Naomi Klein on Global Neoliberalism

Question: Why did you write Shock Doctrine?

Naomi Klein:It came out of reporting that I was doing in Iraq after the invasion the first year of occupation. But I guess it dates back earlier than that. I happen to have been in Argentina making a documentary film when the war in Iraq began. And it was a really amazing time to be in Latin America. This was 2002, 2003. And this was, I guess, the beginning of what we now think of as this pink tide that has swept Latin America. But it was a moment in Latin American history – certainly a moment in Argentinean history – where the economic model that Latin Americans call neo-Liberalism, Americans call the free market. But these policies of privatization; free trade . . . the so-called free trade deregulation in the interest of corporations; deep cuts to social spending; healthcare and education cuts; things like that, in Argentina they actually just call this “el modelo” – the model. Everybody knows what the model is. It’s the so-called Washington Consensus. It’s the policies that have been imposed on Latin America first through military dictatorships, then as conditions attached to loans that were needed during economic crises . . . the so-called “debt crisis” of the 1980s. When I was in Argentina the model was collapsing, and Argentineans overthrew five presidents in three weeks. So it was this moment of incredible tumult and political excitement because people were trying to figure out what would come next. But it went beyond Argentina. In Bolivia they hadn’t yet elected Evo Morales, but they had these huge protests against water privatization. And Bechtel had just been thrown out of Bolivia. And in Brazil they had just elected Lula. And of course Chavez was already in power in Venezuela, but he had successfully overcome a coup attempt. He had been brought back to power. So there were all of these things going on in Latin America that were all connected in this rejection of this economic model. So to be in Latin America when the invasion of Iraq began was a really unique vantage point from which to watch the war. I’m very grateful to have had that experience to have been able to watch that through the eyes of my Latin American friends who saw the war so differently from . . . from the way it was seen, I think, by so many of us in North America. They saw a real connection between their rejection of these economic policies and the fact that the same economic program was being imposed in Iraq through tremendous violence. And you really saw and felt those connections in Latin America. You know Bechtel just thrown out of Bolivia suddenly shows up in Baghdad with the exclusive contract to rebuild their water system. And what it felt like was that . . . was that there was a change going on; that this model that had been imposed coercively though peacefully through the International Monetary Fund, through the World Bank, through the World Trade Organization – that that wasn’t working anymore. People were rejecting it that the legacy of these policies . . . the legacy of inequality was so dramatic that the sales pitch of “Just wait for the trickledown” wasn’t working anymore. And so now there was this new phase. And it wasn’t even asking, and it wasn’t negotiating. It was just imposing through raw violence. And that’s where I came up with the thesis for the book, which is we have entered this new phase that I’m calling “disaster capitalism”; or the Shock Doctrine using a shock – in this case the shock and awe invasion of Iraq – to impose what economists call “economic shock therapy”. So I think it was . . . It was definitely that experience of seeing it from Latin America – a continent in revolt against these policies – that made it easier to identify this as a new phase. And once I identified that I started to see these patterns recurring. After the Asian tsunami there was a very similar push to use the shock of that natural disaster to push through, once again, these same policies. Water privatization, electricity privatization, labor market ..., displacing poor people on the coasts with hotel developers. So a sort of social re-engineering of societies in the interest of corporations, which I think is what we’ve been doing under the banner of free trade. But now it’s under the banner of post-disaster reconstruction.

 

Naomi Klein on the end of "El Modelo."

Astronomers find more than 100,000 "stellar nurseries"

Every star we can see, including our sun, was born in one of these violent clouds.

Credit: NASA / ESA via Getty Images
Surprising Science

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

An international team of astronomers has conducted the biggest survey of stellar nurseries to date, charting more than 100,000 star-birthing regions across our corner of the universe.

Stellar nurseries: Outer space is filled with clouds of dust and gas called nebulae. In some of these nebulae, gravity will pull the dust and gas into clumps that eventually get so big, they collapse on themselves — and a star is born.

These star-birthing nebulae are known as stellar nurseries.

The challenge: Stars are a key part of the universe — they lead to the formation of planets and produce the elements needed to create life as we know it. A better understanding of stars, then, means a better understanding of the universe — but there's still a lot we don't know about star formation.

This is partly because it's hard to see what's going on in stellar nurseries — the clouds of dust obscure optical telescopes' view — and also because there are just so many of them that it's hard to know what the average nursery is like.

The survey: The astronomers conducted their survey of stellar nurseries using the massive ALMA telescope array in Chile. Because ALMA is a radio telescope, it captures the radio waves emanating from celestial objects, rather than the light.

"The new thing ... is that we can use ALMA to take pictures of many galaxies, and these pictures are as sharp and detailed as those taken by optical telescopes," Jiayi Sun, an Ohio State University (OSU) researcher, said in a press release.

"This just hasn't been possible before."

Over the course of the five-year survey, the group was able to chart more than 100,000 stellar nurseries across more than 90 nearby galaxies, expanding the amount of available data on the celestial objects tenfold, according to OSU researcher Adam Leroy.

New insights: The survey is already yielding new insights into stellar nurseries, including the fact that they appear to be more diverse than previously thought.

"For a long time, conventional wisdom among astronomers was that all stellar nurseries looked more or less the same," Sun said. "But with this survey we can see that this is really not the case."

"While there are some similarities, the nature and appearance of these nurseries change within and among galaxies," he continued, "just like cities or trees may vary in important ways as you go from place to place across the world."

Astronomers have also learned from the survey that stellar nurseries aren't particularly efficient at producing stars and tend to live for only 10 to 30 million years, which isn't very long on a universal scale.

Looking ahead: Data from the survey is now publicly available, so expect to see other researchers using it to make their own observations about stellar nurseries in the future.

"We have an incredible dataset here that will continue to be useful," Leroy said. "This is really a new view of galaxies and we expect to be learning from it for years to come."

Protecting space stations from deadly space debris

Tiny specks of space debris can move faster than bullets and cause way more damage. Cleaning it up is imperative.

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  • NASA estimates that more than 500,000 pieces of space trash larger than a marble are currently in orbit. Estimates exceed 128 million pieces when factoring in smaller pieces from collisions. At 17,500 MPH, even a paint chip can cause serious damage.
  • To prevent this untrackable space debris from taking out satellites and putting astronauts in danger, scientists have been working on ways to retrieve large objects before they collide and create more problems.
  • The team at Clearspace, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is on a mission to capture one such object using an autonomous spacecraft with claw-like arms. It's an expensive and very tricky mission, but one that could have a major impact on the future of space exploration.

This is the first episode of Just Might Work, an original series by Freethink, focused on surprising solutions to our biggest problems.

Catch more Just Might Work episodes on their channel:
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Credit: fergregory via Adobe Stock
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Meet the worm with a jaw of metal

Metal-like materials have been discovered in a very strange place.

Credit: Mike Workman/Adobe Stock
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