It's easy not to trash the planet — if you're dirt poor and die young. But is it possible for all of us to live long and satisfying lives without costing the Earth? That's the question behind a measure of national well-being called the Happy Planet Index (HPI). Its latest update, released this week ahead of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, names Costa Rica as the world's most "developed" nation and puts the US on the sick list. To show how different the world looks when viewed according to the HPI, rather than conventional wealth, New Scientist applied distorting lenses. In the top map, countries are sized according to their GDP, and shaded by GDP per capita. As sub-Saharan Africa almost shrinks from view, western Europe, the US and Japan swell and flush a deep red. But this wealth has fuelled massively unsustainable use of natural resources. Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation in London developed HPI as an alternative measure, "to capture the tension between good lives now and good lives in the future"...
Tag Archives | Geopolitics
A critical document from President Barack Obama's free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises. The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration's trade objectives. The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive. "The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch in a written statement...
China just released a report on the (lack of) human rights over the past year in the U.S.A. Are we living in an authoritarian society without knowing it? Via China Daily, when you put things this way, it sounds pretty bad:
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The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the United States to people across the world and urge the United States to face up to its own doings.
In the United States, the violation of citizens’ civil and political rights is severe. It is lying to itself when the United States calls itself the land of the free (The Washington Post, Jan 14, 2012).
Claiming to defend 99 percent of the US population against the wealthiest, the Occupy Wall Street protest movement tested the US political, economic and social systems. Ignited by severe social and economic inequality, uneven distribution of wealth and high unemployment, the movement expanded to sweep the United States after its inception in September 2011.
Foreign policy or political-commentary performance art? The militant Islamists ruling southern Somalia have made Barack Obama a wanted man globally by offering ten camels to anyone who ensnares him. The organization is also renowned for their outstanding Twitter account. Russia Today reports:
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First, the US State Department offered up to $33 million for help in catching the leaders of radical Islamist group Shabab, which controls much of Somalia. But Shabab has made a counter-proposal: a bounty of 10 camels for Barack Obama.
On Thursday, the State Department offered individual rewards for tip-offs about various Shabab leaders depending on their seniority, with the founder Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed valued at $7 million. The group has claimed responsibility for mass suicide bombings and prides itself on its connections with Al-Qaeda.
“I can assure you that these kind of things will never dissuade us from continuing the holy war against them,” posted Fuad Mohamed Khalaf (bounty: $5 million) on a propagandist website.
Reports ABC News:
A senior Australian Defence Force officer has revealed details of how the Royal Australian Air Force deploys Israeli-owned drones for battlefield surveillance and to target anti-government Islamic fighters in Afghanistan.
Wing Commander Jonathan McMullan says Australia is “just buying hours” on the Heron drones from a Canadian company that in turn “leases them from IAI” (Israel Aerospace Industries), which is wholly owned by the Israeli government.
While enthusiastically endorsing the Heron’s capabilities, Wing Commander McMullan was highly critical of the quality of training provided by Israeli and Canadian instructors to Australian drone crews.
The unarmed Israeli Herons first entered RAAF service in Afghanistan in December 2009. They are the centrepiece of the ADF’s rapidly expanding drone warfare capability that has so far cost an estimated $550 million. Australian Defence Force chief General David Hurley told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra late last month: “I wouldn’t discount the fact that we might have armed UAVs thinking through our force structure review into the future.”…
More: ABC News
Reports Spencer Ackerman on WIRED’s Danger Room
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“We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday, referring to the tribal areas of Pakistan that the U.S. has spent three years bombing heavily. Was that so hard to admit?
For years, it has been. Neither the Bush nor Obama administration has been forthright about the starkest fact of the recent war on terrorism: most of it takes place in western Pakistan. As CIA director and now Pentagon chief, Panetta has been one of the key architects of the accelerated drone-and-commando war the U.S. wages there in what amounts to an open secret. In 2009, the critical year in that acceleration, Danger Room boss Noah Shachtman started pressing the Obama administration for disclosure about a war the U.S. waged in all but name.
It may be late, but at least now it’s happened.
Rolling Stone on the strange and sad saga of Bowe Bergdahl, the final U.S. prisoner of war being held by the Taliban. After sending a goodbye email to his parents stating that he was “ashamed to be an American”, Bergdahl walked off his base in Afghanistan three years ago:
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The Taliban captured 26-year-old Bowe Bergdahl on June 30th, 2009, and since that day, his parents, Jani and Bob, have had no contact with him. Like the rest of the world, their lone glimpses of Bowe – the only American prisoner of war left in either Iraq or Afghanistan – have come through a series of propaganda videos, filmed while he’s been in captivity.
Bowe’s own tour of duty in Afghanistan mirrored the larger American experience in the war – marked by tragedy, confusion, misplaced idealism, deluded thinking and, perhaps, a moment of insanity. And it is with Bowe that the war will likely come to an end.
But why? It's largely due to America's reputation as the gold standard in sperm, Time magazine senior editor Jeffrey Kluger said Thursday on CBS This Morning. "As with any other good product, the two keys are quality control and versatility, variety of product. We have very, very strict (Food and Drug Administration) controls on who can donate and how heavily they have to be screened. We also have a multi-ethnic population, which means we're very appealing to the world because people can come in from Japan, from Brazil, anywhere else and find a genetically, ethnically matching baby." There are now nearly 700 sperm banks in the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration. The fertility industry in the U.S. has grown from $979 million in 1988 to a projected $4.3 billion in 2013, according to Marketdata, an industry analysis and market studies publisher. Men are paid based on quality standards, such as their level of health, height and education. A man can make $500 per donation, and up to $60,000 annually, according to the Time magazine report...
Greece is the hardest-working country in the EU! According to Greece. And only Greece. According to Britain, Germany, Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic, it's the laziest country in Europe. Meanwhile, Germany is the most respected EU country, according to the Pew Global report, European Unity on the Rocks. And Greece appears to be living in a bizarro universe where 78% of its respondents held negative views of Germany. Three in five Greeks said their country had Europe's hardest working citizens. Half of the rest of the respondents from the other seven nations said Greece had the laziest workforce in Europe...