Truthout Stories Tue, 21 Apr 2015 10:42:37 -0400 en-gb New York City Just Outlawed Running Credit Checks on Job Applicants

Gone are the days when a job applicant could make a good first impression with a smart suit and firm handshake. Now your first impression might get boiled down to three digits on a botched credit rap sheet, leading a boss to reject you, sight unseen.

But the city where first impressions count for everything is about to make the job market a little less judgmental. New York's City Council just voted overwhelmingly to outlaw the common practice of letting employers prejudge people based on their credit history—passing an unprecedented ban against employers use of workers' credit background data.

The legislation, which passed last Thursday following an extensive grassroots campaign by local and national labor and community groups, restricts a boss, prospective employer or agency from "us[ing] an individual's consumer credit history in making employment decisions."

The final version incorporates some compromises pushed by the business lobby, such as carve-outs for positions that could involve handling "financial agreements valued at $10,000 or more," police and national-security related jobs, or workers with access to "trade secrets." While business groups cited these provisions as wins in a bill they otherwise chafed at, economic justice advocates have nonetheless hailed the law as a promising boost for an emerging nationwide movement.

Sarah Ludwig of the New Economy Project says, "It's a strong law…and it's going to cover most New Yorkers [and] most jobs by far and away. It's a real civil rights victory."

Enforcement of the law will be driven by a complaint process, which makes it a tricky game for the city authorities relying on workers to come forward. But Ludwig adds, advocates hope the system provides a platform for the city's Human Rights Commission to gain new prominence under the de Blasio administration's leadership, since the city has "this unbelievably strong human rights law" on paper but not necessarily in practice.

Similar legislation has passed in other areas, building on weak federal transparency regulations, but has been criticized for being diluted with corporate-friendly exemptions.

The rationale behind the ban is simple: it's unfair and useless to use a person's credit history, which is often inaccurate or misleading, when assessing their job qualifications. When corporations use massive data screenings to hire and fire en masse, credit checks can drastically narrow an applicant pool and subsequently be held as a cudgel over desperate job seekers and compel them to expose private background information.

There's nothing meritocratic about this practice. But it is racially biased, and very cruel to the poor.

According to the think tank Demos, a negative credit record is associated with many of the disadvantages of being poor, jobless, not white, or in poor health—and not with how trustworthy you are or how well you write computer code or repair a car. But since employers can generally pull up credit data (which has historically been used for actuarial determinations of financial risk, not intended for employment-related decisions), this information can easily be misinterpreted or manipulated. By providing convenient proxies for race and class, data can become a tool to simultaneously affirm and perpetuate negative stereotypes of workers based on arbitrary factors.

As Gustavo, a Queens worker, testified, recalling being rejected repeatedly after co-signing a bad loan for his sister years ago: "It's unfair not to hire someone because they have a stain on their credit report [out] of no fault of their own."

As Demos explained in a report on credit checks, basing hiring on credit history may be tantamount to disqualifying people for having too many kids or being too sick to work. A survey of those who reported poor credit found that "having unpaid medical bills or medical debt is cited as one of the leading causes of bad credit…with more than half citing medical bills as a factor."

Racial stratification also tracks "creditworthiness": "Most white households (59 percent) report scores of 700 or above, displaying strong credit, while less than one quarter of African-Americans (24 percent) are able to attain the same high credit rating status."

Such patterns feed underlying inequities intertwined with employment discrimination: bad credit histories hurt future access to credit, tracking people into more structural hardship. And to mine the ruins of this social devastation, Demos notes, "predatory lending schemes in the last decade targeted communities of color, compounding historic disparities in wealth and assets, and leaving African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color at greater risk of foreclosure and default on loans. Employment credit checks can perpetuate and amplify this injustice."

Played out on a mass scale, this folds into trends of neighborhoods cratering under collapsing mortgages and disinvestment—a wholesale erosion of community economic resilience driven by big finance—particularly in already racially stratified regions.

In New York especially, where local housing and job opportunity remains severely segregated, an ever-deepening credit hole becomes a pretext for employers to discriminate, and to keep them from getting the job they need to climb out of said hole…and you get the picture.

New York City is now set to break the cycle. Ludwig suspects Wall Street is now on alert for a potential ripple effect in other cities and states and even for the advancement of a national law, since protecting people from invasive credit snooping fits well with basic constitutional precepts. "It's a huge civil rights issue along racial lines, but it's also a huge privacy issue," she says. "Because if you are applying for a job, why should your prospective employer know that you lost your house…or that you broke up with your spouse and that created financial distress."

Nationally, Ludwig says, "There's nothing that would stop Congress from passing such a law except Congress itself."

The financial sector is currently the top political campaign donor to federal candidates and parties, so a restriction on the data mine that serves as the industry's bread-and-butter isn't likely to get much traction in Washington. Then again, New York is home to Wall Street, and if such a ban can make it here, maybe a failure to stop the monstrous cycle of bad credit will soon be counted as a taint on politicians' records too.

News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Taxpayers Subsidize Restaurant Pay

More than four million Americans work in the full service restaurant industry. Of these, nearly half rely on public assistance for their family's basic needs, according to Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United researchers. The total cost of this taxpayer-funded support amounts to more than $9.4 billion per year.

The report also breaks down the public cost of low wages at the five largest full-service restaurant corporations: Darden (owner of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and other chains), DineEquity (parent of IHOP and Applebees), Bloomin' Brands (Outback Steakhouse and other chains), Brinker International (Chili's Grill & Bar), and Cracker Barrel.

Because they have the largest workforce, DineEquity puts the heaviest burden on taxpayers, with employees relying on $450 million in public assistance per year, according to ROC estimates.

In addition to the subsidies resulting from the industry's low-wages, taxpayers are also subsidizing these corporations' executive compensation. Last year the Institute for Policy Studies crunched some numbers on this. Specifically, we calculated the cost of a loophole that allows corporations to deduct unlimited amounts from their income taxes for the cost of executive compensation — as long as the pay is in the form of stock options and other so-called "performance pay." This loophole serves as a massive subsidy for excessive executive compensation.

We found that in 2012 and 2013, the CEOs of the 20 largest corporate members of the National Restaurant Association pocketed more than $662 million in fully deductible "performance pay," lowering their companies' IRS bills by an estimated $232 million. The NRA is a major opponent of raising the minimum wage, especially for tipped workers, as well as paid sick leave and fair scheduling laws.

Among full-service restaurants, the company that had enjoyed the largest CEO pay subsidy was Darden. Then-CEO Clarence Otis, Jr. took in nearly $9 million in fully deductible "performance pay" over the years 2012 and 2013. That works out to a more than $3 million taxpayer subsidy.

Otis was pushed out of the company in 2014 for— you guessed it— poor performance. He nevertheless sailed away with compensation and retirement funds valued at the time at $36 million.

ROC, which works to improve wages and working conditions for the nation's restaurant workforce, timed their new report to coincide with the NRA's annual lobby days in the U.S. Congress. The chair of the Ben & Jerry's corporation recently slammed the NRA for their role in perpetuating the industry's low-road model. "The National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association are using every legal and political tactic in the book to block minimum wage raises from being implemented in Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, and other cities," Ben & Jerry's executive Jeff Furman wrote. "Instead, these trade associations should be helping businesses transition to a high-road model."

For the sake of their workers —and for taxpayers —let's hope they get the message.

News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Bikes and CARS ]]> Art Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 Big City Living May Help You Slow Down, Stress Less, and Be Happy

From New York City to Barcelona, cities across the world are turning to "slow living" to make their communities happier and healthier in the face of increasing urbanization.

The industrial city of Wenzhou, China, (population 2 million) is currently known for its rapid development as an economic hub, but some residents hope it may someday be known as a "slow city."

Recently, a delegation of Wenzhou citizens visited the Tuscany headquarters of Cittaslow, an organization credited with starting the slow cities movement. The delegation was concerned about the side effects of a hyper, fast-paced life and wanted to learn more about how living slow might preserve cultural heritage in China. The delegation visited local markets and artisans' studios, including a shop where the Italian art of handmade shoes is still practiced. The artisans they met emphasized the role Cittaslow has played in preserving the value of crafts, like shoemaking, that are only possible with a great deal of time invested and a strong local economy.

The United Nations projects that nearly 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities by 2050. And indeed, the industrial and economic hubs of the world may be the last places that evoke ideas about living slow. But with inevitable population growth in urban areas on the horizon, many city governments are trying to make their communities more enjoyable to live in and less destructive to the environment.

The beginning of slow cities

Cittaslow grew out of Slow Food, a local food movement founded in 1986 to counter the rise of fast food in Italy. Thirteen years later, Cittaslow became a way to expand Slow Food concepts.

"The 'slow' philosophy is applied to not only what you eat and drink, but to all aspects of life in a town," said Paolo Saturnini, Cittaslow's founder.

Saturnini created the organization when he was mayor of Greve, in Chianti, to push back against globalization and preserve the unique treasures of Tuscany. He was inspired by interactions he saw in Italian piazzas, like the market the delegation from Wenzhou recently visited. He saw value to what happens when people come together face to face, catch up, relax, and take in their surroundings.

