Political Challenges

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Renowned Journalist Faced Harrowing Legal Scare

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Legal Issues, Political Challenges

As part of a wave of arrests surrounding a Dakota Access Pipeline protest in September, esteemed and controversial journalist Amy Goodman was charged with major felonies for, uh, reporting on the protest. On Monday, her case was dismissed. Nevertheless, this sort of mock execution should put First Amendment defenders on high alert and draw attention to what is obviously a sore spot for the North Dakota government authorities.


“Amy Goodman Is Facing Jail Time for Reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline. That Should Scare Us All.”
by Lizzy Ratner
The Nation
October 14, 2016 (Updated: October 17, 2016)

Update: Case dismissed! On Monday, October 17, District Judge John Grinsteiner rejected the “riot” charge that had been leveled against Amy Goodman for her coverage of a September 3rd Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Standing before the Morton County courthouse, surrounded by supporters, Goodman said: “It is a great honor to be here today. The judge’s decision to reject the State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson’s attempt to prosecute a journalist–in this case, me–is a great vindication of the First Amendment.” And she added: “[W]e encourage all of the media to come here. We certainly will continue to cover this struggle.”

amygoodman

This Monday morning, shortly after the sun rises over the small city of Mandan, North Dakota, the award-winning journalist, and host of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman will walk into the Morton County–Mandan Combined Law Enforcement and Corrections Center and turn herself in to the local authorities. Her crime: good, unflinching journalism.

Goodman had the audacity to commit this journalism on September 3, when she was in North Dakota covering what she calls “the standoff at Standing Rock”: the months-long protests by thousands of Native Americans against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The $3.8 billion oil pipeline is slated to carry barrel after barrel of Bakken crude through sacred sites and burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and tribe members fear it could pollute the Missouri River, the source not only of their water but of millions of others’, should the pipe ever rupture. Their protests, which began in April and ballooned through the summer months, represent the largest mobilization of Native American activists in more than 40 years—and one of the most vital campaigns for environmental justice in perhaps as long. Read more.


Documentarian Faces Decades in Prison

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Legal Issues, Political Challenges

The Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was arrested while shooting anti-Keystone Pipeline activists in North Dakota. Schlosberg wasn’t protesting anything – she was reporting on the events, which is what journalists do for a living. She is being charged with three conspiracy counts, and her case has some unusually horrifying First Amendment implications.


“Filmmaker Arrested at Pipeline Protest Facing 45 Years in Felony Charges”
by Nick Visser
The Huffington Post
October 14, 2016

aotp_schlosbergA documentarian arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest on Tuesday has been charged with three felony conspiracy charges ― and could face decades in prison if convicted.

Deia Schlosberg, the producer of the upcoming documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change,” was detained while filming a protest against TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota. Activists at the event, associated with the group Climate Direct Action, shut down the pipeline, which carries oil from Canadian tar sands to the U.S, for about seven hours.

Two of the protestors, Michael Foster and Samuel Jessup, were also charged and Schlosberg’s equipment and footage from the event was confiscated. Schlosberg said shortly after being released on bond that she couldn’t comment on her arrest until she spoke to a lawyer.

She has been charged with three felonies: conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences.

Josh Fox, the director of the film and two others related to fossil fuels, including the Academy Award-nominated “Gasland,” said Schlosberg wasn’t participating in the protest herself but acting as filmmaker to document the event. Her arrest appears to reflect a “deliberate” targeting of reporters, he said.

“They have in my view violated the First Amendment,” Fox said, referring to the state’s Pembina County Sheriff’s Department. “It’s fucking scary, it knocks the wind of your sails, it throws you for a loop. They threw the book at Deia for being a journalist.” Read more.

R.I.P. Dario Fo (1926-2016)

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Parody, Political Challenges, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks

Revered playwright, comedian, Nobel laureate, and prankster patron saint Dario Fo has passed away at the age of 90.


Nobel laureate Dario Fo, who mocked politics, religion, dies
by Frances D’Emilio and Nicole Winfield
AP
October 13, 2016

Dario Fo

Dario Fo

Italian playwright Dario Fo, whose energetic mocking of Italian political life, social mores and religion won him praise, scorn and the Nobel Prize for Literature, died Thursday. He was 90.

Fo died Thursday morning in Milan’s Luigi Sacco hospital after suffering respiratory complications from a progressive pulmonary disease, said the chief of pulmonology, Dr. Delfino Luigi Legnani. Fo had been working on a new stage production with collaborators in his hospital room up until his final days, Legnani said.

The author of “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” and more than 70 other plays saw himself as playing the role of the jester, combining raunchy humor and scathing satire that continued into his final years. He was admired and reviled in equal measure.

