Monday, May 31, 2010

Matt Zoller Seitz: Dennis Hopper -- The Middle Word in Life

Moving Image Source

Link to the introduction and the source video

Louis Brandeis: "The dominant element in our financial oligarchy..."

"The dominant element in our financial oligarchy is the investment banker. Associated banks, trust companies and life insurance companies are his tools... . The development of our financial oligarchy followed ... lines with which the history of political despotism has familiarized us: usurpation, proceeding by gradual encroachment rather than violent acts, subtle and often long-concealed concentration of distinct functions... . It was by processes such as these that Ceasar Augustus became master of Rome."

Louis Brandeis -- Other People's Money (1913)

Green Cine Daily: Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White
GreenCine Daily

Actor and martial artist Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Dark Knight, HBO's Tyson) is the co-writer and eponymous superfly star of Black Dynamite -- a pitch-perfect, two-fisted and two-footed throwback to '70s blaxploitation, directed by Scott Sanders. Premiering in Sundance's "Park City at Midnight" section and already picked up for $2 million by Sony Pictures, the film follows a plot that seemed yanked straight from Fred Williamson's filmography:

When "The Man" murders his brother, pumps heroin into local orphanages, and floods the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor, Black Dynamite is the one hero willing to fight all the way from the blood-soaked city streets to the hallowed halls of the Honky House.

To Read the Rest of the Intro and Listen to the Podcast

Dan Sartain: Atheist Funeral

Ty Segall: So Alone

Frontline: The Wounded Platoon

The Wounded Platoon
Frontline (PBS)

Third Platoon, Charlie Company. What happened to them in Iraq, and what happened when they came home...


In The Wounded Platoon, FRONTLINE reveals a military mental health system overwhelmed with soldiers suffering psychological injuries from the surge -- at Fort Carson the rate of PTSD diagnosis has risen 4,000 percent since 2002 -- and the widespread use of prescription psychiatric drugs both at home and in combat. "Everybody was on Ambien, everybody. It was hard to find somebody that wasn't taking Ambien," says the 3rd Platoon's medic, Ryan "Doc" Krebbs. "It helps you sleep, and it also f***s you up. It gets you pretty high." After returning home, Krebbs was also prescribed the antipsychotic medication Seroquel, on which he would purposefully overdose in a suicide attempt. "I thought that my time in this place was over, and I'd already done what I was supposed to do, and I didn't want to live anymore."

Before the Iraq war, American soldiers in combat zones did not take psychiatric medications, but by the time of the surge more than 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were taking antidepressants and sleeping pills. These drugs enable the Army to keep soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder on the battlefield. "What I use medications for is to treat very specific side effects," Army psychiatrist Col. George Brandt tells FRONTLINE. "I don't want somebody in a helplessness mode in a combat environment. I want to make sure I don't have someone with suicidal thoughts where everyone is armed."

Kenny Eastridge, who is now serving time for the murder of Kevin Shields and other crimes, tells FRONTLINE that he sought help for mental health problems from a combat stress center on Forward Operating Base Falcon. "I was having a total mental breakdown. Every day we were getting in battles and never having a break. It seemed like, it was just crazy," he says. "They put me on all kinds of meds, and I was still going out on missions. They had me on Ambien, Remeron, Lexapro, Celexa, all kind of different stuff."

Despite the warnings that patients on these medications should be closely monitored for side effects, Eastridge was sent to a remote combat outpost for weeks at a time with no medical supervision or mental health provision. He says he ran out of medication and was also smoking marijuana and taking Valium. In dramatic footage filmed by other members of the 3rd Platoon, FRONTLINE shows Eastridge behaving erratically, wandering into Iraqi homes, lying in their beds, and trying to hug local women and men.

Fort Carson's hospital remains understaffed with almost a quarter of its psychiatry positions unfilled. The 3rd's battalion, which has been reflagged as the 2-12 Infantry, is about to return home from a year of intense combat in Afghanistan. "We're all wondering what's going to happen," says Colorado Springs psychotherapist Robert Alvarez. "It's a scary thought, you know, what's going to happen in this community. Are we going to have more murders? Are we going to have more suicides, or are we going to have more crime? I think the answer to that is probably yes."

To Watch the Episode

Frontline: The Warning

The Warning
Frontline (PBS)

In The Warning, veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk unearths the hidden history of the nation's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At the center of it all he finds Brooksley Born, who speaks for the first time on television about her failed campaign to regulate the secretive, multitrillion-dollar derivatives market whose crash helped trigger the financial collapse in the fall of 2008.

"I didn't know Brooksley Born," says former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, a member of President Clinton's powerful Working Group on Financial Markets. "I was told that she was irascible, difficult, stubborn, unreasonable." Levitt explains how the other principals of the Working Group -- former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- convinced him that Born's attempt to regulate the risky derivatives market could lead to financial turmoil, a conclusion he now believes was "clearly a mistake."

Born's battle behind closed doors was epic, Kirk finds. The members of the President's Working Group vehemently opposed regulation -- especially when proposed by a Washington outsider like Born.

"I walk into Brooksley's office one day; the blood has drained from her face," says Michael Greenberger, a former top official at the CFTC who worked closely with Born. "She's hanging up the telephone; she says to me: 'That was [former Assistant Treasury Secretary] Larry Summers. He says, "You're going to cause the worst financial crisis since the end of World War II."... [He says he has] 13 bankers in his office who informed him of this. Stop, right away. No more.'"

Greenspan, Rubin and Summers ultimately prevailed on Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation of derivatives. "Born faced a formidable struggle pushing for regulation at a time when the stock market was booming," Kirk says. "Alan Greenspan was the maestro, and both parties in Washington were united in a belief that the markets would take care of themselves."

Now, with many of the same men who shut down Born in key positions in the Obama administration, The Warning reveals the complicated politics that led to this crisis and what it may say about current attempts to prevent the next one.

"It'll happen again if we don't take the appropriate steps," Born warns. "There will be significant financial downturns and disasters attributed to this regulatory gap over and over until we learn from experience."

To Watch the Episode

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Laurence W. Britt: 14 Characteristics of Fascism

(Images courtesy of a Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace)

"Fascism Anyone."
Laurence W. Britt
Free Inquiry 33.2 (Spring 2003)

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

Fascism Anyone

Friday, May 28, 2010

On the Media: Playing God

Playing God
On the Media

For the first time, the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting went to an online news outlet – the not-for-profit – for its story about the decision doctors made to euthanize patients at Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. ProPublica reporter Sheri Fink talks about her piece.

To Listen to the Episode


Pro Publica's Continuing Feature on Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

The Center on Law and Security: 24 -- Torture Televised Panel featuring Jane Mayer, Richard Slotkin, Tony Lagouranis, Stephen Holmes ...

Open Forum: 24 -- Torture Televised
The Center on Law and Security

featuring Jane Mayer, Richard Slotkin, Tony Lagouranis, Stephen Holmes, and Karen Greenberg.

To Listen to the Panel Discussion

Edward S. Herman and David Peterson: Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System
by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
Monthly Review

Excerpted from The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2009).

Elsewhere we have written that the breakup of Yugoslavia “may have been the most misrepresented series of major events over the past twenty years.”1 But the far bloodier and more destructive invasions, insurgencies, and civil wars that have ravaged several countries in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa over the same years may have been subjected to even greater misrepresentation.

To a remarkable degree, all major sectors of the Western establishment swallowed a propaganda line on Rwanda that turned perpetrator and victim upside-down. In the much-cited 1999 study, “Leave None to Tell the Story”: Genocide in Rwanda, on behalf of Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights in Paris, Alison Des Forges writes that “By late March 1994, Hutu Power leaders were determined to slaughter massive numbers of Tutsi and Hutu opposed to [Hutu President Juvénal] Habyarimana,” and that on April 6, 1994, with the assassination of Habyarimana, “[a] small group of his close associates…decided to execute the planned extermination.”

