Saturday, 26 May 2012

Speech: Carne Ross - An independent diplomat

After 15 years in the British diplomatic corps, Carne Ross became a "freelance diplomat," running a bold nonprofit that gives small, developing and yet-unrecognized nations a voice in international relations. At the BIF-5 conference, he calls for a new kind of diplomacy that gives voice to small countries, that works with changing boundaries and that welcomes innovation.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Speech: Brené Brown - The power of vulnerability (TED)

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Documentary: Zeitgeist - Moving Forward (2011)

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which presents a case for a transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society.

This subject matter transcends the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and moves to relate the core, empirical "life ground" attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a "Resource-Based Economy".

Video: Carne Ross on Being Agents of Change

If you're disillusioned about government, know that you aren’t entirely powerless to create change. So says Bill's guest Carne Ross. Once the rising star of British diplomacy and now a global activist, Ross’ book The Leaderless Revolution outlines ways to create alternative systems of governance and commerce.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Documentary: Catastroika (2012)

The creators of Debtocracy, a documentary viewed by millions of people around the world, present their new production, entitled CATASTROIKA, on the website

The documentary uncovers the forthcoming results of the current sell-off of the Greek public assets, demanded in order to face the country's enormous sovereign debt. Turning to the examples of London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Rome, CATASTROIKA predicts what will happen, if the model imposed in these areas is imported in a country under international financial tutelage.

Slavoj Zizek, Naomi Klein, Luis Sepulveda, Ken Loach and Greg Palast talk about the austerity measures, the Greek government as well as the attack against Democracy on Europe, after the general spreading of the financial crisis. Academics and specialists like Dani Rodrik, Alex Callinicos, Ben Fine, Costas Douzinas, Dean Baker and Aditya Chakrabortty present unknown aspects of the privatization programs in Greece and abroad.

Just like Debtocracy, CATASTROIKA is co-produced by the public, which contributed both financially and with ideas to its creation. The documentary will be available free of charge, under creative commons license. High-resolution files will be available for TV and cinema broadcasts in various languages.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Documentary: The Argentina Experiment

A documentary film about the economic collapse of Argentina (2001-2002), accelerated by the International Monetary Fund which was supposed to assist the country.
By the journalist Yorgos Avgeropoulos, part of the internationally awarded series "Exandas Documentaries" (NET). With English subtitles (unofficial).

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Video: Kim Dotcom Exclusive Interview: "I will fight this and win"

Campbell Live has spoken exclusively with Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom in his first TV interview since being arrested.
Dotcom faces a barrage of FBI charges relating to the operation of his file sharing company Megaupload.

John Campbell spoke with the internet millionaire about the charges -- which include racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering -- the internet, his time in jail and the whole business model surrounding Hollywood.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Quote: Not everyone is ready to be unplugged

"The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it."

- Morpheus (The Matrix, 1999

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Documentary: The Power of Nightmares - by Adam Curtis (2004)

The Power of Nightmares , Episode 1
Baby It's Cold Outside

The first part of the series explains the origin of Islamism and Neo-Conservatism. It shows Egyptian civil servant Sayyid Qutb, depicted as the founder of modern Islamist thought, visiting the U.S. to learn about the education system, but becoming disgusted with what he saw as a corruption of morals and virtues in western society through individualism. When he returns to Egypt, he is disturbed by westernisation under Gamal Abdel Nasser and becomes convinced that in order to save society it must be completely restructured along the lines of Islamic law while still using western technology. He also becomes convinced that this can only be accomplished through the use of an elite "vanguard" to lead a revolution against the established order. Qutb becomes a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and, after being tortured in one of Nasser's jails, comes to believe that western-influenced leaders can justly be killed for the sake of removing their corruption. Qutb is executed in 1966, but he influences the future mentor of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to start his own secret Islamist group. Inspired by the 1979 Iranian revolution, Zawahiri and his allies assassinate Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat, in 1981, in hopes of starting their own revolution. The revolution does not materialise, and Zawahiri comes to believe that the majority of Muslims have been corrupted not only by their western-inspired leaders, but Muslims themselves have been affected by jahilliyah and thus both may be legitimate targets of violence if they do not join him. They continued to have the belief that a vanguard was necessary to rise up and overthrow the corrupt regime and replace with a pure Islamist state.

