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Aug23

DIY Harm Reduction

I had a hard time deciding on an appropriate photo to accompany this post, so whatever, here's a Lynx kitten!

I had a hard time deciding on an appropriate photo to accompany this post, so whatever, here’s a Lynx kitten!

Audio of Project Safe’s presentation at the recent DIY Philly Skill Share Conference. “A theory addressing behaviors that carry risk in an environment of risk” encapsulates Project Safe’s philosophical approach to harm reduction.

Drug use and sex work have always been taboo subjects, so it was not until relatively recently that social justice activists began formulating strategies to reduce the harms of engaging in these behaviors. The first harm reduction activists emerged organically from communities struggling to hold onto their dignity and safety; many came from the so-called lower strata of society, those most likely to be harmed by the drug trade and sex work industries.

 

Click here for more info on Project Safe

Part I

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DIY Harm Reduction part 1 mp3

Part II

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DIY Harm Reduction part 2 mp3

Aug04

Audio of Philly’s Left Assembly

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Discussion and analysis of current right-wing and fascist trends and how to combat them. Facilitated by Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Jul28

Interview With a Doula

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Natural Child-birthing From a Radical Perspective

It would not be an exaggeration to say that in general our culture is an extremely morbid one, overly obsessed with death, violence and the macabre. Even in the radical community we often fail to spend enough time celebrating life; we also fall well short of paying sufficient attention to what is needed to promote and sustain both life itself and a good quality of life.

As our twitter, instagram and facebook newsfeeds fill up with images of ethnic cleansing, brutalized children and widespread devastation, we can find ourselves slipping into either apathy or despair. This is why I am very happy to present this podcast with our guest Iresha Picot. We talk about her life-affirming work as a doula, what it means and how very important such work is in countering the dehumanizing influence of the medical-industrial establishment.

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Interview With a Doula mp3

If you would like more information, or if you would like to inquire about retaining Iresha as a doula you can contact her at Iresha.Picot@gmail.com

Visit Maternity Care Coalition for more info on general maternity care and related resources.

Jul23

Questioning Technology

Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

I would like to begin by explaining what this article is not about. This is not a call to storm the hospitals and switch off people’s life support systems, burn down pharmacies, or dismantle all wheelchairs. While this article is part of a growing call to view technology’s ubiquitous presence with a much more critical eye, it does not mean we’re arguing for rounding up people at gun point and forcing them to hand over their smart phones; nor are we on a crusade to deny people access to hormone therapies, [modern] abortions or other tech advances used to sustain and improve quality of life.

Critiques of industrialization and dehumanizing technology have existed since the time of the Luddites and cover a wide spectrum of opinion. The primitivist critique, the favorite whipping boy of the radical left, represents just one of the last stops on a train of thought that has a fair number of stations, yet the most extreme end of the technology-critical spectrum receives the lion’s share of attention. Why? Well, because, let’s face it – the stereotype of suburban white guys running off into the woods while denouncing city dwellers often provokes an understandable visceral reaction. The way the conversation is often polarized of course means more internet traffic as both trolls and those with legitimate concerns converge on websites to denounce the privileged anti-civ heretics.

Criticism of technophilia should not de facto earn one a dirty identity politics label, however, in the “radical community,” it usual does. Technophiles would have us believe that we’re either “all in,” on the side of “progress,” or we’re with the primitivist terrorists who are against chemotherapy, HIV medications and water purification systems. Regardless of the hysteria and badmouthing that flows from both camps, pragmatic people can realistically consider the “facts on the ground” situation we are facing concerning our relationship to technology while still maintaining a healthy skepticism of technology’s increasing intrusions into our lives.

The fact of the matter, and one that technophiles will usually do their best to deny or obfuscate, is that technology-critical discourse is becoming more and more mainstream as the dangers of unchecked tech growth become increasingly apparent. One of the most interesting examples of this stems from an unlikely source: revelations made by Edward Snowden regarding the NSA’s adventures in Germany. German society, known for being on the cutting edge of technological “progress,” has been rocked by revelations of the U.S. government using sophisticated means to spy on high ranking officials including Chancellor Angela Merkel. The situation was further exacerbated by the deployment of double agents to gather intelligence on Germany’s investigation into the NSA spying. States are usually prone to increasing their technological abilities, yet the specter of the NSA and the U.S. quest for full spectrum dominance has spooked the spooks into seriously considering trading in their laptops for old-school typewriters.

Rory Corman, author of ‘Spying on the World’ had this to say to Newsweek: “The idea that Germany may revert to typewriters is an interesting one. They would not be alone in doing so…Russia reportedly reverted to using typewriters last year in the aftermath of the NSA revelations.”

