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This week's editor

NSS, editor

Niki Seth-Smith is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to 50.50.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Singing for sex, and other political anomalies

Our Sunday Comics columnist learns some human and political lessons from the frogfish and toadfish of Florida

Fraud fighters wanted in the Middle East

Rayna Stamboliyska

Egypt is just one of the places in the Arab world where scientific misconduct is tolerated. But the onus is global. What are research institutions waiting for to enforce policies? And what is the international community waiting for to stop the use of populations as guinea pigs?

Tunisia’s legacy of pollution confronts democratic politics

Oudhref’s response toward the government is, ‘You ignored us for twenty years, and now the first project you bring us is a waste dump?’

The three faces of drone war 

Now, with the unexpected support of a small but growing group of former drone pilots, a campaign against ‘targeted killings’ might well take on a new life in the US.

War and disease: the case of polio

The interrupted campaign to eradicate polio worldwide reflects the spread of conflict and insecurity since 2001.

What’s normal? The politics of psychiatric labeling

Psychiatrists are consistently expanding the boundaries of mental illness using scientific claims only weakly supported by the evidence. Are they mad? Part of Transformation's politics of mental health series.

The high price of materialism

The good life is not the same as a life filled with goods. Wellbeing and materialism don’t fit together. (Animation, 5 minutes).

A different climate

Many new paths to climate action are being taken, with the global south in the forefront. Even modest support and publicity from their northern counterparts can bring huge benefits. 

Energy descent

These new value systems do not mean we will adapt to less, but rather we will return to core essentials, empowering individuals and local communities.

Why green growth won’t transform the economy

Green growth is a myth. Because it ignores the social, political and personal dimensions of sustainability, it can never cut deep enough into the structures of self and society to secure solutions to the crises that we face.

Politics makes biased fools of us all

With tapes of voice recordings of Erdogan being leaked, whether they are authentic or not, what we believe today is what we want to believe.

Science outreach in schools

There were so many questions that I had to stop taking them so that the children could finish school on time.

Voting for the climate?

Climate policy should be a major consideration for voters heading for the polls in May’s European parliamentary elections.

Introducing Bill McKibben: social movement creation today

Is one of America’s most prominent environmentalists, Bill McKibben, heading up a leaderless movement? If not, what kind of leader is he? Book review.

Climate politics: a melting glacier...

A new political tone on climate change in Britain is matched by a breakthrough in understanding the retreat of tropical glaciers.

The BRICS of collapse? Why emerging economies need a different development model

They have pursued GDP growth with little or no investment in human, social and natural capital. This does not bode well for the future of the world economy.

Nuclear disarmament: the case for engagement, not division

While understanding the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are key to acheiving disarmament, efforts for a new convention outside the nuclear non-proliferation treaty will only fragment the nuclear debate further.

In the carbon wars, big oil is winning

We humans have a choice: we can succumb to carbon’s gravitational pull and so suffer from increasingly harsh planetary conditions, or resist and avoid the most deadly consequences of climate change.

The wild west of surveillance

Here we have an anatomy of a surveillance world that grows more, not less, powerful and full of itself with every passing moment and technological advance, a national security world whose global ambitions know no bounds.

Fukushima’s future

When communities are devastated by disasters like earthquakes and nuclear explosions, how can they recover? In Fukushima, Japan, transformation may be the only option.

The Arctic disconnect

If long-term climate disruption is a reality, so is the prospect of short-term benefit for states such as Canada and Russia. But their governments' denial of climate change looks back not forward. 

Silence = death: Sarah Schulman on ACT UP, the forgotten resistance to the AIDS crisis

When the AIDS activist movement ACT UP was formed in New York in 1987, 50 per cent of Americans wanted people with AIDS quarantined, while 15 per cent favoured tattoos. An interview with Sarah Schulman on her film United In Anger: A History of ACT UP. 

Welcome to 'frackland': does a river have the right not to be polluted?

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas or ‘fracking’ is one of the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet. Halting its destructive impact requires regulation and community control, but also something much deeper: the transformation of relationships between society and nature.

Contemporary challenges in medicines access

One of the most recent advances has been to successfully advocate for the adoption of a Socially-Responsible Licensing policy on intellectual property (including therapeutic agents) developed by University College London, the latest in a series of public research institutions to do so.

The politics of numbers in the age of austerity

The inherent power of numbers explains why all sorts of data, good or bad, can become a potent weapon to shape complacency and subservience in society.

Volatile, stable and extractive participation

At a conference on the theme of ‘Participatory Cultural Citizenship’ in Aarhus, Denmark last November, Participation Now asked keynote speaker Chris Kelty about questions posed by his current research project: Who gets to decide what participation should be like? Who should be deciding? How might they decide this? Interview.

Rethinking security: from projecting power to preventing problems

The embrace of corporate partners by science and technology departments and the erosion of distinctions between the military and the police have been at the heart of disturbing security trends in the UK and elsewhere. The root causes of insecurity meanwhile go unaddressed.

Towards a twenty-first century society of control?

These highly complex systems literally disintegrate the spatial and geographical unity of political subjects, that is citizens, into streams of rights-less digital bits of data flow. No democratic system can survive and thrive in this context. But there is no going back.

The Tar Sands and the World Tree – can Ragnarok be avoided?

Norse mythology tells of Ragnarok, a cataclysmic disaster akin to ecocide. In order to avoid this fate we need new stories that reunite human experience with nature.

Sharing our future: how the world can avert climate chaos

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report calculated a ‘budget’ for greenhouse gas emissions  if global average temperature rise is to be contained within 1.5-2C. Amid fractious debates between rich and poor at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Phil England spoke to Christian Aid’s expert, Mohamed Adow, about how countries could agree to share the remaining allowable emissions.

Knowing your citizens, making publics

What sets public participation techniques apart from other ways for governments to know about citizens is the emphasis on deliberation between a small number of participants. Take fracking…

The nQuire young citizen inquiry

We want young scientists to develop a personal sense of wonder.

Mistaking omniscience for omnipotence

Everyone assumes the value of an increasingly para-militarized, bureaucratized, heavily funded creature we continue to call “intelligence,” even though remarkably little of what would commonsensically be called intelligence is actually on view.

Islam’s invented Golden Age

The introduction of print technology fundamentally changed the way one did scholarship in the madrasa. There were no manuscripts and margins, no reproduction and living engagement with a tradition of argumentation - one of a number of social, political, cultural, institutional, and technological factors explaining the current state of affairs.

Snowden and Socrates

In our liberal democracy, the democracy needs fixing before we can turn our thoughts to whether the liberalism needs fixing as well. The NSA should at last be able to jolt us into recognizing this.

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