At the same time in the United States, a group of disillusioned liberals, including Irving Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz, look to the political thinking of Leo Strauss after the perceived failure of President Johnson's "Great Society". They come to the conclusion that the emphasis on individual liberty was the undoing of the plan. They envisioned restructuring America by uniting the American people against a common evil, and set about creating a mythical enemy. These factions, the Neo-Conservatives, came to power under the Reagan administration, with their allies Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and work to unite the United States in fear of the Soviet Union. The Neo-Conservatives allege the Soviet Union is not following the terms of disarmament between the two countries, and, with the investigation of "Team B", they accumulate a case to prove this with dubious evidence and methods. President Reagan is convinced nonetheless.


The Power of Nightmares , Episode 2
The Phantom Victory

In the second episode, Islamist factions, rapidly falling under the more radical influence of Zawahiri and his rich Saudi acolyte Osama bin Laden, join the Neo-Conservative-influenced Reagan Administration to combat the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. When the Soviets eventually pull out and when the Eastern Bloc begins to collapse in the late 1980s, both groups believe they are the primary architects of the "Evil Empire's" defeat. Curtis argues that the Soviets were on their last legs anyway, and were doomed to collapse without intervention.

However, the Islamists see it quite differently, and in their triumph believe that they had the power to create 'pure' Islamic states in Egypt and Algeria. However, attempts to create perpetual Islamic states are blocked by force. The Islamists then try to create revolutions in Egypt and Algeria by the use of terrorism to scare the people into rising up. However, the people were terrified by the violence and the Algerian government uses their fear as a way to maintain power. In the end, the Islamists declare the entire populations of the countries as inherently contaminated by western values, and finally in Algeria turn on each other, each believing that other terrorist groups are not pure enough Muslims either.

In America, the Neo-Conservatives' aspirations to use the United States military power for further destruction of evil are thrown off track by the ascent of George H. W. Bush to the presidency, followed by the 1992 election of Bill Clinton leaving them out of power. The Neo-Conservatives, with their conservative Christian allies, attempt to demonise Clinton throughout his presidency with various real and fabricated stories of corruption and immorality. To their disappointment, however, the American people do not turn against Clinton. The Islamist attempts at revolution end in massive bloodshed, leaving the Islamists without popular support. Zawahiri and bin Laden flee to the sufficiently safe Afghanistan and declare a new strategy; to fight Western-inspired moral decay they must deal a blow to its source: the United States.


The Power of Nightmares , Episode 3
The Shadows in the Cave

The final episode addresses the actual rise of al-Qaeda. Curtis argues that, after their failed revolutions, bin Laden and Zawahiri had little or no popular support, let alone a serious complex organisation of terrorists, and were dependent upon independent operatives to carry out their new call for jihad. However, the film argues that in order to prosecute bin Laden in absentia for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, US prosecutors had to prove he was the head of a criminal organisation responsible for the bombings. They find a former associate of bin Laden, Jamal al-Fadl, and pay him to testify that bin Laden was the head of a massive terrorist organisation called "al-Qaeda". With the September 11th attacks, Neo-Conservatives in the new Republican government of George W. Bush use this created concept of an organisation to justify another crusade against a new evil enemy, leading to the launch of the War on Terrorism.

