Ralph Nader

City Lights Bookstore welcomes Ralph Nader for the release of his new book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think  published by City Lights Books. Elaine Katzenberger, publisher and executive director of City Lights, opens the event. Matt Gonzalez introduces Ralph who talks about the main thrust of his new book, namely what normal citizens can do, right now, to break through corporate power and make change happen.http://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100290780/Images/87286100290780L.jpg

In Breaking Through Power, Nader draws from a lifetime waging—and often winning—David vs. Goliath battles against big corporations and the United States government. In this succinct, Tom Paine-style wake-up call, the iconic consumer advocate highlights the success stories of fellow Americans who organize change and work together to derail the many ways in which wealth manipulates politics, labor, media, the environment and the quality of national life today. Nader makes an inspired case about how the nation can—and must—be democratically managed by communities guided by the U.S. Constitution, not by the dictates of big businesses and the wealthy few. This is classic Ralph Nader, a crystallization of the core political beliefs and commitmImage result for ralph naderents that have driven his lifetime of advocacy for greater democracy.

Ralph Nader is a two-time Nieman Fellow who has been awarded for his political activism that focuses in the areas of consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes. His work has been affected the passing of several pieces of legislation, such as  the Freedom of Information Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the Whistleblower Protection Act. Nader was the subject of the documentary film, An Unreasonable Man, which showed at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006.

 

Finn Brunton

FinnFinn Brunton joined City Lights to celebrate the release of Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest, published by MIT Press. At the event, Brunton discussed the meaning of obfuscation, explained why it’s necessary to fight against data collection and theft, and took questions about the future of surveillance and what we can do right now to combat it.

With Obfuscation, Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum mean to start a revolution. They are calling us not to the barricades but to our computers, offering us ways to fight today’s pervasive digital surveillance—the collection of our data by governments, corporations, advertisers, and hackers. To the toolkit of privacy protecting techniques and projects, they propose adding obfuscation: the deliberate use of ambiguous, confusing, or misleading information to interfere with surveillance and data collection projects. Brunton and Nissenbaum provide tools and a rationale for evasion, noncompliance, refusal, even sabotage—especially for average users, those of us not in a position to opt out or exert control over data about ourselves. Obfuscation will teach users to push back, software developers to keep their user data safe, and policy makers to gather data without misusing it.

Brunton and Nissenbaum present a guide to the forms and formats that obfuscation has taken and explain how to craft its implementation to suit the goal and the adversary. They describe a series of historical and contemporary examples, including radar chaff deployed by World War II pilots, Twitter bots that hobbled the social media strategy of popular protest movements, and software that can camouflage users’ search queries and stymie online advertising. They go on to consider obfuscation in more general terms, discussing why obfuscation is necessary, whether it is justified, how it works, and how it can be integrated with other privacy practices and technologies.

Finn Brunton is Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (MIT Press).

Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication and Computer Science at New York University and the author of Privacy in Context. She is one of the developers of the TrackMeNot software.

David Talbot

David Talbot joins City Lights for a reading and discussion of his new work, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government from HarperCollins.

America’s greatest untold story: the United States’ rise to world dominance under the guile of Allen Welsh Dulles, the longest-serving director of the CIA. Drawing on revelatory new materials—including newly discovered U.S. government docuDavidTalbotments, U.S. and European intelligence sources, the personal correspondence and journals of Allen Dulles’s wife and mistress, and exclusive interviews with the children of prominent CIA officials—Talbot reveals the underside of one of America’s most powerful and influential figures.

Dulles’s decade as the director of the CIA—which he used to further his public and private agendas—were dark times in American politics. Calling himself “the secretary of state of unfriendly countries,” Dulles saw himself as above the elected law, manipulating and subverting American presidents in the pursuit of his personal interests and those of the wealthy elite he counted as his friends and clients—colluding with Nazi-controlled cartels, German war criminals, and Mafiosi in the process. Targeting foreign leaders for assassination and overthrowing nationalist governments not in line with his political aims, Dulles employed those same tactics to further his goals at home, Talbot charges, offering shocking new evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

An exposé of American power that is as disturbing as it is timely, The Devil’s Chessboard is a provocative and gripping story of the rise of the national security state—and the battle for America’s soul.

David Talbot, author of the critically acclaimed bestsellers Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love and Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years. He is also the author of Devil Dog: The Man Who Saved America. He has been hailed as a “pioneer of online journalism” by The New York Times and is the founder and former editor-in-chief of Salon. He has worked as a senior editor for Mother Jones magazine and as a features editor for the San Francisco Examiner. Talbot has written for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time and other publications.

Robert Scheer

Nate Cardozo, Electric Frontier Foundation, interviews Robert Scheer to discuss Scheer’s new book, They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy from Public Affairs Books.

