Saturday, 12 April 2008

Thurday, 10th April 2008



Energy, growth and food shortages

Most people in the world's wealthiest countries take food for granted. Even the poorest fifth of households in the United States spend only 16 percent of their budget on food. In many other countries, it is less of a given. Nigerian families spend 73 percent of their budgets to eat, Vietnamese 65 percent, Indonesians half. They are in trouble.
Last year, the food import bill of developing countries rose by 25 percent as food prices rose to levels not seen in a generation. Corn doubled in price over the last two years. Wheat reached its highest price in 28 years. The increases are already sparking unrest from Haiti to Egypt. Many countries have imposed price controls on food or taxes on agricultural exports.
Last week, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, warned that 33 nations are at risk of social unrest because of the rising price of food. "For countries where food comprises from half to three quarters of consumption, there is no margin for survival," he said.
Prices are unlikely to drop soon. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says world cereal stocks this year will be the lowest since 1982.
The United States and other developed countries need to step up to the plate. The rise in food prices is partly because of forces beyond their control - including rising energy costs and the growth of the middle class in China and India. This has increased demand for animal protein, which requires large amounts of grain,

But the rich world is exacerbating these effects by supporting the production of biofuels. The International Monetary Fund estimates that corn ethanol production in the United States accounted for at least half the rise in world corn demand in each of the past three years.
This elevated corn prices. Feed prices rose. So did prices of other crops - mainly soybeans - as farmers switched their fields to corn, according to the Agriculture Department.
Washington provides a subsidy of 51 cents a gallon to ethanol blenders and slaps a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on imports. In the European Union, most countries exempt biofuels from some gas taxes and slap an average tariff equal to more than 70 cents per gallon of imported ethanol. There are several reasons to put an end to these interventions. At best, corn ethanol delivers only a small reduction in greenhouse gases compared with gasoline. And it could make things far worse if it leads to more farming in forests and grasslands. Rising food prices provide an urgent argument to nix ethanol's supports.
Over the long term, agricultural productivity must increase in the developing world. Zoellick suggested rich countries could help finance a "green revolution" to increase farm productivity and raise crops yields in Africa. But the rise in food prices calls for developed nations to provide more immediate assistance. Last month, the World Food Program said rising grain costs blew a hole of more than $500 million in its budget for helping millions of victims of hunger around the world.
Industrial nations are not generous, unfortunately. Overseas aid by rich countries fell 8.4 percent last year. Developed nations would have to increase their aid budgets by 35 percent over the next three years just to meet the commitments they made in 2005.
They must not let this target slip. Continued growth of the middle class in China and India, the push for renewable fuels and anticipated damage to agricultural production caused by global warming mean that food prices are likely to stay high. Millions of people could need aid to avoid malnutrition.
Rich countries' energy policies helped create the problem. They should help solve it.



Cameroon's descent

Leaving Yaoundé, Cameroon's capital, after a recent business trip, my colleagues and I settled into our airliner's seats and breathed a sigh of relief. We had planned a retreat for emerging African leaders to devise practical ways to produce change within their individual countries and institutions. We had selected Yaoundé as the meeting place because of Cameroon's presumed political stability, relatively reliable infrastructure and easy access.
But within days of our arrival in my country, riots and protests ignited by the rising costs of fuel and food resulted in a nationwide lockdown.

During our trip, I found the presence of armed security forces across the capital's hilly landscapes frighteningly reminiscent of the atmosphere in Rwanda and Burundi in the mid-1990s. Thousands of ordinary citizens suspected of participating in the protests were arbitrarily rounded up and detained, subjected to summary trials and harsh sentences, some for up to six years in prison. Witnesses reported that many people in custody were beaten, tortured and abused. There were also reports of dead bodies floating on the Wouri River in Douala, the country's economic capital, although it is unclear how many people died.

Even more disturbing is the inflammatory and divisive rhetoric by some high-level government officials seeking to incite hatred and manipulate ethnic differences. In a country with over 125 different ethnic groups, this is a sinister game that could trigger inter-community conflict.


