Category Archives: Culture

Inventing Tomorrow

In this edition, recorded on May 16, 2018, we interview three of the producers of INVENTING TOMORROW, an inspiring documentary that features six passionate teenage scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India and Mexico, creating cutting-edge solutions to the world’s environmental threats-right in their own backyards. It follows them, as they eventually journey to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.

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(L-R) Producer Diane Becker, director Laura Nix and producer Melanie Miller

Laura Nix is known for her films The Yes Men Are Revolting (2014) as well as The Yes Men Fix the World (2009), The Light In Her Eyes (2011) about Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur’an school for girls in Damascus, Syria when she was just 17 years old. Her work in film goes back to 1997.

Melanie Miller is known for her work on Detour (2013), and Alaska Is a Drag (2017). Her film work goes all the way back to 2001 as associate producer on the Liars Club

Diane Becker has films going back to 2006, including Five Came Back(2017), Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma (2016), Legion of Brothers (2017), Jaco (2015) and many more.

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(L-R) Melanie Miller, Laura Nix, Jose Manuel Elizade Esparanza, Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos, Sahithi Pingali, Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi, Jared Goodwin, Diane Becker, Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda

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ENEV063T_Anfaresi_Shofi Latifah Nuha_Indonesia_053_CA.jpgProject ENEV063T: Bangka’s Tin Sea Sand-Fe3O4 as a Removal of Heavy Metals in By-Product of Tin Ore Processing  (above): Intan Utami Putri
Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi  
Banka, Indonesia

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EAEV088_Pingali_Sahithi_15_CA.jpgProject EAEV008 – An Innovative Crowdsourcing Approach to Monitoring Freshwater Bodies

above: Sahithi Pingali
 in Bangalore, India

J.-Goodwin2-225x300.jpgEAEV018_Goodwin_Jared_USA_02_KR.jpgProject EAEV018 – Arsenic Contamination through Tsunami Wave Movement in Hawaii: Investigating the Concentration of Heavy Metals in the Soil from the 1960 Hilo, Hawaii Tsunami

Jared Goodwin
 is from Hilo, Hawaii

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Project CHEM059T: Photocatalytic Ceramic Paint to Purify Air
Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos
Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda
Jose Manuel Elizade Esparaza
     above: in Monterrey, Mexico

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When not producing films, Diane, Laura and Melanie can be found promoting science in other ways.

 

 

 

Kimberly Reed: Dark Money

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We continue our annual Radio Goes to the Movies series featuring films screening at the 18th annual Mendocino Film Festival. In this segment we speak with Kimberly Reed,  who is the director, and co-producer, writer of DARK MONEY. It’s a political thriller, which examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana—a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide—and follows an intrepid local journalist, working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Kimberly Reed’s work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, NPR. One of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” she directed/produced the film, PRODIGAL SONS, and was recognized as one of OUT Magazine’s “Out 100.” Her other films include PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE and THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON, which listeners can actually view now on Netflix.

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Billings Republican candidate, Debra Bonogofsky, became suspicious when her election was thwarted by last minute inaccurate, malicious ads and mailings, the source(s) of which could not be traced. She filed suit with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.

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Powerful Republican Representative Art Wittich’s name, along with eight other 2010 Republican candidates, first appeared on documents found in three boxes discovered in Colorado. Based on this and other information, Wittich was included in the investigation on the complaint filed with the commissioner of political practices by Debra Bonogofsky against Dan Kennedy and unnamed “others.”

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Underfunded and understaffed, Jonathan Motl, MT Commissioner of Political Practices doggedly followed slim leads, ultimately filing indictments.

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Gene Jarussi (foreground) was appointed Special Attorney General. He served pro-bono and spent thousands of hours preparing the case. From left to right: Art Wittich, his attorney from Missouri, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, with Jonathan Motl behind Jarussi.

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Tenacious investigative journalist, John Adams, persevered after his job with Lee family paper, Great Falls Tribune, was eliminated. He then founded the MT Free Press, and was crucial in finding the truth about Dark Money in MT.

