Day: August 3, 2019

Should Rivers Have Same Legal Rights As Humans?

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A Growing Number Of Voices Say Yes:

’In early July, Bangladesh became the first country to grant all of its rivers the same legal status as humans. From now on, its rivers will be treated as living entities in a court of law. The landmark ruling by the Bangladeshi Supreme Court is meant to protect the world’s largest delta from further degradation from pollution, illegal dredging and human intrusion.

Bangladesh follows a handful of countries that have subscribed to an idea known as environmental personhood. It was first highlighted in essays by University of Southern California law professor Christopher D. Stone, collected into a 1974 book titled Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects. Stone argued that if an environmental entity is given “legal personality,” it cannot be owned and has the right to appear in court.

Traditionally, nature has been subject to a Western-conceived legal regime of property-based ownership, says Monti Aguirre with the environmental group International Rivers.

“That means … an owner has the right to modify their features, their natural features, or to destroy them all at will,” Aguirre says.

The idea of environmental personhood turns that paradigm on its head by recognizing that nature has rights and that those rights should be enforced by a court of law. It’s a philosophical idea, says Aguirre, with indigenous communities leading the charge.

“Many indigenous communities recognize nature as a subject with personhood deserving of protection and respect, rather than looking at it as a merchandise or commodity over which are property rights should be exercised,” she says.

And the movement is growing, she says, though with variations.

…’

Via NPR

The Impossible Dream

UnknownDavid Wootton, Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York and the author of Power, Pleasure, and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison and The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution:

’How have we come to build a whole culture around a futile, self-defeating enterprise: the pursuit of happiness?…’

Via Lapham’s Quarterly

Solid Trumpism

ImagesRonald Aronson: Donald Trump has the most stable approval rating of any president since Harry Truman.

’To understand the stability of this support, we must free ourselves from the prevailing fixation on Trump himself as the explanation for Trumpism. True, he has a cunning charisma; using very ordinary bearing and diction, he makes repeated chest-thumping references to being very rich, conveys a sense of his own genius, and relishes a near-total freedom to say and do anything. But the reason these tactics succeed is that they resonate with his base. “He tells it like it is” is still a common refrain among his supporters, meaning “how we really feel” behind the veil of political correctness. And so, unwaveringly, they devour each outrageous statement and eagerly anticipate the next.

Trump’s secret to success is that he expresses their values, angers, and evasions, their deep sense of alienation and grievance—cultural and social far more than economic. If he wins in 2020 it will be no fluke, as many concluded about 2016, but because a critical number of Americans have embraced that message. As campaign season takes off, we must not delude ourselves about exactly what Trumpism means.…’

Via Boston Review

Attention as an act of resistance

Images’Jenny Odell looks at many different ways of resisting the attention economy, sinking into the reality of our lives, and finding solidarity and agency with others.

 “Someone is defining the terms already by asking the question. And if you’re not attentive, you will accept those terms.”…’

Via Big Think

Sci-Hub: removing barriers in the way of science

NewImage’The first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers:

…A research paper is a special publication written by scientists to be read by other researchers. Papers are primary sources neccessary for research – for example, they contain detailed description of new results and experiments.
papers in Sci-Hub library:
more than 74,000,000 and growing
At this time the widest possible distribution of research papers, as well as of other scientific or educational sources, is artificially restricted by copyright laws. Such laws effectively slow down the development of science in human society. The Sci-Hub project, running from 5th September 2011, is challenging the status quo. At the moment, Sci-Hub provides access to hundreds of thousands research papers every day, effectively bypassing any paywalls and restrictions.…’

Via Sci-Hub

Pentagon testing mass surveillance balloons across the US

6104’The US military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal.

Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.

Travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 65,000ft, the balloons are intended to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats”, according to a filing made on behalf of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, an aerospace and defence company.

The balloons are carrying hi-tech radars designed to simultaneously track many individual vehicles day or night, through any kind of weather. The tests, which have not previously been reported, received an FCC license to operate from mid-July until September, following similar flights licensed last year.

…“We do not think that American cities should be subject to wide-area surveillance in which every vehicle could be tracked wherever they go,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Even in tests, they’re still collecting a lot of data on Americans: who’s driving to the union house, the church, the mosque, the Alzheimer’s clinic,” he said. “We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States and it’s disturbing to hear that these tests are being carried out, by the military no less.” …’

Via The Guardian