Dear International Editor:
Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.
What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.
Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting. People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street. And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook “block” campaign.
What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.
Recently, our nation’s financial chieftains have been feeling a little unloved. Venture capitalists are comparing the persecution of the rich to the plight of Jews at Kristallnacht, Wall Street titans are saying that they’re sick of being beaten up, and this week, a billionaire investor, Wilbur Ross, proclaimed that “the 1 percent is being picked on for political reasons.”
Ross's statement seemed particularly odd, because two years ago, I met Ross at an event that might single-handedly explain why the rest of the country still hates financial tycoons – the annual black-tie induction ceremony of a secret Wall Street fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi.
“Good evening, Exalted High Council, former Grand Swipes, Grand Swipes-in-waiting, fellow Wall Street Kappas, Kappas from the Spring Street and Montgomery Street chapters, and worthless neophytes!”
It was January 2012, and Ross, wearing a tuxedo and purple velvet moccasins embroidered with the fraternity’s Greek letters, was standing at the dais of the St. Regis Hotel ballroom, welcoming a crowd of two hundred wealthy and famous Wall Street figures to the Kappa Beta Phi dinner. Ross, the leader (or “Grand Swipe”) of the fraternity, was preparing to invite 21 new members — “neophytes,” as the group called them — to join its exclusive ranks.
Venezuela's opposition leader Leopoldo López has handed himself in to the authorities after coming out of hiding to attend a rally of supporters in Caracas.
Harvard-educated politician denies charges of terrorism for his alleged role in violent anti-government protests
After the protests that left three people dead last week, there was relief on the streets that a violent repeat might be avoided. Lopéz's defiance in recent days appears to have raised his profile as a figurehead of the resistance to President Nicolás Maduro.
The Harvard-educated politician has been accused of terrorism for encouraging the anti-government protests in several cities that saw fierce clashes between opposition demonstrators, police and colectivo militia groups loyal to the government.
Paris and I were to meet the next afternoon outside the Confeteria Ideal. I could spot him easily from afar, his long, lean body leaning against the grande marble entrance way of the venue. He was wearing slim cut jeans and a button down shirt that pinched perfectly along his shoulders, chest and biceps. He was a 6 foot, 3inch picture of rugged, athletic elegance.
A slow,... slightly shy, smile spread across his face as he saw me cross the street and walk towards him. ‘What a striking man.’ I thought to myself. ‘I don’t know if he has a boyfriend back in Paris, but if he does, that man is very lucky to have such a beautiful lover.’
Honey bees are facing an even greater risk: Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD), a little understood phenomenon in which worker bees from a colony abruptly disappear. Today, the disappearance of honey bees has transformed into a global epidemic, negatively affecting ecosystems in a multitude of environments. Since 2006, North American migratory beekeepers have seen an annual 30 percent to 90 percent loss in their colonies; non-migratory beekeepers noted an annual loss of over 50 percent. Similar losses were reported in Canada, as well as several countries in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America.
The drought that has swept central and south-east Brazil could entail a number of negative consequences for the country’s economy and also result in the growth of prices for agricultural products in the world market. The center and south-east of Brazil are the regions where most of exported coffee, corn, soya and citrus fruits are traditionally grown.
This year, unusually dry and hot weather set in here, there has been no rain since the end of last year. Combined with the scorching sunshine of a southern summer, these factors could lead to the death or low yield of most crops.
China’s recent test of a new ultra-high speed strike vehicle highlights growing concerns that Chinese military advances will overtake those of the United States in as few as five years, a senior Pentagon official told Congress Tuesday. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, told lawmakers that when it comes to "technological superiority, the Department of Defence is being challenged in ways that I have not seen for decades, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region."
Citing China's major investments in anti-ship missiles, stealth fighter jets, hypersonic vehicles and other hi-tech weaponry, Kendall said the United States could lose its dominant position if it failed to respond to the altered strategic landscape.
The Pentagon is investing some resources in two forms of hypersonic arms: a ballistic missile boost glide vehicle and a jet powered, atmospheric cruise missile, he said.
Scientists worldwide are creating bizarre human-animal hybrids that could wreak havoc on society. In the past ten years alone, unforgettable advances in the field of genetic modifications have left researchers and on-lookers stunned.
Nowadays, it is possible for a couple of university-age students to concoct new life forms in the comfort of their own basement. Regrettably so, laws have not been able to keep up with the pace at which scientists have been toying around with their creations.
In turn, the entities being created are not at all illegal but by all means could pose a risk to society by and large. There is no telling what may happen if these life forms are allowed to mate. Still, eagerness can be seen in the eyes and minds of scientists on a global level just waiting to unleash their next creation to the world, that all seemed liked fantasy just a short time ago.
The World Population Clock surpassed 7 billion in 2011, and mankind is on the roll. At the current birth rate the world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Yet feeding everyone remains a challenge. Mark Lynas, famous environmentalist and Visiting Fellow at Cornell University, and Nina Holland from the Corporate Europe Observatory
With at least a billion of people undernourished today, food production needs to double. But there are limits to the expansion of cropland as well as impacts on the environment if more land is cultivated…
Mark Lynas comments:
With the world’s population expected to reach 9 billion by the mid century, we don’t have much option rather than produce more food worldwide… probably 70-100 % more, according to the UN. So the question is how do you go about doing that.. If you cultivate twice as much land and that means catastrophic losses for the environment, because of losses of rain forests and other natural areas, so the only option environmentally is to increase productivity of the cultivated land. One of the ways you can do it, is improve crops so that their yields increase. And one of the ways you can do that is genetic modification.
We're willing to bet these folks don't want to pry into Folks, now that the 2014 Toronto municipal election season is well underway, you will begin to see efforts by my opponents, the media, rival candidates, and police detectives to draw attention to issues in my personal life that have absolutely no bearing on my public duties, which I execute with the greatest of integrity most weekdays between noon and 3pm. I implore you to stay focused on my political track record, and not be distracted by references to unethical, illegal or douchebaggy activities that I do on my own personal time. Just ignore these smears, which are a blatant attempt to score political points, sell books and newspapers, or close a major extortion case.
It's been an amazing journey so far, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. It's rare to be able to touch so many people's lives, and I try to remind myself to make the most of every day and have the biggest impact I can. People often ask if I always knew that Facebook would become what it is today. No way.
I remember getting pizza with my friends one night in college shortly after opening Facebook. I told them I was excited to help connect our school community, but one day someone needed to connect the whole world. I always thought this was important -- giving people the power to share and stay connected, empowering people to build their own communities themselves. When I reflect on the last 10 years, one question I ask myself is: why were we the ones to build this? We were just students. We had way fewer resources than big companies. If they had focused on this problem, they could have done it. The only answer I can think of is: we just cared more.
Every reader of this article needs to understand that, where it concerns the outright destruction of the human habitat, geo-engineering reigns supreme in it’s potential to render the planet unfit for life … all life — human, animal, and plant. Geo-engineering has so many different facets to it, each of which are extraordinarily harmful to all levels of the Earth’s atmosphere, the entire surface environment, as well as the subterranean geology and oceans of the world.