They Know Everything About You is a groundbreaking exposé of how government agencies and tech corporations monitor virtually every aspect of our lives, and a fierce defense of privacy and democracy.

The revelation that the government has access to a vast trove of personal online data demonstrates that we already live in a surveillance society. But the erosion of privacy rights extends far beyond big government. Intelligence agencies such as the NSA and CIA are using Silicon Valley corporate partners as their data spies. Seemingly progressive tech companies are joining forces with snooping government agencies to create a brave new world of wired tyranny.

Life in the digital age poses an unprecedented challenge to our constitutional liberties, which guarantee a wall of privacy between the individual and the government. The basic assumption of democracy requires the ability of the individual to experiment with ideas and associations within a protected zone, as secured by the Constitution. The unobserved moment embodies the most basic of human rights, yet it is being squandered in the name of national security and consumer convenience.

Robert Scheer argues that the information revolution, while a source of public enlightenment, contains the seeds of freedom’s destruction in the form of a surveillance state that exceeds the wildest dream of the most ingenious dictator. The technology of surveillance, unless vigorously resisted, represents an existential threat to the liberation of the human spirit.

Robert Scheer is the editor-in-chief of the Webby Award–winning online magazine Truthdig, professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and co-host of Left, Right & Center, a weekly syndicated radio show broadcast from NPR’s west coast affiliate, KCRW. In the 1960s, he was editor of the groundbreaking Ramparts magazine and later was national correspondent and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Scheer is the author of nine books, including The Great American Stickup. He lives in Los Angeles.

Visit: www.truthdig.com

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. EFF works to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

Nate Cardozo is a Staff Attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s digital civil liberties team. In addition to his focus on free speech and privacy litigation, Nate works on EFF’s Who Has Your Back? report and Coders’ Rights Project. Nate has projects involving cryptography and the law, automotive privacy, government transparency, hardware hacking rights, anonymous speech, electronic privacy law reform, Freedom of Information Act litigation, and resisting the expansion of the surveillance state. A 2009-2010 EFF Open Government Legal Fellow, Nate spent two years in private practice before returning to his senses and to EFF in 2012.  Nate has a B.A. in Anthropology and Politics from U.C. Santa Cruz and a J.D. from U.C. Hastings where he has taught first-year legal writing and moot court.

Critical Praise for They Know Everything About You:

“…Scheer powerfully connects the dots of our chilling Orwellian present, one in which privacy is considered a luxury, rather than a right.” —Publishers Weekly

“A vital piece of work that demands attention.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Robert Scheer reminds us that privacy is everything—the protector of our liberty, the guarantor of our personal autonomy, the fountainhead of our democracy—and yet it’s disappearing faster than an electronic blip moving at warp speed from your computer to the NSA. With clarity and precision, Scheer dissects the military-intelligence complex, showing it to be neither very secure nor very intelligent, but, rather, dangerous to us all.” —Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley

“They Know Everything About You is a brilliant book. Robert Scheer, who covered my 1971 trial after I released the Pentagon Papers, has been following privacy and surveillance issues for decades. He is a key voice and his book— cogent, timely, and fascinating—is an indispensable text for our time.” —Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

“Robert Scheer has undertaken a penetrating examination of Americans’ disappearing privacy and issued a clarion call in these pages, lest we unwittingly click-away our freedom.” —John W. Dean, bestselling author and former Nixon White House counsel

“Scheer is one of the most important journalists in America. He is not only brilliant, possessed by a fierce and uncompromising integrity, but is a lyrical and often moving writer. All of these talents are on full display in his latest book about the rise of the security and surveillance state and the terrifying dystopia that will be visited upon us all unless our right to privacy is returned to us.” —Chris Hedges, fellow at The Nation Institute and coauthor of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

“This is what journalism looks like, provided by one of the greatest reporters of our times. Scheer has written a powerful indictment of the present-day corporate-government surveillance regime that has effectively eliminated the right to privacy. Like a master surgeon, he dissects the self-serving rationales for the wholesale illegal spying on Americans and shows them to be nonsense.” —Robert W. McChesney, author of Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century

An Evening with Tony Serra

Tony_SerraTony Serra recently came by City Lights to read from his new memoir, Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer. What followed was an entertaining, educational, and emotional evening as one of San Francisco’s most luminary intellectuals talked about his life, his work, and his passion.

Tony Serra is a life long civil rights activist and attorney. He is the epitome of a counter-cultural hero. He has spent his life defending society’s marginalized citizens in the courtroom. His role in the Chol Soo Lee case was depicted in the film True Believer and he has gained national prominence for his closing argument techniques. Mr. Serra has consulted with hundreds of professional organizations on various legal issues in multiple forums in 14 different states. He is a life-long tax resister who has spent time in federal prison in protest of what he perceives to be an unjust political and legal system.Serra has served the community as a practicing criminal defense attorney for over 45 years. He has represented: Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, The White Panthers, The Hell’s Angels, Chol Soo Lee, Hooty Croy, Brownie Mary, Bear Lincoln, and many others. He is the recipient of numerous awards that include: ACLU Benjamin Dreyfus Civil Liberties Award, Gideon Equal Justice Award from the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Lawyer of the Year from the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, as well as numerous others.