Although “responsibility for killing Habyarimana is a serious issue,” writes Des Forges, it pales in comparison to “responsibility for the genocide. We know little about who assassinated Habyarimana.” This is a false statement, as we show in detail below. “We know more about who used the assassination as the pretext to begin a slaughter that had been planned for months” is true enough, but in exactly the opposite sense reported by Des Forges.2

During testimony at a major trial of four Hutu former military officers before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Des Forges acknowledged that by April 1992 (i.e., a full twenty-four months before “The Genocide” is alleged to have been perpetrated), the “government in charge of Rwanda [had become] a multiparty government, including Tutsi representatives, and it is for that reason alone that it is impossible to conclude that there was planning of a genocide by that government.”3

Although Des Forges tried to salvage the Hutu conspiracy model, alleging plans by individual Hutu members of the coalition government to use their “official powers” to carry out a preplanned genocide, this model disintegrated on cross-examination.4 Des Forges could not explain how Hutu “individuals” used these “powers” without the knowledge of their Tutsi and Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) associates. Furthermore, she was forced to admit that pro-RPF ministers were in cahoots with the RPF and its plans for war (which we describe below), and that after the Habyarimana assassination, the RPF did not simply respond in self-defense to a Hutu-organized killing spree, but initiated its own killing spree. In other words, while the Hutu members of Rwanda’s power-sharing government would have had great difficulty organizing a genocide against the Tutsi, the Tutsi-led RPF was well-positioned to paralyze any government response to plans it had developed—and that were implemented—to avoid the threat of a free election the RPF was destined to lose, to assassinate the Hutu president, and to take over the country by military force. Yet Des Forges’s dramatic concessions before the ICTR never turned up in the Western media, and in her public statements thereafter she continued to repeat the official propaganda line about a Hutu conspiracy to commit genocide, right up to the very end.5

To accept the standard model of “The Genocide,” one must ignore the large-scale killing and ethnic cleansing of Hutus by the RPF long before the April-July 1994 period, which began when Ugandan forces invaded Rwanda under President (and dictator) Yoweri Museveni on October 1, 1990. At its inception, the RPF was a wing of the Ugandan army, the RPF’s leader, Paul Kagame, having served as director of Ugandan military intelligence in the 1980s. The Ugandan invasion and resultant combat were not a “civil war,” but rather a clear case of aggression. However, the invasion led to no reprimand or cessation of support by the United States or Britain—and, in contrast to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait just two months before, which was countered in the Security Council by a same-day demand that Iraq withdraw its forces immediately—the Council took no action on the Ugandan invasion of Rwanda until March 1993. It did not even authorize an observer mission (UNOMUR) until late June 1993, the RPF by then having occupied much of northern Rwanda and driven out several hundred thousand Hutu farmers.6

It is clear that Museveni and the RPF were perceived as serving U.S. interests, and that the government of President Habyarimana was targeted for ouster.7 UN Security Council inaction flowed from this political bias. In his assessment of the years he spent representing U.S. interests in Africa, former Assistant Secretary of State Herman Cohen raised the question of why, as of October 1, 1990, the “first day of the crisis,” as he calls it, “did [the United States] automatically exclude the policy option of informing Ugandan President Museveni that the invasion of Rwanda by uniformed members of the Ugandan army was totally unacceptable, and that the continuation of good relations between the United States and Uganda would depend on his getting the RPF back across the border?”8 This question is naïve but revealing—the answer, like that to the question of why the United States lobbied for the withdrawal of UN forces from Rwanda as “The Genocide” was getting under way in April 1994, is that the Ugandan army and RPF were doing what the United States wanted done in Rwanda.

The United States and its allies worked hard in the early 1990s to weaken the Rwandan government, forcing the abandonment of many of the economic and social gains from the social revolution of 1959, thereby making the Habyarimana government less popular, and helping to reinforce the Tutsi minority’s economic power.9 Eventually, the RPF was able to achieve a legal military presence inside Rwanda, thanks to a series of ceasefires and other agreements. These agreements led to the Arusha Peace Accords of August 1993, pressed upon the Rwandan government by the United States and its allies, called for the “integration” of the armed forces of Rwanda and the RPF, and for a “transitional,” power-sharing government until national elections could be held in 1995.10 These Peace Accords positioned the RPF for its bloody overthrow of a relatively democratic coalition government, and the takeover of the Rwandan state by a minority dictatorship.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Michael Benton: American Sex and Sexuality 2.0

Random thoughts...

Sexual mythology is rooted in our sense of self. Indeed, our sexual myths are reflections of our attitudes towards society, and even towards humanity itself, for there can be no separation between sexuality and society. Contrary to the common Western paradigm, in which sexuality is seen as something private and sacrosanct, the very core of culture is dependent on, and entirely derived from, our sense of self. As evolved organisms, we are driven to reproduce, for without sex – without reproduction – society, culture, art, literature, and everything that we hold dear, would not exist.
(Source: Life Without a Net: 2009)

1) I was browsing Scarleteen and I came across the sections on the body and read the post for young males fearful that their penis might not be adequate. It is so sad the misinformation that runs rampant in a supposedly scientific and rational society. Reading these young, fearful males' posts and the editors serious, straightforward, rational answers, I was struck by how terrible it is that this kind of honest discourse is missing from our society and how wonderful it is that someone is addressing this issue.

Recently my friend Cheyenne introduced me to another important website Yes Means Yes based upon the book of the same name.

2) When I screened John Cameron Mitchell's 2006 film Shortbus in my film class I prefaced it as an example of an honest exploration of sexuality in a society that markets/commodifies sex constantly, but never honestly addresses issues of human sexuality or emotion. Despite the uncensored trailer's (easily googled) emphasis, the sex in the film is minimal, although very explicit; instead Shortbus is a powerful exploration of our psychosexual hang-ups, our collective/individual pain (post 9/11 NY), the need for honest discussion/exploration of human sexuality, and, most importantly, the redemptive power of human engagement/connection. The first ten minutes are sexually explicit and challenged even me when I first watched it. A couple students in one of the classes were most hung-up (even angry) about a gay threesome later in the film where one of the participants hums the Star Spangled Banner during a sex act (a gay geography scholar at UK, who shows the film in a "sexuality and space" course, said it disturbs those who have a very limited sense of American identity). For me, it is one of the most powerfully emotional films of the last ten years. I usually cry during the film and there were students weeping in my class both times I showed it. It also prompted some of the best papers I have read.

3) A friend was visiting a couple of weeks ago and he had heard me talk about Shortbus. He started playing it and was completely horrified by what he viewed as "aberrant" (as if there was such a thing outside of force/torture of an unwilling partner) sexuality in a few scenes and he got mad at me for recommending it. He is very liberal, but, unfortunately, he was brought up in a homophobic working class mindset. Of course this is the same person who has no problems sending me (actually mass emails to his friends) countless ridiculous/offensive imagery of females (as in grossly exagerrated and distorted imagery designed to mindlessly objective/commodify). I guess this is acceptable because it reinforces an aggressive male heterosexuality in which everything is to be used to prop up the structure of this conformist institution?

4) When I showed Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano I had two students complain about the sex scene, while accepting without complaint the extreme misogynistic violence against the female protagonist. The students complained that the sexual scenes were dirty and unnecessary because it violated the sanctity of marriage; while, even though they didn't agree with Alisdair's disfigurement of his wife (in which he violently attacks her sexuality as well as her creativity), they understood his anger because his wife could not control her sexuality. Missing was the whole issue of "control" of sexuality. Whose sexuality is to be controlled and whose sexuality is to be explored? Alisdair and Baines both seek to control Ada's sexuality (and by implication her creativity/mind) while seeking to fully explore their own sexuality (and dominance/control of people and land).

5) In order to explore our unreflective acceptance of violence and our knee jerk reactions to sexuality (and nudity) I related an experience where I was in a house once with a bunch of people watching an action cop/biker film where there were a series of very violent, shocking (and I would say ridiculous) scenes. The film came to a point where the bikers were in a strip club and a woman was dancing topless. It was at this point a mother in the room put her hands over her 13 yr old son's eyes and told him to leave the room. I was shocked and disturbed and stated it openly. Why would you allow your son to watch the most brutal, senseless, cartoonish images of violence, and then, when a woman's breasts are exposed, tell him to leave the room. What kind of message are you providing for this human being who is in the midst of discovering his own sexual identity and desires. It was an example of how we are trained to tolerate violence in our culture while we are indoctrinated into this idea of sexuality (and our bodies) as somehow being dirty, not in the sense of getting down and dirty, more like evil or sinful or disgusting. Is this the kind of warped training that produces obsessive guilt-ridden, addictive cycles of sexual gorging and/or repression?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Michael Benton: I Am Past Imperfect

(Nods to Eviatar Zerubavel, Tim O'Brien, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Critical Art Ensemble, Crimethinc., Errol Morris, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Philip K. Dick, Parker Palmer, Robert McChesney, Evelyn Fox Keller, Howard Zinn, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Charlie Kaufman and my far-flung archiving comrades... who had nothing directly to do with this writing, but definitely influenced the current self that produced it.)

