Raoul Vaneigem on Invention

“When the conditions in which time is money have been abolished, occupations will cease being dominated by profit and social representation and will be organized according to the criteria of pleasure. Do-it-yourself activities, though they are now usually rather trivial, contain a kernel of a creativity that only awaits the moment when it can develop without constraint. Once it is able to make full use of the most sophisticated technologies, this creativity will enrich humanity within a few months with more ingenious and enjoyable discoveries and inventions than were produced in centuries of forced labor.” – Raoul Vaneigem, From Wildcat Strike to Total Self Management

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Anarchists Target Chapel Hill Police HQ

Originally published here.

In the early hours of August 14th, three police cruisers were smashed out at the Chapel Hill Police Department Headquarters in Chapel Hill, NC. A message was also painted on one of the cars, reading, “For Luke.”

This was done as a small gesture of solidarity with Luke O’Donovan, of Atlanta, GA, who was recently sentenced to two years in prison for defending himself against five homophobic attackers. We hope this brings a smile to his face.

We also carried out this act in solidarity with the rioters and looters of Ferguson, MO, who, in the face of continued brutality by racist police, have inspired the world with their courageous resistance against the forces of state, capital, and white supremacy. May their insurrection spread.

Both as small groups and entire neighborhoods, it is possible to fight back.

- some anarchists

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What is Marxism? (Karl Marx + Super Mario Bros.) – 8-Bit Philosophy

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Study Shows People Have No Influence on US Policy

A study published in April that came to the conclusion that the United States is an oligarchy is making its rounds on the internet again. Apparently Breitbart is just now receiving this news.

The study published by Princeton University professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University professor Benjamin Page found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

The study, called Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, took a statistical approach. It looked at the opinions of the public on 1,800 policy issues and found that the government almost always ignores the opinions of regular people and adopts the recommendations of big businesses.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” the study found.

“When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.”

“If policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened,” professors Gilens and Page said in their study.

To some people, this is news, but to many others this is nothing new. Capitalism and democracy are incompatible systems. A communist council system brings true democracy in the form of the democratic control by the people of their communities, resources, and workplaces.

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Dishonor Roll 8/8/2014

“But I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is to tell the truth.” -Howard Zinn

This week’s liars and scumbags in no particular order.

John Hagee – Liar, Scumbag

Hagee, a right-wing pastor at Cornerstone Church in Texas, has made the news this week for saying that the unemployed are “nasty,” lazy, and live off of welfare. He also suggested that they should be left to starve.

It’s almost hypocritical coming from a man who lives off of the congregation’s money. He avoids taxes by classifying his 8,000 acre ranch and TV station as part of his church. In 2001 he was reported to have made over $1 million in income. And this man claims to care about those poor, poor taxpayers having to enable the “laziness” of welfare recipients!

According to SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or “welfare”), able-bodied people without children can only receive assistance for three months during a three year period. The majority of SNAP households include a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. So much for enabling the “nasty” people’s “laziness.”

We must also consider that the unemployment rate is still too high. There are over 3 million people facing long-term unemployment in the US, employers discriminate against the long-term unemployed, the unemployment rate in several states increased last month, most of the jobs created this year are only part-time, and 800,000 people dropped out of the workforce earlier this year because they couldn’t find work! It must be nice to criticize those who are suffering from an ailing economy while not suffering from it yourself. So much for “just get a job.”

He ought to be on the list for fooling people into thinking religion is fact, but I won’t go there.

Service Employees International Union – Liars

SEIU made the Dishonor Roll in May, and now it’s making the list again this week for telling lies on Spanish radio.

Their attack ad stated that Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO) worked to block immigration reform. In reality, it is way more complicated than that. Gardner was one of the few Republicans to applaud Obama’s call for immigration reform during this year’s State of the Union address. On top of that, the House of Representatives is likely to remain inactive on immigration reform until after the fall elections. That means Gardner hasn’t even had a chance to vote on a bill yet. Although he isn’t a fan of the Senate’s legislation, he has been pushing the House to write up their own.

The House recently passed a measure that would end Obama’s delay of deporting “DREAMers” (children brought to the US by undocumented immigrants). Gardner was one of the 11 Republicans to vote against the bill.

SEIU has never received a “true” or “mostly true” rating on PolitiFact. Half of its claims are “half true” and the other half are either “false” or “mostly false.” That should tell you something. For SEIU to pretend to care about any young people, including DREAMers, is just hysterical. From my experience, SEIU views young people as second-class members and third-class staff at best. If you absolutely, positively must join a union, don’t join SEIU.

Cory Gardner – Liar

Coincidentally, Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO) makes the list this week for saying that the Keystone XL pipeline would create “thousands of jobs in Colorado.” PolitiFact looked into this and found it to be a “mostly false” claim.