Tony Serra: The Green, Yellow and Purple Years in the Life of a Radical Lawyer is available from Grizzly Peak Press.

Celebrating the Release of Alexander Cockburn’s A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture with Daisy Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

celebrating the release of

A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture

by Alexander Cockburn

Daisy Cockburn (daughter of the late political commentator Alexander Cockburn) and Counterpunch cofounder Jeffrey St. Clair pay tribute to one of the most influential journalists of our time. Alexander Cockburn’s writing stems from the best tradition of Mark Twain, H.L. Menchken and Tom Paine. Colossal Wreck, his final work, finished shortly before his death in July 2012, exemplifies the prodigious literary brio that made Cockburn’s name.

Whether ruthlessly exposing Beltway hypocrisy, pricking the pomposity of those in power, or tirelessly defending the rights of the oppressed, Cockburn never pulled his punches and always landed a blow where it mattered. In this panoramic work, covering nearly two decades of American culture and politics, he explores subjects as varied as the sex life of Bill Clinton and the best way to cook wild turkey. He stands up for the rights of prisoners on death row and exposes the chicanery of the media and the duplicity of the political elite. As he pursues a serpentine path through the nation, he charts the fortunes of friends, famous relatives, and sworn enemies alike to hilarious effect.

This is a thrilling trip through the reefs and shoals of politics and everyday life. Combining a passion for the places, the food and the people he encountered on dozens of cross-country journeys, Cockburn reports back over seventeen years of tumultuous change among what he affectionately called the “thousand landscapes” of the United States.

visit: http://www.counterpunch.org/

Richard Wolff and David Barsamian Discuss Occupy the Economy

Richard Wolff and David Barsamian came together at City Lights on September 12, to celebrate the release of Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Books).

Today’s economic crisis is capitalism’s worst since the Great Depression. Millions have lost their jobs, homes and healthcare while those who work watch their pensions, benefits and job security decline. As more and more are impacted by the crisis, the system continues to make the very wealthy even richer. In eye-opening interviews with prominent economist Richard Wolff, David Barsamian probes the root causes of the current economic crisis, its unjust social consequences and what can and should be done to turn things around. While others blame corrupt bankers and unregulated speculators or the government or even the poor who borrowed, the authors show that the causes of the crisis run much deeper. They reach back to the 1970s when the capitalist system itself shifted, ending the century-old pattern of rising wages for U.S. workers and thereby enabling the top 1% to become ultra-rich at the expense of the 99%. Since then, economic injustice has become chronic and further corrupted politics. The Occupy movement, by articulating deep indignation with the whole system, mobilizes huge numbers who seek basic change. Occupy the Economy not only clarifies and analyzes the crisis in U.S. capitalism today, it also points toward solutions that can shape a far better future for all.

Richard D. Wolff is Professor Emeritus of Economics at U. Mass, and Visiting Professor at the New School University. Author of Capitalism Hits the Fan, he’s been a guest on NPR, Glenn Beck Show, and Democracy Now!

David Barsamian is founder and director of Alternative Radio and author of Targeting Iran. He is best known for his interview books with Noam Chomsky, including What We Say Goes.

Praise for Occupy the Economy:

“Richard Wolff and David Barsamian truly understand, at the deepest levels, both the need for political, social, and economic change in this nation, and the ways such change can happen. This is an essential read for everybody concerned with the future of the world, from academics to concerned citizens, it’s also a brilliant and thoughtful manual that every activist must own.”
—Thom Hartmann, internationally syndicated radio/TV host, and author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

“Occupy activists everywhere are heatedly debating the question, ‘What’s next for our movement?’ In his collected interviews with David Barsamian, radical economist Richard Wolff lays out a compelling framework for further anti-corporate organizing that focuses on the root of the problem: capitalism and its never-ending assault on the 99%. Occupiers (past, present, and future) now have an intellectual guide to a different kind of economy–one that’s equitable, sustainable and, let’s hope, politically achievable, sooner rather than later. Wolff’s deep but conversational synthesis of recent practice and older theory couldn’t be more timely, persuasive, and readable. This book should be required reading for all labor and community organizers newly inspired by Occupy Wall Street!”
—Steve Early, labor activist, journalist, and author of The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor

Praise for Richard Wolff:

“With unerring coherence and unequaled breadth of knowledge, Rick Wolff offers a rich and much needed corrective to the views of mainstream economists and pundits.”
—Stanley Aronowitz

Trevor Aaronson in conversation with Monika Bauerlein

On January 23, 2013 at City Lights Bookstore, Trevor Aaronson in conversation with Monika Bauerlein discussed Aaronson’s new novel The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terror (IG Publishing).