“I Am Past Imperfect”
by Michael Dean Benton

The little boys make up the man. A collection of little boys nestled together and masked to the world as an individual man. Russian Dolls situated one in another, each new incarnation rising out of the collective to claim the seat of power like a Roman autocrat, shouting out to the world I am "The Man." Each ascending self, conceiving of their self, as an immortal individual. Foolish little selves thinking that they will rule forever. Foolish little selves believing they are "The Man."

How do I remember who I am? Can one peel back the layers of one’s selves and penetrate to the core? Will I only find a million little pieces that people will revile as false and misleading? Is it just one missing piece somehow stuffed in the pocket of one of my selves that can make me whole? Can I ever be whole, or, is that just an illusion? Do we only become complete in death, our last breath, the author’s signature? Is the seeking of completeness a fool’s errand?

I’m sure this task requires a sense of humor because the surgeon of the soul exposes foolish personas; but mocking laughter would not be the worst effect, insecurities would be exposed, fears confronted, and hatred examined. My life has been violent. My life has been peaceful. My life has been boring. Do I have the courage to travel down the road that leads to the abyss? Can I stomach the dark tea time of the soul?

However foolish I have been in the past, my future self, now, now, now, now, now, recognizes the (im)possibility of truth(s). We re-member and re-cognize the past. The act of remembering reconstructs the past. The viewer gives meaning to the view. I remember what I remember today and will remember what I remember tomorrow. No one can expect these memories to remain the same. I am but an archivist of the self, pulling traces out of my clogged brain, seeking narrative sense, pulling fragments together, a collage of the selves represented as a self. Restor(y)ing the self.

This will be a horror story. No. This will be a bildungsroman. No. This will be a romance. No. This will be a comedy. No. Can we label today what may change tomorrow? No. This will be a true story? No. Yes. Maybe. Depending on what you conceive of as the truth. Some may even re-cognize themselves in what I write, but I warn you it is not you I write about, although, you might ask why it is I am writing about you? You might ask what is in you that you recognize in my story? You bring your own story to my tale in completing it anew for you. My story becomes our story when you read it, like love’s warm embrace, each union is unique. A fiction full of lovers, come feel my key stroke, aching to unite with you and create new meanings.

This will not be a true story. Yes! No! Maybe? This will be a true story. Yes! No! Maybe? What has always amazed me the most in life is not that so many people remember the same event/moment differently. No, that seems obvious to my 21st Century Mind, what amazes, nay, scares me, is how so many people, and societies, are able to erase the distinctive and memorable recognition that memories are but constructs of the moment and will change again and again and again. This is the violence we do to ourselves, a violence as deep and painful as our erasure of the fact that one day we will not exist. We are past imperfect.

So, what will follow is the absolute truth…

Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators: Blues Downtown

Sam Aranke: Anti-Authoritarians and Decolonizing the Everyday

Anti-Authoritarians and Decolonizing the Everyday
by Sam Aranke
Friendly Fire Collective


It was both the economic and the cultural that determined the colonial project. Colonialism refers to a historical moment where the “Oriental-European relationship was determined by an unstoppable European expansion in search of markets, resources, and colonies, and finally because Orientalism had accomplished its self-metamorphosis from a scholarly discourse to an imperial institution” . The cultural products that came out of this time crystallized into forms of knowledge that we rely on today—we can only think of the books we are required to read in school like Jane Eyre, the historical figures we are required to know like Christopher Columbus, or the references we have imbedded in our too-common cultural history (“the sun never sets on the British Empire”). This is the living residue of a colonial past that seems so far removed from our everyday experiences; but in reality, we are surrounded by these cultural legacies.

Thinking in terms of the postcolonial allows us to think through “difference” in a more productive way. Postcolonial scholarship often details the complexities of difference. Often this type of scholarship details the histories that we wish to ignore: from the complicated collaboration between native elite and colonial magistrates to the conflicted desire of many colonized subjects to imitate those that oppressed them. Or, (dare I say it), they even criticize Third World Liberation movements and figures, many of whom we often romanticize within our own movements. We can only think of Frantz Fanon in his early writings during decolonization in French-controlled Algeria or the more contemporary work of the Subaltern Studies Collective around British Colonialism in India. They demand that we critically negotiate between the history of the past and the history of the present. They ask for a more critical engagement with history—one that complicates our desires to simplify the totality of history in order to look at difference within our communities in a more generative way.

This is where anti-authoritarians come in. A struggle against hierarchy and capitalism is a struggle that accounts for these colonial legacies within our current postcolonial moment. In order to really dismantle the role of authority in our society, we have to look both internally, within ourselves, and externally, within our communities. “Difference” within our communities becomes more generative and nuanced, it is not a simple glossing of race, gender, sexuality, etc. Here, I mean that the way we even talk about difference within our political work needs to do two difficult tasks at once: 1) deconstruct the ways in which these differences are stabilized and 2) creating accountability within our communities in order to ensure a space where anti-authoritarianism is even possible. It requires talking about difference differently. This means transparently talking about and maintaining the complexities of difference as a social construction. In many ways, this means giving up the comfort of silence. Sometimes, this also means giving up the comfort of difference in order to destabilize its power and give evidence of its colonial origins. If we start to think of our work as decolonizing the everyday, then we can begin to think about how we are all subject to the overwhelming presence of colonial and neocolonial domination.

A thoughtful engagement with postcolonial theory could potentially give us a more complicated framework to address anti-authoritarianism. By complicated, I don’t want to suggest that things aren’t confusing and complex already. We are bombarded daily with the complexities of the current global order and the positions that it forces us into. I just believe that framing our analysis within the narrative of “decolonizing the everyday” opens up an entire set of possibilities. This type of framing forces us to deal with the contradictions, complexities, and difficulties of our various desires, interests, and identities as anti authoritarians. These are questions we grapple with everyday.

What would antiwar organizing look like if it started talking about the Military Industrial Complex’s infiltration of our minds and bodies as well as its global violations around the world? What if we started to realize that the war is already home and has been vis-à-vis patriarchy, racism, and homophobia? Or, what if we connected these various sites of war through the framework of the everyday colonial encounters that the current dominant system forces us to swallow, internalize, and re-enact? An active anti-authoritarianism confronts these internal forces of colonization and actively connects their origins with the presence of external colonial forces. If we work to break down these hierarchies within our minds, bodies, and communities than we will be sure to decolonize our lives. It is the living presence of various colonial histories that attempts to repress this vision. Thinking in terms of postcoloniality allows us to work with our complexities in a constructive way. Decolonizing our lives is working towards an active vision for a new world.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Weekly Signals: Winslow Myers -- Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide.

An interview with Winslow Myers the author of Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide.
Wekkly Signals (KUCI)

After thousands of years, the dream of a world without war may seem hopelessly unrealistic. But, as Winslow Myers shows in this concise, eloquent primer, what is truly unrealistic is the notion that war remains a reasonable solution to the conflicts on our planet. He begins by showing why war has become obsolete (though obviously not extinct): it doesn't solve the problems that ostensibly justify it; its costs are unacceptably high; the destructiveness of modern weapons could lead to human extinction; and there are better alternatives. After elaborating on these points, he outlines a new way of thinking that will be necessary if we are to move beyond war, in particular a recognition of our oneness and global interdependence. Finally, he outlines practical alternatives and inspiring examples that anticipate the goal of a world beyond war.

Winslow Myers is an artist and teacher who has worked for many years with Beyond War.

To Listen to the Interview

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Allison Kilkenny: White domestic terrorists slip off media’s radar

White domestic terrorists slip off media’s radar
by Allison Kilkenny

I guess bombs aren’t sexy enough to warrant national attention anymore. At least, not if the terrorists planting the bombs are white. Here are a couple stories that failed to attract significant coverage, and let me emphasize that these are just two examples I scooped up. One need only spend an afternoon exploring SPLC’s website to observe the surge in far right extremism, so undoubtedly, there are many similar examples.

A firearms and explosives expert suspected of involvement with two white supremacist brothers in the sending of a bomb to the office of a municipal diversity officer was sentenced to 6½ years in prison in Missouri on Tuesday.

