Culture Feature

Mass Hysterectomies at Immigrant Detention Center? Here Are the Facts.

Whistleblower files official complaint on disturbing conditions at Georgia detention center.

Photo by: Metin Ozer / Unsplash

A whistleblower who worked as a nurse at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia has come forward with a claim that immigrants are facing serious medical neglect in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic—as well as an unusually high rate of hysterectomies.

The whistleblower is Dawn Wooten LPN. She has worked at the facility for three years as a licensed practical nurse, and has over 10 years of experience working as a nurse in prisons. She originally worked full time at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia but was demoted to an on-call position in mid-July after repeatedly complaining to staff leadership about the dangerous working conditions. Irwin is a private prison which houses immigrants detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is run by LaSalle Corrections, a private company that runs immigration detention facilities in Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana.

Keep ReadingShow less
Culture Feature

Fiona Apple Wants to Teach You How to Document ICE Arrests

"Don't stop filming! And saving the unedited version so you can go back and see all the facts."

Fiona Apple joins the Watkins Family Hour band for Bob Dylan's 'Highway 61 Revisited' at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Sachyn Mital/Shutterstock

Fiona Apple has narrated a new film that explains how to document and record U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests.

The informative video premiered on Vulturethis week, along with an extensive interview with Apple. "I think so many people want to help and they don't know how," said the musician, whose album Fetch the Bolt Cutters dropped to critical acclaim earlier this year.

Available in both English and Spanish—the Spanish version is narrated by activist Erika Andiola—the video, entitled "We Have Rights When Documenting Immigrant Arrests," was made in partnership with the organizations We Have Rights, Brooklyn Defender Services, and WITNESS.

ICE, which was created in response to the September 11 attacks, employs over 20,000 people. Originally created to protect America, it now seems to specialize in terrorizing immigrant families day and night.

Keep ReadingShow less
Music Features

Artists Are Planning to Take Their Music Off Amazon

An organization is calling for artists to remove their music from the website over ties to ICE.

Amazon Music

Amazon, our guardian angel of speedy delivery and on-demand streaming, has been scrutinized for their affiliations with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other government agencies.

A group of musicians, who operate under the organization No Music for ICE, recently stated they were refusing to perform at Amazon-sponsored events. Artists like Jay Som, Car Seat Headrest, and Atmosphere signed the petition, along with countless others. Now, they're taking their activism a step further by choosing to remove their music from the website and encouraging their peers to do the same.

"A mass, collective takedown is an escalation, another step in musicians acting in solidarity with the numerous groups across the country protesting to shut down ICE and end family separations, deportations, and other horrors," reads the organization's statement.

The statement goes on to explain how Amazon has been attempting to compete with streaming giants like Apple Music and Spotify, as well as grow as an established market for purchasing music. Instead, they've only made a small blip on the radar: According to an industry insider who spoke with No Music for ICE, Amazon only accounted for about 4 percent of first-week streams from a handful of major rock acts. Because of this, the statement explains, removing music is an effective way to "kick Amazon where it hurts."

But the timing is important, too; No Music for ICE explains that the mass takedown will start on Black Friday, continuing throughout the holiday season, when a heightened state of consumerism is typically on our minds. The organization's website also includes instructions on how to remove your music from Amazon, for both label-signed artists and totally independent artists. Bringing capitalism and xenophobia to the ground in one fell swoop is surely something to sing about.


Are Memes the Key to a Revolution?

Memes can elect presidents and spark mass revolts. Why shouldn't they determine the fate of the world?

Most of us know that there's something up with Washington and the military-industrial complex that's running our world, which together are ignoring the very real threat of impending disaster due to the amount of carbon we're belching into the atmosphere.

The U.S. military is the number one burner of carbon in the world, after all.

