Archive for March 18, 2009

Hampshire College Students Win Divestment
of Companies Profiting From the Israeli Occupation

Interview with Brian Van Slyke,
coordinator of Students for Justice in Palestine,
conducted by Melinda Tuhus

In Feb. 7, Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., became the first college in the U.S. to have its board of trustees vote to divest from holdings in companies that support the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The vote was the result of a two-year campaign by Students for Justice in Palestine. It should be noted that when the board acted, the board president and the college president issued a “clarification” that the divestment decision was made “without reference to any country or political movement.”

Among the companies students recommended for divestment, due to their financial interest in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land were: Caterpillar, General Electric, ITT, Motorola, Terex and United Technologies. In response, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent supporter of Israeli policy has threatened to initiate an international campaign to divest from Hampshire College.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Brian Van Slyke, a junior at Hampshire and a coordinator of Students for Justice in Palestine. He is also the elected student member of the board of trustees, with voting power. Van Slyke describes the successful campaign, which resulted in the college divesting of approximately 20 percent of its $30 million portfolio. And he provides a possible explanation for the college officials’ denials of targeting the Israeli occupation.




davidkortenBarack Obama was elected to the U.S. presidency on a promise of change. Before his inauguration, indeed before his election, I drafted the following as my dream for the economic address he might deliver to the nation during his administration in fulfillment of the economic aspect of that promise. It is the New Economy agenda presented in the style of candidate Obama’s political rhetoric.

I suffer no illusion that he will deliver it. He has surrounded himself with advisers aligned with Wall Street interests in an effort to establish public confidence in his ability to restore order in the economy. Because there has been no discussion of any other option, to most people “restoring order” means restoring the status quo with the addition of a job-stimulus package, and that is most likely what he will try to do.

This speech presents the missing option—the program that a U.S. president must one day be able to announce and implement if there is to be any hope for our economic, social, and environmental future.

Here is the address.


Interview with David C. Korten,
author of “Agenda for a New Economy: from Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth,”
conducted by Scott Harris

Editor’s note:

The following Between The Lines interview is an excerpt from Scott Harris’ program “Counterpoint” on WPKN Radio, which was recorded and produced before the stimulus package passed in Congress and congressional debate began on President Barack Obama’s proposed budget.

Listen to the full interview:
 in-depth MP3 interview (31:05)

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with David C. Korten, founder and president of the People Centered Development Forum, and author of the critically acclaimed books “The Great Turning” and “When Corporations Rule the World.” His new book is titled, “Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth.” Here, Korten explains why he believes the current U.S. financial crisis has exposed the critical need to redesign the dysfunctional and dangerous architecture of the U.S. economic system.

korten1DAVID KORTEN: Obama’s got a great dilemma; he was handed a huge mess, but what we’re not getting is any real discussion of how did we get into this? Why are we in it? Is restoring the system to its previous function really an answer given the larger picture that clearly is a failed financial system that was running out of control and getting it back running out of control isn’t going to help us. And then the larger frame, which gets almost no attention and connection with the stimulus and bailout packages that our existing economic system has been also failing environmentally and socially. It’s been pushing the most wasteful forms of consumption and it is also absolutely designed to increase inequality in a nation and in a world that is increasingly suffering social fragmentation and breakdown because of the extreme gap in wealth between the very rich and the very poor.

We really need to expand the discussion and to begin focusing solutions on really deeper transformational changes in the economic system and the whole underlying idea of what the purpose of our economy is and how we can restructure it, starting of course, with the system of finance, which is the driving system.


chimp-1A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors, according to researchers.

Keepers at Furuvik Zoo found that the chimp collected and stored stones that he would later use as missiles. Further, the chimp learned to recognise how and when parts of his concrete enclosure could be pulled apart to fashion further projectiles.

The findings are reported in the journal Current Biology. There has been scant evidence in previous research that animals can plan for future events. Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning. The launching of the stones occurred hours later – during dominance displays to zoo visitors – with Santino in an “agitated” state. This suggests that Santino was anticipating a future mental state – an ability that has been difficult to definitively prove in animals, according to Mathias Osvath, a cognitive scientist from Lund University in Sweden and author of the new research.

“We’ve done experimental studies, and the chimps in my mind show very clearly that they do plan for future needs, but it has been argued that perhaps this was an experimental artefact,” Dr Osvath told BBC News. “Now we have this spontaneous behaviour, which is always in some sense better evidence.”

