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Anarchism in America


 
As the title promises, Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher’s Anarchism in America is a documentary survey of anarchism in the United States. The film presents an overview of the movement’s history, such as the Spanish Civil War, the 1917 Revolution, Emma Goldman, and the deaths of Sacco and Vanzetti, and takes these as the points of departure for what were then (1983) contemporary observations from the outside looking in on Ronald Reagan’s America. Whether viewed as a time capsule or as an able introduction to the various forms of anarchism, the film makes for fascinating viewing and has held up well after 31 years.

What’s perfectly obvious is how much of a libertarian or individualistic route the American strain of anarchism takes—let’s call it “free market anarchism”—in stark contrast to European-style communal living experiments (such as squatters’ groups or farm co-ops). They’re just not quite the same school of thought, although if you were to draw a Venn diagram of what they do have in common, it would be significant but also… probably equally incompatible for the things which they lack in simpatico. Does anyone in Anarchism in America have any hopes for a revolution? Seemingly not in their lifetimes. (Many of them were right, of course. I’ve read that the filmmakers are planning a sequel, so I’d suspect that post-Occupy, post-Piketty, there would be more positive prognostications to be found along those lines today.)
 

Emma Goldman will not attend your revolution if she can’t dance….

The film also offers anarchist or anarchist-leaning thinkers uninterrupted camera time to make their points. Like Murray Bookchin, who says this:
 

I had entered the communist children’s movement, an organization called the Young Pioneers of America, in 1930 in New York City; I was only nine years of age. And I’d gone through the entire ’30s as a—Stalinist—initially, and then increasingly as someone who was more and more sympathetic to Trotskyism. And by 1939, after having seen Hitler rise to power, the Austrian workers’ revolt of 1934 (an almost completely forgotten episode in labor history), the Spanish revolution, by which I mean the so-called Spanish civil war—I finally became utterly disillusioned with Stalinism, and drifted increasingly toward Trotskyism. And by 1945, I, finally, also became disillusioned with Trotskyism; and I would say, now, increasingly with Marxism and Leninism.

And I began to try to explore what were movements and ideologies, if you like, that really were liberatory, that really freed people of this hierarchical mentality, of this authoritarian outlook, of this complete assimilation by the work ethic. And I now began to turn, very consciously, toward anarchist views, because anarchism posed a question, not simply of a struggle between classes based upon economic exploitation—anarchism really was posing a much broader historical question that even goes beyond our industrial civilization—not just classes, but hierarchy—hierarchy as it exists in the family, hierarchy as it exists in the school, hierarchy as it exists in sexual relationships, hierarchy as it exists between ethnic groups. Not only class divisions, based upon economic exploitation. And it was concerned not only with economic exploitation, it was concerned with domination, domination which may not even have any economic meaning at all: the domination of women by men in which women are not economically exploited; the domination of ordinary people by bureaucrats, in which you may even have welfare, so-called socialist type of state; domination as it exists today in China, even when you’re supposed to have a classless society; domination even as it exists in Russia, where you are supposed to have a classless society, you see.

So these are the things I noted in anarchism, and increasingly I came to the conclusion that if we were to avoid—or if we are to avoid—the mistakes in over one hundred years of proletarian socialism, if we are to really achieve a liberatory movement, not simply in terms of economic questions but in terms of every aspect of life, we would have to turn to anarchism because it alone posed the problem, not merely of class domination but hierarchical domination, and it alone posed the question, not simply of economic exploitation, but exploitation in every sphere of life. And it was that growing awareness, that we had to go beyond classism into hierarchy, and beyond exploitation into domination, that led me into anarchism, and to a commitment to an anarchist outlook.

 
Worth noting that Bookchin left anarchism behind, too, due to what he saw as the antisocial element to American style anarchist thought.

