Backpacks For The Street


Inequality is an obstacle that often shows up in Golden Civilization Conversations. Here’s “a grassroots movement” that’s helping “make the lives of people who are homeless a little bit easier.” With backpacks!

“The first Backpacks For The Street program took place on March 27, 2018, in New York City. With 19 volunteers, lead by Newman and Conner, the crew handed out 75 backpacks, made up of more than 5,000 individual items, to the homeless over a four-hour period.”

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"A ‘Disgusting’ Yale Professor Moves On"

Article by Frank Bruni

How a target of students’ ire came to write a book about humanity’s transcendent goodness

“To accept this belief that human beings are evil or violent or selfish or overly tribal is a kind of moral and intellectual laziness,” he told me. It also excuses that destructiveness. “The way to repair our torn social fabric is to say: Wait a minute, that’s not quite right.”

Rapidly advancing technology and the falling costs of clean energy make the Green New Deal’s goal of transforming the U.S. economy to zero emissions by mid-century eminently achievable

Photograph by Jason Andrew / Redux

“Right now, we have about ninety per cent or ninety-five per cent of the technology we need,” Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, told me. In a series of papers, Jacobson and his colleagues have laid out “roadmaps” to a zero-emissions economy for fifty states, fifty-three towns and cities, and a hundred and thirty-eight other countries, with a completion date of 2050. Just as in the Democrats’ Green New Deal, the central element of these roadmaps (and others) is converting the electric grid to clean energy by shutting down power stations that rely on fossil fuels and making some very large investments in wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal facilities. Jacobson said this could be completed by 2035, which is only five years beyond the target set out in the Green New Deal. At the same time, policymakers would introduce a range of measures to promote energy efficiency, and electrify other sectors of the economy that now rely heavily on burning carbon, such as road and rail transport, home heating, and industrial heating. “We don’t need a technological miracle to solve this problem,” Jacobson reiterated. “‘The bottom line is we just need to deploy, deploy, deploy.”…. Read more of this story on The New Yorker

One of San Francisco's toughest schools transformed by the power of meditation

There was a time when Visitacion Valley middle school in San Francisco could have featured in a gritty US crime drama. Surrounded by drugs and gang violence, the kids were stressed out and agitated. One day children came in to find three dead bodies dumped in the schoolyard. “In 2006 there were 38 killings in our neighbourhood,” says Barry O’Driscoll, the school’s head of physical education (PE). He says the lives of students were infected by violence in the community, and several fights would break out every day.

In 2007 a meditation programme called Quiet Time was brought in to meet some of these challenges. “When I first heard about it I thought it probably wasn’t going to work,” says O’Driscoll. “We get thrown a new thing every couple of years so I didn’t put too much faith in it.” But in April, just a month after meditation began, teachers noticed changes in behaviour. “Students seemed happy,” says O’Driscoll. “They worked harder, paid more attention, were easier to teach and the number of fights fell dramatically.”

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Greta Thunberg, 15, told UN summit that students are acting in absence of global leadership.

Action to fight global warming is coming whether world leaders like it or not, school student Greta Thunberg has told the UN climate change summit, accusing them of behaving like irresponsible children.

Thunberg began a solo climate protest by striking from school in Sweden in August. But more than 20,000 students around the world have now joined her. The school strikes have spread to at least 270 towns and cities in countries across the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the US and Japan.

“For 25 years countless people have come to the UN climate conferences begging our world leaders to stop emissions and clearly that has not worked as emissions are continuing to rise. So I will not beg the world leaders to care for our future,” she said. “I will instead let them know change is coming whether they like it or not.”

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Democracy for All?

Click to download the report.

Click to download the report.

The V-Dem Institute from the University of Gothenburg presents in its Annual Democracy Report 2018 “Democracy for All?” a comparison of the states of democracy of 178 countries between 2007 and 2017. It is a remarkable study from which we have included its signature chart with score and confidence intervals based on the following indicators: suffrage, elected officials, clean elections, freedom of association, freedom of expression and alternative sources of information, rule of law, judicial constraints on the executive, legislative constraints on the executive, an egalitarian component, a participatory component, and a deliberative component. The chart included here demonstrates the advances and backslides of countries from 2007 (lighter markings), just prior to the US banking crisis, to the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency (darker markings). Note how dramatically the U.S. has fallen as a democracy in just a brief ten year period.

Gun-related deaths now outpace vehicle deaths.

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Click image to read the full article.

“Since 1980, when MADD was founded by a bereaved mother after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver, motor vehicle deaths have declined as a result of grassroots activism, meaningful changes to law and policy, technological and cultural changes, as well as investments in research. The new CDC data shows motor vehicle deaths declined slightly in 2017, a continuation of a decades-long downward trend. In fact, the motor vehicle death rate has been nearly cut in half since 1980.

Gun deaths, on the other hand, increased slightly in 2017. Nearly 40,000 people were killed by gun violence in 2017, about 1,100 more than were killed in motor vehicle crashes. An estimated 14,542 people are killed in homicides with guns, according to the CDC. A rise in gun-related suicides also contributed to the increase. An estimated 23,854 people died from suicide using guns in 2017.

As the former CEO of MADD, I see the contrast in these numbers as a reminder of the impact we can have on public crises when policymakers, researchers, industry leaders, victims, survivors and concerned advocates work together to save lives.”