Slow city principles stress the importance of things like eating local, in-season food, shopping at locally owned businesses, and preserving cultural heritage and small-operation craftsmanship. Supporters of the movement also emphasize the value of a life where work is not necessarily prioritized above all else, and the importance of making room for natural environments so residents can experience the rhythm of the seasons. Over the years, Cittaslow has sought to prove every city has a unique personality that can be preserved and a local community that can be strengthened.

Currently there are 192 certified slow cities worldwide. Sonoma, California, was one of the most recent additions to the growing list. To be certified, Cittaslow towns must have fewer than 50,000 people.

But that is beginning to change. Pier Giorgio Oliveti, director of Cittaslow, said he has noticed a huge influx of interest from major metropolitan cities over the last five years. According to Oliveti, the technological infrastructure available in bigger cities, such as broad-reaching public transit, is a boon to those who want to simplify. One of Cittaslow's core values is utilizing today's technological innovations to recreate the slower lifestyle of the past.

"There is no such thing as a slow city that is not also smart," said Oliveti. "Infrastructure and technology are essential."

Living at the third story

Although some city governments are just now catching on to Cittaslow's ideas, individuals have been implementing slow living principles on their own for quite some time. William Powers, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York City, recently spent a year living slowly in Manhattan, a practice outlined in his new book, New Slow City. Cittaslow and Slow Food provided the foundational concepts, said Powers, for his experiment.

In order to slow down in Manhattan, Powers and his wife uncluttered their lives by giving away nearly 80 percent of their possessions and moving into a 320-square-foot apartment. He also downsized his work week by working more efficiently. Instead of facing a constant stream of consulting, writing, and public speaking, Powers assessed his income-to-time-invested and then squeezed the most strategic tasks into a two-day work week.

Living slow, says Powers, "starts with each of us creating space to ... ask the core questions, like: How do we find balance in a world that is changing more quickly than ever before in history?"

During his yearlong experiment, Powers used his liberated time to explore New York. As he strolled downtown, flâneur style, he developed his own slow-city principle: "living at the third story." Every time he walked down the street he made a conscious effort to observe the sky, trees, and birds above him. He noticed that doing that helped him ignore the often-stressful commotion on the city's ground level and instead observe the hawks stalking pigeons from the Washington Square Arch or the leaves changing on trees growing from the sidewalk.

Thanks to increased interest from citizens like Powers, the world's biggest cities are taking steps to implement Cittaslow principles and make it easier for residents to work less, build community, and enjoy nature.

Where: Barcelona
Population: 1.6 Million
What: Urban Agriculture
Slow Principle: Smart City/Green Urban Sanctuaries

Barcelona's mayor and the city's chief architect have both been working with Cittaslow for years, spearheading the organization's new project, "Cittaslow Metropolel." The project, geared toward bringing slow living principles to big cities, has a long list of participating cities including Busan, South Korea; San Francisco, Rome, and Milan. Barcelona's mayor announced the city's ambitious goal at the 13th Biennale of Architecture in Venice, saying he wants Barcelona "to be a city of productive neighborhoods at a human pace, making up a hyperconnected city of zero emissions."

Inspired by a lecture given by Oliveti on slow living principles, students at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) were recently challenged to imagine each neighborhood in Barcelona as a slow city, with each piece connecting as one giant "smart city." One idea that emerged from IAAC was to transform typically underutilized urban spaces, like pedestrian bridges, as urban agriculture sites that double as green sanctuaries for citizens. More greenery means cleaner air and fresher food, and aligns with the slow principle of keeping nature within reach.

Where: Tokyo
Population: 13.4 Million
What: Voluntary Blackout
Slow Principle: Minimizing Environmental Impact

Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world, is home to its own slow living organization called Sloth Club. Founded more than 15 years ago, the club's mission includes minimizing "our destructive impact and finding joy in our life without consuming an endless chain of meaningless things." In admiration of the sloth's slow style, the club also works to save sloth forest habitat in Ecuador by supporting fair-trade products from the region.

Back in Tokyo, members of Sloth Club follow principles like eating slow, supporting local businesses, upcycling (repurposing something that could have been thrown out), and walking or using public transport. One of the club's main initiatives is a national campaign calling for residents of Tokyo to turn off electric lights for two hours in the evening during the summer and winter solstices to promote an appreciation of natural light and minimal use of electricity.

Where: Providence, RI, and Columbia, MO
Population: 178,000 and 115,000
What: Walking School Bus
Slow Principle: Community Organizing

The "walking school bus," an original tenet of Cittaslow, is gaining popularity in places like Providence, Rhode Island, and Columbia, Missouri, where thousands of schoolchildren walk to school en masse, guided by an adult volunteer. Last year Molly Rusk wrote an article for YES! Magazine about how the trend benefits student's health and builds strong community ties.

Where: Denver, CO, and New York, NY
Population: 649,0000 and 8.5 Million
What: Micro-apartments
Slow Principle: Downsizing

Denver and New York are about to cut ribbons on new micro-apartment complexes, akin to the efficiency apartments that were commonplace decades ago. For people looking to slow down their routine, affordable apartments in downtown Denver and New York City give those who would normally have to commute the ability to walk or bike to their offices.

Residents of these micro-apartments save money, can spend less time working, and minimize their impact on the environment. The units, which tend to average a compact 330 square feet, include a kitchen, bathroom, balcony, and an in-house bike and car-sharing program.

Living slow to build community

After spending a year living on the third story in New York City, Powers and his wife have moved to Bolivia and taken the slow habits they learned in one of the world's biggest cities with them. Beyond cutting expenses and reducing the amount of hours he had to work, Powers designed his routine so he interacts with the people who live and work in his neighborhood.

Instead of rushing past people every day, he now stops to engage with his neighbors. Of all slow city principles this is perhaps the most important one: reconnecting with your surroundings.

Powers talks about the day's catch with the fishmonger at the restaurant below his apartment. He has become a regular fan of the jazz group that plays in the park near his house. And he has learned the names of the pigeons from the man who feeds them every day.

Opinion Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
The Struggle to Abolish Bail Gaining Momentum in Massachusetts

This Thursday is the first settlement hearing on the videotaping of women being strip-searched at the Chicopee jail. Yes, you heard right. A jail in western Massachusetts had a policy of videotaping women being strip-searched.

It began in 2009 when the law office of Howard Friedman received a letter from Debra Baggett, a woman incarcerated at the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center —more popularly known as the Chicopee Jail. In her letter, Baggett complained about the jail's humiliating practice of videotaping women while they were being strip-searched.

People in jails and prisons write to law firms and other organizations every day. They ask for help with their individual legal cases or systemic conditions in the jails or prisons where they are held. Most never receive a reply. But this particular law firm took the step of writing back to the woman and looking into her allegations. What they found was that rather than being an isolated incident, videotaping strip searches was the jail's policy. Whenever a woman was being sent to isolation, whether for breaking a rule, for suicide watch or to be in protective custody, she was strip-searched. The strip search was videotaped. While the staff member performing the strip search was another woman, the person holding the video camera was usually a man.

This happened 274 times to 179 women from 2008 until 2014. The firm represented Baggett and the other women in a class-action lawsuit against the jail. In August 2014, a judge ruled that the practice was unconstitutional and served no legitimate purposes. He also ruled that the women who had been subjected to this degrading, dehumanizing practice were entitled to monetary compensation. The following month, the sheriff's office appealed.

Learning that the sheriff's office appealed, Lois Ahrens, a Massachusetts resident and the founder and director of The Real Cost of Prisons Project, filed a Public Records Information request to find out how much the sheriff's office appeal was costing her and other taxpayers. The price tag, as of October 30, 2014, was $475,574.57. Since the appeal is still in court, that cost keeps rising.

While it seems that this jail is exceptional among the state's 14 jails in its videotaping practice, it should be noted that in 2012, 77 percent of women in that jail — which recently finished an $18.5 million expansion to increase capacity from 120 to 184 — were incarcerated because they could not pay bail of $2,000 or less. While no one should be subjected to such degrading practices, even proponents of law and order should be horrified that those "innocent until proven guilty" are forced to endure such humiliations while awaiting their day in court. In addition, while they languish in jail, they risk losing their jobs, their homes, access to services such as drug treatment or mental health care, and custody of their children.

Not every county jail has a unit for women. In some counties, women are shipped to other jails to await trial or serve short sentences. In four counties, women who are arrested and cannot afford to post bail are sent to the Awaiting Trial Unit at MCI-Framingham, the state's women's prison. The unit was originally designed to hold 64 people. But, as of February 23, it was at 366 percent capacity with 234 women. This overcrowding is nothing new — last year, around the same time, the unit was at 472 percent capacity with 302 people crammed into a unit built for one-fifth that number.

The Massachusetts Women's Justice Network, a coalition which focuses on alternatives to incarceration for women, found that the unit is consistently around 330 percent capacity. It also found that over half of the women are locked in the unit because they could not afford bails of less than $1,000. The average length of stay is 77 days. (By 2014, that average had increased to 100 days.) Sixty percent of the women jailed pre-trial eventually had their cases dismissed or continued without finding.

Last year, alarmed at the number of women held in overcrowded conditions at the Awaiting Trial Unit, a legislator introduced a bill to build a new jail specifically for women who cannot afford bail. But advocates, including Ahrens and formerly incarcerated women such as Andrea James, co-founder and director of Families for Justice as Healing, sprang into action to oppose such a measure. They formed thePretrial Working Group, a statewide organization that has been developing and implementing pre-trial alternatives to incarceration, and pushing for the abolition of bail altogether. They did research, pointed to other places, like Maine and Washington, D.C., which use risk assessment and pre-trial services instead of money bail, to argue that it can be and has been done without jeopardizing public safety. They called the office of sponsoring representative Kay Khan to urge her not to move forward with her bill. They visited the office of Andrea Cabral, the secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, to talk about what public safety really looks like.

