segunda-feira, 9 de fevereiro de 2009

Hoax and forgery of purported U.S. geography textbook showing the Amazon belonging to the U.S.

Certain things just get old. Like the fact that most Brazilians are willing to believe the most amazing crap about Americans. A few years back, an e-mail circulated around Brazil stating that American children were being taught that the Amazon rainforest belonged to America. The instantaneous belief in this ridiculous hoax by otherwise seemingly intelligent people was simply astonishing. Then, came the terrible tragedy of the two planes that crashed over the Amazon rainforest. A prominent politician claimed the American pilot had turned off the transponder and had been doing loop-d'-loops. Leaving aside the fact that a top executive from the pilot's company was on board, as well as an executive of the plane's manufacturer, and a reporter for the New York Times, who in hell would take a brand new plane and do aerial acrobatics over the Amazon? I can only surmise that Brazilians believe that a Brazilian pilot might be capable of such a thing and therefore are willing to believe that an American pilot would also do it. Even today, after all the evidence points to the complete innocence of the two American pilots (e.g., the transponder had failed in two other planes before being installed in the "brand new" plane the American company had just purchased, and this is just one of the many factors in the tragic crash -- but the intense focus by many here to protect the business interests of Embraer has superceded any other consideration, like getting at the truth and protecting the flying public), they are assumed to be cold-hearted criminals by most Brazilians.

Thus, I find it necessary to post the information below (taken from someone else's blog), in an effort to educate the unwary.

“Since 2000, a forgery has circulated falsely claiming that the United States and the United Nations have assumed control of the Amazon rainforest in order to safeguard its treasures for all mankind.”

“The forgery purports to be page 76 of a U.S. sixth grade textbook titled An Introduction to Geography by David Norman. There is no indication that such a book exists. The U.S. Library of Congress, with more than 29 million books and other printed materials, has no record of it. The Online Computer Learning Center’s WorldCat database, the world’s largest database of bibliographic information with more than 47 million books, has no record of the book. Nor can such a book be found in Internet searches on or Google.”


“Geographical manuals in US schools show an amputated Brazil, without the Amazon and the Pantanal. This is how students are taught that these are ‘international’ areas, in other words: this is how the North American public is prepared for the ‘internationalisation’ of these areas.”

“The following text is taken from a US high school geography manual, signalling the United States (jointly with the United Nations) can take over the Amazon to protect the water and air quality of the world.”

“The manual discusses how this area is in South America, a region with the worst poverty on the planet and divided among eight nations with a weird, irresponsible, cruel and authoritarian population – savages, drugs dealers, illiterates, etc… It is these peoples that could cause the death and destruction of the world, in a mere few years’ time.”

“Going into detail, page 76 of the manual ‘Introduction to Geography’ by David Norman (used at junior high school level), describes ‘Operation Columbia’:”

“North American troops (80.000 strong in Surinam and Guyana) will take over Brazilian airspace and launch rockets from Alcantara. The US will open a CIA office at the Foz de Iguazu tripoint (Argentina/Paraguay/Brazil) and implant two military bases in Argentina – one in Patagonia and one closer to Buenos Aires.”

“Legend below the map: ‘Here we see the International Reserve, consisting of territory of eight South American countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guyana… Some of the most miserable countries of the world.”

“Since the middle of the 1980s, the most important nature area in the world became the responsibility of the US and the UN. The fund that was set up for this purpose is FIRAF (the ‘First International Reserve of the Amazon Forestal Fund’). This foundation has taken responsibility for the Amazon region, located in South America, a region among the poorest in the world and ruled by irresponsible, cruel and authoritarian governments. The area is part of eight different countries, the populations of which consist of violent types, drugs traffickers and ignorants, illiterates and primitives.”

“The foundation of FIRAF was approved and supported by the nations of the G-23 and it is a genuine challenge to our country and a gift to the whole world, as the ownership of this valuable global asset was in the hands of primitive peoples and countries without responsibility for these ‘lungs of the world’, which under their stewardship would disappear in a few years’ time.”

“We can say that this region has the greatest biodiversity on the planet, both in animal and plant species. The value of this region is incalculable, but the Earth can rest assured that the USA will not allow the Latin American countries to further exploit and destroy this heritage of all mankind. The FIRAF will be administered as any other US National Park, with strict rules regarding exploitation.”

“Please send this mail onto as many people as possible, to inform all of these insidious plans. Gracias, obrigado, thank you!”

This is the verbatim transcription of a rambling, repetitive chain mail (often but not always in Spanish or Portuguese) purporting to show a US scheme for taking over the Amazon basin, under the pretext of saving its globally vital resources from the clutches of the savage locals. It’s not hard to find some things wrong with it.