Climate change is now one of the World Bank's top concerns because of its expected impact on health and economic grwoth in developing countries, the bank's top environmental economist said. Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are where global warming's damage will disproportionately be felt, and that makes it a crucial issue for the World Bank and other financial institutions aiming to foster development, said Kirk Hamilton, co-author of the Global Monitoring Report.

The environmental damage is already happening in the world's poorest's places and is likely to be exacerbated as the planet warms, the report said.

(Source: Reuters IHT April 11, 2008)



The world's resource companies could be lining up to rebuild Zimbabwe's once mighty gold mines and metal refineries if President Robert Mugabe's government falls.
"It is often painted as a treasure trove for miners, and with solid reason," said Anne Fruehauf, analyst for southern and east Africa at a consulting company, Control Risks. The southern Africa country, once a big producer of minerals, is hardly undiscovered ground for the world's miners.



When an airplane carrying Lukoil workers crashed in the far north of this Arctic region three years ago, killing 29 of 52 people on board, many blamed the weather.
When, one year later, in March 2006, a helicopter carrying victims' relatives to a commemoration ceremony at the crash site also fell, killing another person, the indigenous people thought something else was at play. The land, they said, was cursed.
One of the newest oil-producing regions in Russia, the Nenets autonomous district is home to lucrative projects for Lukoil and Rosneft. It is also home to a population of 7,000 indigenous Nenets whose livelihood and semi-nomadic way of life are being increasingly threatened by the growing oil industry.
"They defied the energy of the land," said Kolya, a Nenets shaman who at 39 looks at least 20 years older, speaking of the crashes. Squatting in his tent, called a choom, 5 kilometers, or 3 miles, from Naryan-Mar in the snow-covered tundra one recent evening, he spoke slowly.
"The earth started to sink and all the souls started to rise," he said.

Yet von Gartzen was not content. Consulting archives and with the help of the staff of the Jägerblatt, a magazine for Luftwaffe veterans, he tracked down veterans who had flown in von Bentheim's unit, the Jagdgruppe 200. He contacted hundreds of former pilots, most now in their 80s; hundreds more had already died.
Then in July 2006, he telephoned a former pilot in Wiesbaden, Germany, Horst Rippert, explaining that he sought information about Saint-Exupéry.
Without hesitating, Rippert replied: "You can stop searching. I shot down Saint-Exupéry."
Rippert, who will be 86 in May, worked as a television sports reporter after the war. It was only days after he had shot down a P-38 with French colors near Marseille that he learned of Saint-Exupéry's disappearance.
He was convinced he had shot him down, though he confided his conviction only to a diary. In 2003, when he learned that Saint-Exupéry's plane had been found, his suspicion was confirmed. But still he said nothing publicly.
Over the years, the thought that he may have killed Saint-Exupéry had troubled Rippert. As a youth in the 1930s, he had idolized the aviator-turned-author and had devoured his books, beginning with "Southern Mail," in 1929, an adventure tale written while Saint-Exupéry was flying the Casablanca-to-Dakar route.
When Rippert's identity was finally made public in March, the storm of interview requests and efforts to contact him was such that he withdrew from sight.
"The last days have been terrible, with phone calls and doorbells ringing all hours of the day and night," said his wife, by telephone, before hanging up.

Evidence to support Rippert's claim is lacking because documents, like flight logs, were destroyed in the war. But Rippert described in detail to von Gartzen how in the summer of 1944 German radar had alerted his fighter squadron at Marignane, near Marseille, to a group of allied reconnaissance planes over the Mediterranean. Rippert, then 22, found a P-38 with French colors and shot it down.
He described the odd, evasive loops flown by Saint-Exupéry, who at the time was 44, overweight and in pain from fractures sustained in numerous flying accidents. Several days later, when German radio intercepted American reports of a search for Saint-Exupéry, he suspected he may have shot down his idol.
When Rippert told him of learning that Saint-Exupéry was missing, "he had tears in his eyes," von Gartzen said.

