Saturday, June 25, 2011

Matt Damon's Water Campaign, Egypt Rejects IMF, and Tearing Down L.A. County Homes (Link Round-Up 5/25/11)


Coconuts
Olsen and his colleagues believe the Pacific coconuts were introduced to the Indian Ocean a couple of thousand years ago by ancient Austronesians establishing trade routes connecting Southeast Asia to Madagascar and coastal east Africa.
Olsen points out that no genetic admixture is found in the more northerly Seychelles, which fall outside the trade route. He adds that a recent study of rice varieties found in Madagascar shows there is a similar mixing of the japonica and indica rice varieties from Southeast Asia and India.
Celebrity Philanthropy Gamification
In today's digital world, engagement can be stoked in ways that may not require Hollywood wattage. Sure, Damon can talk up his organization on Letterman; "that's an audience of 2.4 million to hear our message," says Water.org chief community officer Mike McCamon, who works closely with Damon on strategy, and is a veteran of Apple, Intel, and a handful of startups. But McCamon points out that 28 million people learned about the mission last December when they played Zynga's FrontierVille and were offered a chance to buy or give a Water.org-branded blue water bison. That is the kind of engagement he could neither buy nor predict. "I cold-called Zynga out of the blue," he says. "It was incredibly effective and took us about as far away from the pandering, puppy-dog-eyes style of messaging as you can get." Zynga confirms raising $300,000 for Water.org.
Fundraising
Egypt rejects IMF loan over popular discontent
An adviser told AFP news agency the decision had been partly a response to the "pressure of public opinion".

Many of those who took part in Egypt's uprising denounced the role of the IMF.

It was seen as bolstering the rule of now-deposed President Hosni Mubarak while imposing harsh economic conditions that benefited the rich more than the poor, says the BBC's Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher.
Subject To Interpretation?
British Muslim PM: Pakistan denies women rights guaranteed by Islam
Warsi said: "I said to them ... let me talk to you about the rights of minorities, the protection of women and the concept of meritocracy. I gave real examples of how Islam embodies all of those values, and the question I put was: my country wasn't formed in the name of Islam, but yours was; so why does my country embody the values of the faith that your country was formed on the basis of?"

Warsi said her heritage enabled her to speak out. "This was not the west arriving with an ideological perspective of women's rights about to impose them on a nation. I understand this culture, I deeply understand the faith and the culture that is part of this nation ... But what I don't see is you in many ways having the very values upon which the nation was formed, the vision of the founder of Pakistan."
The Green Economy
Genetically-modified marijuana bolsters Colombian farmers
According to botanist Luis Miguel Alvarez, a teacher at the University of Caldas in Manizales and the author of several marijuana studies, after marijuana is grown and dried, it can endure long periods without spoiling, which is a strong economic advantage.

Police commander Rodriguez said the crop's growth poses a problem for local law enforcement, because profits are often used to finance other criminal activity.

"We believe that the sixth front of the FARC guerrilla forces are 90 percent financed by marijuana," he said. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is Latin America's largest and longest-fighting insurgency with 47 years of armed struggle and 8,000 fighters.
"Do You Have A Permit For That?"
L.A. County trucker's rural homes vs. the county zoning law enforcement team
Tough code enforcement has been ramped up in these unincorporated areas of L.A. County, leaving the iconoclasts who chose to live in distant sectors of the Antelope Valley frightened, confused and livid. They point the finger at the Board of Supervisors' Nuisance Abatement Teams, known as NAT, instituted in 2006 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in his sprawling Fifth District. The teams' mission: "to abate the more difficult code violations and public nuisance conditions on private property."
Hidden Cameras
The tomb was discovered in 1999 inside a pyramid among the ruins of the Mayan city of Palenque in the hills of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.
But until now archeologists had not been able to access the vault believed to hold the remains of a Mayan ruler who lived between AD 431 and 550, the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a release on Thursday.
By dropping the small camera 16 feet deep through a small hole at the top of the pyramid, researchers were able to get the first view of the intact tomb.

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