chimerically: (airplane)
I don't have time to expound on the implications of this as I would like to just now, but I heard on NPR's The World earlier today about a new addition to Google Earth: high-resolution images of burned villages and refugee camps in Darfur. Those involved hope that the imagery will function as a call to action to stop the genocide. Another fascinating use of photos as unquestionable "evidence," of the surveilling power of photographs, and of the (hoped-for) power of photos to make events more real and immediate.

http://www.ogleearth.com/2006/10/darfur.html
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N10439052.htm
http://www.ushmm.org/googleearth/

Selected quotes:

It's hard to picture a genocide ... Officials at Google and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum hope that visualizing events in Darfur in specific detail will move people to act. ... We want ... perpetrators to understand that they are being watched. ... Knowing about a genocide has not been enough in the past to stop it. The question is whether seeing it -- especially in this large-scale, high-tech way -- will help make the difference.


chimerically: (almost 2 years old)
Here's your daily dose of evil, as heard on NPR a few minutes ago. Donegal International bought a portion of Zambia's national debt, worth $55 million, for $3 million a few years ago, counting on rumors that Zambia's debts would be canceled (and relying on precedents of another vulture company successfully suing two Latin American countries for canceled debts it purchased). Sure enough, the Zambian debts were canceled, and now they're suing the Zambian government for the full value of their "investment." One Zambian official said that this amount could have hired 6,000 teachers and opened a hospital ... but instead it has to be spent on making some billionaires even richer. Sort of defeats the purpose of debt cancellation, dunnit?

"A British court recently ruled that Donegal International ... has the right to profit from its purchase of millions of dollars worth of Zambia’s debt – acquired for a tiny fraction of its face value eight years ago. ... The Donegal case in Zambia shows just how skewed the current financial system is towards the interests of the wealthy. Before reaching a debt cancellation agreement, an impoverished country must borrow from the international financial institutions in order to repay wealthy creditors and those same financial institutions."

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