Babylonian Times

 

In an almost surreal corporatisation of politics, and language, a corporate media group has brought us one step closer to the outright ownership of everything by trademarking the phrase 'radical media'. Media LLC has litigated against Peace News, New Internationalist, Red Pepper and other radical media groups using the phrase in the title of a joint conference to be held in London in October 2011. Six months into organising the conference, the organising group received a threatening legal letter from the media corporation objecting to the 'unlicensed' use of the term. The organisers decided they could not fight the challenge because, even if they won in court, they would have had to pay around 75% of the court costs, amounting to tens of thousands of pounds. The conference will now be called the Rebellious Media Conference (see www.radicalmediaconference.org).

 

In eerie echoes of Monsanto's seed patenting strategy and the corporate ownership of rain water in South America, Media has essentially taken it upon itself to earmark a resource, here language, which people already use, then punish them for 'stealing it'. In a statement, the conference organisers said "it is absurd that people involved in genuinely radical media projects are being prevented from using the adjective that best describes their activities". This paves the way for a bizarre dystopian future in which companies buy the political language that is used in resistance against them, then have dissenters dragged through court for nicking 'their' phrase.

Willie soon be rich?

Greenpeace US recently obtained documents showing that prominent scientist and climate sceptic Willie Soon received $1m from oil and coal companies over the past decade, including ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries and Southern (one of the largest coal-burning utility companies).

Soon was one of very few climate change deniers to be published in peer-reviewed literature, meaning he became regarded as one of the leading sceptical voices. The documents, obtained under freedom of information legislation, also show that Soon corresponded with other prominent climate sceptics in 2003 to try to weaken the assessment being carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This investigation will embarrass Exxon, the world's largest oil company, which is known to have funded climate sceptics for many years but, in 2008, declared it would cut funds to lobby groups that divert attention from the need to find new sources of clean energy. In other recent news, Exxon is the oil company whose pipeline burst in the Minnesota River, flooding it with over 43,000 gallons of crude oil.

Uterus accused of crimes against the foetus

Pregnant women in the US are becoming increasingly criminalised in the latest culture wars over abortion. Women who have had a miscarriage are being characterised as being 'responsible' for the miscarriage and are facing murder charges. In Mississippi, there is now a whole new legal standard by which women are accountable for the outcome of their pregnancies, with the threat of life imprisonment for murder hanging over them.

Across the US, pregnant women are becoming a different class of person with no rights. At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced foetal homicide laws, that were originally intended to protect pregnant women from violent attacks. South Carolina was the first state to introduce this law. The campaign group National Advocates for Pregnant Women has estimated that up to 300 women have so far been arrested for their actions during pregnancy.

Anti-abortion groups in Mississippi are attempting to widen the definition of a person under the state's bill of rights to include a foetus from the day of conception. Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion. Apart from being an ideological attack on hard-won abortion and other women's rights, the new laws create a situation in which women's choice over whether to have a baby becomes an even more difficult decision, with women choosing to have abortions because they fear criminalisation if something goes wrong with the pregnancy later on.

Rio+20: sustainable development or green(wash) economy?

Maybe the predictions for the end of the world in 2012 are correct! The London Olympics, the World Cup in Brazil and the Rio + 20 Earth Summit are all taking place, and there's no Glastonbury festival! The apocalyptic summit will be held on 4-6th June next year, 20 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

Ground-breaking preparations for the onslaught of (sorry, transition to!) a 'green economy' are already happening, including serious reform of the international institutions responsible for 'sustainable development'. This involves the out-of-date sustainable development approach being replaced by a 'forward-looking green economy' approach that fully embraces new financial arrangements based on so-called 'ecosystem services', whilst simultaneously liberating funds for iconic and impressive 'green technologies', otherwise known as technofixes, such as geoengineering.

The ecosystem services approach involves evaluating nature as if it is an industrial contractor: it provides natural 'services' that can be securitised in the form of invented credits that can be traded to raise 'conservation' money, including 'inspiring' market mechanisms such as Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degredation (REDD+), whilst value can be added to these services by the use of 'green' technologies. Business is clearly in the driving seat.

Back in the UK, politicians are doing their bit for the environment by planning to scrap laws designed to protect wildlife, tackle pollution, protect the countryside and reduce climate change. The 278 regulations, which include Climate Change Act, have been branded ‘red tape’ by a new government consultation. In addition, the government is still sticking with its policy of cutting support for large-scale solar projects, despite strong evidence suggesting that solar power has the potential to deliver affordable and secure energy in the near future.

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