The police sprayed tear gas at demonstrators who threw rocks at riot police officers on the edges of a mostly peaceful protest here Thursday by high school students angry about teacher job cuts.
The police said about 19,000 students marched from the Luxembourg Gardens down the Boulevard du Montparnasse on the Left Bank, while the protest's organizers put the figure at 30,000.
It was the fifth such protest in two weeks, and the largest by far. Smaller demonstrations were organized in provinces across the country.
Strapped for cash and seeking ways to trim the national budget, the conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy plans to cut 11,200 jobs in the national education system in the next school year, with 8,800 of them in junior high schools and high schools.

Marseille, France's oldest city, is emerging as its newest entrant to the luxury real estate market.
Only three hours from Paris by the fast TGV train, the city center still is in the process of renovation but it already has gleaming new boutiques, its own volume in the chic Louis Vuitton City Guide series, and a Michelin three-star restaurant, Le Petit Nice, whose third star was awarded this year.
"Marseille has changed. It has a new, more seductive identity and many people now want to come and live here," said Isabelle Viatte, who opened a Marseille office last autumn for Emile Garcin, one of the French real estate firms that deal exclusively in top of the line properties.
"The demand for exceptional properties between €2 million and €5 million is so strong that I can't find enough luxury homes with sea views, gardens or terraces to satisfy it," she said, referring to a $3.1 million to $7.8 million range.
Founded about 600 B.C. when Greek sailors discovered the inviting natural harbor that is now Vieux Port, Marseille is considered France's second city after Paris. Backed by a natural semicircle of white limestone mountains, the town has always looked toward the sea for its livelihood. Twenty-six centuries of trade with the far-flung outposts of the Mediterranean, from North Africa to the Middle East, is reflected in a melting pot population, eclectic architecture and a notable independence of spirit.

Marseille possesses all the virtues of the south of France: brilliant sunshine, blue sky, indigo sea and a Provençal lifestyle that makes time for a game of boules, a bouillabaisse lunch or a sunset pastis in a café.
"There are no longer high or low seasons. One can dine outdoors almost all year round," Viatte explained, which means having a private space for al fresco entertainment is a housing requirement. "People don't come to Marseille to stay indoors."
Near the top of a slope in the exclusive Palais de Justice neighborhood, Viatte showed off a prestige property on her list, a duplex in a historic townhouse that combines some of the exotic decor of its original owner, Michel Pacha, with the allure of a spacious private garden.
Pacha, who was born Blaise-Jean-Marius Michel to a naval family in nearby Sanary in 1819, became a ship captain who navigated the sometimes hazardous Mediterranean trade routes. In 1855, his life took a turn worthy of Hollywood when Sultan Abdul Medjid of Constantinople named him director of lighthouses. By 1864, Michel had created a network of more than 110 beacons along the entire Ottoman Empire coast, from the North Sea through the Marmara and Aegean seas to the Mediterranean, and amassed a considerable fortune. In 1879, a later sultan, Abdul Hamid II, asked Michel to construct a modern port for Constantinople and granted him the title of pasha, which, with the alternate spelling of Pacha, became Michel's new surname.
Meanwhile, the ship captain-turned-builder had established his wife and family in a luxurious townhouse in Marseille. He became renowned as a philanthropist and went on to establish his dream resort at Tamaris on the bay of Toulon. He died in 1907 and the Marseille house passed through various owners over the last century.
The owners of a renovated apartment in the townhouse, a couple of art and antiques collectors, bought it in 2000 from a bank that had leased it to a business school. The townhouse interior itself had been divided into classrooms, but the original frescoes, plasterwork and the painted ceilings of Pacha's Orientalist inspired décor had survived, protected as listed landmarks.
"The owners told me that when they visited, the only attractive features were the historic décors and the garden," Viatte said. "The house was in terrible shape; there were partitions and false ceilings; the parquet had disappeared under cement and the plants were dying of thirst in the abandoned garden. They called it an apocalypse, terrifying."

