Friday, May 11, 2018

PINK ELEPHANTS PODCAST #11 - SILICON VALLEY DE-BUG: CROWDSOURCING JUSTICE

Volunteers at Silicon Valley De-Bug. (PHOTO: Silicon Valley De-Bug)

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In 2010, aspiring criminal defense attorney and longtime volunteer at Bay Area social justice non-profit Silicon Valley De-Bug Albert Cobarrubias was gunned down by a local gang member Michael Frausto in a tragic case of mistaken identity.

To honor Albert’s legacy, De-Bug launched the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project, dedicated to following his work in reducing incarceration rates among communities of color by helping defendants and their families better navigate the complexities of the legal system.

By 2014, “participatory defense” as it had come to be known, knocked nearly 2,000 years worth of prison time off for hundreds of offenders, many of whom were convicted of low-level offenses and were victims of oversentencing. And that number has only gone up from there.

I recently sat down with Benee Vejar, a volunteer at De-Bug and spokesperson for the project, to talk about how participatory defense works, and the kind of impact it’s been having as of late.

MUSIC:
Screw Jack – A Certain Kind Of Strange
Europa – Can You Believe
Relapse – Don’t Wake Up
Rebelskamp – Spiritual Almighty

REFERENCES:
Silicon Valley De-Bug
Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project
San Jose Homicide Leaves Deluge of Grief – NBC Bay Area
Murder trial begins in killing of aspiring South Bay defense lawyer – San Jose Mercury News
Justice Project Celebrates 1,862 Years in Time Saved – San Jose Inside



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Saturday, May 5, 2018

PODCAST EXTRA #05 - STRUGGALO CIRCUS: KNOW YOUR RED HISTORY

(PHOTO: The Daily Dot)


There was a section of my recent interview with Dimensions of the activist group Struggalo Circus that didn’t make it into the final cut of the show, wherein we spent a great deal of time talking about communism: its impact on the world, the negative reputation that has dogged it for so many decades, and what role the Western world has played in both since the dawn of the Soviet Union.

As ideas like communism and socialism experience newfound surges in popularity during our current political moment, where concepts like truth and reality are completely up for grabs, it’s more important than ever for Juggalos who would migrate farther to the left to know their red history.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

PINK ELEPHANTS PODCAST #11 - JUGGALO RISING

The founders of Struggalo Circus protesting one of last year's Berkeley right-wing "free speech" rallies.
L to R: Kitty Striker, Ape, RaiderLo. (PHOTO: Carly Mitchell)



It’s been a strange year for American politics. The Trump administration has turned reality completely on its head, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are mainstreaming their beliefs into the body politic at speeds we haven’t seen since the twenties, and Juggalos – the sworn devotees of underground horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse, or ICP – now stand among the ranks of poster children for political resistance.

After being classified as a gang by the FBI in 2011, ICP and the juggalo community finally decided to take a stand against the ruling in September of last year, staging the first Juggalo March on Washington. As fate would have it, their protest was scheduled on the same day as a highly publicized pro-Trump rally, setting the two against each other in a competition for mindshare that was easily dominated by the Juggalos’ propensity for outrageousness.

In the buildup to the march, a number of politically-minded Juggalo groups began to take shape across the country, like the Struggalo Circus, located here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I recently sat down with one of their early members, a young man by the name Dimensions, to talk about how groups Struggalo Circus are continuing to take root across the nation, despite the juggalo community’s healthy distrust of both the law and the hands that guide it.

MUSIC:
Dustonius Maximus – Solitude
Noah Kickback – Captured
Doctor Striker – America

REFERENCES:
Juggalos, Nevertheless Persisting – The Baffler
What Is A Struggalo? – Viewpoint Magazine
The struggalo is real as radical ICP fans mobilize online – A/V Club

Struggalo Circus at the Juggalo March On Washington
 

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Friday, April 13, 2018

PINK ELEPHANTS PODCAST #10 - DR. SHARAT LIN: NORTH KOREAN MYTHS VS. REALITIES

A day in the life in North Korea. (PHOTO: Michael Huniewicz)



Dr. Sharat Lin (PHOTO: Project Censored)
Our world has lived under the threat of nuclear war for so long that for some time now, it’s been easy to pretend that the threat didn’t exist. But with the resumption of hostilities between the United States and North Korea under Donald Trump’s presidency, that threat seems very real again.

