blood diamonds

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Science...For Her! by Megan Amram


Albert Einstein, blood diamonds, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, double helix, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, pez dispenser, Schrödinger's Cat, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Wall-E, wikimedia commons

Neil Diamond was named Neil Coal until he was like thirty-seven. You may have heard about conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds. These refer to diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance insurgencies, in places like Sierra Leone and Liberia and other African countries. Sorry to be TMI, but: I love them!!! Not African countries, silly—blood diamonds! Honestly, I find that blood diamonds often have a much prettier sheen than non-blood diamonds. Something about the guns that are going off murdering people around them seems to make the diamonds sparklier. Maybe I’m imagining it, but I don’t think so! Like I’ve always said, BLOOD diamonds are a girl’s BLOODST FRIEND! Good Name for Tiffany’s Vag I Just Thought of “Blood Diamond” Why Diamonds Are BETTER BEST FRIENDS Than My Friend Tiffany (no offense) * * * Many people have said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!”

I TOOK YOU TO A CHAPTER ON BIOLOGY AND THEN A REAL CHEMISTRY CHAPTER THERE’S NOTHING LEFT TO TALK ABOUT UNLESS IT’S PHYSICS OR ALL THE OTHER CHAPTERS LET’S GET PHYSICS, Y’ALL PHYSICS, Y’ALL I WANNA GET PHYSICS, Y’ALL LET’S LEARN ABOUT INCLINED PLANES, INCLINED PLANES LET’S LEARN ABOUT INCLINED PLANES Introduction I think we all agree, that song that I wrote was amazing, gals! So, physics is kind of difficult to teach because it’s not just a soft science like bio and chem, it’s a super hard science. Usually I like when things are hard (Can I get a “dick as hard as a diamond and as red as blood, aka a blood diamond”?!), but when it comes to sciences, I like them soft and flaccid, like my boyfriend when I showed him my “twin.” Physics comes from the Greek φυσική (έπιστήµη), which, loosely translated, means “illegible.” Physics looks at matter through space and time. So, while chemistry studies the mixing of matter, physics studies how matter moves and exists. Physics is probably the most important science.

., xvii Abigail, xi abortion, 4 acceleration, 70 acetic acid, 52 acetonitrile, 44 acids, 38 adaptations, 26 Addison, xi Adele, ix Adina, xi AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), 126 air pollution, 59 Aisha, ix Akin, Todd, 136 Alana, xviii alcohol, 39 Aleks, xvi Alex, xix Alexa, xii Alexandra, xi Alexis, viii Ali, viii Alicia, xvi alien life, 150 Alison, x Alissa, xii Allison, x alopecia, 26 alpha particle emissions, 57 Alyssa, xi Amanda, viii Amber, xiv Amelia, x America, a review, 76–77 ammonia, 45 Amy, xiv Andrea, xiv Angela, xiv Angie, xiii angular acceleration, 70 animals, 25 Anna, x Annabel, xiii “antifrezzy navel,” 37 Aparna, xvi aplastic anemia, 170 apocalypse, 108–13 sex and, 109–10 April, xv Aria, xiii Arianna, x Artis, xvi Ashley, viii Ashton, xvi astrobiology, 150 astronauts, 145 atoms, 55, 68 Aubrey, ix Audra, xvi Audrey, xii Augusta, xvi autism, 127 Autumn, xiii Ava, xi Avery, xi Avogadro, Amedeo, 75 Avogadro’s number, 75 axillary steroids, 40–41 B bacteria, 14 Bailey, xii barium chloride, 45 Barrett, xiii baseball, 77 basement dungeons, 168, 169, 171 bases, 38 Bella, xii Benita, xii Bennie, xviii BenSimone, xv Bernice, xv beta particle emissions, 57 Bethany, xviii Betsy, xv Biden, Joe, 160 big bang, 27, 146 Big Pharma, 131–32 Billie, xvi biological clock, 5, 6–7, 89 biology, 1–29, 190 definition of, 1 birth control, 4–5, 132 blackface, 73 Blackwell, Elizabeth, 170, 173 bladder, 136 Blanche, xii blood diamonds, 102 Blostam, xv boron trifluoride, 44 botany, 87–114 Bradena, xvi brain, 128 Brandie, xvii Brandy, xvii Branty, xix Breaking Bad, 77 breast size, 78 Brianna, xii Bridga, xvi Bridges of Madison County, The (Waller), 119 Bridget, ix Bridget Jones’s Diary (Fielding), 119 Brittany, xiii Brittney, xvii Brody, Adam, 68 Brooke, xvii Brooklyn, x brown rice, 34 buffet and a burger, 35 Bündchen, Gisele, 144 Bush, George H.

pages: 378 words: 111,369

Gateway by Frederik Pohl


blood diamonds, gravity well, Magellanic Cloud, oil shale / tar sands

“Too early to wake the others up,” he said, “and not a damn thing to do.” A NOTE ON PIEZOELECTRICITY Professor Hegramet. The one thing we found out about blood diamonds is that they’re fantastically piezoelectric. Does anybody know what that means? Question. They expand and contract when an electric current is imposed? Professor Hegramet. Yes. And the other way around. Squeeze them and they generate a current. Very rapidly if you like. That’s the basis for the piezophone and piezovision. About a fifty-billion-dollar industry. Question. Who gets the royalties on all that loot? Professor Hegramet. You know, I thought one of you would ask that. Nobody does. Blood diamonds were found years and years ago, in the Heechee warrens back on Venus. Long before Gateway. It was Bell Labs that figured out how to use them.

Prayer fans by the hundreds, those filmy, little crystalline things that were the commonest Heechee artifact; no one knew what they were for, except that they were sort of pretty, but the Heechee had left them all over the place. There was the original anisokinetic punch, that had earned a lucky prospector something like twenty million dollars in royalties already. A thing you could put in your pocket. Furs. Plants in formalin. The original piezophone, that had earned three crews enough to make every one of them awfully rich. The most easily swiped things, like the prayer fans and the blood diamonds and the fire pearls, were kept behind tough, breakproof glass. I think they were even wired to burglar alarms. That was surprising, on Gateway. There isn’t any law there, except what the Corporation imposes. There are the Corporation’s equivalent of police, and there are rules—you’re not supposed to steal or commit murder—but there aren’t any courts. If you break a rule all that happens is that the Corporation security force picks you up and takes you out to one of the orbiting cruisers.