"But it was summer," she continued, "and the sun was shining into the house through the leaves of the plane trees in the garden. It was magic." They decided to take on the challenge.

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Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul who saved the lives of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, said: "Those people told me the kind of horror they would have to face if they didn't get away from the Nazis and I believed them. There was no place else for them to go. . . . If I had waited any longer, even if permission came, it might have been too late."

In short, these officials chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling.
My grandfather, Tadeusz Brzezinski, who is honored in the exhibit, was such a diplomat. He served as the government of Poland's consul general in Leipzig from 1931 to 1935. That was before the most vicious phases of the Holocaust, but already Jews were being moved to concentration camps and losing their legal status - being made "stateless."
As consul general, Tadeusz Brzezinski provided Polish passports to Jews, both Polish and German, so they could be freed from internment or be able to leave Nazi Germany.
In doing so, Tadeusz Brzezinski went beyond his diplomatic instructions, which certainly placed him in potential conflict not only with the Nazi authorities but with his own superiors.

China's multiple victims include its own public


The onrush of Western sympathy for the cause of Tibet is well-intentioned but often naïve. The way the Tibet story has been reduced to a binary matter, almost literally of Tibetan saints and Han Chinese sinners, is problematic on many levels, not least because of hypocrisy implicit in the West's selective outrage.

Moreover, our many oversimplifications and perceived double standards fuel nationalist outrage in China and provide ready ammunition for ripostes by propagandists, whose task is to drum up popular support for the government as it digs deeper into the very positions that protesters seek to overturn.
Unfortunately for conventional Chinese opinion, the first instance of hypocrisy that needs to be dealt with involves the plight of the Uighurs, whose situation very nearly mirrors that of the Tibetans, the distinction being that Tibetans have become lovable because of popular notions about Buddhism and because of the way Hollywood has romanticized Tibet and its saffron-robed monks and supported the Dalai Lama.
Natives of Xinjiang, by contrast, are Muslim, and geopolitics and popular culture have combined in ways that have been deeply prejudicial to the Uighurs, who have no celebrity sponsors or young Western sympathizers eager to identify with their culture or support their cause.

LAMU, Kenya
Joseph Kony, the brutal, phantom-like leader of an insurgency in Uganda, on Thursday delayed by at least one day a ceremony to sign a peace agreement that could end one of Africa's longest and most bizarre civil wars.

Tens of thousands of people are thought to have been killed and more than a million displaced in the conflict, which destabilized a large swath of central Africa, including parts of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic.
The main hitch with the peace deal, though, is that Kony and his inner circle have insisted they will not completely give up until the International Criminal Court in The Hague lifts indictments issued in 2005 against Kony and three commanders.
The Ugandan government initially pressed the court to get involved but it now says that local courts — and traditional justice systems — are capable of handling Kony.
Many Ugandans have said that they are more eager for lasting peace than international tribunals, and they have been urging the court to cancel the indictments, which accuse Kony, thought to be around 45 years old, and his top commanders of crimes against humanity.
But so far the court is not budging.

The Acholi people of northern Uganda have their own solution. It is called the mataput — the word means drinking a bitter root from a common cup -- and it is a traditional reconciliation ceremony.
Peace is more important than punishment, many Acholi elders have said, and they would rather have Kony return to northern Uganda for a mataput than rot in some European prison.
And the Acholis seem to know something about punishment.
For decades, it was customary for members of southern tribes in Uganda to get the prized university spots and good office jobs, while northerners like the Acholis were stuck in the fields.
The Acholis were known as superstitious -- and tough -- and filled the ranks of the national army. They fought rebel forces led by Yoweri Museveni, and after Museveni seized power in 1986 — he has been president since -- the Acholis were marginalized and persecuted.

