US Healthcare policy contradictions — reducing costs while ensuring private corporations profit

April 6, 2015

Why, then, was a single-payer system excluded from consideration and its proponents almost entirely barred from the discussion during the year Obamacare was written? That rejection can only reflect the enormous power of the health industry, which Brill reminds us has the largest lobby in Washington, D.C….

California governor’s water restrictions in face of drought is misplaced

April 2, 2015

One thing to note. Agriculture consumes 80% of the state’s water, so the cry for water restrictions for residents and government won’t affect much.

Here are the big water consumers, animal Ag, including alfalfa which is grown to feed livestock (in Asia !).–Almost-half-of-the-average-Californian-s-water-footprint-is-due-to-consumption-of-meat-and-dairy

Solar Windows See-Thru Technology

April 1, 2015

This technology could mean that one day entire skyscrapers might be able to generate solar power without blocking out light or ruining tenants’ views.

New Report Debunks ‘Myth’ That GMOs are Key to Feeding the World

April 1, 2015

Heavy investments in GMOs are not producing the projected yields. Traditional cross-breeding still dominates in terms of yields. Profit-driven BigAg innovations do not benefit poor farmers.

Taiwan’s Linguistic Gift

August 4, 2010

We are seeing a resurgence in the indigenous languages of Taiwan, which is the epicenter of the vast Austronesian linguistic universe.

[All text below are excerpts. Image is from Diamond’s Nature article.]


In Taiwan, only about 35% of the 500,000 Austronesian indigenous people can speak their tribal language, said Chang Shin-liang, head of the language and culture department of the government’s Council of Indigenous Peoples. Austronesian span

“We’re facing a dangerous situation for indigenous languages. Seven out of 14 indigenous languages here are listed by Unesco as critically endangered,” said Mr Chang.

– From “Taiwan seeks to save indigenous languages” [here]

Jared Diamond

Blust’s analysis yields an astonishing pattern. Those 1,200 Austronesian languages fall into ten subgroups, of which nine (containing only 26 languages) are spoken only by the non-Chinese aborigines of the island of Taiwan. The tenth subgroup encompasses all Austronesian languages outside Taiwan, from Madagascar to east Polynesia — all 1,174 of them.

It is as if the Indo-European language family consisted of 1,174 closely related Slavic languages, spoken from Britain to Sri Lanka, with all nine other IndoEuropean language groups — Germanic, Celtic, Hittite, Italic and the rest of them — being confined to Ireland. Previous studies had recognized several distinctive Austronesian language groups on Taiwan, but it had not been appreciated that the number was so high.

– From: “Taiwan’s gift to the world” by Jared M. Diamond (2000). Nature 403:709-710. See attached pdf.

World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

April 26, 2010

When Morales invited “social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders…scientists, academics, lawyers and governments” to come to Cochabamba for a new kind of climate summit, it was a revolt against this experience of helplessness, an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive.

[Article is here on]

A Tribal News Network… using Cell Phones

April 26, 2010

‘”Reporters” call a Bangalore number to upload a news item and a text message goes out to all the phone numbers in the contact list and anyone who wants to hear the report calls in to the same number and the message is played out.’

Are Cities The Answer ?

February 20, 2010

“The point is clear: environmentalists have yet to seize the opportunity offered by urbanisation. Two major campaigns should be mounted: one to protect the newly-emptied countryside, the other to green the hell out of the growing cities.”

How Slums Can Save The Planet

The Bolivian Miracle ?

December 7, 2009

The social movement in Bolivia continues with the re-election of Evo Morales (whose party is called Movimiento al Socialismo), the first indigenous head of State in Bolivia since the last Incan leader Tupac Amaru.

Wanted to point out something relevant to this blog from a NYT article:

“Despite the financial crisis and a drop in natural gas export revenues, Bolivia’s economy is estimated to have grown as much as 4 percent this year, one of the highest rates in the region, helped by stimulus spending on welfare programs for children, pregnant women and the elderly.”

In Bolivia, A Force for Change Endures, NYT, Dec 6, 2009

Peak Oil

October 9, 2009

A recent comprehensive report warns that it is probably too late !

Don’t take the Armageddonist view that it is inevitable; get cracking !