They also reached out to the public, speaking at churches, women's groups and communities, both those that have and have not been hard-hit by incarceration. In an interview I did with her last year for Truthout, Andrea James recalled that when speaking in communities that have not been directly affected by mass incarceration, she draws connections between imprisonment and the issues they face. "We learned that many of them are struggling — silently — with substance abuse and addiction among their children," she said. "We're able to make the connection between substance abuse and incarceration. We continue to throw money away by locking up people for a public health issue. They need to learn to manage their addictions in the communities that trigger their addictions. They'll never learn to do that in jail or prison."

The anti-jail activists won — sort of. By the end of the legislative session, the bill had died. But incarceration and its many forms is like the many-headed hydra. In the states 2015-2016 legislative session, however, a similar bill (SD 1046) has been introduced by Sen. Karen Spilka — who had successfully pushed through the 2014 legislation to prohibit shackling pregnant women during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery.

But, having stymied the creation of a new women's jail during the last legislative session, the Pretrial Working Group and other activists are hopeful that they can not only do so this time around, but also eliminate the practice of locking people up simply because they and their families lack the money to post bail. The Pretrial Working Group is championing two bills of their own — H1584 and SD1491 — which move away from money bail as the determining factor in pre-trial detention or freedom. Instead, the bills push for risk assessment and the creation of pre-trial services similar to practices already in Washington, D.C., Maine, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia.

For the 179 women humiliated at Chicopee, this week's hearings may start to provide some sense of redress. While a monetary settlement will never erase the degrading experience of being videotaped while strip-searched, it does demonstrate that, even while incarcerated, they are human beings who have human rights that should not be violated.

And this is all because Debra Baggett refused to stay silent about the injustice. "I was reading all the settlement documents and what struck me so powerfully is how brave and tenacious Debra Baggett has been," Lois Ahrens said. "She had the presence of mind to document what was done to her and to others, find a lawyer so the lawsuit could be filed, take part in all of the court proceedings, all of the settlement talks. I hope that Debra can get the recognition she deserves so that she is not remembered for what happened to her but for standing up for herself and for all of the other women."

News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
We Call It "Mud Season"

US Senator of Texas Ted Cruz at the First In Nation Republican Leadership Summitin Nashua, NH.Senator Ted Cruz at the First In Nation Republican Leadership Summitin Nashua, New Hampshire. (Photo: Michael Vadon/Flickr)

Here in New Hampshire, we call this "Mud Season." It is, in short, the phase between when the snowpack melts and the ground un-freezes, and then firms up again until the next thaw after the next winter. The streams run roaring over the rocks as the meltwater feeds their fury, the wind makes the leafless trees dance, and the yard whose green grass you'll enjoy in a month will sink you to the ankle if you step on it, boots or otherwise.

If you live on a paved road, with sidewalks and streetlights and all the comforts of town living, you're fine and dandy. For those of us who live on dirt roads, however, Mud Season is decidedly sporty. See, mud is far more dangerous than ice or snow. In winter, the snowpack - combined with the concerted efforts of the town's plowmen - make safe the road. So long as you don't stomp the brakes and know the contours, you can fly at a hot clip beneath the eaves of snow-bound boughs.

Not so in Mud Season, entirely because of warm days and cold nights. The warm days lead to snowmelt, which happily delivers an ocean of water into the ground, but disintegrates the hard-packed road into goo. This brown, graveled mush gets deeply rutted by passing vehicles, and those ruts freeze into proud arches during the still-cold nights, slowly becoming pudding as the sun grows broad on the pine-shaded road in the mornings. Once melted, that pudding is slick as oil, while the ruts remain.

When you traverse an expanse of Mud Season road, the ruts have a way of snaring your front wheels and setting you askew. Thanks to the slickness of the route, when the ruts choose to flick you into the woods - at any speed, mind you - the slippery surface will help you directly into the most available tree. Here in New Hampshire, people look forward to Mud Season the way the rest of the planet looks forward to radical root canal.

Which brings me to the Republican Leadership Summit that took place in Nashua over the weekend. Among the luminaries present were Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.

Mud Season.

One would think any sane and fair-minded culture would gift some form of award to a state required to tolerate so many human catastrophes in one swallow. A tax break, a sports stadium, a bottle of whiskey to every person of woman born. The state motto is "Live Free Or Die." If this kind of mayhem confluence forms again, town councils from Lake Francis to Keene will be fielding heated requests from all and sundry to change the state motto to "Live Free And Kill Me Now."

It will happen again, and again, and again, because of course it will, because this is Mud Season, and the birds are flocking back to the barn. The Iowa Caucus is one thing, its own thing, but the New Hampshire primary is an entirely different ball of wax.

Channel 9 notwithstanding, virtually all of New Hampshire's news media emanates from Boston, and Boston's news media reaches not only the Granite State, but Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and even tickles the toes of outer New York. That's 33 Electoral College votes - 62 if you count New York into the matter - which makes New England entire a prize near equal to California in any election calculation.

Amazingly, this parade of idiots - Cruz and Carly and Donald, oh my! - managed to avoid delivering any hilariously messy rhetorical fodder for the masses during their New Hampshire confab. What they did do - over and over again - was try to take bites out of Hillary Clinton and her newly-born presidential campaign ... except their bites were stupid, and petty, and a sad charade. "Benghazi!" basically, with some heartfelt harkens back to the glorious old Clinton-conspiracy days that got a fair budget of these goons elected to begin with.

You want to hit Hillary? She voted for The PATRIOT Act, voted for the Iraq War, is the world's biggest fan of fracking and tar sands oil, and is snuggled up tight as a tick with the worst Wall Street thieves on the skin of the Earth. Remind her of that. Ask her how her wrong choices - on personal freedom, unjust war, climate catastrophe and economic injustice - qualify her for the tallest office in the land. That's how you attack the Clinton campaign. These guys brought a knife to a gunfight, again.

As for the GOP clown car, patience is all. The shark will bite, the dog will bark, the baby will poop, and the sun will rise, because the Earth turns, and all things come in time, so stay tuned to the 2016 GOP field. They will not disappoint, because they never do.

Mud season indeed.

Opinion Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Why Does the New York City Council Want More Cops?

A few months ago, New York City Council members were doing die-ins in support of Eric Garner and Mike Brown. Now they are calling for 1,000 more cops to be added to the New York Police Department's 35,000-strong police force - and creating political rifts among the liberal establishment, the NYPD and the movement to end Broken Windows policing in New York City.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito - a member of the council's Progressive Caucus and important ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio - has been pushing the proposal to add 1,000 more police officers since 2014 in an effort to implement "community policing."

At first, both de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton spoke against the City Council's proposal, but Bratton flipped his opinion on the matter at a recent City Council hearing on the NYPD budget, where he stated that after a yearlong study, "the Department will be seeking additional officers."

By any objective measure, the argument to spend between $97 million and $120 million to hire 1,000 more cops - on top of the $4.7 billion spent on the NYPD annually - simply doesn't add up.

Not only is there a historic trend of falling crime in New York City, but Bratton himself predicts that NYPD officers will have a "million fewer law enforcement interactions with NYC residents" in 2015 due to a significant drop in the number of petty misdemeanor arrests and stop-and-frisks.

In his City Council testimony, Bratton stated that at least 350 of the additional officers will be specifically trained to combat ISIS and other terrorist threats, and that additional numbers were needed to deal with large-scale demonstrations like the ones that broke out in December after a grand jury failed to indict the cop who killed Eric Garner.

Those protests were initially so powerful that they even swept up many City Council members, dozens of whom - including Mark-Viverito - blocked traffic while chanting "I can't breathe" at a December 8 demonstration.

But the sentiment soon changed as the media and the political establishment in support of heavy policing went on the offensive against protesters following the killing of two NYPD police officers on December 20 by an individual with mental health problems. Police Benevolent Association Patrick Lynch led a public fight against de Blasio and the City Council for encouraging protests and criticizing the NYPD, however mildly.

During this time, Bratton played peacekeeper between the cops and the city's liberal establishment. Meanwhile, de Blasio attempted a balancing act. The mayor publicly stated his support for Broken Windows policing and asked for protesters to hold a moratorium on demonstrations after the two cops were killed.

A few months later, it's clear that in their unrealistic attempt to balance two diametrically opposed forces, New York City's liberal politicians have come down on the side of the NYPD.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

De Blasio has been careful to avoid taking a clear stand on the issue.

According to New York's main newspapers, de Blasio either isn't playing any role in the City Council's insistence on 1,000 additional cops or, according to the New York Post, is fighting with Bratton against his insistence on additional officers.

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that de Blasio and Mark-Viverito could be headed toward a budget showdown over the issue. But more recently, the New York Daily News reported that de Blasio has said his position on the proposal wasn't set in stone.

It is very likely that the mayor doesn't want to come across as championing the proposal, thus angering his supporters who want him to rein in the power of the NYPD. But those supporters should understand that de Blasio has always had a contradictory message about policing.