There’s one particularly amazing piece of footage (among several included in the film) that I wanted to call to your attention. It’s the demonstration of how a policeman’s truncheon fares against various food items such as an egg, squash, and an eggplant before moving on to a Yippie’s head. That clip comes from an “answer” film made by the Yippies in the aftermath of the Chicago riots that was played on television there due to the “equal-time” rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political parties who request it. When Mayor Richard Daley got to tell the city’s side of the story in something called “What Trees Did They Plant?” the Yippies got to tell their side in an extremely whacked-out short film scripted by Paul Krassner. That starts at 30:50 but if you want to see the entire thing, click over to archive.org, they’ve got it. (The guy with the truncheon is Chicago-based lefty humorist and radio broadcaster Marshall Efron, who played one of the prisoners in George Lucas’ THX 1138. He was also the voice of “Smelly Smurf” and works as a voice actor in animated films to this day.)

Toward the end of Anarchism in America, Jello Biafra and Dead Kennedys are seen onstage performing “We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now,” while in the interview segment a level-headed young Biafra suggests that anarchy, or some sort of revolution in the USA, is probably a long, long way off. If they do make the sequel, he’s one of the first people they ought to interview for it. I’d be curious if he still feels that way. I would suspect that he’s much more optimistic these days.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Abbie Hoffman’s radical granola recipe
05.29.2014
09:54 am

Topics:
Activism
Food

Tags:
Abbie Hoffman
recipes


 
Radical activist and opportunistic prankster Abbie Hoffman’s infamous 1971 opus Steal This Book is part political manifesto and part handbook on getting things for free. The lists of goods and services he and his comrades thought should be automatically free to everyone, such as medical care (including birth control and abortions), higher education, and food, all considered unthinkably outrageous 43 years ago, have been subsumed by more recent movements as perfectly normal expectations in an affluent society.

The rhetoric doesn’t sound quite so jarring, either, except for the occasional bit of vintage slang. This Hoffman quote could easily be taken from a Russell Brand monologue:

Dig the spirit of the struggle. Don’t get hung up on a sacrifice trip. Revolution is not about suicide, it is about life. With your fingers probe the holiness of your body and see that it was meant to live. Your body is just one in a mass of cuddly humanity. Become an internationalist and learn to respect all life. Make war on machines, and in particular the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them. The duty of a revolutionary is to make love and that means staying alive and free. That doesn’t allow for cop-outs. Smoking dope and hanging up Che’s picture is no more a commitment than drinking milk and collecting postage stamps. A revolution in consciousness is an empty high without a revolution in the distribution of power. We are not interested in the greening of Amerika except for the grass that will cover its grave.

Food insecurity is still a massive problem in the U.S. four decades later. Hoffman’s advice on finding, stealing, and scamming free food contains nothing that a poor college student, couponing single parent, “recession wife,” or unemployed person doesn’t already know: crash wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, and conventions, ask for vegetables, bread, meat, and fish that are about to be thrown out at groceries, wholesalers, market stands, and restaurants (although I suspect most people would draw the line at asking for leavings at the local slaughterhouse), ask for “charitable” donations at canning factories, eat off other people’s plates at restaurants before tables are bussed, form a food co-op, and hustle from caterers. With ubiquitous security cameras in every chain grocery store, shoplifting food is much more of a challenge than it was back then. It may be easier to qualify for food stamp benefits now but food is astronomically more expensive.

abbieandjohn
 

The scams Hoffman outlines to get food from restaurants and food delivery people are clever but sometimes require props and costumes (a nun costume?). Of course, many of his ideas are obviously outdated (slugs for vending machines) or silly. He advises that you line your pockets with plastic bags before you load up on food to take home from buffets, especially fried chicken. However, it’s hard to imagine anyone today actually taking him at his trollish word and trying to pour coffee into a bag hidden in their pocket for later. Not when you can get free coffee at Half-Price Books or bank lobbies.

