Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anatomy of an Epidemic?

Embedding is disallowed, but here's a link - hot off YouTube! - to Robert Whitaker on Book TV* talking about his book Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness.

I haven't yet had a chance to read the book or even review the studies he cites (he lists the major ones on his site), but found the talk provocative. (Also mentioned on the site: an interview with Mercola? Really? I understand that people want to spread the word about their books, but really you have to draw the line somewhere.)

*I just looked at the schedule for this weekend and next. Overall, Book TV seems to be remaining something of a right-wing testosterone fest. It’s a bit creepy. Who selects the books and authors featured, anyway?

Friday, June 25, 2010

HONDURAS: The Normalization of Terror and Resistance Events

Distressing about reports concerning Honduras the past few months is the extent to which they can work to normalize the situation there. There are, of course, explicit attempts at normalization – both by the current illegitimate regime and the Obama administration.

They seek not only the cultural but the institutional normalization of the coup and its results in the form of international and specifically OAS recognition of the Lobo government and the acceptance of the farcical “Truth Commission.” But much coverage, intentionally or more likely unconsciously, risks playing into these normalization efforts by treating events in Honduras as a stage for human rights violations divorced from historical context (or reframed from within a historical vision that is already biased and circumscribed) and marginalizing the people who continue to work for justice in Honduras.

It is of course valid and necessary to draw attention to human rights abuses, including murders, in Honduras (among many other violations, nine journalists have been killed already this year). What we should be careful of, though, is falling into a script that depoliticizes the people and organizations on the ground there, ignores the local and global economic forces at play, or presents events as falling within some generic image of “organic” Central American violence.

Given this, I’m going to try to continue focusing on the efforts being made by social justice movements in Honduras and their supporters elsewhere. As the anniversary of the coup on June 28th approaches, Adrienne Pine at Quotha has listed some of the events organized to help people learn more and get involved:

  • En Las Sombras (documentary about Honduras) airing on TeleSUR
    Monday, June 28, 2010
    (on TV in Latin America; online at the TeleSUR link on the left side of the page)
  • Los Angeles: Protest-Vigil at Honduran Consulate
    Monday, June 28, 2010
    5 PM
    General Consulate of Honduras in Los Angeles
    3550 Wilshire Boulevard
    (more here)
  • Berlin: Walter Trochez Queer Alliance Protest and Film
    Monday, June 28, 2010
    (more here)
  • New York City: Karla Lara and Rodolfo Pastor at the Brecht Forum
    Friday, July 2, 2010
    7/8 PM
    Brecht Forum
    51 West Street
    (more here)
(If you know of other events, please leave me a note in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.)

More developments: The democratic resistance movement has organized an alternative truth commission. The US government is giving more money to Honduran “security” forces. People should be watching sales of Honduran resources or deals made with corporations, in mining, power, etc. - contracts made with this government should be seen as invalid, in my view. There is also a dengue outbreak in Honduras.

This article by Dawn Paley emphasizes the economic powers behind the coup and the continuing efforts to shape Honduras in the interests of the rich. For a longer view, of course, the classic work is Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America – a magnificent book.

Also opening this week: Oliver Stone’s South of the Border. Here are Stone and Tariq Ali being interviewed about the film on Democracy Now! (There’s a Wall Street 2 coming out? Really?):

(I'm not sure if the video will show up; if not, please click on the link.) I haven’t seen it, and will wait until I do before I comment. Preliminarily, though – it appears to focus excessively on a handful of political figures rather than on the social movements that drive the transformations of these countries. It also seems perhaps not to look critically enough at Chavez and others. I do look forward to seeing it, though. You can find where it’s playing here.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Freedom in the Cloud

    It was a decade ago, searching for the latest articles on anarchism, that I first came across Eben Moglen. It was this piece - "Anarchism Triumphant: Free Software and the Death of Copyright" - and, while he didn't have anything particularly intelligent to say about anarchism as a political-economic movement, I found the article interesting and shared it with people at the time.

    Over the years, others have linked to various talks Moglen has given. Recently someone in a comment thread at Narco News linked to this one from earlier this year. Here he is on "Freedom in the Cloud":

    As usual, xkcd gets it.

    The trouble for some of us is that while we share the concern of the character in this strip we lack the technical knowledge to contribute significantly to change in this way (or at least I believe I do). But I can do my small part connecting people to those working on it.


    Here's Part 2 - the Q&A: