Showing posts from October, 2021

This is the age of waste

According to a new exhibition at the Design Museum, the most ubiquitous hallmark of the Anthropocene is not a game-changing material, nor the mastery of technology. It’s trash.  “We are arguably living in the waste age,” says Justin McGuirk, the London museum’s chief curator, who has spent the last three years rifling through rubbish with co-curator Gemma Curtin to put together this timely show.  “The production of waste is absolutely central to our way of life, a fundamental part of how the global economy operates. We wanted to show how design is deeply complicit in the waste problem – and also best placed to address it.”.. This obscure energy treaty is the greatest threat to the planet you’ve never heard of Erin Brockovich - Plummeting sperm counts, shrinking penises: toxic chemicals threaten humanity REBECCA SMITHERS - We Are Flushing Away Our Forests: Researchers warn that toilet paper is be

Jon Henley: Rise of far right puts Dreyfus affair into spotlight in French election race

NB: Given the state of affairs in many (yes, there are exceptions) English language departments, wherein 'theory' is shorthand for the ideas of Derrida and Foucauld , and where the very notion of truth is sneered at, this newest upsurge of the antisemitic propaganda around the Dreyfus case ought to be an alert. I don't think it will matter to fanatical relativists for whom all philosophical questioning may be dismissed by the term 'multiple narratives'. Nonetheless, those teachers who have not reduced education to indoctrination, and (along with their students) respect conversation over polemic may kindly consider these questions:  Does the complex but perennial question of truth matter at all in issues such as Holocaust denial; perversion of justice, communal violence, global warming and the perversion of historical research for political propaganda? Or are all truth claims as good or bad as all others? Is there any difference between an event and accounts of that


Anyone with even an iota of intelligence and an understanding of our dysfunctional legal eco-system knows that there is something deeply problematic and rotten with the Aryan Khan case. The NCB's (Narcotics Control Bureau) conduct is deeply suspect, even without the personal allegations now levelled against its Zonal Director Sameer Wankhade. The entire case, with its political and criminal "witnesses", blank "panchnamas", allegations of extortions and bribes by the NCB's own witnesses, deliberate leaks of irrelevant two year old Whatsapp chats, desperate attempts to fabricate a " conspiracy" where none exists, conjectures of an international cartel without any evidence, repeated refusal of lower courts to grant bail, has exposed the agency's own rot, along with that of the Union Home Ministry, the judiciary and the press.  Its hounding of a 23 year old boy who had neither consumed, nor was in possession of, any drugs makes no legal sense. The

Richard Wolff: How the troubled U.S. empire could quickly fall apart

The U.S. wars lost in Iraq and Afghanistan showed imperial overreach beyond what even 20 years of war could manage. That the defeats were drawn out for so many years shows that domestic politics and the funding of the domestic military-industrial complex were, more than geopolitics, the key drivers of these wars. Empires can die from overreach and sacrificing broadly social goals for the narrow interests of political and economic minorities. The United States has 4.25 percent of the world's population yet accounts for about 20 percent of global deaths from COVID-19. A rich global superpower with a highly developed medical industry proved to be badly unprepared for and unable to cope with a viral pandemic. It now wrestles with a huge segment of its population that seems so alienated from major economic and political institutions that it risks self-destruction and demands the "right" to infect others. Refusing to accept lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates in the

Chris Hedges: The most important battle for press freedom in our time

If Assange is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material, it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting, allowing the government to use the Espionage Act to charge any reporter who possesses classified documents, and any whistleblower who leaks classified information, under the Espionage Act. For the past two days, I have been watching the extradition hearing for Julian Assange via video link from London. The United States is appealing a lower court ruling that denied the US request to extradite Assange not, unfortunately, because in the eyes of the court he is innocent of a crime, but because, as Judge Vanessa Baraitser in January concluded, Assange’s precarious psychological state would deteriorate given the “harsh conditions” of the inhumane US prison system, “causing him to commit suicide.” The United States has charged Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of trying to hack into a government computer

BRIAN KAREM - Dumbass nation: Our biggest national security problem is America's "vast and militant ignorance" / ExxonMobil's campaign to fund climate science denial