Enter Kony, a former Catholic altar boy revered in his village near Gulu, in northern Uganda, as a prophet since he was 12. He smeared himself with shea butter, said his body and those of his Acholi followers were impervious to bullets and vowed to overthrow the government.
Kony claimed to be guided by the Ten Commandments but soon his army was violating each and every one. From about 1988 on, the rebels terrorized their own people, raping, robbing and killing across Acholiland.
According to former rebels, Kony communed with spirits and his rules became stranger by the minute — anyone caught bicycling had to have his feet chopped off; all white chickens were to be destroyed; no farming on Fridays. Kony usually traveled with a harem of dozens of child wives.
Few adults wanted to join his bloodthirsty movement, and soon the only recruits were children, most forced to join against their will. Pre-teen boys were made to beat people to death. It was called registration and continued for years, nourished by the Arab-led government of Sudan, which gave the Lord's Resistance Army sanctuary as payback for Ugandan support for the Christian rebellion in southern Sudan.


ADVERTISEMENT (CHRISTIES - Facing article on Ugandan rebels)


16 April
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"Iraq is the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: Al Qaeda and Iran," Bush said.
"If we fail there, Al Qaeda would claim a propaganda victory of colossal proportions, and they could gain safe havens in Iraq from which to attack the United States, our friends and our allies," he said. "Iran would work to fill the vacuum in Iraq, and our failure would embolden its radical leaders and fuel their ambitions to dominate the region."

Obama Says Real-Life Experience Trumps Rivals’ Foreign Policy Credits
“Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world,” he continued, provoking laughter among those present. “This I know. When Senator Clinton brags, ‘I’ve met leaders from 80 countries,’ I know what those trips are like. I’ve been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do a native dance. You meet with the C.I.A. station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of plant that” with “the assistance of Usaid has started something. And then, you go.”
During the speech, Mr. Obama also spoke about having traveled to Pakistan in the early 1980s. Because of that trip, which he did not mention in either of his autobiographical books, “I knew what Sunni and Shia was before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” he said.

Fifty-four illegal Myanmar migrants, most of them women, suffocated as they were smuggled into Thailand in a cramped seafood container, police said on Thursday.
Another 67 were rescued from the 20-ft container truck, with more than 20 being treated in hospital, the police officer in the western coastal Thai province of Ranong told Reuters.
"They were kept inside the sealed truck for hours without air because the air-conditioning system failed. Many of them pounded the sides of the truck for help," Sergeant Phuvanai Wattanasamai said.
Police were hunting for the driver who abandoned the truck on a road near the Andaman Sea coastline, let the survivors out and fled the scene late on Wednesday night.
One survivor said the driver told them the container's air conditioning system was broken.

"It was very crowded inside with standing room only," the 40-year-old migrant told reporters at a Ranong hospital.
"It was hot when the truck started moving, so we asked the driver to turn the air-conditioner on, but he said it was broken. The heat made me pass out and the next thing I knew I was in hospital," he said.
More than one million people from neighbouring army-ruled Myanmar are estimated to work in Thailand, most of them illegally in factories, restaurants, at petrol pumps, and as domestic helpers or crew on fishing trawlers.
They are usually hidden under goods such as vegetable or fruit in small or big overloaded trucks, leading to tragic road accidents.



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Japan executed four convicted murderers Thursday in a marked acceleration of hangings amid rising international concern about the fairness of the country's secretive justice system.
The round of executions was the third since December, when the Justice Ministry first started disclosing the identities of those hanged and details of their crimes.
Japan is one of the few industrialized countries that continue to impose capital punishment. It has executed 10 criminals in the past four months under Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama, an outspoken supporter of the death penalty. In comparison, only one inmate was executed in 2005.
Hatoyama, who took office last August, denied his ministry was purposely picking up the pace of hangings. Three men were executed in December, and three more in February.
"I just carry out executions solemnly as justice minister in response to what the law requires," Hatoyama told reporters.

