Wednesday 28 October 2009

Rethinking and doing 'A Pinch of Salt'

I'd like to propose the following:

1. That "A Pinch of Salt" explore formal links with ASIRA part of the Anarchist Studies Network and form an accounable group who give editorial direction.
2. That the tag-line change from "Christianity and anarchism in dialogue" to "Religion and anarchism in conversation and action".
3. That the scope of the content be broadened to include different faith perspectives (outside the Christian tradition).

Friday 23 October 2009

Anarchist Bookfair

Better late than never, probably - time to announce the Anarchist Bookfair in London, 24th October 2009.

As capitalism collapses around us in the market of ideas the anarchist pound is buoyant and the 28th London Anarchist Bookfair is back at Queen Mary College in London’s East End. A big thank you to everyone who helped make last year’s bookfair run smoothly and to you all for respecting the space. last year we have 38 meetings, 90 stalls, an all day cabaret starring assorted ranters, poets, singers and comics; all day film showings and, two kids spaces. We are planning more of the same in 2009.

Stalls will again be split between the Great Hall and the Octagon room, which means that there will be more space and the whole bookfair will be wheelchair accessible. Please contact the info stall for wheelchair lift passes if you need one. If you have any other access requirements, please let us know in advance if possible so we can meet your needs. If you are Deaf and require BSL interpreting and/or speech-to-text provision, please give us as much notice as possible and we will do our best to organise these.

To discuss any specific access needs, please contact us At the bookfair please go to the info stall for further details.
Next to the Octagon room will be an all day tea, coffee and snack stall (until 6pm).

The creche will be signposted, and the ‘older kids room’ is also in the basement below the Octagon Room.

We have loads going on - see the rest of the website, for a run down of the meetings and other events. More will be added as we get nearer to October.

Please don’t forget this is all organised by a small collective – so any help would be very much appreciated. This year, more than ever, we need your donations to break even – the room and table hire have gone up and we may be over a grand down again. So, any donations or funds from benefit gigs would come in very handy.

Getting to the venue
The venue for this year's London Anarchist Bookfair, for the 3rd year running, is Queen Mary & Westfield College, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS.

If you are coming by public transport the following buses stop near the college on Mile End Road: 25; 205; 339.

If you are coming by tube the two nearest stations are Mile End (Central line / Hammersmith & City line or District line) or Stepney Green (Hammersmith & City line or District line). From Mile End tube come out of station and turn left. Walk along Mile End Road until you get to Harford Street and entrance to venue is opposite Harford Road. From Stepney Green tube come out of station and turn left. Walk along Mile End Road and venue entrance is on your left opposite Harford Road.

Website of the fair.

Monday 19 October 2009

Marcia Powell

Marcia J. Powell, a mentally ill prostitute and drug addict, died like a dog last week, roasting in a cage in the fearsome sun at the state prison at Perryville.
She was 48 years old.

Her final tortured hours in an outdoor enclosure last Tuesday mimicked those of a five-year-old law-enforcement canine named Rik that died at Perryville in 2007 after having been left by handlers in an exercise run for three hours. Temperatures that day reached 105.

The temperature in Powell's cage last week exceeded 107. She was locked up for an hour longer than the dog before she collapsed.

There are many questions to be answered by the Department of Corrections about Powell's final hours. But her death is only the gruesome exclamation point on a long list of institutional failures that got her there.

DOC officials say that Powell had a rap sheet going back decades and included at least 10 sex and six drug convictions. She'd been in and out of Arizona prisons since 1994.

Records indicate that she left home in California at 15 with a ninth-grade education, no marketable skills and a serious mental illness. A presentencing report describes her as bipolar.

Last summer, she was sent to prison for more than two years on a prostitution charge.

"It's awful the way this woman died," said Donna Leone Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform Inc., which for years has advocated for Arizona inmates and their families. "No one cared much about her when she lived. I hope at least that we care about the way she died."