A groundbreaking work of investigative journalism, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terror shows how the FBI has, under the guise of engaging in counterterrorism since 9/11, built a network of more than fifteen thousand informants whose primary purpose is to infiltrate Muslim communities to create and facilitate phony terrorist plots so that the bureau can then claim victory in the War on Terror.

An outgrowth of Trevor Aaronson’s work as an investigative reporting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley—which culminated in an award-winning cover story in Mother Jones magazine—The Terror Factory reveals shocking information about the criminals, con men, and liars the FBI uses as paid informants, as well as documenting the extreme methods the FBI uses to ensnare Muslims in terrorist plots—which are in reality conceived and financed by the FBI.

The book offers unprecedented detail into how the FBI has transformed from a reactive law enforcement agency to a proactive counterterrorism organization—including the story of an accused murderer who became one of the FBI’s most prolific terrorism informants—and how so-called terrorism consultants and experts have made fortunes by exaggerating the threat of Islamic terrorism in the United States.

Trevor Aaronson is associate director and co-founder of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization that produces reporting about Florida and Latin America. He was a 2010–11 investigative reporting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, where his reporting about the FBI’s informants in US Muslim communities resulted in a Mother Jones cover story that won the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim 2012 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award, the Molly National Journalism Prize and the International Data Journalism Award.

Monika Bauerlein is co-editor of Mother Jones, where, together with Clara Jeffery, she spearheaded an era of editorial growth and innovation, marked by two National Magazine Awards for general excellence, the addition of a seven-person Washington Bureau, and an overhaul of the organization’s digital strategy that tripled MotherJones.com’s traffic. Previously she was Mother Jones’ investigative editor, focusing on long-form projects marrying in-depth reportage, document sleuthing, and narrative appeal. She has also worked as an alternative-weekly editor (at Minneapolis/St. Paul’s City Pages), a correspondent for US and European publications in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations, an AP stringer, corporate trainer, translator, sausage slinger and fishing-line packager.

 

Robert Graysmith on True Crime and Black Fire

Robert Graysmith came into City Lights Bookstore on November 15th, 2012, to discuss his new true crime novel, Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer–and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco (Crown Books).

The first biography of the little-known real-life Tom Sawyer (a friend of Mark Twain during his brief tenure as a California newspaper reporter), told through a harrowing account of Sawyer’s involvement in the hunt for a serial arsonist who terrorized mid-nineteenth century San Francisco.

When 28-year-old San Francisco Daily Morning Call reporter Mark Twain met Tom Sawyer at a local bathhouse in 1863, he was seeking a subject for his first novel. As Twain steamed, played cards, and drank beer with Sawyer (a volunteer firefighter, customs inspector, and local hero responsible for having saved ninety lives at sea), he had second thoughts about Shirley Tempest, his proposed book about a local girl firefighter, and began to envision a novel of wider scope. Twain learned that a dozen years earlier the then eighteen-year-old New York-born Sawyer had been a “Torch Boy,” one of the youths who raced ahead of the volunteer firemen’s hand-drawn engines at night carrying torches to light the way, always aware that a single spark could reduce the all-wood city of San Francisco to ashes in an instant. At that time a mysterious serial arsonist known by some as “The Lightkeeper” was in the process of burning San Francisco to the ground six times in eighteen months – the most disastrous and costly series of fires ever experienced by any American metropolis.

Black Fire is the most thorough and accurate account of Sawyer’s relationship with Mark Twain and of the six devastating incendiary fires that baptized one of the modern world’s favorite cities. Set amid a scorched landscape of burning roads, melting iron warehouses, exploding buildings, and deadly gangs who extorted and ruled by fear, it includes the never-before-told stories of Sawyer’s heroism during the sinking of the steamship Independence and the crucial role Sawyer and the Torch Boys played in solving the mystery of the Lightkeeper.

Drawing on archival sources such as actual San Francisco newspaper interviews with Sawyer and the handwritten police depositions of the arrest of the Lightkeeper, bestselling author Robert Graysmith vividly portrays the gritty, corrupt, and violent world of Gold Rush-era San Francisco, overrun with gunfighters, hooligans, hordes of gold prospectors, crooked politicians, and vigilantes. By chronicling how Sawyer took it upon himself to investigate, expose, and stop the arsonist, Black Fire details – for the first time – Sawyer’s remarkable life and illustrates why Twain would later feel compelled to name his iconic character after his San Francisco buddy when he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Robert Graysmith is the New York Times bestselling author of Zodiac and eight other books. The major motion pictures Zodiac and Auto Focus are based on his books. A San Francisco Chronicle political cartoonist and artist for fifteen years, he lives in San Francisco.

