Radical media, politics and culture.


New York Marxist School's Annette Rubinstein, 1912-2007

Liz Mestres, Brecht Forum

Our dear friend and teacher Annette T. Rubinstein died in her sleep last night at the age of 97.
Annette began working with The Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School when we first opened
our doors in the Fall of 1975 and continued to teach wonderful classes on literature, drama and
politics until her last class on Brecht’s Galileo this Spring. She was a constant inspiration and
we will miss her terribly.
A mermorial will be held and we will let you know when the date is set.

A tribute to Annette Rubinstein is found below:

Bush and Rumsfeld 'Knew About Abu Ghraib'

David Usborne, The Independent

The two-star Army General who led the first military investigation into human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has bluntly questioned the integrity of former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, suggesting he misled the US Congress by downplaying his own prior knowledge of what had happened.

Major General Antonio Taguba also claimed in an interview with The New Yorker magazine published yesterday that President George Bush also "had to be aware" of the atrocities despite saying at the time of the scandal that he had been out of the loop until he saw images in the US media.

The White House issued a response denying the claim, however. "The President said over three years ago that he first saw the pictures of the abuse on the television," Scott Stanzel, a spokesman, said.

G8 Black Block Protest Video Footage

The best video footage we have yet seen of the Black Block G8 protests in Rostock, Germany is found here.


Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC)
representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen
at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in
Calgary, Alberta, today.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the
major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000
attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited
conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary
Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee
Raymond, who is also the chair of the study.

In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and
Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive
exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid
coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he
reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil
industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of
people who die into oil.

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said
"NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men),
before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a
new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process
brought it to life.

Starbucks Settles Case with Barista Over Anti-Union

Starbucks has agreed to
reinstate Chicago barista Gloria Sykes and pay her a
confidential amount to settle charges filed with the
National Labor Relations Board earlier this year.
Starbucks fired Sykes after she told her store manager
that employees would reach out to the IWW Starbucks
Workers Union
(SWU) if management did not address age
discrimination and work schedule issues. The
Starbucks manager responded in clear violation of
federal law that any talk of the Union was prohibited
and would result in termination. Ms. Sykes, 55, was
undeterred and subsequently did join the SWU.

"This settlement is a victory for every barista, older
and younger, who are fed up with the lack of
guaranteed work hours at Starbucks," said Ms. Sykes.
"We have a right to demand a secure work schedule with
a union and this settlement proves it." Ms. Sykes was
led to speak out at work after incidents of age
discrimination including being told that "even 16 year
olds" could learn to make coffee drinks quicker than
her. Starbucks denied wrongdoing in the out-of-court

"US Air Force Looked at Spray To Turn Enemy Gay"

Dan Glaister, London Guardian

"Make love not war" may be the enduring slogan of anti-war campaigners but
in 1994 the US air force produced its own variation on the philosophy.

What if it could release a chemical that would make an opposing army's
soldiers think more about the physical attributes of their comrades in
arms than the threat posed by the enemy? And thus the "gay bomb" was

Far from being the product of conspiracy theorists, documents
released to a biological weapons watchdog in Austin, Texas confirm that
the US military did investigate the idea. It was included in a CD-Rom
produced by the US military in 2000 and submitted to the National
Academy of Sciences in 2002. The documents show that $7.5m was requested
to develop the weapon.

The documents released to the Sunshine Project under a freedom of
information request titled "Harassing, Annoying and Bad Guy Identifying
Chemicals" includes several proposals for the military use of chemicals
that could be sprayed on to enemy positions. "One distasteful but
non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the
chemical also caused homosexual behaviour," says the proposal from the
Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.

The Pentagon did not deny that the proposal had been made: "The
department of defence is committed to identifying, researching and
developing non-lethal weapons that will support our men and women in

Aaron Belkin, director of the University of California's Michael Palm
Centre, which studies the issue of gays in the military, said: "The idea
that you could submit someone to some aerosol spray and change their
sexual behaviour is ludicrous."

"Karl Marx Is Back, Punting on Chinese Stocks"

William Pesek, Bloomberg

Karl Marx is back in China, and the philosopher is arguably bigger than ever.

