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"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.

"A smart dissection of a grim media landscape." —Publishers Weekly reviews HATE INC.

August 20, 2019
HATE INC. reviewed in Publishers Weekly
This pox-on-both-their-houses screed from Taibbi (The Great Derangement) posits that the mainstream media stokes dopamine-pumping fury rather than reporting on depressing truths such as systemic inequality. Acknowledging that his book is “more confessional than academic study,” Taibbi vents about what he believes are journalists’ lazy assumptions, clichés, and elitism.

Read the full review here.

"As a function of growing up in Tibet-in-India, a young society, we were cut off from our historical past, from our historical literature and culture."—a review of OLD DEMONS, NEW DEITIES in The Kathmandu Post

August 15, 2019
Tsering D Gurung reviews Old Demons, New Deities
In the introduction to Old Demons New Deities, the first English-language anthology of short stories by Tibetan writers, the book’s editor, Tenzin Dickie, writes about how Tibetans, both living in exile and in Tibet, have grown up as “literary orphans,” a term she borrows from American-Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat.

Read the full review here.

"Dickie’s hope is that these stories will speak of how ordinary Tibetans are “navigating the space between tradition and modernity, occupation and exile, the national and the personal."—a review of OLD DEMONS, NEW DEITIES in The Hindu

August 15, 2019
‘Old Demons, New Deities’ review: The point of departure
In her Introduction to Old Demons, New Deities: Contemporary Short Stories from Tibet, Tenzin Dickie talks of young Tibetans being “cut off from our historical past, our historical literature and culture” after the Chinese took over Tibet.

Read the full review here.

"Old Demons, New Deities is the first English language collection of contemporary Tibetan fiction."—a review of OLD DEMONS, NEW DEITIES in The Lion's Roar

August 15, 2019
Andrea Miller reviews Old Demons, New Deities
Old Demons, New Deities is the first English language collection of contemporary Tibetan fiction. As Tenzin Dickie states in the introduction, the contributing authors offer Western readers an authentic look at the lives of Tibetans navigating occupation and exile, but they offer their fellow Tibetans a great deal more.

Read the full review here.

"For many readers, Tibet means “Free Tibet” bumper stickers and Shangrila fantasies, but these stories evoke a different vision."—a review of OLD DEMONS, NEW DEITIES in The Los Angeles Review of Books

August 15, 2019
Lowell Cook reviews Old Demons, New Deities
Tibetan literature is a national literature that lacks a nation. You may wonder: what it is about these stories that makes them Tibetan, beyond the simple fact of the authors’ ethnicity? The writers in this collection come from a range of different backgrounds. Some are natives to Tibet; some are refugees in India and Nepal; and others live out their exile in Western countries. The stories are all originally composed in either Tibetan, English or Chinese, and their subject matter is just as diverse, from the story of a nomadic family forcibly relocated to “Happy Resettlement Village,” to that of a young nun turned prostitute who finds out she has AIDS.

Read the full review here.

" One of the most enriching, comforting even, aspects of reading literature is finding in it a reflection of oneself."—a review of OLD DEMONS, NEW DEITIES by Tenzin Dickie in Telegraph India

August 15, 2019
Look within: a review of Old Demons, New Deities
Tenzin Dickie traces the fascinating history of the alienation of Tibetans from their literature in the poignant Introduction to Old Demons, New Deities, her conversational tone and lucid language making up the best part of the book. The representational void, she says, impelled her to put together this collection to show how ordinary Tibetans are "navigating the space between tradition and modernity, occupation and exile, the national and the personal".

Read the full review here.