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JULIAN ASSANGE interviewed by DW GIBSON in Vogue

October 24, 2014

In a world where the Web is more decentralized, with more autonomy and anonymity, how does leadership play out on that Internet? Or is there a need for leadership? Or is it OK if it’s simply a fragmented experience?

Leadership is still very important because when you have a cacophony of ideas, it takes a lot of time to understand which ones are worth considering. And so to solve that problem, people look to those who they respect or understand. That’s why we like to read the books of authors that deepen our understanding of a particular area of the world.

But there’s a difference between leadership and direction—coercive control over something. Extremely large states, they have a coercive control structure, and large companies like Google are intertwined with the mechanisms of the state such as law, courts, and police.

Leadership through values or through the creation of new standards or new software or new formulations of human institutions, these are structures that can propagate to others but where the originator doesn’t maintain more than a spiritual or philosophical influence. Most good ideas in human development have spread that way—from writing to the gramophone.

Read the full interview on Vogue

Stories of JOHN FREEMAN and TIM FREEMAN excerpted in The Guardian

October 24, 2014

Several years ago, I bought an apartment in Manhattan with an inheritance passed to me from my grandmother, who was the daughter of a former attorney for Standard Oil. She outlived three husbands and managed her money well, and in one moment hoisted me out of one social class and into another.

Meanwhile, barely a mile away, my younger brother was living in a homeless shelter. It was the second or third shelter he’d been in after moving to the city. It’s awkward enough, in most instances, to talk about money, but doubly so when it involves family. Let me just briefly say that my brother had not been left out of his inheritance; he just had no immediate access to it due to the fact that he has a mental illness. He has dealt with this illness bravely and takes precautions to manage his condition. One of the first things he did after moving to New York was check in at a hospital and use his Medicaid card to get his prescriptions.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

PATRICK COCKBURN included in interview of experts for ABC

October 23, 2014

Islamic State militants have been in the headlines for months, but groups like IS don't appear out of nowhere, they arise in a political and historic context. IS has emerged out of the opposition to the Assad regime in Syria at a moment when Iran and Saudi Arabia are vying for political influence in the region.

It’s well known that Saudi Arabia has supported jihadist movements in Afghanistan, North Africa and Syria, and that most of the terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks were Saudi nationals.

‘The trend one notices in Saudi Arabia is that they are much more against jihadi organisations if they threaten the security of the House of Saud, or if jihadis begin to act within Saudi Arabia,’ says Patrick Cockburn, journalist and author of The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising. ‘But they are quite prepared to use jihadis as an instrument of Saudi foreign policy and Saudi influence abroad.’

To read the rest of the article, visit ABC

TALES OF TWO CITIES reviewed on Feministing

October 23, 2014

Writers like Teju Cole, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, and Junot Diaz also decorate the pages of Tales of Two Cities, not to mention Molly Crabapple’s illustrations. So many of their stories — stories about seeking basic dignity against such wealth inequality — are also found in cities throughout the world. (Indeed, Freeman describes the rent increases in New York City as “catastrophic,” which is the precise drumbeat in San Francisco today.) As a writer based in San Francisco and a lover of New York, I found that many of the themes of Tales of Two Cities resonate. Above all else, the anthology, full of pieces varied in tone and deeply personal perspectives, helps convey the reality of today’s economic inequality in ways that an academic tome simply can’t.

To read the rest of the review, visit Feministing.

WHEN GOOGLE MET WIKILEAKS excerpted in Newsweek

October 23, 2014

Eric Schmidt is an influential figure, even among the parade of powerful characters with whom I have had to cross paths since I founded WikiLeaks. In mid-May 2011 I was under house arrest in rural Norfolk, England, about three hours’ drive northeast of London. The crackdown against our work was in full swing and every wasted moment seemed like an eternity. It was hard to get my attention.

But when my colleague Joseph Farrell told me the executive chairman of Google wanted to make an appointment with me, I was listening.

