Monday, October 15, 2012 2:53 PM
Traveling by UnDocuBus from Phoenix to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, the undocumented activists behind No Papers No Fear knew the danger they were facing. But by refusing to give into fear, the UnDocuBus riders signaled a new era in immigrant rights activism, one that places human dignity at the forefront. The activists behind No Papers No Fear were named Utne Visionaries in 2012. Check out the video and links below to learn more about the No Papers No Fear campaign and the future of immigrant activism.
Below: UnDocuBus riders Latecia Ramirez and Rosi Carrasco on Democracy Now! at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (September 4, 2012).
Video: “Reclamar tu Libertad,” NoPapersNoFear.org, August 8, 2012.
“If We Can Overcome Our Fear, So Can Anyone,” NoPapersNoFear.org, July 25, 2012.
“In Defense of Civil Protest,” NoPapersNoFear.org, September 20, 2012.
“Selma: Crossing Bridges, Building Puentes,” NoPapersNoFear.org, August 23, 2012.
“Barrio Defense Committees: How Arizona’s Immigrants Are Standing Up to SB 1070,” Yes! Magazine, June 21, 2012.
“Riders of UnDocuBus Have ‘No Papers, No Fear,’” In These Times, September 5, 2012.
Puente Arizona movement
Main site: NoPapersNoFear.org
Image by Chandra Narcia. Used with permission.
Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:03 AM
Troy Davis—the man about whose case former FBI director William S. Sessions has written “What quickly will become apparent is that serious questions about Davis’ guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction”—was executed by the state of Georgia last night at 11:08pm.
Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing a police officer. There’s not much I can add to the discussion around this case. If you’re looking for insightful writing on it, there’s Mother Jones’coverage, this from The Nation editors, an impassioned plea at In These Times, and of course Amnesty International, which has used Davis’ visage in their campaign to abolish the death penalty. There, too, is the video below of Democracy Now’sAmy Goodman reporting from Georgia last night.
As many others have stated, this execution is not only about Troy Davis. It is, and especially now should be, a time to reflect on this country’s use of the death penalty. To add to that conversation, here are some articles from our November-December 2010 issue about capital punishment in the U.S.
interviews legendary capital punishment opponent Sister Helen Prejean:
According to Amnesty International, 93 percent of the world’s executions take place in five countries: China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and the United States. Why is our government on such a list?
The death penalty is a natural outgrowth of our long history of using violence to achieve our ends. We’re a very young country, and violence has worked for us in the past. It began with the settling of this continent and the genocide against Native Americans, then continued when we brought slaves over.
Continue reading >>
The Texas Observer’s Robert Leleux takes a very hard look at executions in the Lone Star State:
One of the things about the death penalty is that, because convicted killers (for a whole variety of reasons) aren’t typically white, middle-class honor students, with reputations for being kindly, wholesome people, it’s very easy for middle-class people like me to presume that folks on death row are people from “over there.” Folks from another, meaner America—that hard, irredeemable underbelly of the nation’s poverty and crime. You know, the kind of place you see on Cops.
Of course, there are so many things wrong with this presumption that it’s hard to know where to begin.
Continue reading >>
And finally, as an online extra to those two articles, here is a blog post with a number of resources from around the web about executions in the U.S.
Source: Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, In These Times, Amnesty International, The Sun, The Nation, The Texas Observer
Image by World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 12:07 PM
In an article about “9/11 fiction” in Prospect, Adam Kirsch points out one difficulty in writing about that day: It was a television event, and that is the medium through which the vast majority of us learned about it. Of one writer’s experience escaping one of the towers, Kirsch writes, “Like everyone else, he had to watch TV afterwards to piece together what had happened.” (I previously wrote about Kirsch’s article here.)
I hadn’t realized just how true this was—just how attached the attacks were to television—until I heard Brewster Kahle and Rick Prelinger on Democracy Now!this morning. Kahle, a 2009 Utne Reader Visionary, and Prelinger are Internet archivists who have put together a project called “Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive.” “[9/11] was a major event, that was really a television event,” says Kahle. “People understood this through television.”
The archive is a collection of 3,000 hours of television news from around the world from September 11 to September 17. The project is exhaustive and impressive, at times even overwhelming—seeing all the news organizations’ coverage in one spot. Watching Charles Gibson reference New York fashion week going into a break, on the other side of which would be footage of one burning tower, has an effect like nothing I’ve felt on the page. It brings you back to that exact moment.
