- I’ve been following Dickson Despommier’s work on urban farming for a few years now, and the Vertical Farming project has come far in the past five years.
- One effect of Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana has been a significant spike in the potency – from 14-15% THC to about 25%. The NY Times’ Maureen Dowd put out a hilarious article last week, wherein a 60+ woman tried to pull off the stoner version of an irresponsible teenager going on an alcohol binge. I wonder if this not-so-bright woman tries to consume entire canisters of medication for headaches or allergies “if nothing happens at first”
- Disturbing news from Iraq this week, as ISIS fighters swept into Mosul and Tikrit, echoing the Taliban’s rapid gains in 1995-96. This is very significant, because ISIS-controlled territory now sits astride major pipeline networks connecting Iraq to Turkey and the Mediterranean, while coming uncomfortably close to the super-giant Kirkuk oil field…
- Iraqi Kurds want to see a divided Iraq, to create a Kurdish homeland. If the Sunni and Shia parts must splinter, can we can them Assyria and Babylon please?
Assorted commentary for today, 21/Prairial/222:
- The mainstream British media seem to have a sort of blackout on coverage for the Green Party, despite surging support that saw the Greens land fourth place behind the Tories in the recent EU elections, with an impressive 8% of the overall vote (and only 3 seats, given the vagaries of the Westminster model). More media space seems to be reserved for the Lib-Dems (fifth behind the Greens), or for the gaffe-prone racists from the UKIP and the BNP. For Europe as a whole, the Green-EFA bloc has garnered an impressive 58 seats this time. Even better days are hopefully ahead…
- I’m starting to look a little bit like Julius Martov. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad one.
- Corey Robin on the Jacobin Magazine: The model of a “virtuous” defendant, in the Stalinist and American criminal justice systems. The US prison population now equals that of the Gulag system just before Stalin’s death, according to one of the more reliable estimates, and a good chunk of these are in for petty non-violent crimes like marijuana possession. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation: 750,000 prisoners incarcerated on charges of marijuana possession, at about $21k a year to keep them in prison, cost about $15.75 billion a year – $46 billion if you consider that the average sentence is a little over 3 years long. Quite a pretty penny for the prison-industrial complex, no?
- While a uniform civil code is most welcome in India, care must be taken to ensure that it is truly uniform, and not just pandering to the majority. Scroll.in covers the Goa civil code, which the BJP holds up as India’s only “truly uniform” code.
- The level of support enjoyed by the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is surprising, given how badly the Nazis treated Greece in their 1941-44 occupation. The once-fringe party took in 10% of the Greek vote in the recent EU elections
- Today’s feel-good story: The women of a small Uttarakhand village solve their water woes, and bring about an economic upswing.
Assorted commentary for today, 20/Prairial/222:
- The New York Times reports that Iran’s leaders “want to double the population to 150 million by 2050“. This comes on the very day that I discover the existence of plans by Iran to import about 1 bcm of potable water from the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan (across about 900 miles of the most politically unstable regions on earth). If they go through with both, this is not going to end well.
- Belen Fernandez on Uruguay’s Pepe Mujica, a sort of cross between a retired Robin Hood and Bilbo Baggins. Uruguay hasn’t done too badly at all after a decade of the leftie/progressive Broad Front government.
- Whatever happened to the Taliban spokesman who ended up as a freshman at Yale?
- Some Chinese cities are bulldozing entire mountains to create new flat land to expand into, at an unprecedented scale. A group of Chinese researchers voice their concerns in this Nature piece.
I’d like to end with this article from the India Water Portal: Sobering voices amongst all the hype over the next iteration of “Ganga rejuvenation” plans. The BJP’s quoting of the Sabarmati “clean-up” as an example is most illustrative (like the rest of the “Gujarat model”). From the article:
“The BJP says that it will clean up the Ganga in Varanasi the way it has cleaned up the Sabarmati in Ahmedabad. Ecologists, aware of the work on the Sabarmati, oppose this. The water flowing through the Sabarmati in its 10.4 km stretch in the city of Ahmedabad is actually the water of the Narmada River diverted into Sabarmati. This water was originally meant for Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat, they claim. Upstream of the Sabarmati, from the point where the Narmada main Canal releases water into it, the river is dry. “And if one goes down to the Vasna barrage, downstream of Ahmedabad along the Sabarmati, one can easily see the polluted river”, says Thakkar. “One could divert Narmada water into Sabarmati, because it is a small river. But if this model needs to be followed for a huge river like the Ganga, one will need to bring water from the Brahamputra. The cost of pumping water from the Narmada into the Kshipra river, the latest river interlinking project, is Rs. 16 lakh per day. One can imagine the cost if water has to be diverted into the Ganga. Is it sustainable?”, he asks.“
- From Brainpickings, a look at living alone – then and now
- Startup incubators working a little TOO well: Meet the entrepreneur who squatted at AOL’s Palo Alto Campus for over 2 months (CNET)
- Illegal file-sharing chips away at North Korea’s censorship/propaganda firewall (Torrentfreak). Come to think of it, the worlds envisioned by organizations like the MPAA/RIAA are quite similar to that of DPR Korea, in terms of total control of information. An earlier article on TF looked at corporations posting the craziest of take-down notices – not unlike the IPL’s botched attempt at a news blackout except for the most conformist of sources
- From Alternet, the first of a 5-part series on how “activists, theorists, organizations and ordinary citizens are rebuilding the American political-economic system from the ground up.” A wonderful example is the Evergreen Co-operative, which has changed the face of one of Cleveland’s most dirt-poor neighbourhoods
- A pretty interesting introduction to forged “historical” coins, which seem to be proliferating in India (some even sold on eBay!)
- The AMAZING AMAZING Ken Burns on the art of storytelling (Brainpickings)
Found this gem of a video on Youtube. Its an awesome rendition of a Siberian folk tale by a Russian/Siberian band called Bugotak. Enjoy!
Back to blogging after a long long time. Here are some highlights of stuff I’ve been reading today:
The protesters are not allowed to use mega-phones? Damn – would’ve been fun to see annoyed bankers!
Watch the video here
I was at Occupy Philadelphia for all of Sunday night – and I plan to go back again. I really hope this turns into a strong coherent movement, and an inspiration for progressive forces everywhere to beat back the creeping Fascism one can see in all major countries in the world.
And hopefully media coverage will be better than this nonsense at NYT. Now what what what does knowing the stock price of Apple have to do with anything about this protest?!