Oil prices are now higher than they have ever been—except for a few frenzied moments before the global economic meltdown of 2008. Many immediate factors are contributing to this surge, including Iran’s threats to block oil shipping in the Persian Gulf, fears of a new Middle Eastern war, and turmoil in energy-rich Nigeria. Some of these pressures could ease in the months ahead, providing temporary relief at the gas pump. But the principal cause of higher prices—a fundamental shift in the structure of the oil industry—cannot be reversed, and so oil prices are destined to remain high for a long time to come.
A tough, necessary reminder, for sure. Keep reading …

Oil prices are now higher than they have ever been—except for a few frenzied moments before the global economic meltdown of 2008. Many immediate factors are contributing to this surge, including Iran’s threats to block oil shipping in the Persian Gulf, fears of a new Middle Eastern war, and turmoil in energy-rich Nigeria. Some of these pressures could ease in the months ahead, providing temporary relief at the gas pump. But the principal cause of higher prices—a fundamental shift in the structure of the oil industry—cannot be reversed, and so oil prices are destined to remain high for a long time to come.

A tough, necessary reminder, for sure. Keep reading …

Tags: oil news

Communicating negative feelings to others can be tricky. Oftentimes, social pressure pushes our expressed moods upward, making it difficult to articulate feelings honestly—outside of easily classifiable events like the death of a loved one or a painful break-up.
The stigma around negativity comes from a cultural obsession with optimism, psychologist Aaron Sackett of St. Thomas University told Psychology Today. For its first hundred-odd years, psychology focused almost exclusively on dysfunction—that is, what was clinically wrong with us. In the 1990s, the positive psychology movement reacted against this trend by emphasizing how otherwise healthy people could psychologically grow and thrive. As Psychology reporter Annie Murphy Paul argues, this idea was a perfect fit for the booming nineties, but cultural and social changes since then have made the message resonate less. And now, new research suggests that optimism and positivity may be less useful than once thought.
Keep reading …

Communicating negative feelings to others can be tricky. Oftentimes, social pressure pushes our expressed moods upward, making it difficult to articulate feelings honestly—outside of easily classifiable events like the death of a loved one or a painful break-up.

The stigma around negativity comes from a cultural obsession with optimism, psychologist Aaron Sackett of St. Thomas University told Psychology Today. For its first hundred-odd years, psychology focused almost exclusively on dysfunction—that is, what was clinically wrong with us. In the 1990s, the positive psychology movement reacted against this trend by emphasizing how otherwise healthy people could psychologically grow and thrive. As Psychology reporter Annie Murphy Paul argues, this idea was a perfect fit for the booming nineties, but cultural and social changes since then have made the message resonate less. And now, new research suggests that optimism and positivity may be less useful than once thought.

Keep reading …

A town without bookstores is like a town without churches or bars. Minus the hymnals and happy-hour specials, the best bookshops are vital community centers where patrons can gather, share ideas, and have grand revelations or quiet discoveries. When Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, New York, began to fail, it tapped into the strength of its community with an inspired idea: cooperative ownership.

Last spring, rather than shuttering its doors, Buffalo Street Books sold shares of the independent shop to 600-plus local “co-owners,” raising more than $250,000, reports Christina Palassio in This Magazine. Less than a year later, the co-op bookstore is thriving.

Keep reading …

You’ve heard of farm to table. Coming soon: park to table. This spring, in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle, seven acres of underused land will be transformed into the nation’s largest urban “food forest”—a community park planted with a cornucopia of produce that visitors are encouraged to harvest and eat, for free.

The Beacon Food Forest will be “an urban oasis of public food” offering a variety of edibles: apples and blueberries, herbs and vegetables, chestnuts and walnuts, persimmons and Asian pears.

Keep reading …

Death by Byline: An open letter from a Guatemalan reporter on living life under the gun.
Read the whole, morbid, grisly thing …

Death by Byline: An open letter from a Guatemalan reporter on living life under the gun.

Read the whole, morbid, grisly thing …

100,000 Lost Girls

How many children in the United States do you think are repeatedly raped for a tidy profit, pimped out by a relative, kept at a truck stop or hotel against their will for sexual servitude, or photographed for online porn? “As many as 100,000 girls are trafficked as sex slaves within the U.S.,” reports Sojourners, a magazine devoted to social justice. And the average age of entry into child prostitution or pornography? Between 12 and 14 years old.

