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The Music of Chance By PAUL AUSTER
This “rich and dazzling” (Wall Street Journal) novel follows Jim Nashe
who, after squandering an unexpected inheritance, picks up a young
gambler named Jack Pozzi hoping to con two millionaires. But when
their plans backfire, Jim and Jack are indentured by their elusive
marks and are forced to build a meaningless wall with bricks gathered
from ruins of an Irish castle. Time passes, their debts mount, and
anger builds as the two struggle to dig themselves out of their
New York Times-bestselling author Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy)
brings us back into his strange, shape-shifting world of fiendish
bargains and punitive whims, where chance is a powerful yet
Paul Auster, The Music of Chance
“It's just another word for the same thing. You want to believe in
some hidden purpose. You're trying to persuade yourself there's a
reason for what happens in the world. I don't care what you call
it--God or luck or harmony-- it all comes down to the same bullshit.
It's a way of avoiding the facts, of refusing to look at how things
really work.” ―
'Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions' Radio New Zealand
The Living Planet Report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature said the
global populations of mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians have
fallen by 60 percent between 1970 and 2014.
The report, published every two years, aims to assess the state of the
The 2018 edition said only a quarter of the world's land area is now
free from the impact of human activity and the proportion will have
fallen to just a 10th by 2050.
It said "Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass
It blamed exploding human consumption, climate change, pollution,
farming and deforestation.
The report noted that although forest loss has been slowed by
reforestation in some regions in recent decades, the loss has
"accelerated in tropical forests that contain some of the highest
levels of biodiversity on Earth".
It said South and Central America suffered the most dramatic decline
in vertebrate populations - an 89 percent loss in vertebrate
populations compared with 1970.
Marine freshwater species are particularly at risk, the report said.
Plastic pollution has been detected in the deepest parts of the word's
oceans, including the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific.
Freshwater species - living in lakes, rivers and wetlands - have seen
an 83 percent decline in numbers since since 1970, according to the
Inside Hunter S. Thompson's Battle Against American Fascism @RollingStone
Law & Politics
Hunter Thompson had America’s number before most of us even knew.
Attending the 1964 Republican convention that resulted in hard-right
Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater becoming the party’s nominee for
president, Thompson was “genuinely frightened at the violent reaction
[the gathering] provoked,” including hostility toward the media.
Several years later, he noted that Richard Nixon “represents that
dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character
almost every other country in the world has learned to fear and
despise.” The country itself, he wrote, was “just a nation of 220
million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and
no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to
make us uncomfortable.”
“As a freelance journalist he really had the chance to be present for
these world-changing moments. He had an ear for history, moments that
might in retrospect define not just a year or an event but a kind of
segment of American history, and that’s something that’s been
overlooked in his writing.”
Denevi describes what he calls the “Faustian bargain” Thompson made
when he began taking ADHD-combatting Dexedrine in 1964. “Instead of
changing the more detrimental aspects of his life — terrible sleep
rhythms, drinking all day every day since he was 14 — he could use the
Dexedrine to either recover and to push himself beyond and to in some
sense make it a matter of will instead of a matter of personal
limitations,” he says. Denevi was able to see one of Thompson’s’
infamous pills when a friend showed him a letter from Thompson
complete with one of the little orange tablets still taped to it.
Even though Nixon’s presidency would collapse, Denevi argues that
Thompson wasn’t uplifted by his arch-enemy’s fall. In another moment
of synchronicity, Thompson was swimming in the Watergate hotel pool
when news of the Democratic headquarters break-in made the news. But
by the time of the Watergate hearings (which he initially just watched
on TV but wound up covering for Rolling Stone), Thompson was
overloaded and taking pills, alcohol and now cocaine. “When Nixon
left, Thompson has that beautiful passage about how it’ll never the
same in Washington — the circus is leaving town,” he says. “A light
had kind of gone out of the world in terms of inspiration and the
fight he was fighting had, in a sense, ended. He still wrote some very
beautiful essays after that, but he never seemed able to sustain the
same book length.”
Chocolatiers Need More Cocoa, and They Want Millennials to Help
The maker of chocolate M&M’s and Snickers sees a growing risk on the
horizon: sliding cocoa supply from one of the world’s top growers.
