There’s no question that volunteers make a huge impact, but last week the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh undertook a 24-hour volunteer project that could one day be measured from space. The state coordinated the planting of almost 50 million trees by 800,000 volunteers in public spaces. The tree planting frenzy is the beginning of a reforestation effort the nation of India agreed to during the 2015 Paris Climate Talks, reports Brian Clark Howard at National Geographic. During those talks, India made a commitment to reforest 12 percent of its land by 2030, a $6.2 billion commitment. “The world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Uttar Pradesh has made a beginning in this regard,” Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav told volunteers before the planting, reports Biswajeet Banerjee at the AP. The planting is not just a publicity stunt, though the organizers do hope it raises awareness of reforestation efforts. Though the record won’t be validated for several months, it’s likely that Uttar Pradesh Guinness World Record has blown away the standing record for the most tree plantings in one day. That went to Pakistan in 2013, when volunteers planted 847,275 trees out of the water, reports Howard.
On June 17, 2016, the International Business Times  (IBT) reported that a strain of the vaccine-derived polio virus has been discovered in Hyderabad, India, and experts have warned that the likelihood of more cases being discovered over the next year is extremely likely. Reporters stated that: Experts also said that India’s current immunisation programme, which involves the use of Oral Polio vaccine (OPV), may also pose the risk of the spread of the disease. They continued: OPV has a weak or attentuated virus that triggers immune response in children to fight against polio. However, in rare cases when a child excretes the virus, it may multiply in sewage, and undergo mutations which lead to transmission of the disease. Read
As all too many rape victims discover when they speak out, many react by just wishing the victim would shut up and go away. Most rapists attack someone they know, which means that holding them accountable means tearing apart whatever community — school, work, friend group — that the accused and accuser belong in. Often, it feels just easier to pressure the accuser to shut up and go away so everything can return to normal, even though that often requires ignoring that there’s a sexual predator in your midst. In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch turned up alarming evidence that, in the military, forces that want to shut accusers up and make them go away have found a disturbingly potent weapon: Misogynist stereotypes. By leaning on prejudiced beliefs that women, especially outspoken women, are either dishonest or crazy, the military was able to get rid of women who came forward with rape accusations. Read
Yesterday I spoke at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, NECSS, a “celebration of science and critical thinking” held May 12-15 in New York City. Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, whom I met recently, got me invited, and he might regret that, because I decided to treat the skeptics skeptically. I originally titled my talk “Skepticism: Hard Versus Soft Targets.” The references to “Bigfoot” in the headline above and text below were inspired by a conversation I had with conference Emcee Jamy Ian Swiss before I went on stage. He asked what I planned to say, and I told him, and he furiously defended his opposition to belief in Bigfoot. He wasn’t kidding. I hadn’t brought up Bigfoot, but I decided to mention him in my talk. Swiss didn’t let me take questions, so I promised the audience that I would post the talk here (slightly edited) and would welcome skeptical comments or emails. [See also my follow-up posts here andhere.] –-John Horgan I hate preaching to the converted. If you were Buddhists, I’d bash Buddhism. But you’re skeptics, so I have to bash skepticism. Read
As humankind progression goes we’re in an incredible technological age. As an evolved species about 200,000 years on a planet as old as 4.5 billion years, we’ve boldly gone into space, killed off diseases that hitherto wreaked havoc on the earth and, hopefully, we’ve learned from the carnage of the past and now have less and less an appetite for large-scale war. And too, we’ve made incredible strides in medicine prolonging life in a way that suggests that in the next immediate decades living to 100 years will be the routine, the norm — not the exception. Today, mobile communications, instant messaging, and global inter-connectedness are modern daily occurrences. From smart phones to wearable technology humans have evolved into the most sophisticated and consummeristic of all pervious generations. We’re the truly Nescafe Generation — we want everything now, in real time, no waiting — period. And, correspondingly, we’ve become the most stupid, gullible and sheep-like generation. But don’t get me started about sheep — they bleat too much plus I just don’t like them very much. Too easily led, influenced and way, way too meek. Read