Hoffman included recipes for cheap food, including “Hedonists’ Delight,” which starts “Steal two lobsters,” and this one for granola, which would probably cost $100 in raw materials from Whole Foods:

Hog Farm Granola Breakfast (Road Hog Crispies)

½ cup millet

½ cup cracked wheat

½ cup buckwheat groats

½ cup wheat germ

½ cup sunflower seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds

2 tablespoons cornmeal

2 cups raw oats

1 cup rye flakes

1 cup dried fruits and/or nuts

3 tablespoons soy oil

1 cup honey


Boil the millet in a double boiler for ½ hour. Mix in a large bowl all the ingredients including the millet. The soy oil and honey should be heated in a saucepan over a low flame until bubbles form. Spread the cereal in a baking pan and cover with the honey syrup. Toast in oven until brown. Stir once or twice so that all the cereal will be toasted. Serve plain or with milk. Refrigerate portion not used in a covered container. Enough for ten to twenty people. Make lots and store for later meals. All these ingredients can be purchased at any health store in a variety of quantities. You can also get natural sugar if you need a sweetener. If bought and made in quantity, this fantastically healthy breakfast food will be cheaper than the brand name cellophane that passes for cereal.

Abbie making gefilte fish, below:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Douglas Rushkoff: Media Theorist for the Age of Occupy
05.27.2014
12:47 pm

Topics:
Activism
Media
Thinkers

Tags:
Douglas Rushkoff


 
Congratulations are in order for Dangerous Minds pal Douglas Rushkoff, make that Professor Douglas Rushkoff, as he’ll now be called in his new position at Queens College. From his website this morning:

It’s official. I’m a university professor - and at a public university where you can all come and study and work and devise the future of civilization for cheap. The official press release is below. The skinny? I’ve taken my first university post, as a professor of media studies at CUNY/Queens College, where I’ll be helping to build a first-of-its-kind media studies program. Instead of training people to become advertisers or to write the next useless phone app (and raise VC), I’m going to support people who want to see through the media, and use it to wage attacks on the status quo. This is media studies for Occupiers.

The undergraduate program is in full swing. The graduate program is accepting applications for Spring.

This is my answer to the emails I get every week from people asking where they can study media theory and activism. Come and get it.

Smart professors like Douglas Rushkoff attract smart students and smart students attract even more smart students. A few years back Doug had to be out of town and so I was the guest instructor for one of his NYU graduate studies classes. Smartest bunch of young people I’ve ever been in a room with and the reason they were all there was because of my old friend, that much was obvious.

If there was something like this when I was of college-going age, well I probably would have gone to college myself…

From the press release:

Rushkoff’s move to academia reflects his interest in social justice and the need to build media literacy in the rapidly evolving global media environment. “This is a rally for consciousness,” says Rushkoff. “The essential skill in a digital age is to understand the biases of the landscape – to be able to think critically and act purposefully with these tools – lest the tools and companies behind them use us instead.”

“I wish to foster a deeper awareness and more purposeful implementation of media, and this can be best accomplished at a mission-driven public institution such as Queens College,” says Rushkoff, a native of Queens who was inspired to join the school because of its rich legacy of social dialogue and engagement. “I want to teach a diverse range of students without putting them into lifelong debt. Besides, where better to work on media in the people’s interest than a public university?”

The school’s Media Studies Chair, Professor Richard Maxwell said “The college, with its unique community of students, creative artists, and scholars, has a tradition of cultivating a learning environment supportive of critical thinking and social consciousness. Rushkoff’s contributions to current thinking in technology, media, and society are at the forefront of the evolving study of media. He’s a great fit for our program and will complement our existing faculty in providing a transformative learning experience.”

Good move on the part of Queens College to hire Doug—I mean Professor Rushkoff—he’s a prestige name for the CUNY system in general. Starting in August, Rushkoff will be teaching courses in propaganda and media theory. The new Master of Arts in Media Studies program will be in full swing by Spring of 2015.

Below, a recent Rushkoff talk at the DLD conference earlier this month. I was going to post this anyway, and this announcement gave me the perfect excuse.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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French schoolboys wear skirts to class to fight sexism
05.16.2014
06:54 am

Topics:
Activism
Amusing
Feminism

Tags:
skirts


 
Ah, the French, you have to admire their idealism and their love for liberté, égalité, fraternité and all that. Now in a bid to fight sexism and inequality in schools, the education authority in Nantes, western France, is encouraging schoolboys to drop their trousers and wear a skirt to class today, at 27 lycées in the city.