You have your entire life ahead of you," is the leitmotif repeated by well-meaning adults to the 20-something protagonists of a new Italian film that suggests, instead, that when it comes to the future, Italy's youths are headed for some hard times.
The platitude doubles as the intentionally ironic title of Paolo Virzì's "Tutta la vita davanti," (All Your Life Ahead of You), which opened March 28 to rave reviews here.
It tells a commonplace tale in contemporary Italy: unable to find employment in her field (philosophy), a recent university graduate turns to an underpaid job in a multinational call center where she has no long-term prospects and few short-term gratifications.
On the surface, with its surreal juxtaposition of motivational psychology and reality-show feel, Virzì's vision is more whimsical comedy than biting reportage. But like other masters of the popular "commedia all'italiana" genre, Virzì's underlying critique of Italian society pulls no punches. The characters working at the call center exist in a permanent state of insecurity and fear.
'You have your entire life ahead of you," is the leitmotif repeated by well-meaning adults to the 20-something protagonists of a new Italian film that suggests, instead, that when it comes to the future, Italy's youths are headed for some hard times.
The platitude doubles as the intentionally ironic title of Paolo Virzì's "Tutta la vita davanti," (All Your Life Ahead of You), which opened March 28 to rave reviews here.
It tells a commonplace tale in contemporary Italy: unable to find employment in her field (philosophy), a recent university graduate turns to an underpaid job in a multinational call center where she has no long-term prospects and few short-term gratifications.
On the surface, with its surreal juxtaposition of motivational psychology and reality-show feel, Virzì's vision is more whimsical comedy than biting reportage. But like other masters of the popular "commedia all'italiana" genre, Virzì's underlying critique of Italian society pulls no punches. The characters working at the call center exist in a permanent state of insecurity and fear.

Formulas put forth by the leading candidates in the April 13-14 national elections have mostly elicited criticism. The center-left candidate, Walter Veltroni, for one, proposed a monthly minimum wage of $1,000, more than $1,500, for people with precarious jobs. (Italy has no minimum wage, and there is strong resistance to instituting one.)
Silvio Berlusconi, the center-right leader and magnate, took a more hands-on approach. During a television interview he told one attractive young woman with an unsteady work situation that she should "marry a millionaire, like my son, or someone who doesn't have such problems." The outraged reaction was predictable.
Tiraboschi noted that Italy had "one great anomaly that gives rise to feelings of insecurity that go with precariousness, even for workers with fixed contracts, and that is that many Italians enter into the work force when they're already in their late 20s." Starting job training or landing a temporary job that may not offer important formative experiences at that age "increases the feeling of unease."
A poll published in February by the Piepoli Institute for the Ministry of Labor indicated that 84 percent of Italians between 18 and 34 (based on a sample of 1,000 polled) had never even heard of the term flexicurity, a welfare-state model first implemented in Denmark that combines flexible labor practices for employers with benefits for employees.
Then, Tiraboschi added, Italians tend to snub manual labor while post-secondary education is seen as means to personal enrichment rather than a preparation for the labor market. "People are getting degrees in media communication or languages, where there is no market," he said. "They're not going for the physics degrees." At the same time, universities, which should offer students some orientation, "don't dialogue with the marketplace."
Marta, the protagonist of Virzì's film, played by a newcomer, Isabella Ragonese, is a brilliant philosophy graduate who ends up at a call center after her attempts to break into the world of academia and publishing are rebuked.
"In a university system that works, the best and brightest would not be allowed to leave," Virzì said.
Eventually, Marta manages to publish an account of her call-center experiences for an elite philosophical journal at Oxford, exploring the dynamics between call centers, reality shows and the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.
Celestini's documentary about the Atesia workers ends on a more depressing note. What is happening in Italy, Celestini says, is like "the Titanic with its lights on and the orchestra playing, while the ocean begins to seep into the hull


