Saturday Links for the Week – September 29, 2007

Water Scarcity
NYT interactive map of global water scarcity areas (brown)

A real mixed bag of interesting, thoughtful and disturbing news and information this week:

Water Scarcity Analysis: The NYT series Choking on Growth turns its attention to water. The map above shows areas of current water scarcity in brown (the darker the colour, the greater the population density). The brown area is exploding, as, for example, China’s water table is falling by as much as 18 feet per year due to soaring demands of population, agriculture and industry. With glacier melts, the whole West half of North America will be added to the brown area within a couple of decades. Note that most deserts are not shown in brown, because there are no demands for water there — people have adapted to geographic reality. Not so in the rest of the world.

Preparing for Emergencies the Wrong Way: A great thread in the FluWiki explains that top-down institutional plans for emergencies (as we saw with Katrina) will inevitably fail. Social and environmental phenomena like health and natural disasters are complex phenomena, and simplistic solutions cannot work because it is impossible to predict the severity, locations or public reactions to them. Only community-based, bottom-up, self-managed approaches that involve, self-educate and rehearse reactions to such emergencies will work. What is urgently needed, the wiki’s healthcare experts tell us, are experts who will say this to the ‘leaders’ who still rely on these unworkable and expensive top-down ‘plans’, and to the media who are not listening either.

Why Most Americans Will Never Get Decent Health Care: The US Green Party has, justifiably, called the Clinton and Obama healthcare compromise plans a fraud, since they propose to subsidize the powerful HMO and insurance industries for the costs of expanding limited coverage to those who cannot now afford it. Such a plan, in addition to giving these private organizations a windfall from the US taxpayer, would be financially extravagant and provide only rudimentary coverage to the poor. Even this pathetic compromise will never pass anyway because, as any student of previous attempts to get universal healthcare plans approved can tell you, the US political system (which would require strong and courageous support for such a scheme from the House and Senate) won’t let it happen. Only Kucinich and the Greens support equitable universal single-payer healthcare. Won’t happen in our lifetime.

Free Software of the Day: Giveaway of the Day lets you download commercial software free. Each offer lasts one day, so you have to visit often, but this is much better than ‘trial’ versions that expire. Includes ratings by people who downloaded each giveaway.

US Bar Association Refuses to Be Associated With Guantanamo Kangaroo Court Trials: Claiming that lack of habeus corpus rights makes the trials a sham, the ABA won’t offer legal aid to defendants.

Buy Less, Buy Local, Pay More: That’s what it will take to move our economy to sustainability, and we should be proud, not embarrassed, to do so. Dave Smith explains why more is less and less is more. He also summarizes Thomas Berry’s Seventeen Rules for Sustainable Community, and explains that “small-scale, decentralized communities designed around permaculture principles, local and regional economies, smart management of local natural resources, local community government, passive solar and renewable energy systems, are all transitions that make common sense, going from living lifestyles to living real lives with meaningful purpose.”

FCC Fines “Fake News” For First Time: PRWatch, one of the excellent sites of the Center for Media and Democracy, reports that, for the first time, the US FCC has fined a broadcaster, Comcast, a small amount ($4000) for broadcasting a video news release (a packaged video created by a commercial, political, front or lobby group) as if it were “real news”. It’s a start. But also from PRWatch, a report card shows that Patrick Moore’s paid pro-nuclear propaganda is still being covered by the Canadian media as the viewpoint of legitimate, independent environmentalists. Like their US counterparts, the mainstream Canadian media just believe and report verbatim everything they hear from corporatists — no research, no fact-checking. Disgraceful.

Thought for the Week: Two quotes from Anthony de Mello via Eric Lilius:

First, realize that you are surrounded by prison walls, that your mind has gone to sleep. It does not even occur to most people to see this, so they live and die as prison inmates. Most people end up being conformists; they adapt to prison life. A few become reformers; they fight for better living conditions in the prison, better lighting, better ventilation. Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls. You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place.

When asked what he did for his disciples, the Master said, “What a sculptor does for the statue of a tiger: He takes a block of marble and pounds away at anything that doesn’t look like a tiger.” When his disciples later asked what exactly he meant, the Master said, “My task is to hammer away at everything that isn’t you — every thought, feeling, attitude,compulsion that adheres to you from your culture and your past.

This entry was posted in Our Culture / Ourselves. Bookmark the permalink.