What’s the foreign media saying about America today?
- In Cameroon, environmental groups are accusing an American agricultural firm of a whole host of shady activities, including land-grabs, bribery and potential deforestation, reports the Inter Press Service, an African news agency. New York-based Herakles Farms wants to open a 180,000-acre palm oil plantation in an environmentally sensitive area in southwestern Cameroon. Low-fat Palm oil is a popular cooking product in tropical regions around the world, and also has valuable uses as a biofuel. Global demand for it has doubled since 2000, according to Reuters. The multinational Blackstone Group will help finance the project in Cameroon. But activist organizations like Greenpeace say the project will be a disaster for locals and the environment. “”Today the big push is to get rid of the millions of smallholder farmers in Cameroon, to transform them into low-paid labourers on large farms,” says one Greenpeace official.
- Google is planning to open its first data center in Latin America, according to a story in Business News America. The $150 million complex in Santiago, Chile is expected to open in mid-2013. Why Chile? Google says the prosperous South American nation has a stable, business-friendly climate. And Chile’s actual climate (think weather) works well for Google too: the country’s low humidity will make it easy to maintain expensive data-storage hardware. Google also has data centers in the United States, Europe and Asia.
The U.S. and Russia might have pretty tense relations at times but Vladimir Putin’s latest animal-related stunt has earned him praise from the U.S. State Department. On Wednesday the Russian president took to the skies in a motorized hang-glider and led a flock of five critically endangered Siberian white cranes in flight. According to a report by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, a State Dept. spokesman said that Putin’s “personal involvement focuses much needed international attention on the plight of these iconic migratory birds.” Putin, the ultimate alpha male, has also been photographed petting a polar bear, tranquilizing a Siberian tiger and shooting a grey whale with a specially-designed crossbow – all for the purposes of science, of course.