Archive for October, 2013


Emma Donoghue in conversation with Sir Michael Rutter CBE FRS. This event was organised in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature and was held as part of the 2013 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Is the understanding of children a science or an art? Emma Donoghue’s seventh novel, Room, which has been garlanded with prizes and has sold over a million copies, explores the mind of a five-year-old, Jack, whose whole world is an 11 ft-square garden shed shared with his mother. Donoghue drew inspiration from ancient myths and from the horrific crimes of Josef Fritzl, but she has described the locked room as ‘a metaphor for the claustrophobic, tender bond of parenthood’, and much of the novel was based on close observation of her son, Finn. In a conversation chaired by Susannah Herbert, former literary editor of The Sunday Times, she talks to Sir Michael Rutter FRS, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, about the enduring emotional consequences of significant childhood experiences, and the long-term effects of psychological and physical neglect on the development of the brain.

Emma Donoghue is an award-winning author. Sir Michael Rutter CBE FRS is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry. This event is chaired by Susannah Herbert who is Executive Director at the Forward Arts Foundation and former editor of the Sunday Times News Review

Warming up, yet waking up…?

Executive Summary…

• Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percentage points over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent in January 2010 to 70 percent in September 2012.

• At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to 12 percent today.

• Those who believe global warming is happening are more certain than those who do not. Over half of Americans who believe global warming is happening (57%) say they are “very” (30%) or “extremely sure” (27%).

• By contrast, for the first time since 2008, fewer than 50 percent of the unconvinced are very (27%) or extremely sure of their view (15%), a decrease of 15 percentage points since March 2012.

• For the first time since 2008, more than half of Americans (54%) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 8 points since March 2012. The proportion of Americans who say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment has declined to 30 percent (from 37% in March).

• For the first time since November 2008, Americans are more likely to believe most scientists agree that global warming is happening than believe there is disagreement on the subject (44% versus 36%, respectively). This is an increase of 9 points since March 2012.

• Today over half of Americans (58%) say they are “somewhat” or “very worried” – now at its highest level since November 2008.

• Americans increasingly perceive global warming as a threat to themselves (42%, up 13 points since March 2012), their families (46%, up 13 points), and/or people in their communities (48%, up 14 percentage points).

• Global warming is also perceived as a growing threat to people in the United States (57%, up 11 points since March 2012), in other modern industrialized countries (57%, up 8 points since March), and in developing countries (64%, up 12 points since March).

• A growing number of Americans believe global warming is already harming people both at home and abroad. Four in ten say people around the world are being harmed right now by climate change (40%, up 8 percentage points since March 2012), while 36 percent say global warming is currently harming people in the United States (up 6 points since March).

• Three out of four Americans (76%) say they trust climate scientists as a source of information about global warming, making them the most trusted source asked about in the survey. Scientists (who do not specialize in climate) are also trusted by a majority of Americans (67%), as are TV weather reporters (60%).

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AlterNet carried a story a few years back about APA report,’ Psychology and Global Climate Change: Addressing a Multi-faceted Phenomenon and Set of Challenges’ …bit of backstory below and full download open source…with disturbing new IPCC findings currently being released, we thought it well worth another look…

 Janet Swim, a social psychologist at Penn State, suggested the APA (American Psychological Association) create a task force to examine the relationship between psychology and climate change, two topics that weren’t readily connected for many APA members, let alone the broader climate science community.

“When I first thought about this, I had a limited range of what psychology could do,” Swim said. “I had no idea we’d end up with a 240-page report.” 

“Just as one might puzzle over the collapse of vanished regional civilizations like the Maya of Central America, the Anasazi of North America, the Norse of Greenland, and the people of Easter Island,” the report reads, “future generations may find it incomprehensible that people, particularly in industrialized countries, continued until well into the 21st century to engage in behavior that seriously compromised the habitability of their own countries and the planet.”

APA synopsis of Section 3: What are the psychosocial impacts of climate change?

Although they cannot be described with certainty given current research, the cumulative and interacting psychosocial effects of climate change are likely to be profound. Heat, extreme weather events, and increased competition for scarce environmental resources, compounded by preexisting inequalities and disproportionate impacts among groups and nations, will affect interpersonal and intergroup behavior and may result in increasing stress and anxiety. Even in the absence of direct impacts, the perception and fear of climate change may threaten mental health. However, there is reason to believe that positive consequences are also possible, as people take collective responsibility for a shared problem.

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Professor Maggie Snowling FBA FBPsS

About the lecture…

Without the ability to read fluently and with accurate comprehension, for many children there can be a downward spiral of poor educational achievement and career prospects. Studies following the development of children at family-risk of dyslexia have revealed that it is associated with language delays and speech difficulties in pre-school years before reading instruction even begins. Literacy outcomes in children depend not only on the risk factors that predispose reading difficulties but also on protective factors which mitigate the risk. Join Professor Snowling as she discusses the impact dyslexia has on society and asks whether it is possible to intervene early to ameliorate its impact.

