The relatives of five American missionaries who were abducted and
murdered by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have
filed suit against Chiquita Brands International Inc., accusing the
banana company of secretly financing and arming the rebel (and
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of Florida, alleges the banana company
knowingly and willfully provided the FARC with protection money and
weapons in the late 1990s.
The case sheds much-needed light on
the role that U.S.-based companies (and certainly others) play in
fomenting conflicts that cost thousands of lives. Chiquita has admitted
to being one of them. . . .
Here is the gist of what the law suit alleges, making it clear that
the company never bothered to tell the grieving families of Chiquita’s
role in funding the FARC. It may be enough to make you give up bananas,
as it was for me:
Although Plaintiffs confirmed years ago that FARC was the entity or organization that carried out the kidnappings and
murders, Plaintiffs did not learnuntil recently about Chiquita’s
involvement in funding and providing other material support to FARC. Indeed, to this day, the full scope, including dollar amounts,
timing, mechanisms, and anti-detection methods employed by Chiquita in
connection with its FARC-related conduct is murky, and demands document
and testimonial discovery.
It was not until March 19, 2007 thatPlaintiffs learned, through filings made public by the DOJ, in regard to Chiquita’s illegal payments to another Colombian FTO, that Chiquita had, in prior periods, made illegal and secretpayments to FARC as well. To conceal its unlawful conduct from both Colombian and U.S.
authorities andprevent disclosure of the facts to Plaintiffs, Defendant
funneled weapons to FARC (and assisted FARC in the transport of weapons) through Defendant’s local transportation contractors. As alleged above, Chiquita also falsified payroll records used to
divert funds from non-existent employees to FARC, used existing
contracts with legitimate organizations to bury and disguise 33
payments, or drew up phony contracts with legitimate vendors as a means
of falsifying the payments and booking them as legitimate expenses.
As alleged supra, Chiquita also secretly concealed payments to local
labor unionsthat it knew, or consciously avoided knowing, were
controlled by FARC and made other clandestine payments through
FARC-established fronts and dummy companies.
Susan Milius of Science News (2000) reports on an interesting defense mechanism in whirligig beetles:
When a largemouth black bass gets a mouthful of beetle, the fish
doesn't swallow immediately, report Thomas Eisner and Daniel J.
Aneshansley. Instead, the bass starts flushing water through its mouth,
spits out the beetle for a few seconds, and then snaps it up and
sloshes it around in more water, as if trying to rinse off a vile taste.
If the whirligig beetle Dineutes hornii
makes its precious slime supply last until the fish gives up rinsing,
the beetle swims away free. If the slime runs out, however, the fish
wins dinner. . . .
Two glands at the beetle's rear secrete goo, which Eisner describes as
looking like yogurt. The glop gets its punch from gyrinidal, a terpene
hydrocarbon like such powerful scents as camphor and menthol.
Photo of disgusted bass by Eisner and Aneshansley.
The clue comes from chloroform, as EurekAlert reports:
One of the earliest general anaesthetics to be used by the medical
profession, chloroform, has shed light on a mystery that’s puzzled
doctors for more than 150 years – how such anaesthetics actually work.
discovery described as “true serendipity” made by Leeds University PhD
student Dr Yahya Bahnasi, has provided a clue that may unravel the
enigma of general anaesthesia – and offer the opportunity to design new
generations of anaesthetics without harmful side effects.
take general anaesthesia for granted nowadays, but it’s still true to
say that we don’t know exactly how it works on a molecular level,” says
Dr Bahnasi, a qualified medical doctor on an Egyptian Ministry of
Higher Education Scholarship at the University’s Faculty of Biological
“However, I was examining the relationship between
lipids and atherosclerosis [the furring up of arteries] and it just so
happened that the lipids I was using were supplied already dissolved in
chloroform. I noticed that the chloroform inhibited, or blocked, the
calcium ion channel TRPC5 – it was quite a striking effect.”
channels are pathways that allow electrically charged atoms to pass
across cell membranes to carry out various functions such as pain
transmission and the timing of the heart beat. TRPC5 calcium ion
channels are found in many tissues around the body but are predominant
in the brain.
“We know that this ion channel plays a
signalling role in the central nervous system, which regulates the
conscious and unconscious states, so I was left wondering whether
inhibiting this calcium ion channel was one mechanism by which
anaesthesia works,” says Dr Bahnasi.
Medievalists, classicists, theologians, historians -- you name it: for scholars working within a Christian cultural context, especially in the late Classical to late Medieval periods, it's almost impossible to overstate the importance of St. Augustine. We go to Augustine for the maps we need to navigate the intellectual landscape of those far off times. Now twenty-six previously undiscovered sermons of St. Augustine have been found in a library in Austria.
The Way of the Fathers quotes Constanze Witt of the Department of Classics at the University of Texas:
Concealed in a medieval parchment manuscript amongst 70 other
religious texts are ca. 26 sermons attributed to Augustine, 3 of them
on brotherly love and alms-giving. These were known previously only by
their titles cited in Possidius’ Indiculum. One sermon is on the
martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas, and another on the recently martyred
Cyprian, the latter of which condemns the copious drinking that took
place on saints’ feast days. The final sermon deals with resurrection
of the dead and biblical prophecies.
The 12th c. mss came from England(?) to Erfurt as part of the
enormous collection of more than 630 books donated by the physician and
theologue Amplonius Rating de Berka to the ‘Collegium Amplonianum’
which he founded in 1412.
For 24 amazing images of this absolutely pristine and gorgeous codex, see here.
For many modern people, Augustine is an old bugaboo who disapproved of sex after he had had his fill of it, sired a child out of wedlock, and tossed aside his mistress for a cushy job in the church. That attitude doesn't even begin to hint at the magisterial Augustine who is relied on so heavily in the study of late Classical and Medieval thought. He is a towering figure, and active scholars (which I no longer am) are surely sharpening their quills for the cornucopia of articles likely to flow from this windfall.