Actor Laurence Olivier once remarked that he found the best way to become a character was to start with the shoes. Once he knew how the person might walk, he was able to choose the clothes that would help him best identify and understand the character more fully. This maybe some of the thinking behind the idea of “LIft the Skirt” or, as it is in French, “Ce que soulève la jupe” (literally: “‘What raises the skirt”), a campaign originally devised by pupils themselves in a bid to stop sexism, which has been sanctioned by the city’s education chiefs, and by association France’s Ministry of Education.

For those boys who would rather not bare a leg, they can show their support for the campaign by wearing a sticker saying: “I am fighting against sexism, are you?”

According to Elisabeth Costagliola, head of the organization PEEP, the campaign is supported by the pupils’ parents, saying there has been no negative reaction when the event was held last year.

“On the contrary, it was really positive with students saying that even some male teachers were prepared to come to school in a skirt,” Costagliola said.

However, there has been some backlash further afield from conservative politicians, including Olivier Vial, president of the conservative UNI party, who said:

“We’ll do any old nonsense in the name of equality. This move is inspired by the Day of the Skirt, whose original aim was to allow women to express their femininity in environments where it was often difficult. But this is just denying feminine and masculine identity,” Vial said.

“Ce que soulève la jupe” is an interesting idea, but as a Scot, from a country where men have worn plaid skirts, or kilts, for centuries (and even “women’s tights” [stockings] in the trenches during World War One—to counteract poisonous gas), sexism and inequality are still problems, which are unlikely to be solved by a one-day skirt-wearing event, though, I guess one can hope.
 

 
Via The Local, H/T Arbroath.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Now you can buy swag adorned with the art of George W. Bush!
04.25.2014
08:19 am

Topics:
Activism
Art

Tags:
George W. Bush


 
Do you like terrible art? Terrible art made by war criminals? And paraphernalia thereof?!?

Well, you’re in luck! An anonymous prankster at Society6 has been hawking prints, canvases, tote bags, throw pillows and wall clocks featuring the creepily naïve paintings of George W. Bush! You have your choice of Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, Hamid Karzai, or if you’re feeling Freudian, daddy George Bush! All proceeds after production go to War Child International, a nonprofit describing itself as a family of independent humanitarian “organisations which work together to help children and young people affected by armed conflict.” How apropos!

The folks over at Animal NYC checked on the ethics/legal end of the copyright issues with their expert, Greg Allen, who described the stunt as, “kind of a dick move, supposedly by someone without the guts to come forward and claim their bad boy gesture.” He’s of the opinion that the merch is “purely a slow-off-the-line publicity stunt by Society6, which is the merchandising subsidiary of online content mill Demand Media. And it’s a dick move whenever a corporation rips off the creative output of an artist, especially an emerging artist. Even if he happens to be a war criminal.”

I have no such qualms with this kind of “theft”! For all I care, you can go steal the garden gnomes off of George W. Bush’s lawn—assuming, of course, you could manage to not get shot in the process. You can say that you’re “liberating” them!  At the same time, I’m sure Allen is right, and this is just a gesture from Society6—unless you really like owning ugly conversation pieces, you’re better off just donating your cash or time to antiwar groups or foreign aid. Remember folks, having ugly throw pillows doesn’t fight the power!
 

 

 

 
Via Animal

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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The murderer whose reputation John Lennon worked to restore
04.09.2014
08:16 am

Topics:
Activism
Movies
Music

Tags:
Yoko Ono
John Lennon
James Hanratty

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
 
In 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono became very interested in a convicted murderer who had been hanged for a heinous crime seven years earlier. In Britain it was one of the most famous crimes and trials of the era.

What is not in doubt is that in 1961 an individual raped Valerie Storie and murdered Michael John Gregsten, who just a little while earlier had been occupying a car together on the A6 highway in the vicinity of Bedfordshire. Storie was paralyzed from the waist down, while Gregsten, having suffered two point-blank bullets to the head, had died instantly. It does not appear to have been a robbery gone wrong or anything like that, just brutality for brutality’s sake.

