The good people of Dusseldorf, Germany, and specifically the IKB Bank, which specializes in loans to small and medium-size businesses, has kindly endowed Harvard University’s engineering school with a gift of $400m. Harvard President Faust announced the endowment on June 3, the most generous in the University’s history. Strangely, though, the Harvard Engineering School was renamed after hedge-fund manager John A. Paulson, not IKB, and thereby hangs a tale.
You see, the gift by Dusseldorf was not made in its own name. In fact, the money en route to Harvard was taken from IKB through an infamous swindle. Back in early 2007, before the 2008 financial crash, hedge fund manager John Paulson approached Goldman Sachs with the idea of ripping off unknowing investors to the tune of $1 billion. In essence, Paulson would assemble a $1 billion portfolio of toxic assets (known as Abacus) that Goldman Sachs would market to its unsuspecting clients. Paulson would bet against the portfolio, so that the investors’ $1 billion loss would be Paulson’s gain. Goldman would pocket some fees for its service in this treachery against its own clients.
As planned, the $1 billion portfolio of securities collapsed in value soon after IKB (with its $150 million purchase) and other hapless investors bought in. Paulson walked away with $1 billion. Goldman got paid its fees. IKB lost its investment, collapsed, and was bailed out by the German taxpayers.
Are we alone in the universe? A new project called the Breakthrough Initiative may help scientists like Stephen Hawking get closer to the answer. Tech investor Yuri Milner pledged $100 million to help survey one million of the closest stars to Earth for signals from other forms of intelligent life. Gwen Ifill discusses the project with Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center.
One hundred and thirty years after Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace re-shaped our city, Boston 2024 has taken a fresh look at Boston’s public spaces—proposing new athletic facilities in several public parks and the completion of the Emerald Necklace as a part of the Olympic legacy. What are the possibilities for Boston’s public realm beyond 2024? What roles can landscape play in defining and activating the Boston of tomorrow? How can new environmental challenges, new forms of recreation and leisure, new technologies, and new ideas about public space and the public realm shape the contemporary city and the social spaces that make it work?
Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the European Space Agency’s ‘Earth From Space’ series tours the five boroughs with a satellite image captured by Japan’s ALOS satellite in 2010. The video was produced to promote ‘My Planet from Space’ exhibition being held at the United Nations from July 9th – Sept. 9th, 2015 (More info about this free event: http://goo.gl/3QVhDp).
(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/) Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution addresses how climate instability affected the evolution of human adaptability. Recorded on 05/15/2015. Series: “CARTA – Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny”
Jeffrey Smith stands with Vermont State Senator, David Zuckerman, who spearheaded GMO labeling law in VT, urging the public to oppose federal legislation that would preempt states rights to label GMOs.
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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