We must stop the Fossil Fuel Follies


By Compost

The “Thin Green Line” is a term coined for the grassroots resistance of the Pacific Northwest to stop the massive export of fossil fuels from North America to Asian countries, and in general, to slow the climate-changing burning of fossil fuels. There are a mind boggling number of proposals for export facilities, pipelines and train transport along the west coast, as the fossil fuel industry races the growing human realization that our species is unlikely to survive unless we can stop putting so much carbon into the atmosphere.

From the proposed oil export terminal on the old Oakland Army Base, to the liquid natural gas pipeline proposal through Oregon, to the Unist’ot’en camp on tribal lands that blocks pipelines through central British Colombia, people all up the west coast of North America are active trying to stop fossil fuel export.

One strong stand is being made at Cherry Point, just north of Bellingham, WA on native Lummi tribal lands. There is a proposal there for a large coal export terminal that would that would receive nine mile-and-a-half long trains coming and going daily, carrying coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana. This coal would then be put on large ships that would navigate through the precious Salish Sea and on to Asian markets. The owners of the terminal, SSA Marine (49% owned by Goldman Sachs, and partnering with Peabody Energy) intends to export 54 million metric tons of coal annually.

There is great concern on many fronts to the proposal. First, the terminal expansion plan is on a significant cultural site and an ancestral burial ground of the first nations people of the Lummi tribe. The project also threatens an important Herring fishery and Salmon habitat. The Lummi have petitioned the Army Corp of Engineers to deny the coal terminal permit on treaty grounds that it will interfere with their treaty rights to livelihood.

Also there are the immediate health and environmental concerns of the pollution and dangers from the coal dust, the “surfactants” used to limit the dust, and the diesel exhaust. According to BNSF Railway website, these 15,000-ton trains will lose three percent of their load in transit or 1,780,000 short tons of coal dust spread annually from the Powder River Basin to the terminal. Add on the effects on all the communities of such extensive rail traffic blocking roads and emergency vehicles, noise pollution and loud train whistles, dangers of accidents, property value loss and added costs to municipalities. And furthermore, sending cheap fossil fuels abroad encourages local job loss, lessons our self reliance and incredibly damages the environment through extraction, transport and use.

And importantly the increased marine traffic through the environmentally sensitive Salish Sea would increase chance of accidents, oil spills and pollution that threatens this precious ecosystem and rare Orca whale habitat. Top it all off with the folly of continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels that are causing such dramatic climate changes and you have one hell of a bad idea!

This is a big deal. Activists, tribal members, and concerned folks are our chance at turning this around. And there have been successes. Arch Coal which was trying to put a big coal port in Longview WA, just declared bankruptcy, Obama finally denied the permit for the much protested against XL pipeline, the Northern Gateway pipeline seems to be fading from Enbridge’s plans in British Columbia and Shell stopped their plans to drill for oil in the remote arctic ocean. Just recently “The Delta 5”, five activists who blockaded an oil train near Seattle, have been been allowed to use the necessity defense in a historic climate change civil disobedience trial. “The Thin Green Line” of awakened citizens is what stands between the insane continuation of failed fossil fuel folly and the hopeful turning to alternative ways of being, necessary to protect life on earth. The time is now, before the machines of destruction get further built, to turn this around. It really is a life and death decision this generation must make. We know. Let’s turn it around. www.powerpastcoalorg/

No anarchy at the RNC/DNC – have Black bloc? Please Travel


By P. Wingnut

Every four years, the big mainstream political parties have their slick, corporate-style national conventions to nominate presidential candidates and — like salmon returning to spawn — the riffraff turns up to flip them off, party in the streets and call the whole democracy™ spectacle out for the fraud it is. This year the Democrats will slime Philadelphia July 25-28 at the Wells Fargo Center and the Republicans will be at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio July 18-21.

As of press time, we’re aware of a few protests planned and it is early — surely more will materialize — but it is currently looking like the “anarchist” scene (such as it is) isn’t in a mood to play. There is a “Resist the 2016 Cleveland RNC” facebook page with pictures of black masks, but it doesn’t have contact information and an activist in Cleveland told Slingshot “I am not involved in any organizing around the convention, and am not sure who put up the Facebook page. Honestly, with everything else going on around here [protests of police shootings including that of 12-year-old Tamir Rice] there are other events drawing our attention and capacity.”

In Philadelphia, there is a march sponsored by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and actions planned by anti-fracking groups, but just 6 months before the convention one Philadelphia anarchist wrote “Not sure if there’s anything taking shape yet from more explicitly anarchist organizers.”

Many people over the years have questioned “why should anarchists even dignify these clowns by protesting them — it just wastes our resources, there are so many police we can’t be effective in actually disrupting the event, and everyone either already thinks politicians are illegitimate, or else they’re going to ignore our protests.”

Nonetheless, some of the contention protests I’ve been at over the years have felt worth it because they provided an amazing excuse for a continental anarchist/radical gathering culminating in a riot or attempted riot. We’ve learned real skills and developed important relationships pulling these things together. Disorder in the streets breaks our isolation and powerlessness and helps us link up with others out in society who aren’t part of the “radical scene” but who intuitively understand what it means when thousands of people surge into the streets and create chaos. It isn’t about the Republi-crats — it’s about rejecting their whole system of corporations, hierarchy, greed, centralization, militarization and media distraction.

This year, we’re seeing a large segment of America’s working class react to growing economic insecurity not by rebelling against their bosses, but by falling for clumsy political manipulation — cheering ham-fisted attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and overblown fear of terrorism. There is an opportunity to turn this class-based anger against the corporations and one-percenters.

Meanwhile let’s face it — life in our high-tech, sterile, ultra-specialized world is simultaneously stressful, lonely and boring. Mass shootings, youthful ISIS fighters, and the rise of nationalism worldwide are pathological responses. Radicals, anarchists and DIY free spirits offer real alternatives based on love, human interaction, creativity and mutual aid.

As cities get more dense, expensive and competitive, people become more lonely and impoverished economically and spiritually. The DIY solution to overconsumption and isolated cars, apartments, products, services is a return to community, cooperation and sharing that saves resources and puts meaning and connection back into our lives. Let’s detonate the nuclear family and embrace complex webs of community — multiple partners, shared parenting, and a vast continuum of friendships transcending demographic categories.

Announced Events

July 24: March for a Clean Energy Revolution hosted by Americans Against Fracking et al. Noon downtown Philadelphia. Info: foodandwaterwatch.org “Philadelphia is poised to become a major energy hub, bearing the brunt of fracked gas exploitation. Pennsylvania fracking emissions contribute to global climate change. To avoid further devastation, we know we need to leave the majority of fossil fuels in the ground. This means reducing subsidies and demand for oil, coal, and gas while supporting economic initiatives to create green energy jobs in both urban and rural communities.”

July 25: March for Our Lives Sponsored by Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. City Hall 1401 JFK Blvd 3pm. Economichumanrights.org

Resist the 2016 Cleveland RNC

Resist the 2016 Cleveland RNC is a peaceful and non-violent coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to resisting the efforts of the Republican National Convention and expressing to them and the world a message of Equality, Liberty and Environmental Responsibility. Many different people from many different movements are rallying around this coalition, join us. Lend your voice to the chorus of change.

Break Free 2016 Climate Direct Action

Blurbed by P. Wingnut

The climate change action group 350.org and others are calling for coordinated direct actions and mass arrests designed to disrupt fossil fuel installations and government offices in a dozen countries from May 7-15. They are calling to “keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate a just transition to 100% renewable energy and a sustainable future for all.” Specific targets in the United States, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Philippines, Indonesia and Israel/Palestine will be announced soon.