About the speaker…

Professor Maggie Snowling FBA is President of St. John’s College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She was a member of the Rose Review on Dyslexia and is Past-President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. She is also a fellow of Academy of Medical Sciences.

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Lou Reed at Occupy Lincoln Center…

The late, great Lou Reed with Laurie Anderson joined Occupy Wall Street and Philip Glass to protest for free speech and assembly and against colonial-style arts funding, after the last performance of Glass’s “Satyagraha” opera at Lincoln Center Dec. 2011…

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animation: NASA

Anthropogenic climate change is the increase in average global temperatures due to human-caused changes in the earth’s atmosphere. Humans are intensifying the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by releasing gases that trap heat energy, including carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. These gases are changing in the chemical makeup of the atmosphere, leading to changes in the global climate. Overall, human release of greenhouse gas emissions leads to a rise in average global temperatures. At regional levels, this temperature increase can manifest in different ways depending on local factors.

There is a strong consensus amongst climate scientists, backed by decades of peer-reviewed research, that human greenhouse gas emissions are leading to unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate.  If emissions exceed a critical ‘tipping point’, the planet is likely to be on course for abrupt or accelerated climate change, with grave risks to humans and ecosystems.


Reports & Studies


Helpful Links

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“All of the prediction models suggest we are on a worst case trajectory and some cases worse than the worst case.”

James Murdoch, ‘This much I know’, Observer (UK), 7 June 2009 – via Murdoch’s Politics, David McKnight, Pluto Press (2013)

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The relentless pursuit of profit is killing people, homogenizing human life and destroying our planet. Billions of us consumer citizens being  subjected to a seemingly eternal onslaught of mendacious, managerialistic and euphemistic twaddle…conditioned by Global Murdoch,  PR and additional forms of propaganda. It’s no accident in a way that Edward Bernays, originator of ‘Public Relations’,  was part of the Freud dynasty…Sigmund’s nephew, infact…’Good PR’ – as in effective – is invisible, but the impact, indelible…

20 or so years ago, an ex CEO of Washington-based PR corporation Hill & Knowlton….gave a lecture that was to prove infamous, in which he held in the one hand that morning’s edition of the NY Times, and in the other, a red marker pen, and he said something like…

“OK. This is today’s Times. I’m gonna circle with the marker every piece of editorial content that I know is derived from the PR industry. The paid advertising is already obvious, so I’ll leave that alone…I won’t circle that. …”

He then proceeded to circle what would amount to 70% of all edit content…page after broadsheet page, filled up with those red circles. He then expressed regret over his pivotal role in selling Gulf war One to middle America and beyond…

Under this man’s watch, Hill & Knowlton were hired 1990 by the Kuwaiti Royal Family, and they pioneered the VNR – video news release – as a core communications solution to drumming up public awareness of Kuwait and “them dastardly Iraqis and that baad, baad maaan, Sadaaammm…”

‘…Hello Kuwaiti Royal Family, wanna know how to get right inside the heads of several hundred million Americans who currently have neither knowledge or care of your existence ???’

‘…Errr, well, YES. Yes please…’

Thousands upon thousands of video cassettes were churned out to hundreds, if not thousands of US tv news stations, channels…coast to coast, border to border…far and wide…couriered by new networks like Fed Ex…and this every day, en masse, for more than a year…

One of the first VNRs contained footage of testimony to a US Joint Session of Congress Hearing on alleged Iraqi atrocities…This was the emotive and galvanising testimony by a young woman who addressed the hearing in person, claiming to have been a nurse at Kuwait General hospital…before Congress…under oath…describing babies being taken out of incubators by invading Iraqi forces…this testimony was released on thousands of VNRs…BUT….as Wikipedia and the annals of history remind us…

Nayirah Testimony refers to the controversial testimony given before the non-governmental Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990, by a female who provided only her first name, Nayirah. In her emotional testimony, Nayirah stated that after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die. Though reporters did not then have access to Kuwait, her testimony was regarded as credible at the time and was widely publicized. It was cited numerous times by United States senators and the president in their rationale to back Kuwait in the Gulf War.

Her story was initially corroborated by Amnesty International[1] and testimony from evacuees. Following the liberation of Kuwait, reporters were given access to the country. An ABC report found that “patients, including premature babies, did die, when many of Kuwait’s nurses and doctors..fled” but Iraqi troops “almost certainly had not stolen hospital incubators and left hundreds of Kuwaiti babies to die.”[2][3]

In 1992, it was revealed that Nayirah’s last name was al-Ṣabaḥ (Arabic: نيره الصباح‎) and that she was the daughter of Saud bin Nasir Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign which was run by Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government. Following this, al-Sabah’s testimony has largely come to be regarded as wartime propaganda.

Making a killing?

