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"O’Neil opens up a space to redirect the energies of anger and guilt away from ourselves and toward the systems of oppression.” — WELCOME TO HELL WORLD reviewed by Full Stop

January 22, 2020
Welcome to Hell World – Luke O’Neil
The result, if you really dig down to the very core of that what-the-fuck moment that happens again and again throughout the book, is not a sense of morbid delight or nihilistic surrender but rather a fragile, translucent shard of hope. It’s small and it’s tender and I certainly wouldn’t go digging around too hard just yet in the hope of holding it in your hands, but it’s there all the same. And at no time is this pathetic little scrap more apparent than in that brief moment when O’Neil lays out a story about baby jails or the Sackler family or fucking Amazon and it hits you, yes, this whole thing is unbelievable. You’re not weak or subpar or unfit for the game, it is being played under conditions objectively terrible and cruel. Moreover, the rules are designed to hide the fact, to pathologize the suffering as a failure of the individual. In acknowledging this, O’Neil opens up a space to redirect the energies of anger and guilt away from ourselves and toward the systems of oppression. Which is to say, O’Neil might have no answers here, but at least he’s figuring out what, and more importantly who, to ask.
Read the full review here.

Coming Soon: SURF, SWEAT AND TEARS by Andy Martin

January 22, 2020
Coming Soon: SURF, SWEAT AND TEARS by Andy Martin

"Radical demystification of Daniel Defoe’s iconic work” — CRUSOE AND HIS CONSEQUENCES reviewed by Morning Star

January 22, 2020
Radical demystification of Daniel Defoe’s iconic work
Dunkerley delivers an informative contextual account of the author of this fictional autobiography. The “hyperactive” Defoe turned his prodigious energies to mercantile trade as wine merchant, brickyard owner, journalist, novelist and as both government critic and spy-provocateur. For his Whig masters he was “a radical star.” In appraising what is unquestionably Defoe’s finest poem, his Satyr on The True-Born Englishman, where, after describing the mixture of races that fuel our “native” bloodline, he concludes: “From this Amphibious, ill-born mob began/That vain ill-natured thing, an Englishman,” Dunkerley believes he mirrors not only his own times but “the age of UKIP, the DUP and Brexit.”

Read the full review here.

"A lot of times you have to censor yourself if you’re writing for a big outlet, you can’t literally just say 'This is fucking terrible. These people are vampire ghouls and they deserve to die,' you know?"—Luke O'Neil, author of WELCOME TO HELL WORLD, interviewed by The Alternative

January 22, 2020
Interview: Luke O’Neil Author of ‘Hell World’
"Luke O’Neil is one of my favorite writers and journalists. I guess that’s not a mainstream pick because he hasn’t written any famous novels or won any big journalism awards (yet), but he has gotten hate from the MAGA chuds because he wrote that people should piss in Republicans’ food in a major city’s newspaper, so I think that’s equivalent as far as I’m concerned. Luke is a longtime writer about issues in social justice, criminal justice, financial inequality, and American war crimes. Occasionally his articles are featured in big outlets like (insert corporation #1) and (insert corporation #2), but more recently he has been writing a weekly newsletter called Welcome to Hell World which presents stories and research about the many different issues and injustices that make living in America in the 2020’s such a hellscape, and delivering it direct to his readers himself. Just a few months ago, he compiled the best of the first batch of newsletters into a truly touching and emotional read of a book, which is also hilarious in the dark humor sort of way that the title, Welcome To Hell World, illustrates."

Read the full interview here.

"Despite doing more to expose the actions of the rich and powerful than any other journalist in modern times, Assange’s plight has been ignored by the mainstream media who have either forgotten or turned against him on account of a longstanding and well orchestrated propaganda campaign to demonise a man who poses a grave threat to the established order.” — IN DEFENSE OF JULIAN ASSANGE reviewed by Morning Star

January 10, 2020
Must-read on the persecution of Wikileaks whistleblower
Never before have so many states, intelligence agencies and powerful individuals invested such effort into confining, silencing and neutralising a single individual on account of his desire to inform people about the misdeeds of their governments and elites. In Defence of Julian Assange is an anthology of essays, articles, and commentaries written by journalists, lawyers and supporters among others who discuss Assange’s enduring persecution, his countless successes in exposing those deemed untouchable through the medium of Wikileaks and the terrifying implications that an extradition to the United States would pose not just to Assange but to journalism and democracy as a whole. Divided into four sections, the book focuses on Assange’s confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, his expulsion and arrest, the internet and censorship and the legacy of Assange and Wikileaks.It reveals how Assange, alongside whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, knowingly took great risks to perform an invaluable service to journalism and the truth by informing the public about war crimes and other wrongdoings committed by those in power.

