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November 28 - December 4 on openDemocracy

The appalling fate of the most wonderful pre-industrial human and natural environment on earth, and the way its destruction is simply ignored, is truly shocking. In a classic openDemocracy essay, Hugh Brody takes us to the 50th anniversary of... do you know?
12 December 2011

Also, did you know that in Iceland the people are writing the constitution?

Two exceptional public events point to the shape of politics next year: Putin gets booed and Daniil Kotsyubinsky provides a fascinating account of politics being replaced by branding and, hopefully, the limits of such cynicism. In Berlin, Constanze Stelzenmüller sends an elegant report of Polish foreign minister Sikorski’s attempt to shock the German political elite into responsibility.

Simon Zadek looks forward provocatively to the event in Durban this week - insisting that we should welcome the failure of the multilateral process to halt climate change because the alternative is better.

So are occupations more important than events? In most countries, buses run to schedule. In Britain it is traditional to wait for a long time and then two come at once. So it is that OurKingdom’s co-editor Guy Aitchison has this genuinely thoughtful and personally informed piece about the new forms of direct action, and asks why they have not sparked a much wider uprising. The Occupy theme is addressed in an account of an exemplary action against the 1 per cent as part of a two-million strong strike of Britain’s public sector as even doctors say ‘No’.

To mark World AIDS Day, Alice Welbourn explains how we can make prevention succeed while Tsitsi B Masvawure says ‘be honest’ about the joyous experience of sex and propagation for African women.

Can we know that we are free and can science help with the answer? Rachael Panizzo reviews the latest neuroscience on free will and concludes that our judgment is still intact while Marius Brill exposes how the magician Derren Brown artfully manipulates our idea of science in the service of illusion.

openDemocracy’s late, long-time columnist Fred Halliday is vindicated in the Woolf Report on the LSE’s dealings with the Gadaffi regime. Anthony Barnett is relieved but asks why the LSE’s Peter Sutherland, who was chair of BP when it traded with Libya, gets away unscathed.

It is clear that the issue of corporate power and university independence will be a growing theme in oD. Migration has been since May 2003 in a great debate on ‘People Flow’. We warned that an unstoppable process needs honesty, democracy and government, not populism, the market and arbitrary fiats. Today, are we even wiser and better informed as Luis Cabrera responds to those who want to close borders?


Three links you wouldn't want to miss:

The evolutionary psychology of laughter is all about self-criticism

oD columnist James Warner has a wonderfully compact & moving short story on the perils of second lives

And why Jeffrey Sachs' self evaluation of his Millennium Villages Project in Kenya has made some pretty basic methodological mistakes which cast serious doubt on the project

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Peter Geoghegan: dark money and dirty politics

Democracy is in crisis and unaccountable flows of money are helping to destroy it. Peter Geoghegan’s new book, ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’, charts how secretive money, lobbying and data has warped our democracy.

How has dark money bought our politics? What can be done to change the system?

Join us for a journey through a shadowy world of dark money and disinformation stretching from Westminster to Washington, and far beyond.

Sign up to take part in a free live discussion on Thursday 13 August at 5pm UK time/6pm CET

In conversation:

Peter Geoghegan Dark Money Investigations editor at openDemocracy and the author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’.

Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.

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