You didn’t tell us anything about Heechee prayer fans, and we see more of them than anything else. Professor Hegramet. What do you want me to tell you, Susie? Question. Well, I know what they look like. Sort of like a rolled-up ice-cream cone made out of crystal. All different colors of crystal. If you hold one right and press on it with your thumb it opens up like a fan. Professor Hegramet. That’s what I know, too. They’ve been analyzed, same as fire pearls and the blood diamonds. But don’t ask me what they’re for. I don’t think the Heechee fanned themselves with them, and I don’t think they prayed, either; that’s just what the novelty dealers called them. The Heechee left them all over the place, even when they tidied everything else up. I suppose they had a reason. I don’t have a clue what that reason was, but if I ever find out I’ll tell you. When Sheri got out of the hospital we had a hell of a party for her, a combination of welcome home, congratulations, and good-bye, Sheri, because she was leaving for Earth the next day.

pages: 413 words: 119,379

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis


Airbus A320, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, BRICs, British Empire, central bank independence, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, F. W. de Klerk, Gini coefficient, Livingstone, I presume, McMansion, megacity, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, purchasing power parity, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, trade route, transfer pricing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

Campaigners from Global Witness generated such outrage with their investigations of the links between diamonds and war that De Beers’s claims that it had ceased to buy blood diamonds were insufficient to prevent more concerted action. The Kimberley Process, named after the South African mining town that was the scene of the first mining rush in the 1870s, was designed to stop rebel movements like Unita and the RUF from selling diamonds into the world market, either directly or via neighbouring states, by ensuring that every rough stone carried a certificate of origin. Drawing together governments, campaign groups and companies that mined and marketed diamonds, the Kimberley Process was voluntary and often fractious. But its membership grew until it accounted for 99.8 per cent of the diamond trade.15 The Kimberley Process helped to stem the flow of blood diamonds, but it had a glaring flaw. Its chief targets were rebel movements.

The porters’ haste was a matter of economics: they were paid 1,000 Congolese francs per trip (about $1) and had to wash and sift their cargo in the stream at the bottom before it began the long trip toward the border or the buying houses of Goma. Most of the incipient certification schemes for Congolese minerals work by tagging sacks of ore as they emerge from the mine to certify their provenance, imitating the Kimberley Process, which was designed to stem the flow of ‘blood diamonds’. The idea is to prevent belligerents getting around embargoes by passing off their minerals as originating from another mine or smuggling them across borders to allow Congolese coltan to be branded as Rwandan or Angolan diamonds as Zambian. But on this hillside there was not a tag in sight. One local, a peace campaigner who had come along for the climb and who kept his distance from the mining bosses leading the ascent, told me that some of the coltan extracted here was crossing the nearby border into Uganda clandestinely.

Traders simply carried the stones across the border and declared them to be Congolese or Zambian. From there they would flow to Antwerp or other centres of the rough diamond trade and were again sold on, chiefly to De Beers, then still a cartel that controlled 80 per cent of the world trade in rough diamonds.12 Cut, polished and mounted, the diamonds would end their journey on the earlobes and ring fingers of the wealthy and the amorous. The notion of a ‘blood diamond’ strengthened as consumers came to realize that beautifying their hands came at the cost of African limbs. In Sierra Leone rebels under the tutelage of Charles Taylor, a warlord in neighbouring Liberia, severed hands and feet as they waged a campaign devoid of any cause beyond amassing power and wealth. From the time of its formation in 1991 the principal goal of the Revolutionary United Front and its army of child soldiers was to maintain control of Sierra Leone’s diamond fields, channelling the stones into Liberia for export to the world market.

pages: 459 words: 109,490

Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible by Stephen Braun, Douglas Farah


air freight, airport security, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, Donald Trump,, failed state, Mikhail Gorbachev, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Plutocrats, plutocrats, private military company

When the townspeople had rounded up a few cases—Bout paid a little money for them—he scrambled back into the copter with his occupation force and flew off. Fortified with enough drink to last the night, the revelers sprawled across a secured hilltop as lights twinkled from the fishing boats on the lake below.1 Bemba could afford Bout’s services because Bemba controlled access to something Bout very much wanted: a rich diamond field that netted the rebel leader $1 million to $3 million a month in sales. These “blood diamonds”—illicit gems that were mined in rebel-held territory and shipped abroad despite international embargoes against their sales—were mostly moved illegally through the neighboring Central African Republic, where both Bemba and Bout had friends and protectors in high places.2 When Bout finally bedded down, he slept, as he often did, with some of his crew near one of the helicopters. The aircraft was primed to make an emergency exit in case something went wrong.

Like Milo Minderbinder, the cheerily infernal war profiteer in Joseph Heller’s World War II novel Catch-22, who filled returning bomber planes with shipments of fresh eggs and Egyptian cotton, Bout often scheduled lucrative cargo pickups wherever his planes dropped off weapons shipments. The practice ensured that his Russian freighters always carried a moneymaking load when they were airborne. If an Ilyushin Il-76 was bringing helicopter gunship parts into Goma, it might leave with a consignment of coltan, mining equipment, or blood diamonds. On a run of Kalashnikovs and MiG fighter jet tires into Kandahar, a load of lumber or carpets might be waiting for a flight out. RPGs or gladiolas, diamonds or frozen chickens, it made little difference as long as there was a profit to be made from one destination to the next. In that manner, Bout’s air fleet flew the world in endless circuits. In the mid-1990s his Antonovs and Ilyushins would often fly out with empty cargo holds from Ostend Airport in Belgium.

Alternately, the planes could fly south into Africa, taxiing down with crates of weaponry at Kigali Airport in Rwanda, at Kisangane, in Zaire, or on scores of landing strips hidden in African forests and hills. From there, the planes would rumble back toward Sharjah or other friendly airports. Sometimes their cargo holds brimmed with ordinary shipments of refrigerators and appliances bound for Afghan merchants. But more often the cargoes were spoils that warlords and dictators preferred to turn over to Bout’s crews as payments for their weapons deliveries—blood diamonds, coltan, gold, any natural resource that Bout’s network would then convert to cash. Eventually the planes would return to Sharjah or Ostend, poised for their next circuit. Bout has said that his business took off exponentially in 1993 when he began flying his aircraft out of the UAE, overrun at the time by nouveau riche Russian vacationers and business hustlers. The bustling emirate of Dubai offered duty-free shopping and a wealth of Western products still unseen in Russia itself—the latest models of satellite telephones, televisions, stereos, refrigerators, and a heady array of American and Japanese cars.

pages: 234 words: 63,149

Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer


airport security, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, clean water, creative destruction, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, global rebalancing, global supply chain, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Julian Assange, labour mobility, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nixon shock, nuclear winter, Parag Khanna, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Stuxnet, trade route, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War

For many years, in states like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, and Zimbabwe, insurgents and local governments have sold diamonds to finance wars or government repression, earning the gems the epithet “blood diamonds.” In 1998, the South African government hosted a meeting in the town of Kimberley that brought together officials from diamond-trading and -producing states, several rights groups, and representatives of the diamond industry to find a solution to the blood diamond problem. Three years of tough negotiations produced the Kimberley Process (KP), an international diamond certification system endorsed in January 2003 by the United Nations, which requires governments of countries that produce or trade diamonds to certify where they come from. Member states have to create local laws and regulations that keep blood diamonds off the market and can only trade uncut diamonds with other KP members, giving governments a powerful incentive to join the club.

Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations by Raymond Fisman, Edward Miguel


accounting loophole / creative accounting, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, blood diamonds, clean water, colonial rule, congestion charging, crossover SUV, Donald Davies, European colonialism, failed state, feminist movement, George Akerlof, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Live Aid, mass immigration, megacity, oil rush, prediction markets, random walk, Scramble for Africa, selection bias, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, unemployed young men

The majority of the world’s countries have had civil war on their soil since 1980 and most are concentrated in the developing regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.2 Africa is the unfortunate standout, home to both the highest number of wars and the bloodiest. Millions of civilians have died over the past two decades. The seemingly endless list of wars—in Angola, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Burundi, Chad, both Congos (Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo), Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Uganda—evokes nightmarish images of massacres, blood diamonds, gang rapes, and heavily armed and drugged-up child soldiers tormenting motorists at checkpoints. It’s a gruesome but essential exercise to go through the 114 N O WATER, N O PEA CE numbers to grasp the urgency of putting an end to Africa’s wars. Over 50,000 people died in Sierra Leone’s civil war between 1991 and 2002, and millions were displaced from their homes by the ruthless Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels.

Companies reportedly employed guns-for-hire like Executive Outcomes, a private army recruited from South Africa’s disbanded apartheid-era special forces, to keep their operations safe from rebel attack. The cost of protecting one mine alone could run as high as $500,000 a month, as the Angola Peace Monitor reported in 2001.19 And to keep mines safe from government meddling, paying bribes was the norm. Not every CEO or shareholder is willing to set up a private army, or partner with a real-life Danny Archer, the mercenary played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Blood Diamond about Sierra Leone. But some know how to turn wartime adversity to their advantage. Firms like Mano River Resources, DiamondWorks, and Rex Diamond have operated mines in multiple African war zones over the years, despite the costs and hurdles that drive out everyone else. That is, war acted as a “barrier to entry” that kept other companies out and insiders’ profits high. After 2002, peace 183 CH A PTER SEVEN in Angola presented an opportunity for many new companies to bid for lucrative mining licenses.

See specific countries and issues Agnelli, Giovanni, 49 Amassalik Inuit, 138 Amazon (company), 25 Angola, 96, 120b, 175; diamond mining and, 181b–85b; economic revival of, 184b antiparasitic drugs, school attendance and, 193–95 armed conflict, 148–55; Africa and, 114–16, 174–78; civil versus foreign, 173–74; disarmament and, 175–76; economic factors and, 116–17, 120–22; GDP and, 124; government stability and, 176–78; infrastructure investment and, 162–63, 170–71; OECD and, 120–21; political transformation and, 163–64; rainfall and, 122–27, 149; reconciliation and, 179–81; selection bias and, 174; technological inno- vation and, 164; tribal hatreds and, 116–17 Bakrie, Aburizal, 34, 38 behavioral economics, 96–97, 222n8 Bellow, Adam: In Praise of Nepotism, 30 Bimantara Citra, 33–40 Blood Diamond, 183b Bloomberg, Michael, 104 Bono, 9 Borsuk, Rick, 37–38 Botswana, 20–21; Drought Relief Program, 152–53, 199–200 bribery, commerce and, 66–67 Bush, George W., 32, 73–74, 174, 217n4 Busia (Kenya), 193–95, 232n9 Canada: corruption in, 95; United States and, 94–95 Capone, Al, 5–7 Chad, 17–18; corruption and, 156; economic decline of, 111–12; I N DEX Chad (continued) global warming and, 131; Lake Chad, 111–12; paperwork delays in, 66–67; petroleum deposits in, 155–58; political turmoil in, 112–13; rainfall and, 114; violence in, 175; World Bank and, 156–58 cheap talk, 18–20; violence and, 118b–19b Cheney, Dick, 29, 51–52 China: 1998 anticorruption campaign and, 70–73; global warming and, 127–29; smuggling and, 55–57; tariffs and, 60–64, 221n4, 221n6 China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), 185b Clodfelter, Michael, 160–61 coffee, 117–18, 149–50 Collier, Paul, 215n9, 228n20, 230n13 Colombia, 76–78, 102–3, 142 commodity prices, 117–18, 149–50, 227n15 conflict traps, Chad and, 113–14 containerization, 56–57 corruption: bottom line on, 102–3; cheap talk and, 18–20; culture and, 80–81, 87, 102–3; definition of, 18, 83, 216n12; economic growth and, 41–46; income level and, 91–92; mea sur ing, stock markets and, 24–29; national pride and, 100–102; outsiders and, 41–43; poverty and, 15–17; “Scramble for Africa” and, 101–2; stock markets and, 24–27; wages and, 189, 230n3.

pages: 487 words: 147,891

McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny


anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, BRICs, colonial rule, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Firefox, forensic accounting, friendly fire, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, joint-stock company, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, Pearl River Delta, place-making, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Skype, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, trade liberalization, trade route, Transnistria, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile

Nonetheless, the Iraqi interlude is instructive as it demonstrates how major criminal figures such as Bout can continue to function by existing in that peculiarly opaque netherworld where money, criminals, crises, and security services mix so thoroughly that only the most trained analyst can separate the individual parts. Viktor Bout is one of the few contemporary criminals who enjoy the distinction of having inspired not one but two Hollywood movies (with a third under consideration), the most recent being the underrated Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as an especially convincing South African mercenary. Andrew Niccol, the New Zealand–born director and writer of the movie Lord of War, has said that the lead character, Yuri Orlov, played with real style by Nicolas Cage, was based on about five people, but he admits that one of them was Viktor Bout. The movie captures the essence of much of the ease with which the shadow economy functions on a global scale, and perhaps its biggest flaw is to suggest that Ethan Hawke’s American Interpol agent, Jack Valentine, has the resources and the authority to pose a real threat to Orlov.

The gampieros, the men who risk their lives digging on the riverbed for diamonds, are cousins of the Ural River fisherman who catch sturgeon—both are involved in dirty, dangerous work to extract a commodity for which they are paid a pittance but which is making others very rich. By 1999, conservative estimates put UNITA’s revenue from its diamond operations at $4 billion in less than a decade. The value of the stones when they reach the market is roughly ten times that figure. And during that same period, there was nobody in the diamond industry through whose hands conflict or “blood” diamonds (so called because of the deaths that their passage to market caused) did not pass: from de Beers, the immensely powerful South African conglomerate, through to the workshops of India, where 80 percent of the world’s diamonds are polished, and on to the many dealers in Antwerp, Tel Aviv, London, and New York. It was the perfect trade circle. Weapons manufactured mainly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (but some from Western Europe, Israel, and the United States) would be flown into the conflict areas of Africa.