A study from the State Department shows 30,000 jobs would be created in states outside of the pipeline’s projected route, such as Colorado, but it didn’t say how many jobs would be created in each state. Ian Goodman, who co-authored the Cornell University study of the pipeline, said that it is unlikely to create even a thousand jobs in Colorado.

Maureen McDonnell – Scumbag

The former First Lady of Virginia makes the list this week for her treatment of the governor’s staff. Former Chief of Staff Mary Shea Sutherland testified in court recently, as part of the McDonnells’ federal corruption trial, that the Mrs. McDonnell was always screaming at her staff. Sutherland described her as a “nutbag” in search of a designer handbag and an emotional rescue.

Sutherland testified that Mrs. McDonnell even accused the Executive Mansion chef of trying to ruin her Christmas by serving bad shrimp.

Sutherland described Maureen McDonnell as eager to obtain expensive gifts and suffering from affluenza (our words, not hers). She was  unhinged by her opulent surroundings.

Is there something from the past week or two that you would like to see on the list? Post it on our Facebook page!

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Federal Investigation Discovers “Culture of Violence” Against Teens at Rikers Island

A federal investigation by the civil division of the United States’ attorney’s office into conditions at the Rikers Island jail in New York City has found that the New York City Department of Corrections systematically violated the civil rights of its teenage male inmates. The investigation found that the department failed to protect these prisoners from the rampant, excessive use of unnecessary violence against them by the guards.

The office of Preet Bharara, the US attorney in Manhattan, released a 79-page report detailing a “deep-seated culture of violence” against the young inmates carried out by the guards. It found that the system used to investigate abuse and unwarranted attacks by guards was useless. The report also described the number of injuries among young inmates as “staggering.”

An excessive use of solitary confinement to punish teenage inmates was also reported. Some people were locked in solitary confinement for months.

Nearly 44 percent of the young inmates as of October 2012 had been physically attacked by a guard. The report details instances of inmates having their heads slammed against walls, being beaten with radios and broomsticks, and even instances of inmates having fractured skulls and boot imprints on their heads from the beatings carried out by the guards.

One inmate was taken from a classroom after falling asleep during a lecture and severely beaten by multiple guards. One officer used her handcuffs as brass knuckles to beat the inmate’s ribs. Other guards joined in and kicked him while he was on the floor. In their reports, the officers gave contradictory versions of what had happened, but their use of force was deemed appropriate by the corrupt system at the end of the day.

Nearly two-thirds of inmates ages 16 to 18 were charged with felonies and 51 percent had received a mental illness diagnosis in 2013. Either this is a sign of unfair, unequal sentencing for youth, a state blitz against the mentally ill, or both.

Those handling the younger demographic at Rikers are the least experienced guards. Violence against young inmates has increased annually. Last year alone inmates younger than 18 were given 1,057 injuries by the guards. There were 565 reports of violence by correctional officers, but many go unreported because inmates and staff face retaliation for filing reports of abuse.

One teacher at Rikers Island said civilian employees are intimidated to the point that when they see violence they know “they should turn their head away, so that they don’t witness anything.”

The Correction Department fails to hold its staff accountable, the investigation found, as a result, “a culture of excessive force persists, where correction officers physically abuse adolescent inmates with the expectation that they will face little or no consequences for their unlawful conduct.”

“For adolescent inmates, Rikers Island is broken,” Bharara said. “It is a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort, a place where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries, where beatings are routine while accountability is rare.”

Norman Seabrook, president of the Correctional Officers’ Benevolent Association (the guards’ union), made the typical excuses for the brutality of the guards.

The federal investigation left 10 pages of remedial measures for Rikers Island. New York City has 49 days to respond the findings. If the city doesn’t cooperate, the Justice Department could bring a federal lawsuit and ask a judge to order the implementation of the recommended federal remedies.

The study specifically focused on prisoners ages 16 to 18, who number around 500 at Rikers. New York is one of two states that automatically charges 16 year olds as adults.

How can you say there isn’t a systematic targeting, oppression, and dehumanization of youth? What would you call this? How long will we turn a blind eye to the brutalization of our own children? Poor youths face the brunt of this oppression because under capitalism the poor are viewed as disposable at best and slaves at worst. They are nothing but dollar signs, bed fillers, for those in the prison industrial complex who profit from the suffering of others. There is no “correctional” system, only criminals with badges. The best deterrents to crime aren’t Nazi-esque jails, but rather a guarantee of the necessities of life, better schools, better job and training opportunities, better mass transit, and real community.

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Heat of the Street 8/4/2014

In this episode, I discuss recent protests and campaigns in Washington DC, Seattle, and New York. I also go over what I’m going to say in an article I’m writing about organizing.

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