Hacking Politics is a new book recounting the history of the fight against SOPA, when geeks, hackers and activists turned Washington politics upside-down and changed how Congress thinks about the Internet. It collects essays by many people (including me): Aaron Swartz, Larry Lessig, Zoe Lofgren, Mike Masnick, Kim Dotcom, Nicole Powers, Tiffiny Cheng, Alexis Ohanian, and many others. It's a name-your-price ebook download.
Read the full story at BoingBoing.
Listen to the whole interview at Smiley & West.
Radical journalist Colhoun's nearly 20 years of research reveal how Castro's rise to power made unlikely allies of the United States government and the Mafia casino owners he sought to expel from Cuba. He takes us through the CIA's covert methods of undermining Castro, notably organizing, arming, and funding Cuban counterrevolutionary groups in the United States which culminated in the Cuban missile crisis. Examples include the botched Bay of Pigs attack and Operation Mongoose, a failed attempt to "organize a popular uprising on the island…as a pretext for U.S military intervention in Cuba." The CIA worked directly with the Mafia on several attempts to assassinate Castro, and Cuba-based gangsters like Meyer Lansky and Frank Fiorini provided the CIA and FBI with information from inside the country. Colhoun also follows the escalation of Cold War relations from negotiations in Vienna and the construction of the Berlin Wall, to the agreement to remove missiles from Cuba. The situation fizzled out after Kennedy's assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald, a supposed "pro-Castro Marxist", and Krushchev's removal from power. Interestingly, Jack Ruby, the man who shot Oswald, was a known associate of the Cuban Mafia. Colhoun's commendable research results in a detailed, nuanced picture of Cold War-era politics and personalities. (May)
Read more at Publishers Weekly.
he thesis of Mangano's book is that the era of nuclear power, in the US at least, is nearly over. The US nuclear power programme, he argues, 'has been a failure, and will fade into obscurity with time ... Building a single new reactor will either take years to complete or never occur' (pp.280-1). For Mangano, this is a victory for the anti-nuclear campaigners like him who have fought for decades against official denials that nuclear power plants were dangerous or could cause health problems. It is, he says, 'a triumph for truth over non-truth'.
This might be the expected position from any environmentalist – on the side of campaigners against government and big business – but recently this has changed. For some prominent environmentalists now, an end to nuclear power would be a catastrophe. Both Mark Lynas and George Monbiot, for example, argue that the only attainable way to phase out fossil fuels is to replace them with a combination of renewable and nuclear power. Mangano does not address what sort of power generation would take nuclear power's place, and this is an omission, considering how the question is implicit in any consideration of this most controversial way of generating power. Nonetheless, Mad Science adds important research and argument to the case against nuclear power.
Read the full article at Counterfire.
LONDON — A tiny tip of the vast subterranean network of governmental and intelligence agencies from around the world dedicated to destroying WikiLeaks and arresting its founder, Julian Assange, appears outside the red-brick building on Hans Crescent Street that houses the Ecuadorean Embassy. Assange, the world’s best-known political refugee, has been in the embassy since he was offered sanctuary there last June. British police in black Kevlar vests are perched night and day on the steps leading up to the building, and others wait in the lobby directly in front of the embassy door. An officer stands on the corner of a side street facing the iconic department store Harrods, half a block away on Brompton Road. Another officer peers out the window of a neighboring building a few feet from Assange's bedroom at the back of the embassy. Police sit round-the-clock in a communications van topped with an array of antennas that presumably captures all electronic forms of communication from Assange's ground-floor suite.
Read the full article at Truthdig.
That storm, of course, is the internet, which most accounts hold responsible for the music industry’s decline. Though Taylor’s book makes surprisingly little reference to file sharing or other technological developments of the past few decades, other writers have not been shy about opening fire on the elephant in the room. Chris Ruen’s recital of the litany, at the opening of his new book FreeLoading: How Our Insatiable Hunger for Free Content Starves Creativity, is familiarly bleak:
After only ten years, US music industry revenues shriveled from over $14 billion a year to less than $7 billion. From 2000 to 2009, total US album sales (physical and digital) plummeted by fifty-two percent, from 785 million to 374 million units . . . Per capita, Americans in 2009 spent just one third of the amount of money they devoted to recorded music in 2000, from an all-time high of $71 per consumer to a modern-era low of $26 . . . The total number of people employed as professional musicians in the United States fell by seventeen percent from 1999 to 2009 as piracy migrated from the margins and into the mainstream.
As Ruen’s reference to “piracy” suggests, blame for the collapse of the music industry is often placed on peer-to-peer networking and file sharing. This is a considerable oversimplification; Taylor points out, for instance, that many of artists’ current financial woes can be traced back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which deregulated the radio industry, paving the way for the rise of the Clear Channel empire and a consolidation of playlists that disproportionately affected mid-level artists on independent labels (another force behind the easement of the advertising taboo).
Read the full article at n+1.