Robert Joos Jr. is an anti-government crazy person, and also the pastor of a church of “apocalyptic Christians.” He was convicted in January for possessing firearms and explosives. He and his accomplices, twin brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon, were indicted for delivering a bomb to diversity officer Don Logan, a black man, who needed extensive surgery for injuries to his hands and arms. Logan’s secretary also suffered injuries to her face and eyes.

To Read the Rest of the Hyperlinked Article

Journal of Aesthetics & Protest: SF Victory Gardens 2007+: A Conversation Between Amy Franceschini & Christina Ulke

SF Victory Gardens 2007+: A Conversation Between Amy Franceschini & Christina Ulke
Journal of Aesthetics & Protest

Christina: SF Victory Gardens 2008 taps into several current and historical movements of participatory urban agriculture, can you talk about your relation to the SF community garden culture?

Amy: I have no direct connection to the community garden culture in SF. My relation to agriculture stems from my parent’s farming practices. My father was an industrial farmer in the San Joaquin Valley and owned a pesticide company and my mother was an organic farmer and activist near San Luis Obispo. Although their ideologies were seriously opposed, my parent’s involvement in growing food was politicized in their own way; my father heavily involved in water politics and labor issues and my mother fighting local strawberry farmers to stop using Malathion. Through canvassing and attending public hearings I was introduced to food politics in action. My interest in urban agriculture evolved through a desire for aspects of the rural, but not being ready to be away from the urban environment. In 1995, my best friend worked for the now-defunct San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners. (1) SLUG had always been in my mind as a successful, municipal project. It had many simple frameworks for cultivating citizen action and collective ownership of neighborhood programs. For example, if ten people in a neighborhood got together and approached SLUG, they would organize a workday and build a community garden for the neighborhood. The process of rallying neighbors took advantage of an organizational network that was already established and it strengthened neighborhood relationships.

Currently the Victory Garden program has teamed up with Slow Food Nation to plant a garden in front of City Hall. The Victory Garden program runs through the Garden for the Environment and a network of volunteers. The garden at City Hall will create a community for urban gardeners. Each major urban agriculture organization will have a plot to demonstrate their growing techniques. This garden will shed light on the diversity of garden practice and groups in the city; City Slikcers, Alemany Farms, Edible Schoolyard, Garden for the Environment, and Quesada Gardens. The City sees this garden as an important symbol of their long-term commitment to urban agriculture; which includes funding, access to land and integration into public programs, schools, libraries, and parks. The city used to fund SLUG, but since SLUG collapsed, there has not been another program in place. When we went to the city to present Victory Gardens, they were extremely receptive and saw our project as a resurrection of SLUG and a promise of a program that would benefit a diverse population through education, support and employment opportunities.

Working on a greater, municipal scale seems to be a crucial component of the project. Why was it important to you to get the city involved?

My desire to work with the city was inspired by a myriad of things: time spent living in Gent Belgium over the last five years (2); the 2003 mayoral campaign in San Francisco for former President of the Board of Supervisors and Green Party member Matt Gonzalez; my general dissatisfaction with politics in this country; reading about the scale and participation of the WWI Liberty Gardens and WWII Victory Gardens.

I first became aware of the WWII Victory Garden program in Laura Lawson's City Bountiful: A History of Community Gardening in America. The program was initiated in 1941 by the Office of Civilian Defense in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture. During a national garden conference a guide for the Victory Garden Program was produced and distributed to cities across the country. Between 1941 and 1943 there were 20 million Victory Gardens and 41% of our total food was being produced in Victory Gardens.

The image of 20 million gardens being planted within 2 years gave me the fuel to imagine a new program with a focus on contemporary food issues. My intentions were set to revive not only a city-supported gardening program, but a personal revival to get politicized and radicalized about the current food crisis. Our food is controlled by profit-driven corporations like Monsanto. The current Farm Bill promotes production of food not fit for human consumption, and destructive farming practices that deplete soil and air through overuse of pesticides, Nearly 70% of farm subsidies go to the top 10% of the country’s biggest growers. This form of corporate welfare encourages the ongoing consolidation of farming and food into fewer hands. I might be naive, but I hope that food can be produced by a smaller network of familiar faces like “neighbors”.

As an idealist I believe that the government is the PEOPLE and was designed to reflect, represent, and support the needs of the PEOPLE. This country has lost touch with what that means. Imagine an amazing potluck with a huge list of ingredients and cooks. Participation is key.

Since more and more businesses and corporations control "public policy", they do have the power and autonomy to develop sustainable systems and products. The homogenizing effect of power being controlled by fewer voices has resulted in the loss of decentralized decision-making made at a local level. But despite our conservative tendencies at the national level, San Francisco has been successful in moving the progressive movement forward on many fronts.

It inspired me to think of the city as a place where progressive ideas can take root. San Francisco is ready for a decentralized and systemic approach to urban agriculture. To be honest I did not even know what that meant when I went to the city, but I knew that I had the historical precedent of the massive participation in the Victory Garden program and a simple proposition for the city. When I approached the city with the help of Matt Gonzalez, I was met with overwhelming interest and support. After one small presentation to the city with images and information about the historical program, namely the photo of the demonstration garden in front of city hall, 12 different city offices were ready to support the program in any way.

To Read the Rest of the Interview

Scott Ritter -- Iraq Confidential : The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein

Scott Ritter
Weekly Signals

Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, discusses his new book Iraq Confidential : The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein.

To Listen to the Interview

Ed Howard: The Bad Lieutenant — Port of Call: New Orleans

The Bad Lieutenant — Port of Call: New Orleans
by Ed Howard
Only the Cinema

It's been literally decades since Werner Herzog has made a truly satisfying fictional film. It seems obvious that, since at least the late 1980s, the director's interest has increasingly turned towards documentary and pseudo-documentary, while his fiction features have become less and less frequent, and more and more uneven. The Bad Lieutenant — Port of Call: New Orleans is, then, an unexpected revitalization of Herzog's instincts for fiction, a non-remake of the sex-drugs-and-violence-packed 1992 Abel Ferrara film Bad Lieutenant. Herzog's supposed remake, made with absolutely no knowledge of Ferrara's original and with only the most tenuous of connections — there's a lieutenant! and he's bad! — takes the basic premise of a corrupt cop and spins it out into a ludicrous (a)morality tale about the delicate balance between good and evil that exists within this addled New Orleans cop. Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) is dirty in nearly every way. He's a drug addict who steals and snorts prodigious amounts of drugs, balancing heroin and coke and prescription painkillers. He sleeps with (and provides drugs to) the prostitute Frankie (Eva Mendes) and intimidates and rips off her clients whenever he encounters them. He stalks drunken and drugged-up kids coming out of clubs, holding them up for their stashes. He's an outrageous and lunatic figure, representing a wackier and goofier variation on Harvey Keitel's drugged-up psychopath in Ferrara's original film.

Herzog's first ingenious move was casting Nicolas Cage in this part and fully exploiting the actor's tendency towards over-the-top melodramatics. Cage's performance is something truly strange and unique, the work of an actor pouring all of his seemingly worst qualities into a character and really making him come alive. McDonagh's collapse, his moral degradation, is eloquently conveyed in every aspect of Cage's performance, from his permanent crooked slouch (evidence of the on-the-job injury that set him off on his painkiller addiction) to his twitchy mannerisms to the tortured cadences of his speech, shifting from drawled mumbling to coked-up hyperactivity with a moment's notice. For such a bizarre, purposefully overblown performance, Cage never forsakes the subtleties that suggest his character as fully as the more obvious gestures do. It'd be tempting to call this a "bad" performance, and it often seems like one in its superficial aspects. But Cage's oddball speech rhythms and over-emphasized facial tics only contribute to the unease generated by the character of McDonagh, by his unpredictable vacillations between hero cop, drug dropout and borderline psycho. It is, in its weird way, a disarmingly subtle performance.