For the full excerpt, visit Newsweek.

MICAH SIFRY responds to Marshall Ganz in The Nation

October 22, 2014

I am a great admirer of Marshall Ganz. His contributions to movements for social justice from the 1960s to the present have been enormous. Having audited his Harvard class on community organizing, I know he is a master teacher. Thus it is with some reluctance that I write to take issue with his recent review of my book The Big Disconnect: Why the Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet). Alas, we have our own disconnect.

Actually, we want the same thing: a politics that is driven by and for the needs of ordinary people, expressed through organizations and representatives beholden to them. Ganz agrees with me that despite the expectations of many, the first decade of mass participation enabled by the Internet hasn’t democratized politics much. But for some reason, Ganz describes my book as myopically blaming only the technology for this failure, leaving out “the people who choose to use the technology in the ways they do.”

To read the full response, visit The Nation

BLOOD SPLATTERS QUICKLY reviewed on Flavorwire

October 20, 2014

This month, OR books released Blood Splatters Quickly, a collection of Ed Wood’s fictions from this period. Now, these stories are nearly impossible to characterize, other than to say that, collectively, they traverse a broad thematic realm populated by ghosts, murderers, transvestites (like Ed), cowboy lesbians, and village drunks, among other personalities… too numerous to list. I suppose if I could give a name to this genre, although frankly these stories are sui generis, I’d call it Horropornonoir.

Included with the collection is a hard-boiled yet heartfelt introduction by family friend Bob Blackburn. It does an admirable job of condensing Ed Wood’s life and career into a taut, hilarious, and sad biography. As I was reading the introduction — and the rest of this insane, brilliant collection — it occurred to me that I was learning invaluable lessons from Ed Wood’s life. (I learned, for example, that, as the title suggests, blood really does splatter quickly.) So I decided to pool these life lessons together here…

To read the rest of the review, visit Flavorwire

BOWIE reviewed in the Irish Times

October 20, 2014

As you may gather, Bowie is not a bricks-and-mortar biographical study. Rather, it is a philosophical tract, and as such is sure to irritate the librarians and list-makers of music fandom.

If you’re the kind of reader who tears his hair out over the digressions and dissertations of Paul Morley or Simon Reynolds, you should avoid it like the plague. But it is, to these eyes, a valuable little book, sizzling with original perceptions conveyed in clear, accessible language, unencumbered by university jargon.

“Bowie’s music is about yearning,” Critchley concludes. “Ultimately, this is a yearning for love. His yearning touches something in ours, unlocking a bittersweet memory, for example the deliciously painful longing of exile.”

In other words, even aliens get the blues.

To read the full review, visit the Irish Times

TALES OF TWO CITIES named one of Guernica's Editors' Picks

October 20, 2014

OR Books’ collection of short fiction and essays explores the iniquities in America’s financial and cultural capital. Edited by former Granta editor John Freeman and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, the anthology features literary lions including Zadie Smith, Colum McCann, and Junot Diaz, as well as new voices such as Bill Cheng, Maria Venegas, and 15-year-old Chaasadahyah Jackson. To me, the most memorable piece is Smith’s, whose tragicomic “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets” follows an aging trans woman who fails to find solace in a lingerie boutique and beyond. Remarkable, too, is Sarah Jaffe’s indignant reportage on a tenants’ rights struggle in Brooklyn and a personal essay by Tim Freeman on how Manhattan seduced him, then landed him in a homeless shelter. It’s a bristling portrayal of New York in the tradition of Jacob Riis.

