Category: This Just In


The economic outlook in a nutshell, by Dimitri Orlov:

Zombie financial institutions, bloated with loans which have gone bad due to a dwindling resource base and a shrinking physical economy, are gorging themselves on free government money, while the governments cannot stop throwing bags of money into their gaping maws for fear of being eaten alive.

 

So brilliant, So true, So tragic

 

 

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Thanks Iceland!

“I believe this is the first time a constitution is being drafted basically on the internet,” said Thorvaldur Gylfason, member of Iceland’s constitutional council.

The tiny island nation who was hit so hard in 2008 is using adversity to create opportunity. They are re-drafting their Constitution. And when I say they, I literally mean the people of Iceland themselves.

Using every social media outlet imaginable, from a youtube channel chronicling each discussion to a facebook forum and even a flicker account with photos of the representatives in action, the government has created maximum transparency and participation from their constituents. The people themselves have actually created the documents themselves, and what’s more

If the committee has its way the draft bill, due to be ready at the end of July, will be put to a referendum without any changes imposed by parliament – so it will genuinely be a document by the people, for the people.

Mob Rule at its best!

Photo: fotothing.com

Former Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt has something very important to say…to President Obama. He delivered a rally cry from the National Press Club podium on Wednesday challenging the President to stand up to the radically anti-environmental policy dominating The Congress these days, while also managing to offer actionable solutions. His speech is so powerful and so constructive it’s really worth a read in its entirety. It’s all too rare to hear this level of candor and actual information from the mouth of a politician these days. Here’s an excerpt of some of the juicy bits!

More than a hundred years ago, Rep. John Lacey (R-Iowa), made this observation: “The immensity of man’s power to destroy imposes a responsibility to preserve.”

It is now more than ten years since I left public office. I am returning to the public stage today because I believe that this Congress, in its assaults on our environment, has embarked on the most radical course in our history. Congress, led by the House of Representatives, has declared war on our land, water and natural resources. And it is time for those of us who support our conservation tradition to raise our voices on behalf of the American people.

As these attacks escalate the urgent question for those of us who support and advocate for our conservation tradition is how to respond.

One alternative is to lie low, hoping that this storm will soon pass by without too much lasting damage.

Failure to respond, however, is a form of appeasement that has not worked in the past and it will not work this time. Our adversaries prefer to operate in the shadows, outside the sunshine generated by public knowledge and participation. For our opponents know that when anti-environmentalism becomes a public issue they will lose. They know that American support for our environmental heritage is wide and deep.

There is no issue as lasting or as worthy as the preservation of our natural and cultural heritage. Theodore Roosevelt, more than a hundred years ago, put it this way: “We have fallen heir to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

Wow, finally an exponential chart that doesn’t terrify me!

Thanks Think Progress!

It is vitally important to remember to be grateful for people like Bill Mckibben, the brave leader of the 350.org movement, who not only keeps shining the bright light of truth at us whether we like it or not, but does it with wit, eloquence and even occasional irony.

This video is a narration of Mckibben’s recent piece in the Washington Post set to the astonishing imagery of climate disruptions over the past year masterfully constructed by Stephen Thomson of Plomomedia.com.

And if you didn’t think it was possible to laugh about climate change, there’s always The Onion!

A phoenix from the ashes.

One of our favorite Pioneering spirits here at Net Positive, Douglas Rushkoff, has recently launched the Contact Summit. Just about 6 months away, this counter-conference as Rushkoff lovingly refers to it, will take place in the big apple on October 20th. Our favorite part is the non-heirarchical structure. All attendants are also presenters if they so choose. The whole event is designed with collaboration in mind and all are welcome to bring their projects to the table. Sounds like a priceless opportunity to mix it up with people who are walking the walk. Here’s the intro from Rushkoff:

We might open with some short “provocations” from people in the field sharing their greatest challenges, but the object of the game is to spawn, share, and develop our hopes and dreams. What will come out of this process is anyone’s guess. At at the very least, we’ll convene meetings about the ideas we care about, and vote on the ideas we want to pursue and push forward. We’ll have a giant Bazaar where everyone can demo their works in progress for one another and seek help, customers, or collaborators. We’ll have the chance to get the advice of leading technologists, entrepreneurs, and theorists on our work, and to educate ourselves about what everyone else is doing.

More than that, we will have planted a flag in the sand that social media is evolutionary in spirit, and capable of addressing the greatest challenges facing humanity at the brink of economic, ecological, and cultural crisis. And to celebrate this fact.

Social media is about more than socializing or creating affinity groups around consumption preferences. If you want to counter the commercialization of this incredible part of the commons, this seems like the chance to do it.

photo: tourism-review.com

These days there seems to be quite a lot to protest about, and quite a lot of people actually acting on their frustrations and taking to the streets. From the burgeoning civil war in Libya and the dramatic revolutions under way in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and on and on and on, to the labor struggles in America and the riots over economic injustice in England, there are clearly many different ways to redress grievances. A few decades ago in America, as people struggled for an end to the various social injustices plaguing their country, a debate also raged about the most effective approach to protest.

It boils down to “non-violent” or “violent”. That’s a major simplification but it speaks to the basics of the protest. I can understand how people can feel so hopeless and powerless that they see no choice but to resort to more extreme measures. While this may sometimes seem like the only option, in my opinion, it is rarely the best one or the most effective. Which is why I was so heartened to hear about the peaceful demonstrations underway in India. A week-long fast in protest against corruption in that country resulted in an amazing gathering of people from all walks.