Of course, the obvious gestures get most of the attention here, and with good reason. The film rolls out one nutty premise after another, right from the opening in which — after a few moody, blood-red-lit shots of a snake winding through a flooded jail cell — McDonagh and his partner Stevie (Val Kilmer) take bets about how long it will take for the rising water to drown a trapped prisoner. This comes only a few minutes after an onscreen title announces that the film takes place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; the cops' irreverent attitude towards their responsibilities thus suggests a satirical perspective on the response of various US institutions and authorities to this tragedy. Of course, such social consciousness is not common in Herzog, and the remainder of the film addresses such issues only obliquely, in the form of the not-so-subtle markers of race and class that are constantly defining and limiting these characters. The incident that triggers the plot is the murder of a family of Senegalese immigrants, apparently a drug crime, and one of the film's looniest contrivances — and that's really saying something — is the fact that the police immediately make this crime a high priority. Herzog underlines the absurdity of it all, announcing the film's undeniable status as fantasy: the police captain tells his men that this crime will be their big concern and that any amount of overtime is justified, as if the police always dedicate such attention to the murders of black illegal immigrants who were tangentially involved in the drug trade.

Race is continually an unsettling presence in this film, particularly in a scene where McDonagh is confronted by a relative of the murdered family, who delivers a completely unfettered expression of grief that's nearly embarrassing in its nakedness and uncontrolled despair. Her performance is as unhinged as Cage's, and the meeting between them is a vortex for all of the film's ungainly and often ugly emotions: a black woman's grief and a white cop's frazzled guilt and half-functioning desire to do good. The caricaturing of this women makes the scene especially uncomfortable, but at the same time her pain and anger are palpable; like many things in this film, it's a potent combination of the awkwardly stylized and the startlingly real.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Allison Kilkenny: Detroit and Missouri -- a tale of two police raids

Detroit and Missouri: a tale of two police raids
by Allison Kilkenny

Aiyana Jones is the 7-year-old girl who was recently killed during a raid on her home. Allegedly, the police launched a flashbang grenade through the window of the apartment where Jones was sleeping, and the device set Jones on fire. Her grandmother, quite understandably, got into an altercation with the armed men who stormed into their home, and during the struggle, the police claim an officer’s gun discharged accidentally, killing Jones.

This official narrative is being disputed by the family’s attorney, who claims video footage shows the police fired into the home at least once after lobbing the grenade through a window – before grandma and the officer ever had their interaction.

This terrible tragedy follows an incident that received considerably more (especially on-line) media attention — a Missouri SWAT raid.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t write this as a way to cast blame. After all, I covered the Missouri incident extensively. The Missouri raid is something that should attract a significant amount of media coverage. And there are several important differences between the story that might explain why one incident went viral, while the other remains in danger of being buried by the Next Big Thing to come along.

Unlike Detroit, the Missouri raid was videotaped, forever capturing the terrible drama of the event, while Jones’s last, awful moments will only be memorialized in the testimony of cops and her family. Additionally, the Missouri raid demonstrated the overzealous, destructive police response to the unwinnable War on Drugs, which 40 years after its implementation, has cost over $1 trillion, failed to meet any of its goals, while “drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.” Most Americans believe the War on Drugs is failing, so video proof of the militaristic behavior of the police during drug raids reinforces widely held, negative views about drug criminalization. Simply: people like to watch what they already know.

The Detroit raid is much more complex, and reveals a more sinister reality. A little poor, black girl dying during a police raid in Detroit is considered as a somewhat normal event in America. It’s terrible, yes. It’s something that makes Americans tisk and shake their heads over, but many view Detroit as a kind of third world country in which terrible things happen. The ghetto is a poor, dilapidated place under constant siege by the police so as to keep the undesirables in order.

To reject the idea that the ghetto should be a bad place entails rethinking much larger American issues: race, class, poverty, wealth disparity, social hierarchy, the two-tier justice system. It’s much easier to accept that bad things happen in the ghetto and move on.

To Read the Rest of the Article

George Lakoff: HUD Is Trying to Privatize and Mortgage Off All of America's Public Housing

Below the Radar: HUD Is Trying to Privatize and Mortgage Off All of America's Public Housing
by George Lakoff

The Obama administration's move to the right is about to give conservatives a victory they could not have anticipated, even under Bush. HUD, under Obama, submitted legislation, called PETRA, to Congress that would result in the privatization of all public housing in America.

The new owners would charge ten percent above market rates to impoverished tenants, money that would be mostly paid by the US government (you and me, the taxpayers). To maintain the property, the new owners would take out a mortgage for building repair and maintenance (like a home equity loan), with no cap on interest rates.
With rents set above market rates, the mortgage risk would be attractive to banks. Either they make a huge profit on the mortgages paid for by the government, or, if the government lowers what it will pay for rents, the property goes into foreclosure. The banks get it and can sell it off to developers.

Sooner or later, the housing budget will be cut back and such foreclosures will happen. The structure of the proposal and the realities of Washington make it a virtual certainty.

The banks and developers make a fortune, with the taxpayers paying for it. The public loses its public housing property. The impoverished tenants lose their apartments, or have their rents go way up if they are forced into the private market. Homelessness increases; government gets smaller. The banks and developers win. It is a Bank Bonanza! The poor and the public lose.

And a precedent is set. The government can - privatize any public property: Schools, libraries, national parks, federal buildings - just as has begun to happen in California, where the right-wing governor has started to auction off state property and has even suggested selling off the Supreme Court building.

To Read the Rest of the Editorial

John Bellamy Foster and Hannah Holleman: The Financial Elite

(I just got a subscription to Monthly Review and articles like this is why I support their efforts)

The Financial Power Elite
John Bellamy Foster and Hannah Holleman
Monthly Review Press

You mean to tell me that the success of the [economic] program and my reelection hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?

—President Bill Clinton

Only twice before in the last century—after the 1907 Bank Panic and following the 1929 Stock Market Crash—has outrage directed at U.S. financial elites reached today’s level, in the wake of the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2009. A Time magazine poll in late October 2009 revealed that 71 percent of the public believed that limits should be imposed on the compensation of Wall Street executives; 67 percent wanted the government to force executive pay cuts on Wall Street firms that received federal bailout money; and 58 percent agreed that Wall Street exerted too much influence over government economic recovery policy.2

In January 2009 President Obama capitalized on the growing anger against financial interests by calling exorbitant bank bonuses subsidized by taxpayer bailouts “shameful,” and threatening new regulations. Journalist Matt Taibbi opened his July 2009 Rolling Stone article with: “The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Simon Johnson, published an article in the May 2009 Atlantic entitled “The Quiet Coup,” decrying the takeover by the “American financial oligarchy” of strategic positions within the federal government that give “the financial sector a veto over public policy.”3

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, established by Washington in 2009, was charged with examining “the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” Its chairman, Phil Angelides, compared its task to that of the Pecora hearings in the 1930s, which exposed Wall Street’s speculative excesses and malfeasance. The first hearings in January 2010 began with the CEOs of some of the largest U.S. banks: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.4

Meanwhile, the federal government has continued its program of salvaging the banks by funneling trillions of dollars in their direction through capital infusions, loan guarantees, subsidies, purchases of toxic waste, etc. This is a time of record bank failures, but also one of rapid financial concentration, as the already “too big to fail firms” at the apex of the financial system are becoming still bigger.

All of this raises the issue of an emerging financial power elite. Has the power of financial interests in U.S. society increased? Has Wall Street’s growing clout affected the U.S. state itself? How is this connected to the present crisis? We will argue that the financialization of U.S. capitalism over the last four decades has been accompanied by a dramatic and probably long-lasting shift in the location of the capitalist class, a growing proportion of which now derives its wealth from finance as opposed to production. This growing dominance of finance can be seen today in the inner corridors of state power.

The Money Trust
Anger over the existence of a “money trust” ruling the U.S. economy reached vast proportions at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. This was the time when investment bankers midwifed the birth of industrial behemoths, launching the new era of monopoly capital. In return, the investment banks obtained what the Austrian Marxist economist Rudolf Hiferding, in his great work, Financial Capital (1910), called “promoter’s profits.”5 Hilferding and the radical economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen in the United States were the two greatest theorists of the rise of the new age of monopoly capital and financial control. Veblen declared that “the investment bankers collectively are the community custodians of absentee ownership at large, the general staff in charge of the pursuit of business….[T]he banking-houses which have engaged in this enterprise have come in for an effectual controlling interest in the corporations whose financial affairs they administer.”6 In the prototypical merger of the period, the creation in 1901 of the U.S. Steel Corporation, the syndicate of underwriters that J.P. Morgan and Co. put together to float the stock, received 1.3 million shares and over $60 million in commissions, of which J.P. Morgan and Co. got $12 million.7

The 1907 Bank Panic, during which J.P. Morgan himself intervened in the absence of a central bank to stabilize the financial sector, led to the creation in 1913 of the Federal Reserve System, aimed at providing banks with liquidity in a crisis. But it also led to charges, first issued in 1911 by Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh (father of the famous flier), of a “money trust” dominating U.S. finance and industry. Woodrow Wilson, then governor of New Jersey, declared: “The great monopoly in this country is the money monopoly.”

