"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

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Tuesday, October 21 2014 @ 05:21 AM CDT

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The Naysayers: Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and the critique of pop culture

Culture

Anyone who underwent a liberal-arts education in recent decades probably encountered the thorny theorists associated with the Institute for Social Research, better known as the Frankfurt School. Their minatory titles, filled with dark talk of “Negative Dialectics” and “One-Dimensional Man,” were once proudly displayed on college-dorm shelves, as markers of seriousness; now they are probably consigned to taped-up boxes in garages, if they have not been discarded altogether. Once in a while, the present-day Web designer or business editor may open the books and see in the margins the excited queries of a younger self, next to pronouncements on the order of “There is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism” (Walter Benjamin) or “The whole is the false” (Adorno).

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TWACtion: Environmental and Gender Rights Groups Occupy I-5 Billboard

Demonstrators from Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp (TWAC) and the Gender Alliance of the South Sound (GASS) have staged a dance party at a billboard along I-5 (Northbound, Exit 72). The billboard’s former advertisement was replaced with a massive banner with the message “Transgender Health, Not Fossil Fuel Wealth.”

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Carrboro, North Carolina: The 119th Free Market

Anti-Capitalist Movement

Saturday September 6th was the 9 Year and 11 Month Anniversary of the Carrboro Really Really Free Market. That’s 119 Really Really Free Markets. We celebrated by making piñatas for the 120th Really Really Free Market, the 10 year Anniversary next month on OCTOBER 4th at 2PM. Did we mention we’re having a pinata contest? And a birthday cake contest!

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No water, no peace! States of emergency and water shut-offs in Detroit

After a month-long moratorium, water shut-offs in Detroit have started again this week, leaving indebted households across the city with no access to running water. Part of the emergency measures to respond to Detroit's bankruptcy, over 46,000 shut-off notices were issued in May 2014, with over 17,000 homes having their water supply halted between May and July.

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In Legal Battle Over Grand-Jury Secrecy, Ninth Circuit Court Sides with The Stranger

Solidarity

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit published its opinion about our ongoing fight with the federal government over how secret its grand jury proceedings should be. The short version: They wanted automatic and almost total secrecy and opacity, we wanted transparency—or at least some clearly argued standards about why certain documents should be sealed and kept away from the public. On Friday, the court found in our favor. We won. Mostly.

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Denver: When Cops Stay Hiding & Go Running: A Report On Actions for Ryan Ronquillo

Breaking News

As the event to raise funds for Ryan Ronquillo’s family drew to a close and the banner reading “Justice for Ryan Ronquillo” was lowered, the crowd seemed anxious. There were about 60 people left of the 250 who came through the door for the event that was co-organized with the family and their friends, along with local hip hop artists Brer Rabbit, Sole, Molina Speaks, Stay Tuned, Jonny 5, and Time. Maybe anxiety wasn’t really the feeling going around that night. People were on edge, sure. But mostly people. The District Attorney Mitch Morrissey had just made the decision to close the “investigation”—If you can call it that—of Ryan’s assassination at the Romero Funeral home on July 2nd of this year (2014).

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Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1m of riot gear

Europe

The Spanish government is readying itself for an autumn of discontent, spending nearly €1m on riot gear for police units as disparate protest groups prepare a string of demonstrations.

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Missouri Football's Rape Culture 'And So On And So Forth'

Sports

Following the second major report this year about the failure of the Missouri football team and the athletic department to properly respond to a series of sexual assault allegations, perhaps someone should ask: Why does Mike Alden, athletic director at Missouri since 1998, still have a job?

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India: A “dead zone” the size of Texas will threaten the livelihoods of 120 million people

Earth First

Every winter, millions of microscopic plankton cloud the waters that stretch from Oman to India. Though they only began appearing in the early 2000s, these algae now carpet a Texas-sized swath of the Arabian Sea, forming emerald swirls so dense you can see them from space.

Even though they are beautiful, the plankton have a lethal effect on plants and animals in the depths below.

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Verdict Handed Down for Six Sea Shepherd Volunteers on Faroe Islands

Earth First

Volunteers from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s pilot whale defense campaign Operation GrindStop 2014 appeared before a court in the Faroe Islands on Monday following their recent arrest in conjunction with trying to prevent the murder of pilot whales. These volunteer crewmembers – many of whom are European citizens – have been found guilty of defending the whales, while Denmark has acted in blatant defiance of European Union regulations by defending the slaughter of whales. Sea Shepherd has issued a statement pertaining to the verdicts and supporter and actor Martin Sheen is speaking out.

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The Economist's review of my book reveals how white people still refuse to believe black people about being black

Race

In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a fugitive from slavery, joined dozens of white passengers on the British ship Cambria in New York harbor. Somewhere out on the Atlantic, the other passengers discovered that the African American activist in their midst had just published a sensational autobiography. They convinced the captain to host a sort of salon, wherein Douglass would tell them his life story. But when the young black man stood up to talk, a group of Southern slaveholders, on their way to Britain for vacation or business or both, confronted him.

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Victory for Striking SeaSol Members

Thanks to Jeff and Hien’s courage and all the support from so many of you it appears that Cynthia, the owner of La Lot, is now prepared to meet all of our demands. This means implementing a fair tip structure and restoring Hien to the schedule she was working before she was retaliated against for speaking up about stolen tips. Cynthia had already sent emails to staff implementing the new tip structure Jeff and Hien had asked for as a result of the strike, but until last night she was still holding fast that she would not return Hien to her old schedule.

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Driving American Politics Underground

Dissent

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation.

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Fast-food workers and a new form of labor activism

Labor

For the customers, nothing has changed in the big, busy McDonald’s on Broadway at West 181st Street, in Washington Heights. Promotions come and go—during the World Cup, the French-fry package was suddenly not red but decorated with soccer-related “street art,” and, if you held your phone up to the box, it would download an Augmented Reality app that let you kick goals with the flick of a finger. New menu items appear—recently, the Jalapeño Double and the Bacon Clubhouse, or, a while back, the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. But a McDonald’s is a McDonald’s. This one is open twenty-four hours.

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The unheard story of Hurricane Katrina 9 years on: Blackwater, white militias & community empowerment

Katrina

Two weeks ago the NRA's Cam Edwards show stupidly praised a racist armed white vigilante group called the Algiers Point Militia that killed black men and bragged with impunity about it after Katrina. Abby Martin of Breaking The Set and Media Roots has been the only journalist and the news program to cover the controversy outside of the pro/anti-gun lens.

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Noam Chomsky: The Fate of the Gaza Ceasefire

Middle East

On August 26th, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) both accepted a ceasefire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind. The agreement calls for an end to military action by both Israel and Hamas, as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

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Portland Solidarity Network brings community to stand up to landlords

There is a point at which everyone breaks, and Miranda has already exceeded it. Living on a limited income and with pets that she could never abandon, Miranda moved into her former apartment with some reservations. There was clear damage inside, all of which she was repeatedly reassured that it would be taken care of quickly. When she was given a pile of documents to sign no red flags came up from her new landlord, Kurt, telling her that she was signing in agreement with a walk-through that had never happened.

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