Culture of Fear: Crockpot 07.27.12

Arizona Police
Utne's Guide to What You May Have Missed This Week

On Tuesday, four undocumented immigrants revealed their status in front of Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix, and were promptly arrested, says In These Times. Inside the courthouse, county sheriff Joe Arpaio, an infamous supporter of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070, faced charges of discrimination against Latino communities. The arrested activists released a statement condemning federal and state immigration laws, and the culture of fear they produced, beginning with “We are no longer afraid.” The action kicks off a six-week No Papers, No Fear bus tour from Arizona to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Along the way, activists hope to persuade other immigrants to reveal their status, and to raise awareness about immigration issues.

Twenty-four year old Natally Cruz was one of the four activists to be arrested on Tuesday. Read her inspiring blog post on why she decided to risk deportation.  

Self-determination and social equality have never been stronger in Latin America. So why has the U.S. has been quietly building up its military presence in heart of the continent?

Graphic: the gorgeous new Internet Map charts the 350,000 largest websites, their country of origin, and their traffic.

Keith Ellison and Michelle Bachman are on opposite political poles. But their side-by-side Minnesota congressional districts aren’t all that different.

Extrajudicial killing? State surveillance? A government obsession with social order? Sound like fascism? Maybe, but maybe Batman as well.  

Video: Rudyard Kipling on truth in writing.

Why we’re heading straight for a food crisis, with or without a new farm bill.

Women are outperforming men on a number of fronts. Where have all the male role models gone?

What Occupy means for street art, and why we should remember its history.

Why there’s (finally) reason for hope in Caribbean drug politics. 

Image by Bansby, licensed under Creative Commons.

Sustainability's Dark Side: Crockpot 07.06.12

Guatemala Farm

Environmentalism has a very different meaning for indigenous farmers in Guatemala. Last year, hundreds of Maya Q’eqchi families were evicted from their farms in Guatemala’s Polochic Valley to make way for corn fields, says Treehugger’s Brian Merchant. But instead of hungry people, that corn is destined to feed the growing demand for ethanol and other biofuels, especially in Europe. Evictions like this one have increased dramatically since the EU announced a plan to get 10 percent of its transportation energy from biofuels, reports John Vidal of The Guardian. The farmers’ struggle to reclaim land continues, but the affair raises deeper questions about the direction we’re taking toward sustainability, says Vidal.  


And don’t miss… 

Outsourcing journalism? Why a Filipino freelancer may be behind your local news.

Forget Romney—why aren’t more people talking about John Roberts’ flip-flop on health care?

The people Obamacare won’t cover, and why Bobby Jindal isn’t helping. 

Why community-owned solar gardens solve like 10 problems at once.

That time Indiana tried to legally change Pi to 3.2.

The surprising community potential of vacant lots.

Video: a flash mob in Spain goes philharmonic (and check out the comments!).

What a local grain economy would look like, and why we need it.

Election graphic: why a person from Wyoming is three times as powerful as a person from California. And why this probably isn’t gonna change.  

The Midwestern heat wave is bad, but is it global warming?

Cyclists in Delaware score big on project funding, but Congress lags behind.

Video: some gorgeous and diverse Algerian music, in honor of 50 years of independence.  

Islamophobia in the U.S. has ignited controversy recently, but its roots go deeper than you might think. Washington has a long history of suspicion toward Islam, especially political Islam, says Edward E. Curtis IV in Religion & Politics. That suspicion reached a new level in the 1960s, when COINTELPRO mobilized the FBI against groups like the Nation of Islam that sought to connect the civil rights struggle to a larger Muslim identity. The pervasive fear of Arab Islamism is much more recent, and demonstrates just how absent Muslims remain from the public arena. Recognizing this, says Curtis, means recognizing that Islam—even political Islam—is a lot less foreign to the U.S. than many people think.

Image by Jack Liefer, licensed under Creative Commons. Editor’s note: this image is of a Guatemalan farm, though not in the Polochic Valley. 