Cracking show

Dr Osvath embarked on the study after zoo staff discovered caches of stones in the section of the enclosure facing the public viewing area. chimp-2Since the initial discovery in 1997, hundreds of the caches have been removed to protect visitors, to whom the caching and the aggressive displays seem strictly related; in the off season, Santino neither hoards the projectiles nor hurls them.

Most interestingly, Santino seems to have learned how to spot weak parts of the concrete “boulders” in the centre of the enclosure. When water seeps into cracks in the concrete and freezes, portions become detached that make a hollow sound when tapped. Santino was observed gently knocking on the “boulders”, hitting harder to detach bits that were loosened and adding those to his stashes of ammunition.

There are a number of examples of complex behaviour in apes that suggest forms of consciousness. Planning behaviour like that of the current work is connected to so-called autonoetic consciousness, where information due to memory can be distinguished from that from the senses.

“I’m personally convinced that at least chimps do plan for future needs, that they do have this autonoetic consciousness,” Dr Osvath said. “I hope that other zoos or those in the wild will look more closely at what is happening,” he added. “I bet there must be a lot of these kinds of behaviours out there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we find them in dolphins or other species.”

BBC Science & Environment News

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The Green Rich List

A special survey of how the world’s wealthiest people are turning into eco-pioneers

The global rich are going green as never before. This first Sunday Times Green Rich List shows that the enthusiasm among the world’s wealthiest for investments in areas as diverse as electric cars, solar power and geothermal energy is unaffected by the recession.