Until the turn of the century, there was little evidence that the voluminous trade in African blood minerals would be noticed, still less interrupted, notwithstanding the public concern in the Western world about organized crime. But then something rather unlikely happened. A merrily shabby office in a respectable West London suburb seems an unlikely venue for the throbbing hub of resistance to the trade in blood diamonds. Charmian Gooch was not yet thirty when, in 1995, she and two friends formed an NGO called Global Witness. “We were monitoring the work of a lot of organizations dealing with the environment, and another lot dealing with human rights. And we just kept seeing the bits in between which connected the two areas but which nobody was investigating. We try to look at issues that are being neglected but which urgently need addressing, and then come up with practical ideas for tackling these problems.”

Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson


Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, business climate, central bank independence, clean water, colonial rule, energy security, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Hernando de Soto, income per capita, inflation targeting, Martin Wolf, mobile money, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

The United Nations put an embargo on any economic and financial relationship with UNITA. Why did nobody pose the question, How was UNITA’s illegal army supplied on a large scale, and who financed it? Why? Strange!” he said, before hinting darkly that it was, once again, French interests. I reminded him that UNITA’s diamondfueled arms trade was also excoriated and was even tackled with a western campaign against “blood diamonds,” but he waved this away. “The legal government of Angola, through the Angolan ministry of defense, bought arms from the very legal Russian government, respecting all international legislation. . . . I was an oil trader,” he went on. “Then I convinced international banks to advance the money—around $500 or $600 million—mortgaged against Angolan oil, and this money was paid to the Russian government to supply the arms.

“Where do these tankers come from?” Asari once asked sarcastically. “These big ships and vessels, where do they come from? The Nigerian navy did not see them. The Nigerian air force did not see them. They are so tiny!”43 The deep involvement of Nigerian political parties and prominent politicians may be why the bunkerers—whose tankers are rather easier to spot and catch than, say, Angolan rebels’ blood diamonds, which have been cracked down on—are almost never caught, and perhaps why oil companies have not seriously impeded the problem. Western policy makers may feel that they need not care much about bunkering; they are just thankful that the stolen oil still flows into world markets, albeit via different routes. The giant, deadly bunkering industry is in fact a violent, chaotic Nigerianized version of the balloon of offshore dirty oil money that characterized the Elf Affair in Gabon.

“The diamond wars were the secret of the diamond trade until, quite suddenly, they were not,” wrote the diamond commentator Matthew Hart.2 “It seemed to happen in an instant, as if a curtain had been ripped aside and there was the diamond business, spattered with blood, sorting through the goods. Its accuser was a little-known group called Global Witness.” Diamond industry officials I spoke to were furious. Global Witness was crazy; they were naive; they were left-wing sandal-wearing idiots; they had no right. “Global Witness,” said one, “is just a bunch of wellintentioned hooligans.” A Rough Trade was one of the founding documents for the now-famous international campaign against “blood diamonds,” which upended the global diamond industry, and brought governments together in search of solutions. I have chosen to write about Global Witness partly because I don’t want to give anyone an impression that I have been alone in delving into 210 Global Witness this queer world, and partly because their story presents a chance to appraise current western approaches to tackling problems associated with Africa’s oil.

pages: 538 words: 138,544

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better by Annie Leonard


air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, dematerialisation, employer provided health coverage, energy security, European colonialism, Firefox, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, global supply chain, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, liberation theology, McMansion, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, supply-chain management, the built environment, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, Wall-E, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar

-based organization leading the campaign on conflict diamonds, these rocks “have funded brutal conflicts in Africa that have resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people. Diamonds have also been used by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda to finance their activities and for money-laundering purposes.”91 The role of “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds” in Sierra Leone’s civil war has received global attention, in large part thanks to Global Witness’ Combating Conflict Diamonds campaign, launched in 1998. The situation was also brought to light through the 2006 film Blood Diamond. The film does a pretty good job of illustrating the brutality of both the rebel forces that run the mines (kidnapping villagers to make them into miners and young boys to serve as child soldiers) as well as the government forces, which indiscriminately kill civilians and villagers alongside the rebels.

Congolese human rights activist Bertrand Bisimwa summarized the way far too many people perceive his country: “Since the 19th century, when the world looks at Congo it sees a pile of riches with some black people inconveniently sitting on top of them. They eradicate the Congolese people so they can possess the mines and resources. They destroy us because we are an inconvenience.”104 Some electronics manufacturers have publicly declared their ban on African-mined tantalum altogether, although, as depicted in the film Blood Diamond, tracing the source through so many dealers and handlers means this is far easier said than done. A solution with more promise is a database of “coltan fingerprints” that scientists are creating, which is feasible because each mining site has a distinct geological history and produces metal with a specific composition.105 This database would allow an international certification system like the Kimberley Process to be established for coltan, so that electronics manufacturers could source their coltan from legitimate mines with decent working conditions and environmental standards.

INDEX Abacha, Sani, 31 Abu Dhabi, 66 Acetone, 60 Advertising, 160, 163–168, 251, 256 Advisory committees, 99–100 Afghanistan, 243, 244 Agent Orange, 54, 213 Air freight, 115, 119 al-Qaeda, 26 Alameda County Waste Management Authority, 211 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), 258 Allan, John, 17 Alloys, 44 Aluminum, 21, 59 Aluminum cans, 64–68, 196 Amazon, 116, 118–121 Amazon River, 66 American Chemistry Council, 93, 99 American Cyanamid, 222 Ammonia, 60, 61 Amnesty International, 28, 32 Anderson, Ray, 19, 185, 187–189 Anderson, Warren, 92 Anheuser-Busch, 196 Antibacterial products, 79 Antimony, 59 Appalachia, 35, 36 Apple Computer, 57, 59, 108, 109, 203, 206 Aral Sea, 46 Arsenic, 13, 15, 35, 59, 73, 203 Autoclaving, 201 Automobile industry, 159–160, 164 Bangladesh, 12–14, 49, 184, 193, 219–221 Barber, Benjamin, 169, 172 Basel Action Network (BAN), 205, 227, 228 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, 227, 258 Batker, Dave, 246 Batteries, 203, 204 Bauxite, 21, 64–65 Beavan, Colin, 147, 239, 245 Bechtel, 140 Bee, Rashida, 91 Benin, 45 Benyus, Janine, 105 Benzene, 30, 48 Beryllium, 203 Beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, 79 Beverage containers, 64–68, 194–195 Bezos, Jeff, 118 Bhopal disaster, India, 90–93, 98 Big-Box Swindle (Mitchell), 121, 125 Big Coal (Goodell), 36 Bingham Canyon copper mine, Utah, 21 Biological oxygen demand (BOD), 10–11 Biomimicry, 104–105 Bioplastics, 230–231 BioRegional, 40 Birol, Fatih, 29–30 Birth defects, 60, 74, 76, 91 Bisignani, Giovanni, 115 Bisimwa, Bertrand, 28 Bisphenol A (BPA), 78, 99–100 Bleach, 15, 48, 56 Blood Diamond (movie), 26, 28 Body burden testing, 78–80 Bolivia, 140 Books, 51–56, 118–120 Borden Chemical, 222 Borneo, 3 Boron, 59 Boston Tea Party, 127 Bottle Recycling Climate Protection Act of 2, 195 Bottled water, 16 Bowling Alone (Putnam), 149, 238–239 Bräutigam, Deborah, 37 Brazil, 8, 66, 67 Breast milk, 81, 82–83, 91, 171 Bridge at the End of the World, The (Speth), 167 Brockovich, Erin, 30 Bromines, 48 Bruno, Kenny, 225 Burkina Faso, 45 Burundi, 27 Bush, George H.