Their call to action explains: “After the Climate Summit in Paris we need to redouble efforts to end the use of destructive fossil fuels and choose a clean and just energy future. Imagine: tens of thousands of people around the world rising up to take back control of their own destinies. Walking arm-in-arm into coal fields. Sitting down to block the business of governments and industry that threaten our future. Marching in peaceful defense of our right to clean energy. We are close to a historic, global shift in our energy system. The way we get there is by action that confronts those who are responsible for climate change and takes power back for the people so we can shape the sustainable and just future we need.”

Unlike previous climate protests scheduled to protest international summit meetings or stop particular projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, the May actions are designed to seize the initiative and set the agenda rather than just reacting. Organizers point out that “climate change is with us now and the need to act has never been more urgent. Our actions must reflect the scale and urgency of this crisis in a way that can no longer be ignored.” The May action will focus on civil disobedience actions / mass arrests rather than emphasizing marches and rallies. Folks not wanting to risk arrest can act as support persons to those risking arrest so everyone can participate.

The call to action emphasizes the need to empower local communities and grassroots groups. As Naomi Klein and others have pointed out, solving the climate crisis presents a huge opportunity to broadly reorganize social relations away from centralized, corporate extractive thinking and towards sustainable, cooperative and human-based economics and technology. Avoiding disastrous climate change requires these shifts. As the organizers point out “These mobilizations will … help spread information about crucial new and existing local campaigns to fight fossil fuels, and continue to shift political power away from the fossil fuel industry and towards grassroots groups who are at the frontlines of a great energy and economic transformation.”

The unsustainable corporate system is a dead end not just because it is polluting the earth, but because it has polluted our lives with pointlessness, powerlessness, boredom and isolation. Top down energy and technology pollutes our bodies and our souls.

As gloomy as it can look sometimes, we’re at the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era — but historical eras never collapse on their own, they always need our help. How can you plug in this May?

See the call to action for more information at breakfree2016.org.


The Fifth Estate Magazine at 50


by Dane

“The Fifth Estate, founded in 1965, is an anarchist, anti-capitalist, and anti-authoritarian, anti-profit project published cooperatively by a volunteer collective of friends and comrades. We are committed to non-dogmatic, action-oriented writing and activity to bring about a new world.”

– from the About Us section of the Fifth Estate website


This past fall, the Fifth Estate magazine celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The celebrations were primarily in the form of art gallery exhibits and a staff reunion party. For the whole span of its history, the Fifth Estate (FE) has been an independent, radical publication (the term Fifth Estate represents the alternative to the “Fourth Estate,” a term to signify mainstream media.) The past 40 years of the publication’s run have promoted anarchist/anti-authoritarian ideas and perspectives. With the Slingshot publication in its 27+ years of production, the Fifth Estate has served as either an influence or a model to be looked upon by many of the volunteers who make Slingshot happen each time.*

Started by Harvey Ovshinsky in 1965, FE started as an alternative publication with a focus on arts and culture with it adopting New Left-style politics over the next ten years with an editorial collective developing within this time. By the mid-70s, the FE collective started to adopt the writing of such individuals as Freddy Perlman, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Camatte, the Situationists (Guy Debord and Raoul Vanegeim primarily), and others. Perlman was a significant influence as he and his partner, Lorraine, lived in Detroit where FE has existed for most of its history. Marcus Graham, who published an anarchist magazine titled “Man!” in the 1930s (when Marxism/Stalinism was unfortunately seen as the primary challenger to class society and other capitalist values), got in contact with FE. By the late 70s, John Zerzan started writing for the publication as well. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, FE became well-known for its radical critique of technology and civilization as a whole. This has continued to the present in some aspects, but it is not quite the same focus as it used to be (the FE Summer 2015’s theme was the critique of technology though). This overall critique of civilized ways of living was to counter, or go beyond, the State and Capital as the foundations of authoritarian ideas and systems. Other writers like David Watson (aka George Bradford), Bob Brubaker, and Peter Werbe, helped in the development of these critiques of technology, progress, and civilized thought.

From 2002-2009, FE was removed from its primary base of Detroit (but still published there occasionally) and began to be edited in Tennessee, New York, and Wisconsin. Pumpkin Hollow, a rural commune in eastern Tennessee was the primary site of production. Since 2009, FE has been published in Detroit again with a decentralized editorial collective scattered across North America. The magazine today has a broad, non-dogmatic perspective with writers coming from various tendencies of anarchist thought (anarcho-communist, anarcho-primitivist, queer anarchist, eco-anarchist, anarcha-feminist, anarcho-syndicalist, and anarchists-without-adjectives). This aspect of FE serves as a unique way to analyze how the anarchist philosophy isn’t monolithic with multiple ways of analyzing authoritarian ideas, philosophies, and institutions. This can be seen as a counter to other anti-capitalist philosophies such as Marxism, where Karl Marx is seen as a Messiah-like individual from where all Truth™ is initially or entirely understood (the FE Spring 2015 issue’s theme was “Anti-Marx.”)

Radical and anarchist publications have served as influence on each other and as a broad medium within independent media. Recently, Peter Werbe, who has been with FE since 1966, mentioned Slingshot newspaper as his favorite publication on the radio show “The Final Straw.” While it may be easy for some to get all their news and sources of information from the internet, others may be looking for such ideas in print form. A person in an infoshop, social space, library, or bookstore may first come across these ideas in a print publication rather than a website. For people who want to see further promotion of such anarchist and/or radical ideas and ways of living, it may be important to either support such magazines, newspapers, and other forms of print media to spark conversations along these lines. Also, anybody can submit articles to Fifth Estate for possible publication (especially if it fits in within the overall mindset and/or specific theme of FE), so you could be part of the next generation of individuals who introduce new perspectives, just like the assortment of individuals previously mentioned who changed FE in the 1970s. Either that, or start your own media; after all, the whole DIY (do-it-yourself) direct action aspect is an integral part of taking these radical ideas from abstract theory and putting them into practice and experimentation.


* Note: While the Slingshot newspaper is free based off raising funds from sales of the annual Slingshot organizer, Fifth Estate magazine is currently $4 an issue and survives off mostly subscriptions. Fifth Estate can be found at most infoshops and radical bookstores (there are issues at the Long Haul Infoshop).


For more info on subscribing or learning more about FE, check out:


Fifth Estate

P.O. Box 201016

Ferndale, MI 48220


Email: fe@fifthestate.org

Website: http://www.fifthestate.org/

Buy back issues: http://littleblackcart.com/


Earth’s climate is one hot mess


By Elaine

In Paris, France last December, representatives from 197 countries gathered for their annual UN-sponsored meeting to agree that, for the 21st time, climate change is (1) an actual thing, and (2) something for which developed nations must take responsibility (spoiler alert: US Republicans boycotted the conference).

I had the opportunity to volunteer in the Civil Society zone of the conference, basically a gathering of the world’s eco-activists. It was refreshing to meet like-minded people from around the world who are actually creating solutions to address climate change issues, instead of just talking about the problems. I felt right at home.

However, whenever I spoke, my accent betrayed my nationality, and I felt awkwardly out of place. Rumor had it that the Republicans—in absentia—were acting as a road block to the agreement. The US delegates were hesitant to support a binding agreement, for fear that the Republicans back home would smash it to pieces.