This event is co-sponsored by Litquake

Litquake, San Francisco’s annual literary festival, was founded by Bay Area writers in order to put on a week-long literary spectacle for book lovers, complete with cutting-edge panels, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings. Since its founding in 1999, the festival has presented more than 3,650 author appearances for an audience of over 83,500 in its lively and inclusive celebration of San Francisco’s thriving contemporary literary scene. Litquake seeks to foster interest in literature, perpetuate a sense of literary community, and provide a vibrant forum for Bay Area writing as a complement to the city’s music, film, and cultural festivals.

visit: http://litquake.org/ Read More …

Chris Hedges Discussing Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

Chris Hedges stopped by City Lights to discuss his new book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.

Camden, New Jersey, with a population of 70,390, is per capita the poorest city in the nation. It is also the most dangerous. The city’s real unemployment — hard to estimate, since many residents have been severed from the formal economy for generations — is probably 30 to 40 percent. The median household income is $24,600. There is a 70 percent high school dropout rate, with only 13 percent of students managing to pass the state’s proficiency exams in math. The city is planning $28 million in draconian budget cuts, with officials talking about cutting 25 percent from every department, including layoffs of nearly half the police force. The proposed slashing of the public library budget by almost two-thirds has left the viability of the library system in doubt. There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, and MS-13. Camden is awash in guns, easily purchased across the river in Pennsylvania, where gun laws are lax.

Camden, like America, was once an industrial giant. It employed some 36,000 workers in its shipyards during World War II and built some of the nation’s largest warships. It was the home to major industries, from RCA Victor to Campbell’s Soup. It was a destination for immigrants and upwardly mobile lower middle class families. Camden now resembles a penal colony.

In Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges and American Book Award winning cartoonist Joe Sacco show how places like Camden, a poster child of postindustrial decay, stand as a warning of what huge pockets of the United States will turn into if we cement in place a permanent underclass. In addition to Camden, Hedges and Sacco report from the coal fields of West Virginia, Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and undocumented farm worker colonies in California. With unemployment and underemployment combined at far over ten percent, as Congress proposes to slash Medicare and Medicaid, Food Stamps, Pell Grants, Social Security, and other social services, Hedges and Sacco warn of a bleak near future—where cities and states fall easily into bankruptcy, neofeudalism

reigns, and the nation’s working and middle classes are decimated. A shocking report from the frontlines of poverty in America, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is a clarion call for reform.

Chris Hedges, a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans, with fifteen years at the New York Times. He is the author of the bestsellers War is Force That Gives Us Meaning, American Fascists, Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class. He currently writes for numerous publications, including Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, Granta, and Mother Jones. A columnist for Truthdig, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Jerry Mander Reading from The Capitalism Papers

On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Jerry Mander stopped by City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco to discuss The Capitalism Papers: Six Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System (Counterpoint Press).

In the vein of his bestseller, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, nationally recognized social critic Jerry Mander researches, discusses, and exposes the momentous and unsolvable environmental and social problem of capitalism.

Mander argues that capitalism is no longer a viable system: “What may have worked in 1900 is calamitous in 2010.” Capitalism, utterly dependent on never-ending economic growth, is an impossible absurdity on a finite planet with limited resources. Climate change, together with global food, water, and resource shortages, are only the start.

Mander draws attention to capitalism’s obsessive need to dominate and undermine democracy, as well as to diminish social and economic equity. Designed to operate free of “morality,” the system promotes “permanent war” as a key economic strategy. Worst of all, the problems of capitalism are intrinsic to the form. Many organizations are already anticipating the breakdown of the system and are working to define new hierarchies of democratic values that respect the carrying capacities of the planet.

Jerry Mander is the founder and director of the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), a groundbreaking international think tank and activist community, focused on exposing the negative impacts of economic globalization. Mander founded the U.S.’s first non-profit ad agency in 1971, Public Media Center, which ran campaigns for the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and various anti-war groups. Mander is also a renowned critic of mass media and the author of such classics as: Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television; In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations; and, more recently, co-edited Alternatives to Globalization, Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Globalization and The Super Ferry Chronicles.

Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn

On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 7:00 P.M., Lloyd Khan stopped by City Lights Bookstore to discuss his new book, Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter (Shelter Publications).