He was elected in 2013 with a liberal campaign platform that included a promise to end the stop-and-frisk policy of racial profiling. But de Blasio then made his police chief Bill Bratton, the main architect behind the Broken Windows theory of policing, which gave rise to stop-and-frisk.

Given the progressive rhetoric of people like de Blasio and Mark-Viverito, how do we explain their support for the NYPD despite the rulings of federal judges against the department's racist practices?

Gentrification - the geographical manifestation of the ruling class offensive on working people - has grown in intensity over the last couple of decades in New York City. One major beneficiary is the real estate industry, which has long had a major influence over city politics. According to Gotham Gazette, a political action committee representing real estate interests spent almost $7 million on City Council races in 2013.

Gentrification is connected to greater policing, following the logic that low crime rates equals high property values. The result is politicians criminalizing communities to justify policies that gentrify working-class neighborhoods.

This connection was openly stated by Bratton at a major fundraiser organized by the Police Foundation - the same foundation that originated the theory of Broken Windows - as described in an article written by longtime anti-police brutality activist Josmar Trujillo:

Speaking at the gala, Bratton presented the crowd, which included notables like billionaire Wall Street investor Carl Icahn, with a slideshow comparing crime rates with local real estate values. The audience was shown a map of geographical drops in crime alongside a map showcasing an accompanying rise in property value in the same neighborhoods.

The new "progressive" mayor marveled at the apparent correlation: "It's actually incredibly inspiring to see what the work of the NYPD has achieved...Let's thank them for all they've done. I will also note, as a homeowner in Brooklyn, I was struck by the real-estate value map. There's good news all around tonight."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As the liberal mayor and City Council fell in line behind the NYPD, it had an impact on the balance of forces outside the political establishment in the struggle against Broken Windows policing.

Although a majority of the movement in New York City is against calls by the mainstream press and most politicians for more cops to implement "community policing," some major nonprofit organizations have offered only weak criticisms of the proposal.

Nonprofit organizations inherently depend on funding from corporate-controlled philanthropic and charitable foundations, compelling them toward collaboration with established politicians and reform-oriented campaigns that don't challenge the structural causes of issues that affect working class people.

In regards to police reform, most nonprofit organizations across the country have focused their reformist strategy on reforms around police oversight and transparency. When Barack Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder organized a Task Force on 21st Century Policing last year, leaders from coalitions like New York City's Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) were appointed.

In one of the Task Force's first "listening sessions," most nonprofit organizations put forward suggestions such as an Inspector General and special prosecutors to investigate police brutality cases independently of state prosecutors, plus data collecting efforts and mandated reporting by police departments to determine police-community relationships.

CPR, a broad coalition that includes most of the nonprofit organizations tackling police reform in New York City, has been pushing for two years the Community Safety Act and the Right to Know Act. Both pieces of legislation would force the NYPD to be more transparent about its patrols and interactions with the community by forcing cops to tell residents why they are being stopped and provide them with their name, badge number and precinct.

CPR has welcomed and worked alongside Democrats of the City Council's Progressive Caucus who supported these two acts. The press release on the Progressive Caucus' website indicates that these elected officials see these reforms under the framework ofimproving relationships between the NYPD and communities they patrol.

The Community Safety Act and the Right to Know Act are thus seen as reforms that would put into motion the "community policing" model that the national political establishment has been putting forward as a supposed alternative to the Broken Windows model of "zero tolerance" policing practiced by many police departments across the country.

To its credit, CPR recently came out against the proposal for an additional 1,000 cops, but its connections with City Council Democrats and support for their reforms has largely blunted its rhetoric and willingness to openly challenge the "community policing" framework that the city council is backing, not to mention the structural reasons for the brutality and state-sanctioned impunity of the NYPD.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Although CPR makes up a large section of the movement against police misconduct, a smaller section that doesn't depend on relationships with elected officials continues to boldly challenge Bratton, the City Council and de Blasio for their support for Broken Windows policing.

Some of these largely grassroots organizations have grouped together and launched a divestment campaign called the Safety Beyond Policing campaign to demand that the money proposed for hiring more police officers be spent instead on public education, jobs creation, mental health services and other services and reforms that would raise the living standards of the majority of New York City residents.

The Safety Beyond Policing campaign represents a coming together of the Black Lives Matter movement and longstanding forces protesting police brutality in New York City. Actions organized by members of the campaign have continued to keep this issue alive to coordinate pressure on the New York City Council.

It was in the same City Council hearings on the NYPD budget where Bratton asked for more cops that about 15 members of the Safety Beyond Policing campaign disrupted the hearings. City Council member Vanessa Gibson, head of the Public Safety Committee, responded by throwing out everybody from the hearings.

Another section of the movement in New York City is organizing to free from jail Ramsey Orta - the person who shot the video of Eric Garner's murder. Incredibly, Orta - who has been targeted by the NYPD since shooting the video - is the only person related to Garner's death to be indicted.

Staten Island prosecutors are seeking charges that would jail Orta for more than 25 years. Following the mistreatment and targeting of the Orta family by police, supporters have put together a Go-Fund-Me account to collect donations to help Orta post bail.

While activists continue to build these campaigns, they should also put the spotlight on Bill de Blasio and demand that the mayor live up to his campaign promises that working class people of color would no longer be over-policed.

In the short term, our movements need to put forward reforms that address the structural causes of police violence or face being co-opted by politicians who want to divert our energies into toothless slogans like "community policing."

In the long run, if we want to fundamentally end police brutality, we'll have to break the dependence of our movements on Democratic politicians who don't have our interests at heart and create a new political alternative rooted in social movements and the working class that can open up space for greater social change in the streets.

Opinion Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
FBI Admits Flawed Hair Analysis in Hundreds of Cases Spanning Decades

Over the course of more than two decades prior to 2000, most of the examiners in an FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in most of the trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

In 268 trials reviewed so far, 26 of the 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit overstated evidence that favored the prosecution more than 95 percent of the time, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project. Now the FBI and Justice Departments have formally admitted to this grave miscarriage of justice.

The flawed testimony had devastating impacts on many of the defendants. At least 32 were sentenced to death. Fourteen have been executed or died in prison. Prosecutors and the affected defendants have been notified in case there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants have already been exonerated.

The FBI has identified roughly 2,500 cases for review in which a hair match was made by the FBI lab. In fact hair analysis and "definitive matches" are a lot more subjective than was claimed. The Justice Department and FBI said in a statement that they "are committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance. The Department and the FBI are committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis testimony, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science."

After federal authorities launched a federal investigation in 2012, FBI experts were found to have used incomplete or misleading statistics during testimonies in which they testified that hairs found at crime scenes were near-certain matches to defendants. Hundreds of potentially innocent people may have been wrongfully convicted as a result of these testimonies from cases that date back to the 1970s.

Issues with misleading hair analysis isn't new, but the scale of the new admissions is. In 2002, the FBI admitted that its experts reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time. In Washington, DC, three of seven defendants whose trials included flawed testimony have been exonerated since 2009. Other courts have exonerated two other men. All of the exonerated had served 20 to 30 years prison time on rape and murder convictions.

As The Post reports, correcting the problem may be harder than admitting it, since it relies on local judges and prosecutors' and defense lawyers' willingness and cooperation:

University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results reveal a "mass disaster" inside the criminal justice system, one that it has been unable to self-correct because courts rely on outdated precedents admitting scientifically invalid testimony at trial and, under the legal doctrine of finality, make it difficult for convicts to challenge old evidence.

"The tools don't exist to handle systematic errors in our criminal justice system," Garrett said. "The FBI deserves every recognition for doing something really remarkable here. The problem is there may be few judges, prosecutors or defense lawyers who are able or willing to do anything about it."

Federal authorities are offering new DNA testing in cases with errors, if sought by a judge or prosecutor, and agreeing to drop procedural objections to appeals in federal cases.

However, biological evidence in the cases often is lost or unavailable. Among states, only California and Texas specifically allow appeals when experts recant or scientific advances undermine forensic evidence at trial.

So far, the FBI has almost finished reviewing 350 trial testimonies and 900 lab reports and about 1,200 cases still need to be reviewed. The bureau hasn't been able to review  700 cases because prosecutors or police didn't respond to information requests. 

News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 10:29:45 -0400
Five Years After the BP Oil Disaster: A Barrier Island for Nesting Birds Devoid of Life

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Cat Island, off the Gulf Coast in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish, was home to a vibrant bird rookery inhabited by brown pelicans, seagulls, spoonbills, and egrets before BP's Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Five years after the largest oil spill in American history, the barrier island has just about disappeared.

Despite ongoing efforts by former Plaquemines Parish coastal zone manager PJ Hahn to restore the island, only the needed building permits and an engineering plan have been completed.

"Cat Island was ground zero of the oil spill," Hahn told DeSmogBlog.

Dead bird on Cat Island five years after the BP oil spill. March 31, 2015. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)Dead bird on Cat Island five years after the BP oil spill. March 31, 2015. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)

He thought that the restoration of the island was a no-brainer since, while much of the oil spill's damage was underwater and invisible, the damage to Cat Island was easy to prove. According to Hahn, not only would the island's restoration be necessary for the birds, but it would provide a great public relations move for anyone who helped in the process.