Kahle and Prelinger are looking to television as “a medium of record,” which is somewhat antithetical to the way it is usually used. News on television is here and then it is gone, never to be referenced again, at least not with any depth and analysis. “When we can watch the real-time coverage [of 9/11],” says Prelinger,
not just the famous images that get broken out and repeated all over again, but capture the full stream of that day and see how consciousness developed and how events were covered, it gives us a lot of grounding and enables us to begin to really think kind of analytically, critically about these events and about the way that television works.
Source: Democracy Now!, Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:51 PM
Who would have thought that one of the greatest labor victories this year would come from professional sports players? While attacks on organized labor continue in places like Wisconsin and Ohio, the National Football League players’ union has reached an agreement with owners that actually can be counted as a win for workers—in this case, NFL players—by improving health and safety standards.
Some of the statistics on player health are shocking. In a new documentary, Not Just A Game, Utne Visionary, radio host, and Nation contributor Dave Zirin highlights some of the scarier ones, including this: football players die an average of twenty years earlier than the general population. Even more shocking may be the NFL’s attempt, until very recently, to deny links between the extremely violent sport and head injuries. In the clip below, Zirin tells a story about a congressperson comparing an NFL doctor who denied this connection to doctors who previously denied the fact that cigarettes had anything to do with lung cancer. To any logical person, both seem impossible to deny.
Zirin also discusses the NBA lockout and the victory for the Japanese women’s soccer team in the World Cup.
Related: In addition to being named an
Utne Reader Visionary
, Zirin also recently wrote a piece for us about
patriotism and the militarization of American sports
Source: The Nation, Democracy Now!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 1:03 PM
You may have heard: It’s Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday. For many people out there this seems to be a tough milestone to grasp, leaving them incapable of figuring out just what it means for our life and times. Or, as Michael Hogan puts it at Vanity Fair, “Seventy isn’t that old anymore. So why is it that Bob Dylan, who reaches that milestone on May 24, seems so positively ancient—a feature of the cultural landscape itself, whose age should be calculated in geological eons, not anything so ephemeral as months and years?” It’s like when my mom read Chronicles: Volume One—she said it made Dylan, a hero of hers, mortal. And sometimes, she said, you don’t want your heroes to be human. I suppose each watershed birthday for the hero-who-never-wanted-to-be-a-hero (if you believe what he says) rings that same note: The man is human, he ages, and will eventually—just like all of us—age no more. Maybe that’s why 70 is a hard pill to swallow. It reminds us that the youthful “voice of a generation” will return to dust. And yet, Dylan today continues what often seems like a never ending tour.
Enough of all that. It’s a birthday, after all. Here’s a look around the web to see how folks are celebrating the man at 70.
Buzz Poole, writing for The Millions, tries to tackle the mythical lore and impact of Dylan and his work:
Dylan, like [William Carlos] Williams, [Walt] Whitman, and others of their poetic, patriotic ilk, sucks the marrow from America, gnaws on its bones and slurps – not so much concerned with decorum but getting the flavors – the grease stains on his sleeves, the gristle stuck in his teeth, evidence of the contact. These flavors he tastes are not always the same or always enjoyable, but they spring from deep-running sources, some of which are polluted or diverted, but their purity remains unquestionable. Unlike the aforementioned men of letters whose legacies have grown mythical after their deaths, Dylan has lived side-by-side with his own lore, equal parts his creation and the creation of others.
Imagine living a life where people think you did change the world, or that you have the power to change the world.
That last part might get to the point of Dylan better than anything I’ve read. While people still look to him to be something he has stated time and again that he is not, no one stops to wonder just what it must be like to have so many people—for more than four decades now—think you could do something as implausible as change the world with a song. No wonder he comes off curmudgeonly. If you’d been put in the same box since you were 20 you probably would, too.
At Vanity Fair “Ken Regan unveils a trove of never-before-seen images at New York City’s Morrison Hotel Gallery [and] Michael Hogan reflects on Dylan’s audacious refusal to give the people what they want.”
Ed Ward reviews “How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan” for Oxford American, admitting he didn’t expect to like it:
[W]hy was it, forty-five years later, that when I got Ace Records' new compilation How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan, my first thought was "This probably isn't going to be very good"? Simple prejudice. Bob Dylan's music was so important to my generation of white middle-class kids that it was hard for me to imagine how the soul singers on these twenty tracks could get inside it in a meaningful enough way to bring their art to it….
It turns out, of course, that my reaction was right and wrong.
Democracy Now! dedicated their show this morning to rare interviews from the Pacifica Radio archives, including an interview where Pete Seegar calls the young musician “the most prolific” song writer in America.
