Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, September 16th, 2012 - 8 comments
Categories: aid, interweb, law and "order", sustainability, uk politics - Tags: ,

My regular Sunday piece of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring).  This week: torture, charter schools, economics and development.

Lots of short bits this week:

The former head of MI-5 in the UK Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller has been criticising her government and its securocrats for their attacks on civil liberties in the name of security.  She tells them that torture always makes the world a less safe place, the security agencies need scrutiny, and the terrorists win if we let terrorism erode our freedoms.

Also in the UK: Free schools (ie Charter Schools) are a disaster.

On an economic theme, Stiglitz tells Romney that coverage of his income tax is not petty politics:

If presidents and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will? And if no one does, how can we expect to finance the public goods that we need?

And there’s comment in the UK that tory trade union tirades notwithstanding – the problem is more that unions aren’t strong enough.

For those who remember investigative journalism, the New Yorker has an excellent investigation of how police in the US are booking people for very minor drug crimes and then turning them into long-time largely unwilling informants. They are repeatedly put into very dangerous assignments that the police don’t have the undercover staff for – but not given anything like their proper care, resulting in many being murdered.  Live tragically thrown away under the radar, with the police bearing a huge part of the blame.

In good local journalism there was a nice piece in the Herald in the lead up to last night’s Rugby win over the Boks – recalling how everyone knew which side they were on in 1981. (Although no mention of the one obvious exception…)

For those battles in the comments, there was advice in the Guardian this week of how to win arguments with a bigot.

Finally: development. Here’s one article about how important fertiliser is to countries breaking out of poverty – fertiliser that the IMF wouldn’t let Africa subsidise, holding back a continent. That said, that fertiliser also pollutes our environment and is usually made & used unsustainably and with large carbon emissions. What’s the correct answer?

Hans Rosling – who founded the excellent gapminder statistics website – might be able to help us. Below is his first TED talk, where he shows us the divide between Developed and Developing countries is now a false one; Africa isn’t a country; and how we can best look at child poverty and income data amongst other things.  An incredibly engaging display of statistics and data analysis: statistics never need be boring again!

(his second TED talk shows how all development so far is at the expense of the climate – I’m not sure he does have the solution to that fertiliser problem yet…)

8 comments on “Sunday Reading”

    • Jaybob 1.1

      Joe90, it would be a good idea to include an overview or synopsis of each link you posted. Otherwise, the click-through rate is likely to be very low. “Bare” links make many people think immediately of spam. Just trying to help 🙂

  1. ianmac 2

    Hans Rosling TED talk. Fascinating whirlwind.
    Wonder if his income data would show the top 5% incomes in USA or NZ compared to bottom 5 %. or top 1%? He does show the top/bottom 20% but the detail must be of interest to us.
    Good stuff Benji.

  2. seeker 3

    Fanbloomin’tastic links today Bunji. Have been pretty awol for a couple of weeks, apart from a few quick glances at The Standard, and your post has really helped me catch up with some interesting, local and global thinking and happenings. Thankyou.

  3. jimgreen 4

    Far out that New Yorker one is a real shocker. Dude gets caught selling eight methadone pills, signs a contract with police to set up four drug busts and then after a bunch of plea bargains lead to no convictions he ends up having to set up another ten. Guess how the story ends?

  4. Draco T Bastard 5

    How We Happened to Sell Off Our Electricity

    It was a setback for the pro-market ideologues. Unlike E.ON and RWE, EDF is a state-owned monolith with a near monopoly on the production and supply of electricity in France, run by technocrats and members of a powerful trade union, the Confédération générale du travail (CGT). Its mission is to empower France in foreign markets, and the government agency that owns it, L’Agence des participations de l’Etat, isn’t embarrassed to say so. In her foreword to the agency’s 2010 report, Christine Lagarde – then minister for economic affairs in François Fillon’s cabinet – boasted that the state would be more active than ever in building ‘champions capable of competing with global market rivals’. In Thatcherite terms EDF was a public sector mammoth that would inevitably be hunted to extinction by the hungry and agile competitors of post-privatisation countries like Britain. The laws of economics said so. And yet the opposite happened. The mammoth thrived, and Britain failed to produce new competitors, agile or otherwise.

    I suppose it’s what we can expect from the sell off that this government is starting.

  5. weka 6

    Finally: development. Here’s one article about how important fertiliser is to countries breaking out of poverty – fertiliser that the IMF wouldn’t let Africa subsidise, holding back a continent. That said, that fertiliser also pollutes our environment and is usually made & used unsustainably and with large carbon emissions. What’s the correct answer?

    It’s pretty simple. Stop making non-industrial nations grow and export cash crops. Let them return to growing their own food, and food for the local market. Artificial fertiliser is only needed if you are exporting (take note NZ). If you are growing within a contained area, then it’s possible to use all the ‘waste’ from that process (including human waste) to recycle nutrients and grow food and other resources, without depleting soil or polluting land and water. 

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