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Showing posts from June 23, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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Saudi Arabia’s Strains

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[If you do much reading about Saudi Arabia this stuff is well known, otherwise it provides a good primer to some of the social issues that make it such a fractious community. If you'd like more, try John R. Bradley (2005) Saudi Arabia: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis, or Craig Unger's (2004) classic House of Bush, House of Saud. *RON*]
Dana El Baltaji & Glen Carey, Bloomberg, Updated June 21, 2017

For Saudis, economic life is changing. Daily life? That's shifting, too, but more slowly. Saudi Arabia remains the only country that bans women from driving. Also outlawed: movie theaters and Valentine’s Day. Religious police still patrol the streets. There are signs of change, including the first comic-book festival and a government agency offering more entertainment in the kingdom. For the most part, though, the country’s 21 million citizens are religiously conservative Muslims, and many are suspicious of outside cultures. At the same time,…

Powerlessness and the Politics of Blame: The 2017 Jefferson Lecture

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[What modern democracies can learn from the ancient world about anger, fear and vengeance. Nussbaum is one of my favorites. I heard her give this talk in Vancouver. Somewhat dense reading, but there are great ideas in there! *RON*]

National Endowment for the Humanities, Spring 2017


Martha C. Nussbaum [1], The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Monday, May 1, 2017

(This lecture contains material from THE MONARCHY OF FEAR: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis, by Martha C. Nussbaum, to be published in 2018 by Simon & Schuster.)

At the end of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, two transformations take place in the city of Athens. One is famous, the other often neglected. In the famous transformation, Athena introduces legal institutions to replace and terminate the cycle of blood vengeance. Setting up a court of law with established procedures of evidence and argument, and a jury selected by lot f…

Canada and the Looting of ‘Africa’s Last Colony’

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[A ship full of phosphates is scheduled to unload in North Van; an African nation says they are stolen. "Refugees from the conflict swelter in wretched conditions. They watch as the mineral wealth of their homeland is sold to companies in countries willing to do business under such morally compromised conditions — including Canada... Are these our 'sunny ways,' Mr. Trudeau?" *RON*]
Mitchell Anderson, TheTyee.ca, 22 June 2017

This month a cargo ship carrying 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock will land in North Vancouver. The cargo ostensibly belongs to Canadian-based Agrium Inc., purchased from the Moroccan state mining company OCP Group to produce fertilizer.
End of story? Not quite.

This otherwise innocuous delivery of industrial minerals also involves almost 300,000 displaced Indigenous people from Africa’s last colony and Canadian complicity in a decades-long refugee crisis.

The bulk carrier MV Ultra Innovation is carrying minera…

EU recognises bisphenol A as an endocrine disruptor

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[Bisphenol A is in the majority of kinds of soft plastic objects that we use for storing food, containing water and other drinks, and so on. It's extremely common. "It is a double first: to begin with, it is the first time a substance has been declared highly concerning for its endocrine disrupting properties and their negative effects on human health. Secondly, it is the first time the label 'endocrine disruptor' has been placed on BPA... Manufacturers will now have to warn ECHA and consumers of the presence of BPA in products made in or imported to the EU." *RON*]
Manon FlauschEURACTIV.fr, translated by Samuel White, 22 June 2017

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has classified bisphenol A, a chemical found in many common plastic products, as an endocrine disruptor and a ‘substance of very high concern’. EURACTIV France reports.

The ECHA last week classified bisphenol A (BPA) as an endocrine disruptor, due to its “prob…

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear to Lose Endangered Species Protection

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["The protection of endangered species is highly political, especially in the West. Republicans have made numerous proposals to change the law." *RON*]

Jim Robbins, New York Times, 22 June 2017

HELENA, Mont. — After 42 years on the endangered species list, the Yellowstone grizzly bear — whose numbers have grown to more than 700 from fewer than 150 — will lose its protected status, the Interior Department announced on Thursday.

The move has long been debated, despite the bear’s increasing population in areas where it had not been seen in decades. The Fish and Wildlife Service tried to delist the bear in 2007 but was ordered by federal court decisions to reconsider because of a decline in white bark pine, an important bear food source decimated by insects as the region’s temperatures have risen.

In deciding to lift the protection, Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, remarked on the long-term efforts that have allowed the bear to thri…