Interestingly, there don’t seem to be any other countries with a substantial population of politically active people who are so opposed to addressing the causes of climate change. I’m not sure why. My best guess is that it’s related to an American obsession with money and associated feelings of entitlement.

There were delegations from resource-rich (and correspondingly high-emissions) countries, and the nations and tribes on the other end of the resource spectrum. The injustice is already visible: poor countries are the first victims of climate change, they lack the resources to respond, and are therefore dependent on the generosity of wealthier nations. Given this diversity of interests at the table, reaching an agreement on anything is a challenge.

Each participating country was required to submit an emissions goal that, taken together, should halt warming at 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. This is much higher than the original target of “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius. “What’s the big deal over a couple of degrees?” you ask? A few degrees difference won’t make much difference to the gluten-free, organic, free-range, low-fat, fair-trade granola roasting in your oven, but the Earth is much more sensitive. It’s been calculated that a 1-degree Celsius global temperature increase would eliminate about one-third of all the fresh water (i.e. drinking water) from the surface of the Earth by 2100—that’s only 84 years from now. (Sorry, kids. You’ll probably live to see it, but our planet won’t look the same.)

We humans are adept at adjusting to change, recalibrating our expectations, and developing new definitions of normalcy. This is easier for those of us in developed countries because we are slightly insulated from the first shocks of climate change: drought, rising ocean levels, and a decline in the populations of species, such as fish, that people all over the world depend on for food and livelihood. Like the proverbial frog on the stovetop, will we jump out of the pot before we are cooked?

The Paris Agreement is historic simply because of its near-total international support, not due to the ambitiousness of its goals. After two weeks of around-the-clock negotiations, the Paris Agreement was signed by almost every country on our planet, each of whom promises to take responsibility for the greenhouse gases it emits… someday, maybe. There is no structure in which nations can be held accountable for their actions: emissions reduction goals are voluntary, with no incentives to reach them except for peer pressure from other countries. While the Agreement is certainly a good starting point, it is non-binding and therefore mostly symbolic.

Perhaps the most egregious omission from the Paris Agreement is the subject of fossil fuel extraction. The attitude seems to be “Keep burning whatever you want, in exchange for compensating the poor countries that are suffering most.” Fracking, mining, and drilling for oil and natural gas pose both immediate and long-term human and environmental health threats, not to mention how they pollute our atmosphere when they are burned. Despite our campaign to “Keep it in the ground”, the fossil fuel companies have won this round, and extraction continues.

What can we do? Don’t put up with it! Throw a wrench (preferably literal, metaphorical only if you must) into fossil fuel development projects. And perhaps most importantly, though often neglected: talk about it. In many circles, climate change is an awkward and avoided subject. In the face of this global crisis, talking about climate change—and what we can do about it—is actually quite a radical thing to do. Next to religion and politics, it’s one of the subjects that I’ve learned not to bring up at the dinner table. Why? Let’s dive into that: ask people what they know about climate change, and how they feel it should be addressed by individuals and groups. Listen first, and then try to find common ground. (Believe it or not, we have a lot in common with Tea Party Republicans, including a distaste for the government meddling in our affairs.)

You’ve reached the final paragraph, and I bet you’re looking for the bottom line. Was the Paris Agreement successful, or not? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that—only your great-great-great-great-grandchildren can, if there are any humans around by then. The Greenpeace-style battle cry “Save the Earth!” sounds so benevolent, though I find it misleading: humans are the endangered species that we should be most worried about, and it is our own mortality that we are most afraid of when we contemplate Earth’s future. The planet is going to do just fine without us.


Falling Through the Cracks – Displacement Experiences of Pakistani Refugees in Post-Earthquake Nepal


By Summer Dunsmore

Four months after Nepal endured the deadliest quake in its history, Aneela Tasneem received another, tremulous, shock. Her family had been denied refugee status by the UNHCR in Kathmandu.

Back home in Pakistan, Aneela faced persecution her entire life as an Ahmadi Muslim. Following the passage of a 1974 constitutional amendment, Ahmadis have been barred from calling themselves Muslims or in any way “preaching or propagating” their faith in Pakistan. Considered heretics by the Sunni majority, Ahmadis face state-mandated fines, imprisonment, or even violence by other Pakistanis. Years of hate crimes and terrorism – including a bombing of two Ahmadi mosques in 2010, which claimed nearly a hundred lives – has forced many of them from their homeland, creating displacement hubs in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia.

After Aneela’s brother was attacked, her family fled to Nepal in 2013 with the hopes of gaining refugee status through the UNHCR. Aneela’s life is one of constant uncertainty, and the question of her status as a refugee – combined with the surprise and havoc caused by last year’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake – leaves her struggling to secure some semblance of a future for her family. After the denial of her case on August 20th, 2015, Aneela immediately organized a weeklong sit-in outside the UNHCR gate in Kathmandu.

“As a community, we believe if one person has a problem, the whole community is there to support. We are also victims of the earthquake, but right now we’re here to try and get a positive response for refugee status for my family,” says Aneela.

The scene there is humbling. Small children build mud castles to pass the time, while women donning black burqas sit closely together, murmuring lightly in the dazed noon heat.

The UNHCR in Kathmandu and the government of Nepal are the two institutions capable of protecting South Asian asylum seekers like Aneela, but the limitations of this relationship are obvious. Aneela must constantly grasp for basic assistance and – as a result – mobilize within a political system that is battling to secure its own legitimacy and recognition in South Asia’s post-colonial space. Since the formal abolishment of its monarchy, Nepal has been unable to solidify a constitution that includes the grievances and needs of its minority, indigenous classes who have long expressed a feeling of inequality compared to the powerful Brahman caste. For even the simplest forms of assistance, urban refugees dependent on the UNHCR must constantly compromise, unequivocally caught in the center of the broiling political climate of this country’s 26 million.

Like Aneela, Irfan Cheema is another refugee who has been at the forefront of his community’s fight to secure protection and assistance from the government and the UNHCR in Nepal, as well as local efforts to rebuild after the earthquake. He works as an English tutor and translator in Kathmandu, and is a poetic, imaginative speaker: “With no way, we have to find a way. In the darkness we are searching. You can say we ran from the fire into the sea, where the crocodiles are waiting for us.”

He reveals that following the April 25th earthquake, the Ahmadi community was without assistance for fifteen days. Like most Nepalis, their homes were severely damaged. “After fifteen days, the UNHCR supported us [sic] 3,000 rupees, but that was nothing in the situation of the earthquake. For two months afterwards, there was nothing to earn. It is too difficult to make daily wages. First of all, if a Nepali is getting 600 rupees, then we are only getting 300, because we don’t have the right to work, so we have to work at the half-wage. But if you work for 300 rupees for 30 days, it is just 9,000 rupees. What is 9,000 rupees when the rent of the house is 15,000?” he asks.

Urban refugees like the Ahmadis may spend hours, days, even weeks waiting to secure a five-minute meeting, to file paperwork for their medical expenses, or to obtain an allowance to cover the high-costs of their children’s primary education. The process is often slow, and in many cases, prayers go unanswered or unheard. The UNHCR was chartered in 1992 by the government of Nepal in order to help harbor Bhutanese refugees, and nearly 80% of those refugees have already been resettled. While the UNHCR has been slowly phasing out its major activities in Nepal, a modern need amongst urban refugees has steadily grown.

