Communities Editor, Thomson Reuters Foundation, London
Julie's Feed
Dec 7, 2009
via UK News

Is the buzz over Copenhagen altering your habits?

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Amid widespread speculation over whether delegates attending the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen will reach a deal on emission targets, some environmentalists have suggested that climate change must be tackled at a local level.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, suggests a series of tips on its website titled “Twelve Days of Copenhagen” to mark each day of the Dec. 7 to 18 summit.

Dec 3, 2009
via UK News

Will a free market for news media harm impartiality?

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Business Secretary Peter Mandelson took a subtle dig at the Murdoch News empire this week when he said that some in the commercial sector want to maintain an “iron grip” on pay TV and “to erode the commitment to impartiality — in other words, to fill British airwaves with more Fox-style news.”"They believe that profit alone should drive the gathering and circulation of news rather than allowing a role for what they call ‘state-sponsored journalism’,” he added, during the second reading of the Digital Economy Britain bill.James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia, attacked UK broadcasting policy in an August lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival, saying it had created a dominant BBC which was threatening independent journalism.The government regulates media industries “with relish,” he said, and had created unaccountable institutions such as the BBC Trust, Channel 4 — which has a public-service remit but is advertising-funded — and regulator Ofcom.”Dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market makes it incredibly difficult for journalism to flourish on the Internet,” he said.Speaking in support of public broadcasting, Mandelson said that the bill will transform Ofcom, the media regulator, so that it can ensure the media market has the “right mix of impartial and national and local news”.”Ofcom represents an important means of securing media standards, strong public service content and investment in the future infrastructure of the digital economy,” Mandelson said.He also took a swipe at the Conservatives, saying: “In my view, Ofcom should be strengthened, not emasculated as some Conservative spokesmen have suggested.”Are Mandelson’s concerns over commercial news media justified?  Will a free market for news media harm impartiality?

Dec 2, 2009
via The Great Debate UK

After 25 years impact of Bhopal leak lingers

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Controversy still surrounds one of the world’s worst industrial accidents 25 years after an estimated 8,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of a toxic gas leak in Bhopal, India.At around midnight on December 3, 1984, a leak at a Union Carbide plant of methyl isocyanate gas — a chemical compound used to make a pesticide marketed as Sevin – led to about 50,000 people being treated for severe injuries to their eyes, lungs, and kidneys. An estimated 15,000 to 25,000 may have later died from exposure to the gas. Union Carbide, now part of Dow Chemical, settled a lawsuit in 1989 by paying $470 million in compensation to the Indian government. In return, the government agreed to drop criminal charges against the company. “Union Carbide worked diligently to provide immediate and continuing aid to the victims and set up a process to resolve their claims — all of which were settled 18 years ago at the explicit direction and with the approval of the Supreme Court of India,” a statement on the Union Carbide website says, adding that in 1998 the Indian state government of Madhya Pradesh took over full responsibility for the site.A 1999 study found that the area around the plant site was still contaminated with toxic chemicals. Bhopal residents continue to contend with the effects of the disaster, which include health problems and contaminated groundwater.The Bhopal Medical Appeal, launched in 1994 and based in Brighton, UK, argues that survivors have not yet received meaningful medical aid.A new report commissioned by the group found at least 16 contaminants on the Union Carbide site at levels exceeding World Health Organisation safety guidelines.Peter Finnigan, executive secretary at the Appeal, spoke with Reuters in London about Bhopal and the April 26, 1986, Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in Ukraine.

Nov 30, 2009
Nov 24, 2009

Darwin debate rages on 150 years after “Origin”

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) – Even 150 years after it first appeared in print, Charles Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species” still fuels clashes between scientists convinced of its truth and critics who reject its view of life without a creator.

This “Darwin Year” — so named because February 12 was the 200th anniversary of the British naturalist’s birth and November 24 the 150th anniversary of his book — has seen a flood of books, articles and conferences debating his theory of evolution.

Nov 24, 2009
via The Great Debate UK

The debate over Darwin 150 years on

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Debate continues to swirl around the theory of evolution Charles Darwin proposed 150 years ago in his groundbreaking book, “On the Origin of Species,” despite its universal acceptance among scientists.Before Darwin’s discovery, the world was generally thought to have remained more or less the same since its creation. This belief, based on Biblical interpretations, was contested through fossil studies showing that species change over time.Darwin’s legendary round-the-world 1831-1836 voyage aboard the HMS Beagle generated his most significant observations and discoveries, inspiring his work on natural selection.Although Darwin first used the term “natural selection” in a paper in 1842, it wasn’t until 1859 that he published his controversial theory that all living beings share a common ancestry — a discovery that remains vital to modern biology.Author Nick Spencer, director of studies at Theos, a research organisation launched in 2006 with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, explained why the debate persists to this day.”People are encountering evolution not so much as a science but as a philosophy,” he told Reuters ahead of a Nov. 24 lecture at Westminster Abbey to mark the anniversary of the exact date on which Darwin’s book was first published.

Nov 20, 2009
via The Great Debate UK

Remembering how to forget in the Web 2.0 era

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Amid ongoing debates over the hazards of excessive digital exposure through such Web 2.0 social networking platforms as Facebook and Twitter, a new book by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger extols the virtues of forgetfulness.Since the emergence of digital technology and global networks, forgetting has become an exception, Mayer-Schonberger writes in “Delete”.”Forgetting plays a central role in human decision-making,” he argues. “It lets us act in time, cognizant of, but not shackled by, past events.”Mayer-Schonberger shared his theory on how to fight back against the digital panopticon with Reuters before giving a lecture at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London.

Nov 18, 2009
via UK News

Tony Travers on challenges the parties face

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Although the Queen’s speech on Wednesday is a formal occasion to outline the government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session, with less than six months to go before a general election, commentators are viewing it as the unofficial launch of Labour’s campaign.Tony Travers, director of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics, outlines some of the challenges the parties face before elections, which must be held no later than June 2010.

Nov 10, 2009
via The Great Debate UK

Farming battles and the future of food

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Everybody wants to end hunger, but just how to do so is a divisive question that pits environmentalists against anti-poverty campaigners, big business against consumers and rich countries against poor.The Food Chain Campaign is not about becoming vegetarian, say the Friends of the Earth, it is about putting pressure on the government to mitigate the damaging impact of meat and dairy production on the environment.”The meat and dairy industry produces more climate-changing emissions than all the planes, cars and lorries on the planet,” argues the group. “A hidden chain links animals in British factory farms to rainforest destruction in South America.”London-based Kirtana Chandrasekaran shared the goals of the campaign with Reuters.Related Story: The fight over the future of food

    • About Julie

      "I am the communities editor for the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London where I blog, micro blog, write stories, make videos, audio and work on the AlertNet and TrustLaw news websites. AlertNet is a humanitarian news website covering wars, conflict, natural disasters, food and health emergencies. TrustLaw is covers good governance and women's rights. I moved to the foundation in 2010 after two years with the Reuters UK website. Find me @jmollins or +Julie Mollins."
      Joined Reuters:
      January 31, 2005
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