Twenty years ago, before the alarm about Climate Change, the World Bank warned about upcoming wars — not over oil, but water. Now, the UN predicts that two thirds of the world will suffer shortages in the next ten years due to waste, pollution, and the growth of a global middle class. Some Fortune 500 companies are ahead of the game, conserving and cleaning up water to protect their profits, while the cost for the rest of us rises. There are technologies to create more fresh water, but they’re expensive. Is water a commercial product, or a basic human right?

The new study is the first to look at the role of groundwater in the parched region and has been carried out against a backdrop of a severe drought dating back to 2000.

A series of monthly measurements have shown that over nine years the Colorado River Basin lost nearly twice as much water as Lake Mead, Nevada - the country’s largest reservoir.

"We don’t know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don’t know when we’re going to run out," said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at the University of California, Irvine.

"This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking.”


When Wall Street firms began buying rental units in bulk in 2011, experts warned that they had no history of managing large numbers of rental properties spread over hundreds of square miles, and would skimp on costs at the expense of tenants. Now, according to the first survey on the practice, those fears are being realized. Tenants report that Blackstone’s rental management resembles that of a slumlord. They rent properties with significant maintenance problems, fail to keep contact with their customers, and violate state and local laws.

[…]

Invitation Homes’ harsh methods of collection were perfectly predictable, given Blackstone’s duty to pay back investors. Vacancy rates on the first set of Invitation Homes properties spiked in May, rising to double the national average (and given these reports about their property management, you can see why). That means Invitation Homes must get full value from the homes they still have rented to keep bondholders happy, whether by locking tenants into long-term leases or racking up fees.

A spokeswoman for Invitation Homes, Denise Dunckel, said that the report “grossly distorts the facts and ignores institutional investors’ contribution to the American housing recovery.” She maintained that Invitation Homes “complies with applicable California and Federal landlord/tenant and related housing laws,” and that residents have a 24-hour number for maintenance requests, which Invitation Homes responds to “within a few hours.”

However, with more single-family rental securities going on the market every day, Rep. Takano, a renter himself, has concerns about the end game. “They did not buy these properties to hold onto them forever,” he said. “If they want to turn these homes over when prices rise, or if there’s a bump in our recovery, it could lead to a mass sell-off. Mom and pop landlords have an investment in keeping renters in place. Corporations don’t.”


n Longfellow’s The Masque of Pandora, Prometheus laments, “Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad.” Perhaps if Prometheus had been exposed to 24/7 cable news or mainstream newspapers, he would be comforted to know that he was not alone in evoking the wrath of Mount Olympus’s stern residents. Despite placing themselves on a moral and intellectual pedestal, a multitude of mainstream journalists forgo honest investigation and analysis for sensationalist political theater.

This unfortunate trend was most glaring during the revolutions in the Middle East that began in Tunisia. Critics of the media’s reporting of these events were not restricted to experts at think tanks or academics. As part of the millennial generation, I can confidently say the media’s coverage of the “Arab Spring” harmed its credibility in the eyes of many young Americans. Moreover, it will be the new generation who will have to pay the most for the mistakes influenced by media-driven misperceptions. This is especially so at a moment when East-West relations have reached a new state of volatility. As a welter of charges is flung back and forth about the tragic downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which was flying over eastern Ukraine, the need for calm, impartial and penetrating reporting is more essential than ever.


Instead, let us travel backward in time, to the very cusp of the Information Revolution. Amid the first stirrings of dissent in Northern California, long before tech moguls were granted the dubious prestige of celebrity, a leaderless collective of disenchanted office workers put out a subversive periodical—a magazine called Processed World. First published in San Francisco in April 1981, the magazine now serves as an invaluable repository of all the mistaken, venal, and authoritarian guiding assumptions of the great digital reorganization of work. The brain trust behind Processed World was composed of people—many of them steeped in radical causes, environmental activism, and Situationist-type affairs—who began to identify the features of today’s high-productivity, low-content corporate workplace. Standing on the frontier of the new Information Economy, they took stock of their working lives and despaired at what they saw—and they made special, mordant note of the new technologies that didn’t make their work lives any easier or more meaningful.

These would-be revolutionaries were eager to see the automated world’s long-promised bounty of self-determined leisure bear fruit at last. They had plenty of marketable skills, but what most of them really wanted was time—to write and paint and act and organize. Some of them didn’t want to work at all. Others preferred not to give themselves over to big corporations and bureaucracies that offered them little in return for their labor. Most of all, they wanted their lives to be their own. Still animated by the antiwar radicalism of the previous decade, they were also bruised by the failures of 1968. Consequently, the magazine, if not its contributors, adopted no official ideology. They knew what they were against: wage labor, authoritarianism, war, nationalism, and the state itself. But they weren’t always sure what they wanted in its place. Figuring that out would be a challenge; it would also be the great project of the next fourteen years, during which Processed World would publish thirty-two issues (give or take),[*] participate in numerous acts of protest, street theater, and sabotage, and launch a range of other initiatives, from Critical Mass, the cycling event now held in hundreds of cities worldwide, to the preservation of some of San Francisco’s history in what may have been the last era a poor person could move to the Bay Area and still manage to get by.

[…]

Processed World did much more than supply to depressed office proles a therapeutic outlet. The magazine also managed to diagnose some of the issues that still animate radicals today: housework, sex work, and other unacknowledged forms of labor; unionization and its limits; income inequality; the precarity of the typical worker; corporate power; the state of exception that comes with permanent warfare (embodied then by the Cold War and later by the first Gulf War); and the ways in which the computerization of society was changing work, often to the detriment of workers. In the writing—essays, poetry, reportage, fantastical short stories about rebellious paper-pushers taking over San Francisco’s financial district, only to be brutally put down by government soldiers—one can also find the beginnings of today’s revolt against Silicon Valley and its pernicious mix of libertarian economics, techno-utopianism, and the deracinated remains of the sixties counterculture.


So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent –if not inappropriate– response. To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beset by war and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may –in ways we might prefer not to imagine– be linked to their suffering, as the wealth of some may imply the destitution of others, is a task for which the painful, stirring images supply only an initial spark.

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (via afghangry)

I can’t be part of this world. I can’t be part of this world because I don’t know enough and everywhere I am forced to affirm that in order for me to function in any way as part I must have already possessed the knowledge I lack. They tell me I am permitted to lift even a finger only on condition of meeting the prerequisites. I can’t move.

Perhaps this is rather a refusal. I refuse to recognize something which will force me to move from this blissful position of death and painlessness. I have too low a threshold for pain.

The anxiety is unbearable too. One day in the near future there will come the moment I will have to compensate for the debt I’ve accumulated, all at once. everything will be lost in joyous whimper for mercy and help. now that would be something to behold—mercy and help.


I as possessor of truth is entitled to exercise absolute power over you illiterate servants who know and is incapable of knowing this truth I possess. now work for me and accumulate your surplus labor, your undivided attention for me. it is for your own good you can’t ever understand what it is to live without me


Among others .. there is a privileged philosophy pedal by those protected by the fortress … The philosopher of the former category can talk about Philosophy but their words betray them in the very professing of it.