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Category: Society

In shameless displays of social depravity, Israeli soldiers are looting Gaza homes en masse

In shameless displays of social depravity, Israeli soldiers are looting Gaza homes en masse

Oren Ziv reports: Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza have not been shy about posting videos on social media gleefully documenting their wanton destruction of buildings and humiliation of Palestinian detainees. Some of these clips were even exhibited in South Africa’s presentation at the International Court of Justice last month as evidence of genocide. But there is another war crime being readily documented by Israeli soldiers that has garnered less attention and condemnation despite its prevalence: looting. In November, the Palestinian…

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Why Americans suddenly stopped hanging out

Why Americans suddenly stopped hanging out

Derek Thompson writes: In its earliest decades, the United States was celebrated for its citizens’ extroversion. Americans weren’t just setting out to build new churches and new cities. Their associations were, as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “of a thousand different types … religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute.” Americans seemed adept at forming social groups: political associations, labor unions, local memberships. It was as if the continent itself had imbued its residents…

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U.S. culture is an incubator of ‘extrinsic values’. Nobody embodies them like Donald Trump

U.S. culture is an incubator of ‘extrinsic values’. Nobody embodies them like Donald Trump

George Monbiot writes: Many explanations are proposed for the continued rise of Donald Trump, and the steadfastness of his support, even as the outrages and criminal charges pile up. Some of these explanations are powerful. But there is one I have seen mentioned nowhere, which could, I believe, be the most important: Trump is king of the extrinsics. Some psychologists believe our values tend to cluster around certain poles, described as “intrinsic” and “extrinsic”. People with a strong set of intrinsic…

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A plurality of Americans are not affiliated with any religion

A plurality of Americans are not affiliated with any religion

NPR reports: When Americans are asked to check a box indicating their religious affiliation, 28% now check ‘none.’ A new study from Pew Research finds that the religiously unaffiliated – a group comprised of atheists, agnostic and those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – is now the largest cohort in the U.S. They’re more prevalent among American adults than Catholics (23%) or evangelical Protestants (24%). Back in 2007, Nones made up just 16% of Americans, but Pew’s…

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The people of Solano County, California, versus the next tech-billionaire dystopia

The people of Solano County, California, versus the next tech-billionaire dystopia

Gil Duran writes: It is easy to mock the absurdity of California Forever, the new city that a group of tech billionaires want to build amid cattle pastures 60 miles north of San Francisco. Its wealthy backers frame the project—envisioned as a mega suburb with dense housing and walkable streets set on 60,000 rural acres—as an innovative solution to California’s housing shortage. But their bumbling and villainous antics may ensure it never gets built. The particulars of this caper veer…

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Musical synchronization emerges spontaneously and enhances social connectedness

Musical synchronization emerges spontaneously and enhances social connectedness

PsyPost reports: Researchers have discovered a significant link between musical synchronization and social connectedness. Analyzing the behavior of university students engaged in impromptu music-making, the study found that individuals who synchronized their musical rhythms felt a stronger sense of connection with their peers, highlighting music’s unique role in fostering social cohesion. The findings have been published in Psychology of Music. Previous studies have indicated that music can establish and maintain social bonds, but the mechanics of how this happens were…

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The relentless growth of degrowth economics

The relentless growth of degrowth economics

Jessi Jezewska Stevens writes: The ninth International Degrowth Conference, held in August this year in Zagreb, Croatia, opens with a provocation. Keynote speaker Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, the newly elected vice chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has two requests to make of the audience. The first is to figure out how to coordinate with governments of all stripes, since the climate crisis requires global unity. The second? “Maybe consider a different word.” It’s about as close to blasphemy…

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What we get when we give

What we get when we give

Molly McDonough writes: From where in the body might kindness flow? Folklore and belief systems far and wide point to the heart. Ancient Egyptian mythology, for example, maintained that the leap to the afterlife required a test. Before the deceased could enter, their heart had to be weighed, placed on a balance under the watchful eyes of the gods. The dead person’s heart wasn’t beating, but it wasn’t considered dead weight; it held proof of virtue. If the person had…

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The unbearable hubris of Elon Musk and the billionaire tech bros