The Atlantic Wire has a Dylan round up of their own with stories from Rolling Stone, The Telegraph, Time, and more.
Source: The Millions, Vanity Fair, Oxford American, Democracy Now!, The Atlantic Wire
Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:40 PM
Malcolm X would have been 86 today, May 19. In honor of this occasion, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! had a roundtable discussion with Amiri Baraka, Herb Boyd, and Michael Eric Dyson about a new biography of the civil rights leader by Dr. Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. The debate is fascinating and gets a bit testy, especially between Baraka and Dyson, with the two talking over one another and disagreeing about elements of the book.
From Democracy Now!:
After two decades of work, Dr. Manning Marable completed a new biography, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.” Dr. Marable used material for his book that recently made available, thus providing a new insight into the famed civil rights leader. His biography, however, has also refueled the debate on many controversial aspects of Malcolm X’s life and interpretation of his politics and legacy. To discuss Dr. Marable’s biography, we host a roundtable discussion with three guests. Amiri Baraka is an acclaimed poet, playwright, music historian and activist based in Newark, New Jersey. Herb Boyd is Harlem-based activist, teacher and author who edits the online publication, The Black World Today and writes for several publications, including Amsterdam News. Michael Eric Dyson is a professor of sociology at Georgetown University and is the author of numerous books including, "Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X."
Source: Democracy Now!
Monday, February 21, 2011 1:01 PM
As demonstrators continue to protest Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed cuts to the state budget, questions arise as to just what exactly the fight is about. Is Walker trying to bust unions or simply balance the budget? Do public workers make more than their private counterparts? Who is and who is not paying their fair share? Sometimes it’s hard to get a grasp with all the conflicting voices, so we turn to some of the trusted sources in our library and elsewhere to point us in the right direction. Here’s what some of those sources are saying about Wisconsin.
Andy Kroll at Mother Jones is on the ground in Madison and is providing updates via his Twitter feed. Kroll also has a primer of sorts on the Mother Jones website, addressing the basic questions of who exactly Scott Walker is, what is being proposed, and how the protests in Wisconsin might spread to other states, such as Ohio, where similar bills are being proposed.
Meanwhile, Robert Pollin and Jeffrey Thompson at The Nation call the Republican governor’s actions a betrayal of public workers, writing, “Let’s remember that the recession was caused by Wall Street hyper-speculation, not the pay scales of elementary school teachers or public hospital nurses.”
Sarah van Gelder writing for Yes! asks if the Wisconsin protests are the first stop on an American uprising, looking to a group out of England called UK Uncut. That group protests tax breaks for corporations, claiming that if those tax breaks were taken off the table cutbacks for other government services would be unnecessary. An American version called US Uncut has formed and is planning events to highlight corporate tax breaks in this country. (The issue of class warfare brought up in van Gelder’s article is one the Utne Reader focuses on in our March-April issue. See the cover stories here and here.) Van Gelder writes:
The tide may now be turning. Inspired by people-power movements around the world, people in the United States are beginning [to] push back. The poor and middle class, those who didn’t cause the collapse but have felt the most pain from the poor economy, are now being asked to sacrifice again.
Ezra Klein may put it most simply, though. In a column for the Washington Post titled simply “Unions Aren’t to Blame for Wisconsin’s Budget,” Klein, in reference to the “economic crisis unions didn’t cause, and a budget reversal that Walker himself helped create,” writes,
That’s how you keep a crisis from going to waste: You take a complicated problem that requires the apparent need for bold action and use it to achieve a longtime ideological objective. In this case, permanently weakening public-employee unions, a group much-loathed by Republicans in general and by the Republican legislators who have to battle them in elections in particular. And note that not all public-employee unions are covered by Walker’s proposal: the more conservative public-safety unions—notably police and firefighters, many of whom endorsed Walker—are exempt.
The fact that those public-safety unions are exempt from the proposals doesn’t mean that they’re sitting idly by, as Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters Association, told Democracy Now! viewers and listeners this morning. Mitchell called the exemption a “favor” his union didn’t ask for and told Amy Goodman, “An assault on one is an assault on all. As firefighters and police officers, we do not sit idly by. We make things happen.”
Sources: Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, The Nation, Washington Post, Yes!
, licensed under
Thursday, January 13, 2011 1:50 PM
Every week we share links to stories, articles, and other interesting things we’ve come across online for you to enjoy over the weekend. It’s the utne.com crockpot; we add the ingredients for a great online meal.
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has been closely watched by the Chinese authorities for years. Now they’ve taken it a step further by razing his studio in Shanghai into rubble. The title of the new documentary about Ai: Never Sorry.