There’s a grassroots movement in tiny homes these days. The real estate collapse, the economic downturn, burning out on 12-hour workdays – many people are rethinking their ideas about shelter – seeking an alternative to high rents, or a lifelong mortgage debt to a bank on an overpriced home.Tiny Homes presents some 150 builders who have taken things into their own hands, creating tiny homes (under 500 sq. ft.). Homes on land, homes on wheels, homes on the road, homes on water, even homes in the trees. There are also studios, saunas, garden sheds, and greenhouses.There are 1,300 photos, showing a rich variety of small homemade shelters, and there are stories (and thoughts and inspirations) of the owner-builders who are on the forefront of this new trend in downsizing and self-sufficiency.

At the heart of Lloyd Kahn’s 1973 book Shelter were drawings of 5 small buildings, which he recommended as a starting point in providing one’s own home. Now, almost 40 years later, there’s a growing tiny house movement all over the world – which we’ve been tracking over the past two years.

Many people have decided to scale back, to get by with less stuff, to live in smaller homes. You can buy a ready-made tiny home, build your own, get a kit or pre-fab, or live in a bus, houseboat, or other movable shelter. Some cities have special ordinances for building “inlaw” or “granny flats” in the back yard. There are innovative solutions in cities, such as the “capsules” in Tokyo. There are numerous blogs and websites with news, photos, and/or plans for tiny homes, documented here.

If you’re thinking of scaling back, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here. Here’s a different approach, a 180º turn from increasing consumption. Here are builders, designers, architects (no less), dreamers, artists, road gypsies, and water dwellers who’ve achieved a measure of freedom and independence by taking shelter into their own hands.

Lloyd Kahn worked as Shelter editor for the Whole Earth Catalog in 1968. In 1971 he published Domebook 2. His shake-covered geodesic dome was featured inLife magazine. Ultimately disillusioned with domes, he took Domebook 2 out of print and in 1973, published the oversized book Shelter, which went on to sell over 250,0000 copies. In 2004, Kahn published HomeWork: Handbuilt Shelter – in many ways the sequel to Shelter – and Builders of the Pacific Coast in 2008.Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter is the 4th book in this series. Kahn and his wife Lesley live and work in a small coastal town in Northern California.

visit: lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com

John Nichols reads from UPRISING: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street

John Nichols took City Lights Bookstore by storm on Wednesday, February 22, 2012, discussing his new book UPRISING: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street (Nation Books).

 

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s move to strip collective-bargaining rights from public-sector workers last year caused the biggest labor rallies since the 1930s. In UPRISING: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, John Nichols describes how conservatives across the nation are attempting to revoke the rights of public-sector employees to unionize—and how ordinary people are fighting back. This nationwide assault is a coordinated attack by privatizers and billionaire political donors like the Koch brothers (who poured thousands of dollars into Governor Walker’s campaign war chest and exercise enormous influence on his policymaking). In the tradition of Norman Mailer’s Miami and the Siege of Chicago, Nichols argues in this powerfully evocative book that these unprecedented efforts, and the shadowy interests behind them, are resulting in a broader national challenge—to the Tea Party and to the Far Right.

With the effort to recall Governor Walker already underway, UPRISING is an incredibly timely and important book from John Nichols.

 

John Nichols is The Nation’s Washington correspondent and the associate editor of the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. He has authored or coauthored eight books on media and politics. He lives in Madison and Washington, DC.


David Graeber in conversation with Rebecca Solnit

On Thursday, January 26, 2012, celebrated authors and activists Rebecca Solnit and David Graeber engaged in an evening of stimulating discussion about David Graeber’s Debt:The First 5000 Years (Melville House).

Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it.

Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.

Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.

David Graeber teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Because of his role in the creation of the Occupy movement, Business Week has dubbed him the “Anti-leader” of Occupy Wall Street while the London Financial Times has called Debt “Exceedingly timely.” He is the author of Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value; Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar; Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology; Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire; and Direct Action: An Ethnography. He has written for Harper’s, The Nation, Mute, and The New Left Review. In 2006, he delivered the Malinowski Memorial Lecture at the London School of Economics, an annual talk that honors “outstanding anthropologists who have fundamentally shaped the study of culture.”

 

Rebecca Solnit is the author of thirteen books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. They include November 2010’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, a book of 22 maps and nearly 30 collaborators; A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, and many others, including Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; and River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). She has worked with climate change, Native American land rights, antinuclear, human rights, antiwar and other issues as an activist and journalist. A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a contributing editor to Harper’s and frequent contributor to the political site Tomdispatch.com and has made her living as an independent writer since 1988.

Wendell Potter reads from Deadly Spin

Here’s a newly released recording from the archive: Wendell Potter discussing Deadly Spin at City Lights Bookstore!

Wendell Potter, former Vice President of Communications at CIGNA, made national headlines in 2009 when he testified before a Senate panel, disclosing how profit-driven insurance companies engage in practices forcing millions of Americans into under-insured or uninsured status.