 

Rodents of Unusual Size

Quinn Costello, editor & co-producer of the documentary, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE, share his thoughts & experiences in creating this joyful exploration of the “Giant Swamp Rats Are Literally Eating Louisiana”.

rous1_thomas_gonzales_defending_delacroix_island_louisiana_from_the_invasion_of_nutria-h_2017.jpgHard headed Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales doesn’t know what will hit him next.  After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat – hordes of monstrous 20 pound swamp rats.  Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them.  And with their orange teeth and voracious appetite they are eating up the coastal wetlands that protects Thomas and his town of Delacroix Island from hurricanes.  But the people who have lived here for generations are not the type of folks who will give up without a fight.  Thomas and a pack of lively bounty hunters are hellbent on saving Louisiana before it dissolves beneath their feet.  It is man vs. rodent.  May the best mammal win.

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Award winning non-fiction filmmakers Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer have traveled to many corners of the world in search of unique stories highlighting the important environmental, scientific and cultural issues of contemporary society. With the success of documentary projects as varied as PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA, THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISTS and EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE they have gone on to screen their work at SXSW and Tribeca along with national TV broadcasts on PBS and the Sundance Channel. Along the way they have continued to pursue other sub-cultural documentary subjects, including: rogue economists, lucha libre wrestlers, ganja-preneurs and evangelical Christian surfers.
The filmmakers of RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE grew up in different parts of the country, but a passion for the swamp sealed their pact.  Cajun Reeboks were donned and the journey began in search of the notorious “nutria rat”.  Four years after first setting sail for Louisiana they emerged from the bayou covered in mosquito bites and an unwavering love for a place at the “End of the World” that is bursting with joy.

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One person’s pest is another person’s pet.

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Native to South America, nuria were introduced to the Bayou to be farmed for fur production during the Great Depression. Some escaped, and with no natural predators, they out-populated the native muskrats. Their numbers were kept somewhat in check until the anti-fur movement of the 1980s wiped out the fur market.

The population soon sky-rocketed to more than 25 million, literally eating the wetlands & causing tremendous environmental destruction. The state of Louisiana instituted the Nutria Control Program, which pays $5/tail.

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Righteous Furs, a collective of fashion designers, prides themselves in utilizing nutria pelts. Their motto is “Save Our Wetlands. Wear more nutria.”

Efforts to create a nutria cuisine have been less successful.

 

 

Burned: Are Trees the New Coal?

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BURNED: ARE TREES THE NEW COAL? tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel, and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and blatant green-washing of the burgeoning biomass power industry.

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A dedicated group of forest activists, ecologists, carbon scientists, and concerned citizens fight to establish the enormous value of our forests, protect their communities, debunk this false solution to climate change, and alter energy policy both in the US and abroad. The directors/producers of BURNED, Alan Dater & Lisa Merton say, “It’s not too late.”

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Alan Dater has decades long experience in many different aspects of film making, working on such films as “Johnny Cash! The Man, His World, His Music”; Emmy Award winning TV medical series, as well as National Geographic Specials. He moved to Vermont in the 1970s, where he started Marlboro Productions.

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Lisa Merton joined him in 1989. Together, she & Alan have co-directed/produced such films as HOME TO TIBET, about a Tibetan refugee’s return to his homeland, and TAKING ROOT: THE VISION OF WANGARI MAATHAI, founder of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, & the first environmentalist, as well as African woman, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It won numerous international awards. Since 1996, Lisa has been a member of New Day Films, a documentary film collective.

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How spending billions on subsidizing an efficient coal-burning power station to burn wood is actually WORSE for the planet than before.     (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4255010/Idiocy-replacing-coal-power-stations-burning-wood.html)

 

 

 

Jenny Murray – ¡Las Sandinistas!

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Jenny Murray’s film, ¡LAS SANDINISTAS! chronicles the crucial role of women combatants in Nicaragua’s successful revolution to overthrow the decades long dictatorship of the Somoza family.

62.big_.23-624x387.jpgUsing stunning archival footage from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, and contemporary interviews with women who had survived resistance to the brutal repression, poverty, disease, economic inequality and social injustice, the film focuses on the major Sandinista General, Dora María Téllez, as well as four of her revolutionary allies. Fully 30% of the FSLN – The Nicaraguan Sandinista Liberation Front – were women.

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General Dora María Téllez entering Léon after leading the assault of Nicaragua’s second largest city. It was a major turning point.

After the success of the revolution, women filled crucial ministerial roles in health and culture, achieving historic success before the Reagan administration’s blockade and backing of the Contras diverted the all-too-scarce resources needed to continue their programs. Dora María was Minister of Health from 1985 – 1990, succeeding Lea Guido.