At the time of the spill, Cat Island was approximately five and a half acres, covered by a dense forest of black mangrove trees which were occupied by nesting birds. All that remains now are two small strips of land — less than an acre combined. Mangrove stumps jut out from the broken, shell-covered sandy remains of the island, at times fully submerged during high tide.

"The island was a treasure and it deserves to be restored," Hahn told DeSmogBlog. He continues to advocate for the restoration project he spearheaded.

"It's a hard sell for many since the island doesn't serve as storm protection like other barrier islands that are in the process of being restored since the spill," Hahn said.

But Cat Island and other small barrier islands, some of which have completely eroded since the spill, were perfect bird habitats because they were free of predators. Hahn believes the $6 million restoration price tag is a good investment, one that will pay for itself in dollars generated by the tourism industry. "Bird watchers from all over will come to visit the island," he said.

Brown Pelicans and Spoonbills on Cat Island. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)Brown Pelicans and Spoonbills on Cat Island. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)

Media and Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition at Cat Island, March 31, 2015. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)Media and Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition at Cat Island, March 31, 2015. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)

So far, the parish has raised $3 million of the $6 million needed before the rebuilding process can begin.

Shell, the only oil company to contribute, donated $1 million. Other contributors include the American Bird Conservancy and the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program. The parish hopes to get the rest of the needed funds from the state's "Restore Act Fund," made up of money from that part of the BP settlement that has already been paid.

Billy Nungesser on Cat Island holding a pelican bone three years after the BP oil spill, April 18, 2013. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)Billy Nungesser on Cat Island holding a pelican bone three years after the BP oil spill, April 18, 2013. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)

Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish president during the spill who is now running for lieutenant governor, had been famous for his fierce criticism of BP. But now it seems he's changed his tune.

During a town hall meeting hosted by Rush Radio in St. Tammany Parish, where residents turned out to express their concerns about the possibility of the first fracking project in their area, Nungesser gushed over the great relationship Plaquemines Parish has with the oil industry, no longer singling out BP as a bad player as he had in the past.

Though he believes residents should have a say regarding what type of industry is welcomed in their community, he said oil companies that operate in his parish "do the right thing."

Referencing the "horrible pictures of the pelicans covered in oil," Nungesser claimed that in the case of "a safety incident or something spilling from a platform, every company has gone beyond the call of duty in our parish to make it right. Oil companies are rebuilding those islands."

But Cat Island is a perfect example that Plaquemines Parish "has not been made whole," according to Hahn. "BP was asked to contribute to rebuilding Cat Island multiple times," Hahn said, "but they haven't given anything to help the project."

PJ Hahn photographing nesting pelicans on Cat Island two year after the BP oil spill. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)PJ Hahn photographing nesting pelicans on Cat Island two year after the BP oil spill. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)

Cat Island was not mentioned in a BP report on the condition of the Gulf issued in March which paints a picture of the Gulf Coast on the mend. According to the report, "Available data does not indicate the spill caused any significant long-term population-level impact to species in the Gulf," and "affected areas are recovering faster than predicted."

State and federal agencies involved in the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) took issue with BP's report.

"It is inappropriate as well as premature for BP to reach conclusions about impacts from the spill before the completion of the assessment," an NRDA report states. NRDA will determine how much BP and its subcontractors owe for the environmental damages.

When asked what specifically BP has done to restore Cat Island, BP media spokesperson Jason Ryan sent out a statement about other coastal restoration projects the company has contributed to. BP agreed to pay for restoration projects in advance of NRDA's assessment, which it was not required to do. Several of the projects are underway, but rebuilding Cat Island is not one of them.

The statement from BP points out: "The state loses about a football field worth of wetlands every hour," and that "with regard to Cat Island specifically, it was rapidly eroding before the spill, primarily due to the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita."

Though BP wouldn't give a "Yes" or " No" as to whether it has contributed to rebuilding Cat Island, the company wrote: "We are studying shoreline erosion on marshes and barrier islands, including Cat Island, to determine if there was any acceleration due to the spill."

The BP spill "totally accelerated" the erosion of Cat Island," Linda Hooper Bui, an entomologist at Louisiana State University, told DeSmogBlog.

Bui has been working on studies of insect life in Barataria Bay that she began prior to the BP oil spill, making her a witness to the ongoing erosion process impacting the island. When plants are stressed they can't hold on to sediment, she explained. And that is what happened when the oil covered the plant life on Cat Island. "You lose the mangrove, you lose the sediment," Bui said.

"Heavily-oiled marshes erode at double the rate of a non-oiled marsh," Melanie Driscoll, Director of Bird Conservation for the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi flyway for the Audubon Society, told DeSmogBlog, citing a scientific peer-reviewed study done after the BP spill.

"Every year there is a delay restoring the island, there is less area for nesting," Driscoll said. " We need restoration to proceed as soon as possible."

David Muth, Gulf Coast Restoration Director for the National Wildlife Federation holds up a photo of what Cat Island looked like before the BP oil spill, while standing in front of the island on March 31, 2015. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)David Muth, Gulf Coast Restoration Director for the National Wildlife Federation holds up a photo of what Cat Island looked like before the BP oil spill, while standing in front of the island on March 31, 2015. (Photo: ©2015 Julie Dermansky)

On March 31, a trip arranged by Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition gave members of the media a chance to document what little remains of Cat Island. The National Wildlife Federation, a key player in the coalition, released a report about the health of the Gulf five years after the spill that paints a completely different picture than BP's.

The NWF report cites several scientific studies that document the negative impact the spill had on 20 different species, including the brown pelican, which were Cat Island's main inhabitants.

"The tragedy is brown pelicans were taken off the endangered species list the year before the spill," Hahn said. "If there is no habitat, there are no birds. Who knows if they will come back when we finally get the island rebuilt?"

News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400
Domestic Terrorism, Youth and the Politics of Disposability

Domestic Terrorism, Youth and the Politics of Disposability (Image: Youth silhouette, blurred crowd via Shutterstock; Edited: JR/TO)

The war on youth has resulted in young people being criminalized in school, killed by state violence and transformed from democratic citizens into neoliberal consumers. Youth must continue joining social movements and make clear that governments subsumed by market fundamentalism are no longer responsive to their most basic needs.

Domestic Terrorism, Youth and the Politics of Disposability (Image: Youth silhouette, blurred crowd via Shutterstock; Edited: JR/TO)

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"The danger is that a global, universally interrelated civilization may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people into conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages."

- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Following Hannah Arendt, a dark cloud of political and ethical ignorance has descended on the United States. (1) Thoughtlessness has become something that now occupies a privileged, if not celebrated, place in the political landscape and the mainstream cultural apparatuses. A new kind of infantilism now shapes daily life as adults gleefully take on the role of unthinking children and children are taught to be adults, stripped of their innocence and subject to a range of disciplinary pressures designed to cripple their ability to be imaginative. (2)

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

Under such circumstances, agency devolves into a kind of anti-intellectual cretinism evident in the babble of banality produced by Fox News, celebrity culture, schools modeled after prisons and politicians who support creationism, argue against climate change and denounce almost any form of reason. The citizen now becomes a consumer; the politician, a slave to corporate money and power; and the burgeoning army of anti-public intellectuals in the mainstream media present themselves as unapologetic enemies of anything that suggests compassion, a respect for the commons and democracy itself.

Education is no longer a public good but a private right, just as critical thinking is no longer a fundamental necessity for creating an engaged and socially responsible citizenship. Neoliberalism's disdain for the social is no longer a quote made famous by Margaret Thatcher. The public sphere is now replaced by private interests, and unbridled individualism rails against any viable notion of solidarity that might inform the vibrancy of struggle, change, and an expansion of an enlightened and democratic body politic.

Listen to an interview with Henry A. Giroux on "Disposable Youth" at CBC Radio.

One outcome is that we live at a time in which institutions that were designed to limit human suffering and indignity and protect the public from the boom and bust cycles of capitalist markets have been either weakened or abolished. (3) Free market policies, values and practices, with their now unrestrained emphasis on the privatization of public wealth, the denigration of social protections and the deregulation of economic activity, influence practically every commanding political and economic institution in North America. Finance capitalism now drives politics, governance and policy in unprecedented ways and is more than willing to sacrifice the future of young people for short-term political and economic gains, regardless of the talk about the need to not burden future generations "with hopelessly heavy tuition debt." (4) It gets worse.

Nation-states organized by neoliberal priorities have implicitly declared war on their children.

Under market fundamentalism, there is a separation of market values, behavior and practices from ethical considerations and social costs giving rise to a growing theater of cruelty and abuse throughout North America. Public spheres that once encouraged progressive ideas, enlightened social policies, democratic values, critical dialogue and exchange have been increasingly commercialized. Or, they have been replaced by corporate settings whose ultimate fidelity is to increasing profit margins and producing a vast commercial and celebrity culture "that tends to function so as to erase everything that matters." (5) Since the 1980s, the scale of human suffering, immiseration and hardship has intensified, accompanied by a theater of cruelty in which violence, especially the daily spectacle of Black men being brutalized or killed by the police, feeds the 24-hour news cycle. The tentacles of barbarism appear to be reaching into every aspect of daily life. Domestic terrorism has come home and it increasingly targets the young.