Yes, yes, Asia's No. 2 economy is barreling ahead on the free-market highway. Beijing has even gotten hip to the private-equity craze, buying a $3 billion stake in Blackstone Group LP. Now that, as Milton Friedman might say, is capitalism.

It's interesting, then, that China's markets in some respects are looking more like the kinds envisioned by Marx than by laissez-faire champion Friedman.

African Cinema Giant Ousmane Sembene, 84, Dies
Led Cinema's Advance in

Agence France-Presse

The Senegalese filmmaker and writer Ousmane Sembene, a
pioneer of African cinema, died at his home in Dakar,
Senegal, his friends and family said Sunday. He was 84.

He had been ill since December.

Born into a fisherman's family in 1923, he worked as a
mechanic, carpenter and builder in Africa and Europe
before being drafted by the French Army in World War
II. Those experiences gave Mr. Sembene, a self-educated
writer, material for films as well as books like The
Black Docker, God's Bits of Wood
and The Money

He said that he decided to go to film school, in
Moscow, after realizing that "pictures are more
accessible than words." That led him to what he called
"fairground cinema."

"I can go to a village and show the film," he explained
in 2005, "because everything can be filmed and
transported to the most remote village in Africa."

His career began in the 1960s with black-and-white
shorts like "Borom Sarret," about a poor cart-driver.
His "Black Girl From ..." (1966), about a Senegalese
girl who becomes a servant in France, is considered the
first full-length feature by an African filmmaker.

One of his last films, "Moolaadé" (2004), was a
denunciation of female genital cutting and won a jury
prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

He also won two prizes at the Venice Film Festival, in
1968 and in 1988. The first was for "The Money Order,"
the second for "The Camp of Thiaroye," which recounts
the violent repression by French troops of protests by
Senegalese soldiers demanding their pay. He was among
the first African artists to warn of the danger of
excesses in the post-colonial era and to call for "a
radical change in African policies."

The former Senegalese president Abdlu Diouf said Africa
had lost one its greatest filmmakers and a "fervent
defender of liberty and social justice."

A tribute from Mali's culture minister, Cheick Oumar
Sissoko, himself a filmmaker and a friend of Mr.
Sembene, said that "African cinema has lost one of its

"The man only worked fully in Africa and for Africa,"
he said. Mr. Sembene "led Africa to understand its
identity and build its cultural horizon."

Richard Rorty, Philosopher, Dies at 75

Patricia Cohen, New York Times

Richard Rorty, whose inventive work on philosophy, politics, literary
theory and more made him one of the world’s most influential
contemporary thinkers, died Friday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 75.

The cause was complications from pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Mary
Varney Rorty.

Raised in a home where “The Case for Leon Trotsky” was viewed with the
same reverence as the Bible might be elsewhere, Mr. Rorty pondered the
nature of reality as well as its everyday struggles. “At 12, I knew that
the point of being human was to spend one’s life fighting social
injustice,” he wrote in an autobiographical sketch.

Terror-Victim Advocates Sue Banana Giant

Paul Wolf

(Washington, D.C.) Advocates for the families of 173 people murdered in
the banana-growing regions of Colombia filed suit today against Chiquita
Brands International, in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. The
families allege that Chiquita paid millions of dollars, and tried to
thousands of machine guns to the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or
The AUC is a violent, right-wing paramilitary organization supported by
the Colombian army. In 2001, the Bush Administration classified the AUC
as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization." Its units are often described as
"death squads."

According to family representatives, the AUC was used to assassinate
husbands, wives and children, who were apparently interfering with
Chiquita's financial interests. In the last ten years, more than ten
thousand people have been murdered by the AUC, many of them in the
zones where Chiquita financed the AUC's operations.

"This is a landmark case, maybe the biggest terrorism case in history,"
said Terry Collingsworth, who directs the litigation. "In terms of
casualties, it's the size of three World Trade Center attacks."
Collingsworth is already known in Colombia for his lawsuits against Coca
Cola, Drummond, and Nestle for the targeted killings of union leaders by
the AUC.


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