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Now, 35 years later, amidst staggering levels of gender violence in Nicaragua, and while their own stories are being erased from the history books, these same women brave the streets once again to lead the popular movements for equality and democracy.

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Poet, Daisy Zamorra, became Minister of Culture after serving as an FSLN combatant and the voice/program director of the clandestine Radio Sandino. In spite of her dramatic success, she was “fired” after refusing the unwanted advances of a member of The (all male, 9 member) Directorate. She is now a professor in San Francisco.

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Monica Baltodano “La Jefa” was a Sandanista general, who led the crucial assault on Masaya. She worked in the movement for several decades, and after experiencing the corruption and authoritarianism, she left in 2005 to form the Movement to Reclaim Sandinismo, known as El Rescate.

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Dora María Téllez founded the MRS (Sandinista Renovation Movement) for democratic reforms in 1994. The struggle continues – as do the women.

 

Santiago Rizzo – QUEST

QUEST, the new film by Santiago Rizzo, is autobiographical, based on his relationship with an amazing Berkeley Willard Middle School teacher and coach, Tim Moellering, and his “PROMISES NEVER BROKEN.”

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Co-written with Tim Moellering, Santiago promised him to make the movie as he died.

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Tim Moellering, beloved Willard Middle School coach. After his death, Berkeley named a baseball field in his honor.

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Santiago credits Tim with helping him overcome his abusive home life.

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Dash Mihok plays Tim and Gregory Kasyan plays “Mills”.

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Lou Diamond Phillips plays the stepfather, “Gus”. Betsy Brandt plays his mother, “Ruth”.

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Lakeith Lee Stanfield plays “Diego”, Mills’ older artist friend, who paints the “Trust Your Struggle” mural above to honor him.

TIM’S TOP 10 RULES TO LIVE BY

Have empathy for everyone.

Put yourself in someone else’s skin and walk around in it.

Tell the truth.

You’ll have less to remember. You know you never lied and eventually people will trust you.

Be Reliable.

Do what you say you were going to do. Even if it means showing up on time. People will trust you.

Assume Positive Intent.

If they are incompetent, so be it, but it doesn’t hurt you to assume they are doing their best.

Be Physically Active.

It’s better than any drug. It’s fun and can be a boon to your social life. If you are running an errand, walk or ride a bike because you’ll feel better. It may not be obvious at first but it adds up.

Just do it.

If the choice is between sitting around and doing nothing or doing something, do something every single time.

Don’t blame anyone.

No one is to blame for anything. Only you can change what you do. If you blame someone else, you can’t solve the problem. Instead, you are telling someone else to solve the problem. If you don’t blame then you will be able to take control.

Your possessions can be replaced.

People are obsessed with their possessions. Letting your possessions control you is a terrible way of living. When you can let them go, you become free. There’s little relationship between wealth and happiness.

Carpe Diem.

Seize the Day. Accomplish something everyday. Otherwise you’re wasting time. There’s always something wonderful to experience. Go do it.

Solve your problems.

Some people like to have problems so they have something to complain about. Don’t waste time. It also gives you something to do. Something to strive for.

 

Anna Feigenbaum – Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today

In this edition of Forthright Radio, we focus on the final clause of the First Amendment, which addresses “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Governments around the world have developed ways to suppress the right that right, using diverse methods, including what are euphemistically called “non-lethal” or “less than lethal” weapons. Indeed, we live in an age of “the commodification of repression,” where global industries profit on the suppression of the right of the people to petition their government.

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Anna Feigenbaum is currently a principal Academic in Digital Storytelling at Bournemouth University, where she teaches multimedia journalism and convenes their Civic Media Hub. In the Fall of 2017, Verso published her most recent book Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WW1 to the Streets of Today. Funded by a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities grant, she used archival and data storytelling methods to track the movement of tear gas from the trenches of WW1 to the streets of today, asking

‘How did it become normal to police communication with poison’?

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Her earlier book, which she co-edited, is Protest camps in international context: Spaces, infrastructures and media of resistance. She has held positions at Rutgers University, the London School of Economics & Political Science, and the University of London. Her work has appeared in numerous, diverse journals from The Atlantic to The Guardian, Financial Times and Waging Nonviolence.

