Tracing the networked “global public sphere” exemplified in Occupy-Wall-Street to the Greek agora—where male citizens gathered to debate ideas— Faizullah Jan, American University doctoral student, looks at the evolution of public opinion expression and the interaction between state and society.
"Without a functioning public sphere the state’s interaction with the public is reduced to the relatively brief periods surrounding elections. Though election participation is a a hallmark of representative democracy, without a functioning public sphere, the government, corporations, and interest groups remain unaccountable to the people.”
Full article: “Understanding Public Sphere in a Networked Society,” guest post on Matthew Nisbet’s “Age of Engagement” at Big Think
Picture the planetary impact of feeding the world’s population today—with roughly one billion going hungry—and in 40 years from now:
Can we feed the world without destroying the planet?
Yes, researchers say, if we manage to…
- curb expansion of farmland in the tropics;
- raise yields in under-performing lands by 60%;
- reallocate water, nutrients and agricultural chemicals;
- change dietary habits;
- reducing food waste.
Last week was filled with news and debate (NYT) around Alabama’s new immigration law requiring schools to check the immigration status of students. The result of getting at the parents through their children: unauthorized-immigrant parents keeping children home and asking friends to care for their children (AP) in the event of deportation.
What’s the worst-case scenario behind Alabama’s strict immigration law? A Hispanic population majority? What happens to a small American town when Latinos become the majority and own half of the town’s businesses?
West Liberty, is now a mostly Hispanic town in the overwhelmingly white state of Iowa (NPR). What does West Liberty’s Mayor Chad Thomas have to say about that?
“[…] unlike a lot of other small Midwestern towns that are dying, West Liberty is alive […] growing and thriving […] If you didn’t have the Hispanic population here in town, yeah, we would be much more like a lot of smaller towns, and there would be a lot more storefronts that are empty,” Thomas said to NPR.
What happens when schools offer a voluntary dual-language program?
“[…] in the end, all the students then become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural,” West Liberty Elementary School principal Nancy Gardner said to NPR.
How do people feel about that?
- Anglo families have moved to West Liberty from nearby towns;
- The program has a waiting list;
- Other Iowa school districts with growing Hispanic populations are duplicating the program.
Bicultural utopia? Not yet. According to Mexican-born Jose Zacarias—a resident since 1984 recently sworn US Citizen—business and school integration is yet to produce community integration. But Zacarias has a plan. The only Hispanic present at a recent school board meeting, he is considering running for a seat in West Liberty’s City Council.
"We need to get together with the Hispanics and say, we are no longer a minority, we have some responsibilities, and we need to get organized," he says. "We’ve run out of excuses. It’s time to do some work," Zacarias said to NPR.
JOSE ZACARIAS FOR CITY COUNCIL!
And consider a less-known aspect of Alabama’s immigration law, as depicted in this photo published in The Guardian:
#paceblog—US politicians can’t agree on the science of climate change, let alone how to respond to it. But a task force of scientists, former government officials and national security experts gathered by the Bipartisan Policy Center debated the issue and submitted their recommendation to the Federal Government: large-scale research on geoengineering.
The law of unintended consequences rushes to mind, and so do the questions: whose planet is it and whose decision to make whether we are to risk meddling with the complexities of our planet and universe? Whose technology will benefit or harm one country or world region in detriment of another? What new international conflicts can we expect?
We have replaced “global warming” with “climate change”—doesn’t geo-engineering sound like a paradox to anyone?
The concept is not new—certainly not to scientists—and experimentation has long been underway. A matter of time?
More articles about the BPC report:
New York Times: “Group Urges Research Into Aggressive Efforts to Fight Climate Change”
Washington Post: “So you want to manipulate the Earth’s Climate…”