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Support the Dream Act Legislation

Hello all,

Please take a few minutes to read this carefully and reflect upon what is being asked of our group and of you for the next 6 weeks.

National Updates

As we get closer to making the DREAM act a reality, many efforts have been made across the country to show our communities and our legislators the importance of the DREAM Act. Students including our very own Kentucky DREAM Coalition have sacrficed a lot to get to this point and it is making a big impact. Many of us went hungry for 65 hours here in Kentucky and NY will soon follow, students in California protested and took to the streets, rallies and vigils have been held in MI and are being planned for MA and MT, students all over the state of FL are planning sit-ins, students in TX held a DREAM graduation and as you know, 4 amazing student leaders risked life as they know it and are facing deportation after they held a sit-in in Senator McCain's office last week. Since then, United We DREAM representatives and their student affiliates have met with many Senators and Congressman in Washington D.C. urging for DREAM to be passed this year.

Kentucky as a Key State

Which leads me to the next point. Kentucky is now in the middle of a major organizing push in which Senator Bunning has become a major target for the DREAM Campaign. Senator Schumer (NY-D) who has been championing CIR in the Senate has expressed concern that as of Memorial Day, CIR will more than likely be "dead" this year because of the lack of Republican support. With that in mind, Senator Schumer expressed great interest in the fact that the DREAM movement had a relationship with Senator Bunning and sees him as a target Republican. If we are able to get Senator Bunning's support, then support from other conservative republicans like Senator Brown of Massachusetts and Senator Snow and Senator Collins of Maine will follow through. Metaphorically speaking Senator Bunning could potentially be the lead domino initiating other Republican support WHEN we are able to get him on board with DREAM.

Yes, you read this right... Kentucky is a key focus state and Senator Bunning will be a major target for us as we move forward. This is not going to be easy, but it is possible. If we stay focused on the end cause: Making DREAM a Reality and taking each step forward with love and respect and each step with unshakeable passion we will celebrate the victory of a DREAM fulfilled.

Next Steps

Each and every person reading this email needs to make great efforts to making DREAM a reality as if your life depended on it. For many of us, our lives do depend on this legislation and we must all work hard together as one voice to encourage and persuade Senator Bunning to listen and take on our cause. I am convinced that if we do work hard and believe in ourselves and our work, we will acheive victory, so I ask you to put away any fears or negative thoughts. Put away your doubts and your preconceived opinions of Senator Bunning and our communities. Begin to see what I see; a new day in which Kentucky will embrace this cause. Our passion will be contagious and our hope for a better tomorrow and for access to full opportunities will inspire even our critics. WE have accomplished so much thus far; we have changed the culture of Kentucky through the college fairs, leadership camps, fundraisers, workshops, art, poetry and community events. We have starved, we have sacrficed time with family and friends, we have burned up the highways between Kentucky and Washington D.C. and we can gain the support of Senator Bunning.

Please recommit to this cause. As one strong solid voice we can make a difference that will change lives of many students in Kentucky and across the United States.

What can you do?

1. Petitions:;

Please share this petition link with EVERYONE you know. Put it as your FACEBOOK status, send it to all your friends and family and fill it out everyday! It only takes 5 seconds. DO IT!

2. The Application DRIVE: Please email us at for a file that contains the cover letters and generic applications we must use to target Senator Bunning. Please read the instructions and please work with student, educators, parents, community members and churches in your areas to fill out the ally or DREAMer letter for Senator Bunning and the application directed at Senator Bunning. We need to start flooding his offices with messages of our contributions to this state. Don't be afraid to say who you are and what you have done. It is important that our voices are added to the beautiful anthem of this cause and that we all step up and step out of the shadows of uncertainty and fear we have put ourselves in. We cannot change Kentucky if we continue to believe the lies that we do not matter and that we should live in fear and marginalization.

3. Phone Banking: CALL, CALL, CALL. Commit to calling all of Bunning's offices (and leave messages if no one answers) everyday, at least once or twice a day. That means 12 phone calls a day. The anti-immigrant side, which is small, is successful because they are relentless. They call all day everyday to let our legislators know they DO NOT want DREAM to be a reality. They do so in HATE. We can do the same thing but in LOVE. WE cannot change our opposition with hate or silence... only through love in the form of spoken words.

Bunnings Numbers are: Washington D.C: 202-224-4343; Fort Wright: 859-341-2602; Hopkinsville: 270-885-12112;
Owensboro: 270-689-9085; Louisville: 502-582-5341; Hazard: 606-435-2390

4. Meetings and Sit-Ins: We are sending a delegation of 4 students to Washington D.C. to meet with Senator Bunning's staff this Wednesday at 12 noon. We have also formally requested a meeting with Senator Bunning when he is in-district next week. I will update everyone about the meeting date and time once it is formalized. If we are not given a meeting, we will stage sit-ins in Senator Bunning's Fort Wright office until we are given one. In the event of a meeting or a peaceful sit-in, we NEED as many DREAM Supporters as possible to hold a peaceful and positive vigil outside of the office while the meetings (OR sit-ins) are taking place. Please be ready to take quick actions once we call upon you.

5. Accomplishments: We want to show how much we have contributed to this state so please send us the following informaiton and gather this information from as many of your friends and fellow students and community members as possible:
First Name:
Kentucky City:
List of Community Services, leadership roles, accomplishments/awards and military/ROTC participation:

6. BASEBALLS: We want to take buckets of baseballs to Senator Bunning. HE lived his dream of playing baseball for the Detroit Tigers. We are asking organizations, schools, communities to buy a baseball, and have as many individuals sign it in support of the DREAM Act. Once you collect the baseballs let me know (Erin at and we will arrange for someone to pick them up.

Other actions being planned are community meetings in Lexington and an art project entitled "Secured Futures led to Secured Borders"... Stay tuned for details.

All these actions if done in dedication, with focus and in love will result in Senator Bunning's support of the DREAM Act. Even if you think this is impossible, step out on faith. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
The next Kentucky DREAM Coalition meeting will be held at BCTC on Friday at 1:00 pm in the Academic and Technical Building Lobby. A conference call number will be available. We understand that many of you are still in school and working so we ask you to let us know what you can do, what you are willing to do and how we can help you. A group of Enlace students will be heading to Bowling Green Friday afternoon to help them with their fundraiser. We are also willing to travel to your area to help organize. Please let us know if you need this help.

Please stay connected to the group and please take action. More information and updates will be sent as they come in so please take these emails seriously.

Thank you for all your hard work and your contributions to this cause. Estudiantes unidos no seran vencidos...

The DREAM is coming... What are you prepared to do to acheive your DREAM?

Humbly, Erin, Alexis, Roy and the Kentucky DREAM Coalition

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mark Chamberlin: Refining The Art Of Preservation

Refining The Art Of Preservation
by Mark Chamberlain
Journal of Aesthetics & Protest

The Threat of Countrycide

In the spring of 1980, my partner in bc space gallery, Jerry Burchfield, and I agreed to undertake a long-term project, documenting the gateway to our hometown of Laguna Beach, California. Laguna Canyon, with its gently winding two-lane country road was one of the last pristine passages to the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, but it was also clearly the target of numerous long-range development projects by some very powerful forces.

With the seemingly inexorable exurbanization of Orange County pressing in on all sides, our canyon was slated to be consumed by the accepted concept of progress. Leading the pack was the privately owned Irvine Company, which controlled the bulk of the land in this region. Under the new ownership of Donald Bren, who had wrestled control from the more benign Irvine Family with its dedication to farming, the new direction called for intense development, including building another “Master Planned City” in the canyon, under the grand name of Laguna Laurel.

Major new urban centers, such as the burgeoning City of Irvine, were consuming the surrounding farmland, while the bedroom communities of Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, and Leisure World (now Laguna Woods) were rapidly expanding. The older adjacent communities of Tustin, Newport Beach, Dana Point, and Santa Ana were also seeing their formerly pastoral hills sprout homes, business centers, commercial strip malls, and numerous gated communities. was quietly working with county, state, and federal highway agencies to promote several major new roads to facilitate development. Included in these plans were California’s first toll way, the San Joaquin Hills Tollroad, and two additional toll roads, which would link the region from north to south, and east to west. As developers saw the gold in our hills and valleys, this sleepy part of Southern California was rapidly becoming identified as one of the fastest growing regions of the nation.