“Nepal doesn’t have a national framework to look at refugees. There are the urban refugees, about five hundred in number, who’ve come from various conflict-hit areas – Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – but they are not recognized as refugees by the government of Nepal. They are considered illegal migrants. When they come to Nepal, they approach UNHCR, and since the UNHCR mandate is to work in the protection of refugees, we recognize them as refugees after going through various assessments. But the government still considers them illegal migrants,” says Deepesh Shrestha, an External Relations Officer for the UNHCR in Kathmandu.

As of a civil meeting conducted on August 4th, 2015, the UNHCR will discontinue the aid it once provided to the majority of Ahmadis and other urban refugees, and will only be given to those with “special needs” – a margin so narrow, it does little to help most refugees living in Kathmandu. This austerity measure – perhaps a result of the bureaucratic nightmare and legislative standstill that has come to define the modern Nepali government – begs the urgent question of what should be done with urban refugees when they come to Nepal, while illustrating the specific ways these refugees have been denied a better quality of life from the institutions of global society specifically entrusted to help them.

Aashif Aaqash, an Ahmadi refugee who currently works as a tutor, must travel over forty kilometers a day on public buses to attend classes. He starts early in the morning and returns late at night. He has sought help from the UNHCR in obtaining a motorcycle permit, which would allow him more freedom to move around the city; but in this pursuit, along with many others, he has been denied. “The UNHCR has told us again and again to seek jobs. I asked them, if they would not help us in these small matters, how do they expect us to manage for ourselves?” says Aashif.

At eighteen years old, Aashif was forced from Pakistan following a string of threats against his and his family’s life. After returning home from a high school exchange program in Pennsylvania, an anti-American mob threw stones at his home and called him a traitor and infidel. When Aashif’s family contacted local police, they refused to help upon realizing that Aashif was an Ahmadi. The next month, Aashif’s friend was shot dead outside of his home. Aashif’s father was later shot at while riding this motorbike, the bullets puncturing the bike’s front wheel but sparing his father’s life. Aashif reports living in fear to attend classes or go to mosque for the next year; but the final straw came when three strangers attempted to kidnap him and his cousin, who both only narrowly escaped.

In late April 2013, Aashif and his family left Pakistan and traveled to Nepal with the intention of seeking asylum through the UNHCR. After one year of processing, they were finally granted refugee status. As of January 2016, his family’s case has picked up sponsorship from an Ahmadi charity organization titled Humanity First, and they will be relocated to Calgary, Canada.

In recounting his story and other injustices the Ahmadis have faced, Aashif’s frustration is evident: like many refugee youth, he’s been transplanted in a foreign country that provides little opportunity for his future. As older members of the community with their own families to worry about, Irfan and Aneela also question what will happen to the young Ahmadis, who have nowhere to claim as their own, no clear paths to education beyond fifteen years old, and no protection from local authorities. “If we die here, then what was the point of leaving Pakistan?” asks Aneela.

Following the weeklong sit-in outside the UNHCR gate, officials agreed to re-open Aneela’s case, citing errors they conducted during the initial interview process. Starting on August 28th, 2015, they re-interviewed Aneela, her brother, and other members of her family. However, on October 2nd, Aneela learned she’d been denied her second appeal for refugee status by the UNHCR. Her family is now stuck paying their nearly $60,000 tourist visa fine, or face imprisonment. “It’s injustice,” she says. “The government can stop this.”

Aneela’s case reveals the politics of refugee representation in Nepal – a slim distinction between “illegal migrant” and “refugee” that means Aneela and each member of her family have been charged a $5 visa fine for every day they seek refugee status and protection in Nepal. This policy is one of the strictest for asylum seekers in Asia, with Nepal using the fine as a deterrent against refugee migration. For those who do receive refugee status from the UNHCR, they must appeal to have the visa fines waived by the government. The wait for this averages an additional one and a half years to be processed, with the end result all-the-while uncertain.

Aneela and her community members confide that while the earthquake was devastating to their morale, it’s the bitter winter and the current fuel blockade between the Nepali and Indian border that is making life almost unbearable. To stay afloat, the Ahmadis rely on the strength and resilience of their local community: every Friday is reserved for prayer, while Saturdays at their community center in Kathmandu offer religious education, sports, and women-run workshops.

On such a Saturday, Irfan sits in the center’s office, the wall to his left flanked by portraits of the Ahmadi Supreme Leaders. He possesses no consternation at these immovable men, no remorse over having sacrificed home and health for his faith. Irfan only touches his glasses and says, “Two years ago, our children were like the flowers. They were smiling. Today, they don’t have hope; sometimes they will ask, ‘Father, what will happen to us? What is our future?’ And we don’t have answers.”




A Conversation with Osha Neumann: artist, writer, tireless advocate for the homeless remembers the 60s, the 80s, now


By members of the Slingshot Collective

Recently we had a screening at the Long Haul Infoshop of the 2005 film Commune, about California’s own Black Bear Ranch.  Prominent in the film is our neighbor, Osha Neumann.

A tireless homeless advocate, artist and writer with a radical past chronicled in his memoirs, Up Against the Wall Motherf**ker, we invited him over to watch the film with us and followed up with a lively conversation. This is some of what ensued.

A. Iwasa (AI):  Do you have anything you want to say to start the conversation?

Osha Neumann (ON):  It’s really complicated for me seeing that film.  I don’t know what to think.  Part of it is it was a long time ago, a lot of those people are dead.  You know when you have something that was wonderful, but also very complicated, it’s hard for me to know what to say about it, that it’s honest and true to that complexity.  It was an incredibly important period of my life, I loved it.  I loved being in nature and I loved living communally… and I loved all those things we can’t do here.  To be together all the time and to not to have… people dividing up according to what their jobs are.  And home life being separated from work life and having children being separated by having your work in the world, and having all those relations with people that are really intimate, and sexual sometimes… When you’re naked with each other, not simply in the fact that you’re not wearing clothes, when you’re emotionally naked with each other and things that are hidden aren’t hidden.  We had a communal shitter, and you shit and peed publicly.  It was nothing, you just did it.

Cooking together.  Everybody cooking, everybody taking care of the children.  And it’s so much closer to the way people live most places in the world. During the war in El Salvador I went up into one of the provinces where the guerrilla army was in control, and these little villages that had been run out of the country by the army and then had come back, and in those villages they lived so much more like back at Black Bear.

Just knowing the origin of things, the food you eat is the food you’ve grown, the bread you eat is made from the grain you ground in a hand grinder, and the milk you drink is the milk of the goats you milked in the morning, and the cheese and the yogurt come from the goat milk that you made.  You get up in the morning and you heat the big old stove with the wood that you chopped that morning so it fit into the stove.  You live in houses that you built yourself. All of that is really important, wonderful stuff.  [Here we are] so separated from all that, living the way we should live in nature.

When I would drive down from Black Bear, the first thing was the air was different.  I breathed at Black Bear differently.  And there was night, you know there’s no night in The City.  There’s night with stars and the moon.

We lived with the season, we weren’t protected from the seasons.  With the snow you’re snowed in, then it thaws and it gets warm. You live with your body alive in a way, here your body just isn’t alive in the same way.

Your rituals are rituals of nature.  We celebrated solstices and equinoxes because you could see the solstices and equinoxes.  We’d stay up all night on the longest night of the year and drum and chant and sing songs, some that we made, some that we appropriated from other cultures.

We really lived without and we shared.  What money there was we shared.  There weren’t some people who were richer than other people… or some people were homeless and other people were housed, or some people had better houses and some people had Priuses.  We all had the same stuff, and it was all sort of grungy.

