The new trade pacts are controversial and have been the focus of a campaign of criticism by NGOs and anti-poverty activists. But yesterday's rejection by African leaders on the final day of a three-day summit in Lisbon means that the EU could be put in the embarrassing position of imposing higher tariffs on African exports from the new year, further enraging the Africans. "No one will make us believe we don't have the right to protect our economic fabric," said the African Union commission president, Alpha Oumar Konaré. He accused the EU of playing divide and rule in Africa.

If European genes conferred an advantage, we would expect that the smartest blacks would have substantial European heritage. But when a group of investigators sought out the very brightest black children in the Chicago school system and asked them about the race of their parents and grandparents, these children were found to have no greater degree of European ancestry than blacks in the population at large.

Emerging alongside this black market trade -- and obvious in the bars and on the sand once the sun goes down -- are thousands of elderly white women hoping for romantic, and legal, encounters with much younger Kenyan men. They go dining at fine restaurants, then dancing, and back to expensive hotel rooms overlooking the coast. "One type of sex tourist attracted the other," said one manager at a shorefront bar on Mombasa's Bamburi beach. "Old white guys have always come for the younger girls and boys, preying on their poverty ... But these old women followed ... they never push the legal age limits, they seem happy just doing what is sneered at in their countries."

Drawing on 935 individual samples from the French databank, a Stanford University team found deep traces of long-ago population movements, all originating from a “ground zero” in Ethiopia, Kenya or Tanzania. For example, the Pygmies of the Congo forest were found to be quite close to the Bushmen of Namibia — but both were very different from most other sub-Saharan groups. The fierce and proud Bedouin nomads of the Middle East actually have a lot of European and South Asian blood. The Asian-looking Hazara of Afghanistan are correct in claiming ancestry in Mongolia, but the Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, may be disappointed to discover they’re actually two peoples, one north, the other south. Native Americans have at least one closely related group in Asia — the Yakuts of eastern Siberia, who themselves are related to other hunter-gatherer Siberian tribes, some of whom build wooden teepees.

The marauding Mongols left not just a huge cultural and historical impression in central Asia, but also a genetic one. For instance, the Hazara people of central Afghanistan share genetic ties with East Asia. Silk Route traders left their own mark. The Uighur, a Muslim minority in northwest China, share genes with people in Europe and west Asia.

There’s an almost religious belief in the Valley that charging for content is bad. The only business plan in sight is ever more advertising. One might ask what will be left to advertise once everyone is aggregated. How long must creative people wait for the Web’s new wealth to find a path to their doors? A decade is a long enough time that idealism and hope are no longer enough. If there’s one practice technologists ought to embrace, it is the evaluation of empirical results. To help writers and artists earn a living online, software engineers and Internet evangelists need to exercise the power they hold as designers. Information is free on the Internet because we created the system to be that way.

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