His political activities saw him banned from the United States and censored on Italian television, and his flamboyant artistic antics resulted in repeated arrests. Read more.


The Time of Our Lives?

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Parody, Political Challenges, Spin, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a lovely duet:


Trump and Hillary: Time of my life – LuckyTV

In Search of Political Art

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, The History of Pranks

Randy Kennedy explores the state of political art in search of the iconic images that previously captured people’s imaginations as we navigate another absurd political season.

Thanks Peter!


Political Art in a Fractious Election Year
by Randy Kennedy
The New York Times
July 17, 2016

“The Truth Booth” by the Brooklyn Bridge. The booth, by the Cause Collective, is heading to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention. Credit Ben Pettey

“The Truth Booth” by the Brooklyn Bridge. The booth, by the Cause Collective, is heading to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention. Credit Ben Pettey

In 2008, when the artist Shepard Fairey created the graphically striking “Hope” portrait to support Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, it seemed as if a rich tradition of American political imagery reaching back at least to the middle of the 20th century — on posters, buttons, bumper stickers — was still very much alive. The art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the “Hope” poster “epic poetry in an everyday tongue.”

Read the whole article here.


When Dogs Ruled the World

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Filed under: Political Challenges, Propaganda and Disinformation

The Hypocrisy of Democracy (or When the Glue Comes Undone)
by Joey Skaggs

As an artist, satirist and activist, I am very fortunate that I live in America. My freedom is never taken for granted and I cherish my rights to criticize the misuse of power. I’m well aware of what happens to people who live in other countries where there is no tolerance for dissent. Not that this is a perfect country… If it were, I would be out of a career!

I read an article by Andrew Sullivan called “Democracies end when they are too democratic”, published May 1, 2016 in New York Magazine and I think it’s worth sharing. The messages are vital to our democracy.

democraciesend

This article led me to want to share a short story I like to tell every time there’s an election. This was told to me by Lew Jain, an old cowboy who lived in Northern Idaho. I met him in 1965, when I spent a summer painting landscapes near Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago–way before people existed–the world was populated only by dogs. It was very difficult being a dog, because all they did was fight amongst themselves. Consequently, there were homeless dogs; hungry dogs; sick, suffering and dying dogs. Big dogs picked on little dogs. Little dogs picked on littler dogs. It was, in essence, a dog-eat-dog world.

So, after what seemed like an eternity of turmoil, the dogs gradually realized they better do something to change their world. They decided to have a Bow Wow and put an end to their problems by electing a leader. One dog barked, “I think we should elect for our leader the French Poodle, the smartest dog!” A French Poodle seconded the motion, but another dog yipped, “Wait! Just because the French Poodle is a smart dog, he’s not a tough dog. He’s not as tough as the Doberman or the Pit Bull or the German Shepherd. I say we should elect the German Shepherd as our leader.” “Woof woof,” barked a German Shepherd, seconding the motion. “Grrrrr,” said another dog. “Just because the German Shepherd is a tough dog, he’s not as fast as the Whippet or the Saluki or the Greyhound. I say we should elect the Greyhound, the fastest dog, as our leader.” “Bow wow!” said a Greyhound seconding the motion.

“You gotta be kidding me,” howled another dog, “Just because the Greyhound is the fastest dog, he can’t pull the sled like the Huskey.” “Wait,” said another dog, “He can’t swim like the Labrador, he can’t smell like the Bloodhound, or do tricks like the Border Collie.” And the vicious fighting started all over again.

It seemed none of them could ever agree about who should be their leader. Finally, one little mutt, with a long wet nose, floppy ears and a bushy tail said, “Wait! I know who should be our leader!” All the dogs stopped their fighting, raised their ears and wagged their tails, looking at him as he proclaimed, “We should elect the dog whose asshole smells the sweetest!”

All the dogs barked in agreement and began sniffing each other’s butts, looking for their leader. This tradition continues to this day, which is why dogs sniff butts. They are still looking for the asshole that smells the sweetest. And this explains how I’ve always felt about politics.

NOTE: This story is also available here on Huffington Post.


Meet the Street Artists Who Pranked Showtime

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

After planting a special Arabic message on the set of Showtime’s hit show Homeland, Heba Yehia Amin, Caram Kapp, and Don Karl became internationally notorious. They explain themselves in Homeland Is Not a Series, a short film from The Intercept’s wonderful Field of Vision video series. Check out the video and the accompanying interview.

homeland-filmmakers-feature-hero

“Interview With Hebia Yehia Amin, Caram Kapp, and Don Karl of Homeland Is Not a Series”
by Eric Hynes
The Intercept
December 20, 2015

Commissioned to apply realistic graffiti to sets for the popular Showtime series Homeland, three artists and activists took the opportunity to critique their employer by painting satirical and damning phrases in Arabic — such as “Homeland is NOT a series” and “Homeland is racist” — that nobody on the Homeland team seemed to notice. That is, until an episode that aired worldwide in October was watched by viewers who could read Arabic. Within days, the political prank became an international media sensation.