In the hope of hosting a joint summit in next month to bring about an end to hostilities, both the US and North Korea have recently been on good behavior, starting with February’s “Olympic Truce” during the Winter Games in Pyongyang. This courtesy also extends to South Korea, with whom the North’s relationship has improved considerably as of late.

To find out more about what’s happening behind the scenes in the buildup to the US/North Korea summit, I spoke with Dr. Sharat Lin, a research fellow and past president of San Jose's Peace and Justice Center, who also serves on the Board of Advisors of the Initiative for Equality.

MUSIC:
Mystery Hangup – Forever A Prisoner
Relapse – Cut Me Up
My Monster – Don’t Be Mean About It
Billy Sheen – Billy’s Back

If you're an independent musician or band and you'd like to have your music featured on the program, click here for more information.

Pink Elephants is produced by Randle Aubrey with with additional support from Echoplex Media. Subscribe to the show on Stitcher Radio, iTunes, or Google Play by clicking the buttons below.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

SINCLAIR MEDIA'S MINISTRY OF TRUTH (AND PROFIT)


As far as descriptors for our world's creeping dystopia are concerned, the term "Orwellian" is both the most overused and the least understood by people across the political spectrum. But there's no better word that might be used to describe this video put together by Timothy Burke at Deadspin last week of thirty-six Sinclair-owned local media outlets (out of two hundred, mind you) recite the same piece of Central Command propaganda in unison through strained, plastic smiles:

"The net result of the company’s current mandate is dozens upon dozens of local news anchors looking like hostages in proof-of-life videos, trying their hardest to spit out words attacking the industry they’d chosen as a life vocation." - Deadspin
No matter who you vote for, no matter what you believe in, we all want to think that we're independent, free thinkers capable of reaching our own, sensible conclusions despite the ever-deepening sea of bullshit that surrounds us. That there aren't powerful forces spending billions to sell you on things - reverse mortgages, dick pills, even bona fide ideological positions - or that if there are, we're impervious to their influence. It's a comforting thought, to believe one's self to be immune to suggestion.

But it's a lie. And videos like this let you see that lie for what it is. These are not national network or cable news reporters; these are your local nightly news people, the ones who talk about the bank robbery that happened the other night across the township, or the new community center that's about to open up between the elementary school and the shopping center. Boring stuff. Stuff where there's no reason not to trust the people telling you about it.

Requiring these same newscasters to inject national propaganda into mundane news programming in order to shape public opinion on a wider level isn't exactly a new low for conservative media, but it is a pretty reckless one. Clearly, it was pretty easy for them to get caught, and while I don't think what they're doing is technically illegal, it's certainly unethical enough that, in a sane and/or just world, they'd have been raked over the coals half a dozen times or more by now.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg as to the insane shit Sinclair Media has pushed on their affiliate networks, much of which is inserted into their programming so as to feel like a part of it. During the the 2016 election, On The Media's Bob Garfield spoke with journalist Felix Gilette about his then-recent profile on Sinclair Media for Bloomberg News, the results of which are the closest thing to "Orwellian" that I've ever heard.



There's only one thing keeping this sort of propagandizing alive, and the people responsible for it out of prison: a select group of powerful conservative politicians and businessmen from the president* on down collectively looking the other way so Sinclair's Ministry Of Truth can work to their advantage. 

It's also the only reason what they're doing is continuing to become more and more effective; propaganda takes both time and repetition to take root, and the longer Sinclair Media can prop open the gaping hole they've ripped in the integrity of newsgathering, the bigger and faster become the lies they can shove through it.

Shutting Sinclair down is not on the table, nor will it ever be. They're too big, and they're on the verge of becoming even bigger. It's time for liberals to realize that we're not fighting a war over policies, we're fighting a war over ideas, which is why we keep losing. The only way to fight ideas is with better, stronger ideas, and bigger and louder platforms. 

In short, the left needs it's own Ministry Of Truth, as paradoxical as it may seem. It's a dangerous proposition, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And once I get that Soros check in the mail, you bet your britches I'm gonna make it happen. Ain't that right, George?

George?

Hello...?

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