Mac Margolis

Stories by Mac Margolis

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    The Eccentric Who May Run Colombia

    He spices his interviews with bits from French philosophy. He got married atop an elephant, and showered with his wife on TV to promote conservation. And this spandex-wearing, trouser-dropping man is about to become president of Colombia. Meet Antanas Mockus.
  • Surge for Green Party in Colombian Election

    Colombia's may 30 presidential election seemed like a foregone conclusion. Until a few weeks ago, Juan Manuel Santos, defense minister under President Álvaro Uribe from 2006 to mid-2009, held a crushing lead. That made sense: Santos played a key role in Uribe's brass-knuckle security policy, which transformed Colombia from a guerrilla-infested narcostate into a stable, prospering democracy....

    Cleanup crews are used to thankless tasks. But when maintenance men at the Sao Paulo Electrical Co. (CESP) descended to the bowels of the huge Sergio Motta hydro- electric plant on the Parana River earlier this year, they couldn't believe what they saw. Or smelled. Like some nightmare still life, rotting shellfish were everywhere. And that was the good news. Limnoperna fortunei--better known as the golden mussel--is a tiny monster. Left untended, the fast-multiplying mussels would quickly clog the cooling tubes, causing the turbines to overheat and, conceivably, the plant to shut down. The Sergio Motta plant is one of the crown jewels of the regional power grid, which supplies electricity to six of 10 Sao Paulo residents. The only way to fight back is to drain the turbines and scrape off the mussels with water jets and pickaxes. "We hauled out trucks of the stuff," says engineering chief Luis Tadeu de Freitas. "The stink was unbearable."Odor is the least of their problems. The...