As of Wednesday, there was snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 U.S. states. Get a very, very close-up view of what this looks like.
Feeling salty about that paycut? Maybe you should be working for free.
One more way to rescue the newspaper industry: certify journalists to carry handguns.
A series of quick interviews with contemporary photographers, mostly documentary and portrait, Mull It Over reveals the artists’ thoughts behind their work.
Novelist Edwidge Danticat on Democracy Now!: “Haitians are very resilient, but it doesn’t mean they can suffer more than other people.”
Sarah Palin’s infamous target map gets a brilliant, darkly satirical treatment from Seattle alt weekly The Stranger on its cover this week.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011 10:31 AM
Today, as Republicans take their first majority in the House since 2006, surgeon, New Yorker writer, and author of The Checklist Manifesto, Dr. Atul Gawande was on Democracy Now! talking about the return of the term “Death Panels” to our country’s debate on health care reform. Gawande calls the use of that term in the discussion a “travesty” and says, “End-of-life discussions are not death panels, but you say it over and over again, you brand it over and over again, and you begin to define what the meaning is of a major policy that’s passed.”
Related: Read Gawande’s “Letting Go” in The New Yorker, where he addressed the question, “What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?”
Wednesday, December 01, 2010 5:30 PM
Writing for Guernica, anti-war activist Norman Solomon had this to say about the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks this week:
No government wants to face documentation of actual policies, goals and priorities that directly contradict its public claims of virtue. In societies with democratic freedoms, the governments that have the most to fear from such disclosures are the ones that have been doing the most lying to their own people.
That above statement—as well as the rest of the essay by Solomon, and others, like this one by Arianna Huffington and this one by Tom Hayden in The Nation—is exactly why Tim Heffernan at Esquiremisses the point on what WikiLeaks is doing. These leaked documents may not be all that surprising when one thinks about what governments do and how armies act in times of war. Any lack of surprise, however, comes from previous speculation (by you, me, anyone paying attention) for which there is now proof in the form of these released documents. While they may confirm more than inform, what led us to become informed has been much guess work and the stuff of Tom Clancy novels—not necessarily the proof of actual government documents. The dismissal, then, of these documents as unimportant is the wrong response. Indeed, confirming speculation is of great importance, otherwise the deceit continues unabated and jabs of “conspiracy theory” are more easily thrown (see video below).
Another point where the debate goes awry is in discussing the prosecution of WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is the vehicle by which these cables—and the previous war logs—are released. The only people who should be held accountable by any U.S. court would be those providing the information to the messenger, as was pointed out this morning on Democracy Now! by Scott Horton, a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine:
I think, here, the U.S. government does have a basis to bring criminal claims against persons who disclose this information. It’s the individuals who owe the duty to the United States to preserve the confidentiality or secrecy of the information and who disclosed it. So whoever did that—and, of course, Bradley Manning is a focus—would naturally be the subject of a criminal investigation and prosecution.
While the claim that WikiLeaks should be prosecuted is troubling, The Washington Times’ claims that WikiLeaks should be responsible for any sort of “verification” or “corroboration” of the leaked documents may be more so. The paper itself admits that “The WikiLeaks database may be a starting point for analysis of events in the Iraq war, but it renders only a superficial look at any given topic.” Why then should an organization whose stated purpose is “to publish original source material” be expected to also fulfill the job of the journalists who come to the “starting point” to create their stories? It is the responsibility of The New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and, yes, even The Washington Times—though they apparently have the desire to shirk that responsibility—et al. to craft the stories that appear as news to the public. As with the Pentagon Papers, the lot of the information is there, but it may take news organizations or political theorists to wade through what it all means. That’s the journalists’ responsibility, not that of the vehicle delivering the information.
And while the expectation of The Washington Times is misbegotten, it is another suggestion in the same article that is downright scary:
The government also should be waging war on the Wikileaks Web presence. There are a variety of means whereby technicians could render inoperable the sites distributing the classified information. Wikileaks could respond by using alternate sites, but those could be targeted as soon as they came online. Wikileaks has a small staff and limited resources. Relentless attacks on the servers and sites dispensing this classified information would have a debilitating effect on the leakers' morale and help widen the fissures that already have appeared in the group. This battle could offer some practical experience to American cyberwarriors who one day will face even greater threats from state-sponsored Web war.
The fact that anyone in the world can view Pentagon classified documents at will sends a signal of American impotence and inspires future cyberfoes. If Wikileaks wants to play this game, the very least our government can do is suit up and get out on the field.
