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"MS. Magazine selects Abolish ICE by Natascha Elena Uhlmann as one of their October reads

October 9, 2019
October 2019 Reads for the Rest of Us
Written by Mexican American activist Natascha Elena Uhlmann, this book is exactly what the title implies: an impassioned call to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We’ve all heard about the horrific conditions of border camps and detention centers but, Uhlmann argues, improving these conditions is not enough and ICE must be abolished to make long-lasting change for immigrants to the U.S.

Read the full list here.

"An innovative approach to 'abolish ICE'", an article by Natascha Elena Uhlmann, author of Abolish ICE, published in The Week

October 9, 2019
An innovative approach to 'abolish ICE'
For weeks, organizers with Never Again Action, a Jewish-led advocacy group, have gathered outside of ICE offices across the country. Singing protest songs, they implore ICE officers put a stop to the agency's abusive detention and deportation practices. "Quit your job!" is a common plea. Some may just take them up on it. This week, Never Again Atlanta, one of the group's many local chapters, launched a job placement program for immigration officers seeking to distance themselves from the agency. The program seeks to make leaving the agency a real possibility by matching conscientious objectors with career advisers and job opportunities. "As we looked into these agents' eyes, we could tell they weren't comfortable with what was going on. We've asked them to quit their jobs, so how can we make it easy on them?" Emily Baselt, an organizer with Never Again Atlanta, told The Week.

Read the full article here.

'How To Make "Thoughts And Prayers" Meaningful' an interview with Alissa Quart, author of Thoughts and Prayers, published in NYLON

October 9, 2019
Alissa Quart talks with us about the "dark poetry" of American politics
Through her work as both a writer and the executive editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Quart is all about clueing people into what she calls the "dark poetry around them." Thoughts and Prayers is no exception, dexterously speaking to the calamity and melodrama of our current political climate using the hybrid form of reported poetry. "I see this as a meta-text, a text around the journalism," says Quart, a prolific journalist who has also written several nonfiction books on topics such as consumer culture and middle class precarity. "Sometimes journalism gets locked into the literal truth," she says. "Potentially, a form like poetry or other kinds of more explosive, disruptive forms of culture could be telling the emotional truth of our period, especially the Trump era."

Read the full interview here.

"In a smart and scathing freewheeling analysis, the Rolling Stone journalist analyzes political campaign coverage and other media powder kegs."--The New York Times recommends Matt Taibbi's HATE INC.

October 8, 2019
The New York Times features Matt Taibbi's Hate Inc. in their new and noteworthy books column
HATE INC.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another, by Matt Taibbi. (OR Books, $24.95.) In a smart and scathing freewheeling analysis, the Rolling Stone journalist analyzes political campaign coverage and other media powder kegs.

Read the full column here.

Matt Taibbi goes on The Hill's Rising to discuss HATE INC.

October 1, 2019
Matt Taibbi: There is no such thing as unbiased media
Journalist Matt Taibbi describes his latest book and how it relates to the developing impeachment scandal.

Watch the full clip here.

'Thoughts and Prayers' Are Killing Us, an excerpt from Thoughts and Prayers by Alissa Quart published in Teen Vogue

October 1, 2019
On the anniversary of the Las Vegas mass shooting, Alissa Quart shares a poem about gun violence.
The U.S. is a country plagued by gun violence. Its shadow looms everywhere — over school hallways, movie theaters, concert venues and homes. On this day two years ago, a mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival saw 59 killed and 527 injured. The statistics are sobering; the causes, well documented. But these horrific acts of violence are often met with the same empty words from political leaders, who offer "thoughts and prayers" but so little in the way of tangible solutions. Author Alissa Quart's book of poetry, Thoughts and Prayers, explores the darkness and numbness that is such a part of our current political existence. As Quart told Teen Vogue, "The title poem is composed of the public language around mourning over school shootings in the U.S. or from political leaders and Web sites. I also sifted through the language that politicians of both parties tweet, what kids themselves said about mass shootings, and the words companies use in fabricating souvenirs that commodify mass killings."

Read the full poem here.

"The question, especially for Americans old enough to remember Walter Cronkite and “the paper of record,” is what happened to journalistic objectivity and “fair and balanced” news. Why are major news outlets so partisan now?" —A Pressland review of HATE INC.

September 19, 2019
Manufacturing Dissent
The collapse of Russiagate, which left Rachel Maddow nearly in tears, also caught the New York Times “a little tiny bit flat-footed,” as executive editor Dean Baquet confessed in August. “The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’ …We built our newsroom to cover one story… Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.

Read the full review here here.

"I Would Want To Drink Their Blood: God Will Punish Them"—an extract of Welcome to Hell World by Luke O'Neil in Counterpunch

September 19, 2019
An extract from Luke O'Neil's Welcome To Hellworld
There’s a girl I never want to let myself forget. Her name is Samar Hassan and we killed her family. In January of 2005 in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, Samar who was five years old at the time was riding in the backseat of her parents’ car as they returned from bringing her young brother to the hospital. It was getting dark and nearing curfew and her father likely aware of this was driving faster than normal. Fearing that the driver was a suicide bomber an army patrol in the area that evening was given permission to open fire and so they did because that is what army patrols do.