The conspirators behind the Homeland hack, Heba Yehia Amin, Caram Kapp, and Don Karl, come from a diverse array of disciplines and backgrounds. Amin is a visual artist and professor born and based in Cairo; Kapp is a Cairo-born, Berlin-based graphic designer and multimedia artist; and Karl is a Berlin-based graffiti writer and author. When the following interview was conducted, kaleidoscopically via Google Hangout, the trio was collaborating on the edit for Homeland Is Not a Series from three separate cities.

In anticipation of bringing this latest iteration of their project to Field of Vision, the “Arabian Street Artists,” as they cheekily refer to themselves, talked about the effectiveness of humor as a weapon against intolerance, the challenges of making a movie when they don’t consider themselves filmmakers by trade, and how they’re trying to foster further discussion around Western representations of Middle Eastern culture.

Read the full interview here.

Political Hacktivism, Iran Style

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Political Challenges

Iran Is Using a Neocon to Hack Its Foes
Daily Beast
by Eli Lake
May 29, 2014

John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, is playing an unexpectedly prominent role in an Iranian cyberspying campaign.

john-bolton-hacked-425

In Iran’s intelligence war against America, the regime has a new weapon: “John R. Bolton.”

No, Iran has not turned President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations into a sleeper agent. Instead, hackers believed to be connected to the Tehran government are posing as Bolton on social media platforms in a scheme to get human rights activists and national security wonks to hand over their passwords and user names.

Read more here.

Alison Klayman Film About Ai Weiwei Premieres

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Challenges, The Prank as Art

For Ai Weiwei, Politics And Arts Always Mix
by NPR Staff
July 25, 2012

Listen to this Story on All Things Considered [7 min 49 sec]

Last week, a Chinese court rejected artist Ai Weiwei’s lawsuit against the tax bureau that had imposed a massive fine on his company.

Ai was fined more than $2 million after being detained for three months last year.

This marks yet another political struggle for Ai, who is famous abroad for his art and has emerged as a leading Chinese dissident, a voice for individual freedom. A year after being released, Ai is still monitored heavily by officials, although he uses his Twitter feed to continue criticizing China’s government.

Filmmaker Alison Klayman was an intern on NPR’s All Things Considered before she left for China, where she wound up chronicling Ai on video. The result is a documentary — her first film — called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, part of which chronicles Ai’s crusade to seek justice for an alleged police beating.

Movie trailer:

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Occupy the Truth: Whistleblowers Conference, Feb 17-19, UC Berkeley

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges

Joey Skaggs will be in Oakland for this open space Whistleblowers conference, February 17-19, 2012. Admission is free and open to the public.


From the conference website:

“There is no truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.” – Thomas Jefferson

Transparency needs your brain. Whistleblowers need your protection. Fresh Juice Party, Courage to Resist and Bradley Manning Support Network invite you to bring your ideas.

Please join journalists, former military personnel, academics, activists, policy makers, media experts, filmmakers and whistleblowers for an open discussion designed to encourage unexpected interdisciplinary alliances and action.

This will be a unique participant driven environment where we will co-create the agenda for the day. [It] will be a first of its kind activist/expert un-conference mix so expect to be surprised. Sharing, networking and creating new alliances will be central to providing strategies and support for whistleblowers.

Come and enjoy the freedom of discussion and mobility of an unconference where serious discussion interplays with an open space atmosphere of creativity and play.

Check the conference site for more information. Register at Event Brite & Check for updates on Facebook and Twitter @OccupyTruthCon #TruthCon


Chris Hedges on the Dissent Imperative

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Challenges

A Movement Too Big to Fail
by Chris Hedges
TruthDig.com
October 17, 2011

There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking. So do Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi. So do the array of “liberal” groups and institutions, including the press, that have worked to funnel discontented voters back into the swamp of electoral politics and mocked those who called for profound structural reform.

Resistance, real resistance, to the corporate state was displayed when a couple of thousand protesters, clutching mops and brooms, early Friday morning forced the owners of Zuccotti Park and the New York City police to back down from a proposed attempt to expel them in order to “clean” the premises. These protesters in that one glorious moment did what the traditional “liberal” establishment has steadily refused to do—fight back. And it was deeply moving to watch the corporate rats scamper back to their holes on Wall Street. It lent a whole new meaning to the phrase “too big to fail.”

