October 19, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Lula travels to Africa

Brazil's president "Lula" da Silva is visiting several African countries, mainly to promote Brazil's biofuels program. He began his trip in Burkina Faso. The last sentence from the BBC article shows why many people are skeptical of biofuels as a panacea for energy scarcity:

Some environmental groups in Brazil fear the rapid expansion of sugar cane plantations to grow ethanol could threaten sensitive ecosystems such as the Brazilian Savannah and indirectly the Amazon as cattle are displaced from other regions.

"Genocide" in Bolivia?

The definition of genocide has become so diluted in recent years that it is now almost meaningless. Former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is being charged with genocide for the killing of 60 or so protesters during his final months in office, in 2003. Sanchez de Lozada currently resides in the United States, and Bolivia plans to present extradition papers to the U.S.government. The political motivations of current president Evo Morales, who is trying to ram through constitutional changes mimicking the march toward authoritarianism in Venezuela, are all too obvious. See BBC.

Costa Rica rain forest aid

Various international conservation groups are donating $26 million to Costa Rica to preserve their precious rain forests. The money will be disbursed over the next 16 years. The Talamanca Highland area is one of the priority habitats where many rare species are found. See BBC. Jacqueline and I passed through that area on the way from San Jose to the Pacific port town of Golfito in 2005, but the bus didn't stop for long enough for us to enjoy the scenery or wildlife.