FRIDAY 10AM: CIA whistleblowing backlash | Jeffrey Sterling
Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
New interviews throughout the week

When you use it, you don't quite feel that you're intoxicated. You feel more alert, more capable, more alive - in the ways you feel you're expected to be, without realizing you feel that expectation. So you fall into line with the imminent demand to be productive, to be useful, to be courageous, social, proactive, filled with endless energy and entrepreneurialism and ideas and exploratory behavior. In a sense meth is perfect, other drugs are not as good for syncing up with an everyday demand that just seems 'right.'

Anthropologist Jason Pine examines the transformative powers of meth in post-industrial America - on a population of workers left behind by work, as an industrial poison in a long series of industrial poisons in our environment, and a way to be alive under a system that doesn't care about killing us.

Jason is author of The Alchemy of Meth: A Decomposition from University of Minnesota Press.


Posted by Alexander Jerri

On This Day in Rotten History...

In 1944 – (72 years ago) – on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, members of a Nazi German combat unit intercepted a US truck convoy near Malmedy, Belgium, took some 120 American troops prisoner, confiscated their weapons, herded them into a field, and mowed them down with machine guns and pistols. Eighty-one soldiers were killed in what became known as the single worst atrocity against US troops in Europe. News of the Malmedy massacre had a major impact in the States, and led to war crimes trials in 1946, in which forty-three German soldiers were sentenced to death and another twenty-two to life in prison. But legal and political disputes over details of the defendants’ arrest and trial eventually led to none of the death sentences being carried out —and by 1956 all the convicted war criminals had been released. One of the German commanders went to live in France, where he received constant death threats. He finally died on Bastille Day 1976, when his house was set on fire by arsonists who were never apprehended, and firefighters arrived to find that their equipment had been sabotaged.

In 1961 – (55 years ago) – In Niterói, Brazil, near Rio de Janeiro, a circus attended by three thousand people went down in a massive fire. The Gran Circus Norte-Americano featured some 60 humans and 150 animals performing inside an enormous tent pitched in the city’s central square. The circus tent was advertised as being made of nylon, but it was actually made of cotton treated with paraffin wax. When fire broke out during a trapeze performance, the flames spread so fast that the whole tent was consumed in five minutes. Some 500 people were killed, including about 350 children.

In 1967 – (49 years ago) – Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, who had cooperated with US President Lyndon Johnson by sending Australian troops to the war in Vietnam, went for a swim at a beach south of Melbourne that was noted for its often dangerous riptides. Holt, then fifty-nine years of age, was known to be an athletic type and a good swimmer, but he was also suffering from health problems, having collapsed in a parliament session some months earlier. Soon after swimming into the surf, he disappeared under a wave — and before long, Australian police, navy, and air force personnel were out over the ocean in what quickly... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Listen live from 9AM - 1PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at / subscribe to the podcast


9:10 - Writer Andrew Cockburn explains who profits from inflating the Russian threat.

Andrew wrote the article The New Red Scare in the December issue of Harper's.


10:05 - Live from Switzerland, Ed Sutton talks about coming home in an age of migration.

Ed will cover new modes of living, collaborative solidarity and insurgent media but I couldn't fit that in the above headline.


10:35 - Reporter Dan Denvir explains how establishment centrists moved immigration policy to the right.

Dan wrote the recent article How Centrists Failed Immigrants for Jacobin.


11:05 - Writer Viet Thanh Nguyen examines the limitations of memory and the persistence of war.

Viet is author of the book Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War from Harvard University Press.


12:05 - The Hopleaf's Michael Roper reports from what might be peak craft beer in America.

Michael will take us through the highs and lows  of the year in craft beer.


12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen fights his way back to the origins of conflict.

A radical turn from his hammock-bound MOT last week.