Read the full review here.

"I’d never judge someone else for not working. But if I myself didn’t work, work, work, without slumping into psychic extremes I castigated myself as a corrupted failure."—Alissa Quart, author of THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS, discuss her work in Poetry Society of America

January 10, 2020
Alissa Quart on “In Ballard”
The event was a family vacation, in a rapidly gentrified neighborhood in a Northwestern city. The month was August, the end of the summer, a time when some people get manic from the increased light, like Norwegians finally seeing sun. My age was early middle. My professional anxiety was unusually high, as if to match the climate-weird hot temperature around me. By that year, 2015, newspapers had seen forty five percent of their jobs shrink since 2004, with freelance pay sometimes below minimum wage. Over the course of the 48 hours in which I wrote "In Ballard," I underwent what could be called an extended panic. I was a lifelong freelancer, who also ran an organization devoted to journalists writing on inequality as they tried to survive themselves. I had started to report a book on the subject as well. In other words, I personalized my industry's vulnerability:

Read the full piece here.

"The 2018 election of Far-Right politician Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency shook the Federative Republic of Brazil and rippled across the globe in a way similar to the shockwave caused by the US election of Donald Trump two years earlier."—The Humanist interviews Conor Foley, editor of IN SPITE OF YOU

January 9, 2020
Dreams of Dictatorship and the Nightmare of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, as well as the largest economic force in South America. One of the most diverse societies globally (with a population over 211 million people) is now being led by a man who promotes military dictatorship, violence against political opponents, and strengthening the rule of the rich at the expense of the poor and the oppressed. Wrapping himself in the Brazilian flag (figuratively speaking), Bolsonaro preached a political gospel of liberating the country from socialism, from “gender ideology,” and from “political correctness” with his inaugural speech on January 1, 2019. He called on “each congressperson to help me in the mission of rebuilding and restoring our homeland.” The term “homeland” here has more sinister connotations than “patriotic populism”—it’s a move into fascist territory. His vision of a country “whitened by iron and fire” is a more obvious example of such rhetoric.

Read the full piece here.

"As you collect documents and bring new information to light, be aware that you are in an escalating digital arms race.” —A PUBLIC SERVICE by Tim Schwartz excerpted in Boing Boing

January 9, 2020
Documentation Gathering, Sanitization, and Storage: an excerpt from A PUBLIC SERVICE
There will always be new ways that data forensics can identify you, or uncover information based on data that you inadvertently leave in your files, or data that is retained in logs noting who has accessed what files on what network. Recently it was discovered that noise from electrical grids can be used to quite accurately pinpoint when, and potentially where, an audio recording was made. The best way to win this war—or at least to avoid becoming collateral damage—is to work outside the standard methods and find partners who have experience. Of course, the actual collection of documents has changed dramatically over the years. In 1969, Daniel Ellsberg systematically removed documents, including the Pentagon Papers, from the RAND Corporation in his briefcase, taking them to an advertising agency where he (sometimes with the help of his 13-year-old son) photocopied them, one page at a time. Though this took enormous courage and psychological stamina—and in 1969 all that copying was certainly time-consuming and undoubtedly tiresome—it was also technologically straightforward and relatively safe. As long as the guards didn’t stop and check his briefcase, and as long as no one saw him remove and return the reports, Ellsberg could duplicate the papers undetected.

Read the full excerpt here.

"Parts of A PUBLIC SERVICE read like a spy-thriller, covering detailed operational security planning, everything from buying a burner phone to doing research into possible journalists to take your docs to -- all without leaving a trail that can be traced back to you.” —Cory Doctorow reviews A PUBLIC SERVICE by Tim Schwartz in Boing Boing

January 9, 2020
A Public Service: a comprehensive, comprehensible guide to leaking documents to journalists and public service groups without getting caught
Every technical lesson is presented in clear, easy-to-follow terms -- and more importantly, this technical material is embedded in super-sharp context explaining how to assess your risks and use your technological information to counter them. Schwartz begins at the beginning, with steps for getting data out of a network without leaving signs that point to you, and then carries on through the whistleblowing process -- sanitizing identifying information in the files, securely transmitting them, and then covering any trace of your possession. Just as important are Schwartz's chapters on how to figure out who you should leak your documents to, and then how to contact them in a way that is likely to get your leaks taken seriously enough to rate a followup (both public interest groups and journalists get far more tips than they can handle, so this is every bit as important as the security advice). He also discusses when you might expect to have to go public -- as with a workplace sexual assault accusation, say -- and how to prepare yourself both mentally and technologically for the inevitable fallout.