If you had a car you needed to know how to fix it.  I learned to weld there because it was needed and I wanted to and it was wonderful to learn how to work with metal. We made an irrigation system.

We didn’t have the Internet, and we didn’t have phones, and we didn’t have television, we didn’t have any of that.  We didn’t have electricity, we didn’t have electrical lines coming in, we generated electricity with pelton wheels, so we didn’t need all that stuff.

So there was a way of being in the world, and being with one’s self, and with others and with nature that was… in some ways it tears me up just looking at it.  Partly just that I was younger then, we had these wonderful, beautiful, muscular bodies.  We relished them.  I became strong there just by working.  I worked there with my hands, and walking up and down the hills, building things.  You had a body and it was wonderful.  And with all of that, we did a whole lot of just trying to live rightly in terms of some of the issues in the film:  how to be with children, how to deal with the bonds of children, how to spread those bonds beyond just the nuclear family, but not necessarily to break them.  The tensions around that.  How someone suggested in the film, to equalize the work between men and women, and processing the questions we don’t question here.  Everything was up to question it seemed:  how we organized our lives, how we did sex, children, family, relationships; all of those things were subject to conversation that we had.  Long, long conversations.

We made music, we didn’t have canned music.  All that was wonderful.  And for me it was transformational, I was a city boy, I grew up in New York, and I came from the Lower East Side and the intensity of the Mother Fuckers which was urban, street fighting craziness, and I was totally armored from that.  There was a transition when I lived in New Mexico, but I was armored, I was always looking out, but there, the armor just fell off of me.  I was able to be feminine and masculine in ways that I couldn’t be there.

So all that was wonderful.  But with all that, there were all kinds of stuff that was not resolved, and did not get talked about.  There was a level that it was not surprising that for most of the folks I lived with up there, that sort of living didn’t last.  We didn’t continue to live that way for all kinds of reasons.

For me it was just the level of isolation, from history, the lives of most people in this world, the United States and the struggles here, was something I didn’t want to continue.  My ambitions intellectually, artistically, politically, in terms of engagement we had separated ourselves, and there was a problem with that separation.  I didn’t want to do that.

And for all the sharing that we did, and the communal living, people kept their parachutes, that was still there when they wanted to get out of that.  And once people got out of that, then all those divisions that had been not there, all of a sudden they reappeared.

When people left, all those class differences just woof! they were there like they had never not been there.  And some of the people, like you see Richard Marley was working as a super and had no money and others have tons of money, gobs of money, some of which they inherited, some of which they made.  All of those divisions re-emerged.

It was obviously really not diverse in terms of race.  It was a white scene.  Aside from one or two folks it was almost racially homogeneous.  But even within that homogeneity there were differences, in background.  We all looked the same, but there were people who came from educated, middle class, intellectual backgrounds like I did.  Jews and non-Jews, there were those differences.  People from more working class backgrounds there, those different experiences didn’t disappear there.

In terms of the political agenda… there’s not this intense political engagement continuing for a lot of the people there.  Everybody was on the progressive, counter-cultural side of things, pretty much, but the radicalism of it did not continue.  Black people who looked at hippies and said, “Oh, that’s just a phase, we’re going to stay Black while you’ve gone and taken up all of your white privilege.” All of that is true about Black Bear.

It’s complicated, when you talk about men and women, not all the women had such a good experience.  When you take all of that sexual freedom, it looks more attractive to men.  Not all of them, we all loved it, it was just harder for some of the women, I think.

It was complicated for the children.  Some of the children had a really great experience and some of them didn’t have a great experience.

Many people like me came back down to The City.  There were people who stayed up there.  Some people like Creek, in the film, they moved down to the Salmon River, where most people in that area live.  There are little pieces of land, mostly it’s national forest, they have remained there and now they are the old timers.  You had the old timers in the film talking, now they are the old timers!  They have really created community around there and they have gotten very involved in protecting the river.  They have done an amazing job fighting the Forest Service to preserve the river, to prevent them from using pesticides to get rid of the invasive species, pulling the weeds by hand.  Fighting the clear cutting, fighting the damming of the rivers.

They also connected more than most of us did to the Native populations.  There were a few people at Black Bear who connected with the Karuk and the Yurok who were the Native populations, there was a Hoopa Reservation just down the road, so some of the people who stayed up there made those connections which is all good, they’ve done really good stuff.  Those are some of my thoughts.

AI:  I thought it was really interesting, among other things, this is the second time I’ve seen it, that Peter Coyote didn’t talk about the Diggers.  You talked about being in the Mother Fuckers, the one woman talked about knowing people who were in the Weather Underground Organization and supporting the Black Panthers, but I didn’t know he was a Digger when I saw this the first time, but I’m reading his Sleeping Where I Fall, so I thought that was kind of strange.

ON:  I don’t know why he did that.  Peter’s relation to Black Bear was less central than you would think from the film.  I mean he’s in the film partly because he’ll sell the film, and having Peter Coyote in it is a plus for the film maker, but his amount of time up there was not long.

Jesse Palmer (JP):  What is interesting to me is that people are increasingly fascinated by going Back to the Land, but everything I learn about the 1970s projects makes me feel skeptical.

ON:  Well, you’re right to be skeptical.  When I talked about how I was moved thinking about it doesn’t mean you don’t have every right to be skeptical about it.  I would be.  That’s why it was initially difficult for me to figure out how to talk about it because I have all those mixed feelings.  I moved on.  I had to move on from there.  And if I stayed there, it wouldn’t have worked for me.

There’s a real division among the Black Bear kids, between the ones who went as far away, Aaron is the one in the movie, but there were others also, and there are ones that are still very connected to the place.

The problem with Black Bear is that because it is so isolated, for example if you have children, and want to have them go to school, you can’t stay up there.  There’s no way unless you want to home school them, and so on.  But if you want them to have any experience of being socialized in school it’s not going to happen.

Black Bear is still around.  I don’t know what it’s like, I don’t think it’s anything like when we lived there, but it’s still up there.


You can read more about Osha and check out some of his artwork at www.oshaneumann.com.






An anarchist's perspective on leaving the city


By appropriate cycles

Cynical about the city

It seems infighting has become a staple of radical urban organizing. Through constant internal criticism and shaming we have effectively disarmed parts of the movement. Although we should, as an activist community, be motivated to support and teach each other, we instead have bred communities who demonize and scrutinize each other.. Potential revolutionaries are discouraged back into the safety of the status quo and we continue to lose more and more meaningful projects and people to “drama.” All the while the police are policing and the capitalists capitalizing unabated. Why? A theory:

Though often ignored, subconsciously we understand that the cities in which we live would collapse very quickly without the global exploitation that sustains them. To live in a city is to vitally depend on the very thing we say we want to destroy. And this destruction would mean no more food in the stores (or dumpsters), no more electricity, which in most cities means no water, no gas. So we ‘half-ass it,” preferring drama to revolution, or intellectual critique over action.

Thus, without an alternate infrastructure (or at least a plan) to provide food and resources during a revolutionary moment, even the most radical city dweller would hesitate, knowing such an immediate halt to oppression would be suicide. This is not to say the only way to be revolutionary is to move to the country; but investment in systems of self-sufficiency is an essential part of making change possible. It is truly ignorant for urban movements to think clean soil, water and food are not crucial aspects of what we’re fighting for. No one will smash the platform they are standing on without a safety net.