From the Arab Spring and Occupy to the climate justice movement and beyond, a new ethos of creative activism is emerging. All around the world ordinary people are trying out new tools and tactics to win victories where they live. In the shadow of austerity and ecological crisis, the urgency of this political moment demands creative approaches that will transform outrage into effective action. Four veteran creative activists -- all of them contributors to the book Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution (OR Books, 2012) -- will explore the intersection of art and activism in our movements today. How do we bring about economic and ecological transformation -- and what's art got to do with it? Panelists: Andrew Boyd (facilitator/chair), Janice Fine, Andy Bichlbaum, Stephen Duncombe and Nadine Bloch
Read more about the panel at Left Forum.
In Los Angeles, around the area where Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue converge, there is a huge building, the size of a city block and royal blue. This building is the main Scientology Center; the small road leading to the parking garage is called L. Ron Hubbard Way. Late last year, Paul Thomas Anderson's movie The Master drew attention for being kinda-sorta about Scientology. But The Master was mostly about what the day-to-day business of being a cult looks like. I went into the theater expecting to be scared, but The Master basically just looked pretty.
This was my context when I picked up Jeanne Thornton's The Dream of Doctor Bantam. When most people read the word cult on the back of a paperback, they either think of the Illuminati or Scientology, and Thornton's given a few interviews saying she was inspired by the latter. I assume other readers will bring some similar associations to Doctor Bantam, plus or minus Lawrence Wright’s recent treatments.
But I recommend leaving the Scientology context behind when reading Doctor Bantam. It would be a shame for readers to decide what the book will be like before they even crack the spine. The book doesn't really function as an examination of life in one cult or another. Instead, it's about what it is to be the kind of person susceptible to joining a cult — and how close we all are to being that kind of person. It's also about what it is to be the kind of person who falls in love with someone in a cult, and how close we may be to becoming that kind of person, too.
Read the full review at Full Stop.
WIKILEAKS FOUNDER JULIAN ASSANGE'S newest book Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet is intended as an urgent warning, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Despite boasting publicity blurbs from a curious medley of public intellectuals — Slavoj Žižek, Naomi Wolf, and Oliver Stone among them — Cypherpunks may just as well have sunk to the bottom of the sea. Although Assange is one of the most vital and polemical activists alive, nobody's talking about Cypherpunks, and nobody seems to have read it. This is a pity, since the book rings a justifiably strident alarm bell over the erosion of individual privacy rights by an increasingly powerful global surveillance industry.
Though Cypherpunks raises issues of pressing concern, its neglect is not all that mysterious. "This book is not a manifesto," Assange begins. If only it were! The pretense of writing one — especially when widely rumored to be wanted by the US government and an international cause célèbre — would probably have garnered Assange more attention. A good old-fashioned manifesto would have been more readable, too: Cypherpunks is irritatingly structured as a discussion between Assange and three coauthors, the digital activists Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn, and Jérémie Zimmermann. The intention may have been to emphasize the sort of "messy" participatory democracy favored by Occupy, Anonymous, and other emergent political forces loosely affiliated with WikiLeaks and influenced by anarchist political theory. But the "discussion" occasionally slides into pedantic softball-lobs, ego-stroking, and phony-sounding debate that will leave the reader wishing for a more tightly edited and coherent declaration of the trouble Assange thinks we're in.
Read the full review at the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Need a creative way to fight fears of our planetary demise? A new book by Billy Talen prophetically titled, The End of the World (OR Books), may be just the trick. Talen, also known as Reverend Billy, and his Church of Stop Shopping, exposes the socio-political structure of consumerism and the commoditization of the earth with songs, impassioned preaching and theater events. Talen has been arrested 70 times along with members of the Church for their acts of civil disobedience in banks and other places of corporate mediation. Their decade-long collaboration, under the direction of Savitri D, has brought them to communities throughout the U.S. and internationally where they have built a performance institution of communities of action with songs and uplifting protest spectacle on the streets and in concert halls. Talen and the Church’s inspiring and engaging performances ask us to take action on behalf of our home on our rapidly dying planet.
Read the full interview at AlterNet.
The poet Wallace Stevens once punched Ernest Hemingway in the face and, so the story goes, broke his hand on Hem's mighty jaw. If that's not a case for 'Why reading Ernest Hemingway matters today' then I really don't know what is, but Sigal's book has a few other reasons if you still need them. This one's a must have for fans of shagging, fighting and literature. And fans of shagging, fighting literature.
Read more at Dazed Digital.
Reverend Billy Talen and his Church of Stop Shopping — which evolved from anti-consumerism street theater in San Francisco in the 1990s into a venerable New York City protest/performance institution — is bringing its creative environmentalist prayers and ploys back to the Bay Area next week.
Talen is a talented talker and writer whose most recent book, The End of the World, is a poetic plea for people to finally get serious about climate change, loss of biodiversity, and other environmental indicators that are passing irreversible global tipping points, all of them fed by the relentless growth of global capitalism.