Read the full review here.

"The narrator in Dorfman’s short novel tells the story of a captive Cervantes and his meditations on writing, life, suffering and creativity."—Morningstar reviews Ariel Dorfman's CAUTIVOS

December 18, 2019
Letters From Latin America
Miguel de Cervantes, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s pre-eminent novelists, was kept in captivity between 1575 and 1580 in the city of Algiers, then one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the Ottoman empire. After his return to Spain, he briefly worked in Andalusia as a purchasing agent for the Spanish navy. This led to his imprisonment for a few months in Seville after a banker with whom he had deposited Crown funds went bankrupt. It was during his brief stay at a jail in Seville that Cervantes started his masterpiece Don Quixote, a picaresque narrative that would become a founding work of Western literature — it’s often labelled the first modern novel.

Read the full review here.

"Unethical acts — not just illegal ones — need to be revealed. Society can only evolve when individuals stand up and shine a light on unethical practices. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, speak up.” —Tim Schwartz, author of A PUBLIC SERVICE, writes in A Public Seminar

December 18, 2019
Whistleblowing, Disclosure and Anonymity
In 1965, 28-year-old Peter Buxtun was hired by the U.S. Public Health Service in San Francisco as a venereal disease investigator. Shortly after starting his job, Buxtun began hearing about a little-known, ongoing study on African-American males with syphilis. To Buxtun’s ears, this didn’t sound right — by the late 1940s, penicillin had been shown to be an effective drug against syphilis. How could there be an ongoing study of people with a disease that had become rare, thanks to a cheap and effective treatment that was discovered 20 years ago? Though distracted by a return to school and a law degree, Buxtun continued to follow the trail, contacting the Centers for Disease Control and gathering documentation on the under the radar study. He continued to share the story with those around him, but no one he spoke with knew what to do. Was the study illegal? Surely it was unethical, but would it be possible to do anything about it?

Read the full excerpt here.

"There's a saying at The Nation magazine: what’s bad for the nation is good for The Nation. When the right is ascendant, in other words, so are subscriptions to the left-wing magazine."—The Los Angeles Review of Books reviews Matt Taibbi's HATE INC.

December 16, 2019
Making Money from Division
This might be called a business model, but not very convincingly. After all, left-wing magazines don’t make much money even in the worst years. (The Nation hosts, however incongruously, an annual cruise to help keep the lights on.) If their main aim was to make money fanning the flames of political division, they’d work elsewhere. Matt Taibbi might say they’d find more lucrative work at MSNBC. In his biting new critique of partisan media, Hate Inc., he puts the progressive cable news channel in the same dishonorable category as Fox News. Despite their obvious political differences, he argues, both have made the news a consumer product designed “not just to make you mad, but keep you mad, whipped up in a state of devotional anger.” Even if the information reported on MSNBC or Fox is factually correct, Taibbi says their work doesn’t amount to traditional journalism because their aim isn’t to inform viewers but to addict them — and addict them, particularly, to a narrative of permanent conflict where one side is always right and the other always wrong.

Read the full review here.

"What we did in assembling IN DEFENSE OF JULIAN ASSANGE was to take every single facet of the case and present it before a reading public. And one reason we had to do this is because the [liberal] press have given up on him, having used WikiLeaks, having got their scoops, having raised their own circulations.” —Tariq Ali, IN DEFENSE OF JULIAN ASSANGE co-editor, talks toScheer Intelligence's Robert Scheer

December 9, 2019
The Plot to Discredit and Destroy Julian Assange
A day after dozens of doctors around the world released a statement about their mounting concerns regarding Julian Assange’s health as he’s detained in a U.K. prison, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer spoke with Tariq Ali, a renowned British journalist and co-editor of the recent collection of essays, “In Defense of Julian Assange.” To Scheer, Ali and the many contributors to the book, the case against Assange boils down to an international effort to suppress press freedoms. Yet as Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States have all co-authored the WikiLeaks founder’s demise, many other journalists and publishers, including at The Guardian and the New York Times---two publications that published work based on Wikileaks---have refused to defend Assange. “What we did in assembling ‘In Defense of Julian Assange,’” explains Ali, “was to take every single facet of the case and present it before a reading public. And one reason we had to do this is because the [liberal] press have given up on him, having used WikiLeaks, having got their scoops, having raised their own circulations.”