Human sex trafficking might strike us as a distant overseas problem that plagues countries like Thailand and Cambodia, writes Sojourners, but “the United States has also been a leader of the pack.” The U.S. child sex trade is neatly facilitated through seemingly benign classified ad sites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.com, where users can purchase anything from a used Honda to an escort, stripper, or other “adult job”—except by no means are all the people performing the sex work limited to adults, nor are they there by choice.

Keep reading …

In late December, the lot was just a big blank: a few burgundy metal  shipping containers sitting in an expanse of crushed eggshell-colored  gravel inside a razor-wire-topped fence.  The American military in  Afghanistan doesn’t want to talk about it, but one day soon, it will be a  new hub for the American drone war in the Greater Middle East.
Next year, that empty lot will be a two-story concrete  intelligence facility for America’s drone war, brightly lit and filled  with powerful computers kept in climate-controlled comfort in a country  where most of the population has no access to electricity.   It will boast almost 7,000 square feet of offices, briefing and  conference rooms, and a large “processing, exploitation, and  dissemination” operations center—and, of course, it will be built with  American tax dollars.
Keep reading …

In late December, the lot was just a big blank: a few burgundy metal shipping containers sitting in an expanse of crushed eggshell-colored gravel inside a razor-wire-topped fence.  The American military in Afghanistan doesn’t want to talk about it, but one day soon, it will be a new hub for the American drone war in the Greater Middle East.

Next year, that empty lot will be a two-story concrete intelligence facility for America’s drone war, brightly lit and filled with powerful computers kept in climate-controlled comfort in a country where most of the population has no access to electricity.  It will boast almost 7,000 square feet of offices, briefing and conference rooms, and a large “processing, exploitation, and dissemination” operations center—and, of course, it will be built with American tax dollars.

Keep reading …

The Nature Conservancy is taking a new stripped-down approach to  environmental protection: The green group is teaming up with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and online luxury retailer Gilt to raise money for beach  preservation in an unholy mashup of sex, commerce, marketing,  publishing, and environmentalism.
Why the green tie-in? “Because everyone benefits from pristine  tropical beaches. Especially when they’re occupied by gorgeous women in  bathing suits.” That’s according to promotional prose about the  partnership on the Gilt website, in an announcement that is no longer  posted. (Though you can still buy a $1,000 ticket to a New York launch party where you can hang out with the swimsuit supermodels.)
Environmental writer Derrick Jensen of Orion already saw this  sort of thing coming, having penned a prescient column in the current  issue titled “Not in My Name.” Go ahead and call him a killjoy, but I  think he pretty much nailed it:

Let me say upfront: I like fun, and I like sex. But I’m sick  to death of hearing that we need to make environmentalism fun and sexy. …  The fact that so many people routinely call for environmentalism to be  more fun and more sexy reveals not only the weakness of our movement but  also the utter lack of seriousness with which even many activists  approach the problems we face. …
Unfortunately, the notion that activism … has to be fun and  sexy pervades the entire environmental movement, from the most  self-styled radical to the most mainstream reformist.


Keep reading …

The Nature Conservancy is taking a new stripped-down approach to environmental protection: The green group is teaming up with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and online luxury retailer Gilt to raise money for beach preservation in an unholy mashup of sex, commerce, marketing, publishing, and environmentalism.

Why the green tie-in? “Because everyone benefits from pristine tropical beaches. Especially when they’re occupied by gorgeous women in bathing suits.” That’s according to promotional prose about the partnership on the Gilt website, in an announcement that is no longer posted. (Though you can still buy a $1,000 ticket to a New York launch party where you can hang out with the swimsuit supermodels.)

Environmental writer Derrick Jensen of Orion already saw this sort of thing coming, having penned a prescient column in the current issue titled “Not in My Name.” Go ahead and call him a killjoy, but I think he pretty much nailed it:

Let me say upfront: I like fun, and I like sex. But I’m sick to death of hearing that we need to make environmentalism fun and sexy. … The fact that so many people routinely call for environmentalism to be more fun and more sexy reveals not only the weakness of our movement but also the utter lack of seriousness with which even many activists approach the problems we face. …

Unfortunately, the notion that activism … has to be fun and sexy pervades the entire environmental movement, from the most self-styled radical to the most mainstream reformist.