There was an initial suspect named Peter Alphon, whom the police held briefly before letting him go. Many people feel that he is the likely murderer. The eventual defendant, the man who would hang for the crime, was James Hanratty. A lot of the ins and outs of the evidence-gathering phase hinged on police lineups. The trial was said to have been the longest in British history for a single murder defendant. The evidence against Hanratty was somewhat circumstantial but also not all that weak either, as far as I can tell. The jury deliberated for an unusually long time and sought clarifications from the judge in the process. Eventually the jury yielded a verdict of guilty. Six weeks later, Hanratty was executed.

A lot of social norms were changing fast in Britain—in 1965 the death penalty was outlawed in Britain for the crime of murder. The excitement over the “A6” crimes never really died down during that era, it had captured the public’s imagination. There were several books exploring the idea of Hanratty’s innocence. Hanratty’s parents and brother appear to have campaigned tirelessly on behalf of his innocence, and they were exceptionally sympathetic.

In late 1969 Hanratty’s parents visited a wealthy friend in Ascot named John Cunningham, who promptly introduced them to his pal John Lennon who lived nearby. John and Yoko quickly seized the case as another opportunity for peculiar protest; they were very much in their “Bed-In” phase.
 
Lennon
John Lennon and Yoko Ono with the parents of James Hanratty
 
Together with Hanratty’s parents, John and Yoko announced their intention to make a film to back the campaign for an enquiry at an Apple press conference on December 10, 1969. Apple Films released a documentary with the title Did Britain murder Hanratty? This movie is universally referred to as “John Lennon’s movie” and yet it’s unclear how involved he was. His name isn’t on the movie, and it’s not listed in his credits on IMDb. Well, whatever sells, right? 

The single public screening of the 40-minute movie eventually took place in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London, on February 17, 1972.

The fight to outlaw capital punishment in Britain was a large topic of the day, even after it had happened; it was on the minds of a lot of people. Hanratty had a pretty serious criminal record before the A6 crimes, he had spent the bulk of the previous seven years in prison for burglary and auto theft. In 2002 DNA tests apparently confirmed Hanratty’s guilt, although Hanratty’s defenders question that result based on the use of a spoiled sample.

On John & Yoko’s “Live Jam” album (recorded December 15, 1969), which was released with Some Time in New York City, Yoko can be heard shouting “Britain, you killed Hanratty, you murderer!” and then chanting Hanratty’s name throughout the opening bars of “Don’t Worry Kyoko.”

“Don’t Worry Kyoko,” off of Live Jam/Some Time in New York City

 

 
via Beatles Video Of The Day
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The best (serious) April Fools’ Day video (seriously!)


“Introducing Anti-Unional, a new, long-lasting anti-worker suppository…”

The anti-union push by the wealthy elites, the corporations and the reichwing politicians who do the bidding of the highest bidders is shameful. As someone raised in a union household, what went down in Tennessee recently made me feel heartsick. Mike Elk’s epic article “The Battle for Chattanooga: Southern Masculinity and the Anti-Union Campaign at Volkswagen” is a must-read if you want to understand the depths these middle-management class-traitor assholes will sink to and the psychological warfare they engaged in vs. the workers. One word for it: Shameful. (This is an important piece of journalism, absolutely worth your time.)

Why not ask the Germans how they feel about union membership? They have a strong economy. They have LOTS of union members. Their unions prevent them from getting screwed over by the oligarchs. They have good wages and can raise their families without struggling. They even get a month or more of vacation. Coincidence? I should think not.

Can’t have that here, now, can we? The wealthy might not like it. Look at this chart, it tells the story of what’s happened in America rather succinctly and as the saying goes, numbers don’t lie.
 

 
Utterly brilliant work, this video speaks for itself, so I’m just going to get out of its way:

Ten out of ten CEOs recommend Anti-Unional to their workers!

Time-released effects ensure that the 1% continue to take in a greater share of the nation’s wealth!

Fast-acting formula decimates wages and benefits and a secure retirement!

Certified and approved by Koch Brothers Laboratories.

If you approve of this satire, SHARE IT. So far they’ve only had a handful of views, this needs to go viral stat.
 

 
Via AFSCME

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Edward Snowden’s testimony to the European Parliament is a must-read for EVERY concerned American

Edward Snowden
If Edward Snowden isn’t very careful, they’re going to crush his head!

