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Sarah Silverman and Lizz Winstead manage to describe how our rights are being chipped away, state by state, and still make it funny. That's talent!
I imagine J.K. Rowling's resume to read a lot like this:
- Author of the "Harry Potter" series
- Queen of the known universe (and probably the unknown, too)
Note: This interview is a little old — unless you're a time traveler from the past, in which case, hello there! I need to explain a few things to you about the future, starting with "selfies."
This video might not play well on mobile or outside the U.S. Unfortunately, we're at the mercy of Comedy Central on this one. Come back for another one sometime — it's on the house.
Sir Nicholas Winton, dubbed "the British Schindler" after saving 669 mostly Jewish children from Nazi death camps on the eve of the Second World War, is given the surprise of his life on television. And, well, I did not expect to see the audience do that at 0:50.
Winton humbly kept his efforts a secret until his wife found scrapbooks in their attic about saving the children.
Holocaust history should still be very much in the public's mind and in our education, and it's little moments like these that should be celebrated, not forgotten.
Asexual Awareness Week usually happens in October, but sweet learnin' should hypothetically happen all day, every day.
When others seem to be enjoying life, the black dog stands in the way for a lot of people. If you're wondering WTF I'm talking about, watch the video. And if you recognize any of this, maybe it's time to think about taking some steps to look after yourself.
Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is facing an uphill battle for reelection in next year’s midterms. But luckily for McConnell, his powerful allies in the dirty energy industry have deep pockets and are willing to shower his campaign with cash to help increase his chances of victory.
Over the last year, McConnell has been described as “the most unpopular Senator,” and in the last few months his approval rating has fallen to the mid-30’s. He is currently trailing Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes by 2 percentage points in polls.
McConnell’s allies in the business community, specifically the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, released an ad earlier this week touting McConnell’s commitment to the coal industry, and attacking the so-called “war on coal” coming from the Obama Administration. Here is the ad:
According to 350.org, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funded, at least in part, by a number of dirty energy companies. This helps explain their willingness to use the “war on coal” as a tool to aid in McConnell’s reelection.
However, as I’ve pointed out several times in recent months, the Obama Administration has not waged a war on coal — a fact that the coal industry readily admits. Furthermore, the war on coal talking point failed to resonate with Kentucky voters in the 2012 election, and there is no evidence to suggest that it will fare any better in 2014.
What politicians like McConnell and groups like the U.S. Chamber are actually supporting is an assault on public health and the environment in Kentucky, not to mention the working class. The coal industry has proven to be a disaster for residents, as I wrote back in August:
In a nutshell, the coal industry is a net negative for the state of Kentucky. When considering only the direct costs that the coal mining industry encounters, which includes research and development, training, and repairing the infrastructure that is destroyed or degraded during coal mining and moving, the industry is in the red.
Coal mining and coal dumping sites are riddled with both poverty and exceedingly higher than average rates of cancer. Both of these external costs are shifted onto the taxpayers and federal government, who will ultimately have to pay for assistance and healthcare for those affected by the industry’s activities.
Kentucky, as a direct result of the coal industry, is home to Congressional districts that rank last in the country in life expectancy, general well-being, and emotional and physical health…the state ranks fourth in the country for toxic power plant emissions, and is second in the nation for the release of arsenic, a cancer-causing heavy metal released into the environment from power plants and mountaintop removal mining.
McConnell is so desperate to win re-election that he is willing to support an industry that is literally killing his home state, and he’s even more willing to take money from a group like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which has become political poison for candidates.
In the 2012 election, the Chamber was only successful in 6.9% of the campaigns that they supported, making them one of the biggest losers, both financially and politically, in last year’s elections.
In the 2010 midterm elections, the U.S. Chamber spent more than $132 million to support industry-friendly candidates, with 94% of that cash going to candidates who deny the existence of manmade climate change. That’s not exactly a crowd that McConnell needs to be a part of if he hopes to continue his political career in an era where the majority of the public accepts the science of climate change.
The “war on coal” talking point has failed in the past, and it will fail again in the future. The same can be said of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Americans are beginning to wise up to the fact that candidates who support the destruction of the environment and public health are not to be trusted, and that could spell the end for politicians who prioritize dirty energy dollars ahead of the interests of their constituents.
The night before last night we attacked the electronic communication net in Berlin (Germany). Our act of sabotage took place at a Vodafone radio tower and is meant as a symbol against total surveillance by governments, secret services and transnational corporations. Vodafone was chosen because it is eagerly engaged in cooperating with the british secret service GCHQ. GCHQ cooperates with the american secret service NSA. And NSA in turn cooperates with german secret service BND. Secret services collect patterns of normality and compare particular behaviours in order to find out if you could plan something deviant before you know it yourself. The collaborations of secret service industry and the industry’s secret services secure the conditions of profit and power for both of them.