Posted by Alexander Jerri

Here's what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:

The New Red Scare - Andrew Cockburn [Harpers]

How Centrists Failed Immigrants - Dan Denvir [Jacobin]

Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War - Viet Thanh Nguyen [Harvard University Press]

Episode 930

Hardly Working

Dec 10 2016
Posted by Alexander Jerri


Meet the New Normal, Same as the Old

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

As the fateful moment draws nigh when the man with an orange face and no tan from his brow ridge to his cheeks like a Creamsicle raccoon puts his hand on an ancient book and lies to its god about upholding a Constitution which is itself being eaten away from within the very structures it delineates, the slow-motion farcical death of democracy is playing itself out on the stage of the 24-hour news cycle.

Don't normalize this! Don't normalize this! It's too late, it's been normal for decades. I know, you're hollering about the fascism, the racism, the anti-Semitism of Semites both Jewish and Muslim, the misogyny, the xenophobia and LGBTQ+phobia. But as someone who's been on the receiving end of at least one of those pathologies, and as I've heard other of their targets report for decades, these threads make up the normal fiber of many a US patriot. It's not a surprise at all that a Creamsicle raccoon channeled them in order to serve himself up a heapin' helpin' of presidentially leveraged wealth an power. Leftists of every stripe, from the unrepentant Stalinist to the anarcho-feminist queer, have been predicting the rise of the Creamsicle Raccoon with ever more certainty since the days of Joe Hill.

Nothing could be more normal than sociopathic fascists using government as a festive bazaar for exchanging money and influence with each other. That's what government is: the currency exchange, complete with speculation, on the way to advancement into the Spectacle, but at this currency exchange they serve alcohol.

When was the last time a political figure was jailed for influence peddling? Or was censured for conflict of interest? Or forced to resign for giving a corporation in which they had a stake access to an open tap gushing public money, stealing from working people, the elderly, the unemployed, and school kids to stack up money and favors in the private sector and then wandering over to collect them through the public sector's revolving door? No, you have to send someone a picture of your dick to warrant removal from office. But if you bend a few hundred million people over and screw them, well, that's normal.

There's no one watching the henhouse. It's amazing there are any hens left. The only way we the people have secured the eggs we have has been by banding together and forcing the scum to... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

On This Day in Rotten History...

In 1510 – (506 years ago) – forces of the Portuguese navy, led by the admiral Afonso de Albuquerque and assisted by local mercenaries, seized the prosperous, centuries-old port city of Goa on India’s west coast. The Portuguese, who had briefly held Goa earlier that year and then lost it to a local sultan, now retook the city in less than a day, defeating the sultan and putting large numbers of the Muslim population to death by the sword. Men, women, and children were massacred, and Albuquerque allowed his troops to spend three days sacking the city. Though the conquest took place against the wishes of the Portuguese king, it gave him an important colonial port and commercial capital which remained under Portuguese control for more than 450 years until it was finally reclaimed and annexed by India in 1961. To this day, Goa remains perhaps the most culturally European-influenced city in India, and the only one in which soccer is more popular than cricket. 

In 1796 – (220 years ago) – in Caracas, Venezuela, José Leonardo Chirino, a free farmer of mixed African and indigenous blood, was hanged for the crime of leading a slave revolt in the sugar plantations of the Spanish New World colonies. Chirino had been inspired by the ongoing slave rebellion in Haiti, which would later prove successful in establishing an independent republic there. He had also been deeply affected by the ideals of the faraway French Revolution. In the eastern Veneuzelan city of Coro, he led an uprising of Congolese slaves, with the aim of expelling the Spanish and abolishing slavery and white supremacy. But when his rebellion failed, he was betrayed by an associate. The Spanish authorities executed Chirino, cut his body into pieces, put his head on public display, and sold his wife and children into slavery.

In 1907 – (109 years ago) – in the Battersea district of London, about a thousand medical students of University College and other schools staged a demonstration supporting the practice of vivisection, in which living, conscious animals were cut open, operated on for purposes of medical research and instruction, and then killed. Public passions had been aroused by the court trial of a medical lecturer who, according to witnesses, had muzzled and bound a brown terrier in his classroom, cut it open to remove internal organs, and subjected it to electric... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Listen live from 9AM - 1PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at / subscribe to the podcast


9:10 - Historian James Livingston explains why work isn't working for anyone but the rich.

