Archive | November 13, 2013

Afghanistan Opium Crops at All-Time High Despite Western Intervention

indexThe opium trade is alive and well in Afghanistan, despite the efforts of Western nations to control it – At least according to NPR. I’m not especially convinced that the United States is doing much to control opium, and I don’t think it wants to.

Via NPR:

The amount of land under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is at a record high, released Wednesday.

Opium production in 2013, meanwhile, rose 49 percent over 2012, according to the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey. The country is the world’s No. 1 poppy producer.

The report’s findings come as Western troops prepare to leave Afghanistan in 2014 more than a decade after they deposed the Taliban and attempted to bring stability to the country.

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Football Fan Loses House Betting On Team; Other Bettor Staked Car Plus Wife

Robin Van PersieWe all know that supporters of sports teams can be fanatical in their devotion. While the Ugandan man who bet his house on an Arsenal win probably took his support several steps too far, his counterpart in the bet is even more insane: in addition to staking his car on a Manchester United win, he threw in his wife. No mention of whether or not the Man U fan had a couple more wives in reserve, as did the Arsenal fan. The Daily Mirror reports:

An Arsenal fan has lost his HOUSE after betting that the Gunners would beat Manchester United at the weekend.

Henry Dhabasani, who has three wives and five children, made a bet with friend Rashid Yiga that Arsenal would beat the Premier League champions.

The price of the wager? Dhabasani put his family home on the line, while Yiga staked his Toyota Premio car, plus his WIFE.

The wager was put in writing by the pair and was reportedly witnessed by community leaders in the town of Iganga in eastern Ugandan.

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The Future of Booze May Be Here

The future of boozeMan, I have been saying this since I was a teenager and it’s become even more glaring as technology advances. So, you can make it so I can access the internet on my goddamn phone but you can’t make something that mimics the socially liberating effects of alcohol without making me hungover or fat? Well, apparently this potentiality I’ve been talking about since I was roughly 14 is now right around the corner. Particularly pertinent in my world, as I’ve had to abandon my hard drinking lifestyle in the last few years because it became obvious my body couldn’t handle it any more. I’ve been bored ever since. What’s also fascinating about this is that it’s being championed by the dude who got fired by the British government for pointing out that alcohol and cigarettes are more dangerous than most illegal drugs:

“I’ve done the prototype experiments myself,” he said. “I’ve been inebriated and then it’s been reversed by the antagonist.… Read the rest

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Expert Says We Should Shame the Obese Into Losing Weight

Pic: Fj.toloza992 (CC)

Pic: Fj.toloza992 (CC)

Hastings Center Professor Emeritus Daniel Callahan thinks that shaming obese people might be a good strategy for conquering America’s weight problem.

Via Addicting Info:

Daniel Callahan thinks that we ought to fat shame overweight people so that they will lose weight faster. He’s not at all happy with the lack of progress in the effort to slow America’s obesity epidemic. With 69.2% of adults overweight and obese and 12.1% of children 2-5 who are, it’s something we need to work on, for sure. But those kids who are 6-19 and overweight/obese do not need to have schools condone fat shaming. It’s hard enough to lose weight as a teen — ask me how I know — we do not need to add further stigmatization.

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Police: Spy Probably Zipped and Padlocked Himself Into the Duffel Bag His Body Was Found In

Picture: PD

Picture: PD

Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

Via Newser

The MI6 spy whose naked body was found inside a zipped, padlocked gym bag probably died … by accident, UK police have decided. The coroner said last year Gareth Williams was probably killed by someone else in a criminal act, but now the Metropolitan Police have completed an evidence review and say it’s “more probable” no one else was in his apartment when he died in his bathroom in 2010, the BBC reports. The deputy assistant commissioner said today it’s “theoretically possible” Williams locked himself into the bag.

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The Rise of Big Chocolate

“The Rise of Big Chocolate” certainly sounds like a lascivious porno movie, but if there is any movie that comes to mind in this article, it’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a wonderful and memorable family movie with catchy songs coating a rather bitter and dark enterprise involving vulture legal contracts, unsafe working conditions (why, oh why, is there never a barrier around the chocolate river?), worker exploitation, and even corporate espionage (remember Slugsworth), a movie that unfortunately mirrors the present due to monopolization of confectionery companies by Cargill and Barry Callebaut.

VIA Foreign Policy

Small and mid-size confectioners have traditionally been able to request specific blends and recipe mixtures from cocoa processors. But as the number of sellers has thinned, chocolatiers struggle to procure these specialties. “When it comes to Belgian chocolate, there is not that much variety anymore,” says Van Riet. He explains that his customers “are very nervous” as the consolidation in the industry continues.

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Altered Smartphone Advertising In San Francisco

dronesSF Weekly notes the latest work of the California Department of Corrections, who suitably update street-level advertising to better inform the public:

Muni bus shelters are supplying a blank canvas for the California Department of Corrections, a media organization that distorts other people’s ad campaigns in order to reverse their message.

This month, the CDC decided to confront America’s drone policy by adulterating a series of smartphone ads on Muni bus shelters, including the one at Seventh and Market streets.

The new ads show a cellphone picture of predator drone strike, with the word “Pakistan” swapped in for the phone logo.

“As these operations are shrouded in secrecy, the California Department of Corrections released the rehabilitated smartphone ads to assist our colleagues in the federal government and explain the benefits of drones to war-weary Americans,” the organization explains, in a statement.

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Occupy Wall Street Eliminates $15 million of Debt

Since the protest started in Zucotti Park in New York City near the financial district, the Occupy Wall Street movement has done a lot to raise awareness of the iniquities and corruption in the American political and economic system, whilst receiving biased mass-media editorializing and suffering undue violence from the local police. Since November 15, 2012, the Occupy movement started a program of debt-relief called “Rolling Jubilee,” which seeks to bailout individuals who have accrued debt through credit cards as well as medical bills. To date they have relieved millions of dollars in debt for just pennies on the dollar.

VIA Guardian

A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans’ personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit.

Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy’s Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012.

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Why We Should Socialize Social Media

internetVia n+1, Benjamin Kunkle argues that social media mega-sites need to be turned into public utilities so as to save us all:

On November 6, Twitter went public, in the private sense. Twitter shares appear ludicrously overpriced. As John Cassidy of the New Yorker calculated, “Investors were paying forty-nine dollars per dollar of revenues, and five hundred and forty-one dollars per dollar of cash flow.” But large for-profit social-media services are contradictory entities at any price, because they attempt to profit from activity that, precisely because it is social, is basically non-economic and non-productive.

The IPOs of Facebook and Twitter should therefore be reversed, through the socialization of both companies and other social-media services that attain a similar scale. The time has come, in other words, to socialize social media.

Social media should be socialized because services tend to be or become monopolies.
Large social media companies—Facebook, Twitter—tend to lack competitors, for the simple reason that their platforms are not compatible.

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WikiLeaks Releases Full Text Of Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

P-4 Countries 162EThe perceived ills of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) has been well documented here at disinformation, but until now the text has not been publicly available. WikiLeaks has rectified that:

Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states.

The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU pact TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013.

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