Like many refugees from urbanity, we had chosen to settle in this small seaside community because of its relative isolation, as well as the unique topography that distinguished it from the monotonous homogeneity that was spreading across the inland flatlands. Laguna Canyon Road was our link to that larger world, but it was also the filter that protected our identity. This umbilical cord was about to become another Freeway and there was a redtiled tsunami following in its path – unless something was done.

Extending Documentary Photography
Our original intention was primarily to document this still bucolic canyon as a way to preserve it in the established tradition of documentary photography. But more importantly, we hoped to find a means to awaken the public to the dangers of losing that landscape, while challenging their will to save it. We titled this grand ambition The Laguna Canyon Project: The Continuous Document and began the first phase, The Daylight Document on April 18, 1980. The continuous aspect refers to the fact that once we took our first shot, we were committed to the journey on a very tight timeline just to physically complete it, plus it expressed our commitment to pursuing this project in various phases over a very long time.

To physically accomplish Phase I, we assembled a small crew of six people to sequentially photograph both sides of the entire nine-mile length of the road from the off ramp at the Santa Ana Freeway all the way into the Pacific Ocean. The resulting six hundred and forty-six frames per side were subsequently printed into twin color prints, each three and one half inches wide by two hundred and sixty-seven feet long. The pair of prints depicted our passage down the “last nine miles of the westward migration” in classic photographic detail. With this metaphor, we hoped to link the potential development of this still beautiful canyon with the concept of “progress in the West” and the danger of unchecked urban sprawl.

We did not publicize our plans for this phase until we were already into the actual shooting and then only alerted a few reporters we felt we could trust, since we were concerned that the highway authorities might shut us down. This fear that was realized in subsequent phases (when we were actually threatened with arrest and ushered off the road), but we managed to successfully complete this first nine hour marathon without detection.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bill Moyers Journal: Capitol Crimes

Capitol Crimes
Bill Moyers Journal

With disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff back in the news and on the big screen in Alex Gibney's new film, CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY, we re-present Bill Moyers 2006 exploration of Abramoff and his Washington world. CAPITOL CRIMES delved deep into the dark side of American politics — bringing to light a web of relationships, secret deals and political manipulation. The DALLAS MORNING NEWS said: "If anyone can untangle a complicated new story and make it understandable, it's Bill Moyers. So if you're trying to figure out the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, he explains it all in CAPITOL CRIMES."

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Paul Ryan: Walkabout -- Landscapes of Memory

Walkabout: Landscapes of Memory
By Paul Ryan

Some years ago, I screened Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 film Don’t Look Now for a group of international students who were learning English. Rarely have I seen an audience more engaged by what they were watching. We discussed the film afterward, and I was delighted to discover that, despite their limited understanding of the language, these young people had not only grasped the essentials of the fragmented narrative but also picked up most of the nuances of the story. Of course, it should come as no real surprise that Roeg, who first distinguished himself as a cinematographer, would be able to convey a story in visual terms, but it was that audience’s response to the subtleties of the characters’ emotions that most underlined his achievement. The central scene of lovemaking prompted the first, hesitant remark: “It is beautiful when they try to make new baby.” It was obvious that these were not passive spectators. Where some would have seen a thriller, they had observed a tragedy.

Don’t Look Now should be proof enough that, more than any other British filmmaker of his generation, Roeg has the ability to create pure cinema. But the finest example of his gift remains Walkabout (1971), his first solo outing as a director. He had codirected and photographed Performance (1970), but it is generally accepted that, while the look and the pace of that film owe much to Roeg, its “authorship” can be more properly ascribed to its screenwriter, Roeg’s codirector, Donald Cammell. Walkabout is entirely Roeg’s own. Based on the 1959 novel The Children, by James Vance Marshall (a pseudonym for the English writer Donald G. Payne), Walkabout is, like its source material, essentially a coming-of-age story. In Marshall’s novel, the two white children are survivors of a plane crash, and the core of the tale is their journey through the Australian outback and relationship with an aboriginal boy who befriends them—as it is in the film. The book has long been regarded in Australia as a children’s classic along the lines of The Swiss Family Robinson, but Roeg and his screenwriter, Edward Bond, made small, significant changes that took the film into harsher territory.

The first of these was to eliminate the plane crash (initially, perhaps, to avoid similarities to the opening of Peter Brook’s 1963 adaptation of William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies). They replaced it with the suicide of the children’s father—thus heightening the violence of the opening and personalizing the children’s sense of abandonment. Also heightened was the children’s curiosity about one another, which took on a deeper element of sensuality and, in the case of the girl and the aboriginal boy, nascent sexuality. In a justly famous sequence, the girl swims naked in a lake, and while this can be interpreted as her need to clean and refresh her­self in midjourney, it has an unmistakable element of display. Toward the film’s end, it is the turn of the young aborigine to display, by means of a sexually charged ritual dance directed at the girl. The girl’s fearful rejection of him leads to another major change from the novel. There, the native boy dies from a virus to which he would not have been exposed if not for his encounter with these outsiders; in the film, the young man takes his own life. A film with two suicides and a delicately sensual nude scene was never destined for the label of “children’s classic,” and yet one can sense that Roeg has trust in the reaction of an adolescent audience, for he is speaking the truth of adolescence to us all.

The film had a curious gestation. While working as cinematographer on François Truffaut’s only English-language film, Fahrenheit 451, in 1966, Roeg met the producer Si Litvinoff, who had recently optioned the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange. The two met again, and became fast friends, when Roeg was photographing Richard Lester’s 1968 Petulia, and when Litvinoff discovered that Roeg was eager to turn to film direction, he started seriously considering giving him his chance with A Clockwork Orange. Soon afterward, Litvinoff went into partnership with the clothing manufacturer turned producer Max Raab, who was keen to finance A Clockwork Orange and was in favor of Roeg as director. But the new team turned first to Gerry O’Hara’s drama All the Right Noises (1969), and while Litvinoff was continuing to develop the script of A Clockwork Orange with Burgess and screenwriter Terry Southern, he discovered that Roeg had become obsessed with the James Vance Marshall novel, and had approached a writer he greatly admired, the British playwright Edward Bond, to work on a script. Litvinoff helped Roeg acquire the rights to the novel, and Raab agreed to finance Walkabout.

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War News Radio: Settling In

Settling In
War News Radio (Swarthmore College)

We’ll learn about the Sabian Mandaeans, a persecuted minority religious group in Iraq.

Then, we’ll hear about the issues facing newly arrived refugees in America.

Finally, we’ll hear concerns that about gang members joining the military.

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Bill Moyers Journal: The Earth Conservation Corps

The Earth Conservation Corps
Bill Moyers Journal

"Endangered Species" tells a story of urban blight and community faith. One of America's gleaming symbols of freedom and prosperity, Washington, DC is also home to one of the most impoverished and polluted neighborhoods in America. On the banks of the Anacostia River, the Southeast section of the nation's capital has been an environmental disaster area and a home for violence. But now a non-profit group called the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), composed of young adults from under-resourced communities, is bringing hope to this neighborhood under siege.

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Bill Moyers Journal: John Nichols & Terry O'Neill on Health Care Reform

John Nichols & Terry O'Neill on Health Care Reform
Bill Moyers Journal

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now law — but the battle over health care reform is far from over. Already at least 14 state attorneys general have filed lawsuits in state courts charging that the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. The Republican Party has vowed to make health care reform the central issue in their bid to gain Democratic seats in the mid-term elections. Stalwart advocates of a single-payer system are also unhappy with the outcome — calling the bill "a false promise of reform" and "wimpy."

John Nichols of THE NATION and Terry O'Neill of the National Organization of Women (NOW), have looked over the final legislation and made their assessments. Nichols suggests that while the act is deeply flawed, it has moved the national conversation to a new, more positive, place. No longer is there a question about whether to reform health care, but how to reform it — and it is very difficult, notes Nichols, to move backward along that path:

For 100 years...we tried to take this vacant site and dig a hole, put a foundation, and start some construction. That's what's happened. The fact of the matter is it's best to understand the health care legislation that was passed on Sunday as the beginning of a construction project. And that's why some people fought so hard against it, because they understood. Once you begin that project, it is very unlikely that we're going to fill the hole in, tear down all the construction.

