11/27/2009 1:41:26 PM
“Rather than cars being our servants, many of us have become enslaved,” writes Chris Richards in New Internationalist. The former Australasian editor of the magazine openly chronicled her attempts to free herself from our prevailing car culture, and also shared some ideas for breaking the cycle of dependence and a vision of what life could be like if we made some serious adjustments. She writes:
“What would this parking lot look like if it no longer serviced cars? The asphalt could be torn up, the soil regenerated, then gardens planted and fresh produce grown. As cars would no longer drive there, the shopping center could be scaled back and the space converted to a range of homes for a range of incomes. Throw in a school and medical centre, and village life could emerge. Such transformations are tantalizing. A pity, then, that our asphalt nations are more likely to expand than contract.”
Richards shares similar views as Utne visionary Mark Gorton, who also is on a crusade to empower people to ditch their cars and reclaim their streets. Check out our coverage on Gorton’s work with The Open Planning Project for more information.
Source: New Internationalist
11/20/2009 10:42:46 AM
Listen to the latest episode of the UtneCast:
David Kirp on the deterioration of higher education.
The University of California erupted in protest this week after its Board of Regents announced that student fees—the University’s equivalent of tuition—would be raised by 32 percent. Hundreds of students protested the fee hikes, according to the New York Times, some barricading themselves in university buildings, setting up tent cities on campus, and 12 UCLA students have been arrested.
The University of California’s move is simply the latest in a long-standing trend of disinvestment in higher education. For the latest episode of the UtneCast, I spoke with David Kirp, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and the author of the book Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education, to talk about how the compact between universities and state governments has broken down. The current recession is making the situation worse, but there is no guarantee that higher education will improve with the economy. In fact, the United States is in danger of losing the “education for all” philosophy that may be the most important economic driver in the world economy.
You can listen to that interview above, or subscribe to the UtneCast on iTunes.
Image by Chris Radcliff, licensed under Creative Commons.
You can watch a video of the protests below:
11/19/2009 4:42:50 PM
How much do you know about what the world thinks? The Pew Research Center has created a quiz to test how much people know about global attitudes toward the United States, democracy, and international policy. I took the quiz and did embarrassingly bad. Among the questions I got wrong: “Where are people more likely to say their culture is superior to others? United States, Germany, France, or Italy?” Visit the quiz to find out the answers.
Pew Research Center
11/19/2009 8:59:45 AM
The millions of cameras currently keeping a silent watch over London have caused alarm among civil libertarians. The Orwellian police state or the unblinking panopticon of surveillance, however, has failed to materialized so far. There are currently 4.3 million cameras in the United Kingdom, but according to Jamie Malanowski in the Washington Monthly, “the practical effect on a person’s behavior is negligible.”
Rather than preventing crimes, the cameras have proven most helpful in catching perpetrators after crimes have already happened. The massive numbers of cameras are too disjointed, for now, to provide a measure of central control. Malanowski reports that police aren’t trying very hard to link them up, either. “Perhaps because bureaucracies in the UK are mighty forces for inefficiency and inaction, perhaps because abuses have been reined in by good English common sense,” Malanowski writes, “the cameras have been deployed in a largely benign way.”
One company is aiming change the disjointed nature of England’s massive surveillance infrastructure by putting crowds, rather than the government, in charge. Kris Kotarski, reports for the Calgary Herald that the British company Internet Eyes is allowing people to anonymously monitor some closed circuit televisions (CCTVs), and make money while doing it.
Internet Eyes turns surveillance into a game, where anonymous users try to spot shoplifting or vandalism on CCTVs, and then report the crimes for possible cash rewards. The company charges its viewers £20 per month and £1 per crime alert, and offers users a chance at £1,000 per month as a reward for reporting the most crime. It’s like “crowdsourcing” repressive surveillance of a country, or, as Kotarski calls it, a move toward “iPod fascism.”
, Calgary Herald
, licensed under
Update: The Internet Eyes company may not be able to launch its surveillance site, and its future is in question. According to the company's blog, the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office is currently reviewing the company.
11/16/2009 5:23:07 PM
The World Cup is coming to South Africa next year, and poor South Africans are paying the price. The South African government has forcibly relocated a group of some 600 people to make way for the upcoming soccer tournament, the New Internationalist reports. The World Cup refugees were given seven days to leave their makeshift homes in Cape Town. They’ve now been moved to corrugated iron shacks in an impoverished and crime ridden “Temporary Relocation Area” 30 kilometers outside the city. One of these residents, Nazley Petersen, told the magazine:
They promised us electricity but there is none. They told us we will get houses after a few years, but I don’t believe them. I lived so nicely under the bridge. By the afternoon I would already have collected enough money from begging to feed my family that night. But here, when you are hungry, you remain hungry.
Source: The New Internationalist
11/6/2009 5:22:35 PM
Melissa del Bosque, whose phenomenal reports for The Texas Observer are always worth reading, spent some quality time with a couple of cantankerous lawmen for her latest assignment, “Boots on the Ground: A Day in the Life of a Border Sheriff.” She even traveled into the barren desert on an ATV with Arvin West, sheriff of Hudspeth County and chairman of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, in an effort to get to the root of the fear-mongering, sensationalist “battle zone” rhetoric that dominates cable news coverage of the Texas-Mexico border.
At times it’s like watching a game of telephone: Sheriff tells exaggerated story to Texas congressman, congressman appears on Sean Hannity’s show, Sean Hannity concludes that al-Qaeda terrorists are streaming unchecked across the border. Luckily, del Bosque also meets Lupe Treviño, also a Texas sheriff, who’s working to dispel some of the outrageous myths about border violence. “Treviño created an hour-long PowerPoint presentation called ‘Border Violence: Rhetoric vs. Reality,’ ” del Bosque writes. “He makes his case at luncheons and to any audience who will listen.”
Source: The Texas Observer
11/6/2009 3:43:02 PM
The nation’s unemployment topped 10 percent in last month, but for young people, that number is much higher. The unemployment rate for 16-to-24-year-olds is almost double the national average, according to The Nation, up near 18.1 percent for September. Since December of 2007, those young people have lost some 2.5 million jobs, the most of any age group. And even though the stock market seems to be looking up, the employment picture for young people still looks bleak.
“I hope people are really clear that this is not an equal-opportunity recession, that it's hurting the weakest," Dedrick Muhammad of the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality and the Common Good told The Nation. Low-income and people of color have been the hardest hit, according to Muhammad’s research. For unemployment white people in their early 20s is less than half (13.1 percent) of African Americans (27.1 percent). At the same time, college tuition and health care costs have been steadily rising.
The bright spot midst the crisis is the political engagement that young people continually display. According to The Nation, “many young people have already begun coming together, in protest and coalition-style advocacy.” They’re fighting for better health care, education, jobs, and to make sure this kind of recession doesn’t happen again.
Source: The Nation
Update: For more on the charge to keep young people politically engaged and create more opportunities for the millennial generation, read about Maya Enista, one of Utne Reader’s visionaries who are changing your world.
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