For the Global Thinker

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1491: The Americas Before Columbus

An Incredibly good read!
Here's a summary...
Before Columbus, Dobyns calculated, the Western Hemisphere held ninety to 112 million people (Ten times earlier estimates). Another way of saying this is that in 1491 more people lived in the Americas than in Europe.
Mann and other anthropologists also point out that the Indians were not roving bands of hunter-gatherers, but incredibly adept farmers instead. “Every tomato in Italy, every potato in Ireland, and every hot pepper in Thailand came from this hemisphere. Worldwide, more than half the crops grown today were initially developed in the Americas. Maize, as corn is called in the rest of the world, was a triumph with global implications.
So what happened to all these Indians?
Almost all scholars now agree that disease had decimated the Indian population. To give you an example, in 1539 the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto ventured into an area around the present-day Texas-Arkansas border. There lived the Caddoan-speaking population.
The Caddoan population fell from about 200,000 to about 8,500—a drop of nearly 96 percent. In the eighteenth century the tally shrank further, to 1,400. An equivalent loss today in the population of New York City would reduce it to 56,000—not enough to fill Yankee Stadium. "That's one reason whites think of Indians as nomadic hunters," says Russell Thornton, an anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles. "Everything else—all the heavily populated urbanized societies—was wiped out." Lacking immunity, the Indians died by the millions, reducing their numbers to a tenth of their previous population by 1800, in the greatest demographic catastrophe in global history.

Read more here...


Here's a website for the book 1491 Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus:

Here's a link to a good map of Native language groups in North America as well...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Runaway General

Gen. McChrystal Summoned To White House After Candid Rolling Stone Interview

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan has been summoned to Washington to explain a magazine profile that includes highly critical remarks by him and his staff about top Obama administration officials involved in Afghanistan policy.
Read full article here...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi: The Unseen Photos

A Tragic Love Story...

Aung San Suu Kyi was born on 19 June 1945 in Yangon.[10] Her name is derived from three relatives; "Aung San" from her father, "Kyi" from her mother and "Suu" from her grandmother.[11] Her father, Aung San, founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma's independence from the United Kingdom in 1947; he was assassinated by his rivals in the same year. She grew up with her mother, Khin Kyi, and two brothers, Aung San Lin and Aung San Oo in Rangoon. Her favourite brother Aung San Lin died at age eight, when he drowned in an ornamental lake in the grounds of the house.[11] Her elder brother emigrated to San Diego, California, becoming a United States citizen.[11] After Lin's death, the family moved to a house by Inya Lake where she met people of very different backgrounds, political views and religions.[12] Suu Kyi was educated in Methodist English High School (Now known as Basic Education High School No.1 Dagon[13]) for much of her childhood in Burma where she was noted as having a talent for learning languages.[14] She is a Theravada Buddhist.

Suu Kyi's mother, Khin Kyi, gained prominence as a political figure in the newly formed Burmese government. She was appointed Burmese ambassador to India and Nepal in 1960, and Aung San Suu Kyi followed her there, graduating from Lady Shri Ram College with a degree in politics in New Delhi in 1964.[15][16] Suu Kyi continued her education at St Hugh's College, Oxford, obtaining a B.A. degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in 1969. After graduating, she lived in New York City with a family friend and worked at the United Nations for three years, primarily on budget matters, writing daily to her future husband Dr. Michael Aris.[17] In 1972, Aung San Suu Kyi married Aris, a scholar of Tibetan culture, living abroad in Bhutan.[15] The following year she gave birth to their first son, Alexander Aris, in London; their second son, Kim, was born in 1977. Following this, she earned a Ph.D. at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 1985. She was elected an Honorary Fellow in 1990.[15] For two years she was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) in Shimla, India. She also worked for the government of the Union of Burma.

