The Reason Review—June 2018

Weapons of Reason
Jul 3, 2018 · 7 min read

Great news guys, there are some heartening stories tempering the paragraphs of this month’s Reason Review. Not an abundance, of course, but enough to lift the spirits of anyone feeling desperate about the state of plastic waste, concerned for the rights of Iran’s women, or flummoxed by the UK’s draconian stance on medical marijuana. In fact, the following few stories might have you believing that June was about 75% positive. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Plastic Ain’t Fantastic

“The big question now is what are the actual consequences of finding this stuff here? Many of these chemicals are pretty nasty and as they move up the food chain they may be having serious consequences for the health of wildlife, and ultimately humans. The effects of microplastics on marine life, likewise, are largely not understood.”

It’s finally happened; plastics and traces of hazardous chemicals have been found in Antarctica, one of the world’s last great wildernesses. Over the course of three months from January to March 2018, researchers took water and snow samples from remote areas of the continent. Of the eight sea-surface water samples, seven contained microplastics such as microfibres, and of the nine snow samples tested, seven contained detectable concentrations of the persistent hazardous chemicals–polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS).

The findings further add to scientists concern that our use of plastics risks the “permanent contamination” of the planet with little known about the consequences of this pervasive contamination.

Elsewhere in plastic news, a more hopeful future. A report by the Green Alliance suggests that the UK could be in with an impressive chance of combating the scourge on plastic. How? By using more of our waste for recycling. In fact, if we stopped passing our plastic away to other countries and collected and reused it instead, we could be well on our way to supplying nearly three-quarters of this country’s demand.

READ: ‘Antarctica: plastic contamination reaches Earth’s last wilderness’ (3mins read — via The Guardian)

Cannabis Conundrum

“My experience leaves me in no doubt that the Home Office can no longer play a role in the administration of medication for sick children in our country.”

It may have been the magical herb of choice for emperors and ancient civilisations alike, but five millennia after Chinese Emperor Shen declared cannabis could treat more than 1,000 ailments, the debate about its legalisation rages on. After young epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell had his medicinal cannabis confiscated, and then returned by the Home Office, rumblings about the wider significance of this case continue. Could it signify a shift in policy towards the drug? While Caldwell has been given a 20-day licence for hospital use, campaigners are pushing for the government to legalise the regulation of cannabis, so that those who need it for medical purposes won’t fall foul of the law. One to watch.

READ: ‘Cannabis oil row: Boy has epilepsy medication returned’ (3mins read — via BBC News)

Level Playing Field

“Female fans are pretty excited to pass the Azadi’s gates for first time — but some are saying we can’t believe it until we enter in stadium.”

Their team may have lost, but nonetheless Iranian women celebrated a win of their own at the World Cup this year. For the first time in 37 years female football fans were allowed to support their country in a public sporting event. Many wore patriotic red, green and white as they cheered on players at the stadium screening in Tehran. Despite the reluctance of the police to let the event go ahead in the first place, the move suggests the national ban on female attendance (initiated after the Revolution of 1979) could soon be lifted. A week of progress off the field for a nation still finding its feet in the realm of gender politics.

READ: ‘Iran’s female football supporters make history at World Cup stadium screening’ (3mins read — via The Guardian)

Kids Camps

“A shelter employee asked a small group of reporters allowed inside the facility to smile at the hundreds of detained migrant kids in line for a meal because ‘they feel like animals in a cage being looked at.’”

Thousands of immigrant children have been herded into a detention camp in Texas, evidence that Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy is not working. The surge in children in this desert-based tent city is a result of the Trump administration’s decision to prosecute 100% of immigrants crossing over into the US illegally. Each day sees new arrivals.

These children are separated from the parents who are sent to be prosecuted. Their prison? A former converted Walmart. This sorry state of affairs has seen officials scuttling around the country to find locations to erect new tent cities. So far, there has been no indication about the future of these isolated children and residents living near the camp have begun to express their outrage.

READ: ‘Surge in children separated at border floods facility for undocumented immigrants’ (4mins read — via NBC News)

Battle for Hodeidah

“The Yemeni port (of Hudaida) is a lifeline for the delivery of aid and the Coalition’s air attacks can kill many more people over time through famine and hunger when damaging such civilian infrastructure.”

Following the seizure of Hodeidah airport, A UN Yemen envoy is now in talks with the Houthi movement to hand over control of Hodeidah seaport to the UN, to avoid a possible Saudi-coalition led invasion of the city. There are fears the conflict could be the catalyst for a humanitarian crisis in a country on the edge of famine. Millions in Yemen are at risk of starvation due to a war which has continued for almost three years between the rebels and the government.

READ: ‘UN envoy in Yemen for crisis talks over Hudaida port’ (5mins read — via Al Jazeera)

Read Something

“We thought things would change, but they didn’t. Our leaders think only about themselves. They’ve become billionaires and they’ve left us standing in the mud.”

Award-winning Al Jazeera journalist Barnaby Phillips returns to Kosovo 10 years after independence, to see what’s changed in a village where ethnic Serbs and Albanians live side by side.

READ: ‘Return to Berkovo, the village where Serbs and Albanians coexist in Kosovo’ (6mins read — via Al Jazeera)

Hear Something

“Stewart was among the most culturally catalytic people in the turbulent years of the late 1960s…he went on to become a rather visible founding figure of the environmental movement of the early 70s. Later, he created one of the most influential early online communities.”

If none of this rings any bells, it’s about time you met Stewart Brand, the creator of the Whole Earth Catalogue (a physical Google before Google existed) and one of the first great online communities, The Well. As radical thinkers go, Brand is one of the greatest of the 20th and 21st centuries to date, as this extensive interview with Rob Reid demonstrates.

LISTEN: ‘Episode 30: Stewart Brand | De-Extinction, The Whole Earth, & Way More’ (30mins listen)

Do Something

“This could be a march of millions. 4% of the population have said that they would ‘definitely’ take part in protests against the visit.”

If you find yourself at a loose end on July 13th, or even if you’ve got big plans, get yourself down to Portland Place in London to join Stop the War Coalition’s protest against the Trump visit. If nothing else it’ll be the perfect chance to witness the giant trump baby blimp in flight.

JOIN: ‘Together Against Trump: National Demo — 13 July London’

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World-shaping stories curated each month by the team behind the @WeaponsofReason publishing project. Sign-up @

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