The NSA scandal has disturbed many of us, yet how many people have reverted to less advanced technology or dramatically cut down on their use of technology as a counter-measure? Maybe more than we realize! Recognizing the contradictions inherent within technology used for the sake of convenience seems to have initiated a small but important course correction for Russia and possibly for Germany. Now if only they would get rid of their nuclear weapons maybe we would be getting somewhere. Still, if ruthless and bloodthirsty states are able to question their use of technology and how it relates to their own self-interest, the rest of us can too.

Also interesting has been the reaction of the internet to a recent revelation that realistic, child-like robots might soon become available for pedophiles to enjoy as sex toys. According to a recent article these disgusting inventions are “inevitable”.

Technophile Ben Way, the author of a book I won’t bother to plug here, says these fuck toys for pedophiles are actually a good thing if we can just get over our pesky gut reactions and social mores.

“Will child sex bots lead to some people acting out their dark and disgusting desires on real children?” he asks. “Yes, but I suspect having child sex bots will significantly reduce the number of people overall who abuse children. As repugnant as it may seem society should support this technology and do proper research into its effects before making a snap decision based on social norms.”

“I suspect” this will work out, he says. And if he and the others pushing for these pre-pubescent sex-bots are wrong and end up unleashing some new horror upon society? Well, it will be yet another in a long string of “oops” moments, but their hearts were in the right place so all will be forgiven.

Wired magazine, a place where you would be hard pressed to find any serious criticism of technophilia, recently published a fascinating article entitled ‘The Moral Hazards and Legal Conundrums of Our Robot-Filled Future’. In this article the terrifying prospect of these child sex-bots were, among other things, offered up as proof of an impending moral crisis. Well, I must say this article was definitely a pleasant surprise, as were the comments which displayed a significant amount of misgivings about the robot-filled future.

Some are in fact doing more than talking about these issues on the internet, though it remains to be seen if their form of impromptu direct action against invasive, privacy destroying technology will catch on. The “neo-Luddites” referred to by Forbes magazine in their article entitled, ‘The Violent Opt-out: The Neo-Luddites Attacking Drones And Google Glass,’ have resorted to physical attacks on the latest manifestations of invasive tech. These attacks on drones and Google Glass wearers might just be a flash in the pan occurrence, or they may signal the fact that people are reaching the threshold of what they will tolerate (this is especially relevant considering the fact that Google Glass can be hacked to function using a person’s brainwaves). Of course the Forbes article basically derides these people as lunatics, but the underlying message of budding resistance nevertheless shines through.

More people are waking up to the realization that something is not quite right with regards to the furious pace of technological “progress,” and that this tsunami of new capabilities is in fact the proverbial double edged sword. Others who have been following this issue more closely are realizing that instead of wielding technology to our benefit, we have become slaves to it, enthralled and trapped within a high tech industrial system that creates problems and then ironically turns around and sells us high-tech solutions. Technologies that are advertised to us as fun, problem-solving conveniences are easily turned into control and surveillance mechanisms – as was the intent all along. Nothing is for free, and these shiny baubles and quick fixes are not merely provided to us for our enjoyment and for our own personal growth and happiness. Power systems thrive on control, and today much of that control is consolidated through our consensual use of technology. This is the reality more and more people are awakening too and it serves as a glimmer of hope for our future.

Jul19

Palestine Solidarity Rally & March

On the third Friday of every month radicals and activists protest in front of the Israeli consulate in an attempt to bring visibility to the plight of occupied Palestine. Due to Israel’s recent genocidal rampage (which has left at least 342 people dead over the past 12 days), there was an increased sense of urgency and relevance to the planned protest.

Between 250 and 300 passionate people gathered on the corners in front of and adjacent to the Israeli consulate for a rally and subsequent march; the atmosphere was electric with many waving Palestinian flags, holding anti-zionist signs and chanting slogans in Arabic. Supporters of the Israeli state and military actions gathered across from the consulate with one being bold enough to wear a shirt proclaiming “Proud To Be IDF”; however, these supporters of Israeli terrorism were far outnumbered by those standing in solidarity with the besieged residents of Gaza and Palestine.

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Palestine Solidarity Rally & March mp3

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PicMonkey Collage

Jul15

In Solidarity With Gaza

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Commentary, informational links and video on the situation in Gaza.