Rural towns are in a unique position to reject the status quo, self-manage themselves, and create an example, hopefully something worth defending. They are often already geared toward self-sustainability, autonomy and are, at times, blatantly anti-state (though usually still pro-private property). With economies driven by agriculture and ranching food production is localized and when not industrialized relatively sustainable. This food independence is further supplemented by a culture strong with gardening, hunting and interacting with nature.

Compared to the near anonymity of the city, in a small town one can very quickly build a personal connection with nearly everyone in the area. This continuous contact with the same people builds an affinity based on who you live near and who you interact with. Of course this means you can say goodbye to local mass demos (the Utah Tar Sand Resistance is a possible exception) and house shows for that matter, but more rare to see, a few people CAN have a big effect when they act on a smaller stage. In short, smaller community systems are better scaled to efforts for social change, thus utilizing “people energy” efficiently, and building autonomous structures for the future.

Appropriate Cycles

A couple years ago Appropriate Cycles was formed by a few people who decided to put some of this theory into practice. We each had many different experiences that led us here. One influential experience was a month spent with an indigenous community in Central America, blocking the construction of a mega dam. Another was a bike trip to a rural anarchist collective near the Bay Area, organized as a cultural rehab and retreat from the stresses of urban radical life. Reading Bolo’bolo was a radicalizing influence for one of our collective members that pointed to the country.

For years we poured our hearts into urban squats only to find as they were quashed, that many allies were more forthcoming with critique then solidarity. With this in mind we decided to try legally occupied land as a long term approach to building a culture of resistance capable of defending (not just critiquing) liberated spaces.

We worked, saved, borrowed, and found an acre in a small, predominantly working class, town on the west slope of the Rocky Mountains with pay-as-we-go terms we could afford, thus avoiding a bank loan. We are very aware of the role our white privilege has lent us in acquiring this space. Only revolution is truly capable of ridding us of our privilege, so instead of focusing on minimizing it we decided to use the privilege we have to work toward long term radical infrastructure that supports revolutionary potential. There is no one correct way to do this. Below are some of our current projects and ideas, but we could easily end up with some of yours.

Healthy, sustainable, and accessible food production is a central focus. One goal is to produce enough food to help sustain not only ourselves but other regional endeavors, for example the Utah Tar Sands resistance. We want to educate and empower others to be more autonomous from oppressive and unsustainable food systems.

With only a few people working the land we have started with a few modest gardens. Irrigation is provided by a pedal pump which lifts water from a hand dug micro-well up to an elevated tank. We have built two green houses, one with a fire heated bathtub inside; the other well insulated and with a loft, making it winter habitable for plants and possibly an adventurous human. Many plums, apricots, apples, and currants have been planted as well as various other perennials. We also built an elevated two chamber composting toilet with a wonderful view.

We care for a few goats, many chickens, two dogs and two cats. They provide us with milk, eggs, cuddles, and camaraderie. We love them and would defend them from oppression as we would a close friend.

On the land is a small warehouse divided into storage units. Some of the space is used as a community workshop with a variety of tools for bikes, welding, carpentry and hacking. Community access to these resources creates an alternative to consumerism and provides a social environment of cooperation and skill sharing. Building bicycle machines, helping people fix their bikes and creating a basic mesh network with old routers are just a few things we have been working on, but we need more people with a diversity of skills to support the project and expand its scope.

Another unit, partially set up as a community audio recording studio, has stalled since its bottom-liner moved out a while back; but with a little bit of gumption it could be just that, or anything else. Ideas for other units are a free store, meeting space or free school but most likely it will be whatever the next person to show up is excited about. We are also excited to build more habitation with possibilities for tree houses and cabins.

Outside of our property, we helped create a local food co-op in town that prioritizes supporting small scale farmers and bringing affordable, regionally produced food to our community. The co-op plans to offer eduction around self sufficiency, permaculture and food systems working to connect our most basic needs to larger structures of oppression and environmental degradation. One long term plan is a cooperative farm for the town. We actively support the community garden and an arts and theater group which have a big influence on people and the way they view community. Implying again that within community organizing bonds and connection are vital to create a lasting impact.

We do not see these projects as revolutionary in and of themselves but necessary infrastructure to support more revolutionary models of resistance such as a town general assembly or anti-fascist militia. We also don’t want to imply organizing is easy here and that we don’t run into similar issues of apathy that we see in urban zones. But we have experienced the ability to influence our soundings at a faster speed, making actual models for resistance more tangible. Furthermore the isolation, intense climate, and smaller population create a stronger culture of self-sufficiency and a community more willing to share skills, trade and teach.

We know there are all kinds of aspects, contradictions and dreams that did not make it into this article. If you made it this far and want to continue the conversation or visit the land email us:


* We, a collective of three, co-produced this article.An anarchist perspective on leaving the city


It’s Pronounced ‘ZINE



It hurts our eyes to constantly resort to computers to find an alternative voice that reflect the events of our time. Looks like it’s a good time to seek out the latest in printed thought. Yeah it’s sad that we are squandering precious resources like trees, water and oil to keep the cycle of consumer goods and “self expression” devouring the foundation of consensual reality. That’s why you should send your collection of books and zines that you no longer use to one of the info shops we list each month. Or better yet—start your own local and autonomous info shop/zine library. Your first holdings could be these titles:


Dispatches From Rojava by Paul Z. Simons


Originally published as seven dispatches from the Rojava region of northern Syria and posted online. The first six were attributed to an anarchist from the United States, El Errante, with the seventh revealing Simons’ identity and chronicling his journey home.

Having just heard Simons talk before reading this, I was a bit disappointed. But it’s still a great place to start for those looking to learn more about the social revolution taking place in Rojava, and/or for literature to distribute on the subject.

As pundits continue to try to pretend we only have Western Imperialism and Islamic Fundamentalism to choose between, this shows that argument to be less than a straw man. (A. Iwasa)


As You Were: a punk commix anthology volume four $10.00

Silver Sprocket

1057 Valencia St.

San Francisco, CA 94110

When I found out that this volume of As You Were was going to be about living situations, I couldn’t have been more excited. The first few volumes of this ‘zine are both some of the best comics and documents of Punk that I’ve ever read.

This volume is a bit different, with far more artists, and in turn, much less space per artist for the most part. It was still rad, just a bit scattered to me, since I was expecting something more like the first few issues.

Liz Prince, Ben Snakepit, and Rick V are among the 32 other artists all worth looking into. Some of the stories are really far out, and other don’t so much deal with Punk directly, but never loose the edge that makes real Punk something you can Love and live all your life. (A. Iwasa)


The Rusty Razor $6 +$2 Shipping

Fishspit 1304 175th Pl NE Bellevue WA 98008 or RD Hontiveros P-34034

PO Box 290066 Represa CA 95671

A Split zine by RD who is a prisoner & Fish Spit who is an “Escapee.” You might recognize Fish’s rambling style from Wiseblood zine. You will find that his work in the Razor has similar sloppy verse that aims to be funny and tragic — but comes across slightly bigoted. He could spend more time revising his writing, and energy in considering the kind of audiences that read zines (most don’t like even a hint of racism or sexism). This time around he takes us on a trip to a mental ward and social security offices. It reads like an excited 8th grader.

