Michael Silverberg – The World’s Tallest Slum – A “Pirate Utopia” – Is Being Cleared By The Venezuelan Government

A woman looks out of her shop window in a corridor in Torre David. Reuters/Jorge Silva

A woman looks out of her shop window in a corridor in Torre David.Reuters/Jorge Silva

July 2014. On a rainy night in September 2007, hundreds of squatters made their way into the third-tallest skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, and set up a temporary encampment. The unfinished, 45-story building—intended as a bank headquarters in the center of the capital—had sat vacant for more than a decade, after the developer’s death and the country’s 1994 financial crisis put construction on hold.

Eventually, nearly 3,000 of the city’s poor—many of them refugees from insecure shantytowns—would join the initial squatters, creating a makeshift city with apartments up to the 28th floor, even though there are no elevators or, in some places, even a facade. The squatters organized their own electricity, running water, and plumbing, along with bodegas, a barbershop, and an orthodontist. The improvised community became known as Torre David, or the Tower of David, after the developer, David Brillembourg.

Read more: http://qz.com/the-worlds-tallest-slum-a-pirate-utopia

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The Conversation – Academic Journal Debate

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.
Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.

Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to allow for better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversations.

We aim to help rebuild trust in journalism. All authors and editors sign up to our Editorial Charter. All contributors must abide by our Community Standards policy. We only allow authors to write on a subject on which they have proven expertise, which they must disclose alongside their article. Authors’ funding and potential conflicts of interest must also be disclosed. Failure to do so carries a risk of being banned from contributing to the site.

The Conversation launched in Australia in March 2011. Since then it has grown to become one of Australia’s largest independent news and commentary sites. Now we’ve launched in the UK to bring our brand of trusted, evidence-based journalism to a new audience. The Conversation UK will be a distinct site, focused on issues of relevance to a local audience.

The Conversation UK is launching as a pilot site, building up to a larger newsroom of dedicated journalists.

We believe in open access and the free-flow of information. The Conversation is a free resource: free to read (we’ll never go behind a paywall), and free to share or republish under Creative Commons. All you need to do is follow our simple guidelines. We also provide indispensable media resource: providing free content, ideas and talent to follow up for press, web, radio or TV.

Read more: http://theconversation.com/uk/who_we_are


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Steven J. Klees – Neoliberal Policies Destroy Human Potential And Devastate Education

BM1181~Education-PostersMail&Guardian.  July 2014. We live in an unfair and unequal world. In South Africa, as well as around the world, much attention has been focused on what has been called the “triple challenge”: job creation, poverty reduction and inequality reduction. The dominant response to all three problems is to argue for increased education and skills.

This excellent new book, Education, Economy and Society, edited by Salim Vally and Enver Motala, offers an in-depth critique of the concepts, frameworks, interventions and logic that underlie this dominant response as well as the one that underlies much of the South African education and training policy.  Among its many virtues, the book offers a critique of the three basic discourses that are used to support education and skills solutions to current problems.

The “mismatch discourse” goes back at least to the 1950s. In it, education has been blamed for not supplying the skills that business needs.

It is, unfortunately, true that many children and youth around the world leave school without the basic skills necessary for life and work. But the mismatch discourse is usually less about basic skills and more about vocational skills. The argument, though superficially plausible, is not true for at least two reasons.

Read more: http://mg.co.za/destroy-human-potential

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Dr Martin Paul Eve – Open Access And Being Human

BeingHumanlogoDr Martin Paul Eve, co-founder of the Open Library of the Humanities and editor of the open access journal Alluviun, reflects on Open Access engagement, and the politics of information management in a digital age.

The academic disciplines that constitute the humanities study human cultures, their art-forms, philosophies, expressions and histories. They aim to do so through a promotion of “critical thinking” that discourages one from becoming “completely comfortable with your own certainties,” as Michel Foucault put it. These values, of course, seem central to notions of political agency and particularly democracy, for without a critical self-knowledge, how can we act with any determination?

Open Access

With the ability of the internet to disseminate material at an infinitesimally small cost per download, the model of communicating the results of  humanities research is changing, which has caused some alarm but also some excitement in different quarters. This is possible in academic disciplines because a model has developed under which researchers are not paid by publishers or the public for their work, they are instead, theoretically, in academic jobs that pay them to give away this material. As Peter Suber puts it, “the academic custom to write research articles for impact rather than money may be a lucky accident that could have been otherwise. Or it may be a wise adaptation that would eventually evolve in any culture with a serious research subculture”.

In any case, a movement has emerged in recent years that seeks to extend access to research findings free of charge to anybody who is interested and to also let people re-distribute and re-use these materials. This is called Open Access. As with everything that seems simple, there is a lot more to it (and the economics are particularly tricky – publishing does involve labour that must be compensated, after all) but with growing international mandates, open access in at least some form looks set to be a permanent new feature of the academic landscape.

Read morehttp://beinghumanfestival.org/open-access-human/

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Philip Ross – Climate Change Solutions: Architects Look To Slums As Models For Sustainable Living

A cluster of slum houses in Mumbai. The city’s urban population is expected to nearly double to 33 million by 2030. Photo: Reuters

A cluster of slum houses in Mumbai. The city’s urban population is expected to nearly double to 33 million by 2030. Photo: Reuters

ibtimes. July 2014. In the barrios and favelas of South America, gondola lifts offer more than pretty views. They present an escape, however brief, from poverty, a link between slum life and the outside world.
In the past decade or so, cable car transit systems have become increasingly popular in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, especially in hillside slums where the only other way down is by narrow,  zigzagging walkways and corridors. The soaring lifts carry commuters over the rooftops of the shanties, making the trek considerably easier and connecting residents with hospitals, train stations and commercial centers below.

In Rio de Janeiro, a six-station gondola lift that runs above the city’s Complexo do Alemão favela has turned a 1 1/2-hour hike to a nearby commuter rail station into a 16-minute aerial hop. In addition to a cable car system of its own, Medellín, Colombia, has an impressive, 1,200-foot covered escalator that slices through the sloped, densely populated community of Comuna Trece.

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/climate-change-solutions

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Stephan Lanz – Redemption And Liberation In The City: An Introduction

Global Prayers

Global Prayers

Over the last decades, new megacities and postcolonial metropolises have become a laboratories and locations for new religious movements that distance themselves from traditional religious communities. This shift has largely been ignored in urban studies; in thrall to outdated theories of modernization, it has commonly equated urban modernity with secularism. Against this background, the research project Global Prayers: Redemption and Liberation in the City investigated new manifestations of the religious in urban space and the influence of urban cultures on the religious. In making use of collaborations between art and science-based researchers, Global Prayers took a new approach to exploring the urban images and sounds, spaces and practices that the religious adopts in the age of globalization. It created trans-regional networks and advances interdisciplinary approaches.

Read more: http://forums.ssrc.org/redemption-and-liberation-in-the-city

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