New satellite data shows the Earth’s largest underground aquifers are losing water at troubling rates. A NASA study finds 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers have provided more water than has been replaced, putting them at a sustainability tipping point. Researchers say the water reserves have been depleted by human activity including agriculture, population growth and mining.
The Intercept news site has published one of the largest releases of documents from Edward Snowden to date, revealing new details about the National Security Agency’s program XKEYSCORE. Described as “the NSA’s Google for the world’s private communications,” the program sweeps up emails, voice calls, webcam photos, web searches, logged keystrokes and more. The program is fed by fiber-optic cables which form the “backbone of the world’s communication network,” with hundreds of servers around the world. The system includes traffic from Americans and allows the government to easily make queries based on criteria like nationality or the websites people have visited. One document shows government analysts used XKEYSCORE to obtain U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s talking points before a meeting with President Obama.
A federal judge has invalidated a ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops passed by voters in Maui County, Hawaii. Passed in November, the ballot measure called for a complete suspension on GMO crop cultivation until studies prove it is safe. Maui County is often called “GMO Ground Zero” because multinational seed producers test products there. Both Monsanto and Dow filed suit against the ban, and on Tuesday a judge ruled Maui County lacked the authority to impose it. Critics of GMOs say they will appeal.
WikiLeaks has published the secret core text of a massive trade pact called the Trade in Services Agreement, which is currently being negotiated by more than 50 countries encompassing two-thirds of the global GDP. The publication comes ahead of the next round of negotiations next week. While it has received less attention, WikiLeaks called the Trade in Services Agreement the “largest component” of the U.S. trade agenda, which also includes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact, or TTIP. Critics of the deal say it would severely restrict governments’ ability to regulate and expand corporate power. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks has also published documents showing the United States did not just tap German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, it also targeted scores of German officials and their aides, including Merkel’s personal assistant.
As Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has raised a record of at least $45 million in its first quarter, another Democratic candidate has broken a different record. Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders drew the largest crowd of any presidential candidate so far this election season when he spoke to 10,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Tonight we have made a little bit of history. You may know that there are some 25 candidates running for president of the United States. But tonight, we have more people at a meeting for a candidate of president of the United States than any other candidate.”
A record number of migrants from the Middle East and Africa have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in the first half of this year. According to the United Nations, a total of 137,000 people arrived in Europe, an increase of 83 percent from last year. The U.N. said the large majority were refugees fleeing war or persecution, including many from Syria. “Europe is living through a maritime refugee crisis of historic proportions,” the report said.
“In the cozy den of the large but modest house in Omaha where he has lived since he started on his first billion, Warren Buffett watched the horrors of Hurricane Katrina unfold on television in early September 2005. . . . On the fourth day, he beheld in disbelief the paralysis of local, state, and federal authorities unable to commence basic operations of rescue and sustenance, not just in New Orleans, but in towns and villages all along the Gulf Coast. . . He knew exactly what he had to do. . .”
So begins the vivid fictional account by political activist and bestselling author Ralph Nader that answers the question, “What if?” What if a cadre of superrich individuals tried to become a driving force in America to organize and institutionalize the interests of the citizens of this troubled nation? What if some of America’s most powerful individuals decided it was time to fix our government and return the power to the people? What if they focused their power on unionizing Wal-Mart? What if a national political party were formed with the sole purpose of advancing clean elections? What if these seventeen superrich individuals decided to galvanize a movement for alternative forms of energy that will effectively clean up the environment? What if together they took on corporate goliaths and Congress to provide the necessities of life and advance the solutions so long left on the shelf by an avaricious oligarchy? What could happen?
This extraordinary story, written by the author who knows the most about citizen action, returns us to the literature of American social movements—to Edward Bellamy, to Upton Sinclair, to John Steinbeck, to Stephen Crane—reminding us in the process that changing the body politic of America starts with imagination.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, spoke at a town hall meeting at the University of Denver in Colorado. Senator Sanders talked about campaign finance reform and politics, income inequality, global climate change, and college affordability.
(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/) Economist Joseph Stiglitz and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich reminisce about opposing “corporate welfare” during their days in the Clinton Administration and talk here about problematic trade deals, income inequality and Stiglitz’s new book, “The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them.” Reich and Stiglitz are presented by the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. Recorded on 04/29/2015.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
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