For us, the careless use of electronic devices and internet applications is problematic: Every move can be digitalized and technology is not neutral. We don’t know how an emancipatory development of communication looks like, but we believe it would work in a different way and we have to find out together. In the meantime, we encourage to block infrastructure and bring it to a halt – against the stream of exploitation and surveillance, against a society based on destruction of human and nature.
Sabotage of the surveillance industry and infrastructures of exploitation!
Blind secret services!
Freedom of Movement and asylum for Edward Snowden and everybody else – No border, no nation!
Freedom for Chelsea Manning!
—-Sorry, details only in German language —-
Überwachungspause: Vodafonefunkturm sabotiert
Vodafone connecting people.
Mit allen verbunden – mit niemandem verbündet.
300 Freunde und keinen Freund.
Dafür ein großer Bruder.
Er passt auf dich auf.
Nur nicht, wenn wir ihm seine Infrastruktur zerstören-
Zeit sich zu verbünden!
Like or dislike?
Wir sabotierten in der Nacht vom Mittwoch auf den Donnerstag (27./28.11.2013) einen Knoten im Netz der elektronischen Kommunikation An zwei größeren Kabelsträngen einer Sende- und Empfangsanlage des Vodafone-Konzerns in Adlershof (Berlin) haben wir in 7 Metern Höhe einen Brand gelegt. Dazu haben wir in zwei Verbindungsschächten zwischen dem angegliederten Gebäude und dem Richt- und Mobilfunkmast mehrere zeitverzögert gezündete Brandsätze deponiert. Eine Gefährdung für Menschen haben wir ausgeschlossen. Es kam zu starken Beschädigungen des Funkturmes. Angeblich reagierte der Konzern auf unsere Beschädigung eines für ihn wichtigen Infrastrukturknotenpunktes mit der Umleitung der Datenströme. Doch vor zwei Wochen sorgte die Durchtrennung alleine eines Glasfaserkabels in Adlershof (Berlin) für einen Ausfall des Netzes für mehrere Stunden. Potentiell betroffen waren dadurch 50.000 Kunden.
Unsere Sabotage richtet sich gegen die totale Überwachung durch Regierungen, Geheimdienste und Konzerne sowie gegen das reibungslose Funktionieren der Metropole.
Seitdem durch Edward Snowden öffentlich wurde, in welchem Umfang Geheimdienste die Menschen – alle Menschen – ausspähen, kapieren wir, dass wir eine Zeitenwende miterleben. Es geht um den umfassenden Versuch, jeden Menschen, jede Gesellschaft zu kontrollieren, um sie steuerbar zu machen; zu jedem Tag, jeder Minute, jeder Millisekunde aller menschlichen Äußerungen habhaft zu werden, jeder Meinung, aller Gefühle, Erzählungen, allem Erlebten, Betrauerten und jeder Freude. Selbst den Füllstand unserer Kühlschränke haben sie im Visier. Keine Diktatur konnte je so tief und umfassend eindringen in das Leben aller, wie es durch die „demokratische“ Kontrolle der digitalen Kommunikationswege heute möglich ist. Die offen zutage tretende Tendenz zu einer Realität der totalen Überwachung entspringt der menschenverachtenden Phantasie einer totalen Steuerbarkeit von Gesellschaft.
Wir sehen einen epochalen Wandel, in dem Geheimdienste in vorausschauender Paranoia vor kommenden globalen Aufständen, Flüchtlingsströmen und Hungerrevolten die Kontrolle über jede Kommunikation und Bewegung erlangen wollen. Dabei gehen sie bereits zum Angriff über: Der deutsche Auslandsgeheimdienst (BND) liefert Daten, die den USA dabei helfen, Menschen mit Drohnen abzuschlachten, und die US-Horchposten bei Wiesbaden und Bad Aibling funktionieren trotz aller diplomatischen Krise reibungslos weiter. Von dort und anderswo überwachen sie gemeinsam die sozialen Folgen ihrer Politik: Armut, Krieg, Wasser- und Ressourcenkämpfe in nie gekanntem Ausmaß. Mit der Auswertung des gesamten Internetverkehrs und der Telekommunikation wollen sie das, was sie für gefährlich halten, erkennbar machen, bevor es entsteht. Gefährlich für ihre Herrschaft wohlgemerkt, denn gegen z.B. Wassermangel hilft Totalüberwachung wenig.
Die Geheimdienste errechnen Muster der Normalität und gleichen konkretes Verhalten dann ab, um in Erfahrung zu bringen, ob Du etwas Abweichendes vorhaben könntest, bevor du es selber weißt. Es geht ihnen darum, die Gefahren für Herrschaft und Verwertung präventiv zu erkennen, so dass sie politischen Bewegungen und Widerstandshandlungen frühzeitig und mit den jeweils geeigneten Mitteln begegnen können. Zwischen Integration und militärischer Zerschlagung gibt es dabei hunderte Spielarten der Herrschaftssicherung. Welche die erfolgversprechendste ist, soll die jeweilige Datenlage ableitbar machen.
