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Guardian: Climate and Violence

Guardian: Climate and Violence

As much of Europe and America swelter under the effects of unusually warm temperatures this summer, it may be cold comfort to learn that climate change affects more than the weather; it also influences our behaviour. A hot-off-the-presses study finds that as global temperatures increase, so does violent human behaviour. Further, thanks to climate change and extremes in rainfall, this study predicts that conflicts may increase between now and 2050.

AlterNet: What Makes People Tick

AlterNet: What Makes People Tick

People act from wellsprings of emotions, values and non-conscious fears and longings much more than they do from rational calculations of costs and benefits that, in an ideal world, should underlie their relationship to politics and social change. The more leaders understand people, what makes them tick and what they need and fear, the better able they are to connect with their real interests.

NoC: Political Dreaming

NoC: Political Dreaming

We often focus our energy on the nuts and bolts of what’s wrong with the world, what has to be fixed immediately, but perhaps it’s time to try a different approach. Everyone has their own dream of the world as it should be, and every dream is open to endless interpretation. The world will never look exactly like our mythic dreams. But we can’t get to any better future unless we first imagine that future, together. A political dream is a magnet that pulls us toward our goals.

NoC: Obscenities of Capitalism

NoC: Obscenities of Capitalism

The less free-market thinkers are regulated, the less they seem to care about others. They ignore the fact that America’s most productive eras were driven by progressive taxes that funded entrepreneurship in the middle class. And they fail to see the deficiencies in a system that relies solely on profit-making to the exclusion of social responsibility.

TD: Surveillance Blowback

TD: Surveillance Blowback

Within a decade, the U.S. will likely deploy an aerospace shield, advanced cyberwarfare capabilities, and even vaster, more omnipresent digital surveillance networks that will envelop the Earth in an electronic grid capable of blinding entire armies on the battlefield, atomizing a single suspected terrorist, or monitoring millions of private lives at home and abroad.

NYT: Wealth Taxes

NYT: Wealth Taxes

If you’d like to know where American political debates are headed, the data suggest a simple answer. The next major struggle – in economic terms at least – will be over whether taxes on personal wealth should rise – and by how much. Wealth-to-income ratios in these nations climbed from a range of 200 to 300 percent in 1970 to a range of 400 to 600 percent in 2010.

PSE: Wealth Income Ratios

PSE: Wealth Income Ratios

How do aggregate wealth-to-income ratios evolve in the long run and why? We address this question using 1970-2010 national balance sheets recently compiled in the top eight developed economies. For the U.S., U.K., Germany, and France, we are able to extend our analysis as far back as 1700. We find in every country a gradual rise of wealth-income ratios in recent decades, from about 200-300% in 1970 to 400-600% in 2010. In effect, today’s ratios appear to be returning to the high values observed in Europe in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries (600-700%). This can be explained by a long run asset price recovery (itself driven by changes in capital policies since the world wars) and by the slowdown of productivity and population growth. Our results have important implications for capital taxation and regulation and shed new light on the changing nature of wealth, the shape of the production function, and the rise of capital shares.

NYT: CEOs Overpaid?

NYT: CEOs Overpaid?

The median compensation of chief executives at 200 of the nation’s biggest public companies came in at $15.1 million last year, a 16 percent jump from 2011. Is that excessive? One way to answer that question would be to look at the pay gap, the ratio of the pay of the chief executive to that of the company’s employees. But nobody really knows what the gaps are.

Thought Maybe

Thought Maybe

There’s already a lot of information on the Internet, so our goal is to cut through the noise and garbage, to present valuable information in a clear way, so it’s accessible, useful and easily digested. This is a website that aims to provoke your thoughts not only about these important issues, but many other pertinent topics relevant to modern society, industrial civilisation and globalised dominant culture.

NoC: Tax Avoidance

NoC: Tax Avoidance

CEOs are legendary for defending their tax paying records, and eager to imply that government is responsible for any of their tax delinquencies. For example, just 32 companies avoided enough in 2012 taxes to pay the entire 2013 federal education budget. Changing the tax rules is a specialty of big business, but so is flouting the tax rules.

NoC: Tales of Redistribution

NoC: Tales of Redistribution

It is widely recognized that economists are not very good at economics. That is why we are looking at a decade of economic stagnation with tens of millions of people being unemployed or underemployed in Europe and the United States. We recently had the opportunity to see that economists are no better at moral philosophy than economics.