The unbearable hubris of Elon Musk and the billionaire tech bros

Douglas Rushkoff writes: Even their downfalls are spectacular. Like a latter-day Icarus flying too close to the sun, disgraced crypto-god Sam Bankman-Fried crashed and burned this month, recasting Michael Lewis’s exuberant biography of the convicted fraudster – Going Infinite – into the story of a supervillain. Even his potential sentence of up to 115 years in prison seems more suitable for a larger-than-life comic book character – the Joker being carted off to Arkham Asylum – than a nerdy, crooked…

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The richest 1% — the ‘polluter elite’ — are plundering the planet to point of destruction

The richest 1% — the ‘polluter elite’ — are plundering the planet to point of destruction

The Guardian reports: The richest 1% of humanity is responsible for more carbon emissions than the poorest 66%, with dire consequences for vulnerable communities and global efforts to tackle the climate emergency, a report says. The most comprehensive study of global climate inequality ever undertaken shows that this elite group, made up of 77 million people including billionaires, millionaires and those paid more than US$140,000 (£112,500) a year, accounted for 16% of all CO2 emissions in 2019 – enough to…

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Bonobos, like humans, cooperate with unrelated members of other groups

Bonobos, like humans, cooperate with unrelated members of other groups

Science News reports: Humans regularly cooperate and share resources with other, unrelated humans in different social groups, often without any immediate, reciprocated benefits. The phenomenon has been considered unique to our species. But some bonobos appear to share this social trait, a study finds. This type of cooperation is thought to underpin human civilization. So bonobos’ ability to bond and cooperate with groups of nonrelatives across group boundaries, even when there’s no immediate payoff, may provide some insight into the…

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A new wave of antisemitism threatens to rock an already unstable world

A new wave of antisemitism threatens to rock an already unstable world

Stephen Collinson writes: History is flashing warnings to the world. Outbursts of antisemitism have often been harbingers of societies in deep trouble and omens that extremism and violence are imminent. So the wave of global hatred directed against Jews – intensified by Israel’s indiscriminate response in Gaza to horrific Hamas terrorist murders of Israeli civilians on October 7 – should not just be seen as a reaction to the Middle East yet again slumping into war. Recent antisemitism is also…

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Luddites saw the problem of AI coming from two centuries away

Luddites saw the problem of AI coming from two centuries away

Gabriela Riccardi writes: To cast someone as a Luddite today is to do so with bemusement, to suggest they’re small-minded, a bit quaint, or fearful of technology. A Luddite cold-shoulders not only new tech, but of all the progress and potential it hastens forward. That’s where journalist Brian Merchant would object. His new book, Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech, surfaces the forgotten story of the original Luddites—and why it should be recalled today….

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Coming together as things fall apart

Coming together as things fall apart

Astra Taylor writes: Since 2020, the richest 1 percent has captured nearly two-thirds of all new wealth globally — almost twice as much money as the rest of the world’s population. At the beginning of last year, it was estimated that 10 billionaire men possessed six times as much wealth as the poorest three billion people on Earth. In the United States, the richest 10 percent of households own more than 70 percent of the country’s assets. Such statistics are…

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How crises so often bring out the best in us

How crises so often bring out the best in us

Zeynep Tufekci writes: The news that thousands of Burning Man festivalgoers were told to conserve food and water after torrential rains left them trapped by impassable mud in the Nevada desert led some to chortle about a “Lord of the Flies” scenario for the annual gathering popular with tech lords and moguls. Alas, I have to spoil the hate-the-tech-rich revelries. No matter how this mess is resolved — and many there seem to be coping — the common belief that…

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America’s surprising partisan divide on life expectancy

America’s surprising partisan divide on life expectancy

Colin Woodard writes: Where you live in America can have a major effect on how young you die. On paper, Lexington County, S.C., and Placer County, Calif., have a lot in common. They’re both big, wealthy, suburban counties with white supermajorities that border on their respective state’s capital cities. They both were at the vanguard of their states’ 20th century Republican advances — Lexington in the 1960s when it pivoted from the racist Dixiecrats; Placer with the Reagan Revolution in…

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