To view the rest of the selections, visit Guernica

WHEN GOOGLE MET WIKILEAKS covered in The Saturday Paper

October 20, 2014

Assange was introduced by one of his editors, who joked, “One of the things we love about Julian is that we always know where he is.” The man himself appeared in suit and tie, rosy-cheeked and seemingly well nourished. As he spoke about Google’s unsavoury ties to Washington, a man in an electric blue suit and yellow neckerchief sat cross-legged on the floor, sketching Assange’s face on a large drawing pad. Twenty minutes in, the British singer M. I. A. joined Assange on screen. The two spoke briefly about freedom of expression before Assange opened the floor to questions. Someone asked how Assange felt about still being labelled a traitor. Assange replied that he was well and truly over it, reminding the crowd of his own country’s response to his case. “The Australian government came after me harder than the US government,” he said. “It’s a sad thing how pathetic my own country is.” An OR Books rep then asked any Google employees in the room to come forward and ask Assange a question. No one fessed up. (The publisher of When Google Met WikiLeaks is now offering 20 per cent off the book for all Google employees.)

To read the rest of the article, visit The Saturday Paper

THE BIG DISCONNECT reviewed in The Nation

October 17, 2014

In “Big Data,” Sifry argues that, paradoxically, the low cost of collecting data enabled its acquisition on such a massive scale that the cost of using it grew exponentially. This created profitable business opportunities for those with the expertise to use the data, and raised, rather than lowered, the cost of campaigning. Of the 25 most visited websites, Sifry points out, only one, Wikipedia, is a nonprofit. The rest are hardly hubs for political action; he tellingly describes them as “online malls” in which we are invited to “hang out.” (And the largest such data gatherer of all, the NSA, threatens citizen efficacy perhaps most of all.)

To read the rest of the article, visit The Nation

THE JIHADIS RETURN reviewed in Actually Existing Barbarism

October 15, 2014

Experienced journalist and author Patrick Cockburn has written a timely book which serves as a useful primer to the IS phenomenon. Whilst not focusing too much on the complicated evolution of what is currently IS, the strength of Cockburn’s book lies in clearly explaining the geo-political conjuncture which has provided the opportunity for the IS to seize and hold an area the size of Britain. The slow-motion catastrophe in Syria provided the perfect staging ground for IS’ re-emergence in Iraq during a time of deepening sectarian crisis. The success of IS in Iraq needs is based on the support of the majority Sunni population who have in parts, and not uncritically sided with IS against the Shia dominated Iraqi state. That IS’s success must be attributed to wider forces including the resistance of certain sections of the Sunni population to the violent Shia dominance of the Iraqi state is a key to understanding the IS phenomenon.

To read the rest of the article, visit Actually Existing Barbarism


October 14, 2014

Assange’s book, When Google Met Wikileaks, is the transcript (with commentary by Assange) of a secret meeting between the two that took place on June 23, 2011, when Schmidt visited Assange in England. In his commentary, Assange explores the troubling implications of Google’s vast reach, including its relationships with international authorities, particularly in the U.S., of which the public is largely unaware. Schmidt’s book, How Google Works, is a broader, sunnier look at how technology has presumably shifted the balance of power from companies to people. It tells the story of how Google rose from a nerdy young tech startup to become a nerdy behemoth astride the globe. Read together, the two books offer an unsettling portrait both of our unpreparedness for what lies ahead and of the utopian spin with which Google (and others in the digital world) package tomorrow. While Assange’s book accuses Google of operating as a kind of “‘Don’t Be Evil’ empire,” Schmidt’s book fulfills Assange’s worst fears, presenting pseudo-irreverent business maxims in an “aw shucks” tone that seems willfully ignorant of the inevitable implications of any company coming to so sweepingly dominate our lives in unprecedented and often legally uncharted ways.

Read the full review on Time

JULIAN ASSANGE interviewed in Pando

October 14, 2014

By the time Google began as a Stanford University research project in 1996, the Creation Myth of Silicon Valley (and all the hubris that it brings) was locked solid. People have struggled to name and define this ideology over the years: the California Ideology, Digital Utopianism, Technolibertarianism, and so on. Whatever you wish to call it, its apotheosis was Wired in its heyday, before being sold to Conde Nast in 1998. The magazine connected and crystallized a number of ideological strains that had been popular in the valley for decades, making them seem real. And one of the key parts of the Silicon Valley myth is that governments cannot and never will be able to keep up with digital communications technology, which is why government is slow and stupid, while Silicon Valley is smart and fast.

