Somewhere south of Cannon Falls, Minnesota.
Tragedies often focus attention. I’ve been paying attention to Haiti ever since I met a friend from Haiti on a flight back to the US in 1988. And some things, I think are common knowledge:
After a dramatic slave uprising that shook the western world, and 12 years of war, Haiti finally defeated Napoleon’s forces in 1804 and declared independence.
Other facts? I did not know:
But France demanded reparations: 150m francs, in gold.
For Haiti, this debt did not signify the beginning of freedom, but the end of hope. Even after it was reduced to 60m francs in the 1830s, it was still far more than the war-ravaged country could afford. Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government for their liberty. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. In order to manage the original reparations, further loans were taken out — mostly from the United States, Germany and France. Instead of developing its potential, this deformed state produced a parade of nefarious leaders, most of whom gave up the insurmountable task of trying to fix the country and looted it instead. In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile. Haiti was trapped in a downward spiral, from which it is still impossible to escape.
Haiti is fucked enough by the natural world. I really hadn’t realized how much man had tried to compete with that.
It’s World’s Fair Use Day! Err, what’s that?
World’s Fair Use Day (WFUD) is a free, all-day celebration of the doctrine of fair use: the legal right that allows innovators and creators to make particular uses of copyrighted materials. WFUD will take place at the Newseum in Washington D.C. on Tuesday January 12, 2010, and will be organized by Public Knowledge (PK), a Washington D.C.-based non-profit, consumer-advocacy group. PK works to ensure that communications and intellectual property policies encourage creativity, further free expression and discourse and provide universal access to knowledge. As part of its campaign to return balance to copyright law, PK hopes to use WFUD to educate the public about the importance of fair use in an information society.
That’s where I’ll be all day. Sound interesting to you? You can watch the proceedings below, and participate via the connected chat and Twitter hashtag #wfud (which I expect will be projected behind the speakers for most of the day).
(moved embed to the flip b/c it’s autoplaying)
I sometimes wonder about the brains and talent that are wasted simply because they were born into a population of idiots:
HUNTSVILLE, AL – “I believe the Bible is true,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne said here Wednesday. “Every word of it.”
Byrne’s testimony came as he tried to clarify an earlier statement seized on by his opponents for the GOP nomination.
Byrne had been quoted in the Mobile Press-Register in November as saying, “I believe there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be literally true and parts that are not.”
Page 1 of 2