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The country of the future finally arrives
Tom Phillips, The Guardian,
With an export boom and oil finds, Brazil, the sleeping giant of South America is awakening
Sitting in his air-conditioned office in Guarantã do Norte, a remote agricultural town on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, local mayor José Humberto Macêdo looked a contented man.
Thanks largely to the global boom in commodities, this soya-growing region has been transformed into the vanguard of Brazil’s march on to the world stage. “This is going to be the new Brazil,” Macêdo beamed, explaining how ballooning commodity prices had made his region, Mato Grosso state, into a powerhouse of the Brazilian economy.
Across the country, similar optimism can now be heard among businessmen and politicians, all convinced that South America’s sleeping giant is finally waking up. Brazil has long been known as the país do futuro (country of the future). But a series of economic and political crises and 21 years of military rule somehow meant the future never quite arrived.
(10 May 2008)
UK palm oil consumption fuels Colombia violence, says report
Rory Carroll, Guardian
Britain’s passion for chocolate, cakes and crisps is fuelling a violent campaign to force Colombian peasants off their land to make way for oil palm plantations, a report claims today.
British consumers have become the biggest export market for the controversial crop which is used in margarine and pastries as well as toothpaste, soap and detergents and cosmetics.
The surge in demand has sustained a ruthless landgrab by rightwing paramilitary groups in Colombia’s rural areas, War on Want, a London-based advocacy group, says in its report.
“The UK, despite being one of the largest consumers of Colombia’s palm oil products, remains unaware of the devastating impact of cultivation of this crop on the lives of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.”
(12 May 2008)
Report says wind can produce a fifth of US electricity needs by 2030
Two decades from now Americans could get as much electricity from windmills as from nuclear power plants, according to a U.S. government report that lays out a possible plan for wind energy growth.
The report, a collaboration between the Energy Department research labs and industry, concludes wind energy could generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, about the same share now produced by nuclear reactors.
(12 May 2008)