But a look at the history of the tech sector betrays this notion for the con job that it is. As long as American intelligence has needed computers, it has needed Silicon Valley – who has been paid handsomely for its part in this marriage born out of the Cold War.

“It’s not surprising that Silicon Valley would be collaborating with the biggest industries in society,” says Assange. “Including intelligence agencies, which are an industry in terms of their need to or their desire to purchase large amounts of data.”

Read the full interview and review on Pando


October 14, 2014

Whatever the personal reasons for Wood’s preoccupations, cross-dressing makes for a powerful conceit in this collection that couldn’t be more relevant today. Years before Facebook and Instagram, Wood captured how we cultivate our identities through artifice. Amidst our self-important hashtag-ed world, it’s easy to be an agent who’s fallen for one’s own cover story. Getting at what lies beneath is murky business, and usually an endeavor for introspective oddballs, who need a little angora to soften the edges.

Read the full review on Vice

THE JIHADIS RETURN excerpted in Newsweek

October 14, 2014

The most sinister change in the way war is perceived through the media springs from what just a few years ago seemed to be a wholly positive development. Satellite television and the use of information supplied by YouTube, bloggers and social media were portrayed as liberating innovations at the beginning of the Arab Spring. The monopoly on information imposed by police states from Tunisia to Egypt and Bahrain had been broken.

But as the course of the uprising in Syria has shown, satellite television and the Internet can also be used to spread propaganda and hate.

“Half of Jihad is Media” is one slogan posted on a jihadist website, which, taken broadly, is wholly correct. The ideas, actions, and aims of fundamentalist Sunni jihadists are broadcast daily through satellite television stations, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. As long as such powerful means of propagandizing exist, groups similar to al Qaeda will never go short of money or recruits.

Read the full excerpt on Newsweek

WHEN GOOGLE MET WIKILEAKS reviewed in the New Statesman

October 9, 2014
So has Google earned the ire of Assange? First, he was naive to expect fair or favourable treatment. He is any capitalist’s nightmare and, although Google may present itself as a new type of company, in many respects it is an old-style one. It is Wall Street-dependent and close to government, partly through conventional lobbying and partly through a joint interest in amassing information. It used to be unremarkable to say that the interests of General Motors and those of the US were aligned. It should be equally unremarkable to say the same of Google and the Obama administration. This is not necessarily a bad thing but plainly it could be and it is here that Assange is on relatively solid ground. Schmidt and Cohen did use him rather ruthlessly and misrepresented him at certain points in their book. Furthermore, Google’s power – as demonstrated, embarrassingly, by the ease with which it can walk, carefree and practically tax-free, into Downing Street – is disturbing, unaccountable and, increasingly, global. “Technocratic imperialism” is a substantial charge.
Read the full review on New Statesman

GORDON LISH interviewed in FAZ

October 8, 2014

FAZ: What are your thoughts on Jonathan Franzen?

Lish: I can't read him.

To read the full interview, pick up a copy of FAZ.


October 7, 2014
Micah L. Sifry tackles the reasons progressive change has failed to manifest with the growth of the internet in The Big Disconnect (OR Books, 2014). Internet activism seemed like the wave of the future only two decades ago, but the Internet’s potential as a tool for progressive change has not quite given rise to sustained political mobilization and participation. The following excerpt from Part 4, “The Way We Look To Us All,” focuses on ways to create online public spaces that cater to internet democracy and internet transparency in ways current social media does not.

Read the full excerpt at the Utne Reader.

ORLANDO LUIS PARDO LAZO nominated for the CINTAS Foundation Fellowship in Creative Writing

October 7, 2014
Read more about the CINTAS Foundation Fellowship on their website.