Mark Twain, Exploding Cows, and the Unabomber - Crockpot 05.22.12

Mark Twain

Mark Twain to censors: “I wrote Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively.” After hearing that his books had been censored by the Brooklyn Public Library’s Children’s Department in 1905, Twain got his sarcasm on in this one-of-a-kind letter to a librarian there. “The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean,” he snidely continues. “I know this by experience.” Read the rest of his delightful scorn, here.

And don't miss:

An argument for a community-based approach to mental illness.

Some not-so-pretty pictures of tar-sand mining in Alberta.

The latest breakthrough in invisibility-cloak technology

Why Warren Buffett is buying up every last local newspaper he can find.

Colorado’s amazing, frozen, (and almost) exploding cows.

Why Elvis refused to dance at his senior prom in 1953.

Tokyo’s gorgeous, haunting LED-illuminated river.

It turns out that college students’ internal gaydar is surprisingly accurate.

Why LSD is more likely to block brain activity than expand it.

Solitary confinement is more and more common in American prisons, even though it defies common sense.

Why we should really be taking the Unabomber more seriously. Ted Kaczynski, the math-genius-turned-domestic-terrorist probably has every reason to stay in prison. But his manifesto on the dangers of technology dependence is gaining more ground among academics and philosophers. Find out why, here.

Why the Climate Change Debate Makes No Sense - Crockpot 05.09.12


The Crockpot: Utne’s Weekly Guide to What You May Have Missed  

It turns out that only about a tenth of Americans believe climate change isn’t real, and more than two thirds think it should be a bigger political issue. The findings, by Yale and George Mason University, fly in the face of what’s passing for an environmental debate in this country, says Ecopolitology. Most Americans also believe the environmentalism/economic growth conflict is a false one and that sustainability can help create jobs. The really weird part? Another George Mason study back in 2010 found that about a quarter of weathercasters thought global warming was a hoax. But honestly, who believes what the weatherman says?


And don’t miss… 

Why the pope controls our traffic laws—and how Samoa learned to fight back.


Why Arizona could be a battleground in this election—no, really.   


Check out the new, brilliant, extremely Russian mobile sauna


Iran to Google Maps: It’s the Persian Gulf, OK? 


Why sex robots will soon take over the world without us really noticing.


Explore Tokyo’s exquisite, real-life glass house.


Researchers at Emory University complete the first-ever MRI scan of a dog’s brain.


What a therapeutic playground for autism sufferers might look like.


Why Cap’n Crunch is a total chauvinist.


Why it took the Queen of England 169 years to get real on freedom of speech.


What an ancient Roman garbage heap can teach us about designing modern parks.


Knowing more than one language has a profound effect on brain development in children, and not just in language skills, says New Scientist. New studies have found that bilingual kids are better at concentrating, multitasking, and are faster to empathize with others. And in adults, bilingualism may even stave off the effects of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s as it keeps the brain active and vital. The best part? It’s never too late to learn. Read More.  

The Floating Wind Turbine Project That Could - Crockpot 04.24.12

The Crockpot: Utne's Weekly Guide to What You May Have Missed 

Wind TurbineThe North Atlantic may finally be home to hundreds of floating wind turbines: According to Treehugger, Britain and the U.S. are set to collaborate on a multimillion-dollar floating wind farm initiative that will eventually generate as much as 7 megawatts of electricity. The agreement is years in the making, but could be operational by 2016. And while European countries have been moving on offshore wind farms for years, the U.S. has lagged behind, that is until very recently. Read More 


And don't miss... 

Tokyo’s terrifying, beautiful tire monster and other playground masterpieces.


Why Google’s CEO wants to pan for gold on an asteroid.


How New Orleans became a filmmaking Mecca in the years after Katrina.


Why heavy drinking makes you feel like a kid again.


The totally amazing and/or laughably obsolete USB typewriter.  


Why 4G means precisely nothing.


The surprisingly accurate and informative colored-pencil Europe.


Why the family farm is now code for dangerous child labor.


How a small group of freethinkers smuggled banned books back into Tucson.