RD aka “Big Joker,” has work that is hand written and is bent on revolution. He is an ex gangbanger who aims to promote unity and survival in a never-ending living hell. Other prisoners also write about their life outside the law and behind bars. There’s advice about drugs, info on prison conditions and as a whole it’s bursting with personality. They hope to make this publication free to other prisoners across the country so that a prairie fire of resistance can overtake this bleak reality. Any rich people reading are invited to donate to help in this endeavor. (eggplant)


Cyborg Legs $5


The first third of this story is slow paced – so much so it might confuse you of your own journal entries. There’s listless soul crushing descriptions of life and work in modern day San Francisco. The by-product of doing service industry is examined. Witness the author washing his mouth out with booze to be able to say, “May I help you??” for the 1,000th time. The break in the monotony comes with the author writing poetry — then more drinking. The writing style has the brute defeatism with this stale reality yet still maintains engagement and a lust for life that one sees in the works of Bukowski, minus the misogyny. The last act takes a surprise turn into fantasy. (eggplant)


FLUKE #11 $3

PO Box 1547 Phoenix AZ 85001

A handsome production in the classic punk zine format. Interviews that cover a broad interest range, from train graffiti to old punks and bands. Its not printed on a shitty copy machine. And the way it’s put together the pages emote a great care for the subjects. Next issue make the type font bigger will ya! (eggplant)


Felled Wrecks#1

$4ppd, $3 in person – 1454 San Joaquin St Richmond CA 94804 or paypal yacobdafisk@hotmail.com

Interviews and insights into obscure art noise acts like the Inflatable Boy Clams, Ornette Coleman and Mark E. Miller. The care brought into examining the work of these maligned people is refreshing. There’s an essay on pain that reveals the physical destruction that comes when doing a radical performance — and it doubles as a travel log of sorts. You’ll find reviews of some recent releases by groups that you probably will never hear. New & different sounds are treated with serious enthusiasm, the likes of which I have not seen since spying the early copies of Crawdady, when itself was essentially a zine (at a time when Rock n’ Roll as it fushioned with all of music.) The small type font, obtuse band names and messy layout make it sort of hard to read at times. But in some ways the anti-art scene that this covers is a self-induced headache. (eggplant)


East Bay Punk Zine #2


A ratty looking assembly of paper that highlights music. A lengthy article on the influence that 60’s garage bands has on today’s punk music. Show reviews, photos and a band interview fill out the remaining space. Sadly it seems to cover the acts that play larger clubs. I would like to see more of what’s happening at the underground spaces. At least I found my copy on top of a garbage can on Telegraph Ave — where any self-described punk should be found. (eggplant)



by Jules Bentley


Twisted shit. Three prose pieces. The first entry seems to be setting out to offend those with delicate senses. Lots of sex dripping all over the streets and living rooms of New Orleans. Anything that moves it would seem. The 2nd piece about a beloved cat goes the populist route – who doesn’t like cats? The 3rd piece dwells on a psychotic thought. The writer is pretty intelligent and has deft control over the language. There’s a lot of phrases peppered throughout the stories that you would find in a highly regarded novel. This particular zine is a benefit to keep a squat in the hands of the community. The silk screened cover looks cool as it exudes the kind of perfected skills to make it that the writing also embodies. (eggplant)


Baba Yaga Burns Paris To The Ground

by Wren Awry


Baba Yaga is a witch that appears in folk stories where a young woman who is endangered learns the skills to survive. This zine loiters at the intersection of history, fairy tales, feminism and radical critique. Blending factoids about the Paris Commune, women wielding fire, illustrators who worked for oppressive regimes by publishing in reactionary newspapers as well as for fairy tale books, and insights into how the hysteria of witch hunts echoed across time. A smart bit of writing here. It could be printed in the New Yorker but here it is, likely to be on display by some Pirate distro outside some gathering. It isn’t as obtuse and vague as other anarchist pamphlets. It has a bunch of academic leanings (even has a bibliography) but it reads like a conversation. (eggplant)


Punk In NYC’s Lower East Side 1981-1991 $5 Microcosmpublishing.com

This is the first issue in series of scene histories published by Microcosm Publishing. This historical tale is told through the lens of the late, Dave Insurgent of Reagan Youth. It documents in great detail beginnings of the anarchist punk movement in Manhattan’s Lower East Side from 1981-1991. The tragic life of Insurgent is followed as he navigates from growing up in Queens with two parents who were Holocaust survivors, to his involvement in the anarchist punk movement in NYC to his drug addiction followed by lobotomy, to his tragic death following the murder of his girlfriend by serial killer, Joel Rifkin. This zine paints an incredible time in history where benches were set on fire by tent communities on the Lower East Side to keep warm and an inside look at the Tompkins Square Park riots. A must read. (Rory)


Ker-Bloom! #117 $3

2480 5th Street Berkeley, Ca 94710

It can be ordered online at: etsy.com/shop/artnoose

Ker-bloom! Issue 117 is a lot more light hearted then some of the previous issues I was lent in the past. It contains a short story about while having lived in many collective houses over the years finally (gasp!) contracting scabies from a partner. It’s a quick read and will make anyone who’s ever had to deal with infestations feel a little less alone. This issue is a great zine for the collection and her attention to detail is always great. This issue was printed on a Vandercook Model 4. The cover was made from wood and metal type. The interior used polymer plates and metal type. (Rory)


Boy Zine #2 $5


BoyZine is an Oakland based zine put together by Cole Becker and friends and focuses on feminism through the lens of teenage boys who do not identify through the traditional understanding of masculinity. The second issue tackles the topic of sex: inter-sectional feminist dialogue pertaining to sexuality, virginity, conversations on how sex should be inherently pleasurable for both parties even a step to step guide on oral sex, and other often taboo topics for teenage boys to openly discuss. This zine is by teens for teens however completely non alienating for any outside reader. (Rory)


Dispatches from Rojava

By Paul Z Simons AKA El Errante

This 20-page travel log is a firsthand account of the Rojava insurrection, through the eyes of an American journalist. The zine offers a glimpse of communities such as Kobane and Serekaniye continuing to function amid violence or aggression by ISIS, Assad, and the Turkish and American states. The dispatches foreground the experience of Simons as a (white) foreigner for whom much of this is new, which creates room for some fresh anarchist insights, though sadly at the expense of local voices. Spending time with soldiers, Simons was privy to information regarding logistics, organization, and other institutional knowledge. Most importantly, perhaps, his dispatches confirm older reports regarding the influences of Abdullah Ocalan, Murray Bookchin, and other anarchist or far-left thinkers on the way Rojava’s organizing has unfolded. Ironically, critical analysis of institutions and ideologies at play in the uprising is notably absent, as time and safety constraints probably hampered deeper investigative work. At times, the author’s writing style (e.g. random flair and a hetero love scene at the end) brings the zine dangerously close to the genre of older Orientalist adventure writing. Thankfully, though, these dispatches are refreshingly free from the kind of Orientalist tropes, racist caricatures, shallow analysis, and reckless speculation that one may find in mainstream media. The zine assumes little previous knowledge, and is accessible to the general reader. (khanosaur)


Malevolent Europe: Regarding Refugee Oppression and Resistance at the Borders

By anonymous ill-will-editions.tumblr.com illwill@riseup.net

This 16-page zine includes a little bit of everything. Historical background, personal observations, social analysis, numerous photos, and quotes from survivors all support the author’s calls for direct action to help the large group of Syrian refugees finding their way through Central Europe. Written in late September of 2015, the zine lacks up-to-date information regarding reactionary policy or violent reaction from skinheads against the refugee camps and their residents. Written for a European audience, it also omits suggestions for Stateside activists who are not connected to the camps by land. However, it illustrates well the disparity, even early on, between European humanitarian discourse and the reality of refugee experiences. Witnessing police brutality, barely livable conditions, and inadequate provisions, the author cites these and other indignities faced by people navigating Europe as “refugees” as opposed to tourists or citizens. By reading the camps as prisons rather than waystations, the author effectively exposes the oppressive logic of borders, and the contradictions of “aid.” By applying a radical critique of a liberal intervention, this zine may help the reader develop frames for resistance and revolt against borders in general. (khanosaur)