Nicht dass uns die totale Überwachung aufgezwungen wäre. Aufgrund subjektiv erfahrener Alltagsnotwendigkeit oder auch Bequemlichkeit, Langeweile bzw. Spaß daran machen alle mit. Alle telefonieren, nutzen das Internet, mailen, posten, chatten, liken, twittern oder schreiben Briefe, bezahlen mit Karte, gehen im Kamerawald spazieren… und das Smart-Phone ist selbstverständlich immer dabei, wird zur allgegenwärtigen Wanze, zum selbstauferlegten Ortungsgerät, zur Überwachungskamera von Unten. Jede Lebensäußerung strömt digital in Richtung der heimlichen Macht. Unsere sozialen Strukturen tauschen wir ein gegen die Mitgliedschaft in Netzen, die nichts weniger als das Attribut „sozial“ verdient haben: in denen man sich „Freunde“ anklicken und wieder wegklicken kann.
Kann einer oder eine sich der Vernetzung, der Einwebung in die perverse Big-Brother-Realität heute verweigern, sich wehren? Kommunikation ist menschlich. Aber wir müssen dabei nicht jeden Scheiß mitmachen, der uns noch kontrollierbarer, berechenbarer und zahmer macht, bei dem Selbstzensur zur Bedingung wird, wenn man nicht will, dass jemand einen verdächtig findet bzw. der automatische Mustervergleich einen Vermerk macht. Um miteinander zu kommunizieren brauchen wir nicht nur keinen Staat – wir brauchen auch keine Telekommunikations- und Internetkonzerne. Diese organisieren unsere Kommunikation ja nur, um die dabei anfallenden Informationen, Muster und Profile auszuwerten und weiterzuverkaufen. Sie wollen für ihre Werbekunden attraktiver werden, die uns dann noch mehr von dem Mist anzudrehen versuchen, den wir sowieso schon nicht brauchen. Die umfassende Kontrolle funktioniert nur so reibungslos, weil Konzerne wie Vodafone mitmachen.
Wir haben uns Vodafone ausgesucht, weil dieser Konzern besonders bereitwillig mit dem britischen Geheimdienst GCHQ zusammenarbeitet. Und der wiederum mit der NSA. Und die wiederum mit dem BND. Doch die Kooperation der Konzerne mit den Regierungen und Geheimdiensten ist unvermeidlich, weil ein gemeinsames Interesse besteht: Geheimdienst-Konzerne und Konzern-Geheimdienste sichern sich gegenseitig ihre Profitmaximierungs- und Herrschaftsbedingungen. Alle machen sie mit. Denn was passiert, wenn sich Unternehmen der Zusammenarbeit nach den Vorgaben der Geheimdienste widersetzen, zeigte sich bereits nach Snowdens ersten Enthüllungen: Zwei kleinere Internetdienstleistungsfirmen sahen sich gezwungen dicht zu machen, weil sie nicht alle ihre Daten der NSA zugänglich machen wollten.
Mit der Zerstörung eines Infrastrukturknotenpunkts wäre es allerdings nicht getan: Eine Technologie, die Allwissenheit unter den Bedingungen von Geheimhaltung und Unkontrollierbarkeit der Allwissenden herstellen soll, stellt ein grundsätzliches Problem dar. Deswegen muss sie auch fundamental kritisiert werden. Unter den herrschenden Bedingungen können elektronische Medien nur noch ein äußerst geringes emanzipatorisches Potential bieten. Die Medien- und Kommunikationskontrolle verhindert eine Nutzung der elektronischen Medien für wirkungsvollen Widerstand gegen die Zustände. Dass wir diesen Text auch elektronisch verschicken, ist nur vordergründig ein Widerspruch, denn wir sind genötigt, dafür Lücken im Überwachungssystem zu finden.
Der Widerspruch zwischen räumlich und zeitlich entgrenzter Kommunikation einerseits und der Einschränkung wirklich freier Kommunikation durch das Überwachungssystem andererseits ist innerhalb des Systems nicht lösbar. Die massenhafte Nutzung des Internets, die Milliarden Smart-Phones und die restlose Computerisierung sind derzeit nur unter ausbeuterischen und räuberischen Verhältnissen machbar. Ob es unter anderen gesellschaftlichen Bedingungen die Perspektive einer von Herrschaft und Profitmaximierung befreiten Bereitstellung und Nutzung elektronischer Kommunikationsnetze geben kann, wissen wir nicht. Das kann derzeit allenfalls Gegenstand von Utopiedebatten sein.