Since then he has worked tirelessly as an outspoken critic of corporate PR and the distortion and fear manufactured by the wealthy health insurance industry. It is a PR juggernaut that is bankrolled by millions of dollars, rivaling lobbying budgets and underwriting many “non-partisan” and “grassroots” organizations. His book, Deadly Spin, is not just an expose of health insurers but a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy.

Wendell is currently a senior analyst at the The Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan nonprofit that produces original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern; the senior fellow on health care for the Center for Media and Democracy, an independent, non-partisan public interest organization; and speaks out on both the need for a fundamental overhaul of the American health care system and on the dangers to American democracy and society of the decline of the media as watchdog, which has contributed to the growing and increasingly unchecked influence of corporate PR. He also serves as a consumer liaison representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June of 2009, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, as part of their efforts to boost profits, have engaged in practices that have resulted in millions of Americans being forced into the ranks of the uninsured. Wendell also described how the insurance industry has developed and implemented strategic communications plans, based on deceptive public relations, advertising and lobbying efforts, to defeat reform initiatives.

Since then Wendell has testified before two House committees, briefed several members of Congress and their staffs, appeared with members of Congress at several press conferences, spoken at more than 100 public forums, and has been the subject of numerous articles in the U.S. and foreign media.

Deep Politics in the Age of Bush and Obama

Peter Dale Scott reads from American War Machine

Russ Baker & Peter Dale Scott dropped by City Lights Bookstore last December in celebration of the release of American War Machine: Deep Politics, the Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (by Peter Dale Scott) published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Why, even with the transfer of power from a conservative Republican to a liberal-moderate Democrat, does substantive change remain so elusive? And how is it possible that so soon after the catastrophic George W. Bush administration, Bush family fortunes already seem to be reviving—with Jeb Bush touted as a 2012 presidential aspirant?  Russ Baker and Peter Dale Scott, two of America’s most thoughtful investigators of American history and politics, discuss of some of the biggest unanswered questions of our time.

 

Russ Baker is an award-winning investigative journalist, author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, and editor-in-chief of the news site, www.whowhatwhy.com.

 

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. He is the author of: Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central AmericaThe Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America, and many others.

Alia Malek and Karen Korematsu discuss Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustice

Editor Alia Malek in conversation with Karen Korematsu

On September 20th, 2011, City Lights welcomed Alia Malek and Karen Korematsu to discuss the new book: Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice published by Voices of Witness (a nonprofit division of McSweeney’s Books).

A groundbreaking collection of oral histories, Patriot Acts tells the stories of men and women who have been needlessly swept up in the War on Terror. In their own words, narrators recount personal experiences of the post-9/11 backlash that have deeply altered their lives and communities. The eighth book in the Voice of Witness series, Patriot Acts illuminates these experiences in a compelling collection of eighteen oral histories from men and women who have found themselves subject to a wide range of human and civil rights abuses—from rendition and torture, to workplace discrimination, bullying, FBI surveillance and harassment.

Alia Malek is an author and a civil rights lawyer. Born in Baltimore to Syrian immigrant parents, her reportage has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Salon, The Christian Science Monitor, The Columbia Journalism Review, and WashingtonPost.com. Her first book was A Country Called Amreeka.

Karen Korematsu is the founder of the Fred Korematsu Civil Rights Fund, sponsored by ALC. She is the daughter of Fred Korematsu, who challenged the internment orders during WWII. Mrs. Korematsu-Haigh shares her father’s passion for social justice and continues to help support the new Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education at the Asian Law Caucus in development and outreach.

John Gibler reads from To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War

John Gibler reads from To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War

In conjunction with Global Exchange, John Gibler visited City Lights Bookstore on June 15th, 2011 to read and talk about his new book, To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War.

Combining on the ground reporting and in-depth discussions with people on the front lines of Mexico’s drug war, To Die in Mexico tells behind-the scenes-stories that address the causes and consequences of Mexico’s multi-billion-dollar drug-trafficking business.

Gibler tells the hair raising stories of a Mexican journalist kidnapped, interrogated and threatened with death by the Gulf Cartel before being miraculously released; family members of people killed in the conflict; survivors of assassination attempts and massacres; along with crime-beat photographers, funeral parlor workers, government officials, convicted traffickers, cab drivers and others who find themselves working against, with, or for the drug cartels.

Gibler sees beyond the cops-and-robbers myths that pervade government and media portrayals of the unprecedented wave of violence and looks to the people of Mexico for solutions to the crisis now pushing Mexico to the breaking point.

John Gibler 
is a writer based in Mexico and California, the author of Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt (City Lights Books, 2009), and a contributor to País de muertos: Crónicas contra la impunidad (Random House Mondadori, 2011). He is a correspondent for KPFA in San Francisco and has published in magazines in the United States and Mexico, including Left TurnZ MagazineEarth Island JournalColorLinesRace, Poverty, and the EnvironmentFifth EstateNew PoliticsIn These TimesYes! Magazine, Contralínea, and Milenio Semanal.