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended the use of the term “illegal arrivals” to describe asylum seekers, saying he is “calling a spade a spade”. (ABC News 21/10/13)

Here at the interpretOr, we are defending use of the term ‘gutless, nasty and deeply foul CONservative’ in describing Morrison, as we too are now “calling a spade a spade”

If you want to peel back the layers of deception pro-Israel groups and the media have created, Max Blumenthal’s new book.Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is the perfect place to start. It’s the bluntest book you’ll read about the state of Israeli society, as it looks deep into the soul of an ethnocracy that dominates the lives of millions of Palestinians…

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Blumenthal’s book, based on four years of on-the-ground reporting and research, takes the reader from the occupied West Bank to prisons for African refugees to Palestinian areas within Israel. Through a series of profiles and vignettes, he paints a devastating portrait of a country obsessed with demographics bent on permanently subjugating the non-Jews who live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan Riverclick here for interview with Max Blumenthal @ AlterNet

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. His new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, is in stores now. His 2009 book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.

greenpeace

Ana Paula is a 31-year old from Brazil who wanted to peacefully protest Russia’s plans to drill the Arctic. Now she, along with her 29 crewmates from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, is locked in a Russian jail with no release in sight. But we can throw her and the rest of her crew a lifeline.

The Greenpeace staff, some in solitary confinement, are now facing fifteen years in prison on trumped up charges of piracy. Their crime? Hanging a banner on a Russian oil rig to protest dangerous deepwater drilling in one of the earth’s most beautiful and fragile places. Many western governments have already spoken out, but now Ana Paula and Greenpeace are asking the Avaaz community to help build a truly global outcry. 

Together we can call on some of Russia’s strongest trade and political partners — Brazil, India, South Africa and the EU — to call for the release of the Arctic 30. Let’s reach 1 million to free Ana Paula and her friends. Once we hit that mark, Avaaz will project their faces in key public places to keep this story at the top of the news. (Avazz

click here to sign the petition via Avazz

Andy Forrest, welcome to Earthtalk.

 – G’day Breeonezlet, pleasure to be here…

Ok. Mr Forrest, as you know, this interview is likely to be reaching planets that are not entirely familiar with your profession. Can you describe a typical working day?

– Umm, yes. Yes, Breeonezlet, I can describe such a day. I tend to wear leeesure denims, nice shirts that are untucked, and I’m in charge of my very own mining company. We dig up iron ore – a vital resource. We keep the world turning.

 An important job, is it, back there on Earth?

– For me, mining is my life, my passion…kinda almost a religion.

Mr Forrest, how do your people feel about this ‘mining religion’?

– Look, at the end of the day, my people are very content, moving forwards.

 Mr Forrest, we understand that your area of Earth was populated by ‘traditional owners’ for around 35,000 of your Earth years. Can you describe your joy in sharing the bounty of the ‘mining religion’ with other ‘traditional owners’?

– Umm…well…My family have a long history in Western Australia, going as far back as the NINETEENTH CENTURY, Breeonezlet…quite frankly, we, umm…

Mr Forrest, you’re obviously a bright and numerate man, how does that compare to 350 centuries? 

– Well, the point is, the point is really…

 Mr Forrest, thank you. We’d better leave it there for now. Best wishes with your ‘mining religion’ job and we appreciate your time.

Well, viewers, that was Mr Forrest, one of Earth’s leading ‘miners’.  As we saw, he seemed reluctant to put his income source into perspective – this trait also has been a theme of this series on ‘Earth: roles, incomes and the future’

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The age of the superhuman

Christian Jarrett gets to grips with cyborg technology

I never forget a face!

Josh P. Davis, Ashok Jansari and Karen Lander investigate super-recognisers in the police and the general public

Who will become a super artist?
Jennifer E. Drake and Ellen Winner consider the significance of exceptional drawing skills in childhood

The super-altruists
Tom Farsides considers whether there is such a thing, and its potential cost

Searching for superhuman
Christopher C. French navigates the outer limits as he considers how psychologists should respond to extraordinary claims

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Current issue: October 2013

… Syrian crisis special report: US, France, Iran, UN; Germany, Merkel’s hat-trick, workers’ changing loyalties; US, decline of Detroit; Brazil, big business; Balkans, who lives where?North Korea, re-educating refugees; Burmese labour for Thailand’s fish trade; watching tv in China … and more…

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Sri Lanka’s toxic climate of intolerance and fear…

the interpretOr

Sri Lanka, June 2013: intolerance and fear

“…A climate of intolerance and fear continues to sweep the island as the government’s stranglehold on the population grows ever tighter. In March, Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached after declaring a government bill unconstitutional.

Lawyers working on torture and other human rights cases have been targeted and harassed. Meanwhile, the cases of Kumar, Poddala and the many activists who have disappeared have not been independently or credibly investigated.

Yet the authorities claim that their human rights record has improved – a claim reinforced by their selection as hosts of the November meeting of Commonwealth leaders. It is a whitewash of immense proportions, says Poddala.

“I can’t understand why the Commonwealth has decided to do this,” he told us, “because no civil society organization is allowed to function there. There are no human rights in Sri Lanka.”

…for more on this story, click through…

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