DOC is investigating the incident. Several employees already are on administrative leave.

After Powell collapsed, she was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. A DOC spokesman told me that the department was unable to locate any family members.

So when the time came to decide whether to pull the plug on the machines keeping her alive, it fell to prisons Director Charles Ryan. Powell was taken off life support at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday; she died at 12:42 a.m. Wednesday.

"The death of Marcia Powell is a tragedy and a failure," Ryan said later. "The investigation will determine whether there was negligence and tell us how to remedy our failures."

I'm not so sure.

For one thing, DOC should not be conducting the investigation. It should fall to an outside agency. The governor should demand it.

According to Hamm, she contacted then-prisons Director Dora Schriro in late 2007 about the practice of placing prisoners in outdoor cages.

"Because no one had died or had been permanently injured, I couldn't get anyone - including the press - interested," Hamm said.

Questions like that are only a beginning.

Powell's horrific death and her woeful life should finally get us to ask why Arizona's failed mental-health system transforms county jails and prisons into mental-health institutions.

It should get us to ask why we criminalize people like this but don't adequately treat them, since it's clear that taxpayers end up footing the bill for their care one way or another.

Powell told state officials that she had two children who were given up to foster care, but DOC says the state has no record of that. Police also checked the address of a name she'd listed as a friend on prison records but found no one living in the abandoned house.

In spite of spending years in the system, Powell's life remains a mystery. Her death is a tragedy, although perhaps not on the level of Rik the law-enforcement dog.

There was a public outpouring for him.
From the Arizona Republic, 24th May 2009.

Remaining question: who needs compassionate care most - the woman who was put in a cage in the scourging heat or those who thought it a good idea of making such a cage and putting a living being inside of it.
You need not decide, just think about it.

Free Marcia Powell!

Friday 16 October 2009

Nevada Desert Experience

Few if any in Indian Springs expected up to 100 Anti-War Activists to brave
the heat of the desert and the wrath of Pro-War forces, to descend last
week upon Creech AFB located on the eastern edge of their town.

Several activists though felt so strongly about halting the military’s use
of the drones, they did expect to risk arrest Monday as they attempted to
meet with the base commander to dialogue about their abhorrence to the
military’s – and that base’s in particular – use of unmanned aerial
vehicles to hunt down, track, and kill human beings 7000 miles away: i.e.
drones against people in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

“Soldiers kiss their families good-bye in the morning, come to Creech, sit
behind a computer console, grab their joy stick, and click the mouse to
unfurl bombs on people” Leeza Vinograv, a CodePINK spokesperson, states

Activists from various groups as CodePINK:Women for Peace, Pace e Bene,
WILPF (Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom), and Progressive
Democrats came from around the country to Creech to partake in this second
“Take 5 Days of Action Against the Drones”. The first 5 Days took place the
beginning of July and another 5 Days is tentatively planned for the end of

“All weapons of war are horrific” Marie Bravo from CodePINK asserts,
“Drones are not merely yet another, and the latest, appalling weapon: they
are as odiousness and unconscionable as dropping nuclear weapons on human
beings, killing 50 civilians for every 1 ‘bad guy’ targeted by the CIA
and/or the military.”

Activists came to Indian Springs to participate in non-violent direct
actions against the drones. On Sunday over 30 activists were arrested for
civil disobedience at the old nuclear test site.

On Monday, 5:00am activists donned white apparel and face paint and held a
funeral march down highway 95 passed the north entrance to the AFB, through
Indian Springs to end up at the southern end of the AFB.

Several were then arrested and charged with such misdemeanors as
"Pedestrian on the Highway", "Obstructing the Police", and "Walking on the
wrong side of the Highway".

Other protesters continued the demonstration with a wailing where women
carrying small caskets and photos of war devastation, mourned the lives
destroyed, especially the lives of the children.

A huge banner declaring "DRONES: Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill
Them" was held by several demonstrators. Other signs included: "Kill
Drones, Not People" and "War is NOT a Video Game".