pages: 372 words: 109,536

The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money by Frederik Obermaier


banking crisis, blood diamonds, credit crunch, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Snowden, family office, high net worth, income inequality, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, mega-rich, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, out of africa, race to the bottom, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks

Mossack Fonseca is one of the largest providers of anonymous shell companies and is not exactly famed for being fussy about its clientele; quite the opposite, in fact. In plain English: while many of its clients are doing nothing illegal, some of the world’s biggest scumbags have used Mossack Fonseca’s anonymous offshore companies to disguise their business dealings. During the Offshore Secrets and HSBC Files investigations we came across convicted drug kingpins and suspected traders of blood diamonds who had used companies established by Mossack Fonseca for camouflage purposes. Search the Internet for Mossack Fonseca’s clients and you will also find accomplices of Gaddafi, Assad and Mugabe allegedly working hand in glove with the Panamanian law firm. Please note that I say allegedly, as Mossack Fonseca denies any association with these people and its client list is confidential. So far, at least.

It turns out not only to be more than anything I’ve ever seen; it’s bigger than any leak that any journalist has ever seen. It will also mark the beginning of the largest international investigative journalism project of all time. Ultimately, around 400 journalists from over eighty countries will be investigating stories originating from this data. Stories that report on the secret offshore companies of dozens of heads of state and dictators; stories explaining how billions are earned from arms, drug and blood-diamond trafficking and other illegal business; and stories that bring home to readers the scale of tax evasion by the wealthy and super-rich of this world. And all those stories begin with Mossack Fonseca on that first night. 1 Start The Russian president’s best friend. Businessmen close to the Argentinian president and her late husband and predecessor as head of state. A mysterious German with $500 million?

According to the UN, around thirty-two so-called low-intensity conflicts are currently raging around the world; these are conflicts that claim fewer than 10,000 lives each year. These are taking place in the Philippines, as well as Darfur, the Central African Republic, etc. etc. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world lose their lives in these conflicts. By enabling the purchase of weapons or the sale of blood diamonds, for example, offshore centres play an instrumental role in these conflicts. Politicians in the Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and the Caymans would probably say that they aren’t doing anything apart from allowing shell companies to set up there. That isn’t true. So-called tax havens and their service providers like Mossack Fonseca are nothing short of enemies of humanity. One thing that many offshore countries have in common is that they have virtually no resources.

pages: 251 words: 76,868

How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance by Parag Khanna


Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, bank run, blood diamonds, Bob Geldof, borderless world, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, commoditize, continuation of politics by other means, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, don't be evil, double entry bookkeeping, energy security, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, friendly fire, global village, Google Earth, high net worth, index fund, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, labour mobility, laissez-faire capitalism, Live Aid, Masdar, mass immigration, megacity, microcredit, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, off grid, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, out of africa, Parag Khanna, private military company, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, sustainable-tourism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, X Prize

If Western donors and multilaterals can coach on environmental standards, while China continues investing in raw materials but hires more local labor under pressure from African governments, then the renewed great power interest in Africa can finally mean a race to the top, rather than to the bottom. Reversing the Resource Curse Were it not for De Beers, Botswana could very well have wound up like Sierra Leone. Like other postcolonial African states, Botswana is landlocked and suffered turbulent governance during its early independence years. But rather than engaging in a “blood diamond”–fueled civil war, Botswana’s government auctioned off resource rights to get the best price for them, taxes corporate revenues rather than accepting personal bribes, and invests some of its profits in worthwhile national development projects. De Beers has been essential to Botswana’s strategy of controlling diamond-export volumes to maintain a high price (which they split fifty-fifty with the government) and has also supported a domestic distribution plan for diamond wealth.

Alien Tort Claims Act, the International Labor Rights Fund sued Unocal in the 1990s on behalf of impoverished Burmese villagers for abuses committed by the ruling junta during the construction of the $1.2 billion Yadana pipeline, where villagers were paid little or nothing, and shot if they moved too slowly. While legal tactics have evoked reflex benevolence from companies, NGOs also actively lobby the same corporations to reshape their policies on the ground prior to getting sued. Rather than continuously publishing damning reports on blood diamonds, Global Witness decided to sit down with De Beers to forge what became known as the Kimberly Process for monitoring and certifying the origin of diamonds being sold worldwide. Now more than one hundred diamond companies, monitoring groups, and regional organizations are involved. The worldwide governance of natural-resource wealth is now emerging through such public-private networks. Naming and shaming can stop bad practices, but nothing works better to promote good ones than globalization.

pages: 407 words: 121,458

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff by Fred Pearce


additive manufacturing, air freight, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, demographic transition, Fall of the Berlin Wall, food miles, ghettoisation, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, Kibera, mass immigration, megacity, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, profit motive, race to the bottom, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, the built environment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

The main hold-up could be providing safe passage for the fairtrade inspectors to go there. But Greg is on to something big. On the back of the film Blood Diamond, the ethical-jewellery business is set to take off. His model is the Body Shop ethical franchise chain established by the late Anita Roddick just down the road in Littlehampton. And he is as ambitious. ‘We want three hundred outlets by 2009,’ he said. ‘But all this depends on being able to get sufficient certified supplies.’ He is lining up more gold miners’ groups from Bolivia, Peru and several African countries, along with silver miners from the Philippines and diamond prospectors from Tanzania – and who knows, one day from the cauldron of blood diamonds, Sierra Leone, too. Greg won’t be alone, of course. ‘I can see large mining companies like Rio Tinto, and large retailers like Tiffany’s, moving in to the fairtrade jewellery business, promising fair prices for artisan miners,’ he says.