Why the philosophical roots of happiness and enjoyment are easily forgotten. The pursuit of happiness pervades modern society, but in an earlier, Augustinian sense, enjoyment referred to a deeper spirituality that went far beyond consumption or entertainment. The loss of this ideal, argues one 21st century philosopher, means a loss of intrinsic value in anything. Read More 

Image by Dirk Ingo Franke, licensed under Creative Commons 

The Crockpot: A Weekly Digest 04.17.12

Old Book Bindings 

Baghdad’s beautiful, enduring street of books.


Why bachelor pads changed American culture forever, and why no one actually has one.


The Twitter account that won a Pulitzer Prize.


How to get a price tag to tell the full story.


A veteran climate activist throws in the towel


Why that shiny new iPad isn’t as clean as you may think.


Why tax day can be downright dangerous for drivers.


Was Ben Franklin secretly a serial killer? Probably not, but his friend liked to rob graves.    


How to take a bike from a perfect stranger (and eventually give it back).


What the Affordable Care Act looks like as a map.


Manmade earthquakes? In the Midwest, a recent uptick in seismic activity has geologists stumped, but new data from the USGS suggests that fracking may have something to do with it. The same is true of underground wastewater disposal, a much more common practice that usually accompanies the fracking process. Yet another reason why fracking is a totally awesome and sensible idea.  

Image by Tom Murphy VII, licensed under Creative Commons


CISPA Offers Choice between Security and Liberty

A New Method of Macarony MakingWhat would happen if the government had access to information you share on Facebook and could access it without you knowing? For now, the Orwellian question remains hypothetical. But if a bill before Congress is approved, it might enable that very thing. 

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act, or CISPA, boasts bipartisan support and the approval of many high-profile businesses, notably Facebook. Its creators claim it will prevent “catastrophic attack to our nation’s vital networks - networks that power our homes, provide our clean water or maintain the other critical services we use every day.”

But the bill has received harsh criticism from groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), and Anonymous. Now, get ready to put all those acronyms to use. The EFF accuses Congress of using fear of cyber threats to distract the public from the bill’s infringements on free speech. To that, CDT adds encroachment on Americans’ fourth amendment right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. According to CDT, “CISPA has a very broad, almost unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies […] is likely to lead to expansion of the government’s role in the monitoring of private communications [… and] is likely to shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military.” 

It's scary stuff, and groups like Free Press, Demand Progress, and have jumped to action. Their “Stop CISPA” petitions are currently circulating through social media channels, including Facebook. The response has been extensive enough to warrant a response from Facebook’s Vice President of U.S. Policy, Joel Kaplan. On Friday, Kaplan wrote a letter assuring users that Facebook would not betray their trust. The comments below the letter are overwhelmingly negative, with many using the space to share information about the bill and others threatening to move to Google+.

Facebook isn’t the only one responding. To combat negative press, “House Intel Comm” launched a Twitter account on April 11th. The tweets were composed in glowing Newspeak. “Rogers-Ruppersberger #cyber bill keeps the federal govt’s hands off the Internet, & doesn’t allow the govt to stop access to websites.” Spin this fine would give George Orwell a run for his money. Fortunately, such tweets only show how out-of-touch its authors are with people who actually use the internet. A “best of” collection has been immortalized by the bloggers of Techdirt, where the comment section shows that few have been fooled by the propaganda campaign. 

If anything, it is the comment areas of these sites that should give us hope. Americans are not the passive, blundering fools we have been made to seem in the past. When given room to voice our opinions, we’re a feisty bunch (no wonder they’d like to keep tabs on us). The major thing missing from discussion in the comments section is that CISPA is not the only option. The CDT supports a bill proposed by Dan Lungren (R-CA) called the PRECISE Act, calling it “a strong alternative to CISPA by balancing cybersecurity, industry and civil liberties concerns.” This is the bill we should be talking about, in Congress and comments sections alike.

Sources: Congressman Mike Roger’s press release, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for Democracy & Technology, Techdirt, Facebook, CISPA homepage  

Image: "A New Method of Macarony Making, as practised at Boston in North America," satirical illustration depicting two American colonists tar and feathering an English customs agent at Boston, Massachusetts. Mezzotint, 152 mm x 113 mm. Courtesy of the British Museum, London. This work is in the public domain in the United States. 

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