South America

Photo of the Day

Attending class in Jonestown

Attending class in Jonestown

Escape from Jonestown

15-year-old Tommy Bogue was sent to a promising new church settlement in Guyana?run by a charismatic leader named Jim Jones

Few can share the stories of Jonestown, but Thom Bogue can. He is a survivor who became a small business owner and a Dixon city council member. ?When life is in its down moments, it can never go down as far as it has it has ever been for me,? said Thom.

Thom?s family were loyal disciples of Rev. Jim Jones, and Thom he was living in Jonestown.

But, after three years his family was ready to leave. And when a congressman and his aides showed up, they saw a way out.

?At that point I was scared. We were all scared when we were actually leaving because it was too easy. It was too easy,? said Thom.

When they got on a private plane, gunmen showed up and started shooting.

?It?s obvious. It?s either close the airplane door or die,? he said.

Thom and his sister were both shot and ran into the jungle where they hid for three days and two nights until locals helped them to safety and reunited them with their parents. That?s when they learned that more than 900 people in Jonestown had committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. It was all orchestrated by the man who believed he was God.

?If you find yourself in that situation run and don?t ever look back,? said Thom.

The journey up the coast was choppy, the boat too far out to get a good look at the shore. While the other passengers spread out in sleeping bags over the deck, 15-year-old Tommy Bogue gripped the railing, determined not to miss a beat of this adventure.

This was his first sea journey. His first trip outside the United States. His first sighting of jungle. Guyana: the very name was exotic. He?d never heard of it before his church established a mission there. As the shore blurred by, vague and mysterious, he imagined the creatures that roamed beyond it. Many of the world?s largest animals lived there: the giant anteater, the giant sea otter, the giant armadillo, the 20-foot green anaconda. He?d read and re-read the Guyana entry in the?Encyclopedia Britannica?until he could spout off trivia to anyone who paid attention to what the skinny, mop-haired teen had to say. Now, as the trawler chopped through dark waves, he ticked off this book knowledge to himself. He knew a few things about the strangeness surrounding him, and those few things comforted him.

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Photo Of The Day

in water

The Girl From Ipanema

Hel? Pinheiro would walk past the Veloso bar on the beachfront of Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, every day. She was “tall and tanned and young and lovely” ? and she was regaled by the men who drank there.

Summer 1962. Rio de Janeiro. At the Veloso Bar, a block from the beach at Ipanema, two friends?the composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and the poet Vin?cius de Moraes?are drinking Brahma beer and musing about their latest song collaboration.

The duo favour the place for the good brew and the even better girl-watching opportunities. Though both are married men, they?re not above a little ogling. Especially when it comes to a neighborhood girl nicknamed Hel?. Seventeen-year-old Hel?isa Eneida Menezes Pais Pinto is a Carioca?a native of Rio. She?s tall and tan, with emerald green eyes and long, dark wavy hair. They?ve seen her passing by, as she?s heading to the beach or coming home from school. She has a way of walking that de Moraes calls ?sheer poetry.?

“When they saw me, they would whistle and shout out, ‘Hey beautiful girl! Come over here,'” says Hel?, the girl from Ipanema who inspired the song of the same name. “I did not know who they were until years later.” The barflies she ignored were the composer Tom Jobim and the poet Vin?cius de Moraes, who turned desire and frustration into a track that is now second only to the Beatles’ Yesterday, as the most recorded song in the world, a sultry hymn to unrequited lust that launched the bossa nova rhythm across the world.

And everyone was asking: “Who’s that girl?” When the composers revealed their inspiration, Hel?, as she is known in Brazil, was astonished. “I told them, ‘I don’t believe you. You?are crazy. There are so many beautiful women here.’ But it was me. The song says tall. I am tall. And tanned ? I had brown skin from the sun. And young ? I was at this time. And I didn’t see them. It was true.”

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Amazing! Argentina manages to sink something other than their own ships

The Argentinians have achieved something notable, other than challenging France for the world champion of marching backwards title: they’ve managed to sink a ship other than their own.

Argentina’s coast guard says it sank a Chinese fishing vessel that was fishing in a restricted area off the South American country’s coast.