Aber wir wissen um aktuelle Auseinandersetzungen: Könnten die Vergesellschaftung der Telekom- und Internetkonzerne, die radikale Dezentralisierung von Netzinfrastrukturen und die Verwendung von OpenSource-Technologien zu nicht hierarchischen und schwerer überwachbaren Kommunikationsverhältnisse führen – auch schon innerhalb des Bestehenden? Könnte daraus ein globales Netz der Netze werden, in dem die Knotenpunkte nicht von kapitalistischen Konzernen oder Institutionen des bürgerlichen Staates betrieben und überwacht werden, sondern von all denen, die einfach nur kommunizieren wollen – zu herrschaftsfreien Bedingungen und Zwecken? Reste solcher Strukturen aus den weniger populären und kommerzialisierten Zeiten des Internet sind noch vorhanden. Wir sind uns da nicht sicher.
Grundsätzliche Technikkritik und Kritik an den Verhältnissen hängen untrennbar zusammen. Die Technik prägt die Realität und ist selbst von ihr geprägt. Die menschengemachten unmenschlichen gesellschaftlichen Zwecke schreiben sich in den technologischen Fortschritt ein. Es gibt keine Technik, die sich unabhängig vom Einfluss der sie umgebenden Gesellschaft entwickelt und die ohne soziale Auswirkungen bleibt. Kurz: Es gibt keine neutrale Technik. Wie kommunikationstechnologischer Fortschritt unter emanzipatorischen Bedingungen aussehen würde, wissen wir nicht. Aber dass befreite Kommunikation irgendwie ganz anders wäre, davon sind wir überzeugt.
So suchen wir neue Wege zu reden, zu sehen, sich zu begegnen – ohne NSA, BND, Verfassungsschutz, GCHQ, Vodafone, Telekom, Microsoft, Apple, Google… Und wir sind uns sicher, dass wir nicht alleine sind. Unsere Kraft reicht zwar nicht, Inlandsgeheimdienste abzuschaffen, die einer rassistischen Mordserie zuschauten und Nazis finanzieren, Auslandsgeheimdienste und Militär zu zerschlagen, „Frontex“ im Meer vor Lampedusa zu versenken, die Kommunikationskonzerne abzuwickeln, … Aber wir können an empfindlichen Schwachstellen ansetzen, durch die Sabotage der Netze! Über diese wird schließlich der Komplettzugriff auf unsere Leben organisiert.
Einige Menschen sind in der Lage, Infrastruktur und technische Einrichtungen befristet lahm zu legen. Andere sind in der Lage zu hacken, um die Überwacher_innen in ihren technischen Anlagen von Innen anzugreifen. Wieder andere Menschen desertieren aus ihren vorgeschriebenen Funktionen und können als Whistleblower_innen die heimlichtuenden Allwissenden in die Enge treiben. Wieder andere können Whistleblower_innen und Desertierte vielfältig unterstützen. Und wieder andere Menschen unterlaufen aktuelle Überwachungs- und Selbstausbeutungstechnologien, verweigern sich oder behindern sie im Alltag. Es gibt viele Möglichkeiten, der heraufdämmernden globalen Diktatur Sand ins Getriebe zu streuen. Dabei wird das Knirschen um so heftiger sein, je geschickter wir unsere unterschiedlichsten Interventionen bündeln, je solidarischer wir uns aufeinander beziehen.
Wir ermuntern dazu, mittels Sabotage Infrastruktureinrichtungen zu blockieren und letztlich lahmzulegen – gegen den alltäglichen Fluss von Verwertung und Überwachung. Unsere Aktion konnte nur ein Loch in das Netz brennen, doch viele Aktionen sorgen für das Zerreißen der Netze. Letztlich geht es gegen das Weiterso einer auf Zerstörung und ausbeuterische Lebensweise ausgerichteten Gesellschaft. Gezielt, andauernd, an vielen Orten, mit unterschiedlichsten Mitteln und Formen. Wir sind in Übereinstimmung mit vorangegangenen Aktionen und mit deren Zielsetzungen vorgegangen: Die Gruppen „Das Grollen des Eyjafjallajökull“, „Hekla -Empfangskomitee“ und „Grims Vötn“ hatten die Infrastruktur der Metropole Berlin zum Ziel – mit dem Schwerpunkt auf Mobilität. Der Gruppe „ Eyjafjallajökull“ gelang es darüber hinaus auch, einen zeitweiligen Ausfall der Netzverbindungen bei Vodafone herbeizuführen.
Wir halten sowohl Mobilitäts- als auch Kommunikationsinfrastruktur für zentrale Bedingungen für das Funktionieren von Ausbeutung und Herrschaft in der und durch die Metropole.