After the American invasion of Afghanistan fails to uproot the alleged terrorist network, the Neo-Conservatives focus inwards, searching unsuccessfully for terrorist sleeper cells in America. They then extend the war on "terror" to a war against general perceived evils with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The ideas and tactics also spread to the United Kingdom where Tony Blair uses the threat of terrorism to give him a new moral authority. The repercussions of the Neo-Conservative strategy are also explored with an investigation of indefinitely-detained terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, many allegedly taken on the word of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance without actual investigation on the part of the United States military, and other forms of "preemption" against non-existent and unlikely threats made simply on the grounds that the parties involved could later become a threat. Curtis also makes a specific attempt to allay fears of a dirty bomb attack, and concludes by reassuring viewers that politicians will eventually have to concede that some threats are exaggerated and others altogether devoid of reality. "In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power."

Article: Noam Chomsky and the Struggle Against Neoliberalism

Original Article written by Robert W. McChesney for - Thursday 1, April 1999

Neoliberalism is the defining political economic paradigm of our time - it refers to the policies and processes whereby a relative handful of private interests are permitted to control as much as possible of social life in order to maximize their personal profit. Associated initially with Reagan and Thatcher, neoliberalism has for the past two decades been the dominant global political economic trend adopted by political parties of the center, much of the traditional left, and the right. These parties and the policies they enact represent the immediate interests of extremely wealthy investors and less than one thousand large corporations.

Aside from some academics and members of the business community, the term neoliberalism is largely unknown and unused by the public at large, especially in the United States. There, to the contrary, neoliberal initiatives are characterized as free market policies that encourage private enterprise and consumer choice, reward personal responsibility and entrepreneurial initiative, and undermine the dead hand of the incompetent, bureaucratic, and parasitic government, which can never do good (even when well intentioned, which it rarely is). A generation of corporate-financed public relations efforts has given these terms and ideas a near-sacred aura. As a result, these phrases and the claims they imply rarely require empirical defense, and are invoked to rationalize anything from lowering taxes on the wealthy and scrapping environmental regulations to dismantling public education and social welfare programs. Indeed, any activity that might interfere with corporate domination of society is automatically suspect because it would impede the workings of the free market, which is advanced as the only rational, fair, and democratic allocator of goods and services. At their most eloquent, proponents of neoliberalism sound as if they are doing poor people, the environment, and everybody else a tremendous service as they enact policies on behalf of the wealthy few.

The economic consequences of these policies have been the same just about everywhere, and exactly what one would expect: a massive increase in social and economic inequality, a marked increase in severe deprivation for the poorest nations and peoples of the world, a disastrous global environment, an unstable global economy, and an unprecedented bonanza for the wealthy. Confronted with these facts, defenders of the neoliberal order claim that the spoils of the good life will invariably spread to the broad mass of the population - as long as the neoliberal policies that exacerbated these problems are not interfered with by anyone!

In the end, proponents of neoliberalism cannot and do not offer an empirical defense for the world they are making. To the contrary, they offer - no, demand - a religious faith in

Friday, 11 May 2012

Speech: Rory Sutherland - Perspective is everything

The circumstances of our lives may matter less than how we see them, says Rory Sutherland. At TEDxAthens, he makes a compelling case for how reframing is the key to happiness.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Documentary: Debtocracy

For the first time in Greece, a documentary produced by the audience. “Debtocracy” seeks the causes of the debt crisis and proposes solutions sidelined by the government and the dominant media. The documentary is distributed online under creative commons licence since April 6, 2011, subtitled in six languages.

Aris Chatzistefanou and Katerina Kitidi discuss with economists, journalists and intellectuals from all over the world, who describe the steps that led Greece to the current debt trap –to debtocracy. The documentary follows the course of countries like Ecuador, which created Audit Commissions, and tracks the similar process in Greece.

Debtocracy features the academics David Harvey, Samir Amin, Costas Lapavitsas and Gerard Dumenil; the philosopher Alain Badiou; the head of Ecuador’s Audit Commission Hugo Arias; the president of CADTM Eric Toussaint; journalists like Avi Lewis (co-creator of the documentary “The Take”) and Jean Quatremer; as well as public figures like Manolis Glezos and Sahra Wagenknecht (from the German party Die Linke).