  • Why would the US cooperate with the UN, or vice versa? Both entities are more often at odds with one another than not. Furthermore, any such action would have to be approved by the UN Security Council; it’s inconceivable how other veto-wielding members would permit it, especially the increasingly uncooperative Russians, or the Chinese, who no doubt have their own agenda in the region.
  • The quoted texts seem hardly appropriate for a school textbook, which are in most cases formulated in neutral tones, even in America… Unless this is an illustration of American arrogance as imagined by outsiders.
  • Why would the CIA open an office at said tripoint, and why would the US implant military bases so far from their area of annexation?
  • The G-23 doesn’t seem to exist, or if it does, it’s neither googleable nor wikipediable. Maybe they meant the G-8?
  • FIRAF is googleable, but only seems to turn up in news reports of questionable veracity, whereas entering it in the – fallible, but rather comprehensive – reference website wikipedia, draws a blank.
  • An search for FIRAF does lead to this page of the US State Department, where this context is given:

“To a native English speaker, the accompanying text’s many errors of spelling, grammar, and inappropriate tone and language are clear, although these would not necessarily be obvious to non-native English speakers. The words that are misspelled and some of the other most obvious errors are indicated in boldface. They are:”

  • 3.000 should be 3,000; Americans use a comma, not a period to separate thousands from hundreds in numbers
  • INT’L should be INTERNATIONAL; informal contractions would not be used in a textbook
  • responsability should be spelled responsibility
  • irresponsable should be spelled irresponsible
  • authoritary should be authoritarian
  • the “a” before “unintelligent” should be “an”
  • destroying should be destruction
  • vegetals should be vegetables
  • calcule should be calculate
  • cert should be certain
  • explorate should be exploit.

“In addition, the text uses an inappropriate tone and contains many other grammatical and word usage errors. Some of the spelling errors in the forgery indicate that the forger was a native Portuguese speaker. In Portuguese, the word for calculate is calcule, and a word for vegetable is vegetal. On June 8, 2000, the then-Brazilian ambassador to the United States, Rubens Antonio Barbosa, characterised the forgery as ‘disinformation made in Brazil by sectors still unidentified’.”

“Ambassador Barbosa added, ‘The initial source of the supposed news was a website associated with the slogan Brasil, Ame-o ou Deixe-o [Brazil: love it or leave it], but with no identification of those responsible for the website.’ The Minister-Counselor of the Brazilian embassy at the time, Paulo Roberto de Almeida, stated that the forgery was linked to Brazilian ‘right-wing sectors that specialize in transmitting news of supposed attacks against our sovereignty in a manner that is not merely paranoid, but also irresponsible’.”

“Although the textbook page has long been identified as a forgery, it continues to circulate widely via e-mail, and is often believed.”

domingo, 1 de fevereiro de 2009

More togetherness now for Bill and Melinda Gates: Now, if we could just get more well-funded Brazilians to develop a similar attitude

More togetherness now for Bill and Melinda Gates

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Since Bill Gates left his full-time job at Microsoft Corp., his wife sees much more of him during the day -- but not because he's at home. They work in adjoining offices running the world's biggest philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We have offices that are side-by-side now at the foundation," Melinda French Gates said. "That's really nice because we have a door that passes between them in the back. We can pop into each other's office."

They share ideas about foundation projects for the health and development of the poorest people in the world and to improve education in the United States.

And, put in Bill Gates, they travel -- sometimes together and sometimes apart -- as they look into the best ways to help the world's poorest people in remote corners of the globe.

They were together for a series of appearances and meetings at the World Economic Forum. Melinda Gates has come from Tanzania, where she was looking into work against malaria, and Ethiopia, where she was seeing what the foundation can do to help make 3,000 new rural health centers more effective.

He's been in Belgium checking on progress toward a malaria vaccine. After Davos, he heads to Nigeria for a couple of days to encourage immunization against polio in one of the world's most affected countries. He visited the other, India, several months ago. He's convinced the world can wipe out the disease with a little more effort.

The couple, sitting next to each other, looked relaxed during an interview Friday with The Associated Press at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos. They alternate in answering questions, picking up where the other leaves off.

"It's my full-time job," said the co-founder of Microsoft who left his full-time job at the software giant last July amid concerns from friends that he wouldn't find his new role as engaging or rewarding. "Even though I loved my old one a lot, this one's every bit as good."

He said he was "maniacally" devoted to developing software aimed at making computers cheap and available for everyone.

Melinda Gates is heading back home to Seattle to be with the couple's children -- Jennifer, 12, Rory, 9, and Phoebe, 6 -- the major constraint on their travel.

"We have three young kids, so we're obviously very committed to being in Seattle and being there when they're in school, and then they travel with us quite a bit to," she said. "They're too young to get involved in the foundation. That will be still yet to come."

Link to article: