“Prison is a totality–something that one cannot escape from, but only shift positions within.”

“Prison is not a discrete place; its force and logic are distributed across the metropolis. Put another way, there is a place that is prison, and then there is a tendency, a way of managing life, that is prison. The place and the tendency are not two, but one. Macrocosm, microcosm. To speak of prisons as if they were separate from the rest of society is to equivocate. What we call prisons are a node in the prison-metropolis that are indicative of how the metropolis functions as a whole, and without which the rest could not function. Prison is a totality–something that one cannot escape from, but only shift positions within.”

– from “3 Positions Against Prisons” (August O’Clairre)

Razor wire fences and concrete walls in a prison

“Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” — Michel Foucault

“Israel has discovered that it’s no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media”

Israeli soldiers of the 155mm artillery cannons unit fire towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the coastal Palestinian enclave

Israeli soldiers of the 155mm artillery cannons unit fire towards the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel’s border with the coastal Palestinian enclave

Palestinian child screams in pain at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip after she was hit by shrapnel during an Israeli military strike near her family house

A Palestinian child screams in pain at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip after she was hit by shrapnel during an Israeli military strike near her family house

relative of Shahed Qishtah, a nine-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in an Israeli strike while playing, left the Kamal Adwan hospital where he brought her in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

A relative of Shahed Qishtah, a nine-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in an Israeli strike while playing, left the Kamal Adwan hospital where he brought her in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

Source: Hillel, M. “Israel has discovered that it’s no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media“. The Independent. 22 July 2014.

Gimme Green: The American Obsession with Lawns (2007)

Gimme Green is a humorous look at the American obsession with the residential lawn and the effects it has on our environment, our wallets and our outlook on life. From the limitless subdivisions of Florida to sod farms in the arid southwest, Gimme Green peers behind the curtain of the $40-billion industry that fuels our nation’s largest irrigated crop-the lawn.”

Some facts from the video:

* Every day more than 5,000 acres of land are converted into lawns in America.
* Lawns cover more than 41 million acres, the most irrigated crop in the U.S.
* Americans apply over 30,000 tons of pesticides to their yards every year.
* Of the 30 most used lawn pesticides, 17 are routinely detected in groundwater.
* The National Cancer Institute finds that children in households using lawn pesticides have a 6.5 times greater risk of developing leukemia.
* American lawns require 200 gallons of fresh water per person per day.
(via Films for Action)

“A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son”

Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, 2 year old shot with flashbang

Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, 2 year old shot with flashbang

After our house burned down in Wisconsin a few months ago, my husband and I packed our four young kids and all our belongings into a gold minivan and drove to my sister-in-law’s place, just outside of Atlanta. On the back windshield, we pasted six stick figures: a dad, a mom, three young girls, and one baby boy.

That minivan was sitting in the front driveway of my sister-in-law’s place the night a SWAT team broke in, looking for a small amount of drugs they thought my husband’s nephew had. Some of my kids’ toys were in the front yard, but the officers claimed they had no way of knowing children might be present. Our whole family was sleeping in the same room, one bed for us, one for the girls, and a crib.

After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib.

Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle. When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.

There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. At least that’s what I’ve been told; I’m afraid to look.

My husband’s nephew, the one they were looking for, wasn’t there. He doesn’t even live in that house. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any.

I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.

For the last three weeks, my husband and I have been sleeping at the hospital. We tell our son that we love him and we’ll never leave him behind. His car seat is still in the minivan, right where it’s always been, and we whisper to him that soon we’ll be taking him home with us.

burned face of bou bou after police/swat flashbang grenade is fired into his crib

Nineteen-month-old “Bou Bou” in critical condition after being severely burned by a stun grenade thrown into his crib by a SWAT team in Atlanta, GA


Every morning, I have to face the reality that my son is fighting for his life. It’s not clear whether he’ll live or die. All of this to find a small amount of drugs?

The only silver lining I can possibly see is that my baby Bou Bou’s story might make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the “war on drugs.” I know that this has happened to other families, here in Georgia and across the country. I know that SWAT teams are breaking into homes in the middle of the night, more often than not just to serve search warrants in drug cases. I know that too many local cops have stockpiled weapons that were made for soldiers to take to war. And as is usually the case with aggressive policing, I know that people of color and poor people are more likely to be targeted. I know these things because of the American Civil Liberties Union’s new report, and because I’m working with them to push for restraints on the use of SWAT.

A few nights ago, my 8-year-old woke up in the middle of the night screaming, “No, don’t kill him! You’re hurting my brother! Don’t kill him.” How can I ever make that go away? I used to tell my kids that if they were ever in trouble, they should go to the police for help. Now my kids don’t want to go to sleep at night because they’re afraid the cops will kill them or their family. It’s time to remind the cops that they should be serving and protecting our neighborhoods, not waging war on the people in them.

Alecia Phonesavanh, “A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son“, Salon.com ()

Raising Hope Across the Borders: Transnational Social Movements and Power

Q: Gerardo, when you said “raise peoples’ hopes,” what did you mean by that?

I meant to really believe that transformation is possible. We are in a very tight spot – we’re screwed, you could say. There’s a great deal of poverty, a lot of exclusion, a lot of violence, a lot of injustice in our countries. Working people and our natural resources are being terribly exploited. We’re up against a huge monster, an economic, political machine of monstrous proportions. It would be very easy for us to lose hope, to lose heart, to just give up the struggle entirely and say “To hell with it. There’s no way we can overcome these massive forces, so let’s just go about our lives and forget about it.”

But we know that if we’re here today, it’s because our grandparents, our ancestors, didn’t give up the fight. They raised our hopes.

And we know that, sooner or later, things will start to change. Not just for us, but for humanity as a whole. This system that we all live in may continue to dominate us for a couple more centuries – who knows how long – but we believe in the transformative power that humans possess. Things weren’t always how they are today and things won’t always be this way in the future. Things change, they transform. Empires are born and they eventually die. Political and economic systems eventually fade away.

For now, we’re the ones in the thick of it. But then it will be up to our children, including those who aren’t born yet, to continue in the struggle. And if we don’t raise their hopes, give them hope, then what will happen in the future? Are we all just going to give up this struggle? No, we have to keep fighting, even if we aren’t the ones who are able to see the dawn break through the darkness. Economic systems take a lot longer to be transformed [than our lifespans]. It might be our children’s children who see it come about – who knows? But it will happen. We have to keep struggling and wait.

Q: But the powers that be, like the United States, are enormous. Why do you believe that people with no money, without institutionalized power of any sort, can change all of this?

First, like any other empire, the US is going to disappear because that’s just how history works. Sooner or later, all of the contradictions that exist in this economic-political system will cause it to fall. In the past, there were enormous empires that looked like they would last for all eternity. And all of them – all of them, with no exceptions – were transformed. Their economic and political foundations were transformed, their demographics were transformed. It’s just a matter of time.

A sector of people in the US are dyed-in-the-wool imperialists and capitalists, yes. But there is also a huge group of people there who are humanitarians, who are generous, good people, and full of love. You, for instance: you are from the US, and you are a person who has a different way of living, of thinking and feeling. The system wasn’t strong enough to overtake you. I’m sure there are many others in the US who are critical thinkers, who understand that there’s something wrong with the state of things in our world.

People in the US are victims of that same system that’s oppressing us here. It’s just that the way it oppresses us is different. I feel even more compassion for the people living in the US, because they’re even worse off than we are. They don’t have a lot of things that we have here, like our sense of community and our ancestral culture. We have a lot of things that they’ve already forgotten.

And it hurts me to see all those people working ridiculous hours to pay their grocery bills, to pay their rent. They don’t have access to good education, and they don’t have health insurance, if they get sick they don’t have access to health care, or they have to sell their house and lose all their savings and lose their dignity. And they want to tell me that this is the best possible system on earth?

So-called powerless people have the ability to make our bodies visible, so others will see what we stand for. I say so-called because all of us have power. If we decide to take over a highway in protest, for instance, we have the power of our speech.

We have achieved a lot. Working from the bottom up, the poor of this earth have brought about great change. And they didn’t have money, they didn’t have machinery or property or finances, and so on.

The powerless of the world have always been the ones to change it. The powerful of the world don’t change a single thing.

The [economic] system we’re living in right now has only been around for 300 or 400 years, whereas our species has been around for longer than 300,000 years. So we shouldn’t believe that this tiny 300-year stint we’re living in right now represents what humanity is really all about, that it represents our future. That’s a way of thinking that lacks historical perspective. We have to look behind us and ahead of us to not lose hope, to not lose perspective. And that’s the perspective we’re creating our movement from.

Excerpt from an interview with Gerardo Cerdas, a coordinator of the Latin American- and Caribbean-wide social movement Grito de los Excluidos (“Cry of the Excluded”) … You can read the full interview at Truthout.org here: Raising Hope Across the Borders: Transnational Social Movements and Power

Desolate landscape of Nagasaki after the U.S. nuclear attack

Survivors wander the desolate landscape of Nagasaki after the U.S. nuclear attack

Japanese workers carry away debris in a devastated area of Nagasaki, an industrial city on southwest Kyushu, after the August 9, atomic bombing, . Smokestacks and a lone building stand in background of photo, first ground view of atomic bomb damage in Nagasaki and obtained by the Army from files of Domei, official Japanese news agency.

(Photo: Yosuke Yamahata)

In many radical critiques of America’s war on terror, the U.S. constitution serves as an origin story – it is the prior condition of “democracy” preceding our fall into “lawlessness.” The Constitution’s status as an origin story then masks the genocide of indigenous peoples that constitutes its foundation. Certainly, Native feminism should provide a critical intervention into this discourse because the U.S. could not exist without the genocide of Native peoples – genocide is not a mistake or aberration of U.S. democracy, it is foundational to it.

—Andrea Smith, “Against the Law: Indigenous Feminism and the Nation-State

How the NSA installs backdoors in US-made Internet routers

For years, the US government loudly warned the world that Chinese routers and other internet devices pose a “threat” because they are built with backdoor surveillance functionality that gives the Chinese government the ability to spy on anyone using them. Yet what the NSA’s documents show is that Americans have been engaged in precisely the activity that the US accused the Chinese of doing. [...]

A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.

The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. The document gleefully observes that some “SIGINT tradecraft … is very hands-on (literally!)”.

Eventually, the implanted device connects back to the NSA. The report continues: “In one recent case, after several months a beacon implanted through supply-chain interdiction called back to the NSA covert infrastructure. This call back provided us access to further exploit the device and survey the network.” [...]

– Glenn Greenwald, “How the NSA tampers with US internet routers“. The Guardian

Breaking the Curse of Forgotten Places: Reflections from the Comunitario Movement in Michoácan, Mexico

Comunitario at barricade in Michoacan, Mexico“The first successful strategy for community based self-defense against the Knights Templar cartel in Michoacán came about on April 15th, 2011 in the indigenous Purépecha community of Cherán, Michoacán. The implications of the success of this original uprising against the Knights Templar and the narco-government are immeasurable; however, what is evident today is that the strategy has spread contagiously throughout the state and has now even inspired non-indigenous mestizo communities to replicate it. Since February of 2013 a variety of communities, both indigenous and mestizo, have risen up in arms, evicted municipal police from their municipalities, have evicted the Knights Templar cartel from their territories, and have begun to engage in self-governing strategies founded upon a consensus-based general assembly model. Most non-indigenous mestizo communities in the state of Michoacán have been known to be racist towards indigenous peoples and communities of the state. To now see these mestizo communities exercise indigenous strategies for community liberation is truly historic and ground breaking. [...] “

Read full article at El Enemigo Común.

Australian Government Considers Copying U.S. Ag-Gag Laws to Turn Animal Activists into Terrorists

by Will Potter at Green is the New Red:

When Amy Meyer saw a sick cow being pushed by a bulldozer outside a slaughterhouse, she did what any of us would in this age of iPhones and Instagram – she filmed it.

HSUS Press -- Undercover at Smithfield Foods B-roll - Pigs in cages

Undercover journalist filming at Smithfield Foods industrial pork operations … ag-gag laws are not only making this type of reporting illegal, but are classifying it as a form of terrorism. (Photo credit: HSUS)

Meyer, 25, knew it was not only cruel, it was a public safety risk.