Economist: Household Debt

Economist: Household Debt

In the years leading up to the financial crisis, household debt soared in most rich countries. There were a couple of notable exceptions: Germany and Japan. The ratio of debt to disposable income rose by an average of 30 percentage points, to 130%, in OECD countries between pre-boom 2000 and pre-crisis 2007.

NYT: Defining Prosperity Down

NYT: Defining Prosperity Down

What, exactly, will bring us back to full employment? We certainly can’t count on fiscal policy, nor on the natural recuperative powers of the private sector, nor on the outrage of voters. Someday perhaps something will turn up that finally gets us back to full employment – but the last time we were in this kind of situation, the thing that turned up was World War II.

New Yorker: Snoops Scoops

New Yorker: Snoops Scoops

The NSA programs represent a troubling increase in state power, even if—so far, and so far as we know—they have not occasioned a troubling increase in state wrongdoing. The harm is to the architecture of trust and accountability that supports an open society and a democratic polity. The harm is to the reputation of the United States as such a society, such a polity.

BBC: Mapping Children’s Chances

BBC: Mapping Children’s Chances

The biggest ever global picture of children’s well-being, education and family life has been assembled into a series of maps by the University of California, Los Angeles. “When you look at a map, everyone’s eyes go straight to where they live,” says Dr Jody Heymann, director of the university’s World Policy Analysis Centre. In the US, they might be surprised to see how unusual it is not to have a statutory right to maternity pay. Source: The maps are produced by UCLA’s World Policy Analysis Centre, Adult Labour Database www.childrenschances.org

Brookings: Social Mobility – 13 Facts

Brookings: Social Mobility – 13 Facts

Long-term prosperity is best achieved by fostering economic growth and broad participation in that growth. In the context of social mobility, broad participation in growth contributes to further growth by providing families the ability to invest in their children and communities, optimism that hard work and efforts will lead to success, and openness to innovation that lead to new economic growth.

Foreign Affairs: Why US Education Fails

Foreign Affairs: Why US Education Fails

Recent international research suggests that the countries that top international education rankings choose their teachers from among their most talented graduates, train them extensively, create opportunities for them to collaborate with their peers within and across schools, provide them with external supports, and underwrite all these efforts with a strong welfare state.

Brookings: Internet Balloons

Brookings: Internet Balloons

Google is developing a ring of balloons to fly around the globe on stratospheric winds, to provide Internet access to the earth below. But when the only thing you can control is altitude, steering options can be pretty limited, and many countries would object to regular overflights of communications balloons operated by an American company.

NYT: Surveillance State

NYT: Surveillance State

The danger of the absence of rigorous, independent regulation and vigilant oversight to keep potential abuses of power from becoming a real menace to our freedom is that if we are too complacent about our civil liberties we could wake up one day and find them gone – not in a flash of nuclear terror but in a gradual, incremental surrender.

Foreign Affairs: Millennium Dev Goals

Foreign Affairs: Millennium Dev Goals

The Millennium Development Goals have unified, galvanized, and expanded efforts to help the world’s poorest people. The goals will expire on December 31, 2015, and the debate over what should come next is now in full swing. But prior to deciding on a new framework, the world community must evaluate exactly what the MDG effort has achieved so far.

Economist: No Hiding Place

Economist: No Hiding Place

People are unlikely to want to take personality tests so that marketing departments can intrude even more on their lives than happens already. But new software may be able to get around that. New software is able to parse someone’s presumptive personality reasonably well from just 50 tweets, and very well indeed from 200.

Flavor Paper

Flavor Paper

Founded on the Oregon coast by a guy named Ted, this small handscreened wallpaper company flourished in the Age of Aquarius. Many years later, some young designers seeking striking wallcoverings discovered Ted’s greatness – just days before the designs and equipment were to be destroyed. Knowing what had to be done, these young designers headed west to save Ted’s legacy. Our Flavor Lab is now located in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn and is home to Flavor Paper’s design and screenprinting operations.