Für eine Sabotage von Überwachungs-, Ausbeutungs- und Verwertungsinfrastrukturen!
Geheimdienste blind machen!
Freie Reisemöglichkeit und Asyl für Edward Snowden und alle Menschen weltweit – Grenzen auf für alle!
Freiheit für Chelsea Manning!
Anonymous/Vulkangruppe KatlaTags: germanysabatogeCategory: International
New York City just demanded that owners of rifles and/or shotguns that hold more than five rounds of ammunition immediately surrender their firearms. Gun owners started receiving the letters earlier this week...
From Contra Info
Before I start describing the incident, I would like to mention the reasons why I haven’t initiated any formal complaint or lawsuit. First off, I declare myself an anarchist-antiauthoritarian. Therefore, my conscience cannot be misled by legal proceedings. Freedom combatants should draw the battle lines against the system and its “privileges” offered to us. In the following account of the incident (which occurred two days before the anniversary of the murder of comrade Alexis Grigoropoulos, in 2008), I want to make it clear that I do not consider myself a victim of the described attack, because the battle lines are drawn, and we stand against the enemy, as I already mentioned.
On the night of December 4, 2013 I was in the downtown area of Exarchia alongside other comrades, when we understood that we were followed by three plainclothes cops close to the corner of Benaki and Eressou streets. We briefly talked about what to do, and then we chased and harassed the cops. Two of the plainclothes ran away on Dervenion street toward Zoodochou Pigis street, while the third cop ran off to Eressou street, heading also to Zoodochou Pigis. It came as no surprise when we saw the first two thugs making a turn into Valtetsiou street and then on to Charilaou Trikoupi street, exactly where an anti-riot squadron is permanently stationed. We looked back, towards the third cop, and I yelled at him: “Where do you think you’re going, you fuckin’ undercover?” Suddenly I noticed that he was holding a gun pointed at me, and he shouted: “Come here… I’ll fuck you over” pointing his gun at my chest. In the next few seconds he cocked his pistol, ready to fire, and I shouted back at him: “What are you going to do, shoot me?” He shot me in the leg. At that precise moment, I didn’t realized that I was injured however, and the thought that his next bullet would hit me made me run towards Exarchia square, where I finally saw I was wounded in the leg.
I considered useful to disclose this information not to spread fear but rage. We won’t chicken out no matter what; they must get it through their heads we don’t bend, not even with bullets.
Attack first and always, with every possible way and every means, against the State and its minions.
See each other on the streets today, December 6 and every day.
The bullet will be returned to both the instigators and the perpetrators of the shot.
Strength to the vagabonds who are accused in the cases of Velventos and Nea Filadelfeia.
M.K.Tags: greeceextremeCategory: International
It's time for some real talk about how we use the word "fat" about the millions of us who create the statistic.
There are 401 national parks, monuments, preserves, and other historic sites in the United States. That's 401 beautiful places where you've hiked up a hill, had a birthday party, took a date, shared a meal, or looked at some truly epic rock thing. Isn't it time we gave a little bit back to the places that have given us so much?
ORIGINAL: By the National Parks Conservation Association. Thumbnail image by Trodel, used under Creative Commons license. If the spirit of Mother Nature moves you, tell your senators and representatives about the constant decline of park funding because, seriously, someone has to find a permanent solution here. And if they could find it before the Dec. 13 budget deadline, that'd be great.
Michael Lee has struggled with alcoholism his whole life. Learn how he went from finding himself naked in a car full of leaves to almost killing a friend and himself — and then how he decided to live his life at 2:00.
If you'd like to see more of Michael Lee, you could totally Like him on Facebook. And share this? Totally up to you.
I've Just Read Nelson Mandela's Beautiful Advice On How To Live, And Now I Want To Make Some Changes
Nelson Mandela was a symbol of courage. After he was released from an unjust 27-year prison stay in 1990, he led negotiations for the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He was elected as South Africa's first black president in 1994. He lived a full life working as a humanitarian, and his efforts — fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa and working to end poverty — changed Africa for the better.
He passed away Dec. 5, 2013. He will be remembered as a hero for generations to come.
Please share this and honor his memory.
Society — and especially the fashion industry — often treats disabled people like they're invisible. So it's nice to see these men and women in the spotlight for a change.
This gem of an ad was made 15 years ago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. I think the message is timeless.
Step back into history with me to witness this historical moment with Nelson Mandela in all its glory. He may no longer be with us, but there is certainly no way you'll be able to forget the inspirational words he uttered at his inauguration speech below.
"Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and Friends:
Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world, confer glory and hope to newborn liberty.
Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.
Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.
All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today.
To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld.
Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal. The national mood changes as the seasons change.
We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.
That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression.
We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.
We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.
We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity, non-sexism, non-racialism and democracy.
