News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In December 1968, the ecologist and biologist Garrett Hardin had an essay published in the journal Science called ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’. His proposition was simple and unsparing: humans, when left to their own devices, compete with one another for resources until the resources run out. ‘Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest,’ he wrote. ‘Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.’ Hardin’s argument made intuitive sense, and provided a temptingly simple explanation for catastrophes of all kinds – traffic jams, dirty public toilets, species extinction. His essay, widely read and accepted, would become one of the most-cited scientific papers of all time.

Even before Hardin’s ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ was published, however, the young political scientist Elinor Ostrom had proven him wrong. While Hardin speculated that the tragedy of the commons could be avoided only through total privatisation or total government control, Ostrom had witnessed groundwater users near her native Los Angeles hammer out a system for sharing their coveted resource. Over the next several decades, as a professor at Indiana University Bloomington, she studied collaborative management systems developed by cattle herders in Switzerland, forest dwellers in Japan, and irrigators in the Philippines. These communities had found ways of both preserving a shared resource – pasture, trees, water – and providing their members with a living. Some had been deftly avoiding the tragedy of the commons for centuries; Ostrom was simply one of the first scientists to pay close attention to their traditions, and analyse how and why they worked.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For the thousands of people who end up on the wrong side of the Home Office each year, there is often a sudden moment of disbelief. This can’t be happening, people tell themselves. They can’t do this, can they?

For Ruhena Miah, a sales assistant born and raised in the West Midlands, this moment came when she received a letter saying that if she wanted to marry the man she loved, she would have to move to Bangladesh. For Tayjay Thompson, a young man convicted of a drugs offence when he was 17, it was when he was told he would be deported to Jamaica, a country he’d left as a toddler. For Monique Hawkins, a Dutch software engineer, it was when her application for a residency permit was rejected, despite the fact she had lived in the UK for 24 years. For Omar, a refugee from Afghanistan (who asked me not to use his real name), it was when he stepped off the plane at Heathrow and discovered that he was being taken to a building that looked to him very much like a prison.

For Sheikh Shariful Amin, a young businessman from Bangladesh, the moment of disbelief came on 5 February 2015, in the back of an Immigration Enforcement van. Amin had just been arrested in a dawn raid on his east London home. Enforcement officers told him that he was accused of cheating on an English language test. Amin was terrified and humiliated – he had needed the toilet before he was led out of his house, and had to go while a female officer looked on – but he was also baffled. Why would anyone think he had cheated on a test he had taken as a mere formality when he applied for a new visa? He had lived in the UK for nearly a decade, he had a degree from an English university, he spoke English fluently. Surely they knew they’d made a mistake?

“I asked one officer ‘Could you please tell me: do you think I can’t speak English?’” Amin told me recently. The officer agreed that Amin’s English sounded fine. “He said: ‘Listen mate, I don’t know what’s going on at the Home Office, but your name is flagged on our system.’”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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In March 2019, storm clouds rolled across Oklahoma; rain swept down the gutters of New York; hail pummeled northern Florida; floodwaters forced evacuations in Missouri; and a blizzard brought travel to a stop in South Dakota. Across much of America, it can be easy to assume that we have more than enough water. But that same a month, as storms battered the country, a government-backed report issued a stark warning: America is running out of water.

Within as little as 50 years, many regions of the United States could see their freshwater supply reduced by as much as a third, warn scientists. Of all the freshwater basins that channel rain and snow into the rivers from which we draw the water we rely on for everything from drinking and cooking to washing and cleaning, nearly half may be unable to meet consumers’ monthly demands by 2071. This will mean serious water shortages for Americans.

Shortages won’t affect only the regions we’d expect to be dry: with as many as 96 out of 204 basins in trouble, water shortages would impact most of the U.S., including the central and southern Great Plains, the Southwest, and central Rocky Mountain states, as well as parts of California, the South, and the Midwest. And if 50 years seems like a long way off, the reality is much sooner: shortages could occur in 83 basins as early as 2021. With 40 out of 50 states expecting water shortages, it’s time to start thinking about where our water is going.