The United States is a nation of militantly ignorant people, arrogant in their beliefs, unable to change their minds and unwilling to try. We lack education. And the lack of education in this country is such a problem that national security adviser Jake Sullivan described it this week as a critical issue for our national security. "I do consider it a national security problem," he told me during a White House briefing on Tuesday. "In fact, it's Dr. [Jill] Biden who has repeatedly said — and the president frequently quotes her — that any country that out-educates the United States will outcompete the United States, and that is a fundamental national security issue." Why is Biden failing? His tightly controlled relationship to the media might be worse than Trump's NPR reported Tuesday that, in part because of COVID-19, we have  500,000 fewer students  enrolled in colleges this year. Does anyone really think we can compete in the modern workplace with just

Bhima Koregaon: Kin of jailed activists write to authorities to not discontinue telephone calls / How the ‘anda cell’ is used to discipline prison inmates

NB : After willfully neglecting Fr Stan Swamy 's bail pleas and subjecting him to unusual punishment without trial, our criminal justice system literally presided over his death in custody. He was 84 years old, weak and ailing; and had suffered enormously in jail. After he died, spokesmen for the government repeated the allegations against him as if they were proven facts. What is happening? There is a clear Mandate from On High that the accused in this notorious case are to be presumed guilty even before they are tried in a court of law, and that conditions in custody be made so physically dangerous as to endanger their very lives. This is not justice, it is cruelty and barbarism. As to the consciences of those sworn to uphold the Constitution, the less said the better. DS The family members of the accused undertrials in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, have written to the Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) and Special Inspector General of Police (Prisons) to continu

Bharat Bhushan: Bangladesh's dysfunctional secularism

NB: I have just one comment to make on this issue, communalism of every hue thrives on state support whether open or covert. This is the ideology of choice for the ruling classes of South Asia. It has led to the criminalisation of state structures and the near-complete erosion of justice. It remains to be seen if civil society awakens to this ideological disease; or continues to tolerate it. DS Despite Islam being declared as its state religion since 1988, Bangladesh’s nationalism has been primarily defined in a cultural and linguistic idiom and it sees itself as a secular nation. The ruling Awami League claims a commitment to the secular values on which the republic was founded and is considered “minority friendly”. As Prime Minister  Sheikh Hasina  and her party have had an uninterrupted tenure since 2009, one would think that secularism would have strengthened under her regime. Yet secular voices have become somewhat muted in  Bangladesh. The recent communal violence during  Durga

Climate crisis: economists ‘grossly undervalue young lives’

Many economic assessments of the climate crisis “grossly undervalue the lives of young people and future generations”, Prof Nicholas Stern warned on Tuesday, before the  Cop26 climate summit  in Glasgow. Economists have failed to take account of the “immense risks and potential loss of life” that could occur as a result of the climate crisis, he said, as well as badly underestimating the speed at which the costs of clean technologies, such as solar and wind energy, have fallen. Stern said the economics profession had also misunderstood the basics of “discounting”, the way in which economic models value future assets and lives compared with their value today. “It means economists have grossly undervalued the lives of young people and future generations who are most at threat from the devastating impacts of climate change,” he said. “Discounting has been applied in such a way that it is effectively discrimination by date of birth.” Youth protests around the world, sparked by the scho

Facebook Papers paint damning picture of company's role in insurrection

The documents, including an internal post-mortem and one document showing in real time countermeasures Facebook employees were belatedly implementing, paint a picture of a company that was in fact fundamentally unprepared for how the Stop the Steal movement used its platform to organize, and that only truly swung into action after the movement had turned violent. Asked by CNN about Sandberg's quote and whether she stood by it, a Facebook spokesperson pointed to the greater context around Sandberg's quote. She had been noting that Jan. 6 organization happened largely online, including but not limited to on Facebook's platforms, the spokesperson said. The documents were provided by  Facebook whistleblower Frances Hauge n as evidence to support disclosures she made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by Haugen's legal counsel. The redacted versions were obtained by a consortium of 17 US news organizations, including CNN…. h

P. B. Mehta - Violence and communalism: South Asia’s disturbing commonality

The violence against the Hindu minority in Bangladesh is an ominous development. But it is also a reminder of one cardinal truth: All of South Asia is “tied together in a single garment of destiny,” to borrow Martin Luther King’s phrase from a different context. Violence in one place will spill over to another; freedom endangered in one place will inevitably corrode the freedom of others. We have tried to act as if this was not true. But that modus vivendi has been unravelling for a while. Anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh is not new. The current violence is strategically timed. It is surely not a coincidence that the violence coincides with targeted attacks on Hindus in Kashmir. The intent is not just local ethnic terror, but a deepening of the communal divide in India. It is tempting to say that this violence is a strategic act by particular organised groups, perhaps with transnational links. It is not organically embedded in society. This is a comforting thought, and can empower u