The Argentine Naval Prefecture chased and eventually sank the andvessel after detecting it illegally fishing within the country’s exclusive economic zone, officials said Tuesday.

First, according to a statement from the coast guard, warning shots were fired. The Chinese vessel, Argentine authorities said, responded by turning off its lights and deliberately trying to crash.

“On distinct occasions, the offending boat realized maneuvers aimed at colliding with the coast guard, putting not only its own crew at risk, but also the personnel of the coast guard,” the statement said.

That’s why the coast guard opened fire, Argentine officials said. ? Read more »

Is Dairy Rooted?

The boom in the New Zealand economy has been led by massive dairy intensification. It is also the driver behind silly socialist projects like the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme where townie councillors have bought into government and Federated Farmers spin about the future being dairy and they are promoting economic models based on boom years that are unsustainable in bust years. Even so the proposals can’t work without massive subsidies or government grants even in boom years.

Yet no one has really stopped to question what the real long-term price of milk solids is, and if it is a sustainable long-term path to prosperity for New Zealand.

After last years boom prices there was not much consideration to what was going on world-wide, especially with the Chinese Market.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, their business editor wrote a good article comparing dairy in New Zealand to iron ore in Australia. I slammed it at the time, but have had a bit more of a think about it, plus some additional research over the?holiday?break.

Uppity Kiwis feeling boastful about their dollar approaching parity with the mighty Aussie might do well to stick to rugby for their kicks. Their China-driven boom is coming to an end as quickly as Australia’s. And they have less to fall back on when it does.

Meanwhile, reports of Gina Rinehart going long on dairy farms could prove as reliable a warning as many another billionaire diversifying outside his or her area of expertise.

The New Zealand economy’s resurgence has owed much to China’s demand for milk products and getting in early for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the Middle Kingdom.

Trouble is, China has been busily investing and encouraging others to invest in increased and globally diversified milking. Just as iron ore miners have ramped up production both from existing provinces and new projects from Africa to Mongolia, New Zealand’s farmers are facing increased competition from South America to Russia and all points in between, including Australia.

[…] ?? Read more »

Face of the day


Phillip Smith

Phillip Smith is likely to have had outside help in planning his escape to Chile while on temporary release, police say.

He may also have been planning his escape for years, authorities say.

Smith left by plane for Chile on a passport previously obtained in his birth name, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 6, the day he was temporarily released from Springhill Prison.

The passport was valid, and therefore there was no reason to stop him at the border.


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Map of the Day


Indigenous and colonial domains in South America

Whales in the desert

Here is the obligatory Whale post. It appears us Whales are everywhere:

More than 2 million years ago, scores of whales congregating off the Pacific Coast of South America mysteriously met their end.

Maybe they became disoriented and beached themselves. Maybe they were trapped in a lagoon by a landslide or a storm. Maybe they died there over a period of a few millennia. But somehow, they ended up right next to one another, many just metres apart, entombed as the shallow sea floor was driven upward by geological forces and transformed into the driest place on the planet.

Today, they have emerged again atop a desert hill more than a kilometre from the surf, where researchers have begun to unearth one of the world’s best-preserved graveyards of prehistoric whales.

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Looks like the Argies are shaping for a slapping again

The last time the Argies got all septic over the Falkland Islands they got a shellacking they shouldn’t have forgotten. It seems they are slow learners with the President declaring?the Royal Navy as pirates and accused the British government of behaving like an imperial power with regard to the Falkland Islands.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner used Twitter, the micro-blogging website, to sharply criticise plans by the Ministry of Defence to carry out military tests in the region. In a series of frank postings on her official Twitter account, she announced that Argentina had complained to the United Nations about Britain’s “militarisation of the South Atlantic”.

“Typical nineteenth century colonialism. Anachronistic use of force in violation of international law. They do not care. A clear example of double standards.”

Mrs Kirchner then promised to summon the British ambassador, Shan Morgan, and said: “Conclusion … pirates for ever?”

Her postings were erased, but not before they had been re-posted by hundreds of other Twitter users, many of them Argentines who enthusiastically endorsed the remarks.