The fate of Edward Snowden continues to be excruciatingly unresolved. The former NSA contractor who made international headlines in 2013 when he illegally disclosed details about the shocking scope of federal surveillance programs via The Guardian and other news outlets has been obliged to seek asylum from various non-U.S.-aligned governments, such as Russia, Ecuador, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Nobody really disputes that Snowden has committed criminal acts—no matter how justified—and yet the intransigent stance of the U.S. to hold over Snowden’s head the most draconian penalties (short of the death penalty, praise Jeebus). Attorney General Eric Holder promised that Snowden would not be tortured if Russia, Snowden’s current home, were to turn him over to U.S. authorities, but in the wake of Bush/Cheney and Obama himself, such promises ring hollow. In the end, the behavior of the U.S. government and other western governments has, unfortunately, tended for the most part to substantiate Snowden’s more “paranoid” claims. The optimal outcome at this stage would be for the United States to offer a more “reasonable” prison term of 3-5 years—such a gesture would go a long way towards confirming to suspicious citizens that the U.S. intends to get its house in order.

Short of that, acceptance by U.S.-friendly western goverments of the European Union would likewise tend to send the message that U.S.security-related surveillance interests don’t trump every other value in the geopolitical system. One of the dispiritng lessons of the Snowden affair thus far has been the lack of counterbalancing perspective in the global system, in other words, the only apparent recourse Snowden has had to escape punishment from the United States has been various “bad guys” like Iran, North Korea, Russia and so on.  The strong impression has been left that countries like Germany, France, U.K., and so on, which once may have acted as sensible, fair brokers are all (a) unduly beholden to the U.S., and (b) compromised in their own right, as each country has its own semi-legal regime of espionage and surveillance. If all western states are but satellites in the U.S. sphere of influence, then Snowden’s revelations become all the more urgent.

For this reason, Snowden’s testimony (delivered in the form of a written statement) to the European Parliament on March 7 is a huge story—one that, sadly, has gone largely unnoticed by major U.S. media outlets. (At this point it’s a little difficult to distinguish sinister anti-Snowden propaganda from regular Snowden fatigue.) You can read Snowden’s entire testimony here.

In his testimony, Snowden related that he has requested asylum in from a number of EU countries, only to be told by European Parliamentarians that the United States would not permit its EU partners to make such an offer. “I do seek EU asylum, but I have yet to receive a positive response to the requests I sent to various EU member states. Parliamentarians in the national governments have told me that the US, and I quote, ‘will not allow’ EU partners to offer political asylum to me, which is why the previous resolution on asylum ran into such mysterious opposition. I would welcome any offer of safe passage or permanent asylum, but I recognize that would require an act of extraordinary political courage.”
 
The NSA
 
In Snowden’s view, the NSA and the security agencies of various EU states have created a “European bazaar” in which the perception of shared interests among the EU states trump the rights and expectations of western citizens to conduct their affairs in private. Wrote Snowden:

“The result is a European bazaar, where an EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the (unenforceable) condition that NSA doesn’t search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn’t search for Germans. Yet the two tapping sites may be two points on the same cable, so the NSA simply captures the communications of the German citizens as they transit Denmark, and the Danish citizens as they transit Germany, all the while considering it entirely in accordance with their agreements. Ultimately, each EU national government’s spy services are independently hawking domestic accesses to the NSA, GCHQ [U.K. Government Communications Headquarters], FRA [Försvarets radioanstalt, the Swedish National Defense Radio Establishment], and the like without having any awareness of how their individual contribution is enabling the greater patchwork of mass surveillance against ordinary citizens as a whole.”

Snowden has gone out of his way to put up a non-threatening front to the EU, insisting that he left the Russian secret service frustrated in its attempts to procure from Snowden further classified information about the United States. To the question “Did the Russian secret service approach you?” Snowden replied:

“Of course. Even the secret service of Andorra would have approached me, if they had had the chance: that’s their job. But I didn’t take any documents with me from Hong Kong, and while I’m sure they were disappointed, it doesn’t take long for an intelligence service to realize when they’re out of luck. I was also accompanied at all times by an utterly fearless journalist with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, which is the equivalent of Kryptonite for spies. As a consequence, we spent the next 40 days trapped in an airport instead of sleeping on piles of money while waiting for the next parade. But we walked out with heads held high. I would also add, for the record, that the United States government has repeatedly acknowledged that there is no evidence at all of any relationship between myself and the Russian intelligence service.”