Most of the rest of the world’s chromium is in Kazakhstan – a fact that inexplicably escaped Borat’s attention. China has 60 per cent of our antimony, which is widely used in the ubiquitous electrical conducting devices known as semiconductors, and in flame retardants. There may be only thirty years’ supply of antimony left. China also has 30 per cent of our tin and 20 per cent of our zinc. All this makes resource politics interesting. We know all about oil politics. And the world of blood diamonds has become notorious. But what about phosphate politics? Phosphates are an essential nutrient in soils. Plants need phosphate to grow as much as they need water. It takes a tonne of phosphate to produce every 130 tonnes of grain. There are no substitutes. If natural phosphate is in short supply in their soils, as it often is, farmers must add phosphate rock. To that end, the world mines 140 million tonnes of the stuff a year, mostly from the US and China (which both consume most of what they produce) and Morocco.

Life of the Party: Stories of a Perpetual Man-Child by Bert Kreischer


airport security, blood diamonds, pre–internet, Saturday Night Live

To present my body in full display, either with overhead lights or in sunlight, and to allow a woman to get so close as to perform a direct examination, made me chuckle in embarrassment. I felt like telling him he should write that down and work it out, because there was definitely something there that people could relate to, but I got the feeling he wasn’t about to slow down and pull out a pen and a notebook. He was on a roll. Everything he said that night was a diamond, but a blood diamond, because as the night continued, a small fortune of alcohol accrued on that table. At the end of the night, when the only energy left in the club was Tracy’s, the white waitress appeared through the crowd of brothers with a smile and a bill. She quickly scanned the crowd—landing her sights on me, the lone white guy. Tony chuckled as she handed me the bill and my asshole tightened. Was I going to have to itemize this bill and ask everyone what they ordered and tell them how much to chip in?

pages: 243 words: 77,516

Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals by John Lefevre


airport security, blood diamonds, colonial rule, credit crunch, fixed income, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, jitney, market clearing, Occupy movement, Sloane Ranger, the market place

As we are leaving the bar, we each grab a love monkey to take with us for good luck. Might as well—they’re already paid for, and altruistically speaking, they’ll be safer with us. By the exit, we see Varun, having not bothered to search for a dark corner, with a wide grin on his face. He’s got a drink in each hand, a girl under each arm, and another on his lap. “T.I.A., baby. T.I.A.” The acronym from the movie Blood Diamond—“This Is Africa”—had long since been appropriated as “This Is Asia.” As I knew it would be, the casino is disgusting. “Sorry, chaps. It’s not Monte Carlo, but tonight, it’ll have to do.” I can tell that they don’t really want to be there, but I just want to gamble. We start off together at the baccarat table and then gradually jump around in search of blackjack, more drinks, and better luck.

pages: 244 words: 82,548

Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer by Alan Huffman


blood diamonds, British Empire, friendly fire, illegal immigration, Skype

Despite UN sanctions imposed five years earlier, Taylor was elected president in 1997 by a landslide, in what was generally considered a sham election, and began fomenting rebellions in neighboring countries. An oft-repeated mantra during Taylor’s campaign was “You killed my ma, you killed my pa, I will vote for you.” To make up for funds deprived him by the sanctions, Taylor tapped Liberia’s ship registry program, the largest in the world, as well as the Sierra Leonean diamond industry, which extracted so-called blood diamonds using child and slave labor. LURD, which formed in 1999, was one of several Liberian rebel groups bent on overthrowing Taylor. By the summer of 2003, when Hetherington and Brabazon arrived, LURD was the preeminent rebel group, directly supported by Guinea. Hetherington had done his homework on this complicated dynamic before traveling to Liberia during his previous trip in 1999. Though he had a good grasp of the history by the time he and Brabazon crossed the Mano River in June 2003, he wanted to see the fighters firsthand.

pages: 311 words: 89,785

Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith


blood diamonds, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, James Watt: steam engine, Livingstone, I presume, Scramble for Africa, trade route

An hour later I got up to feed the fire. “So,” she said casually. “A ring?” I’d always teased her about how bourgeois diamond engagement rings were: the “tradition” invented in the 1930s by the De Beers cartel—Cecil Rhodes again—after a glut of South African diamonds threatened to send prices crashing; the ad exec who picked the two months’ salary figure out of thin air; the profits from “blood diamonds” mined in war zones that fueled vicious conflicts across Africa, including the DRC. She didn’t deny any of it. But she still wanted one. I owed her that much. I told her I was going to give her a diamond ring that had belonged to my grandmother. I’d just underestimated how long it would take to have it cleaned and resized and FedExed here. More procrastination or just poor planning? She knew better than to ask.

pages: 342 words: 94,762

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy


algorithmic trading, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, High speed trading, impulse control, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, Menlo Park, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nick Leeson, paper trading, Paul Graham, payday loans, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, six sigma, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, upwardly mobile, Walter Mischel

But Kroft persuaded Obama to give him a few more minutes on camera later, after a ceremony for firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11, and that gave 60 Minutes just enough material to fill all three of the show’s segments. Francesco Guerrera was born in Milan and has a first-class degree from City University in London. He has won numerous awards, including a Foreign Press Association Award for his investigation of “blood diamonds,” an Overseas Press Award for his scoop on CNOOC’s takeover bid for Unocal, and a SABEW Award for a video series on the collapse of Lehman Brothers.23 He is widely considered one of the world’s leading business reporters and is editor of the Wall Street Journal’s respected “Money and Investing” section. He is twenty-eight years younger than Kroft. When Guerrera began working as a journalist during the 1990s, technology had not yet transformed journalism, but it was about to.

pages: 341 words: 111,525

Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart by Tim Butcher


airport security, blood diamonds, clean water, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, European colonialism, failed state, Live Aid, Livingstone, I presume, Scramble for Africa, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade

What Iraq, AIDS and globalisation are for today's campaigners, the Congo was for Edwardian human-rights groups. They were galvanised by the issue, launching unprecedented campaigns, both in Europe and America, to highlight the cruelty committed in the Congo Free State in the name of Leopold, focusing on the rubber industry and the violence unleashed by colonial agents to harvest it in the Congo. Just as campaigners today use the term Blood Diamonds to discredit gems produced in Africa's war zones, so their predecessors from a hundred years ago spoke of Red Rubber, publishing dramatic accounts of villagers being murdered or having their hands cut off to terrify their neighbours into harvesting more rubber. Leopold's representatives tried to suppress the flow of information emerging from the Congo and produced their own propaganda about the benign nature of the colony, but slowly and steadily, as information leaked out of the Congo over the years, smuggled out mainly by missionaries, they lost the public-relations battle.

pages: 322 words: 84,752

Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up by Philip N. Howard


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, Brian Krebs, British Empire, call centre, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, digital map, Edward Snowden,, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Julian Assange, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mobile money, Mohammed Bouazizi, national security letter, Network effects, obamacare, Occupy movement, packet switching, pension reform, prediction markets, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, spectrum auction, statistical model, Stuxnet, trade route, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks, zero day