Daniel Ellsberg on Zinn, Wikileaks & the atomic bomb

Credit: Ellsberg.net

Daniel Ellsberg, legendary whistleblower and the man responsible for releasing the top secret “Pentagon Papers,” discusses Howard Zinn’s recently released “The Bomb,” published by City Lights.

As an active WWII bombardier returning from the end of the war in Europe and preparing for combat in Japan, Howard Zinn read the headline “Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japan” and was glad—the war would be over. “Like other Americans,” writes Zinn, “I had no idea what was going on at the higher levels, and had no idea what that ‘atomic bomb’ had done to men, women, children in Hiroshima, any more than I ever really understood what the bombs I dropped on European cities were doing to human flesh and blood.” During the war, Zinn had taken part in the aerial bombing of Royan, France, and in 1966, he went to Hiroshima, where he was invited to a “house of rest” where survivors of the bombing gathered. In this short and powerful book, the backstory of the making and use of the bomb, Zinn offers his deep personal reflections and political analysis of these events, and the profound influence they had in transforming him from an order-taking combat soldier to one of our greatest anti-authoritarian, anti-war historians.

Simultaneous publication this August in the U.S. and Japan commemorates the 65th anniversary of the USA’s two atomic bombings of Japan by calling for the abolition of all nuclear weapons and an end to war as an acceptable solution to human conflict.

Black Panthers’ attorney discusses the life and death of Fred Hampton

Jeffrey Haas discusses The Assassination Of Fred Hampton from Lawrence Hill Books

The Assassination of Fred Hampton is Jeffrey Haas’s personal account of how he and People’s Law Office partner Flint Taylor pursued Fred Hampton’s assassins, ultimately prevailing over unlimited government resources and FBI conspiracy. Not only a story of justice delivered, the book puts Fred Hampton in a new light as a dynamic community leader and an inspiration in the fight against injustice.

praise for the book:

“A riveting account of the assassination, the plot behind it, the attempted cover-up, the denouement and the lessons that we should draw from this shocking tale of government iniquity.”  —Noam Chomsky, author and political activist

“A remarkable work.”  —Studs Terkel

“A true crime story and legal thriller, this powerful account puts together all the pieces, step by step, giving us the anatomy of a despicable episode in recent American history. The writing is clear and straightforward; the overall impact devastating.” —Phillip Lopate, author of Getting Personal

“This is an extremely important book–and a tale well told–for America to read if it wants to become what it says it has always been—the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  —Ramsey Clark, lawyer and former United States Attorney General

Jeffrey Haas is an attorney and cofounder of the People’s Law Office, whose clients included the Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society, community activists, and a large number of those opposed to the Vietnam War. He has handled cases involving prisoners’ rights, Puerto Rican nationalists, protestors opposed to human rights violations in Central America, police torture, and the wrongfully accused.

ACLU’s Stan Yogi & Elaine Elinson Discuss California’s Epic Civil Rights Battles

Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi dropped by City Lights to talk about their new book, Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California from Heyday Books.

Wherever There’s a Fight captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. The book tells the stories of the brave individuals who have stood up for their rights in the face of social hostility, physical violence, economic hardship, and political stonewalling.

It connects the experiences of early Chinese immigrants subjected to discriminatory laws to those of professionals who challenged McCarthyism and those of people who have fought to gain equal rights in California schools: people of color, people with disabilities, and people standing up for their religious freedom. The authors bring a special focus to the World War II internment of Japanese Americans, focusing on the infamous Korematsu case, which was foreshadowed by a century of civil liberties violations and reverberates in more recent times—regrettably, even today in the Patriot Act. And they follow the ongoing struggles for workers’ rights and same-sex marriage.

State and federal constitutions spell out many liberties and rights, but it is the people who challenge prejudice and discrimination that transform those lofty ideals into practical realities. Wherever There’s a Fight paints vivid portraits of these people and brings to light their often hidden stories.

Elaine Elinson was the communications director of the ACLU of Northern California and editor of the ACLU News for more than two decades. She is a coauthor of Development Debacle: The World Bank in the Philippines, which was banned by the Marcos regime. Her articles have been published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, Poets and Writers, and numerous other periodicals. She is married to journalist Rene CiriaCruz and they have one son.

Stan Yogi has managed development programs for the ACLU of Northern California since 1997. He is the coeditor of two books, Highway 99: A Literary Journey through California’s Great Central Valley and Asian American Literature: An Annotated Bibliography. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, MELUS, Los Angeles Daily Journal, and several anthologies. He is married to nonprofit administrator David Carroll and lives in Oakland.

This podcast was recorded live at City Lights Books on Nov. 11, 2009.