According to Snowden, the NSA itself, which has well-nigh unregulated status within the U.S. federal government, has itself been pushing for EU states to take actions that do not benefit EU citizens:

“One of the foremost activities of the NSA’s FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance. Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK’s GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers.”

The Snowden “affair” is a highly sensitive “node” in the incredibly complex network of institutions that touch on so many important aspects of our lives—the federal government, telecom companies, Google and Facebook, credit card companies, the U.S. military, Russia, the UN, and so on. If the European Parliament denies Snowden’s requests, it will be another depressing sign that those interrelated interests do not have your or my well-being at heart.

In this video, Democracy Now! looks at the three most important of Snowden’s revelations:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Dozens of Fela Kuti albums available for free streaming
02.10.2014
04:33 am

Topics:
Activism
Music
Politics

Tags:
Fela Kuti
Afrobeat


 
A Metafilter user going by the wonderful handle “flapjax at midnite” has alerted the world to the existence of a Bandcamp page full of complete Fela Kuti LPs. 48 of them, in fact, which I don’t believe is even his complete discography.

If you’re unfamiliar, good lord take this opportunity! Fela (1938-1997) was an inestimably important African artist who began making music in the late ‘50s, and in the ‘60s pioneered a compelling fusion of psych-rock, funk, jazz, and traditional Nigerian music that he dubbed “Afrobeat.” His music dealt with themes of social justice, which, as he was a Pan-African and a Socialist, got him in major and repeated deep shit in the repressive milieu of Nigeria. The mid ’70s album Zombie, for example, was a blistering attack on the Nigerian military, whose response to the insult included fatally defenestrating his mother in a brutal raid on the Lagos commune in which he, his family, and his band lived. The 1989 release Beasts of No Nation—the recording that served as my introduction to his work—was a lengthy and stunning piece he wrote after being freed from a stint in prison on a politically motivated and trumped up currency smuggling charge.
 

 

 
Now, as heroic as his political struggles were, the man was not unproblematic. It’d be plain wrong to lionize him for his musical innovations and political engagement while leaving out that he was a polygamist who could be disturbingly misogynistic.

There are plenty of good entry points into Fela’s work, but among my favorites is the absolutely KILLER Live With Ginger Baker. The Cream drummer’s African sojurn is a story unto itself, and had no small impact on the development of that continent’s rock music in the ’70s.
 

 
Lastly, here’s some great footage from Catalonian television in the ‘80s, mixing interview material with a live concert, a combination which imparts a good sense of the man and his work.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The Clash play ‘Safe European Home’ in newly unearthed live footage
02.07.2014
05:37 am

Topics:
Activism
Music
Punk

Tags:
The Clash


 
Web series The Big Fun Show, a project of One Billion Acts of Peace, has unearthed some unreleased footage of The Clash performing at Detroit USA’s Motor City Roller Rink in 1980. They’ve posted “Safe European Home,” from the LP Give Em Enough Rope, with the promise that if the video gets 100,000 views, they’ll post more of the show.

The video has been up for a few days now, and the hit count is still well below 5,000, so maybe we could give them a little hand? One Billion Acts of Peace is a charitable organization worth knowing about. A project of Peace Jam, it’s “an international global citizen’s movement led by thirteen Nobel Peace Laureates and designed to tackle the toughest issues facing humanity.”

Between now and December 31, 2018, average citizens around the world will work together to create one billion high quality projects addressing the root causes of the most important problems facing our planet—crucial areas like rights for women and children, access to clean water for all, and alleviating extreme poverty.

Additional information on the project is available at their web site. But OK, optimism, social change and Nobel Peace Prizes are all maybe a little hippie-ish for some of you, and you clicked on this to see The Clash. I’ll not keep you waiting.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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