This came through the grapevine (email) from Danny Postel:
The Century Foundation are partners with openDemocracy in the Ethical Edge debate series at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Next debate should be in a month or two, and you will be invited.
Galloping horses at World Bank
The United States has 17% of the share capital and 100% of the power when it comes to appointing the new head of the World Bank. Not everyone is wild about this situation, as Alex Wilks recently reported for openDemocracy.
Take the FT. In an online poll of 30 March, 80% of Financial Times readers opposed the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush administration's candidate (sample size 5711 at 9pm GMT).
Oh those wild and crazy senior accountants and chief financial officers!
Still, Wolfowitz is considered a shoo-in when the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors meets today in Washington. And to mark the event, "race fans" are holding a photo finish one horse race at 10am local time outside the Bank's HQ.
This will be re-creation of the process that led to Wolfowitz’s enthronement, says Soren Ambrose of New Voices on Globalization.
"Neigh-Sayers" deplore the small field, Ambrose adds. There will be NO BETTING. But just because there’s only one horse in the race doesn’t mean no one else wins. Consolation prizes go to several countries for being good sports and accepting Wolfowitz despite their distaste for the man.
UK: Election tool for skeptical voters
"unbiased scrutiny of speeches, interviews and
manifesto pledges - informing public debate by creating a popular
resource for an information-hungry electorate."
Video from NY event on Social Securty
There's a webcast up of the debate on privatisation of social security that openDemocracy co-sponsored at the New York Society for Ethical Culture with Paul Krugman, Mike Tanner, and Joshua Micah Marshall. It's a broadcast from the Democracy Now! radio/TV programme with Amy Goodman. Only the speakers introductory statments are included, later there was heated dicussion.
You need RealPlayer (free) to watch the video.
An unexpectedly short and easy revolution
A vivid and exciting eye-witness account of the revolution in Kyrgyzstan on March 24th by Elnura Osmonalieva from Thinking-East. Protestors stormed the White House in Bishkek and ousted the president. This is how it started:
You need to see the historic photos Elnura Osmonalieva took throughout the day too:
We'll soon find out who gets to sit in the president's chair from now on... This last photo is the view from his office.
Sudan gov behind aid worker killings?
From American Prospect Online:
Tomorrow, March 30, the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would authorize an international court to investigate and prosecute the mass murder in Darfur. Human Rights First is campaigning on the issue.
A declaration co-authored by one million people?
Here's an interesting innovation in online activism:
A whole bunch of American organisations (most of them faith-based) are getting their members together 30 March to write a "Declaration for Peace and Justice and against the Iraq war". They're using a new piece of online writing software called Synanim. Users log on and have a certain amount of time to write their contributions in small groups. Then everyone chooses the iterations they like the most, bit by bit. The software tallies the "votes" and combines it all into a document that can be reworked again by all.
I think you have to "be there" to really understand how it works. They promise it's as easy as buying a book on Amazon, so if you agree with the goals and concerns of the organisations you should check it out (and let me know what it's like). They're expecting (hoping?) one million individuals (!) will take part in the "Write In" which is scheduled throughout a couple of different sessions during the day.
If it works, it's a pretty amazing way to reach a "naturally emergent consensus," as it says on Synanim's website, on such a large scale. Software that lets you edit Word documents together with someone else over the internet tends to be a little less ambitious. I'm personally rather glad that openDemocracy authors don't insist on watching their articles be edited in real-time...
I heard about it all via a TrueMajority email. That's Ben Cohen's (from Ben & Jerry's) online activism project. He's also got his checkbook in Religious Leaders For Sensible Priorities and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities. They don't seem to have much presence on the Net, but people talk about them...
Turn grandma into a diamond
You'd think it was a hoax, but for a modest price a company named LifeGem will make you a real diamond out of the cremated remains of your loved ones, human or animal. They extract the carbon from the ashes to make the diamond, and give you back the rest to bury or place on the mantel.
"How many LifeGems can be made from one individual?" is just one of the FAQs on LifeGem's website. The answer is over 100, which is very convenient if the whole family wants one. Natural diamonds take millions of years to create, but LifeGem's "diamond presses" can speed the process up to a few months. It's not just for bereaved Americans. LifeGems are made in Australia, Canada, England, Hungary and The Netherlands too.
Imagine what the price of a celebrity diamond would be... Any bids on a Princess Diana diamond? Would anyone like to pre-order Solana Larsen earrings? Of course, if I decided to turn myself into diamonds, I couldn't use this other service from the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. These guys will freeze your body until the technology exists to bring you back to life. It's a lot more expensive, but a shot at eternal life might be worth it... Must think more about that before my 99th birthday.
Human remains are eternally political. Check out the openDemocracy article, "The Afterlife of Bodies" by Ken Worpole from about a year ago.
New Creative Commons Search Engine
Lawrence Lessig reports that Yahoo launched a Creative Commons search engine last night that allows you to search all the content on the Web that only has "some rights reserved", meaning you can republish it or use it - sometimes even for commercial purposes - free of charge. Neat. Go play with it.
UK immigration: melting pots and tossed salads
The issue is no longer whether multiculturalism is a good thing, it seems, but what sort of multiculturalism is best. On the Today programme this morning, Keith Vaz, former Europe minister, and professor John Kay, economist, turned to cooking metaphors. So, fondue or salad? Or both?
Perhaps our debate The Strange Career of Multiculturalism can help with the words and theories, the tastes and smells.
And if you're after models for migration, check out People Flow.