NoC: Online Spying

NoC: Online Spying

Verizon has been supplying the National Security Agency (NSA) with phone records for all domestic calls, and the NSA and FBI are datamining nine technology companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs enabling analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

Amnesty Int’l: Refugees & Migrants

Amnesty Int’l: Refugees & Migrants

In 2012 the global community witnessed a range of human rights emergencies that forced large numbers of people to seek safety, within states or across borders. Those who live outside their countries, without wealth or status, are the world’s most vulnerable people but are often condemned to desperate lives in the shadows. Human rights protection must be applied to all human beings – wherever they are.

Bill Drayton: Social Entrepreneur

Bill Drayton: Social Entrepreneur

Bill Drayton is a social entrepreneur and currently the Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. He is also chair of Youth Venture, Community Greens, and Get America Working! After studying at Harvard, Yale, and Oxford, he worked for McKinsey and the EPA, and then founded Ashoka. He has received many awards for his achievements.

Ashoka

Ashoka

Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system changing ideas into practice on a global scale. Ashoka has provided start-up financing, professional support services, and connections to a global network across the business and social sectors, and a platform for people dedicated to changing the world.

GAO: Elder Exploitation

GAO: Elder Exploitation

Elder financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds or property. It has been described as an epidemic with society-wide repercussions. While combating elder financial exploitation is largely the responsibility of state and local social service, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies, the federal government has a role to play in this area.

Brookings-LSE: Displacement

Brookings-LSE: Displacement

The Project on Internal Displacement monitors displacement problems worldwide, promotes application of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, works with governments, regional bodies, int’l organizations and civil society to create policies and arrangements for IDPs, convenes int’l seminars on internal displacement, and publishes studies, articles and reports.

NYT: Tasty and Subversive

NYT: Tasty and Subversive

A cheeky trio of artists have turned fruit trees into cultural symbols – the group, known as Fallen Fruit, recently planted what is being billed as the state’s first public fruit park. The process of planting and harvesting fruit is a community bonding experience – an act of “social art” in which public space is reimagined.

The Garrison Institute

The Garrison Institute

The Garrison Institute applies the transformative power of contemplation to today’s pressing social and environmental concerns, helping build a more compassionate, resilient future. We envision and work to build a future in which contemplative ideas and methods are increasingly mainstream, and are applied at scale to create the conditions for positive, systemic social and environmental change.

NYT: Danish Welfare

NYT: Danish Welfare

While much of southern Europe has been racked by strikes and protests as its creditors force austerity measures, Denmark still has a coveted AAA bond rating. But Denmark’s long-term outlook is troubling. With little fuss or political protest — or notice abroad — Denmark has been at work overhauling entitlements, trying to prod Danes into working more or longer or both.

Smithsonian: Life in the City

Smithsonian: Life in the City

Cities are shaped by their histories and by accidents of geography and climate but they are also universal, the products of social, economic and physical principles that transcend space and time. “Quantitative urbanism” is an effort to reduce to mathematical formulas the chaotic, exuberant, extravagant nature of one of humanity’s oldest and most important inventions, the city. The birth of this new field can be dated to 2003, when researchers convened a workshop on ways to “model”—in the scientific sense of reducing to equations—aspects of human society. With the technology to know virtually anything that goes on in an urban society, the question becomes how to leverage it to do good, to make the city run better, enhance security and safety and promote the private sector. While urbanization gave the world Athens and Paris, it also gave the chaos of Mumbai and the poverty of Dickens’ London.

NYT: Bloomberg and Recycling

NYT: Bloomberg and Recycling

On recycling in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come a long way. 11 years ago, Mr. Bloomberg eliminated a major chunk of the city’s recycling program to save money. He has since been working hard to restore the city’s recycling program to its pre-2002 levels.

NYT: Wandering Data

NYT: Wandering Data

New approaches to privacy for online consumers, even if they eventually go into effect, do not address a larger issue: the thousands of details that third-party data gatherers, who typically don’t interact directly with consumers, have already amassed about a majority of adults in the United States.

Partnership for Change

Partnership for Change

PfC’s vision is that all sectors of society understand the urgency of our planet’s most pressing challenges and proactively use their position and skills to act in collaboration towards a more equal, stable, and sustainable future. By bringing together inspiring social innovators we address society’s most pressing issues, highlight their urgency, and inspire action.

Pew Research Center

Pew Research Center

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.

The Economist: Green Wheels

The Economist: Green Wheels

Some carmakers try harder than others to be green. Besides making their models cleaner to run, many carmakers are also trying to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing them. Having been depicted as environmental villains since the 1950s, cars and their makers may soon be able to move out of the spotlight.