In a lost kingdom high in the Himalayan mountains, at one of the extreme northern points of India, bordering Kashmir, China and Afghanistan live a people with incredible secrets for longevity – the Hunzas. Pronounced hoon-zas, they are not a society of mythical legend, but real people living on ‘the roof of the world’ – often to the tender age of 145 years. Within this tiny, peace-loving society, comprised of just 30,000 people living in an inaccessible valley approximately 3000 meters above sea level, you can find women who give birth into their 60s and men who look like they’re in their 40s at twice that age. It is said that in addition to growing old – more than gracefully – they are also the happiest people in the world. This is an important distinction to make of the Hunza people, for their health is not only defined by the lack of disease, but also their overall quality of life, and direct experience of joy. They seem to possess boundless energy and enthusiasm for every day activities. When you compare this state of living within the Hunza community with the American way of life; we’re known for being obese, spending more for pharmaceutical
Devdutt Pattanaik is a renowned author, mythologist, and leadership consultant, whose work focuses on deriving management insights from mythology to reveal a very Indian approach to modern business. He has authored over 30 books. Trained in medicine, Devdutt spent 15 years in the healthcare industry, with companies such as Apollo Health Street and Sanofi Aventis, before joining Ernst & Young as Business Advisor. All this while, he continued to study and write on mythological stories and symbols, drawing rich insights about business, leadership, and modern life. His TED talk is one of the most viewed talks with over a million views. Devdutt was the Chief Belief Officer of Future Group and is now a sought-after public speaker and culture consultant for corporations and business leaders. He was born and educated in Mumbai, and he lives in Mumbai
On today's Progressive Commentary Hour, Gary spoke about these articles and spoke with Dr.Jim Garrison,
The collapse of the middle-class job
Sadistic capitalism: Six urgent matters for humanity in global crisis
Gary went to his guest now and here is his bio:
Dr. Jim Garrison is the founding President of Ubiquity University and the Wisdom School of Graduate Studies, an international school of higher education built upon innovative principles of whole brain and whole system learning. The university operates on four continents with partners in the EU, India, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, Vietnam and others. As the co-founder and President of the Gorbachev Foundation, Jim was instrumental in the founding of the State of the World Forum to lay a template for a more sustainable global civilization. In the late 80s he served as the executive director of the Esalen Institute Soviet-American Exchange, and founded the International Foreign Policy Association in collaboration with Secretary of State George Schultz and Georgian President Edward Shevardnadze. He is the author of “America as Empire: Global Leader or Rogue Power? and “Civilization and the Transformation of Power” Jim has graduate degrees in religion and theology from Harvard and Cambridge universities. His websites are WisdomUniversity.org and UbiquityUniversity.org
This is article Jim Garrison spoke about:
Democracies end when they are too democratic.
Dr. Jack Rasmus dissects the latest report on US economic growth for first quarter 2016, showing a mere 0.5% annual GDP growth rate. The collapse confirms his prediction of early January 2016, and confirms the US economy remains on a ‘stop-go’ trajectory, having again slipped into a ‘stall speed’ that raises risks of US sliding into recession. Rasmus explains the longer term trends behind the 0.5%, and why the US 0.5% annual growth rate, when compared to the previous quarter, is an even lower 0.1% GDP or less. Averaging over 8+ years, the US economy has grown only 10.1%, or barely 1%, or even less per year after adjustments. Jack explains how the US and other countries have been redefining GDP to help the appearance of growth—including China, India and Europe as well as US. The more fundamental trends behind 1st quarter US GDP are then reviewed--including business investment, industrial production, exports, consumption, and prices, all of which suggest the US economy nearing the brink of another recession. Why the US economy keeps ‘relapsing’ periodically since 2009 is discussed, as well as the likely impact of the 1st quarter US slowdown on other global economies and markets. (For more information, listeners should read Jack’s recent Telesur media article on US GDP posted on the PRN network website—‘Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?’)