipton's).
No Girls Allowed
Australian gay bar wins right to ban women
VCAT has granted Sircuit Bar in Smith St an exemption to anti-discrimination laws, allowing it to ban women because they make the men uncomfortable. 
"The applicant primarily relies on the exemption to exclude women from the venue, other than on Sundays after 3pm," VCAT reasoned.
Tinsel Town Taboos
The lack of non-white love scenes in Hollywood movies
Once upon a time, non-white males had a hard time surviving action movies. Now, they can survive and even succeed, as long as they stay clothed. Brad Pitt can have saucy love scenes with Angelina Jolie and still earn almost $200 million.
But when they remake Shaft for a wide audience, poor "sex machine" Sam Jackson gets only one kiss in the entire film, upright and clothed. Of course, that's better than Morgan Freeman, who has had only one screen kiss in his entire career.
But I suppose I should be grateful, should consider the black male's cinematic promotion from corpse to eunuch to represent progress. In the long run, some say, the passage of time, and the cultural and genetic intermingling of the American melting pot are more likely to cure these ills than any amount of activism or finger-pointing.

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