Listen to the full show here.

"Their raw images of living through this horror, day in and day out, is one that continues to haunt the readers long after the book is over. "—Cathy Otten's WITH ASH ON THEIR FACES reviewed in Feminism in India

December 6, 2019
Book Review: With Ash On Their Faces By Cathy Otten
This book particularly focuses on the genocidal attack, executed one summer afternoon in 2014 when thousands of men were massacred, and women and children were enslaved. Otten talks about the slavery these women went through at the hands of ISIS men and their experiences of living with this horror for years, before their stories could be told. This book is a much-needed attempt to document the struggles of the Yazidi community. Considered to be one of the first accounts of the genocidal attack unleashed by Daesh against the Yazidi community in Iraq, With Ash on Their Faces: Yezidi Women and the Islamic State speaks volumes about the resilience of Yazidi women. It is a collection of survivor’s accounts; stories of women who sailed through those turbulent times to tell their story. It begins with a short analysis of the political scenario present in Iraq with reference to the Yazidi community, the Kurdish (minority) and the government, both during and after Saddam Hussein’s rule. Further, the book is divided into three parts taking us through the course of events as and when they happened.

Read the full review here.

"I believe that Quart’s work in the so-called abstract cultural superstructure is not opposed to, but rather, at the very least, a necessary complement, to physically trying to unarm a rabid white supremacist terrorist."—Alissa Quart's THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS reviewed in Entropy Mag

December 6, 2019
Everything can go/on the grill: A combined review of Alissa Quart
Forgive me if I emphasize the thought over the lyricism, but “everything goes/on the grill” in Alissa Quart’s capacious writing. Her recent prose (Squeezed, 2018) and poetry (Thoughts & Prayers, 2019) appeal to both my “Creative Writing” as well as my “Critical Thinking” sides—or what some college composition classes call pathos, logos, and ethos and some poets call music, logos, and image, and in the process, Quart is able to reframe the relationship between the ‘public’ and ‘private,’ commercial and non-commercial, seriousness and humor, work and care, as well as the stigma of the ‘Jewish mother’ stereotype.

Read the full review here.

“ At the end of his court martial for treason, the fictional character, Lieutenant Philip Nolan, was asked if he had anything to say to the court before sentencing. Rashly, he blurted out, “Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!””—Counterpunch on BELÉN FERNÁNDEZ's EXILE

December 3, 2019
Counterpunch reviews Exile!
Early in Exile, Fernández makes clear her disdain for American-style hypocrisy — its willingness to force its brand of Exceptionalism, an olio of neoconservative militarism married to debt-inducing neoliberalism, while allowing its own domestic policy-making to so erode confidence in the American Dream that the country entered social and economic crises, so catastrophic that citizens risked everything to elect a populist clown as president. As Fernández puts it, Lest folks start to view the state itself as public enemy number one, however, more convenient menaces are regularly trotted out. In addition to the usual domestic suspects—blacks, poor people, immigrants, and so on—the wider world has proved fertile terrain for the manufacture of any number of freedom-imperiling demons. They say, ‘America, love it or leave it’: She left.

Read the full review here.

"What if I got heckled off the stage? I never thought to imagine what would happen if they laughed."—Amy Sohn, author of CBD!, writes about stand-up for The New York Times

December 2, 2019
How I Found Myself in Mrs. Maisel’s Shoes
Last summer, the day my husband drove my daughter to sleepaway camp, I moved into my parents’ apartment building. Neighbors who had known me since childhood saw me in the elevator and asked what I was doing there. “House-sitting,” I said. In truth I was getting divorced, and crashing to save money until I found a new place for my daughter, 14, and me. When I told friends my situation, they said, “You’re the real-life Mrs. Maisel.” Minus the costuming and time period, there were striking similarities: difficult split, close Jewish family, prying neighbors.

Read the full piece here.