My most recent personal experience in the protest department was last October when I traveled to DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity. It’s a worthy goal to strive for in these frenzied times and I couldn’t wait to stand beside other sane people and show solidarity. I was so excited in fact, that my group and I tried to get as close as we could to the action, not really thinking through how difficult that would be in the confined space of the National Mall (who knew the mall could ever seem small!). The next thing we knew, we were completely surrounded, body to body with fellow rallyers. I can’t recall ever feeling more confined and helpless in a crowd as I did in that moment. We could see no clear space to walk toward. Everyone was trying to get somewhere or stay near someone. At any other rally it might have actually been a dangerous situation. The kind of thing where wild heads result in trampling, stampeding, and general mayhem with possible bodily harm. Fortunately this was the rally for sanity and it truly was the most respectful, mild-mannered mob you could ever hope to see. Everyone was sincerely polite, making every effort to accommodate each other, let groups stay in tact, keep voices at reasonable levels given the extreme proximity we were in. Initially I felt myself becoming slightly terrified as I noticed the crowd closing in around me, but the fear immediately gave way to wonder at the conduct I was witnessing around me.

Speaking out and standing up against tyranny wherever you find it is vital to a promising future for the human family. Don’t forget that the most important place to take a stand isn’t always somewhere distant, but right in your own home, in your own heart. Every decision, every day is a revolutionary act that creates the world you see around you. If you think something should be different, try changing yourself first. Then don’t be afraid to take it outside, stand up and be counted!

photo: human flower project

Watch the population exploding in real-time by going to Pop Clock. Once there, hit refresh every few seconds for a very interesting show.

 Graph: Oil Drum
Photo: Outr Blog

The beauty of the internet is its freedom. Everyone with something to say can be heard. If not by the world, then at least by a few more people than they might be able to reach with only their vocal chords (or even a pad and pen). This has helped to usher in the most momentous moment in human history.

Our ability to communicate freely together, without the intrusion of corporate interests trying simultaneously to sell us and censor our press, has played a significant role in speeding up the pace of change in the world. Finding a way for 7 billion people to communicate is no small task and it does present some challenges even as we overcome so many boundaries to become the most connected humans in history.

A favorite refrain of those threatened by the internet (usually at their pocketbooks), is that it is dangerous and unreliable, filled with unscrupulous people spreading lies and misinformation. On any network as immense as the internet, there will be some who negatively exploit the opportunity it provides. The vast majority, though, are people with the best of intentions seeking the truth and speaking from the heart.

Now comes the challenge. With so many well-meaning voices, opinions, stories and thoughts out there, how do we narrow our window onto the world enough to be able to take in the view? It’s very easy to get deafened by the cacophony, give up and reach for the old standbys in defeat. Suddenly you realize that the internet is just another outlet for the same perspectives brought to you by your television, and then what have you really gained?

Lately I’ve been taking advantage of the RSS feed option on many of my favorite info/ news blogs. The fact is, when your interests are diverse and there are a multiplicity of outlets feeding each of those interests, it can be hard to keep up. Having all the most interesting sites appear together on one page goes beyond convenient, it makes it much more likely that you’ll even take the time to check in and bone up on all the new developments in the world. Think of it as your own Huffington Post. On that site, Arianna and her team select the voices for you based on a clear set of ideals. It’s one stop shopping for politics, current events, gossip and more politics. Imagine how much better that could be if you were your own curator. Sounds like a task, but it’s surprisingly simple and the work is done only once for a lifetime of easy access to stuff you’re actually interested in. Google reader is my choice since it’s accessible from my email, but there are many more.

When it’s strictly news I’m after, Twitter has become my go to. Again, it’s like you’re the curator/ editor of your own newspaper. You choose your writers and columnists and then let them fill your screen with all manner of interesting current events. No filler, no advertising, not even too great of an effort to get it up and running. In fact, you don’t even need to bother tweeting yourself to follow along with others. One of my favorite tricks is checking the profiles of the people I’m most interested in to see who they follow and then linking up to the ones that look interesting. This has really opened me to up to all sorts of interesting ideas and idea makers I might never have been exposed to. Needless to say, Twitter works especially well for a short attention span. Just beware of the overly prolific tweeter. Before you know it you need a machete to make it through just one person/ groups posts and all the others get lost in the frustration of having to scroll forever just to find them.

Now if you want things even easier, I recommend the site that I check more than any other. Chris Martenson’s website is so chock full of critical information you could spend days or months there without a second wasted. I highly recommend taking in his vitally important Crash Course in its entirety. This is a presentation he put together over 5 years of extensive research and offers for free to all. A former Pfizer exec living the full American Dream, this man saw the writing on the wall and made some major changes. If his information wasn’t inspiring enough, his example certainly should be.

Beyond the extensive archives and resources, the site has something called the Daily Digest that should be essential reading. Martenson and his team have their finger on the pulse. See for yourself. You can have an email sent with the Digest or hook up to the RSS feed for it. Once you’ve seen a few, you’ll probably want to join Martenson’s very fortunate members and get even closer to the oracle himself. For a small fee your membership will give you access to Martenson’s personal posts and alerts. You’ll never feel more secure in your understanding of the global picture than with this guy whispering in your ear.

So there you have it. This is how I drown out the noise and zero in on the essentials in this vast internet universe. If you value the access and honesty brought to your life by this invaluable tool called the internet, maybe you should join the cause to make sure it stays open and free to everyone. For more on the issue of net neutrality, here’s a great article.

photo from Ad Majorem Blog