Showing posts from June, 2016

Good news for a change - Oliver Milman: Ozone layer hole appears to be healing, scientists say

The vast hole in the ozone layer above  Antarctica  appears to be healing, scientists say, putting the world on track to eventually remedy one of the biggest environmental concerns of the 1980s and 90s.  Research by US and UK scientists shows that the size of the ozone void has shrunk, on average, by around 4m sq km since 2000. The measurements were taken from the month of September in each year, when the ozone hole starts to open up each year. The study,  published in Science , states that the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) chemicals means that the ozone layer is “expected to recover in response, albeit very slowly.” CFCs, once commonly found in aerosols and refrigeration, can linger in the atmosphere for more than 50 years, meaning that the ozone hole will not be considered healed until 2050 or 2060. The Montreal protocol, a 1987 international treaty ratified by all UN members, successfully spurred nations to eradicate the use of CFCs in products. The agreement follow

JILL DERMYER - Why does religion turn from beauty into beast? // MICHAEL EDWARDS - Will the left ever get religion? // CHITRA NAGARAJAN - Put away the scriptures and follow justice

Comfort, guidance, support, solace and inspiration—religion offers all of these things in the best and worst of times. Yet religion also has a brutal and abusive face. I’m not just talking about the rampant sexual abuse that has taken place within the  Catholic Church , but about all the other traumatic experiences that occur every day in religious communities. As a psychotherapist who specializes in religious and sexual traumas, I’ve worked with people who’ve suffered this kind of abuse for the past eight years, so what is it that turns religion from ‘beauty into beast?’    Although the doctrines that underlie toxic belief systems, abusive practices, and brainwashing or mind-control techniques vary across religions,  the core issues are usually the same . First, in many faiths obedience is valued above all else. Religious authorities can ensure obedience by tapping into people’s primal fears of abandonment. Followers are taught that if they disobey or show dissent, not only will

Dhirendra K Jha - The shadowy group accused of planning the 2008 Malegaon blasts has deep roots in the Sangh

Ever since the Malegaon blast of 2008, investigative agencies have been furiously working to learn more about the origin of the extremist Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat, whose members are accused of being behind this act of terror. But despite the investigations, there’s still little we know about this shadowy organisation. There’s considerable confusion regarding how the organisation was formed and who actually formed it. While one version says Sameer Kulkarni, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast, started it, another version says that its founder was Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, another key accused in the same blast case. Down the rabbit hole The Kulkarni-as-founder theory was made by Himani Savarkar, the president of the Abhinav Bharat, in an interview to  Outlook  magazine in November 2008, two months after the blast. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad named Kulkarni as one of those who provided logistic support for the blast that took place on September 29, 2008.  Sava

Simon Tisdall - Turkey paying a price for Erdoğan's wilful blindness to Isis threat

The President’s preference for blaming everything bad that happens on the Kurds is no longer working Turkish officials, led by the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, have initially blamed the Istanbul airport attack on Islamic State, and it is true that this latest murderous outrage closely resembles last October’s Isis bombing of a  peace rally in Ankara that killed 103 people , the deadliest such attack in modern Turkish history.  Assuming the official claim turns out to be accurate, it once again raises the murky question of Turkish government attitudes towards the Isis militants who control or are contesting large swaths of territory adjacent to Turkey’s southern border with Syria and Iraq and are said to maintain networks of supporters inside  Turkey . The basic problem is that  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan , Turkey’s president, believes indigenous Kurds in those areas and in south-east Turkey pose a bigger threat than does Isis. This perceived ambivalence has led to numerous accus

Kenan Malik - Beyond the Brexit debate

Neither side in the debate has been willing properly to consider the real issues at the heart of the Brexit debate. Remain campaigners have largely sidestepped concerns about democracy. And when they have addressed the question of immigration, it has largely been to accept the concerns of Leave campaign. Last week Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson led a chorus of senior Labour figures arguing for remaining in the EU, but also for  restricting freedom of movement . It is true that, in the slogan of the Remain camp, we are "Better Together". But "Better Together" does not mean supporting the institution of the EU. It means supporting the people of the EU – and beyond; supporting, for instance, the people of Greece against EU-enforced austerity, and of migrants against the imposition of Fortress Europe. Leave supporters, on the other hand, have not so much addressed issues of democracy and immigration as exploited them in an opportunistic, and often reactionar

Dougie Poynter - Why We Must Stop Using Microbeads // International campaign against microbeads in cosmetics

I am a human being from the UK and since the age of three I have been fascinated by the natural world and conservation. On a recent trip to Los Angeles I was introduced to two of the most interesting people I have ever met; Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen, the founders of the charity 5 Gyres. They are a mix of paleontologist, zoologist and environmentalists all rolled into one - the real life Indiana Jones duo. Ten minutes into our introduction Marcus uncovered a camel gastrolith that he had dug up in Dubai - this was a forty-five pound ball of indigestible plastic found in it’s stomach (photo above is me actually holding it)! The camel had been eating plastic bags thinking they were some kind of plant life. It then died of starvation because it couldn’t digest the plastic and it’s brain was telling him he was full. This blew my mind and made me fully aware of how big the global plastic problem has become. As we continued talking they started telling me about a cause they have bee

Book review: Conceptualizing an Emancipatory Alternative: Peter Hudis reviews István Mészáros's 'Beyond Capital'

It is no exaggeration to say that with 1989 a long historical phase – the one initiated by the October Revolution of 1917 – came to its end. From now on, whatever might be the future of socialism, it will have to be established on radically new foundations, beyond the tragedies and failures of Soviet type development which became blocked very soon after the conquest of power in Russia by Lenin and his followers -   István Mészáros in  Beyond Capital: Toward a Theory of Transition ; 1995; p. 284. Explore the  Mészáros   archive It is a rare occasion to encounter a work which so directly confronts the central problem of our time. The globalization of capital and commodification of every conceivable area of everyday life, along with the worldwide collapse of an array of revolutionary movements, have provided a near-unshakable foundation for the claim that one or another form of capitalism defines our future.  Whether expressed as the "end of history," the "death of