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A beautifully written, insightful article on addiction in the age of the “unnecessariat,” taking in questions of community, disease, social exclusion, the wages of capitalism, public sympathy and – of course – the appeal of Trump.

A must-read.

More Crows than Eagles

I remember AIDS. I’m older than you probably think I am, and I remember what AIDS in America meant in the eighties, when William F. Buckley suggested all “carriers” be tattooed, and the Wizard of Id got in trouble in Canada (fr) for a joke in which Robbing Hood’s “Merry Men” were rounded up into quarantine camps. Mostly what I remember is the darkness- the world seemed apocalyptic. Everyone, at least in the gay men’s community, seemed to be sick, or dying, or taking care of someone else who was sick or dying, or else hurling themselves headlong into increasingly desperate and dramatic activism the like of which has hardly been seen since. I was actually watching the MacNeil/Lehrer news hour when ACT-UP broke in and nearly handcuffed Robert MacNeil to his desk. The tenor is just unreproducible; you get a taste of it in some of Sarah Schulman’s…

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Thoughts on the UK Parliament #SyriaVote

We will bomb them!
(And we will sell our bombs to those who fund them)

(We will lamentably create more refugees)
And reject or detain these “migrants” as they reach our shores.

We must show our strength.
(We will throw punches with our eyes closed tight)

(We will lamentably have civilian causalities)
But no causalities shall have passports stamped “HRM”.

We must not do nothing, as women and children die.
(Our lips remain sealed for tyrannical allies)

(We lamentably have no long-term plan)
Our will remains resolute in the face of despair.

We are Great Britain. The world needs us.
(Grasping for relevance, we will pummel the earth)

(We lamentably have no idea what to do)
Destroy and “rebuild” is what we do best

We will not let terror win!
(War without end is terror defined)

Learning about digital labour (appropriately, through video editing)

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.39.00 PMOne of the most enjoyable aspects of working as a journalist is being presented with opportunities to learn about something I previously knew nothing about. Last month, I was invited to cut together a short film to accompany an interview published in Red Pepper entitled Digital Labour: Wages for CrowdworkThe interviewee, Byron Peters, is an artist and labour organizer making pretty incredible work. It was an eye-opening privilege to research and edit together clips of interview, his own film projects and found footage to illustrate his ideas.

Though I’ve followed critiques of and Google’s business and labour practices, the terrifying MechanicalTurk was new to me, and I had no prior conception of the depth of exploitation occurring around the world as people are paid peanuts to scan documents, click links, produce animations and perform various tasks central to the maintenance of the internet as we know it. Click through to see the video interview I made – but I strongly encourage people to read the full interview with Byron as well. It will undoubtedly change the way you think about the digital world and labour practices in the contemporary moment. Continue reading

Video: Shut Down Yarl’s Wood!

On Saturday 8 August, a coalition of anti-detention activists gathered at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre to demand an end to immigration detention and rally in support for detainees protesting conditions inside. The demonstration, lead by Movement for Justice, was the second major action organized at Yarl’s Wood this year.

A similar protest in June saw 400 protesters pull down fences to reach the inner walls of the center. At the August 8 rally, protesters were allowed direct access to inner walls – which were kicked, shaken and daubed in graffiti by the end of the protest – and broadcast phone calls from inmates to the gathered crowd. I reported on the action for Red Pepper, and produced the video report below.

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Rebloged: “Are journalists people too?”

This is a thought provoking and insightful piece from Calais Migrant Solidarity – a great group overall. The language of “crisis” is one to use cautiously; referencing the human reality and not the political rhetoric of the moment. The point stands for anthropologists as well as journalists.

Calais Migrant Solidarity

German Jews Pouring into this country

Journalists are everywhere in Calais these days. A real swarm of them. Strutting around the jungle, barging into people’s tents and private spaces, asking the same questions over and over (can’t they google, or read each other’s stories?), shoving their oversized cameras in people’s faces without asking for consent …

Are all journalists bastards? (AJAB?) Maybe some are decent people, actually give a shit, care about more than careers or racist agendas or Owen Jones sized egos. For instance, this recent article in the Daily Mirror is commendable: it not only treats the people stuck in Calais as people, but clearly conveys useful information. A journalist who can write, and actually did some research! And some of the local Calais media are pretty good, reporting sensibly and knowledgeably about the issues.

The thing is, though, it’s not just about individual journalists good or bad. The mass media play a systematic…

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US healthcare, from a UK perspective

In the ER, I overhear a conversion in the next cubicle between a son, who has an infected spider bite, and his mom, just after the doctor leaves them. We are separated by a pale blue curtain, so I cannot glean any demographic markers about them – I just hear them speak:

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The Religious/Secular Divide and the Global Displacement Crisis

Nice overview of some of the points raised, and debates engaged at the Addressing the Asylum Crisis workshop I took part in two months ago. Reading this overview, I’m again struck by the insights provided by Public Religion Research Institute polling on what language regarding asylum seekers the public responds to positively. Right now we’re seeing an upsurge of news reports on children crossing from Mexico to the US, and of boats full of migrants (and often dead migrants). There’s notable omissions about the context of people’s leaving, as well as – in relation to the points raised in this article – the type of faith in survival; in the future that those crossing might hold.

The Religion Factor

"Refugees 1987" - original work by Zvi Malnovitzer. Obtained from Wikimedia Commons. Used under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. “Refugees 1987” – original work by Zvi Malnovitzer. Obtained from Wikimedia Commons. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Today is World Refugee Day and if the numbers released by the UNHCR today tell us anything, more action and new approaches are urgently needed to address the needs of the rapidly growing globally displaced population. While religion is often consider marginal in discussions about the displacement crisis, in today’s post Erin Wilson argues that the ways in which we think about the religious and the secular, the public and the private, neutrality and partiality are entangled in and, in part, productive of elements of contemporary approaches to protection.

It’s official. The world is experiencing a crisis of displacement and protection on a scale not seen since World War Two. On World Refugee Day, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released its annual report, outlining…

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