Fourth, each device produced for the internet of things needs to be able to report the ultimate beneficiary of the data it collects. Tax evaders, terrorists, drug cartels, and corrupt politicians don’t want to keep their dirty money under their own names. So one of the most important anticorruption campaigns is against anonymous companies that are able to hide their owner ship structure in layers of easily created shell companies.29 The cruel industry behind blood diamonds, in particular, has been able to bury the identity of company owners and beneficiaries. Unfortunately, only the most experienced data sleuths can track down their personal data and see who is using it. Given the large volumes of compromised personal records—on average each U.S. adult has had nine such records compromised—it would be impossible to fully understand who has access to data about us.30 National-security organizations may have better digital archives of our communications than we have on our own devices.

pages: 261 words: 86,905

How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--And What It Really Means by John Lanchester


asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping,, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, forward guidance, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, high net worth, High speed trading, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kodak vs Instagram, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, loss aversion, margin call, McJob, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Nikolai Kondratiev, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, yield curve

Commodities in general, once the effect of inflation was allowed for and excluding oil, fell in price for about 150 years, until the turn of the twenty-first century; since then they have had an astonishing boom in prices. The main cause of the boom has been the growth of China, whose industrial output increased by 22 percent every year on average in the first decade of this century. Making more stuff means you need more stuff to make it with—hence, a commodity boom.27 The quest to find and extract commodities from troubled places is one of the darkest aspects of the contemporary economic system: “blood diamonds” are the best known of these products, but there are many more and many whose stories go untold. Much of the world’s computer equipment functions by means of tantalum capacitors, which are made with an ore called coltan, much of which comes from the Congo, where it’s extracted from mines run by warlords using slave labor. From the business point of view, if your product or service is “commodified” or “commoditized,” it means people can get it from anywhere and there is no reason why your version of it is unique.

pages: 1,117 words: 305,620

Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill


active measures, air freight, anti-communist, blood diamonds, business climate, citizen journalism, colonial rule, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, drone strike, failed state, friendly fire, Google Hangouts, indoor plumbing, Islamic Golden Age, land reform, Mohammed Bouazizi, Naomi Klein, private military company, Project for a New American Century, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, WikiLeaks

It also put Fazul on a path to becoming the chief of al Qaeda’s East Africa operations. After the Nairobi bombings, the United States aggressively tried to freeze the assets of bin Laden and al Qaeda. In response, bin Laden sought new revenue streams and put Fazul in charge of an ambitious operation to penetrate the blood diamond market. From 1999 to 2001, Fazul would largely operate out of Liberia under the protection of its dictator, Charles Taylor. In all, al Qaeda took in an estimated $20 million in untraceable blood diamond money, much of it from the killing fields of Sierra Leone. By that point, Fazul was a wanted man, actively hunted by the US authorities, and al Qaeda spent huge sums of money to keep him safe. He had become a player. In 2002, Fazul was dispatched to Lamu, Kenya—ironically just a stone’s throw from the eventual JSOC base at Manda Bay.

pages: 379 words: 114,807

The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth by Fred Pearce


Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, big-box store, blood diamonds, British Empire, Buy land – they’re not making it any more, Cape to Cairo, carbon footprint, clean water, corporate raider, credit crunch, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave,, energy security, farmers can use mobile phones to check market prices, index fund, Jeff Bezos, land reform, land tenure, Mahatma Gandhi, market fundamentalism, megacity, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nikolai Kondratiev, offshore financial centre, out of africa, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, smart cities, structural adjustment programs, too big to fail, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks

Sun Biofuels has joined a growing list of companies that tried and failed to make it big from the world’s sudden enthusiasm for biofuels in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Some might have succeeded. Others always looked like buccaneering bad boys. Energem was a Canadian company owned by a South African, Tony Teixeira. Previously known as DiamondWorks, it had a well-documented involvement with people who were trading “blood diamonds” from Angola and Sierra Leone. It had links to London mercenaries, and at one point employed Simon Mann, a former SAS officer who was later convicted in Equatorial Guinea for trying to organize a coup there. Allegations that Teixeira was aiding gun runners supplying South Africa–backed UNITA fighters in Angola led to his being dubbed a “merchant of death” by British foreign minister Peter Hain in 2000.

pages: 494 words: 116,739

Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama


active measures, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blood diamonds, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser,, end world poverty, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, global village, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, liberation theology, libertarian paternalism, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, Nicholas Carr, North Sea oil, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Powell Memorandum, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, Y2K

Paying families to send their children to school through conditional cash transfers and imposing sin taxes on unhealthy goods are types of manipulation.15 Charity, in the form of handouts without attempts to nurture people’s capacity, can be helpful in emergency situations, but, when provided without reflection, it can become a crutch that stunts growth. And trade is often considered an unqualified good, but it easily devolves to exploitation when exchanges happen between parties of unequal power or wealth. Think blood diamonds and Nigerian oil. Mentorship is most studied in the business world, where it is sometimes contrasted with coaching and managing, both of which share mentorship’s acceptance of status disparity but differ from mentorship in important ways.16 In certain definitions of coaching, coaches are content-free sounding walls and program managers: They introduce no technical knowledge to the relationship.17 Unlike a coach, a mentor often brings relevant expertise and resources.

pages: 587 words: 117,894

Cybersecurity: What Everyone Needs to Know by P. W. Singer, Allan Friedman


4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blood diamonds, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business continuity plan, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, drone strike, Edward Snowden, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fault tolerance, global supply chain, Google Earth, Internet of things, invention of the telegraph, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, M-Pesa, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, packet switching, Peace of Westphalia, pre–internet, profit motive, RAND corporation, ransomware, RFC: Request For Comment, risk tolerance, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, uranium enrichment, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, web application, WikiLeaks, zero day, zero-sum game

Eventually, this effort to battle what Anonymous saw as growing restrictions on Internet freedom connected to broader political issues. Companies like PayPal, Bank of America, MasterCard, and Visa were targeted because they stopped processing payments to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, following its controversial publication of US diplomatic cables. The Zimbabwe government’s websites were targeted after its president’s wife sued a newspaper for US$15 million for publishing a WikiLeaks cable that linked her to the blood diamond trade. The Tunisian government was targeted for censoring the WikiLeaks documents as well as news about uprisings in the country (in a poignant twist, a noted local blogger, Slim Amamou, who had supported Anonymous in the effort, was arrested by the old regime and then became a minister in the new regime that the effort helped put into power). The British government was threatened with similar attacks if it extradited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

pages: 462 words: 142,240

Iron Sunrise by Stross, Charles


blood diamonds, dumpster diving, gravity well, hiring and firing, industrial robot, life extension, loose coupling, mass immigration, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, RFID, side project, speech recognition, technological singularity, trade route, uranium enrichment, urban sprawl, zero-sum game