Academic Earth

Academic Earth

Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education. We are building a user-friendly educational ecosystem that will give internet users around the world the ability to learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars.

Foreign Affairs: The Swiss Miracle?

Foreign Affairs: The Swiss Miracle?

From Ireland to Cyprus, the whole of Europe seems to be locked in economic and political crisis. But there is a small area of calm at the continent’s core: Switzerland. Switzerland’s secret is that it is part of Europe — and it isn’t. Switzerland’s middle path is likely the reason why the country is doing so well.

Brookings: Postsecondary Student Learning

Brookings: Postsecondary Student Learning

College completion rates in the U.S. are stubbornly low despite the large and rising returns to a college degree. Efforts to increase student success in college have largely ignored a potentially key factor: the instruction that students receive in the sequence of courses that add up to a college education.

Brookings: Creative Communities

Brookings: Creative Communities

Urban and regional planners, elected officials, and other decisionmakers are increasingly focused on what makes places livable. Access to the arts inevitably appears high on that list, but knowledge about how culture and the arts can act as a tool of economic development is sadly lacking.

Brookings: Development Solutions

Brookings: Development Solutions

The global development community is teeming with different ideas and interventions to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. Whether these succeed in having a transformative impact depends not just on their individual brilliance but on whether they can be brought to a scale where they reach millions of poor people.

Reuters: Political Clout of Superrich

Reuters: Political Clout of Superrich

Study shows that in the United States, voting rights do not translate into much actual political power. You could predict what the government would do based on the preferences of the top 10% income level. When the preferences of middle class and poor income levels diverged from the affluent, there was no impact at all on the policies that were adopted.

William McDonough: Architect

William McDonough: Architect

William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable development. Trained as an architect, McDonough’s interests and influence range widely, and he works at scales from the global to the molecular. McDonough received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, and the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

Economist: Cost of Air Conditioning

Economist: Cost of Air Conditioning

Critics counts air conditioning as more a curse than a miracle. Cooling buildings and vehicles pumps out almost half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Between 1995 and 2004 the proportion of homes in Chinese cities with air conditioning rose from 8% to 70%.

Economist: The Great Mismatch

Economist: The Great Mismatch

Better vocational education is hardly a cure-all for the global jobs crisis: millions of young people will be condemned to unemployment so long as demand remains slack and growth sluggish. But it can at least help to deal with an absurd mismatch that has saddled the world not just with a shortage of jobs but a shortage of skills as well.

Foreign Affairs: It’s Hard in America

Foreign Affairs: It’s Hard in America

One of the United States’ major successes in the last half century has been its progress toward ensuring that its citizens get roughly the same basic chances in life, regardless of gender or race. Yet this achievement has been double edged. Today, people who were born worse off tend to have fewer opportunities in life.

NatGeo: Crazy Far Exploration

NatGeo: Crazy Far Exploration

To get to the stars, we’ll need many new materials and engines but also a few of the old intangibles. In the conversation of certain dreamer-nerds, especially outside NASA, you can now hear echoes of the old aspiration and adventurousness—of the old craziness for space.

Recall of the Wild

Recall of the Wild

For most of the past several millennia, Flevoland, a province which sits more or less at the center of the Netherlands, lay at the bottom of an inlet of the North Sea. Now, Flevoland is home to the Oostvaardersplassen, a wilderness that was also constructed, Genesis-like, from the mud.

CNN: Will 401(k) Plans Keep Getting Worse?

CNN: Will 401(k) Plans Keep Getting Worse?

In the Great Recession of 2008 to 2009, more than 11% of companies stopped their 401(k) match. Because they are voluntary, most workers do not even have a retirement account plan, which means many middle-class and upper-middle-class workers will only have Social Security to rely on for retirement.

The Economist: For Richer, For Poorer

The Economist: For Richer, For Poorer

The democratisation of living standards has masked a dramatic concentration of incomes over the past 30 years, on a scale that matches, or even exceeds, the first Gilded Age. Including capital gains, the share of national income going to the richest 1% of Americans has doubled since 1980, from 10% to 20%, roughly where it was a century ago.