Terry O'Neill is not as sanguine: "My organization looked at the entire bill at the end of the day when it was passed. And we concluded that on balance, despite the good things that are in the bill, the bill actually is bad for women." As part of a deal to win pro-life Democratic votes, President Obama signed an Executive Order which "requires adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services." According to O'Neill and other pro-choice groups, it is, in fact, an extension of the Hyde Amendment (which originally only applied to Medicaid funds) and "A Tragic Setback for Women's Rights."

But the blanket restriction on use the federal funds for abortion services is not the only problem O'Neill sees with the bill. She notes that it also does not ameliorate gender and age bias in insurance coverage and delivers 32 million new customers to the insurance industry.

John Nichols

John Nichols, author and political journalist has been writing the "Online Beat" for THE NATION magazine since 1999. Nichols also serves as Washington correspondent for THE NATION, as well as the associate editor of the CAPITAL TIMES, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin and a contributing writer for THE PROGRESSIVE and IN THESE TIMES.

Along with fellow author Robert McChesney, Nichols co-founded the media-reform group Free Press. Nichols has also authored several books, including JEWS FOR BUCHANAN, which analyzed the recount vote of 2000, and DICK: THE MAN WHO IS PRESIDENT, his best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney. Nichols most recent book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT, argues that impeachment is an essential instrument of America's democratic system.

Terry O'Neill

Terry O'Neill, a feminist attorney, professor and activist for social justice, was elected president of NOW in June 2009. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chair of the NOW Political Action Committees, and serves as the principal spokesperson for all three entities.

A former law professor, O'Neill taught at Tulane in New Orleans and at the University of California at Davis, where her courses included feminist legal theory and international women's rights law, in addition to corporate law and legal ethics. She has testified before committees in the Maryland House of Delegates and has written federal amicus briefs on abortion rights for Louisiana NOW, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

O'Neill worked on such historic campaigns as Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and the campaign leading to the election of Louisiana's first woman U.S. senator, Mary Landrieu.

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Kelly Marie Martin: Cooking Together at the Bicycle Kitchen

Cooking Together at the Bicycle Kitchen: Infrastructure of La Bicicocina.
by Kelly Marie Martin
Journal of Aesthetics and Protest

I am a “cook” at the bicycle kitchen, La Bicicocina, an all-volunteer run nonprofit bicycle repair workshop in central Los Angeles. A “cook” is a volunteer. We cook bikes. Our mission is to promote the bicycle as a fun, safe, and accessible form of transportation, to foster healthy urban communities, and to provide a welcoming space to learn about building maintaining, and riding bicycles. What began informally in the kitchen of a studio apartment used for storage at the Los Angeles Eco-Village by Jimmy Lizama, a downtown bike messenger who wanted a place to work on bikes has just officially filed for its own 501c3 status. As a longtime cook and founding board member I want to share how we make decisions because I think the structure of the Bicicocina while by no means perfect is at the very least interesting and at best inspiring. It is also constantly evolving. Interspersed are some fellow cooks’ responses to my call to our listserve, “What do you think about our decision-making process?”

The bicycle kitchen decision-making process works in the collective. We deliberate and confer. We use the fact that our mission guides us in and helps us to keep our eye on the ball. A clear statement of purpose and clearly defined objectives guide the process to ends we can work with.

Making choices is aided by the fact that the bicycle is our friend.

Our meetings are above all civil.

We raise our hands, our names are placed in a stack and we go in the order speaking our mind, brainstorm style, no ridicule or judgment, it works well.

Our fundamental organizing principal is: we have no Boss, no owner, and no one person is in charge.

Our process is open and inclusive, all members are encouraged to contribute in our decision making process. One dissenting voice will cause continued discussing – however we do require 100% consensus. One shortfall in our process is that we do not have our cookbook written and as we age, our traditions and settled policy issues are rehashed and need to be kept alive by oral informing. In some ways this is refreshing and in others it hampers our moving on. I am not sure we have to move on our model and mission work. We are putting bicycles on the street in a visible and proactive manner. We advocate the bicycle as a primary transportation choice, and it is working on a weekly basis. We hear five to ten clients each week say, “I do not want to use a car any more” or “I sold my car,” “I am selling my car, gas cost too much” etc. Each bicycle on the street is one less car and that makes incremental changes. We are part of the solution. -Jim Bledsoe

Currently, there are around forty “active” cooks – people who take approximately one or more wrenching shifts a month or teach a class and/or work in a committee. Information is passed internally on the listserve, the forum, a wiki and word of mouth. The forum was generated by a cook; it is an online posting board for a variety of topics. The forum was created to cut down on email traffic on the listserve, so that issues and ideas between meetings can be posted freely there instead. It’s also for information pertaining to “shadow” cooks. Shadow cooks are potential volunteers, a.k.a. “cookidates.” They answer a questionnaire, go through some training and shadow ten shifts before the community posts comments on the forum and then votes either on the forum or in quarterly meetings on their cook-readiness. The wiki, also created by a cook is an online source for all internal documents, schedules, cook contacts, meeting agendas and minutes.

Volunteering at the Bicycle Kitchen for 4+ years I have had the pleasure to watch our organization grow from a handful of friends to a group of thirty including a hub, a board and committee heads. While these newly created positions offer responsibility for actions and day-to-day operations, the Kitchen has kept a uniqueslice of co-operative decision making alive. At any point, at any time, anyone in the collective can bring up an issue, an idea, a concern, a goal and be heard. Anything big to major that involves a decision is brought up to the group and we vote for it and for the most part the vote is a go. One key component to making this possible in my opinion is that everyone is working for our mission. All who come on board believe in this mission and aim to increase it with whatever time, skill and power they have. Keeping the mission in focus keeps us all on the same page and allows freedom to feel ownership in our co-op as we all work towards the same goal. Our success in this area has been organic, peaceful and progressive. - Kim Jensen

As part of the 501c3 filing we formed a board of directors which is currently nine cooks and can be as many as fifteen, but no less than five. Cooks nominate and vote on the Board with elections every six months. Terms are one year (although, the first Board had half the board serving eighteen months to ensure not everyone left at once.) Any active cook can run for the Board. The Board can nominate and elect a member from outside the cook’s community. Board meetings are monthly and all cooks are welcome to attend, but voting on matters at the board meetings are limited to board members only. Built into the bylaws is the ability of any cook who disagrees with a board decision to overturn that decision with a referendum. There is an Executive Committee (affectionately still called the Hub in a nod to the term used for the five people who were the main decision-making stakeholders from the early days at the Eco- Village space and our first two years at Heliotrope) that is made up of the Chairperson of the Board, the Vice-chair, the Secretary and the Treasurer. These positions are legal names from nonprofit filing, required on State and Federal documents. The board members holding these positions are voted on by their fellow boardies. We have a schedule of three or four cooks meetings a year and one retreat. The agenda for the board meetings and cooks meetings are compiled by the chair and secretary, but any cook can suggest an agenda item.

There are also committees. Current active committees are Operations, (orders parts and oversees the functionality of the physical space); Volunteer (recruits and trains new cooks); Programs (oversees Bitchen – ladies/transgender only evening, Earn-a-Bike youth program that’s on hiatus, and schedules workshops); 501c3 Application and Bylaws, both ad hoc and concluded; Space Exploration (looking into moving/acquiring a bigger location, but is now dealing with a CRRA/Metro opportunity at Hollywood and Western); PR (fields media requests from corporate and independent media and students); and finally Development, a more recently formed committee tasked to be more proactive about fundraising, pushing instead the idea of generating project-specific funds rather than rooting out large beholden-to-the-government sums. There are also the standing committees of the Hub, Finance and IT (self-explanatory). All cooks are welcome and encouraged to participate in a committee.

Finally, there are the cooks meetings – scheduled and emergency meetings. The emergency meetings are generally called when a time-sensitive, community-affecting situation comes up. Although we don’t technically operate under consensus (voting at cooks meetings is 2/3 majority,) and the Board is empowered to make decisions for the cooks, in these cases the emergency meetings are called because no BIG decisions are made without the participation and opinion of as many of the cooks who want to be involved. We’ve self-moderated meetings for the past year and a half and maintain a stack, implementing a one-two minute go around to hear from everyone present before taking a straw poll and finally, a vote on all big decisions.

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