I—” She found herself talking into silence. “Shit. ReMastered.” Whoever they were, at least she had a name, now. A name for something to hate. The loop path branched, and her lightbug darted off to one side. Wednesday followed it tiredly. It was past midnight by her local time, and she badly needed something to keep her going. Here, the concourse took a turn for the more conventional. The vegetation thinned out, replaced by tiled blood diamond panes the size of her feet. Large structures bumped up from the floor and walls, freight lifts and baggage handlers and stairwells leading down into the docking tunnels that led out to the berthed starships. Some ships maintained their own gravity, didn’t they? Wednesday wasn’t sure what to expect of this one — wasn’t it from Old Earth? She vaguely remembered lectures about the place, docutours and ecodramas.

pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay


3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, digital map, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marchetti’s constant, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel,, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Its free zones are hubs for smuggling embargoed American goods into Iran, and for smuggling Chinese counterfeit drugs into America. Dubai also trafficks in sex and death. An estimated ten thousand kid-napped girls move through here, while the weapons dealer Viktor Bout reputedly armed both Hezbollah and the Iraqi insurgency from the emirates. His fleet of fifty aircraft is the black market FedEx, exchanging assault rifles and ammunition for oil money and blood diamonds. Defying all sanctions, his planes supplied more or less every warlord in Africa, including both sides of Angola’s civil war. Al Qaeda and the U.S. military were also his customers, as was the United Nations, which unwittingly relied on him to deliver aid to Darfur. (Bout was extradited to the United States in the fall of 2010.) What people find most repugnant about Dubai is the inhuman way of life forced on the “guest workers” who compose a third of its population.

pages: 740 words: 217,139

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama


Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, endogenous growth, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, invention of agriculture, invention of the printing press, Khyber Pass, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, means of production, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, principal–agent problem, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Right to Buy, Scramble for Africa, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), spice trade, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

Whereupon the prince hastened to order that silver spoons be provided “remarking that with silver and gold he could not secure a retinue, but that with a retinue he was in a position to secure silver and gold.”37 During the 1990s, Sierra Leone and Liberia collapsed into warlordism as a result of Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor building retinues of retainers, which they then used to acquire not silver spoons but blood diamonds. But war is not motivated by the acquisitive impulse alone. Although warriors may be greedy for silver and gold, they also display courage in battle not so much for the sake of resources, but for honor.38 Honor has to do with the willingness to risk one’s life for a cause, and for the recognition of other warriors. Consider Tacitus’s account of the German tribes written in the first century A.D., one of the few contemporaneous accounts of these progenitors of modern Europeans: And so there is great rivalry among the retainers to decide who shall have the first place with his chief, and among the chieftains as to who shall have the largest and keenest retinue.

pages: 828 words: 232,188

Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Atahualpa, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, information asymmetry, invention of the printing press, iterative process, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, life extension, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, means of production, Menlo Park, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, open economy, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, Port of Oakland, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, price discrimination, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

In 1999, the RUF launched an assault on Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, known as “Operation No Living Thing,” in which entire neighborhoods were looted and their inhabitants indiscriminately raped and killed.1 How does one explain this level of human degradation? One answer, usually not articulated too openly but often tacitly assumed, is that things were somehow always like this in Africa. The Sierra Leone conflict, portrayed in the popular film Blood Diamond, as well as others like the insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda, or the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, have reinforced Western notions that Africa is a place of brutality and barbarism. Robert D. Kaplan and others have suggested that in West Africa the veneer of civilization had broken down, and these societies were returning to an older, primordial form of tribalism, only fought with modern weapons.2 This answer reflects a great deal of ignorance about historical Africa, and about tribalism more broadly.

pages: 772 words: 203,182

What Went Wrong: How the 1% Hijacked the American Middle Class . . . And What Other Countries Got Right by George R. Tyler

8-hour work day, active measures, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Black Swan, blood diamonds, blue-collar work, Bolshevik threat, bonus culture, British Empire, business process, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Diane Coyle, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, income inequality, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, lake wobegon effect, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, performance metric, pirate software, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

American business contributes less than one-third the share of taxes by Australian firms, for example.30 Piratical Tax Havens: Stealing Tax Revenue from Neighbors There are plenty of American firms with tax rates approaching the nominal rate of 35 percent, but the average effective rate is 21 percent because thousands of others pay far less. And most are multinationals exploiting tax havens abroad, small rogue nations, such as Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, which parasitically pirate their neighbors’ taxes. Tax havens are state-sponsored thieves that have created an enormous industry serving drug and arms dealers, despots, American multinationals, blood diamond warlords, and African elephant killers (tusk smugglers)—along with your ordinary wealthy tax dodger. Experts such as the economist Martin Sullivan, formerly with the US Treasury Department and now at Washington-based Tax Analysts, have found that havens enable many profitable American multinationals to pay little or no tax. Over the last five years, for example, Prudential paid taxes of only 7.6 percent of profits; Yahoo, 7 percent; Boeing, 4.5 percent; and the Carnival cruise firm exploited an obscure loophole enabling it to incorporate in tax haven Panama and pay taxes of only 1.1 percent on $11 billion in profits.31 These tax rates are far lower than those paid by international competitors that jostle for customers with US firms in global markets.

pages: 1,261 words: 294,715

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky

autonomous vehicles, Bernie Madoff, biofilm, blood diamonds, British Empire, Broken windows theory, Brownian motion, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, corporate personhood, corporate social responsibility, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, desegregation, double helix, Drosophila, Edward Snowden,, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, framing effect, fudge factor, George Santayana, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, John von Neumann, Loma Prieta earthquake, long peace, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mohammed Bouazizi, mouse model, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, publication bias, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel, wikimedia commons, zero-sum game

Rule of a land by an occupying army, by a colonial overlord, by an unelected dictator. Illiteracy, death in infancy, death in childbirth, death from preventable disease. Capital punishment. Here are things invented in the last century: Bans on the use of certain types of weapons. The World Court and the concept of crimes against humanity. The UN and the dispatching of multinational peacekeeping forces. International agreements to hinder trafficking of blood diamonds, elephant tusks, rhino horns, leopard skins, and humans. Agencies that collect money to aid disaster victims anywhere on the planet, that facilitate intercontinental adoption of orphans, that battle global pandemics and send medical personnel to any place of conflict. Yes, I know, I’m an utter naïf if I think laws are universally enforced. For example, in 1981 Mauritania became the last country to ban slavery; nevertheless, today roughly 20 percent of its people are slaves, and the government has prosecuted a total of one slave owner.1 I recognize that little has changed in many places; I have spent decades in Africa living around people who believe that epileptics are possessed and that the organs of murdered albinos have healing powers, where beating of wives, children, and animals is the norm, five-year-olds herd cattle and haul firewood, pubescent girls are clitoridectomized and given to old men as third wives.