Saturday Links for the Week – January 20, 2007

Golden Jackal Pohangina Pete
Photo: Golden Jackal by traveling New Zealand photographer-poet extraordinaire Pohangina Pete

How the World Really Works

Bush Still Doesn’t See What’s Happening in Iraq: The NYT makes it clear there is no graceful or face-saving way out of the Iraq quagmire. “Itís now up to Congress to force the president to live up to his constitutional responsibilities and rescue this country from the consequences of one of its worst strategic blunders in modern times.”

US Court Backs Corporatists Over Poisoned Citizens (What’s New?): Economist Adam Smith said “the real purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens.” Americans whose lives were destroyed by corporate negligence over safety are learning how true this is. The argument that there is “an epidemic of frivolous lawsuits against corporations” is an outrageous lie.

Canadian Conservatives’ Long-Standing Racist Heritage: An article by a Guelph University professor reviews the paranoia and racism inherent in Prime Minister Harper’s and other Conservative politicians’ policies and posturings. Thanks to Rajiv Bhushan for the link.

US Government Contract ‘Outsourcing’ Just Another Repayment of Political Campaign Contributions: The Democrats are making a big deal of the extraordinary, unscrutinized, uncompetitive and probably corrupt awarding of government contracts by the Bush administration. But don’t expect it to last. These same Democrats are guilty of the same practices to their contributors, many of them the same corporations, and they don’t want to rock the boat too much. Until the two-party oligopoly is smashed, any reforms will be symbolic only. So, this week the Democrats clawed back a $15B gift to Big Oil, but we have yet to see what they will do with the proceeds.

Preparing for Civilization’s End

Davos Recognizes Risk of Cascading Crises Threatening Civilization: The Davos gang are arch-right-wingers and comfortably in the back pockets of global corporatists, but they’re not idiots. Their new study intriguingly acknowledges the validity of complex adaptive systems theorists’ claim that our most intractable problems do not lend themselves to technological or other simple fixes, and reinforce each other in ways that threaten our civilization’s survival. The biggest threats in severity and probability?: A housing and other consumer/corporate asset value collapse; the collapse of globalization; the End of Oil; collapse of the Chinese economy; breakdown of global information & communication infrastructure; US trade deficit; and, most interestingly, the epidemic of lifestyle and environmental diseases in affluent nations.

Experts Debate UK Preparedness for Flu Pandemic: In another appreciation of complexity and the absurd expectation that simplistic plans will cope with complex problems, the regulars of the flu wiki discuss why the UK is unprepared for a flu pandemic, and what would be needed to make it better prepared (mostly, a devolution of authority and responsibility and information flow to the front lines — communities, schools, workplaces and individuals). In related news, the new Egyptian poultry flu mutation appears to be Tamiflu-resistant.

Practical Advice for Environmentalists: The best part of Grist is Umbra Fisk’s Q&A column Ask Umbra. She does excellent research, and when she makes a mistake, follows it up with a correction or amplification. This week she advises what wood to burn in your fireplace. An earlier, useful series explained which types of plastic bottles (those with a 2, 4, or 5, not a 1, 3, 6, 7, or 8 on the bottom) can be safely reused. NB: Don’t forget the read the two follow-ups to the latter article.

Are We Too Dumbed-Down to Save the World?: Another great Joe Bageant post pointed out by Jon Husband this week. His points are well-taken, and very funny, though I am less pessimistic than he is that most of the population have become automatons incapable of intelligent thought. Some interesting thoughts too on the role of the journalist, those of us

prowling the archaic text-based “information community” of the Internet where we will find only what we are looking for and what we more or less know. The Internet is a non-place where information is invited to be filtered through an already developed set of perceptions governing what we think we know, believe or want to believe.

His Conclusion:

With the entire world sold and mostly devoured, and six billion folks in a Darwinian death match for what’s left ó- half of them drinking sewerage and the other half living for the new xBox to come out — I’ll make a wild guess here and say it’s a helluva long way “back to the garden.” Things are not going to turn around, Fritjof Capra be damned.
This entry was posted in How the World Really Works. Bookmark the permalink.