James is the author of the new book No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea from UNC Press and the Aeon essay Fuck Work.


10:00 - Activist Azzurra Crispino updates us on repression and resistance during the US prison labor strike.

Azzurra last spoke to This Is Hell! on day two of the nation-wide prison work stoppage.


10:35 - Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith calls in from the wrong side of the fake news scare.

This week Yves wrote the blog post We Demand That The Washington Post Retract Its Propaganda Story Defaming Naked Capitalism and Other Sites and Issue an Apology.


11:00 - Journalist Sarah Jaffe looks to the radicalizing possibilities of protest in the Trump era.

Sarah wrote the article Why Anti-Trump Protests Matter for Rolling Stone.


11:35 - Live from Germany, Manuel Carrasco Molina reports on anti-coal actions deep in the Hambach Forest.

Manuel is a Green Party politician in Kerpen, Germany.


12:05 - Author Ashley Dawson previews the Trump administration's environmental horror show.

Ashley recently wrote Trump Eats the Planet for the Verso blog.


12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen drops a few more good reasons to be a bad citizen.

Jeff Dorchen, classic bad boy.

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Here's what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:

No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea - James Livingston [UNC Press ] / Fuck Work - James Livingston [Aeon]

We Demand That The Washington Post Retract Its Propaganda Story Defaming Naked Capitalism and Other Sites and Issue an Apology - Yves Smith [Naked Capitalism]

Why Anti-Trump Protests Matter - Sarah Jaffe [Rolling Stone] / Fractures in Trumplandia - Sarah Jaffe [email list]

Clash in German forest as red line is crossed - Deutsche Welle

Trump Eats the Planet - Ashley Dawson [Verso Blog]

Episode 929

Ready to DIY

Dec 3 2016
Posted by Alexander Jerri

Planet of the Pig

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

The great British socialist standup comic, Stewart Lee, does a bit where he talks about the "iconic final scene" of the original Planet of the Apes movie, "one of the truly iconic scenes in cinema. Apparently, on their world, the apes have made an exact replica of the Statue of Liberty. And it's never explained why ... and Charlton Heston is angry, he goes, 'Dammit, why have you done this, you dirty apes, why? It's a society of apes, why would you make a statue of a human?' And the apes go, 'We don't know, we've just done it.' It's one of the most iconic scenes in cinema and it's completely meaningless and stupid."

He then goes on to explain that the author of the original novel the movie was based on, Pierre Boulle, was a socialist, thus the novel was clearly meant as satire, and he then helpfully defines satire this way: "If any ever asks you what satire is, and you want to appear clever, just say, 'Satire is where it's the same as it is now, except there's animals in it.'"

I haven't read the book, Durov's Pig: Clowns, Politics and Theatre, by Joel Schecter, in over twenty-five years, but it came to mind late this week. I'm not sure I ever owned a copy. I've had the chance to refer to a very difficult-to-navigate PDF copy I downloaded yesterday afternoon. In it, Schecter quotes US playwright George S. Kaufman's definition of satire: "Satire is what closes on Saturday night."

I now quote Schecter's description of Vladimir Durov's performance with his pig in Berlin in 1907:

"Durov placed a German officer's cap, or 'helm' as he called it, in the circus ring, and his trained pig ran to retrieve it. Using ventriloquism, Durov made the pig appear to be saying 'Ich will helm,' meaning 'I want the helmet.' But the phrase could also be translated 'I am Wilhelm,' thereby equating Germany’s Emperor, Wilhelm II, with a trained pig. 'The audience understood the pun at once and applauded it. The German police understood it too,' according to Russian critic Emanuel Dvinsky’s account of the event. Durov was arrested. The pig escaped without prosecution."

Schecter goes on to discuss politically satirical clowning in far greater depth than I can synopsize here. But he seems to conclude that theatrical satire as it was understood at this prewar moment, and between and during the wars as well, was not something that could happen... read more