Given these conditions, an overwhelming catalogue of evidence has come into view that indicates that nation-states organized by neoliberal priorities have implicitly declared war on their children, offering a disturbing index of societies in the midst of a deep moral and political catastrophe. (6) Too many young people today live in an era of foreclosed hope, an era in which it is difficult either to imagine a life beyond the dictates of a market-driven society or to transcend the fear that any attempt to do so can only result in a more dreadful nightmare.

As Jennifer Silva has pointed out, this generation of especially "young working-class men and women ... are trying to figure out what it means to be an adult in a world of disappearing jobs, soaring education costs and shrinking social support networks.... They live at home longer, spend more years in college, change jobs more frequently and start families later." (7)

Youth today are not only plagued by the fragility and uncertainty of the present; they are "the first post war generation facing the prospect of downward mobility [in which the] plight of the outcast stretches to embrace a generation as a whole." (8) It is little wonder that "these youngsters are called Generation Zero: A generation with Zero opportunities, Zero future" and Zero expectations. (9) Or to use Guy Standing's term, "the precariat," (10) which he defines as "a growing proportion of our total society" forced to "accept a life of unstable labour and unstable living." (11)

If youth were once the repository of society's dreams, that is no longer true.

Beyond exposing the moral depravity of a society that fails to provide for its youth, the symbolic and real violence waged against many young people suggests nothing less than a perverse collective death wish - especially visible when youth protest their conditions. As Alain Badiou argues, we live in an era in which there is near zero tolerance for democratic protest and "infinite tolerance for the crimes of bankers and government embezzlers which affect the lives of millions." (12) This is certainly true of the United States. How else to explain the FBI's willingness to label as a "terrorist threat" youthful activists speaking against corporate and government misdeeds, while at the same time the Bureau refuses to press criminal charges against the banking giant HSBC for laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels and terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda? (13)

If youth were once the repository of society's dreams, that is no longer true. Increasingly, young people are viewed as a public disorder, a dream now turned into a nightmare. Many youth live in a post-9/11 social order that positions them as a prime target of its governing through crime complex. This is made obvious by the many "get tough" policies that now render young people as criminals, while depriving them of basic health care, education and social services. Punishment and fear have replaced compassion and social responsibility as the most important modalities for mediating the relationship of youth to the larger social order, all too evident by the upsurge of zero-tolerance laws, along with the expanding reach of the punishing state in both the United States and Canada. (14) When the criminalization of social problems becomes a mode of governance and war its default strategy, youth are reduced to soldiers or targets - not social investments. As anthropologist Alain Bertho points out, "Youth is no longer considered the world's future, but as a threat to its present." (15)

Increasingly, the only political discourses available for many young people are either a disciplinary one or one of "emotional self-management." (16) Youth are now removed from any talk about democracy. Their absence is symptomatic of a society that has turned against itself, punishes its children and does so at the risk of crippling the entire body politic. Too many youth now represent the absent present in any discourse about the contemporary moment, the future and democracy itself, and increasingly fall prey to what I call the war on youth, a war that can be traced back to the 1970s. (17)

The war on youth emerged when the social contract, however compromised and feeble, came crashing to the ground around the time Margaret Thatcher "married" Ronald Reagan. Both were hard-line advocates of a market fundamentalism, and announced respectively that there was no such thing as society and that government was the problem, not the solution to citizens' woes. Within a short time, democracy and the political process were hijacked by corporations and the call for austerity policies became cheap copy for weakening the welfare state, public values and public goods. The results of this emerging neoliberal regime included a widening gap between the rich and the poor, a growing culture of cruelty and the dismantling of social provisions. One result has been that the promise of youth has given way to an age of market-induced angst, and a view of many young people as a threat to short-term investments, privatization, untrammeled self-interest and quick profits.

Young people today are expected to inhabit a set of relations in which the only obligation is to live for oneself.

Under such circumstances, all bets are off regarding the future of democracy. Besides a growing inability to translate private troubles into social issues, what is also being lost in the current historical conjuncture is the very idea of the public good, the notion of connecting learning to social change and developing modes of civic courage infused by the principles of social justice. Under the regime of a ruthless economic Darwinism, we are witnessing the crumbling of social bonds and the triumph of individual desires over social rights, nowhere more exemplified than in the gated communities, gated intellectuals and gated values that have become symptomatic of a society that has lost all claims to democracy or for that matter any modestly progressive vision for the future.

As one eminent sociologist points out, "Visions have nowadays fallen into disrepute and we tend to be proud of what we should be ashamed of." (18) For instance, politicians such as former Vice President Dick Cheney not only refuse to apologize for the immense suffering and displacement they have imposed on the Iraqi people, but they seem to gloat in defending such policies. Doublespeak takes on a new register as President Obama employs the discourse of national security to sanction a surveillance state, a kill list and the ongoing killing of young children by drones. This expanding landscape of lies has not only produced an illegal war and justified state torture; it also provided a justification for the United States' slide into barbarism after the tragic events of 9/11. Yet, such acts of state violence appear to be of little concern to the shameless apostles of permanent war.

Politics has become an extension of war, just as "systemic economic insecurity and anxiety" and state-sponsored violence increasingly find legitimation in the discourses of privatization and demonization, which promote anxiety, moral panics and fear, and undermine any sense of communal responsibility for the well-being of others. Too many young people today learn quickly that their fate is solely a matter of individual responsibility, irrespective of wider structural forces. This is a much promoted hyper-competitive ideology, which includes a message that surviving in a society demands reducing social relations to forms of social combat. Young people today are expected to inhabit a set of relations in which the only obligation is to live for oneself and to reduce the responsibilities of citizenship to the demands of a consumer culture. Yet, there is more at work here than a flight from social responsibility, if not politics itself. Also lost is the importance of those social bonds, modes of collective reasoning, public spheres and cultural apparatuses crucial to the formation of a sustainable democratic society.

The War Against Youth

In what follows, I want to address the intensifying assault on young people through the related concepts of "soft war" and "hard war." (19) The idea of the soft war considers the changing conditions of youth within the relentless expansion of a global market society. Partnered with a massive advertising machinery, the soft war targets all children and youth, devaluing them by treating them as yet another "market" to be commodified and exploited, and conscripting them into the system through relentless attempts to create a new generation of hyper-consumers.

This low-intensity war is waged by a variety of corporate institutions through the educational force of a culture that commercializes every aspect of kids' lives, and now uses the internet and various social networks, along with new media technologies such as smart phones, to immerse young people in the world of mass consumption in ways that are more direct and expansive than anything we have seen in the past. Commercially carpet-bombed by an advertising industry that in the United States spent $170 billion in 2012, the typical child is exposed to about 40,000 ads a year and by the time they reach the fourth grade have memorized 300 to 400 brands.

An entire generation is being drawn into a world of consumerism in which commodities and brand loyalty become both the most important markers of identity and the primary frameworks for mediating one's relationship to the world. Increasingly, many young people, recast as commodities, can only recognize themselves in terms preferred by the market. As Zygmunt Bauman points out, youth are simultaneously "promoters of commodities and the commodities they promote" - defined as both brands and merchandise, on the one hand, and marketing agents on the other. (20)

The data-mining marketers make young people think they count when in fact "all they want to do is count them."

Corporations have hit gold with the new media and can inundate young people directly with their market-driven values, desires and identities, all of which fly under the radar, escaping the watchful eyes and interventions of concerned parents and other adults. The data-mining marketers make young people think they count when in fact "all they want to do is count them." (21) The dominant culture's overbearing ecology of consumption now works to selectively eliminate and reorder the possible modes of political, social and ethical vocabularies made available to youth. Young people's most private experiences are now colonized by a consumerist ethic that deforms their sense of agency, desires, values and hopes. Trapped within a spectacle of marketing, their capacity to be critically engaged and socially responsible citizens is greatly diminished.

At the same time, the influence of the new screen and electronic culture on young peoples' habits is disturbing. For instance, a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that young people ages 8 to 18 now spend more than seven and a half hours a day with smart phones, computers, televisions and other electronic devices. (22) When you add the additional time youth spend texting, talking on their cellphones and doing multiple tasks at once, such as "watching TV while updating Facebook - the number rises to 11 hours of total media content each day." (23) There is a greater risk here to youth than what seems to be emerging as a new form of depoliticization and thoughtlessness conveniently labeled as attention deficit disorder. The risk is that young people's lives will eventually be filled entirely by these distractions, and they will be denied the time necessary for thoughtful analysis and the pedagogical conditions necessary for them to read critically both the word and the world.

What are the consequences of the soft war? Public spaces have been transformed into neoliberal disimagination zones, which makes it more difficult for young people to find public spheres where they can locate themselves and translate metaphors of hope into meaningful action. The dreamscapes that make up a society built on the promises of mass consumption translate deftly into ad copy, insistently promoting and normalizing a neoliberal order in which economic relations now provide the master script for how young people define themselves, their relations with others and the larger world.

Of course, some youth are doing their best to resist the commercial onslaught and to stay ahead of the commodification and privatization of new media technologies. These youth are using social and digital media as creative tools to assert a range of oppositional practices and forms of protest that constitute a new realm of political activity, one that will increase in the future, and an important source of struggle and resistance.

The Hard War

Turning now to the hard war, this is a more serious and dangerous development for young people, especially those who are marginalized by virtue of their ethnicity, race or class. The hard war refers to the harshest elements of a growing youth crime-control complex that operates through a logic of punishment, surveillance and control. The young people targeted by its punitive measures are often poor youth of color who are considered failed consumers and who can only afford to live on the margins of a commercial culture that excludes anybody without money, resources and leisure time to spare. Or they are youth considered uneducable and unemployable, and therefore troublesome.