Read the rest of this article at: National Geographic

News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On Aug. 11, Sarah, a cheerleader at Hickman High School in Columbia, Mo., turned 16 and passed her driving test. Triumphant, she arrived home to a Happy Birthday sign in the front yard, a treat of beignets from a Creole restaurant and the news that her 17-year-old brother did not have pinkeye, as their mother initially suspected, but Covid-19. They all did, it turned out: Sarah, who asked to be identified by her middle name to protect her privacy; her brother; their 85-year-old grandfather; and their mother, a nurse practitioner who started having trouble breathing two days after her son tested positive. Sarah had thought she would first take advantage of her license to drive herself to cheerleading practice; instead, she used it to take her mother to get a coronavirus test, when her mother realized she was already too weak to drive herself. Then, a week later, Sarah’s mother — who had not been leaving the couch and was having trouble finishing her sentences — told her she needed to be driven to the hospital. Her pastor and other members of her church would be checking in, but Sarah would have to look after everyone. That meant taking care of her grandfather, who had Parkinson’s disease and some dementia, and her brother, who had autism. Could she do that? Sarah, whose eyes had grown wide, quickly recovered. Yes, she told her mother. Of course she could.

As Sarah drove to the hospital, she could feel her mother stealing looks at her face, so she focused on the music coming out of the car radio. They hugged goodbye at the entrance of the hospital, and then Sarah drove home. A few days after that, while her mother was still at the hospital, Sarah realized her grandfather was acting strange and confused — after she gave him a glass of water he asked for, he yelled at her that he had wanted something else. Some relatives spoke to him on the phone and made an assessment, and then Sarah was making another hospital run, this time to drop off her grandfather.

Now it was just Sarah and her brother, who played Xbox for hours in the living room while Sarah hid out in her bedroom, leaving only to pick up the endless amounts of food that neighbors and church friends were leaving at their doorstep. Sarah couldn’t exactly say why, but it got on her nerves a little, all that food. Lasagna after lasagna, spaghetti in tomato sauce, more red food than she could shove into their small refrigerator. Didn’t they know this virus could kill their whole family? Was it worth risking all that to leave their home, to come right to Sarah’s door just to drop off another plate of cookies? “We’re good,” she said whenever anybody called to check in. How was her mom doing, they wanted to know. “She’s getting better,” Sarah said, even though she had no idea if that was the case. If somewhere deep inside she felt true terror, she put layers of protection between it and her conscious self; the fear was like nuclear waste that was buried far beneath the earth’s surface for everyone’s safety.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Time Magazine

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News 14.05.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

You would never know how terrible the past year has been for many Americans by looking at Wall Street, which has been going gangbusters since the early days of the pandemic.

“On the streets, there are chants of ‘Stop killing Black people!’ and ‘No justice, no peace!’ Meanwhile, behind a computer, one of the millions of new day traders buys a stock because the chart is quickly moving higher,” wrote Chris Brown, the founder and managing member of the Ohio-based hedge fund Aristides Capital in a letter to investors in June 2020. “The cognitive dissonance is overwhelming at times.”

The market was temporarily shaken in March 2020, as stocks plunged for about a month at the outset of the Covid-19 outbreak, but then something strange happened. Even as hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, millions of people were laid off and businesses shuttered, protests against police violence erupted across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and the outgoing president refused to accept the outcome of the 2020 election — supposedly the market’s nightmare scenario — for weeks, the stock market soared. After the jobs report from April 2021 revealed a much shakier labor recovery might be on the horizon, major indexes hit new highs.

The disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street, between corporate CEOs and the working class, has perhaps never felt so stark. How can it be that food banks are overwhelmed while the Dow Jones Industrial Average hits an all-time high? For a year that’s been so bad, it’s been hard not to wonder how the stock market could be so good.

To the extent that there can ever be an explanation for what’s going on with the stock market, there are some straightforward financial answers here. The Federal Reserve took extraordinary measures to support financial markets and reassure investors it wouldn’t let major corporations fall apart. Congress did its part as well, pumping trillions of dollars into the economy across multiple relief bills. Turns out giving people money is good for markets, too. Tech stocks, which make up a significant portion of the S&P 500, soared. And with bond yields so low, investors didn’t really have a more lucrative place to put their money.

To put it plainly, the stock market is not representative of the whole economy, much less American society. And what it is representative of did fine.

“No matter how many times we keep on saying the stock market is not the economy, people won’t believe it, but it isn’t,” said Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist. “The stock market is about one piece of the economy — corporate profits — and it’s not even about the current or near-future level of corporate profits, it’s about corporate profits over a somewhat longish horizon.”

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.