Take physic, pomp

Two weekend reads

This in The New Yorker, “The Strange Secret History of Operation Goldfinger“. An extract:
Thus began a strange, untold episode in modern American history. In the
mid-to-late nineteen-sixties, as gold’s role in the international
monetary system was about to implode, a handful of top Johnson
Administration officials, a few sympathetic members of Congress, and
hundreds of government-paid scientists set off on a nuclear-age
alchemical quest. Barr gave it the code name Operation Goldfinger. The
government would end up looking for gold in the oddest places: seawater,
meteorites, plants, even deer antlers. In an era during which people
wanted badly to believe in the peaceful use of subatomic energy, plans
were drawn up to use nuclear explosives to extract gold from deep inside
the Earth, and even to use particle accelerators to try to change base
metals into gold.
Read the whole thing here.
Then via reader RB, a good overview in Bloomie on the Odebrecht scandal current rocking Latin America to its political core (with lots more to come). An extract:
Often these people were politicians—the company had been bankrolling
campaigns in Brazil, including presidential campaigns, going back to
when bribery was strictly a cash business. Since the establishment of
Structured Operations, Odebrecht had funded plots to elect a half-dozen
presidents in Latin America; buy the friendship of heads of state in
Angola, Peru, and Venezuela; and pay off hundreds of legislators from
Panama to Argentina.
Read the whole thing here.

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