The imprint of the youth crime-control complex can be traced in the increasingly popular practice of organizing schools through disciplinary practices that subject students to constant surveillance through high-tech security devices while imposing on them harsh and often thoughtless zero-tolerance policies that closely resemble measures used currently by the criminal justice system. In this instance, poor youth and youth of color become objects of a new mode of governance based on the crudest forms of disciplinary control. Punished if they don't show up at school and punished even if they do attend school, many of these students are funneled into what has been ominously called the "school-to-prison pipeline." If middle- and upper-class kids are subject to the seductions of market-driven public relations, working-class youth are caught in the crosshairs between the arousal of commercial desire and the harsh impositions of securitization, surveillance and policing.

In the US today 500,000 young people are incarcerated and 2.5 million are arrested annually.

How else do we explain the fact that in the United States today 500,000 young people are incarcerated and 2.5 million are arrested annually, and that by the age of 23, "almost a third of Americans have been arrested for a crime"? (24) What kind of society allows 1.6 million children to be homeless at any given time in a year? Or allows massive inequalities in wealth and income to produce a politically and morally dysfunctional society in which "45 percent of US residents live in households that struggle to make ends meet"? (25)

Current statistics paint a bleak picture for young people in the United States: 1.5 million are unemployed, which marks a 17-year high; 12.5 million are without food; and in what amounts to a national disgrace, one out of every five US children lives in poverty. Nearly half of all US children and 90 percent of Black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood. (26) What are we to make of a society in which there were more young people killed on the streets of Chicago since 2001 then were US soldiers killed in Afghanistan? To be more exact, 5,000 people were killed by gunfire in Chicago, many of them children, while 2,000 troops were killed between 2001 and 2012. (27)

A type of mad violence appears to be at the heart of political and everyday life in the United States. The National Rifle Association and its political lackeys support a gun culture that calls for arming students in schools. Since the passage in 1990 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allowed the US Department of Defense to transfer surplus military equipment to local police forces, the police now have access to armored troop carriers, night vision rifles, Humvees, M16 automatic rifles, grenade launchers and other weapons designed for military tactics. (28)

As the war on terror comes home, public spaces have been transformed into war zones, and the militarized police forces have taken on the role of an occupying army, especially in poor neighborhoods of color. Acting as a paramilitary force, the police have become a new symbol of domestic terrorism, shaking down youth of color by criminalizing a multitude of behaviors. This was especially true in the stop-and-frisk policies so widespread under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City. In Ferguson, Missouri, the entire population was criminalized in what can only be described as a racist shakedown. As David Graeber puts it,

The Department of Justice's investigation of the Ferguson Police Department has scandalized the nation, and justly so. But the department's institutional racism, while shocking, isn't the report's most striking revelation. More damning is this: in a major American city, the criminal justice system perceives a large part of that city's population not as citizens to be protected, but as potential targets for what can only be described as a shake-down operation designed to wring money out of the poorest and most vulnerable by any means they could, and that as a result, the overwhelming majority of Ferguson's citizens had outstanding warrants. (29)

The rise of the punishing state and the war on terror has emboldened police forces across the United States, and in doing so feeds their use of racist violence against young people resulting in what has been called an "epidemic of police brutality." Sadly, even young children of color are not immune from such violence, as the killing of Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014, by a White policeman has made clear. Even more tragic is the fact that the City of Cleveland tried to blame the 12-year-old boy for his own death. (30) Rice was holding a BB gun when he was shot to death by a police officer judged unfit for duty in 2012. The killing of Black men has taken on the image of a cruel sport promoted by police forces that now hype the lawlessness and extreme violence that has replaced any viable notion of democratic idealism. Between January 2012 and December 2014, 38 unarmed Black men have been killed by the police. (31)

Many people in the United States now live in a culture that is not only being increasingly militarized, but also supports a growing indifference to such cruelty, reinforced by a notion of exaggerated self-reliance, rugged individualism and privatization, all of which renders group solidarities repugnant and reinforces the idea that care for the other is both a pathology and a liability. Hence, it should come as no surprise that the United States currently has more police, prisons, spies, weapons and soldiers than at any other time in its history - this coupled with a growing "army" of the unemployed and incarcerated.

In addition, the military-industrial complex now joins hands with the entertainment industry in producing everything from children's toys to video games that both construct a militarized form of masculinity and serve as an enticement for recruitment. In fact, more than 10 million people have downloaded "America's Army" and its various updates, including the more recent, "America's Army: Proving Grounds," a first-person shooter computer game the US Army uses as a recruitment tool. (32) Such representations of masculinity and aggression mimic fascism's militarization of the public sphere, through which violence becomes the ultimate language, referent and currency. This machinery of normalization makes it more difficult to understand how war becomes a source of pride rather than alarm, just as violence becomes mythologized and the war on terror is transformed into a war on society itself and the political order. But this culture of militarized hardness is not confined to the United States.

Young people inhabit a new and more unsettling scene of suffering, a dead zone of the imagination.

In Canada, one child in six lives in poverty, but for Aboriginal and immigrant children that figure rises to 25 percent or more, respectively. By all accounts, the rate of incarceration for Aboriginal youth - already eight times higher than for non-Aboriginal youth - will continue to skyrocket as a result of the Harper government's so-called Safe Streets and Community Act, which emulates the failed policies of the US system by, among other things, strengthening requirements to detain and sentence more youth to custody in juvenile detention centers. (33) Surely one conclusion that can be drawn from the inquest into the tragic suicide of 19-year-old Ashley Smith, who spent five years of her life in and out of detention facilities, is that incarceration for young people can be equivalent to a death sentence. (34)

Against the idealistic rhetoric of governments that claim to venerate young people lies the reality of societies that increasingly view youth through the optic of law and order, societies that appear all too willing to treat youth as criminals and when necessary make them "disappear" into the farthest reaches of the carceral state. Under such circumstances, the administration of schools and social services has given way to modes of confinement that retain the purpose of ensuring "custody and control." (35) As I have already suggested, many schools in the United States are modeled after prisons with their high-tech surveillance cameras, the presence of police and security guards and punitive zero-tolerance policies. How else to explain children as young as 12 being subjected to stun guns, handcuffed and removed from class for doodling on a desk, or suspended from school for bringing in a toy GI gun. It gets worse. John Whitehead, the president of the Rutherford Institute, has documented young girls being suspended or expelled from school for having Midol or Alka-Seltzer in their purse, and children being suspended for playing cops and robbers. Instead of being sent to the principal's office for even a minor infraction such as violating dress codes, many children are handcuffed, taken from the classroom, put in a patrol car and driven to a police station. And that is only the beginning of the nightmare for these kids and their families.

The plight of poor youth of color today also extends beyond the severity of material deprivations and violence they experience daily. Many young people have been forced to view the world and redefine the nature of their own youth within the borders of hopelessness, insecurity and despair. There is little basis on which to imagine a better future lying just beyond the highly restrictive spaces of commodification and containment. Neoliberal austerity in social spending means an entire generation of youth will not have access to decent jobs, the material comforts, educational opportunities or the security available to previous generations.

In Canada, there is a new generation of youth who have to think, act and talk like adults, and worry about their families, which may be headed by a single parent or two out of work and searching for a job. In the United States, young people are further burdened by registers of extreme poverty that pose the dire challenge of getting enough money to buy food and facing the arduous task of determining how long it will take to see a doctor in case of illness. These young people inhabit a new and more unsettling scene of suffering, a dead zone of the imagination, which constitutes a site of terminal exclusion - one that reveals not only the vast and destabilizing inequalities in neoliberal economic landscapes, but also portends a future that has no purchase on the hope that characterizes a vibrant democracy.

Politics and power are now on the side of lawlessness as is obvious in the state's endless violations of civil liberties, freedom of speech and most constitutional rights, mostly done in the name of national security. Lawlessness now wraps itself in government dictates. In Canada, it is evident in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's support for Bill C-51, an anti-terrorist bill that further limits civil rights through a pedagogy of fear and racist demonization. It is also apparent in the United Sates in such policies as the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the Military Commissions Act and a host of other legal illegalities. These would include the right of the president "to order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists," (36) to use secret evidence to detain individuals indefinitely, to develop a massive surveillance apparatus to monitor every audio and electronic communication used by citizens who have not committed a crime, to employ state torture against those considered enemy combatants and to block the courts from prosecuting those officials who commit such heinous crimes. (37) The ruling corporate elites have made terror rational and fear the modus operandi of politics. Neoliberal capital is based on a Hobbesian mantra of a war against all and a survival of the fittest ethic, and one consequence is an aggressive politics of disposability and disappearance.

Young people aligning with others can be a vibrant source of creativity, possibility and political struggle.

Educators, individuals, artists, intellectuals and various social movements need to make visible both the workings of market fundamentalism "in all of its forms of exploitation whether personal, political, or economic," and they "need to reconstruct a platform" and set of strategies to oppose it. Clearly, any political formation that matters must challenge the savage social costs casino capitalism has enacted and work to undo the forms of social, political and economic violence that young people are experiencing on a daily level. This will demand more than one-day demonstrations. What is needed is a resurgence of public memory, civic literacy and civic courage - that is, a willingness to both "effectively analyze the structures and mechanisms of capitalist power [in order] to formulate a sophisticated political response" and the willingness to build longstanding oppositional movements. (38) Traces of such movements are beginning to emerge all over the globe, especially in countries such as Spain and Greece.

