Ordinary residents of Colombia, Guyana, and northern Brazil were in shock yesterday to find their friend and neighbour of 175 years, Venezuela, missing from her home on the southern Caribbean coast. Where the night before the beautiful country had gone to bed, the next morning there was only the sea. Everyone is chilled with the realisation that Venezuela has fallen victim to paramilitary death squads, and has probably already met a gruesome end. One neighbour commented: Sure, its broken body will turn up somewhere in the Pacific, probably without a capital. The disappearance of leftist activists is nothing new in Latin America, where tens of thousands of persons have vanished in peacetime since the 1950s but it is the first time an entire country suffers this fate. Amnesty International has issued a statement alleging that Venezuela was targeted because of its long history of democratic activism and recent resistance to US Capitalism. Latin American governments voted unanimously to name the new sea that formed where Venezuela once lay Gulf of Bolivar, after the country's famous revolutionary son.
Microsoft products trapped in loveless relationship with consumers
In a rare moment of openness, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer lamented yesterday the stable, but loveless and ultimately unsatisfying relationship between consumers and the company's products. Everyone turns to us for comfort and stability, Mr Ballmer said wryly; we stand by consumers day after day and grow old with them; we always look after their needs. But nobody loves us! They use us and depend on us, and they know this, but instead of being honest and open they go flirting with Linux and Apple as soon as they have some confidence. They come back, of course, as if nothing had happened and rarely with a kind word or a gesture showing that they care for our feelings. If consumers really do love us, Ballmer concluded, it would be nice if once in a while they told us!
Google to debut peer-to-peer message transport service
Google co-founder and VP Larry Page yesterday confirmed persistent rumours by announcing a new peer-to-peer transport service to be offered by the company. The service, which will be rolled out in the US and UK from 1 August (other countries to follow) is widely seen as a move to one-up rival Amazon's long-standing service. Page explains: While Amazon operates a "star" service - always sending books and CDs from Amazon to its users - Google's service is peer-to-peer. Anyone can send a message to anyone else around the world, or at least where the service is available. To send a message, googlers simply have to print it, put it in a paper envelope, and drop it in one of the colourful googleboxes that have appeared on British and American streets. The free service will be funded by stamp-sized advertising images that Google affixes to the envelopes.
Holywood study conclusively links sex and violence
A study commissioned by the Motion Picture Association of America, a trade body representing the major US movie studios, has resulted in a new "voluntary code" linking sex and violence in all new US-made films. The study, carried out by Stanford researchers Paul Wood and Sandra Flame, asked 3,987 American adults of various age, social, and educational groups to report how similar, or related, they perceived pairs of concepts chosen by the researchers. Alarmingly, the respondents were easily able to link violent concepts such as "gun" and "punch" with each other, and could also link sex concepts with each other, but only 3% of respondents reported a high linkage between sexual and violent concepts - the lowest such result since 1968. MPAA spokesman Phil Rivers explains: Whatever the liberal academics might have you believe, the numbers are indisputable - Americans are simply not making the link. We have to ensure that the two concepts are inextricably linked in our cultural offerings, and that violence is adequately emphasised. Rivers praised the ultra-violent Sin City for its model implementation of the new code.