How economic embargoes turned Cuba into an island of hackers & DIY engineers. (Accompanying photo essay). In 1991, Cuba's economy began to implode. "The Special Period in the Time of Peace" was the government's euphemism for what was a culmination of 30 years worth of isolation. It began in the 60s, with engineers leaving Cuba for America. Ernesto Oroza, a designer and artist, studied the innovations created during this period. He found that the general population had created homespun, Frankenstein-like machines for their survival, made from everyday objects. Oroza began to collect these machines, and would later contextualize it as "art" in a movement he dubbed "Technological Disobedience." See also, the short film: Havana Bikes (previously). Oroza catalogs and calls these things the Architecture of Necessity.
A Zimbabwean cargo aircraft crashed earlier today at Shanghai-Pudong airport, killing three and seriously injuring four. It is not yet known why the aircraft, an ex Varig MD-11F (pic) operated by an airline called Avient, failed to become airborne, but the airline itself has received quite some attention recently. Headquartered in Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom, they almost went bankrupt, leaving behind massive debts in France, only to almost out of nowhere get this MD-11F, which crashed within a week of being acquired. (pprune, reg req) But that's not the only shady thing about this airline... [more inside]
Documents: U.S. condoned Iraq oil smuggling Documents obtained by CNN reveal the United States knew about, and even condoned, embargo-breaking oil sales by Saddam Hussein's regime, and did so to shore up alliances with Iraq's neighbors. The oil trade with countries such as Turkey and Jordan appears to have been an open secret inside the U.S. government and the United Nations for years.
The lighter side of... UN Sanctions. A ragtag gang of Iraqi sailors. Italy, the land of 1000 dances. Prostitutes, batteries, sexy game-shows. I smell a box-office smash-hit! Hey, this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened, either.
An American Tragedy: No habanos; no Havana Club; not even a dram of that lovely new rummy Glenfiddich malt whisky! Although the embargo is still popular with the Jesse Helms crowd and certain Cuban immigrés, resistence is higher than ever. Why does it go on? From the outside, it just looks like obstinate stupidity. What is it with the Democrats, especially? Are they still covering up for JFK's mistakes? He, at least, had a good stock of Cuban cigars [well, Petit Uppmanns...] with which to sit the crisis out... What gives? What could possibly justify Americans missing out on such a massive scale? If for the pleasure of a decent smoke or even proper mojito or daiquiri alone?
UN warns food aid to N Korea is drying up 7 million North Koreans face starvation. You are the American president. What do you suggest be done? (note: America was the biggest supplier of food till recently.) Do you tell them No food till you give up nukes or do you feed them what you can and try to negotiate? Or do you sit back and say: not my problem.
Make an Oscar-nominated documentary, get fined $25,000. Ry Cooder gets slapped with a fine from the US Treasury Department for "spending money in Cuba without its permission." Are they pissed because The Buena Vista Social Club was a terrific movie that opened the eyes of millions of Americans to the pointlessness of the Cuban embargo? [via RRE]