The credit crisis is far from over, billionaire financier George Soros warned Thursday, urging regulators to move faster to contain damage from the collapse of the housing finance markets.
"I think the situation is more serious than the authorities admit or recognize," Soros told journalists in a conference call. Measures taken so far to slash interest rates and stimulate the economy were "necessary but not sufficient," he said.
"Because of that, I think the situation is going to get worse before it gets better."
Soros is promoting a new book, "The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis and What It Means." He has urged regulators to move more aggressively to improve market oversight to curb risks from excessive reliance on debt for financial speculation.
He said he agreed with the International Monetary Fund's estimate of more than US$1 trillion (€640 billion) in losses linked to the collapse of mortgage-backed securities.

Losses disclosed by financial institutions so far are related only to the decline in value of those financial instruments, Soros said.
"They do not reflect in any way a possible decline in the value of the loans held by the banks," he said. "We have not yet seen the full effect of the possible recession."
Soros said that hedge funds struggling to clear up massive levels of debt are another pitfall.
"They are all now in this ... very painful process of wealth destruction," he said.

Slavery By Another Name The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II By Douglas A. Blackmon 468 pages. $29.95. Doubleday.
In "Slavery by Another Name" Douglas A. Blackmon eviscerates one of our schoolchildren's most basic assumptions: that slavery in America ended with the Civil War. Blackmon unearths shocking evidence that the practice persisted well into the 20th century. And he is not simply referring to the virtual bondage of black sharecroppers unable to extricate themselves economically from farming.
He describes free men and women forced into industrial servitude, bound by chains, faced with subhuman living conditions and subject to physical torture. That plight was horrific. But until 1951, it was not outside the law.
All it took was anything remotely resembling a crime. Bastardy, gambling, changing employers without permission, false pretense, "selling cotton after sunset": these were all grounds for arrest in rural Alabama by 1890. And as Blackmon explains in describing incident after incident, an arrest could mean a steep fine. If the accused could not pay this debt, he or she might be imprisoned.
Alabama was among the Southern states that profitably leased convicts to private businesses. As the book illustrates, arrest rates and the labor needs of local businesses could conveniently be made to dovetail.

It was a Wednesday night around 7:30 and Casellula, a small, boxy wine bar in Clinton, was filling up. Patrons packed the seats at the small polished wood bar and the inexpensive wood tables, trading sips of wine, sharing beautifully composed cheese selections and passing plates back and forth.
No sharing for me, though. My open sandwich, made with morcilla, a delectable Spanish blood sausage, layered over multicolored roasted peppers, was too good to sacrifice a bite. I washed it down with a gutsy aglianico del Vulture, a nice combination, and hungrily eyed an intriguing dessert selection, French toast pudding, made with applewood-smoked bacon and spiced maple syrup.

Frequent Traveler Q & A
Q. My husband and I wish to take the ashes of our little dog back to France in the next few months. The urn is quite small. Can we take it with us in the cabin, and are there papers to prepare? Yunyun Yeh, Shanghai
A. You should have nothing to worry about at either end of the trip if you carry the urn discreetly in your hand baggage. You are most unlikely to have to open the urn to prove that it contains no dangerous substance. But expect to have to pass it separately through the X-ray scanner as with photographers' cans of film. You would need to be a professional paranoiac like me to worry about "papers," although some sort of certificate from a pets' crematorium would increase your credibility.

"Sweetheart, not long to go now," Khan says as he holds his daughter and kisses her. "And I'm going to miss you a lot." He concludes: "I'm doing what I'm doing for the sake of Islam, not, you, know, it's not for materialistic or worldly benefits."
The 'wow' factor and real estate prices
Great design often produces a bigger payoff

"Lifestyle has seeped into people's consciousness," said Mark Garside, who runs a design company in London and contributes to Living etc. magazine. "Some styles - such as hotel interiors, with their neutral palettes, are now finding their way into the home - probably as a result of people traveling more and bringing home with them a desire to emulate hotel interiors they have come across."

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