Similar video footage had resulted in the largest meat recall in US history, when it was revealed that cows too sick to walk were being fed to school children as part of the national school lunch program.

Instead of being praised for exposing this, Meyer was prosecuted.

Even though she stood on public property, she was charged with violating a new law in Utah that makes it illegal to photograph or videotape factory farms and slaughterhouses.

This was the first prosecution of its kind in the United States, but if the agriculture industry has its way, it won’t be the last.

“Ag-gag” laws have spread rapidly, and today half a dozen states have made it illegal to film factory farms.

Now, the agriculture industry wants to bring ag-gag to Australia.

This legislation is a direct response to undercover investigations by animal welfare groups, which have exposed horrific animal cruelty.

For example, in Idaho this year, an undercover investigator with Mercy For Animals exposed workers beating, kicking and sexually abusing cows at Bettencourt dairy.

In response, the dairy industry supported SB 1337, an ag-gag bill that prohibits any “audio or video recording” at a farm facility.

It punishes those who expose animal abuse more harshly than those who commit the violence. The bill passed into law just weeks ago.

Time and again, wherever undercover investigators expose cruelty, the industry fights back with attempts to keep consumers in the dark.

Why? Because when people see the reality of factory farming, they demand change. For instance, one of the nation’s largest egg producers testified during an ag-gag hearing that, after an undercover video was posted online, 50 businesses quickly called and stopped buying their eggs.

And, according to the first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Agricultural Economics, when animal welfare issues are reported in the news, consumers respond by eating less meat.

Factory farmers have been so desperate to silence their critics that they have even called investigators “terrorists”.

Senator David Hinkins, the sponsor of Utah’s ag-gag bill, said it was needed to stop “terrorists” such as “the vegetarian people” who “are trying to kill the animal industry”.

This terrorism rhetoric has worked its way to the top levels of government.

FBI files have revealed that the government has even considered prosecuting those who film animal cruelty as “terrorists”.

Now, this is spreading to Australia.

New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson has said undercover investigators are “akin to terrorists”.

West Australian Liberal Senator Chris Back, and a number Australian federal politicians, have voiced support for US-style ag-gag laws.

Ag-gag is coming to Australia because animal advocates have been incredibly effective.

There is a long history of open rescues and undercover investigations here, and activists such as Patty Mark and Animal Liberation Victoria are known internationally for their pioneering work.

Meanwhile, national media exposes such as Four Corners’ “A Bloody Business” have outraged the public and created a national dialogue about live exports.

Australians have an opportunity that we lacked in the United States: you can stop these dangerous proposals before they ever become law.

If there is one thing I have learnt in my reporting on ag-gag laws, it is the power of an informed public to create change.

Amy Meyer stands as an example of that power. Just 24 hours after I broke the story of her prosecution, it had created such an uproar that prosecutors announced they were simply dropping all charges.

Meyer had never intended to face prosecution, or to lead by example, but she rose to the occasion. Australia has the power to do the same.

Compton Police Testing New Aerial Mass Surveillance System

live google earth crime comptonIn Compton last year, police began quietly testing a system that allowed them to do something incredible: Watch every car and person in real time as they ebbed and flowed around the city. Every assault, every purse snatched, every car speeding away was on record—all thanks to an Ohio company that monitors cities from the air.

The Center for Investigative Reporting takes a look at a number of emerging surveillance technologies in a new video, but one in particular stands out: A wide-area surveillance system invented by Ross McNutt, a retired Air Force veteran who owns a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems.

McNutt describes his product as “a live version of Google Earth, only with TiVo capabilities,” which is intriguing but vague (and also sounds a lot like the plot of this terrible Denzel movie). More specifically, PSS outfits planes with an array of super high-resolution cameras that allow a pilot to record a 25-square-mile patch of Earth constantly—for up to six hours.

It’s sort of similar to what your average satellite can do—except, in this case, you can rewind the video, zoom in, and follow specific people and cars as they move around the grid. It’s not specific enough to ID people by face, but, when used in unison with stoplight cameras and other on-the-ground video sources, it can identify suspects as they leave the scene of a crime. [...]
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Read full article at: http://gizmodo.com/police-are-testing-a-live-google-earth-to-watch-crime-1563010340