We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass democratic, religious, women, youth, business, traditional and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is my Second Deputy President, the Honourable F.W. de Klerk.
We would also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the distinguished role they have played in securing our first democratic elections and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which still refuse to see the light.
The time for the healing of the wounds has come.
The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.
The time to build is upon us.
We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.
We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.
We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.
As a token of its commitment to the renewal of our country, the new Interim Government of National Unity will, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for various categories of our people who are currently serving terms of imprisonment.
We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free.
Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.
We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.
We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.
We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.
We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.
Let there be justice for all.
Let there be peace for all.
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
Let freedom reign.
The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!
God bless Africa!
ORIGINAL: By Nelson Mandela. The transcript is via The University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center.
Now is the time to find out about this urgent situation. This report shows how the Central African Republic has descended into chaos ... and how it is only getting worse. It's still early enough to avert a crisis in this country — but why the hell does it feel like it's barely being talked about?
The mental image we were brought up with of Santa's workshop was of hoards of elves working away making new stuff, painting wooden trains with paintpots and so on. But what if we were able to shift that image, and instead tell our children that the elves aren't making stuff, they're repairing it? That Santa's crack team, with their little screwdrivers and soldering irons, were breathing new life into tired laptops, mobile phones with cracked screens, and TVs with buttons missing? That new vision already exists, it's called a Restart Party. We caught up with Ugo Vallauri of London's Restart Project to find out more.
I started by asking Ugo to explain what the Restart Project is. He told me:
"The Restart Project is a new social enterprise in London creating a network of community repair events in the UK and abroad, helping people to regain skills around the repair and reuse of small electrical and electronic objects and devices, and developing and delivering services to businesses based on the same concept.
We bring repair back to the mainstream by creating engaging opportunities for teens and small organisations through team building and to learn about engaging ways to bring together teams around discussions and repair and reuse of objects.
My colleague and co-founder Janet Gunter we worked, both of us, in international development for many years. I was living for a few years in Kenya where the repair culture has obviously never died and in fact is thriving. No-one would ever dream of throwing something away. I was working in an area which tries to bridge international development with the use of new communication and new media technologies [here is a good video introduction to Restart].
All these projects always involve, in one way or another, bringing technologies to the developing world. Every time I came back to Europe I had a sense that the more technology we were bringing to other people, the more we actually have to question how we use this technology in general back home, and how non-resilient our technology is, in terms of continuously upgrading and moving on, always being excited about the next big thing; the new technology, the new tablet, the new printer and not really having the same approach. Particularly for people that care about the environment and climate change, not having the same approach we have, for example, around food.
We want to know everything about where our food comes from but the same people might be people that instead keep upgrading their phones or their laptops and not sure about what is involved in the manufacturing and disposal of these objects. That’s where the idea really came from.
If people came to visit, what would they find? Where are you, what happens, what’s your place?
We have an office in central London. We don’t really exist here in the same way we exist through our events. Our events are all pop-up events that happen in all kinds of different places where a network of volunteer repairers, experts, coaches with all kinds of technical skills help all participants at our Restart parties in resuscitating devices that people had lost hope on.
Giving a second life to things such as toasters, printers, tablets, laptops, mobile phones and the like. We have hosted such events in all kinds of places, from community centres to pubs, art galleries, schools, universities, even in a church in North London.
How fixable are things nowadays? My sense is that most people’s experience is that you can buy a printer for 40 quid and they go wrong so easily. Can you actually fix those things? Most people would just throw it away and get another one.
Most consumer products that we use today still are fixable but obviously manufacturers have made certain compromises and trade-offs in the way they miniaturise products, which has led to consumers accepting certain products non knowing the trade-off that they were accepting. So in many cases we can still fix quite a lot of things.
However, the cost of doing that, if you were to pay someone per hour to do it, would not be comparable to buying a new product, which is also due to all the externalities linked to the disposal of products and the manufacturing of them, and the whole distribution networks are not taken in to consideration, not to mention all the technological costs linked to production, rare materials, disposal and appropriate disposal [here is Janet Gunter of Restart speaking recently at TEDx Brixton].
Even when we accept that things are recycled and disposed of in ecologically approved ways, we really often don’t realise that a lot of the substances go through a massive shredding process where we are led to believe that recycling is the right thing to do. We really should be questioning this and focusing more on reuse and repair before we even consider recycling.
What does the time you’ve spent taking these devices to bits and trying to reuse them tell you about the mindset of, and the pressures on, the people who design them in the first place?
Certainly designers are aware of the trade-offs. In my experience it’s quite easy to agree with them that things could be done differently. But the pressure they are put under by whoever does the brief reduces their chances of having a say when in comes to making decisions that could change the upgradeability of products. If you look at today’s modern small laptops, the ultrabooks, the thinner laptops, nothing prevents manufacturers from making choices that would make it still possible for users to upgrade their products, for example by increasing the amount of RAM memory after they are purchased.