Read the full extract here.

"People tend to like it she said"—an extract of Welcome to Hell World by Luke O'Neil in The New Statesman

September 19, 2019
An extract from Luke O'Neil's Welcome To Hellworld
Jackie Crow lost one hundred pounds and she’s very proud of that fact and why wouldn’t she be that’s almost an entire adult human being that she doesn’t need to carry around with her anymore. If you lived for years with a one-hundred-pound person riding around on your back and then one day they got off like ok I’m done with the piggyback ride now you’d be elated. Imagine how much more lightly you could step.

Read the full extract here.

David Berman memorialized in the New York Review of Books by Alissa Quart, author of Thoughts and Prayers

September 12, 2019
David Berman of Silver Jews Remembered
The lead singer of the indie rock band Silver Jews, David Berman, died last month at fifty-two, a suicide in Brooklyn. While he might at first glance appear just another icon of Gen X, an embarrassing phrase back in the day that now it seems accurate, Berman reflected that generation’s ironic, dark hunches about existence. As he put it in one song: What if life is just some hard equation On a chalkboard in a science class for ghosts? You can live again, But you’ll have to die twice in the end. The Silver Jews’ most renowned albums, The Natural Bridge and American Water, were made during the 1990s, a decade where the shrug was a key artistic gesture, albeit an ominous shrug.

Read the full piece here.

"Let’s push the language of journalism past its limits"—an op-ed by Alissa Quart featuring an excerpt from her book Thoughts and Prayers in Columbia Journalism Review

September 6, 2019
Let’s push the language of journalism past its limits
TWO YEARS INTO Donald Trump’s presidency, journalists and pundits seem hard-pressed for new, effective ways to describe each fresh outrage. That may be because we’ve reached the limits of journalism’s typical lingo and genres—of the blaring 24-hour news cycle, in which news outlets endlessly refresh their coverage of a worsening incident, framed by “BREAKING NEWS” chyrons that repeat our president’s racist Twitter commentary.

Read the full essay here here.

"Late Capitalism"—an excerpt of Alissa Quart's Thoughts and Prayers in Literary Hub

September 5, 2019
‘Late Capitalism,’ a Prose Poem by Alissa Quart From Her New Collection, Thoughts and Prayers
Late Capitalism A gloss and a hair mask. Meet the shareholders? Not at these shareholder meetings. The best headlines have internal tension.

Read the full excerpt here.

"Calls to end inhumane border conditions aren’t enough. Ice must be abolished"—an excerpt of Natascha Elena Uhlmann's Abolish Ice in The Guardian

September 5, 2019
What is there to salvage in an agency that exists solely to hunt, catalogue and detain the most vulnerable among us? Ice’s violence is as systematic as it is cruel
This summer, a coalition of award-winning authors came together with a plea to Congress: they called for an end to the inhumane conditions in detention centers, where women are forced to drink out of toilets and children go without food, water or medical care. The writers, immigrants and refugees themselves, know just what is at stake: “Many of us came to the US as children and shudder to think how this country would treat us now,” they write. They urge Congress to mitigate the worst abuses of our immigration system, from unsafe conditions – in detention or third countries – to endless backlogs and convoluted legal processes.

Read the full excerpt here.

"Luke O’Neil’s World Is Hell, and He’s Sharing It with Us"—an interview with Luke O'Neil, author of Welcome to Hell World, in Boston Magazine

August 30, 2019
An interview with Luke O'Neil in Boston Magazine
I worry about Luke O’Neil sometimes. Possibly more than any of the writers covering the million horrible things in the world right now—innocent children who become casualties of war, desperate people resorting to GoFundMe campaigns to pay for healthcare—he has a way of internalizing the sorrows of the news cycle, presenting its most troubling themes alongside his own struggles and weaving it all into a grand narrative about decay and despair. Reading his popular, semi-weekly newsletter Hell World is a lot like staring deep into O’Neil’s soul, and it’s often a pretty dark place.

Read the full interview here.

"How Pat Robertson's Christian TV empire created a "shadow government"—an interview with Terry Heaton, author of THE GOSPEL OF SELF in Salon

August 29, 2019
Former Christian broadcaster Terry Heaton on how "The 700 Club" pushed the Republican Party toward Donald Trump
Last week Donald Trump shared a message on Twitter from a racist conspiracy theorist proclaiming that he, the president, was viewed by Jewish people as the “Second Coming of God” and the “King of Israel.” The mytho-religious aspects of this “endorsement” likely have no meaning for Donald Trump. Such claims matter to Trump primarily because they stroke his megalomania. Trump the malignant narcissist authoritarian and fascist seeks out praise from wherever it may come. As such, Donald Trump frequently praises himself in the grandest and most absurd terms possible: for example, Trump’s looking to the sky last week as if looking for a sign from God and then telling journalists and the world that he is in fact the "chosen one."