In 1988 Suu Kyi returned to Burma at first to tend for her ailing mother but later to lead the pro-democracy movement. Aris’s visit in Christmas 1995 turned out to be the last time that he and Suu Kyi met, as Suu Kyi remained in Burma and the Burmese dictatorship denied him any further entry visas.[15] Aris was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 which was later found to be terminal. Despite appeals from prominent figures and organizations, including the United States, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Pope John Paul II, the Burmese government would not grant Aris a visa, saying that they did not have the facilities to care for him, and instead urged Aung San Suu Kyi to leave the country to visit him. She was at that time temporarily free from house arrest but was unwilling to depart, fearing that she would be refused re-entry if she left, as she did not trust the junta's assurance that she could return.[18]

Aris died on his 53rd birthday on 27 March 1999. Since 1989, when his wife was first placed under house arrest, he had seen her only five times, the last of which was for Christmas in 1995. She also remains separated from her children, who live in the United Kingdom.[19]

On 2 May 2008, after Cyclone Nargis hit Burma, Suu Kyi lost her roof and was living in virtual darkness after losing electricity in her dilapidated lakeside residence. She used candles at night as she was not provided any generator set.[20] Plans to renovate and repair the house were announced in August 2009.

See More photos here...


Monday, June 14, 2010

US discovers $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan

A thriving opium industry, a natural gas pipeline and trillions in untapped mineral resources; all of the sudden the stakes in Afghanistan are considerably higher just fighting the war on terrorism or in the Taleban's view fighting for the return to their homeland. Here are four stories that better explain the situation...

1. Afghanistan has up to $1trillion (£690bn) worth of untapped mineral resources which could revolutionise the country's economy and perhaps even the war, American officials have said.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe. The NY Times added that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of Lithium."



Not to be outdone, the Taleban also have their mines as well...

2. Taleban tap into SWAT's Emeralds

The mines, which produce emeralds of international quality, were previously controlled by the Pakistani government.

They were taken over by the Taleban four months ago following a ceasefire between militants and the government.

When fully operational, they yielded a quarter of a million carats of emeralds between 1978 and 1988, according to official statistics.

The last official estimate put the projected yield at about 13.2m carats.



3. Asia's new 'great game' is all about pipelines

Pipelines are important today in the same way that railway building was important in the 19th century. They connect trading partners and influence the regional balance of power.

Both Georgia and Afghanistan are seen as energy bridges – transit routes for the export of land-locked hydrocarbons.

Washington has long promoted a gas pipeline south from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. It would pass through Kandahar.

Realistic or not, construction is planned to start in 2010, and Canadian Forces are committed until December 2011. Richard Boucher, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, said last year: "One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan," and to link South and Central Asia "so that energy can flow to the south."

Recently, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a Halifax talk show that Canadian troops were not in Afghanistan "specifically" to guard a pipeline, but "if the Taliban are attacking certain projects, then yes we will play a

Unwittingly or willingly, Canadian forces are supporting American goals



But can the West hold on to it?

4. Afghan president 'has lost faith in US ability to defeat Taliban'

Afghanistan's former head of intelligence says President Hamid Karzai is increasingly looking to Pakistan to end insurgency

Amrullah Saleh, who resigned last weekend, believes the president lost confidence some time ago in the ability of Nato forces to defeat the Taliban.

Read more:


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Will the Real Avatar Please Stand Up

By Woody Allen
suppose gods in human form may well have dropped in on this blue marble from time to time, but I strongly doubt that one has ever tooled around Rodeo Drive in a T-bird with the aplomb and good looks of Warren Beatty. Reading “Star,” the new biography by Peter Biskind, one can’t help but be blown away by the actor’s overwhelming accomplishments. Think of the movies, the grosses, the reviews, the Oscars, the endless nominations springing from this quadruple-threat voracious reader and marketing maven, who is nimble at the Steinway, savvy in the ways of politics, and a full-time Adonis, with accolades accruing from divers ones who believe he belongs not just up on the silver screen but in the Oval Office. More spectacular than a Tinseltown résumé that would humble Orson Welles are the star’s legendary exploits on the bedsprings. Here recounted are innumerable love affairs, with women of every heft and feel and station in life, from actresses to models, hatcheck girls to First Ladies. It seems that endless varieties of pulchritude salivated to plunge into the kip with this virtuoso of the percales. “How many women were there?” asks the author. “Easier to count the stars in the sky. . . .