The answer? Comics and WiFi. Mars Inc., maker of candy famous to
consumers across the world, is among firms trying to lure millennials
into cocoa farming in Indonesia, where aging planters, decaying trees,
pests and diseases have depressed output so much that the nation has
become a net importer. The hope is that the younger set, attracted by
free Internet, will get hooked on cocoa at themed cafes and be
persuaded to return to the farms.
“We opened a cafe that has WiFi, and many pictures and objects about
cocoa farming, and it’s attracted a lot of teenagers because of the
WiFi,” said Arie Nauvel Iskandar, chairman of the Indonesia Cocoa
Association and director of corporate affairs at PT Mars Symbioscience
Indonesia. “It’s just one way to introduce young people to cocoa.”
The association, which is working with Mars and other companies to
boost supply, says output could rise 15 percent next year to 300,000
metric tons as trees planted in recent years mature. To ensure crop
growth doesn’t flag after that, a national program will kick in to
push output to 600,000 tons by 2024, said Iskandar. The plan aims not
only to attract millennials, but make stronger clones and more funding
available to curb pests and diseases, he said.
A crop of that size would be large enough to meet rising demand from
domestic processors, and supply the world market, said Iskandar. “With
the best farming practices, mentoring, proper fertilizer and the right
planting materials, we’ll be able to meet the target,” he said.
The increased output may go some way to ease chocolate makers’
dependence on the world’s biggest growers, Ivory Coast and Ghana, as
demand climbs in the next few years. The global chocolate
confectionery market grew 2.5 percent in the nine months through
April, according to Barry Callebaut AG, the top cocoa processor, in
July, citing data from analytics firm Nielsen.
“Cocoa must be seen as an option for living and having a good future,”
Iskandar said in an interview Friday. “Many farmers send their
children away to school, so they don’t follow in their father’s
footsteps because they feel a farmer’s life is hard. We have to give
enough information to them and the millennials” to change that
perception, he said.
The national program will be finalized next year and start under the
new administration in early 2020 at the latest, he said. Indonesia
holds presidential elections in April.
Cocoa areas have shrunk to about 1.3 million hectares as land is
converted to residential or infrastructure use, or farmers switch to
more profitable crops such as palm oil, according to Iskandar. The
area was about 1.7 million hectares in 2010, the association said last
Indonesia is the largest palm oil producer, accounting for about half
of global supply. While palm is grown mainly in Sumatra and
Kalimantan, there’s been a massive expansion of plantations in
Sulawesi in the past few years, threatening cultivation of cocoa.
Sulawesi accounts for about 70 percent of the nation’s cocoa
World Bank approves $1.2 bln in grants, loans to Ethiopia
The World Bank has approved $1.2 billion in grants and loans to Ethiopia.
The bank said in a statement posted on its website late on Tuesday
that the funds — a $600 million grant and a $600 million loan — would
go towards supporting reforms in the financial sector including
improving the investment climate.
In response to the reform pledges made by the government since Prime
Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April, the bank is providing new
financial and technical support, it said in the statement.
The support will promote public-private partnerships “to improve
efficiency in key sectors” including telecom, power, and trade
logistics, the bank said.
@Naspers Jumps Most Since 2014 on Double Boost From @MSCI_Inc Tencent
Naspers Ltd. soared the most in close on four years Wednesday as
investors got two pieces of good news.
Naspers benefited from a 5.9 percent rally in its 31 percent-owned
Tencent Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong, the biggest gain for the Chinese
internet giant in 2 1/2 weeks. Secondly, index compiler MSCI Inc. said
overnight it has decided against penalizing companies with multiple
share classes -- like Naspers -- with reduced representation in its
Africa’s largest company by value jumped as much as 9.7 percent, the
most since December 2014, after MSCI said equities with unequal voting
structures will continue to be eligible for inclusion in its indexes
at their free float market capitalization weight.
“Given how big Naspers is for the South African market, where many
investors can’t own Naspers’s full weighting in the Top 40 Index
because it is higher than their maximum holding allocation, many
Naspers shareholders would be people who own it through
emerging-market indexes,” said Bright Khumalo, a portfolio manager at
Vestact Asset Management in Johannesburg. “If they had to drop out of
the index, it would be a big hit in the short run for the Naspers
share price. That threat is now removed.”
Naspers accounts for 16 percent of the benchmark FTSE/JSE Africa All
Share Index, pushing the gauge as much as 3.6 percent higher
Wednesday. The stock is 20 percent of the market’s TOP40 Tradeable
Index. Naspers was 8.4 percent higher as of 12:45 p.m.