Read the full interview here.

"See, hear, and shut up” is the strict gang protocol, subject to severe sanction. D’Aubuisson saw and heard, but did not shut up." —an interview with Juan Jose Martinez d’Aubuisson , author of A Year Inside MS-13, in The Independent

August 29, 2019
I spent a year with MS-13 and lived to tell the tale
It was Juan Jose Martinez d’Aubuisson’s first day as tutor to a bunch of young kids in El Salvador. To break the ice he decided to play a game with them. Off the top of his head he came up with cops and robbers. They had to split up into groups. It didn’t go too well because they all wanted to be robbers.

Read the full interview here.

"Sin-eaters: journalists devour the sins of others but to what end?" —an excerpt from Luke O'Neil's WELCOME TO HELL WORLD published in The Guardian

August 29, 2019
Sin-eaters: journalists devour the sins of others but to what end?
In 2010, a fundraiser was held to repair the grave of a man named Richard Munslow. In the century since Munslow had been buried in the town of Ratlinghope, about an hour outside of Birmingham, the stone that marked his life had fallen into disrepair. After a few months, the £1,000 needed to hire a local stonemason was raised and the work was done. “This grave at Ratlinghope is now in an excellent state of repair,” the Reverend Norman Morris, the town’s vicar, told the BBC at the time. “But I have no desire to reinstate the ritual that went with it.” The ritual in question was known as sin-eating, the art of which Munslow is believed to have been the last practitioner. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the surrounding area and up through Scotland and Wales, sin-eaters would have been a familiar sight if not one exactly sanctioned by the church. Having a monopoly on the redemption of souls, they would have seen such a practice as muscling in on their corner.

Read the full excerpt here.

"ICE has not let up on its horrors and barbarities against immigrants and their families. Luckily the movement to abolish ICE has racked up victories that other activists can learn from." —an extract from ABOLISH ICE written by Natascha Elena Uhlmann published in Jacobin

August 29, 2019
Keep The Pressure on ICE
Zero tolerance is big business for US corporations. From private prisons to tech conglomerates, companies across the globe are scrambling for a piece of the pie. The Department of Homeland Security has awarded billions in federal contracts to surveil, detain, and terrorize immigrants. Just a week after the 2016 election, stock prices for the nation’s two largest prison companies rose by nearly a third. In June 2018 they rose further on the assumption that they would benefit from the expansion of family detention facilities throughout the country amid the child separation crisis at the border. Just what sort of company could bear to profit from the indefinite detention of children? Meet CoreCivic and GEO Group.

Read the full excerpt here.

"The depictions of MS-13 as animals are as simplistic as they are dehumanizing. And they obscure what spawned the violent gang in the first place: US imperialism." —Belén Fernández, author of EXILE, reviews A YEAR INSIDE MS-13 for Jacobin

August 29, 2019
The US Created MS-13
Last year, Donald Trump’s administration issued a press release titled “What You Need To Know About The Violent Animals Of MS-13,” the El Salvador–based transnational gang. The dispatch deployed the term “animals” an additional nine times in its explanation of how Mara Salvatrucha “follows the motto of ‘kill, rape, control’ by committing shocking acts of violence in an attempt to instill fear and gain control.” Considering this motto could also apply to the past many decades of US military intervention worldwide, it seems there might be More Important Things You Need To Know about transnational violence — like the United States’s role in the rise of MS-13 itself.

Read the full review here.

"Reporters have often become unwitting props in the amped-up, WWE brand of politics practiced by Donald Trump, even as their organizations have profited mightily from it." —A starred Booklist review of HATE INC.

August 29, 2019
HATE INC. receives a starred review in Booklist
For clarity, “media" here refers to the political reporters covering the savage, suffocating, unending U.S. presidential campaign cycle, and not the local press just trying to report on city-council proposals, regional business, crime, sports and the like—a noble effort that gets tarred by the same brush used for cable news. Taibbi (I Can't Breathe, 2017), who covered the 2016 campaign season for Rolling Stone, makes a number of points that stick: reporters have often become unwitting props in the amped-up, WWE brand of politics practiced by Donald Trump, even as their organizations have profited mightily from it. Reporters have narrowed the bandwidth for what makes a “worthy” presidential candidate by asking irrelevant questions like: Would voters like to have a beer with candidate X? Most saliently, Taibbi cites the devastating global consequences of the press' failure to call the Bush administration’s bluff on WMDs in the run-up to the Iraq War. He also makes the controversial, and probably premature, case that the media's assumptions in reporting on Russiagate are the modern-day equivalent of its WMD debacle. “The news is a consumer product,” Taibbi stresses, by way of explaining the marketplace in which the political press must operate. But, like some other consumer products—food and medicine come to mind—news is still essential to our health.