"How would a relatively inexperienced frontbench team cope with the quantum leap from opposition to government? How should they respond to businesses pushing back against their economic agenda, or cope with potentially unrealistic expectations among supporters about what can be achieved?"—The Guardian calls Christine Berry and Joe Guinan’s PEOPLE GET READY one of the best political books of 2019

December 2, 2019
Best politics books of 2019
It's not long now until Britain finds out what Santa has brought us for a government. But whether the election delivers just what you’ve always wanted, or merely the political equivalent of a stocking full of ashes, somewhere out there is a book that may help make some sense of it. Christine Berry and Joe Guinan’s People Get Ready! (OR Books) isn’t as well known as perhaps it should be, considering that it’s one of the few books written from a sympathetic left perspective to analyse potential vulnerabilities in the Corbyn project and how they might be countered. Given the argument that what the Labour leader is trying to do hasn’t been achieved in a democracy in modern times, Berry and Guinan examine what has defeated radical leftwing movements in the past, and which particular hurdles this one might face. How would a relatively inexperienced frontbench team cope with the quantum leap from opposition to government? How should they respond to businesses pushing back against their economic agenda, or cope with potentially unrealistic expectations among supporters about what can be achieved? Whether you’re thrilled or alarmed by the radical answers discussed, it’s one of the few political books this year likely to survive contact with an unpredictable general election. By Christmas it’s either going to be an invaluable primer for Corbyn’s team as they move into No 10, or it will be worth scanning for retrospective clues as to why voters chose not to make that happen.

Read the full list here.

"Kimberley talks with us about how the United States empire navigates a citizenry that increasingly opposes deploying troops to intervene in countries and how propaganda seeps into our popular culture."—Margaret Kimberly, IN DEFENSE OF JULIAN ASSANGE contributor, talks toUnauthorized Disclosure's Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola

November 26, 2019
Interview With Margaret Kimberley Of Black Agenda Report
In a wide-ranging dismantling of mainstream media reporting on Julian Assange, award-winning journalist John Pilger has blasted the Guardian for its coverage of the WikiLeaks founder. Pilger took aim at a Guardian editorial published this week, which made the case for not extraditing the Australian to the US, where he could face 175 years behind bars for possession and dissemination of classified information. The BAFTA award-winning documentary filmmaker has offered his interpretation of what the editorial actually meant. “What the Guardian was really saying was this: ‘We are the fourth estate, the bearers of true liberal principles, the guardians of sacred rights. Such as the right to suck up to power. The right to invade countries and the right to smear those who expose our double standards and, if necessary, the right to destroy them,’” he said.

Listen to the full show here.

"Julian faces a 175 year sentence under the century old Espionage Act, passed during World War I to be used against spies"—Tariq Ali and Margaret Kunstler, editors of IN DEFENSE OF JULIAN ASSANGE, discuss the book on Law and Disorder Radio

November 26, 2019
In Defense of Julian Assange
Whistle blowing truth telling journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange now sits in solitary confinement in London’s infamous Belmarsh prison. The Trump administration has asked that he be extradited to Virginia for trial as a spy. Today we interview Margaret Kunstler and Tariq Ali who edited and introduce the just published book In Defense of Julian Assange The book demonstrates convincingly that what is at stake in his upcoming trial is the future of free journalism, here and abroad. Julian faces a 175 year sentence under the century old Espionage Act, passed during World War I to be used against spies. He is charged with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publish the Iraq war logs, the Afghanistan war logs, and State Department cables. Former CIA director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called WikiLeaks a non-state intelligence service. Hillary Clinton wanted him assassinated by drone. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer recently visited him in prison and concluded that indeed he was being tortured. When he last appeared in court he was incoherent and couldnt remember his name or date of birth. WikiLeaks was launched by Julian Assange in 2006, three years after Bush and Cheney commenced the illegal catastrophic war against Iraq in 2003. Julian is a computer genius. He invented a way for publishers like WikiLeaks to receive truth telling information anonymously. The first bombshell he published in 2006 was The Iraqi war logs. He got them from whistleblower Chelsea Manning who was then in the military. They showed a video of American soldiers in a helicopter committing a war crime by gunning down and executing a number of Iraqi civilians, two Reuters journalists, and several children. Then they chuckled about it. A photo of the murders is shown on the books cover. This leak, furnished by Chelsea Manning, was devastating to the United States. Other whistleblower leaks followed. The government became relentless in trying to close down WikiLeaks. Guest – Margaret Kunstler – a civil rights attorney who has spent her career providing movement support and protecting the rights of activists. A powerful speaker on human rights issues, Kunstler is a consultant to the emerging voices of Occupy Wall Street protesters and Anonymous supporters. Kunstlers Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in Twenty-First Century America, co-authored with Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, is the leading handbook for activists today. Guest ” Tariq Ali, writer, journalist and film-maker, born in Lahore and educated at Oxford University. He writes regularly for a range of publications including The Guardian and The London Review of Books. He has written more than a dozen books including non-fiction as well as scripts for both stage and screen.

Listen to the full interview here.