Rice Harvester #14

$2 PO BOX 40786, San Francisco, CA 94140

This is the last issue of a twenty year zine that documents the life of Greg Harvester, a punk from Alabama who has lived, traveled, and played music all over the US. Greg now resides in SF and is still making music and heavily involved in the DIY punk scene. In this issue, Greg talks about trauma and the anxiety of living in a tech filled city. Those new to Rice Harvester will learn that Greg was shot in the face several years ago while living in New Orleans and is still reeling from the trauma of that event. There’s a first hand account of the shooting written by his friend Sarah who wrote the essay three years after it happened. Sarah rushed Greg to the hospital that night and her story had me sobbing, it was very unexpected and a perfect example of why sharing our trauma with others can be powerful and healing for both the author and reader. There’s a fun interview with 510-BAD-SMUT that documents the Bay Area hotline’s origins. The interview reads like a time capsule of how the Bay Area underground has changed over the years but still remains a cultural hot spot for DIY shows, movies, plays, protests, parties, and why an underground hotline can be useful for those looking to connect with others offline. Greg lists all the issues of Rice Harvester that he’s ever made, equipped with a brief summary of each and there are short and funny show reviews towards the end. Issue 14 is a nice farewell to a zine that has traveled and been born in so many places. Get this issue while you still can and read Greg’s writing in Maximum Rock N Roll and on his tape blog, Remote Outposts. (Vanessa)


No Gods No Mattress #25

$3 – Enola D. PO BOX 3936, Berkeley, CA 94703

Every time I get a new issue of No Gods No Mattress, I have to make sure I’m in a quiet place, usually my bed, and that no one is there to distract me because NGNM is my favorite personal zine ever! I love to read each issue as if my friend is telling me really juicy secrets because that’s what reading this zine is like. I love Enola’s writing and haphazard layout style, it’s as if each issue is made in a hole in the wall with whatever scraps that happen to be lying around. In issue 25, Enola talks about all the people they’ve ever loved, hooked-up with, or had crushes on. It made me want to write something similar because it was so personal and engaging and I couldn’t stop reading. There are also continental breakfast reviews where Enola and their friends hit up hotel and motel breakfasts and try to pass as hotel guests but end up disappointed with stale pastries and having to be surrounded by business people. I could relate to Enola’s struggle with trying to find time to write while living on the fringes and also trying to prioritize their self-care regimen. I always feel comforted by this zine and Enola’s writing makes me feel so many different emotions. A must read! (Vanessa)



Octavia's Brood, edited by adrienne marie brown and Walidah Imarisha

Reviewed by Steve Brady

Octavia’s Brood, edited by adrienne marie brown and Walidah Imarisha, is a collection of science-fiction and fantasy short stories published last year, by people involved in social justice movements. The title is a play on Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler, the pioneering Black female sci-fi author, suggesting that these new writers, mostly of Color, are following in her footsteps.

I learned about Octavia’s Brood at a presentation at the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair. Co-Editor adrienne maree brown described their idea of “Visionary Fiction.” Like existing forms of speculative fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, Visionary Fiction involves imagining possibilities outside the realm of everyday life, but in an expressly political way, visualizing the fulfillment of our unmet needs and dreams that are stymied by the system we live in. From the introduction by Walidah Imarisha:

All organizing is science fiction. Organizers and activists dedicate their lives to creating and envisioning another world, or many other worlds—so what better venue for organizers to explore their work than science fiction stories?

Of course I got myself a copy and dug in. But to my surprise, only one of the stories had a utopian element. More common themes are last-ditch, often tragic resistance in dystopian futures, or someone fighting the system with magical powers. Interviewed in “Yes” magazine, co-editor Walidah Marisha explains:

In our collection, Octavia’s Brood, my co-editor adrienne maree Brown’s story, “The River” explores this idea [alternatives to dominant narratives of justice]. What does justice look like? What does holding people accountable look like for crimes that this system does not consider crimes—like gentrification, economic displacement, the violence of poverty?

Except “The River” is about an anti-gentrification sea monster! Again, not the blueprint for a just society I expected from visionary fiction.

At the presentation, adrienne maree brown described their outreach to collect the stories in this anthology. Outstanding activists in social justice movements with little or no experience writing fiction were encouraged to just go for it, putting their passion into words.

Looking at the author bios, not only are there a few experienced fiction writers, but many have backgrounds in performance art, music, theater and poetry, rather than being organizers and rabble-rousers new to expressing themselves. For me, this belied the “anyone can do it” spirit of the promotional workshop.


The good news is that once I put all these expectations aside, the stories in this anthology are wonderful. Especially from those new to the craft, the stories are refreshing, and despite (or because of) the politics, unpretentious. Part of the joy is that the heroes have more similar values to me than in mainstream science fiction. But besides that, I think they’re just more likable, more admirable people.

Back to the introduction, Marisha explains:

“Visionary fiction” is a term we developed to distinguish science fiction that has relevance to building new, freer worlds from the mainstream of science fiction, which most often reinforces dominant narratives of power.

That’s too simple for me; I see a variety of political biases in science fiction. Many of the most famous writers, while not radicals by our standards, are creative in their approaches to society’s problems. Authority and tradition are constantly questioned, even if from a tacky intellectual libertarianism. And some of my favorite famous authors are from the psychedelic era, writing as weird as possible for weirdness’ sake—as Imarisha says, “there are as many ways to exist as we can imagine.”

But reading Octavia’s Brood had me realize that despite this, something is really wrong and toxic about modern sci-fi. A pervasive snarkiness, a fear by author’s that they’ll be perceived as naïve. Whether I agree with the author’s politics or not, there’s a cowardice is today’s sci-fi, striving to be “nuanced” about anything smacking of politics, thus embracing a quasi-neutrality that defaults to literary liberalism. There’s also this negativity; regardless of genre everything reads more like horror, a combination of shock value and a perverse delight in a meaningless universe.

Octavia’s brood is the opposite and the antidote.

I wanted to describe my favorite stories in the book, but I can’t put my finger on it. I’ll try:

“Black Angel” by Walidah Imarisha: An angel cast out from heaven (not a demon) fights injustice on Earth. This surprised me with how much a enjoyed it, as I usually hate the angel/demon sort of urban fantasy. The inner life of the angel moved me.

“Evidence” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs: In an idyllic future, someone sends messages of hope back to her ancestor struggling in our era. A lot of the technology for this was over my head; I didn’t know whether this was on the edge of 21st century hard science, or quantum terms strung together. But when the focus was on the social message, dang that was powerful.

“Sanford and Sun” by Dawolu Jahari Anderson: In screenplay form, Sanford’s primetime TV reality is interrupted by visions from Sun Ra about the spirituality and nobility of Black history. As wacky and original as it sounds.

“The Long Memory” by Morrigan Phillips: In a fantasy archipelago, people with magical memory keep tradition alive, and an evil up-and-coming emperor hunts them down. Yes, this is familiar, but for all the reasons I mentioned above, this version of speculative fiction is more human, and the politics are courageous instead of bland.