Author Archive | Good German

Down With Sustainable Development! Long Live Convivial Degrowth!

Demonstration at the end of the Fourth International Conference on Degrowth in the German city of Leipzig from September 2-6, 2014. (Creative Commons http://leipzig.degrowth.org)

Demonstration at the end of the Fourth International Conference on Degrowth in the German city of Leipzig from September 2-6, 2014. (Creative Commons http://leipzig.degrowth.org)

Justin Hyatt writes at Common Dreams:

For anyone who recently attended the Fourth International Conference on Degrowth in Leipzig, Germany, listening in on conference talk, surrounded by the ecologically savvy, one quickly noticed that no one was singing the praises of sustainable development.

Nonetheless, development per se and all that this entails did take center stage, as a crowd of three thousand participants and speakers debated ongoing trends in the fields of environment, politics, economics and social justice.

Given that it may not be immediately clear why a rallying cry anchored to ecological principles would call for the demise of sustainable development – which in generic terms could be described as the environmentalist program dating back several decades – it seems that a clarification or two would be in order.

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Americans Sorting Themselves into Politically Similar Counties

Eric Fischer (CC BY 2.0)

Eric Fischer (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island have analyzed almost 40 years of election data and relocation patterns around the United States and found that Americans are increasingly sorting themselves into politically homogeneous communities. But it hasn’t happened in the way they expected. Their research was published online last week in the journal Political Geography.

Corey Lang, assistant professor of environmental economics, and Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, associate professor of political science, sought evidence for claims made in the 2008 book The Big Sort that suggested that people were choosing to live in politically segregated communities where Republicans and Democrats had little interaction with each other. Many academics disagreed with author Bill Bishop’s hypothesis, so Lang and Pearson-Merkowitz decided to test it.

They examined data from presidential elections for every county in the country from 1976 to 2012, scrutinizing how voter support for political parties changed from one election to another.

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Is Obama Covering Up the Scope of CIA Torture?

Central_Intelligence_Agency_logoJon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

“The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”

That’s what Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told the Huffington Post on Thursday night regarding continued White House stalling over release of a report that catalogs the internal investigation of CIA torture during the Bush years. The comments followed a close-door meeting between Senate Democrats and Obama administration officials that took place just hours before the president gave a much-anticipated speech on another subject, immigration reform.

Rockefeller said the torture report is “being slow-walked to death” by the administration and told the HuffPost, “They’re doing everything they can not to release it.”

“[The report] makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad,” Rockefeller continued, “which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future.”

Though the report has been completed for many months, the members of the Senate Intelligence committee have been fighting with the White House, which allowed CIA officials to review its findings, over the scope of redactions to the report’s summary before it’s made public.

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‘Aquatic Osteoporosis’ Jellifying Lakes

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A handful of Holopedium capsules which are replacing the water flea Daphnia due to declining calcium levels in many lakes. Credit: Image courtesy of Queen’s University

Via ScienceDaily:

A plague of “aquatic osteoporosis” is spreading throughout many North American soft-water lakes due to declining calcium levels in the water and hindering the survival of some organisms, says new research from Queen’s University.

Researchers from Queen’s, working with colleagues from York University and the University of Cambridge, as well as other collaborators, have identified a biological shift in many temperate, soft-water lakes in response to declining calcium levels after prolonged periods of acid rain and timber harvesting. The reduced calcium availability is hindering the survival of aquatic organisms with high calcium requirements and promoting the growth of nutrient-poor, jelly-clad animals.

In the study, researchers looked at the microscopic organisms (~1 mm) Daphnia and Holopedium — the latter whose size is greatly increased by its jelly capsule.

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‘Tactics as Dirty as Their Oil': Leaked Docs Reveal TransCanada’s Propaganda Plan

Keystone XL demonstration, White House, 8-23-2011 Josh Lopez, CC BY 2.0

Keystone XL demonstration, White House, 8-23-2011
Josh Lopez, CC BY 2.0

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

Internal strategy documents prepared by a public relations firm on behalf of Canadian pipeline giant TransCanada reveal details of an enormous and well-organized effort by the oil industry to neutralize the transnational grassroots movement which has grown up around the industry’s effort to expand tar sands mining and the building of huge infrastructure projects designed to get “the world’s dirtest fuel” to market.

Obtained by Greenpeace and given to The Guardian newspaper, the documents show that TransCanada—which has proposed building a pipeline called Energy East to bring tar sands from Alberta to New Brusnwick through the largest such pipeline ever built—is aligned with other oil and gas companies placing serious resources of time, money, and personnel into countering the growing climate justice movement which has so far successfully delayed building the Keystone XL pipelein and affirmed its commitment to stopping similar projects in the name of fighting global warming and the resulting threat of climate change.

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Crustaceans Win Battle Against Being Feminized

Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (CC BY 2.0)

Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Male crustaceans can ‘lock down’ their maleness to avoid being completely feminised by seawater contaminated by feminising pollutants, according to scientists.

New research by scientists at the University of Portsmouth has shown that crustaceans turned partially into females retain a core of masculinity, and they may have learned how to do it after evolutionary battles with parasites.

The researchers have also published the entire genetic code for the amphipod crustacean they studied, which they hope will lead to even better understanding of their biology.

The research is published in Environmental Science and Technology.

One of the researchers Dr Alex Ford said: “We’ve known for some time that fish change sex if they’re subjected to even small amounts of oestrogen in the water, but until now we didn’t know what was happening to crustaceans.

“What we found is that once a crustacean has decided to be male, it can lock down its maleness.

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Fighting the Trojan Horse of Hipster-Fascism

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Alexander Reid Ross writes at CounterPunch:

“No one surrounds themselves with Runes, totenkopfs and neofolk and REALLY likes the jews. They just pretend they do because they are cowards.‬”
– James Porrazzo, former leader of the American Front

At first, I didn’t think that I was going to the protest against the controversial band Death in June, but the stars seemed to align. Having just finished reading that 3,500 page tome of Jewish scripture, the Babylonian Talmud, I felt like I had some extra time on my hands and needed to celebrate. As it happened, the protest took place the day before the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The following day was Armistice Day (Veterans Day), celebrating the end of World War I. It seemed like a good day to fight fascism, and Death in June is famous for their openly fascist approach.

Some who join me in coming from an ecological background might wonder, why would you protest Death in June, a subcultural neo-folk band that doesn’t really make any ecological claims?

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How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic

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Peter Vidani writes at This Is Not Jewish:

If you’ve spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this statement:

OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic! 

In the interests of this post, I’m going to assume that the people who express such sentiments are acting in good faith and really don’t mean to cause pain to or problems for Diaspora Jewry.  For those good-faith people, I present some guidelines for staying on the good side of that admittedly murky line, along with the reasoning why the actions I list are problematic.  (And bad-faith people, you can no longer plead ignorance if you engage in any of these no-nos.  Consider yourselves warned.)  In no particular order:

  1. Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar.  Historically, Jews have been massacred in the belief that we use the blood of non-Jews (particularly of children) in our religious rituals.  This belief still persists in large portions of the Arab world (largely because white Europeans deliberately spread the belief among Arabs) and even in parts of the Western world.  Murderous, inhumane, cruel, vicious—fine.  But blood…just don’t go there.  Depicting Israel/Israelis/Israeli leaders eating children is also a no-no, for the same reason.
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