Read the full article

Click on names to get more information on each person


Rank Name Country Wealth Green investment
1 Warren Buffett USA £27bn Wind power
2 Bill Gates USA £26bn Renewable fuel
3 Ingvar Kamprad Sweden £22bn Renewable energy
4 Marcel Brenninkmeijer Holland £19bn Natural power
5 Mukesh Ambani India £15bn Life sciences
6 Michael Bloomberg USA £14.4bn Natural energy
7 Michael Otto Germany £13.2bn Green products
8 Paul Allen USA £11.5bn Natural fuels
9 Donald Bren USA £8.2bn Environmental research
10 Sergey Brin USA £7.5bn Green energy
11 Larry Page USA £7.5bn Green energy
12 Serge Dassault France £7.5bn Electric cars
13 Andreas and Thomas Strungmann Germany £6.8bn Solar power
14 Hansjörg Wyss Switzerland £6bn Open spaces
15 Philip Anschutz USA £5.8bn Wind power
16 Hans Rausing UK £4bn Packaging
17 Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen Denmark £3bn Toymaker
18 Dennis Washington USA £2.7bn Conservation
19 Alicia and Tannetta Fentener van Vlissingen Holland £2.4bn Conservation
20 José Manuel Entrecanales Spain £2.3bn Renewable energy
21 Aloys Wobben Germany £2.2bn Wind turbines
22 Norbert Rethmann Germany £2bn Waste services
23 Bill Koch USA £1.9bn Renewable energy
24 Stephan Schmidheiny Switzerland £1.9bn Sustainable development
25 Nicolas Berggruen Switzerland £1.8bn Wind power
26 Gordon Moore USA £1.8bn Bio-diversity
27 T Boone Pickens USA £1.8bn Natural power
28 Jeff Skoll Canada £1.8bn Electric cars
29 Stein Erik Hagen Norway £1.7bn Electric cars
30 Theodore Lerner USA £1.7bn Green sports
31 David Rockefeller USA £1.7bn Sustainable agriculture
32 Edward Bass USA £1.5bn Eco research
33 Nicky Oppenheimer S Africa £1.5bn Wildlife conservation
34 John Whittaker UK £1.3bn Green energy
35 Sir Richard Branson UK £1.2bn Renewable energy
36 Ted Turner USA £1.2bn Wildlife conservation
37 Otto Happel Germany £1.1bn Solar power
38 Julian Robertson USA £1bn Global warming
39 Tom Siebel USA £1bn Alternative energy
40 Carl Berg USA £900m Clean technology
41 Tom Golisano USA £900m Natural resources
42 Nicholas Pritzker USA £800m Electric cars
43 Peter Sperling USA £800m Renewable energy
44 John Doerr USA £750m Green venture capitalist
45 Caroline Getty and Anne Earhart USA £750m Conservation
46 Sebastian Pinera Chile £700m Conservation
47 Petter Stordalen Norway £700m Renewable energy
48 Jorgen Philip-Sorensen UK £650m Eco-consumerism
49 Tulsi Tanti India £648m Wind Turbines
50 Jaiprakash Gaur India £620m Wind power
51 Brad Kelley USA £570m Wildlife conservation
52 Vinod Khosla USA £560m Alternative energy
53 Xiaofeng Peng China £560m Solar power
54 Michael Ahearn USA £550m Solar power
55 Felix Dennis UK £500m Tree planting
56 Jim Mellon UK £500m Solar power
57 Axel and Erik Schweitzer Germany £500m Recycling
58 Michael Moritz USA £475m Alternative energy
59 Cheung Yan and family China £470m Paper recycling
60 Frank Asbeck Germany £440m Solar power
61 Wendy McCaw USA £400m Environmental research
62 David Werklund Canada £400m Oil recycling
63 Selim Zilkha USA £400m Renewable energy
64 Wang Chuanfu China £375m Eco-friendly transport
65 Shi Zhengrong China £370m Solar power
66 Morris Kahn Israel £350m Environmental protection
67 Phillip Sheppard and family UK £330m Recycling
68 Dou Zhenggang China £325m Waste-to-energy
69 Yoon Seok-Keum S Korea £310m Solar power
70 Bruce Cheng Taiwan £300m Renewable energy
71 Johan Eliasch UK £300m Forest preservation
72 Teresa Heinz USA £300m Environmental research
73 Ralph Sarich Australia £300m Carbon-free development
74 Lawrence Tomlinson UK £300m Green transport
75 Robert Wilson USA £300m Conservation
76 Lu Xiang-yang China £275m Green transport
77 Thomas Domenig Switzerland £260m Conservation
78 Anu Aga India £250m Energy conservation
79 Jin Baofang China £250m Solar power
80 Angela Bennett Australia £250m Carbon-free development
81 Miao Shouliang China £250m Renewable energy
82 Akio Toyoda and family Japan £250m Green transport
83 Liansheng Miao China £222m Solar power
84 Zhu Gongshan China £220m Solar power
85 Olivia Lum Singapore £220m Clean energy
86 Jöel Séché and family France £220m Renewable energy
87 Elon Musk S Africa £210m Solar power and green transport
88 Roxanne Quimby USA £210m Conservation
89 Joan Smith USA £205m Water conservation
90 Jean-Michel Germa France £200m Wind power
91 Zac Goldsmith UK £200m Environmental philantropy
92 Lu Yonghua China £200m Solar power
93 Huang Ming China £200m Solar power
94 Terry Peabody Australia £200m Waste and industrial recycling
95 Zhang Weihua China £200m Industrial recycling
96 Chen Wukui and family China £200m Solar power
97 Li Xianshou China £200m Solar power
98 Qu Xiaohua China £200m Solar power
99 Huh Yong-do S Korea £200m Wind power
100 Jifan Gao China £200m Solar power

The real Xmas message

Posted: March 18, 2009 in creativity, humour
Tags: ,


I know, we just had Christmas but this image was just too good to be ignored 😉

HALTING the world’s rocketing population growth is the key to solving global warming — a solution that has been ignored or overlooked by leading climate change advocates.

overpopulationThat was the warning from an Australian health expert, who said UN forecasts of a global population of more than 9 billion people by 2050 spelt disaster for the world’s ecology.

Roger Short, honorary professor at the University of Melbourne’s faculty of medicine, nursing and health sciences, told a conference in Sydney yesterday that government-commissioned reviews — such as the Stern report in Britain and Australia’s Garnaut report — had not even mentioned the word “population”. Even the film by former US vice-president Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, had failed to focus on the dangers posed by unsustainable population growth.

“Global warming is a direct result of human activity,” Professor Short told The Weekend Australian.

“The more people there are, the worse the global warming threat gets.

“So we have got to do everything we can to control human population growth.

“We haven’t given the women of the world freedom from the tyranny — and I do mean tyranny — of unwanted fertility.

“If we could restore that freedom to women, the world could breathe a lot easier and we could look forward to the future because women would sort out the future for us.”

The Australian
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