Watch a video of Chris Hedges in Times Square, October 15, 2011:

(more…)

The Art of Assassination

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges

Artist Depicts Assassination Of Bush, The Queen In New Brazil Exhibition
by Curtis M. Wong
The Huffington Post
September 27, 2010

The Sao Paulo Art Biennial may be renowned for celebrating the best of Brazil’s avant garde, but international critics say one of this year’s featured exhibits — a series of charcoal sketches depicting the imagined assassinations of former U.S. President George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II, among other world leaders — has gone too far.

One sketch in the controversial series, titled “Enemies,” depicts Bush kneeling on the ground while artist Gil Vicente presses a pistol to the former president’s temple. In other sketches, the Queen is apparently unaware of the artist pointing a gun directly at her back, while Pope Benedict XVI faces Vicente directly, his arms outstretched in a quizzical shrug. Other world leaders shown in Vicente’s 9-sketch series include former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, according to The Telegraph. [See below for more photos] (more…)

How Much Does Protest Matter?

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges

How Much Do Protests Matter? A Freakonomics Quorum
by Stephen J. Dubner
freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com
August 20, 2009

tehranprotestorIran’s citizens take to the streets en masse after a disputed election. Gay men in Salt Lake City hold a kissing protest. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church voice their anti-just-about-everything views to military funerals and elsewhere.

Beyond the media attention they inevitably garner, what do protests actually accomplish?

We rounded up a few people who have thought a lot about this topic — Chester Crocker, Bernardine Dohrn, Donna Lieberman, Juan E. Méndez, David S. Meyer, and Howard Zinn — and asked them how much protest matters in this day and age, and why.

Here are their answers. (more…)

Astroturfing the Spinternet

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Political Challenges, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

Propaganda.com
by Evgeny Morozov
The New York Times Op Ed
March 29, 2009

censorship-200This year’s report on “enemies of the Internet” prepared by Reporters Without Borders, the international press advocacy group, paints a very gloomy picture for the freedom of expression on the Web. It finds that many governments have stepped up their attacks on the Internet, harassing bloggers and making it harder to express dissenting opinions online.

These are very disturbing trends. But identifying “Internet enemies” only on the basis of censorship and intimidation, as Reporters Without Borders has done, obfuscates the fact that these are only two components of a more comprehensive and multi-pronged approach that authoritarian governments have developed to diffuse the subversive potential of online communications.

Many of these governments have honed their Internet strategies beyond censorship and are employing more subtle (and harder to detect) ways of controlling dissent, often by planting their own messages on the Web and presenting them as independent opinion.

Their actions are often informed by the art of online “astroturfing,” a technique also popular with modern corporations and PR firms. While companies use it to engineer buzz around products and events, governments are using it to create the appearance of broad popular support for their ideology.

Their ultimate ambition may be to transform the Internet into a “spinternet,” the vast and mostly anonymous areas of cyberspace under indirect government jurisdiction. The spinternet strategy could be more effective than censorship — while there are a plenty of ways to access blocked Web sites, we do not yet have the means to distinguish spin from independent comment. (more…)

Naomi Klein Profiled

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Filed under: Political Challenges

Outside Agitator
by Larissa MacFarquhar
The New Yorker
December 8, 2008

Naomi Klein and the new new left

Related links:
Audio: A discussion on Naomi Klein and “The Shock Doctrine.”

The marquee outside the Bloor Cinema, in Toronto, advertised “The Last Mistress” at four, “Naomi Klein—the Shock Doctrine” at seven, and “Little Shop of Horrors” at nine-thirty. It was a warmish night. The falafel shop next door was doing a brisk business. A line of people holding tickets to the Naomi Klein event stretched to the end of the block and around the corner. Outside the entrance to the cinema, a middle-aged man and an elderly woman paced up and down selling copies of Socialist Action for a dollar. (The September issue included articles about capitalism’s contradictions, class war in Bolivia, and a commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal—a regular feature.)

“We apologize for starting late, but it’s typical activist time, so I’m sure you’re used to it,” a young woman organizer said from the stage. The young woman wore a black necklace, black jeans, and black hoop earrings. She urged the audience to fight racism and poverty, and to work for education, international solidarity, justice for immigrants and refugees, and solidarity with Palestine and with the Mohawk of Tyendinaga and the Algonquin of Barriere Lake, on whose behalf the fund-raiser that night was being held. She squinted into the lights. “I’m glad you can’t see the audience from here,” she said, “because I don’t think I’ve ever spoken in front of eight hundred and fifty people except at a protest, and then you can always dissolve into a chant.” She consulted her notes. “To a different audience—to those that hold capital and power in this society—Naomi Klein’s words and her ideas are seen as a serious threat,” she said. “Her words are a source of inspiration . . . for those of us who were and are being radicalized by the anti-globalization, anti-colonial, and anti-poverty movements and the demands to change the system totally and completely.” (more…)