The coffee’s freshly ground, there’s a variety of teas and the sticky buns are homemade.

  • “Activity in the eurozone manufacturing sector fell for the fifth successive month in December, but showed a slight improvement on the previous month, a closely-watched survey suggests. The Markit eurozone manufacturing PMI was 46.9, up from November’s 28-month low of 46.4. Any score under 50 represents a contraction. Employment rose in Germany and France, but fell across the bloc as a whole.”
  • “Record gold prices are claiming an unlikely victim: the lush, spectacularly biodiverse rainforests of the Peruvian Amazon. Since the global economy fell off the edge of a cliff in 2008, sending investors scrambling to put their money into the ultimate safe haven, gold, thousands of illegal miners have flooded into the Madre de Dios region of central Peru. Now they are ravaging its pristine tropical rainforests and river systems, including some of Peru’s most important nature reserves, using primitive mining techniques to churn through vast quantities of the region’s rich, sandy soils, sparkling with specks of the precious metal. As the do so, they poison the water table with mercury and carve out vast, toxic holes in the virgin jungle.”
  • Things go better with Coke. “Coca-Cola has been accused of propping up one of Africa’s most notorious dictators. The multibillion dollar beverage company owns a concentrate-manufacturing plant in Swaziland, an impoverished kingdom ruled by Africa’s last absolute monarch, Mswati III.”
  • “Venezuela has said it will pay Exxon Mobil $255m (£164m) in compensation for assets nationalised in 2007 – less than a third of what an arbitration panel awarded the oil giant. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris had ruled that PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, was required to compensate the US firm. It said PDVSA should pay Exxon $908m.”
  • “A 15-year-old Afghan girl who was nearly tortured to death by her husband and his family attempted to escape her attackers more than four months ago but was sent back home by local authorities, it has emerged. Sahar Gul, a child-bride married off to a soldier called Gulam Sakhi who then tried to force her into prostitution, is being treated for horrific injuries in a hospital in Kabul after she was rescued last week.”
  • “The young Egyptian woman wore a traditional headscarf and shawl, known as an “abaya,” and stood off to the side of the protests before she was knocked down by Egyptian military police. Then she was beaten with batons, stripped to her bra, dragged through the street and stomped by one soldier. The image has become iconic in Egypt’s continuing revolution.”
  • For Star Wars fans. “Former Olympic fencer Bob Anderson, who staged fights in Star Wars films and From Russia With Love, has died at the age of 89. Anderson fought light sabre battles as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, two of the original Star Wars films.”

From Real News:

  • Occupy Movement Targets Iowa Caucuses. Republican presidential candidates and Democratic party focus of demonstrations denouncing corporate dollars in electoral politics.”
  • Is the Euro Crisis Over? William K. Black, Paolo Manasse, and John Weeks discuss the Euro and the danger of global recession.”

Editorial cartoon

The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.