Yet, though there have been significant pockets of protest, in general, activism has not taken off on the level required to spark change on the necessary scale. Part of this could be because there's just so much to protest, as every single day seems to bring another racist attack, another horrific report from the border, another apocalyptic headline. With the 24/7 news cycle constantly screaming or beeping out informational toxic waste, it's become too much information to bear.

Fortunately, memes have leapt in to provide an outlet for existential despair, suicidal ideation, hate, and other feelings too dark to express in the day-lit realm of seriousness. If reality is like the sun, impossible to look at straight-on, then memes have become like sunglasses for certain subsects of the online sphere—ways to comprehend events or express views without fully acknowledging their implications. This is visible in the rise of memes about mental illness and of course, politics.

The Area 51 Raid Could Be a Blueprint for a Revolt

In recent times, memes—or rather, a single meme, which blossomed into a Facebook group and spawned posts and tweets—have successfully persuaded one million people to RSVP that they are "going" to invade Area 51, the U.S. military base that has long been the subject of conspiracy theories. This is a clear example of how quick and effective memes are at mass mobilization.

Soon enough, people began to understand the implications of this spontaneous unification. Critics began questioning why people were rallying around an impossible and pointless Area 51 attack (sorry—I wish it were possible as much as the next guy, believe me) instead of a raid on, say, the ICE prisons at the border where people are actively dying in U.S. custody.

The truth is, though, it's becoming clear that serious, genuine attempts at changing the world have difficulty catching on in today's nihilistic, fragmented society. Fifty years after the summer of '69, hope doesn't hold the sway it used to; we don't believe that anything like 'give peace a chance' will work. We've watched too many optimists fail. We've seen too many cult leaders carted off to prison, too many men we thought were great exposed for who they really are.

We've seen the explosive production that defined the 20th century launch globalization in the 21st century, which has resulted in mass ecological crisis and waves of displacement that we know will only worsen as the earth warms. We've been told to turn off our lights as carbon companies churn out more pollution every year.

We've seen lies infiltrate our television screens from both sides of the political spectrum. We've watched pundits say the world will end in ten years because of climate change, then we've switched to FOX to see other pundits saying that climate change is a conspiracy.

Really, there's not much else to do except fall into complete depression and/or anxiety, or laugh it off. Perhaps merely incidentally, memes help us to do the latter, allowing us to alchemize those two polarized reactions into something unified, if only in its distortedness.

Memes as Tools of Social Change—Or Alt-Right Solidarity

After all, for all their flaws, memes do something vital for any healthy social movement, something that few digital users would care to admit. Memes foster community, presenting an alternative to the lonely echo chamber of the social media sphere and the capitalist system at large, which thrives on competition and the cult of the individual.

There is revolutionary potential in this resilient unification. Imagine, for example, if someone could shape climate change into a contagious meme. Imagine if "storm the Exxon Mobil factory" could collect the number of comments and RSVPs that this event has. Could it be that memes are the best hope for humanity?

Memes are perfect revolutionary devices because they allow us to connect and unify in the most anonymous of senses, permitting secret or radical thoughts to catch on like wildfire. Sometimes, this can have horrible consequences. Being implicitly neutral, memes are just as useful at fostering the rise of the alt-right and electing Trump as they could be in unifying protestors against climate change, or around the next Democratic presidential candidate.

But while memes can fuel hate, they can also fuel—to quote presidential candidate and meme Marianne Williamson—love. Perhaps the rise of memes says something about love; perhaps it proves that while we (as Gen-Z and millennials, to make a sweeping generalization) can't tolerate the intimacy of real, genuine bonds anymore—while ideas like "love will save us" feel antithetical—we can tolerate intimacy through the synthetic, chemical bonding that occurs through internet friendships, which allow us to remove ourselves from the equation, to strip away our public personas and instead to distill ourselves to something fluid, changeable at will.

In that anonymity, we feel the freedom to be ourselves, outside of the cage of the 'self' we perform in the real world. We can admit our flawed natures and fears; we can admit that we are "in shambles," while still preserving a self-effacing detachment. Always, there's the oddly comforting possibility that it's all a joke.