Read the full article at the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
A few weeks ago I emailed James Bradley, whom I interviewed for "Freeloading," about carrying the book at Sound Fix. Turns out it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, he said, as the store would soon be closing. Bradley requested that we sit down to talk; that he had some things to get off his chest. Anyone interested in the future for record stores (specifically those that sell new music) or wonder about the viability of vinyl should read the interview below. As you might imagine, it isn’t a particularly rosy picture. Bradley also reflects on the changes he’s seen in Williamsburg over the years and the role Sound Fix played in the local music culture.
Read the full interview on Billboard.
It is often the smallest details of daily life that tell us the most. And so it is under occupation in Palestine. What most of us take for granted has to be carefully thought about and planned for: When will the post be allowed to get through? Will there be enough water for the bath tonight? How shall I get rid of the rubbish collecting outside? How much time should I allow for the journey to visit my cousin, going through checkpoints? And big questions too: Is working with left-wing Israelis collaborating or not? What affect will the Arab Spring have on the future of Palestine? What can anyone do to bring about change? Are any of life’s pleasures untouched by politics?
Read more details and the full shortlist on the Orwell Prize website.
Yoko Ono, the artist and former wife of John Lennon, is coming out with a book of "instructional poetry," according to OR Books. She explains, kind of: "It's something I originally created for the internet. For 100 days, every day, a different instruction was communicated. Now it's being published in book form. I'm riding a time machine that's going back to the old ways! Great! I added my dot drawings to give you further brainwork." At least it sounds less weird than her menswear line.
Read more at NPR.org.
Artist Yoko Ono inked a deal with OR Books for an "instructional poetry" book entitled Acorn. The publisher plans to release this title in June 2013.
OR Books described the Acorn manuscript as "an extension" of Ono's 1964 art book, Grapefruit. Ono has collaborated with other writers on books, but this is her first book published by herself in nearly 50 years.
Read the full announcement at GalleyCat.
Yoko Ono is returning to her roots. In June, the 80-year-old avant-garde icon (and widow of John Lennon) will publish a follow-up to her 1964 book "Grapefruit": "Acorn," a collection of 100 conceptual instructions which function as Zen-like incantations for how to live a mindful life.
"Grapefruit" is one of the great books of the 1960s, a work of subtlety and elegance that frames the world itself as a canvas for art. It was this sensibility that first drew Lennon to Ono when they met at London's Indica Gallery in 1966.
Read the full piece at the Los Angeles Times.
"Poetry in action with participation," is how artist and musician Yoko Ono describes her new book of "instructional poetry" – the first she has published solo in almost 50 years.
Acorn, according to New York-based independent publisher OR Books, is an extension of the "intricate strands" Ono first wove together in Grapefruit, the "book of instructions and drawings" she published in 1964. The book, which comes out in June, is "classic Yoko", said the publisher, "full of intriguing and surreal exercises [which invite] the reader to uncover profound and often complex truths, in words and imagery that are playful and accessible".
Read the full story at the Guardian.
Aside from one or two of our more irreverent reviews, few TMT pieces have sparked the kind of fierce debate — both behind the scenes here and on the internet at large — as former TMT contributor Chris Ruen's 2009 feature, "The Myth of DIY: Towards a Common Ethic of Piracy." Along with its companion piece, "Fuck Love, Let’s Make Dystopia," the article called into question the premise that the read availability of free content on the internet is an unambiguously good thing, and in the process, it hit a lot of indie music fans where it hurt the most: their conscience.
Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Hunger for Free Content Starves Creativity provides Ruen with a larger canvass upon which to develop the ideas that he's sketched out in his shorter works, namely that the act of illegally downloading unlicensed digital content (or "freeloading") has dire consequences, not just on artists, labels, and the surrounding industry apparatus, but for the future of our cultural development. While Ruen assembles an impressive arsenal of support for his position, the entire crux of his argument lays in a simple premise: that an artist has the exclusive right to “distribute works in a manner as s/he chooses” and are entitled to "extend that right… to any legal business partner." It's a statement so self-evident that it shouldn’t even need to be defended; however, given the historical context surrounding the freeloading debate, it becomes much easier to see how we, as a society, have lost sight of this.
Read the full review at Tiny Mix Tapes.
ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS are planning actions in April to focus attention on a dark and deadly corner of U.S. military operations: The Pentagon's and the CIA's massively scaled-up use of drone aircraft around the world.
In 2000, the Pentagon had less than 50 drones. Ten years later, that number is 7,500--an increase of 15,000 percent. In 2003, the U.S. Air Force was flying a handful of round-the-clock drone patrols every day. By 2010, that number had reached 40.
"By 2011, the Air Force was training more remote pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined," explains Medea Benjamin in her book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Benjamin cites Mark Maybury, chief scientist for the Air Force, who said in 2011, "Our number one manning problem in the Air Force is manning our unmanned platform."
Read the full article at Socialistworker.org.