Some manufacturers, the majority of them actually, are now soldering the memory to the motherboard of the computer which means you no longer have the freedom to change the memory or increase the amount of memory, let’s say after two or three years use of the product. That is not really due to a need to further reduce the size of the product. In fact there are comparable products that don’t make that kind of trade-off.
How do you find or train people who actually have the skills to be able to repair these things?
This is one of the most interesting aspects. We didn’t know about this when we started. There’s a wonderful community of people out there that were basically waiting for these kinds of events to happen, to be able to be given a chance to contribute and inspire a community of users. The most extraordinary thing is that we’ve actually just promoted this event and a lot of people have come forward and they were ‘one of us’. There are fantastic skills out there. Actually, the massive projects are actually reskilling entire communities, making sure we have more widespread access to tools and to the knowledge that will help us live in a more resilient way.
Our relationship with technology is actually possible because there are people that until now were quite hidden, maybe working on the side and not appreciated for the kind of technical hardware and software skills that they had. They are extraordinarily happy to provide those skills for the rest of their communities. What I always tell people who want to start a Restart party in their community, and Transition Town or other organisations that want to get involved is "don’t worry, repairers will come".
What’s more crucial is that you organise an event, publicise it properly, and that you have a few initial technicians that you already know. But many more technicians and people eager and happy to help will come up and share their skills. People love to share their skills. It’s really an old myth, the fact that people with technical skills don’t like to share them. We’ve found an incredible community of people who work day and night to increase this movement because they just have a variety of wonderful skills and they’re so much up for sharing them.
Is it not the case that our Western economic model, which depends on economic growth, depends also on us buying things and throwing them away? If everyone started doing Restart Projects everywhere and repairing everything and not throwing anything away, would that not bring our economy to its knees?
Clearly we see this project at the crossroads of the old economy and the new economy that we would like to see. The new economy is one that sees growth in terms of services and providing a new meaning for local economic development: one less centred around products and use and abuse of resources and one more centred around skills and people and making sense of human relationships. Quite contrary to of the criticism around this, we believe firmly in using this project to create more awareness and demand for commercial repair services as well as community oriented ones.
We are looking at models where the use of new resources and the disposal of old ones only happens when people are empowered to make that decision. So they will go out and buy a new computer or a new mobile phone when indeed it is what they need and not what they’re led to believe is the right thing to do.
Obviously this is a model that scares a lot of people because it implies a rethink of how we create value. Currently we create value, funnily enough, out of the disposal of electronic waste. There’s what we call the outer circle of the circular economy which tries to make products more easy to disassemble at the end of life, as opposed to focusing on what’s really crucial for us, which is making products easier to repair so that less waste is generated to begin with.
In this way we create more value and more jobs around the repair of things at a community level, where it’s cheaper, there’s no shipping back and forth, and we can rebuild more meaningful relationships considering specifically that our high streets, as we all know, are dying. So many shops have closed and so many spaces are empty and this we see as an opportunity to really reinvent how this service is delivered and redefine creative values to our goods here and now.
What’s the relationship been with Transition? There’s some connection between yourselves and Transition Brixton, am I right?
There’s been connections with Transition both in Belsize where I’m from and Transition Brixton and we’re now talking to other groups. We’ve done an event together with Transition Dartmouth Park, one with Primrose Hill, one we’re discussing with Kensal to Kilburn and we’ve been in touch with other Transition initiatives across the country who want to get involved and replicate the model. We see this as a great opportunity, because the Restart party, and you’ll find more information about this on our website therestartproject.org.
Restart is a format that every organisation can incorporate and reuse locally as long as it’s kept as a free event supported by donations but open to everyone and very inclusive, as well as being centred around joint learning between people who repair and people who want to learn how to repair the things that they have broken at home.
We see a fantastic opportunity to help Transition Towns use a format that will bring them a new way of getting in touch with their local community, both in terms of new types of volunteers who might not have had a chance to share their skills and not seen themselves as valuable resources for their communities. It’s also a way to create events that speak to a wider portion of society.
What we noticed during these community repair events is that there is an easy way to talk to people of all kinds, from people who really care about the environment and see it as a matter of principle not to throw things away, to people who might not be able to afford a commercial repair and have been harder to reach out to for whatever reason.
The nature of popping up in all kinds of different venues really helps create a dialogue with a much wider set of groups in the communities around us. We’d love to collaborate further with the Transition movement in establishing many more Restart parties across the world.
You talked about how you see and how you’ve planned and designed Restart as being a social enterprise. Could you tell us a bit more about that – how do you see this becoming something that’s able to be financially self-supporting and create livelihoods for people and so on? What’s that model?