That’s the true American spirit! Get caught lying and use the whistleblower as target practice for a future war. Norman Solomon long ago concluded that the “nation’s military and diplomacy are moving parts of the same vast war machinery.” With calls to action like that from The Washington Times we might as well add the nation’s media to the list.
Source: Guernica, Esquire, Democracy Now!, The Washington Times, The Huffington Post, The Nation
licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, October 29, 2010 5:20 PM
Two Tea Party leaders, Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin, have been jet-setting all over the country ginning up support for conservative politicians. Literally.
They’ve been flying around in a private jet like Wall Street CEOs, except they’re heading to “grassroots” rallies instead of merger talks. Meckler and Martin don’t say how outraged, ordinary citizens can find the money to support such extravagance, and they don’t have to. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in this year's Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, they can now accept unlimited funding without disclosing the identities of their donors.
No one would even know about the jets themselves, but Meckler and Martin never counted on Mother Jones, or a reporter named Stephanie Mencimer. Using public flight-tracking information, the Tea Party Patriots’ flight schedule, and some serious attention to details in the group’s own videos, Mencimer was able to figure out which jet the not-so-populist duo were using. She then traced the plane to Raymond F. Thomson, founder and CEO of a semiconductor company called Semitool, which he sold last year for a cool $364 million.
It’s both sad and hilarious to see the secret financial arrangements of the super-rich masquerading as grassroots activism. But it also shows the lengths to which reporters must go to actually report on political spending in the wake of Citizens United. There is no documentation to follow, just the contrails of private jets.
Social groups target state races
And while secret political spending has been dominated by big corporations this cycle, the legal maneuvering that liberated corporate coffers was actually performed by fringe right-wing groups targeting social issues. As Jesse Zwick emphasizes for The Washington Independent:
Groups advocating against abortion and gay marriage have waged a low-grade war on laws restricting their ability to spend money freely in elections since the early 1980s, and their victory in the recent Citizens United ruling has hardly caused them to rest on their laurels.
Our democracy is now more beholden to corporate greed than ever, but at least gays won’t be allowed to visit each other in the hospital.
This is just the beginning of corporate rights
But the implications of Citizens United extend far beyond the (critically important) realm of campaign finance itself, as Jeff Clements and John Bonifaz of the organization Free Speech for People emphasize in an interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales of Democracy Now! As Bonifaz notes:
Citizens United was not just a campaign finance case, it was a corporate rights case. In fact, it was an extreme extension of a corporate rights doctrine that has eroded the First Amendment for thirty years.
At its core, Citizens United grants First Amendment rights to corporations on the grounds that corporations are people, just like ordinary citizens. Sound crazy? It is.
The bill of rights for corporations?
As AlterNet’s Joshua Holland emphasizes in an interview with historian Thom Hartmann, the implications of the view that corporations are people are simply absurd. Now corporations have been granted First Amendment rights, but what happens when they start arguing for Second Amendment rights? And what would it even mean for a corporation to have Second Amendment rights?
A visual map of Campaign Cash
What are the most common themes and issues surrounding the untold amounts of cash flowing into this election cycle? To create that visual, the Media Consortium piped 10 articles by our members through Wordle. While all the articles were generally focused on this topic, they were picked at random and published between October 25-29.
For clarity's sake, we made "Tea Party" "TeaParty," "Supreme Court" became "SupremeCourt," and we also merged the first and last names of key players such as Karl Rove and Jim DeMint. Finally, we removed any extraneous words such as "the," "and," and "even." We did not combine the words corporate/corporation/corporations or Republican/Republicans (but examine the frequency as much as the size). To get the latest reporting on the funds feeding into the mid-term elections, go to www.themediaconsortium.org or follow the search term #campaigncash on Twitter. Wordle research by Amanda Anderson.
But wait, there's more!
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the mid-term elections and campaign financing by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit The Media Consortium for more articles on these issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
Friday, August 27, 2010 3:57 PM
From Democracy Now!:
The award-winning playwright Eve Ensler plans to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by staging performances of her new work Swimming Upstream in New Orleans and New York City. The piece was written by sixteen women from New Orleans who describe surviving the flood and living through the aftermath of the storm, which permanently changed their city and many of their lives.
Source: Democracy Now!
Image from vday.org
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 7:43 PM
Responding to a call that journalists were being abused by police, Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman was arrested yesterday during the protests against the Republican National Convention. Walking into the Republican National Convention hall, I ran into Goodman and asked her what happened. She quickly told me the story of her arrest. You can watch a video of that below:
For more of Utne.com’s ongoing coverage of the Republican National Convention, click here .
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