AL Kennedy: – A Point of View: What Happens When A Library Falls Silent June 2014. At the end of May, Rhydyfelin Library was closed. Library users chained themselves to the shelves, obtained a judicial review and, to cut a complicated story short, a small Welsh town had to fight to keep its books – and, in the last few days, may have managed at least a temporary stay of execution.

It was dramatic. And yet in terms of national media coverage the drama played out silence, perhaps appropriately for a library. Perhaps it was too regional a story.

And maybe library closures do just slide by, because they often are regional affairs and also because some things which happen repeatedly somehow become less newsworthy.

Certainly, if you examine Britain’s library closures the story does get repetitive. According to figures collated by Public Libraries News in the last financial year, 61 libraries were withdrawn from service. The preceding year it was 63, the year before that 201. Some new libraries have opened, but there’s debate, again often inaudible, about how many hundreds of others are threatened. Of those 325 lost libraries, around a third have been taken over by their communities in various ways, often with reduced opening hours and working with volunteers.

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Living The Dream Of A Rainbow Nation – June 2014. Rubbish piles and sewage litter the streets of Hillbrow, a notorious crime hot spot and urban slum in downtown Johannesburg. Hawkers harass passersby, trying to sell watches, sunglasses and cell phone covers. They could just as well be muggers who pull a knife or a gun. Life is cheap in South Africa – and especially so in Hillbrow. People have been killed for their cell phones. That’s why Trish Branken, now accompanied by 11-year-old daughter Rachel, comes to meet anxious visitors on the street close to their apartment block.

The Brankens, the only white family in the neighborhood, walk the streets confidently. “I used to feel nervous,” 42-year-old Trish, a small white woman with flowing blond hair, admits. But now this is home.

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University Of Pennsylvania Museum Of Archaeology And Anthropology Films

pennmuseumlogoIn its 120-year history, the University of Pennsylvania Museum has collected nearly one million objects, many obtained directly through its own field excavations or anthropological research. Three gallery floors feature materials from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Bible Lands, Mesoamerica, Asia and the ancient Mediterranean World, as well as artifacts from native peoples of the Americas, Africa and Polynesia. This collection on the Internet Archive represents a portion of the motion picture film collection housed at the Museum. Please note that cataloging and identification of subjects will progress over a period of time

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology holds copyright to these films. Please contact the Penn Museum Archives at 215-898-8304 or at to request permission to reproduce this footage.


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Leslie Kavanaugh – My Choice On Sustainability

469992_409370629106980_1371061744_oThe word “sustainability” is perhaps one of the most frequently evoked, yet most ill-defined concepts in contemporary discourse. The concept can be made to apply to scales ranging from (anti-) globalization to eating healthily. Although the concept is far from new, being bound to the notion of human beings tied to and embedded in the earthly environment, in the last century cognisance of the scarcity of resources – both human and material – have brought to the fore real concerns about the future viability of the earth as a human habitat.

In the age of global markets for goods and services, underlying any attempt for a sustainable environment would be the maintenance of a fair trade organizations, protection against exploitation of labour and materials, and an equitable constructive finance system. One of the first policy documents developed in association with the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was Barbara Ward and René Dubos; Only One Earth: The Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet, (W. Norton & Co, 1972).

More recently, the European Unions’ Institute of New Economic Thinking acknowledges that any “sustainable” development in sustainability must be accompanied by fundamental changes in economics and politics.

Other excellent resources for “thinking of the world as a system over time”, is the International Institute for Sustainable Development:

The Earth Institute – Columbia University:

The ISE – Institute for Social Ecology:

And not forgetting, Buckminster Fuller: whose whole systems approach advocated in his book: Spaceship Earth. Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1963) revolutionized thinking about the earth as an interconnected system not isolated from the universe itself.

Technology in the last decades has certainly provided the means to provide sustainable economics, environments, and materials. A few websites for an overview:

Research for energy-optimised construction: New Technologies

Alternative Energy Information Resources and Renewable Energy Technologies:

And remembering that renewable energy is also about conservation of energy and building smart in a symbiotic marriage with the environment, sensitive the climate and orientation of the building, passive solar is often neglected in favor of more high-tech solutions. See for example, fifteen years Passive House in Darmstadt – Kranichstein:  Read more

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Gemma Solés – Five Must-Watch Videos About Urbanization In Africa

Urban Africa, May 2014. It’s unnecessary to say that African urban populations are growing and urbanisation is becoming one of the most important and highly topical concepts in the management of African cities. There are many books, reports and papers on African urban issues but less audiovisual material. Here’s a selection of the best videos from around the web.

The platform for African thought leaders Talking Heads produced, earlier this year, The Future of Africa Cities. In it, Prof. Edgar Pieterse, Director of the African Centre for Cities reflects on the theoretical and practical entanglements that rapid urbanization engenders for a precarious present, and a potential future in African Cities. He raises critical questions around sustainability, innovation, creativity, and knowledge production.

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Prof.Edgar Pieterse, Director of the African Centre for Cities and Urbanist reflects on the theoretical and practical entanglements that rapid urbanization engenders for a precarious present, and a potential future in African Cities. He raises critical questions around sustainability, innovation, creativity, and knowledge production.

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John Higgins – Universities And State Control: Cloudy Days For Academic Freedom

books public domainMail & Guardian, June 6, 2014. Academic freedom is given an unusually privileged place in the Constitution – one of the few worldwide that both explicitly does so and pledges its defence.
But the place it gives it is, in some crucial respects, an ambivalent and perhaps ultimately a contradictory and self-defeating one.
The constitutional imperative seeks to valorise and respect academic freedom by placing it alongside other core democratic principles, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religious belief.
However, this frames academic freedom, above all, as an individual right, thus severing it from its usual and perhaps constitutive connections with university autonomy.

Framework for transformation
How this threatens to restrict or undermine severely the practice of academic freedom becomes clearer in the translation or exposition of the constitutional imperative in the policy framework proposed by the National Commission on Higher Education’s 1996 report, A Framework for Transformation.
By narrowing down the scope of academic freedom to a subset of an individual’s right to freedom of expression or belief, the report sought to assert scope for state intervention, presented in the guise of a democratically sanctioned notion of co-operative governance – with some uneasiness in the formulations.
But in the decade following the report and the Higher Education Act, the translation of policy into practice raised a number of concerns, notable among these being that the constitutionally protected individual right of academic freedom somehow didn’t appear to provide any actual protection to academics or the institutions that housed them.

The Council on Higher Education’s 2008 report, Academic Freedom, Institutional Autonomy and Public Accountability in South African Higher Education, surveys and summarises the changing ways in which policy was put into practice from 1997 to 2007.

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