Also a decent read...

Pandora’s Briefcase

It was a dazzling feat of wartime espionage. But does it argue for or against spying?

On April 30, 1943, a fisherman came across a badly decomposed corpse floating in the water off the coast of Huelva, in southwestern Spain. The body was of an adult male dressed in a trenchcoat, a uniform, and boots, with a black attaché case chained to his waist. His wallet identified him as Major William Martin, of the Royal Marines....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stone Forests of Madagascar

Stunning Photos of the Stone forests of Madagascar...


Article from National Geographic....

On an island famous for its biodiversity (90 percent of the species here are endemic, found nowhere else on Earth), the 600-square-mile protected area is an island unto itself, a kind of biofortress, rugged, largely unexplored, and made nearly impenetrable by the massive limestone formation—the tsingy—running through it.
The great block of Jurassic stone has dissolved into a labyrinth of knife-edged towers, slot canyons, and wet caves that ward off humans while harboring other animals and plants. New species are frequently described from the isolated habitats within—a previously unknown coffee plant in 1996, a minuscule lemur in 2000, a bat in 2005, a frog two years later. Even larger animals have been found relatively recently, including a long-legged lemur discovered in 1990 but named, somewhat whimsically, only in 2005 after British comedian and conservation advocate John Cleese.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BP Denies Existence of Oil Plumes

I think BP's denial of these oil plumes is sick; however, you can judge for yourself...
Video of the spill and BP's Denial of plumes:



Give the image makers at BP credit for knowing how to stick to a story. If you had (a) been spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of up to 25,000 bbls. per day since April 20, and (b) been spraying dispersants on it to keep much of it from floating to the surface, you'd find it hard to say "who me?" if scientists began finding huge plumes of oil drifting in underwater currents.

But that's been BP's position. Not only has the oil giant not been willing to take the blame for the toxic clouds below the waves, it's denied they even exist. Today, however, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that they had found the smoking gun that most everyone else believed was there in the first place.

Read more:

Photo Essay, "Victims of the BP Oil Spill"

US Sets Deadline over BP Oil Spill...

Experts Double Estimated Rate of Spill in Gulf

A government panel on Thursday essentially doubled its estimate of how much oil has been spewing from the out-of-control BP well, with the new calculation suggesting that an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days.


Monday, June 7, 2010

The Edge of Empire and other stories...

Four artists take a different look at the contemporary world we now live in...here's an excerpt from Weld by Tom Walker...

In 2008, after more than a decade in New York City, I moved to Windsor, Colorado, my wife's hometown. The move from densely populated Queens to a small but booming bedroom community I'd visited only on holidays was jarring. New York had been the dream of my younger self. Windsor was in the throes of massive growth, expanding three times its size in a decade to nearly twenty thousand people. Like so many, I was trading in a personal dream to make something better for my family of three with one on the way.

After a year, I found myself out of work. While searching for a new job and simultaneously wrestling with the idea of chucking it all to take up photography full-time, I began making eastward car trips into Weld County. For hours at a time I drove past farmlands, feed lots, isolated housing developments and through the withering farm towns of Greeley, Eaton, Ault and Severance. Though a Colorado native, I was born an eight-hour drive away in the desert mountains of the Southwest. This was unfamiliar land. Pointing a camera at the flat Colorado grasslands was a way to accommodate myself to a new and unfamiliar home.

Click on the photo to look at each artist's work, enjoy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

CIA report: Israel will fall in 20 years

I read this article with some skepticism; however, after the latest Gaza flotilla incident it's clear that Israel is losing a lot of allies fast. Anyway, here is the first article....

A study conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has cast doubt over Israel's survival beyond the next 20 years.

The CIA report predicts "an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on...

Read more at:


And here is the second article...very interesting...

Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range

Exclusive: Nine Turkish men on board Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times, autopsy results reveal....

The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back...

Read more at:


More video of the Gaza Flotilla assault....