On October 5, 2017, police opened fire on unarmed farmers in Tumaco, Colombia. Eight were killed, with dozens more shot. The massacre was part of a crackdown on coca farmers in the “War On Drugs” despite an agreement for crop substitution–and amidst new threats from Trump, ordering the government to use more force or face consequences.
One of the first times I used the phrase “institutional insanity” was in 1973 to describe the behavior of scientist Dixy Lee Ray, chairperson of the presumed regulatory agency, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). I pointed out that her personal and academic roles were quite normal. But her running of the AEC—pressing for 1,000 nuclear plants in the U.S. by the year 2000 (there are 99 reactors left in operation now), and going easy on a deadly, taxpayer subsidized technology that was privately uninsurable, lacked a place to put its lethal radioactive wastes, a national security risk, replete with vast cost over-runs, immunities and impunities shielding culpable officials and executives, should a meltdown occur and take out a city or region (all to boil water to produce steam to make electricity)—was a case study in “institutional insanity.”
Notice how more frequently we hear scientists tell us that we’re “wholly unprepared” for this peril or for that rising fatality toll? Turning away from such warnings may reduce immediate tension or anxiety, but only weakens the public awareness and distracts us from addressing the great challenges of our time, such as calamitous climate change, pandemics, and the rise of a host of other self-inflicted disasters.
Heroin is now the leading cause of death in Americans under 50. In a special edition of On Contact, Chris Hedges travels to Sayerville, New Jersey to share the story of one of those victims, Shannon Miller, who died of an overdose at the age of 23.
Out of the periphery of most online users, there’s a vast, hidden space used by people who want to remain anonymous, which filmmaker Alex Winter explores in his documentary Deep Web. The film focuses on the Silk Road, a black market hosted on the Darknet using bitcoin cryptocurrency, and the trial of Ross Ulbricht, who was given a double life sentence without the possibility of parole for creating and hosting the site.
I’ve always been intrigued by the major questions not asked by reporters at press conferences, not asked by legislators at public hearings or even the questions citizens at town meetings don’t ask public officials. It’s not that they do not know about or could not easily become informed enough about a given issue and ask substantive questions. It’s just that so many taboos are packed into these questioners’ ideological mindset, career goals or concern with what other people over them might think. Maybe it is a culturally-rooted fear of challenging entrenched power brokers.
California’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA) is a voter initiative characterized as legalizing marijuana use. But critics warn that it will actually make access more difficult and expensive, squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and open the door to patented, genetically modified (GMO) versions that must be purchased year after year.
The war on cannabis that began in the 1930s seems to be coming to an end. Research shows that this natural plant, rather than posing a deadly danger to health, has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. But skeptics question the sudden push for legalization, which is largely funded by wealthy investors linked to Big Ag and Big Pharma.
In this episode of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges sits down with two activists from Mexico, Pauline Luna and Jessica Alcazar. The two explain the effects of US-imposed neoliberalism on Mexico, particularly since the signing of 1994 trade agreement NAFTA. They highlight the abuse and “disappearance” of Mexican human rights advocates, activists, journalists, and laborers. Luna and Alcazar also lay out their project, “Concertación Ciudadana”, which demands a new constitution and uninhibited direct participation on a grassroots level.
For years Russell Brand has been one of Britain’s most popular comedians, but over the past 12 months he has also emerged as a leading voice of Britain’s political left. He has taken part in anti-austerity protests, spoken at Occupy Wall Street protests and marched with the hacker collective Anonymous. A recovering addict himself, Brand has also become a leading critic of Britain’s drug laws. He has just come out with a new book expanding on his critique of the political system. It is simply titled Revolution. Continue reading →