Keep reading …

Criminalizing HIV: Well-intentioned legislation is paving the road to stigmatization and discrimination in Africa.
In Burundi, a willful transmitter of HIV can be tried for murder. In  Benin, failure to disclose one’s health status to a sexual partner,  regardless of whether a virus is actually transmitted, is illegal. In  Togo, it’s unlawful for anyone—regardless of HIV status—to have sex  without a condom.
These laws, which are increasingly common in Africa, are intended to  stem the spread of HIV, writes social justice blogger Julie Turkewitz in  The Indypendent, but the legislation has the opposite effect—it further stigmatizes carriers and discourages testing.
Keep reading …

Criminalizing HIV: Well-intentioned legislation is paving the road to stigmatization and discrimination in Africa.

In Burundi, a willful transmitter of HIV can be tried for murder. In Benin, failure to disclose one’s health status to a sexual partner, regardless of whether a virus is actually transmitted, is illegal. In Togo, it’s unlawful for anyone—regardless of HIV status—to have sex without a condom.

These laws, which are increasingly common in Africa, are intended to stem the spread of HIV, writes social justice blogger Julie Turkewitz in The Indypendent, but the legislation has the opposite effect—it further stigmatizes carriers and discourages testing.

Keep reading …

By almost every measure, Cupertino High School in northern California is  a successful place. Perched in the heart of Silicon Valley, Cupertino  sent 85 percent of its senior class to college in 2009, and hundreds of  its students take advanced placement classes each year.
But some of Cupertino’s kids are doing better than others. On average,  students there excel on California’s Academic Performance Index. The  target is 800; Cupertino students scored 893. Latino students, however,  who make up 10 percent of the school’s population, scored 780, just  under the statewide goal.
Recently, a group of social and cognitive psychologists have  hypothesized that at least some academic disparities spring from toxic  stereotypes that cause ethnic-minority and other students to question  whether they belong in school and can do well there. While such a major  problem might seem to require widespread social change, the  psychologists are finding that quick classroom exercises that bolster  students’ resistance to stereotypes can make a surprisingly large  difference.
They’ve gotten dramatic results: In one of the  best-known studies, low-performing black middle school students who  completed several 15-minute classroom writing exercises raised their  GPAs by nearly half a point over two years, compared with a control  group.
A growing body of evidence also shows that the  interventions can work, not only among black middle school students, but  also for women, minority college students, and other populations.
“When  this was first described to me, I was skeptical,” says physics  professor Michael Dubson, who participated in one of the studies. “But  now that I think about it, we all know that it’s possible to damage a  student in 15 minutes. It’s easy to wreck someone’s self-esteem. So if  that’s possible, then maybe it’s also possible to improve it.”
Keep reading …

By almost every measure, Cupertino High School in northern California is a successful place. Perched in the heart of Silicon Valley, Cupertino sent 85 percent of its senior class to college in 2009, and hundreds of its students take advanced placement classes each year.

But some of Cupertino’s kids are doing better than others. On average, students there excel on California’s Academic Performance Index. The target is 800; Cupertino students scored 893. Latino students, however, who make up 10 percent of the school’s population, scored 780, just under the statewide goal.

Recently, a group of social and cognitive psychologists have hypothesized that at least some academic disparities spring from toxic stereotypes that cause ethnic-minority and other students to question whether they belong in school and can do well there. While such a major problem might seem to require widespread social change, the psychologists are finding that quick classroom exercises that bolster students’ resistance to stereotypes can make a surprisingly large difference.

They’ve gotten dramatic results: In one of the best-known studies, low-performing black middle school students who completed several 15-minute classroom writing exercises raised their GPAs by nearly half a point over two years, compared with a control group.

A growing body of evidence also shows that the interventions can work, not only among black middle school students, but also for women, minority college students, and other populations.

“When this was first described to me, I was skeptical,” says physics professor Michael Dubson, who participated in one of the studies. “But now that I think about it, we all know that it’s possible to damage a student in 15 minutes. It’s easy to wreck someone’s self-esteem. So if that’s possible, then maybe it’s also possible to improve it.”

Keep reading …