From CNet/Future of Life Institute: Autonomous weapons use Artificial Intelligence to select and engage targets without human intervention. Now, a think tank backed by scientist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk, among others, offers a graphic warning against machines that decide whom to kill. This fictional video underscores how seriously these experts view the issue.
Atul Sood writes: Why are we not talking about the facts on the ground amidst the cacophonic discourse of the success of the Gujarat model? The need to impose Section 144 every time the Vibrant Gujarat Submit is organized symbolizes one pillar of ‘managing’ support for the model. The cultural narrative is the other pillar.
“Is western civilisation on the brink of collapse?” the lead article in this week’s New Scientist asks. It’s a good question, but it seems too narrow. These pathologies are not confined to “the west”. The rise of demagoguery (and the pursuit of simplistic solutions to complex problems) is everywhere apparent. Environmental breakdown is accelerating worldwide.
From Change.org: India’s National Mineral Policy is open till Feb 9, 2018 for public comments. Minerals are a shared inheritance. The present mining system in India is leading to enormous losses of our mineral wealth, with only a few cronies benefiting. This must stop. Hence we are sending the representation to the Ministry of Mines.
From The Transnational Institute: Women everywhere are leading struggles against corporate crimes and defending their communities and the dignity of all people, risking their lives in the process. To introduce our 2018 report on counter-power, we interviewed three women activists who have displayed incredible courage, determination and creativity to confront corporate power and state violence.
“The idea of India faces an unprecedented challenge. Preventing irreversible damage to the Republic of India, as we have known it, is the most pressing political task of our times, our yugadharma.” So begins Yogendra Yadav’s penetrating analysis of India under the Narendra Modi regime. Essential reading on the 69th anniversary of the Republic’s founding.
Here’s how you make a dystopia: Convince people that when disaster strikes, their neighbors are their enemies, not mutual saviors and responsibilities. The belief that when the lights go out, your neighbors will come over with a shotgun isn’t just a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a weaponized narrative. It is what turns mere crises into catastrophes.
Louis Proyect writes: As a rentier state, Iran’s economy was based on handouts rather than the production of manufactured goods. Cheap oil and subsidies made the massive use of pumps feasible just as was the case in neighbouring Syria. Groundwater extraction nearly quadrupled between the 1970s and 2000 while the number of wells rose five-fold.
Nityanand Jayaraman writes in Dianuke.org: We do not need four more nuclear plants in Koodankulam. The need of the hour is to shut down the existing two risky units and to prosecute the ministers, technocrats and bureaucrats who led the nation up the garden path and wasted more than Rs. 35,000 crores of our money.
Displacing pastoralists, displacing smallholder farmers, arresting and charging them as terrorists if they protest–and the land is given away to foreign investors to grow what? Sugar and cotton. Imagine trucks full of food aid coming into Ethiopia, while trucks full of cotton and sugar are leaving the country. Hunger in Africa is a political problem.
From The Guardian: Palawan is the Philippines’ last ecological frontier, home to most of the nation’s remaining forests and renowned as a global biological hotspot. But its also a magnet for those seeking to plunder the island’s natural wealth. PNNI, a small group of civilian para-enforcers are taking the rainforest’s protection into their own hands.
When a group of us visited Boatkhali Kadambini Primary School four years ago, classes were on in full swing. This primary school is at one edge of Sagar island in the Sunderbans. That entire stretch, including the Boatkhali school, has now been swallowed up by the sea, including the house in which we had stayed.
Richard Smith writes: The fundamental contradiction with capitalism is that maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, occasionally they coincide for a moment. But saving the world requires that the pursuit of profits be systematically subordinated to ecological concerns— and this no corporation can do.
From The Wire: An Indian Oil Terminal, which can store up to 15,400 metric tons of cooking gas, is scheduled to be built in Vypeen, Kochi, which is among the world’s most densely populated islands. Will Kerala’s Communist Patrty-led government allow this high risk project to come up, defying all common sense and public opinion?
From National Geographic: Already battered by decades of shoddy environmental policies, which had hobbled agriculture and impoverished its inhabitants, villages across rural Iraq and Syria were in no state to navigate the extra challenges of climate change. When ISIS came along, many of them quickly emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists’ foremost recruiting grounds.
Nidhi Jamwal writes: The India Meteorological Department claims its job was done by forecasting the cyclone, whereas the affected state government believes its rescue and relief actions are “a formidable achievement”. However, the deadly (mis)management of Ockhi raises some important questions, for which clear action-points are needed to avoid a similar situation in the future.
From The Indian Express: Yogendra Yadav, who is part of a platform of over 180 farmers’ organisations that have come together to raise key demands, says: “(One of the things) I have seen, which cuts across all farmers, is anger against government. This all-round disenchantment is more so against the current government at the Centre.”
Gail Tverberg writes: World leaders manipulate the world economy like a giant video game. The object is to keep it growing, but what do they do when the economy hits limits? They could take their foot off the throttle operated by low interest-rates and more debt. Or they could “take the wings off” the economy.
Whoever wins the Gujarat elections, its clear that as a political idea, the Gujarat development model is floundering, and may never be revived. It may have been a textbook case of what development should not be like, but given the powerful interests it serves, it’s still likely to haunt India’s policies for years to come.
From Grist.org: Two Antarctic glaciers act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise into the world’s oceans —an amount that would submerge every coastal city on the planet. Finding out how fast these glaciers will collapse is one of the most important scientific questions in the world today.