We’ve just launched a series of services called Restart Your Workplace, and we see this as a quintessential part of our plan. We noticed that the kind of services we provide to communities obviously make a lot of sense especially in their complete, independent nature. But some of the key values of those events make sense in all kinds of other environments. So we designed a few services that we’re promoting to businesses.
One is around what we call Restart Pop-Up, which is like a clinic that we can take to any organisations for any number of hours, where community repairers will help fix and repair things that belong to employees or things that belong to the company creating a service that people can use during one hour, their lunch break, during a corporate event and creating a buzz and sharing some of our best resources and the best learnings and our wonderful repair culture.
Then we’ve created a more professional service called Restart for Teams which is based on creating a more learning-oriented half-day team building event where a team works in small groups with our best coaches learning the key skills that could transform you from a passive consumer to a much more engaged repairer, getting to know your products; learning how to take a smartphone apart and change the battery and double its future life and learning how to use the basic tools. Using this as a collaborative effort that brings things together, enhances problem solving and is also a lot of fun.
The third one is aimed at small organisations. Not-for-profits are particularly stressed about their IT costs and we help them figure out a way through our trainings to be more resilient and use what they already have in terms of technologies in their business at its best and reducing unnecessary costs in terms of hefty fees paid to an external consultant.
We see this as exactly the same philosophy as what led to the launching of the Restart project but taking some of these key elements to new audiences and reinforcing our message. We’re talking exactly how the same resilience and the same skill sharing are taken into new environments where people see value for them and helping us further develop the community services that we want to develop and provide for free to everyone.
How’s that going? Are you pleased with how it’s been developing and the interest it’s been generating?
In terms of interest it’s going great. We’ve run some wonderful pilots with a number of organisations and we are now relaunching it and marketing it more aggressively. It looks like a lot of people really enjoy this fresh approach and we are lining up quite a few events for the beginning of next year.
You were one of the businesses that appeared in the New Economy in 20 Enterprises report that REconomy did. Do you feel part of a wider new economy movement, and if so, what does that mean or look like for you?
We obviously feel part of a much wider movement. Even just in terms of repair, we’re clearly not alone. There’s an ecosystem of new services and products that are creating value in this area, from companies producing tools that help make it easier for repairers to do their work, to other projects similar to ours but perhaps without the drive to reach social enterprise status and focusing more on community values around repair.
But of course we feel very much part of this new wave, trying to create economic value around new ways of approaching environmental challenges and local engagement, local community development.
It’s very hard at the moment because it’s much easier to come up with a great idea and to push it these days with the internet to reach global visibility around that than to really create a business case for it of course. But we find it a particular time, both in terms of the environmental awareness that seems to be happening in this community and the push for a rethink of our relationship with waste, very much in line with all the social enterprises that are working around food and trying to create a more meaningful relationship between our skills and how we can create value that makes sense for our communities around it.
If you’re successful and the idea that you have really takes off and we see Restart happening everywhere, in an ideal world, what does our relationship with ‘stuff’ look like? It seems at the moment our relationship with stuff is an unhealthy one which generates disappointment and debt and waste and so on and so on. What does a healthy relationship with stuff look like?
It’s a great question, because we have just come up with a new tag line for the Restart project, which says ‘let’s fix our relationship with technology’. We are not just looking at fixing products per se, but really using this as a way to reflect on how we relate to specific objects that are so commonplace in our daily life at this point.
We believe that getting to know a product, including getting to know how you take it part, and having much more open information about where its components come from will help us appreciate in a much more detailed way and fall in love in sense with the things we have as opposed to basically having a very transient relationship with them.
The more we see groups wanting to replicate our work from New Zealand to the US, from Italy to South Africa, we have started to realise that a focus on bringing people together and solving problems at a community level helps people realise that it’s much more important to focus on what we can learn together through these objects than to be always bombarded with marketing messages trying to push to us innovations that are often just perceived innovations, not bringing any more value or better relationships with the people surrounding us.
We believe that ideally, we should come to terms with how much stuff, technologically speaking, we are surrounded by, and learning to make sense of what we have, using it at its best and learning how to repair and reuse. Not everything, obviously, we can’t expect everyone to learn how to repair everything, but to be aware that repair should always be the first option and the fact that something stops working is not an excuse to really move on and go and buy the next flash thing. We should always be mindful of the kind of relationship we have with things.
In a way, people have developed a relationship with objects, we know a lot of people who wouldn’t ever throw away an old mobile phone because it still contains memories, whether in terms of an old SMS from someone special or the memory of a time when that phone was operational. We want to help increase this relationship, just reduces the chance of having to give up on things just because of the way consumer society has been pushing us to move on without us really wanting to necessarily [lastly, here is an interview with Ugo from Smart Monkey TV].
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