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In Solidarity With Gaza mp3

IDF’s Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisis

Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians gets thousands of Facebook likes

Obama, Israel and Liberal Capitulation

Gaza destruction ‘immense’, hundreds of thousands without water

Congresswoman who visited Israel on AIPAC’s dime has no time for relative of boy beaten by Israeli police

Rejecting victimhood: the case for Palestinian resistance


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Jul04

WRFF 2014 Report Back

In order for us to become productive members of society, i.e, well oiled and functioning cogs in the wheels of the capitalist empire, we must undergo a compulsory process of alienation and domestication to make us docile and compliant to the demands of our future supervisors and bosses. This process begins in early childhood and continues more or less throughout our entire civilized lives. It is in part a process of forgetting, of learning to disregard our dreams and intuition and genetic memories of a time before mankind ascended the throne to lord over the rest of creation.

The myth of human centrism, that all of the world is here for our pleasure and our benefit, can only be called into question outside of the sprawling metropolises and suburbs where such ideas are constantly reinforced, often by the very landscape itself. The sanitized and domesticated landscapes created by modern industry stand in stark contrast to the wilderness, to the glorious chaos of life. The wilderness is where we find the idea of the all powerful human master called into question; it is a place we must periodically embed ourselves in to reconnect with authentic, non-synthetic reality outside of the scope of human constructs. It is a place we must visit once in a while for the perspective denied to us by human-centric, industrial society.

As someone who lives in a big city, Wild Roots Feral Futures (WRFF) has become a necessary yearly tradition, a way to retain a connection to (relatively) unspoiled wilderness and the deep human bonds such an environment fosters. WRFF is a loosely organized and decentralized gathering that takes place in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado (Ute territory). Working on less than a shoe string budget and with much of the supplies and food donated, a wonderful intentional community springs up for an all too brief period of time. Most people bring their own camping supplies and gear, but there are always extra sleeping bags and such things in case anyone needs them. Camp responsibilities are handled on a volunteer basis; everyone who wants to contribute can, and if you’re not in the mood to wash dishes, gather firewood or cook meals, there’s no pressure to.

One of the main reasons I keep coming back to WRFF is the people, the amazingly good-hearted and beautiful people. Sure, in past years there’s been some drama but it’s never really distracted me from the overall experience. The warmth, wisdom and sincerity I experience there nourishes me on a spiritual level; this gives me the strength and clarity I need to avoid falling into despair and nihilism concerning the nature of the human race. WRFF attracts a variety of people: college students, older hippies, drifters, radical faeries, liberals, anarchists, socialists, families with small children, musicians, train hoppers, activists, conservationists, farmers, and those who refuse to be categorized. The ethnic diversity is not quite what it could be, but the reasons for this are complex. I find it unfortunate that many POC have been seemingly irrevocably yoked to the city, pigeonholed into the category of permanent urban dwellers. Again, the reasons for this are complex and largely beyond our control, though hopefully this will begin to change in the near future. In any case, no matter what our backgrounds, we gather together at WRFF with our differences eclipsed by one common theme: a love for the land and a love of life.

This year was by far my favorite WRFF for several reasons. The hike in and out was so much easier than previous years; the vibe was incredibly relaxed and friendly with absolutely zero drama (at least none that I was aware of) and the location itself was just beyond magical. Mountain tops covered in pine, aspen stands and fields of dandelions, wild iris and a myriad of other wild flowers made each day like a waking dream. As always, the group discussions were thought provoking to the max, especially one we had on mental health in the context of living within a society that systematically destroys mental health. There were also primitive skills workshops, plant walks, an interesting discussion on natural child birthing, a solstice celebration, and clear guidelines for community practices and sober spaces for those who desired them. Outside of the planned activities there were plenty of opportunities to go hiking, splash around in the stream, or just lay on the soft grass underneath the sun listening to the birdsong.

As I reflect on my third year of attending this gathering, I realize how valuable the experience has been to both my personal and political development. Fireside chats under the stars with hardcore primitivists and nuclear power supporters alike have helped me broaden, sharpen and mold my own critiques of industrial society. Though we may not all agree on every single thing, simply being around like minded people with similar viewpoints is a welcome reprieve from constantly having to defend my position or either keep silent about it. Over the past few years at WRFF I have learned of struggles that I may not have come into contact with otherwise. In fact, I credit my first real introduction to indigenous solidarity to my first WRFF in 2012. It would not be an understatement to say that WRFF has been an important part of my life.

Because this year felt extra special, I must give thanks to all the wonderful people who shared time, space and food with me; thanks for all the chats, all the laughs, for all the memories. And a special thanks to those who let me practice my tarot reading skills on you – I hope it was helpful. So much love to the folks in Durango who do the hard work of scouting out locations and cleaning up after the gathering is done; thanks for all you do and for creating a space where so much magic happens. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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