The creators of “Debtocracy” worked pro bono. In order to avoid any kind of dependencies, they turned to syndicates and workers’ unions for funding. Mainly though, they turned to the citizens, who helped in co-producing the film. The public’s response was overwhelming and it led us to undertake a new project: the documentary Catastroika, on which you can read more here:

Article: Those Revolting Europeans

Original Article written by Paul Krugman for The New York Times (Opinions) - Sunday 6, May 2012

The French are revolting. The Greeks, too. And it’s about time.

Both countries held elections Sunday that were in effect referendums on the current European economic strategy, and in both countries voters turned two thumbs down. It’s far from clear how soon the votes will lead to changes in actual policy, but time is clearly running out for the strategy of recovery through austerity — and that’s a good thing.

Needless to say, that’s not what you heard from the usual suspects in the run-up to the elections. It was actually kind of funny to see the apostles of orthodoxy trying to portray the cautious, mild-mannered François Hollande as a figure of menace. He is “rather dangerous,” declared The Economist, which observed that he “genuinely believes in the need to create a fairer society.” Quelle horreur!

What is true is that Mr. Hollande’s victory means the end of “Merkozy,” the Franco-German axis that has enforced the austerity regime of the past two years. This would be a “dangerous” development if that strategy were working, or even had a reasonable chance of working. But it isn’t and doesn’t; it’s time to move on. Europe’s voters, it turns out, are wiser than the Continent’s best and brightest.

What’s wrong with the prescription of spending cuts as the remedy for Europe’s ills? One answer is that the confidence fairy doesn’t exist — that is, claims that slashing government spending would somehow encourage consumers and businesses to spend more have been overwhelmingly refuted by the experience of the past two years. So spending cuts in a depressed economy just make the depression deeper.

Moreover, there seems to be little if any gain in return for the pain. Consider the case of Ireland, which has been a good soldier in this crisis, imposing ever-harsher austerity in an attempt to win back the favor of the bond markets. According to the prevailing orthodoxy,

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Article: Word order: The internet as the toy with a tin ear

Original Article written by Lewis H Lapham for Al Jazeera (English) - Monday 30, April 2012

How have communication advancements degraded the way people use languages today?

"I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse" - Emperor Charles V

But in which language does one speak to a machine, and what can be expected by way of response? The questions arise from the accelerating data-streams out of which we've learned to draw the breath of life, posed in consultation with the equi
pment that scans the flesh and tracks the spirit, cues the ATM, the GPS, and the EKG, arranges the assignations on and the high-frequency trades at Goldman Sachs, catalogues
the pornography and drives the car, tells us how and when and where to connect the dots and thus recognise ourselves as human beings.
Why then does it come to pass that the more data we collect - from Google, YouTube, and Facebook - the less likely we are to know what it means?

The conundrum is in line with the late Marshall McLuhan's noticing, 50 years ago, of the presence of "an acoustic world", one with "no continuity, no homogeneity, no connections, no stasis", a new "information environment of which humanity has no experience whatever". He published Understanding Media in 1964, proceeding from the premise that "we become what we behold", that "we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us".

Media were to be understood as "make-happen agents" rather than as "make-aware agents", not as art or philosophy but as systems comparable with roads and waterfalls and sewers. Content follows form; new means of communication give rise to new structures of feeling and thought.

To account for the transference of the idioms of print to those of the electronic media, McLuhan examined two technological revolutions that overturned the epistemological status quo. First, in the mid-15th century, Johannes Gutenberg's invention of moveable type,

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Speech: Cameron Sinclair - Open-source Architecture

Accepting his 2006 TED Prize, Cameron Sinclair demonstrates how passionate designers and architects can respond to world housing crises. He unveils his TED Prize wish for a network to improve global living standards through collaborative design.