In North America, we have seen important, though inconclusive, attempts on the part of young people to break the hold of power. This was evident in the Occupy movement, the Quebec student movement, the Idle No More opposition and the recent "Black Lives Matter" protests. What all of these movements have made clear is that young people aligning with others can be a vibrant source of creativity, possibility and political struggle. Moreover, these movements in their various contemporary manifestations point to a crucial political project in which young people have raised new questions about anti-democratic forces in the United States and Canada that are threatening the collective survival of vast numbers of people.

Evident in the legacy of these political movements, however slow their progression or setbacks, is a cry of collective indignation over economic and social injustices that pose a threat to humankind. They also make clear how young people and others can use new technologies, develop democratic social formations, and enact forms of critical pedagogy and civil disobedience necessary for addressing the anti-democratic forces that have been corrupting North American political culture since the 1970s. Young people have shown that austerity policies can be defeated; state violence can be held accountable; collective struggles are worthwhile; and specific and isolated protests can be transformed into broad social movements that pose a fundamental challenge to neoliberal ideologies and modes of governance. (39)

Current protests among young people in the United States, Canada and elsewhere in the world make clear that demonstrations are not - indeed, cannot be - only a short-term project for reform. Young people need to enlist all generations to develop a truly global political movement that is accompanied by the reclaiming of public spaces, the progressive use of digital technologies, the development of new public spheres, the production of new modes of education and the safeguarding of places where democratic expression, new civic values, democratic public spheres, new modes of identification and collective hope can be nurtured and developed. A formative culture must be put in place pedagogically and institutionally in a variety of spheres extending from churches and public and higher education to all those cultural apparatuses engaged in the production of collective knowledge, desire, identities and democratic values.

The struggles here are myriad and urgent and point to the call for a living wage, food security, accessible education, jobs programs (especially for the young), the democratization of power, economic equality and a massive shift in funds away from the machinery of war and big banks. Any collective struggle that matters has to embrace education as the center of politics and the source of an embryonic vision of the good life outside of the imperatives of unfettered "free-market" capitalism. In addition, too many progressives and people on the left are stuck in the discourse of foreclosure and cynicism and need to develop what Stuart Hall calls a "sense of politics being educative, of politics changing the way people see things." (40)

There is a need for educators, young people, artists and other cultural workers to develop languages of both critique and hope along with an educative politics in which people can address the historical, structural and ideological conditions at the core of the violence being waged by the corporate and repressive state, and to make clear that government increasingly subsumed by global market sovereignty is no longer responsive to the most basic needs of young people. All the issues that matter in a substantive democratic society are under siege by the forces of neoliberalism and any viable challenge requires movement building that is a long-term project. Young people need more than demonstrations and demolition squads; they need to take on the future by merging the power of the imagination and a politics of educated hope with long-term strategies, durable organizations and new political formations.

The issue of who gets to define the future, share in the nation's wealth, shape the parameters of the social state, steward and protect the globe's resources and create a formative culture for producing engaged and socially responsible citizens is no longer a rhetorical issue. This challenge offers up new categories for defining how matters of representation, education, economic justice and politics are to be defined and fought over. This is a difficult task, but what we are seeing in cities such as Chicago, Athens, Quebec, Paris, Madrid and other sites of massive inequality throughout the world is the beginning of a long struggle for the institutions, values and infrastructures that make communities the center of a robust, radical democracy. I realize this sounds a bit utopian, but we have few choices if we are going to struggle for a future that does a great deal more than endlessly repeat the present. We may live in dark times, but as Slavoj Žižek rightly insists, "The only realist option is to do what appears impossible within this system. This is how the impossible becomes possible." (41)


1. Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York: 2001).

2. See, for instance, Andre Spicer, "Adults with colouring books, kids with CVs - it's a world turned upside down," The Guardian (April 8, 2015). Online:

3. This theme is taken up powerfully by a number of theorists. See C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man (New York: Norton, 1974); Zygmunt Bauman, In Search of Politics (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); and Henry A. Giroux, Public Spaces, Private Lives (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001).

4. Noam Chomsky, "The Death of American Universities," Jacobin (March 3, 2015). Online:

5. Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005), p. 91.

6. J.F. Conway, "Quebec: Making War on Our Children," Socialist Project, E-Bulletin No. 651, (June 10, 2012). Online:

7. Jennifer M. Silva, "Young and Isolated," International New York Times (June 22, 2013). Online:

8. Zygmunt Bauman, On Education, (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012), p. 46.

9. Zygmunt Bauman, This Is Not A Diary, (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012), p. 64

10. Guy Standing, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, (London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011).

11. Sara Mojtehedzadeh, "Q&A with precarious work expert Guy Standing," The Toronto Star, (April 09, 2015). Online:

12. Alain Badiou, The Rebirth of History, trans. Gregory Elliott (London: Verso, 2012), pp. 18-19

13. Matt Taibbi, "After Laundering $800 Million in Drug Money, How Did HSBC Executives Avoid Jail?" Democracy Now! (December 13, 2012). Online:

14. See, for example, David Garland, The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002); Jonathan Simon, Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); Henry A. Giroux, The Violence of Organized Forgetting (San Francisco: City Lights, 2014); Brad Evans and Henry A. Giroux, Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of the Spectacle (San Francisco: City Lights, 2015).

15. Quoted in Jean-Marie Durand, "For Youth: A Disciplinary Discourse Only," Truthout (November 15, 2009), trans. Leslie Thatcher. Online:

16. Jennifer M. Silva, Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty, (Oxford Press, New York, NY, 2013). 10

17. Jean and John Comaroff, "Reflections of Youth, from the Past to the Postcolony," Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on The New Economy, ed. Melissa S. Fisher and Greg Downey, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006) p. 267.

18. Zygmunt Bauman, "Introduction and in Search of Public Space," In Search of Politics (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), p. 8.

19. Quoted in Jean-Marie Durand, "For Youth: A Disciplinary Discourse Only," Truthout (November 15, 2009), trans. Leslie Thatcher. Online:

20. Zygmunt Bauman, Consuming Life (London: (London: Polity, 2007), p. 6.

21. Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyons, Liquid Surveillance, (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2013), pp. 54.

22. Tamar Lewin, "If Your Kids Are Awake, They're Probably Online," The New York Times (January 20, 2010), p. A1.

23. C. Christine, "Kaiser Study: Kids 8 to 18 Spend More Than Seven Hours a Day with Media," Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning: MacArthur Foundation (January 21, 2010).

24. Erica Goode, "Many in US Are Arrested by Age 23, Study Finds," The New York Times (December 19, 2011). Online:

25. Reuters, "45% Struggle in US to Make Ends Meet," MSNBC: Business Stocks and Economy (November 22, 2011). Online:

26. Lindsey Tanner, "Food Stamps Will Feed Half of US Kids, Study Says," The Huffington Post (November 2, 2009). Online:

27. Daily Mail Reporter, "These kids don't expect to lead a full life': Fears for Chicago teens as fatal shootings in city outnumber US troops killed in Afghanistan," Mail Online, UK (June 19, 2012). Online:

28. Taylor Wofford, "How America's Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program," Newsweek (August 13, 2014). Online:

29. David Graeber, "Ferguson and the Criminalization of American Life," Gawker (March 19, 2015). Online:

30. Oliver Laughland, "Tamir Rice 'directly and proximately' responsible for own police shooting death, says city," The Guardian (March 1, 2015). Online:

31. Rich Juzwiak and Aleksander Chan, "Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014," Gawker (December 8, 2014). Online:

32. Corey Mead, War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict (New York; Houghton Mifflin, 20013). Also see, Clive Thompson, "The Making of an X Box Warrior," New York Times Magazine, August 22, 2004, 34-37; Jeremy Hsu, "For the US Military, Video Games Get Serious," LiveScience (August 19, 2010). Online:

33. Department of Justice Canada, A One-Day Snapshot of Aboriginal Youth in Custody Across Canada: Phase II. Online:

34. Colin Perket, "Ashley Smith Inquest Slated to Finally Start in Early 2013," CTV News (December 27, 2012). Online:

35. Zygmunt Bauman, Wasted Lives, (London: Polity Press, 2004), p.82.

36. Jonathan Turley, "10 reasons the US is no longer the land of the free," The Washington Post, (January 13, 2012). Online:

37. For a clear expose of the emerging surveillance state, see Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide (New York: Signal, 2014); Julia Angwin, Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance (New York: Times Books, 2014); Heidi Boghosian, Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance (City Lights Books, 2013).

38. Chris Hedges, "Tariq Ali: The Time Is Right for a Palace Revolution," Truthdig (March 1, 2015). Online:

39. Ingar Solty, "Canada's 'Maple Spring': From the Quebec Student Strike to the Movement Against Neoliberalism," Socialist Project (December 31, 2012). Online:

40. Zoe Williams, "The Saturday Interview: Stuart Hall," The Guardian (February 11, 2012)

41. Slavoj Žižek, Demanding the Impossible, ed. Yong-June Park. (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2013), p. 144.

News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400