The Economist: True Progressivism

The Economist: True Progressivism

BY THE end of the 19th century, the first age of globalisation and a spate of new inventions had transformed the world economy. But the “Gilded Age” was also a famously unequal one, with America’s robber barons and Europe’s “Downton Abbey” classes amassing huge wealth: the concept of “conspicuous consumption” dates back to 1899…

CNN: We’re No.1!…We’re…uh…not?

CNN: We’re No.1!…We’re…uh…not?

The United States is not No. 1 in several measures; Businesses admit shortcomings, why is it hard for government to do so? Other countries offer lessons in health care, education, even business. Current political polarization doesn’t help; we need some pragmatism.

Thomas Piketty: Economist

Thomas Piketty: Economist

Thomas Picketty, Professor of Economics, specializes in economic inequality with his works covering both theoretical and normative issues. His scholarship includes work on long-term economic inequality, the evolution of inequalities in France, and comparative studies of different developed systems.

NYT: For Two Economists…

NYT: For Two Economists…

Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty have tracked the incomes of the poor, the middle class and the rich in countries across the world. Their work shows that the top earners in the United States have taken a bigger and bigger share of overall income over the last three decades, with inequality nearly as acute as it was before the Great Depression.

David Lyon: Professor

David Lyon: Professor

David Lyon is the Principal Investigator of The New Transparency Project and Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre. He is also Queen’s Research Chair in Surveillance Studies and Professor of Sociology and of Law.

The Culture of Surveillance

The Culture of Surveillance

In the late 20th century the language of “surveillance society” was popularized but now the outlines of “surveillance cultures” are emerging.

Anthony Kronman: Professor

Anthony Kronman: Professor

Anthony Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School. A former Dean of Yale Law School, Professor Kronman teaches in the areas of contracts, bankruptcy, jurisprudence, social theory, and professional responsibility. He is the author of the book, “Education’s End”.

Neil Postman: Educator

Neil Postman: Educator

Neil Postman (1931-2003) was an American critic and educator. He authored seventeen books including: Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992), and End of Education (1995).

NYT: Money and Morals

NYT: Money and Morals

The myth of a classless society has been exposed: Among rich countries, America stands out as the place where economic and social status is most likely to be inherited. The social changes taking place in America’s working class result from sharply rising inequality, and are not its cause.

IGLHR

IGLHR

The mission of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights is to promote and defend human, women’s and worker’s rights in the global economy. With a highly experienced team of international advocates, the IGLHR supports exploited workers all over the developing world.

Oxfam International

Oxfam International

Oxfam International is part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty. We work directly with communities and seek to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods, and have a say in decisions that affect them.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International

Amnesty International works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. As the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, it investigates and exposes abuses, educates the public, and helps transform societies to create a safer, more just world.

Why Politicians Get Away With Lying

Why Politicians Get Away With Lying

Maybe it’s a sign that the public has given up on honesty from presidential candidates. The assumption seems to be that politicians will always lie and that voters’ defense against that is fact checking by journalists. But … why do voters let politicians lie to them?

Robert Reich: Professor

Robert Reich: Professor

Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, and is the author of thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.

EPI: Health

EPI: Health

The Economic Policy Institute’s Health Policy Research team analyzes the U.S. health care system through the lens of low and moderate income families’ living standards, with special attention to employer-sponsored health insurance, the burden of health costs, and disparities in access and outcomes.

OECD: Social and Welfare Issues

OECD: Social and Welfare Issues

The Development Centre’s Work on Poverty Reduction and Social Development reveals the cost of lack of coherence in policy making, and shows how development strategies can become more inclusive. Employment and social protection, gender equality and migration merit special attention.

OECD

OECD

The mission of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions.

Copenhagen Consensus Center

Copenhagen Consensus Center

The Copenhagen Consensus Center is a think-tank that publicizes 
the best ways for governments and philanthropists to spend aid and development money. CCC focuses on solving the world’s biggest challenges and on how to do this in the most cost-efficient manner.

UN Development Programme

UN Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme “is the UN’s global development network, which advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP works with countries on their solutions to development challenges.

GAO: Agriculture and Food

GAO: Agriculture and Food

The Government Accountability Office provides public access to its wide-ranging research related to Agriculture and Food. Covered topics include Seafood Safety, Farms, Crops, Antibiotic Use, Homeland Security, USDA Modernization, Food Labeling, and Herbal Dietary Supplements.

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