The Twitter posts threaten to increase tension between the two countries at a time when British companies are beginning to explore for oil and gas in the region. Last week, in what is thought to have been the first incident of its kind in four years, an Argentine military ship confronted a trawler from the Falklands and accused it of fishing illegally. The Argentine crew contacted the fishermen, who were several miles inside Falklands waters, and demanded their details. The boat, from Port Stanley, eventually moved away.

Uhmmm…the last time Argentina tried to send a ship to take on the Royal Navy, the General Belgrano crew members got a ride home via a British Submarine.

Mrs Kirchner has previously pledged an “eternal fight” to claim the Falklands Islands, which are known to Argentines as Las Malvinas. However she later ruled out the use of force to take the islands, which were briefly under the control of the then-ruling Argentine military junta in 1982. Britain sent a naval force and thousands of troops to reclaim the islands and there is a permanent British military presence on the islands, with 1,076 troops and four ships stationed in the region.

Recent tests indicated that there could be about 700 million barrels worth of crude oil under the ocean around the Falklands, which could be worth about ?3 billion.

An official statement later released by Mrs Kirchner’s office said: “The Argentine Government reiterates that the Malvinas, Georgias and South Sandwich Islands, part of the Argentine Republic and unlawfully occupied by the United Kingdom, are in dispute, which is recognised by the United Nations and other international organisations.”

They must have rebuilt their army, air force and navy after the last outing in roder to appear so bellicose again. Saber rattling isn’t that funny especially when you are doing it against a country that has battle hardened troops still at war, and Argentinas troops hardest mission since 1982 has been pounding the pavement at the barracks.

Combating Spin – Owning Land in China

The fortress new Zealand nut-bars use the pathetic excuse for their xenophobia of blocking land sells to Chinese owned companies or individuals by saying that we, meaning us Kiwi’s, can’t buy farms in China. This is of course arrant nonsense because it isn’t true in any way shape or form. We saw Federated Farmers on The Nation on Saturday wanting the money but not the buyers, essentially saying that if the eyes were slanted they weren’t interested.

For a start, they explain we can’t buy land in China because all land is owned by the government. If that statement is true then neither can the Chinese own land, they are in effective tenants on their own land which is “owned” by the state through the power of the gun since 1949.

In fact a quick Google search confirms that even Chinese farmers can’t own the land they farm. It is vested in teh State, which we know is ruled by the Communist Party at the point of a gun.

The fact is that despite the country?s unrelenting march towards a market economy, government ownership of the land is such an elemental part of China?s socialist character that the framers were unable to alter the fact and ministries are ignoring the law. In an indication of how controversial the law is, Premier Wen Jiabao did not even mention it in his two-hour opening speech to the 17th Party Congress in October.

Even though Beijing remains deeply concerned about rural poverty and unrest, the government ignored the plight of land-insecure farmers at the behest of the old guard, who have lost dialectical battle after battle since Deng Xiaoping took power in 1978 and set China on its course towards a market economy. For them, private ownership of property would have been the last betrayal of the Maoist revolution. Hundreds of scholars and retired officials signed a petition against the law.

This means the rules are the same for a Chinese citizen as for a New Zealand citizen, or Chinese company vs. a New Zelaand company on owning and farming land in China. You can’t own the land but there is nothing stoppping you from farming there.

This of course is the inconvenient truth that Fortress New Zealanders will not face. These are the same people who no doubt buy shares in Carter Holt Harvey and Fletchers and in the case of Federated Farmers, own shares in Fonterra, all companies that buy and operate land and businesses in other countries.

The simple fact is that we can’t erect walls and stop foreigners, especially yellow ones, coming to New Zealand when our own companies and individuals go around the world buying and building land and companies. The argument that we can’t own land in China is facetious. We have Kordia investing in infrastructure in Burma, where a military junta reigns, we have Fong-terra with substantial business holdings in China anyway, forests in South America and on and on and on.

There are 10,537 shareholders of Fonterra and people are getting their knickers all knotted up about just 1 of those shareholders. Michael Cullen sold Wellington’s power grid to the Chinese with nary a squeak, arguably far more important than a few poorly run farms int he North island.