Later that evening, 8 activists were arrested for civil disobedience,
“Disturbing the War” Father Louis Vitale, one of the arrested and a Pace e
Bene spokesperson quips, as state patrol officer Symansky, the arresting
officer, mutters “They are non-violent and non-compliant.”

5 other arrests were made for various charges as “Pedestrian on the
Highway”, “Obstructing the Police”, and “Obedience to a Police Officer”. In
addition traffic citations were issued for honking the horn and failure to
use a left-turn signal as well as driving with a crack in the windshield.

The police often outnumbered protestors, especially on the last day of
protests when only 4 activists were still in town attempting to hold a
large “Peace” banner and a picture of the real face of war for soldiers
entering the base.

“Pilots of Drones and manned bombers as well do not get to smell the stench
of war or see the pain and suffering their click of a button reeks on human
beings” CodePINK says. “We are attempting to bring the Real Face of War to
these pilots. They need to know the truth of their actions.”

The four demonstrators that last day were met by at least 20 police
officers from three different agencies, as well as 4 mounted police on
horseback, and several military observers. One demonstrator was arrested
for “obstructing the police” as she attempted to video the police officer
50 yards away citing another demonstrator for honking her horn in support
of peace.

“I feel sorry for these soldiers who are going blindly to another country,
risking their lives and limbs, killing innocent people for my right to
protest – and here they have to watch me being arrested for attempting to
exercise that very right” says the arrested member of CodePINK Xan Joi.

- A dispatch from the Nevada Desert Experience.

Sunday 4 October 2009

As of January 1st....

Christian anarchism has been around for at least as long as “secular” anarchism. The existing literature cites Leo Tolstoy as its most famous (sometimes even as the only) proponent, but there are many others, such as Jacques Ellul, Vernard Eller, Dave Andrews or the people associated with the Catholic Worker movement. Both individually and collectively, these Christian anarchists offer a compelling critique of the state, the church and the economy based on numerous passages from the New Testament. Yet despite the relevance and growth of this literature, no generic study bringing together these different thinkers or reflecting on their contribution has been published to date, because such work involves meticulous searching, compiling and structuring of countless different texts and sources, not all of which are easily accessed. This book, however, provides precisely such a study, and thereby presents Christian anarchism to both the wider public and the wider academic community.

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos' thesis, announced by the publishers, where you can order it with a discount (it still is pretty expensive).

Saturday 3 October 2009

Goodbye Google-eye

The best or worst example of a service going down down and deeper down thanks to the profit motive is the original company that has taken over the hosting of this very site. Some ten years ago - I worked for the Royal Academy of NL at the time - I was introduced to this brand spanking new search engine which really was the thing to use for anyone who wanted things worth while to know from the internet. The name reminded me of a John D. Loudermilk number, a song about the pleasures of fishing - not fit for kind-hearted vegetarians.

Ten years later - the search engines it pushed out of habitual use and hence "the market" are forgotten if not gone without a sound. The search engine has become a verb.

Some weeks ago I searched for a place in the French region of Picardie. All results I got were either in English or Dutch. That was not the way to really get into the place I was looking for, but I had to trick the search engine into giving results in French - a language, as Search Engine has decided for me, I cannot read.
The same goes for results I would like to have in Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese or German - or any other language I might even vaguely understand for that matter. Search Engine decides I want English or Dutch. Even when you trick it it will yield mostly results in the language of Empire and the language of my IP-number.

One of the reasons behind this decision must be that there are no interesting advertisements to be shown to my IP with results in any other language.
And there you have it. Big Brother selling effort!

It was the best search engine for the internet, there was money to be made with it and the money is now the most important bit. The search engine is running into the ground before our very eyes. It is becoming more useless by the day.

Some former workers at the well-known Search Engine are running a counter-engine which is emptied from the Results You Want And We Want You To See Because Of Commercial Value.
It might be good as long as it lasts.
Bookmark it!