Needless to say, we need some new climate change memes

If Revolution Were a Meme

More and more, memes are becoming one of the primary ways to comprehend the truth of ourselves and our world, a truth so submerged in layers of complexity and misinformation that sometimes it only feels possible to discuss it in the liminal space of half-seriousness, half-absurdity that defines the memetic sphere.

Memes allow us to address what's breaking us down—such as the unchecked greed and corruption that began way back in the early stages of global colonization and is now causing climate change—without risking the kind of vulnerability that genuine emotion (be it hope or anger) requires. Memes allow us to commit to traveling across the country to rally and protest not because we think it will work, but because we think it will fail.

That's the kind of abandon it's going to take to protest climate change, or its forefather—late-stage capitalism—both of which can feel so overwhelming that it's hard to act at all. To really fight climate change and the capitalist systems that created it, maybe we need to stop taking everything so damn seriously. Maybe we need to lighten up—to rage against the apocalypse—to do something utterly absurd, like hold a collective dance-off at the site of the next pipeline in the Pacific Northwest, or a mass juuling session, or all throw tide pods at ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods' house—or something else, something that could only come from the belly of the Interwebs. Something that will flicker on cell phone screens across the country and across the world, provoking smiles or raised eyebrows, calling people to action in spite of themselves, pulling Americans out of their inclination towards apathy.

Maybe the Area 51 revolt could be a lesson. It's proof that today's Americans can and are willing to rally around specific causes. It's proof that memes are extraordinarily powerful weapons or tools, depending how they're used. It's all this, and it's none of this, because memes elude serious scrutiny, existing in a space that looks something like freedom.

Image via CBC


MUSIC MONDAY | Laid Back, Rainy City Groove

APRIL 16 | Editors Picks for April 20th

Best Parts of Friday
04.16.18 | Got a need for some chill groove to ease you into the week? Yes! You know what the spring brings? A day, a time, that once a year, four-twenty (420). if you bake, you partake.
Keep ReadingShow less
Minus the Bear "Knights" Suicide Squeeze Records

Minus the Bear are excited to announce the 10 year anniversary tour for Planet of Ice, the breakthrough third full-length album for the band. Released in August 2007 on Suicide Squeeze Records, the fan favorite album was the first release for the indie band to chart on the Billboard 200. Upon its release, Planet of Ice won high praise from Spin as "elegant and maturely conceived," while AV Club noted the innovative instrumentation and songwriting, enamored by the way "the disc uncoils with a sinister playfulness." Playing Planet of Ice in its entirety among other selections from their expansive catalog, the Seattle band will make stops in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin and many other cities before culminating in a hometown show at The Showbox on June 13th. All upcoming tour dates and on sale information is below.

Watch the music video for "Knights" from Planet of Ice

In March 2017, Minus the Bear released their sixth album VOIDS, produced by Sam Bell (The Cribs, Weezer, Bloc Party, Two Door Cinema Club). Their recent release was lauded by Relix as "an exceptionally cohesive effort that ranks among the best of its catalog to date," while Noisey wrote that the dichotomy found on the album "between dark imagery and danceable, inventive rock has always been a hallmark of Minus The Bear's sound". The band's entire decade-spanning discography can be found at Suicide Squeeze and Spotify.

"VOIDS, the Seattle prog-punk group's first new album in five years, is one of the most powerful expressions of the melodicism, grit and heartfelt expressionism they've ever made." - Alternative Press

Watch the music video for "Last Kiss"

Minus The Bear is Jake Snider (vocals, guitar), Dave Knudson (guitar), Cory Murchy (bass guitar), and Alex Rose (synthesizers, vocals)

Upcoming tour dates are listed below.

Upcoming Tour Dates: ( * with The Coathangers or ^ with The New Trust)

Keep ReadingShow less