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In Tear Gas she chronicles the history and use of chemical weapons against civilians, documenting the lack of scientific or medical proof that they truly are non-lethal.

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Two German soldiers and their mule wearing gas masks in 1916.
http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWgas.htm

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Soldiers in gas masks advance on World War I veterans in the Bonus March protest in Washington in July 1932
http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/04/11/greene.jobless.veterans/index.html

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Demonstrators react to tear gas and smoke bombs set off to deter their voting-rights march in Camden, Alabama, in 1965. (AP photo.)
https://www.myajc.com/news/national/for-trump-nominee-jeff-sessions-race-great-battle-not-fought/9cpM4nR3NUFQTbuSPSDzXL/

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 12.57.36 PM.pngState troopers wear gas masks as tear gas is fired on about 600 marchers trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL. They had begun a 50 mile march to the state capital, Montgomery, to protest discriminatory practices preventing black people from voting. State troopers used brutal force to push them back on what became known as “Bloody Sunday”.      Charles Moore via Steven Kasher Gallery

https://www.cnn.com/2015/03/03/us/cnnphotos-selma-civil-rights-moore/index.html

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Police surround an incapacitated man after throwing tear gas into the crowd of protesters, 1968, Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Western Historical Manuscript Collection

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Photographer Nacio Jan Brown captured a moment that shocked many: a National Guard helicopter spraying tear gas on students and antiwar protesters in Sproul Plaza on May 20, 1969 — in some sense extending “the front” from Vietnam onto college campuses.  The juxtaposition of the military-grade helicopter with the Campanile — the unofficial symbol of the UC Berkeley campus — helped make this photograph an iconic image of the suppression of campus protest. The demonstrators had gathered to commemorate the death of James Rector, who had been shot by police while on the rooftop of Granma Books on May 15, during a protest over the disposition of People’s Park.

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Soldiers taking cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars while dispersing rioters with CS gas in Derry, Ireland on their “Bloody Sunday” Photo: PA/PA Archive/PA Images https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/northernireland/7828754/Saville-Inquiry-Bloody-Sunday-timeline.html

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Then-UC Davis police Lt. John Pike hits protesters with pepper spray on Nov. 18, 2011. (Wayne Tilcock / Associated Press)  The former UC Davis police lieutenant who pepper-sprayed student protesters at a November 2011 Occupy demonstration would later receive about $38,000 in workers’ compensation.
http://www.dailycal.org/2013/10/23/former-uc-davis-police-lieutenant-receives-38000-workers-compensation-settlement/

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84-Year-Old Dorli Rainey, Pepper-Sprayed at Occupy Seattle, Denounces “Worsening” Police Crackdowns | Democracy Now!

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Tear Gas or Lethal Gas? Bahrain’s Death Toll Mounts to 34

http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/blog/tear-gas-or-lethal-gas.html

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“The woman in red” shows Ceyda Sungur, an academic at Istanbul’s university, who stood defiantly in Taksim Square, centre of the uprising that has swept across the capital and beyond.

06/06/2013 https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/06/05/turkey-uprising-ceyda-sungur_n_3388712.html

d8759cf95f665cbb0a8c659e9ce1ffa7.jpgTwo street stencils on walls in Istanbul    Inspired by the protests in Taksim Gezi Park, Istanbul, the summer of 2013, when CNN Turkey aired a penguin documentary, while CNN International ran live coverage of the protests.

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Ramadan Thawabteh, eight-months-old, died from asphyxiation after inhaling tear gas, fired by the Israeli army, that entered the house of his family. It was not immediately clear if a tear gas grenade had entered the house in the city of Bethlehem or if the gas had seeped in from outside.   https://www.yahoo.com/news/palestinian-baby-dies-tear-gas-fired-israeli-army-165944094.html

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Police fire tear gas at demonstrators protesting the shooting of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Scott Olson / Getty

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Kosovo opposition politicians release tear gas in parliament to obstruct a session in Pristina, Kosovo March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Laura HasaniReuters

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-03-21/kosovo-opposition-releases-tear-gas-in-parliament-over-border-deal-with-montenegro

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Sites of protest and political contention are often shaped by ‘other media’. Anna Feigenbaum looks beyond taken-for-granted media devices and practices and returns to the foundational roots of Communication Theory’s ‘the medium and the message’.
In addition to smartphones, Facebook pages, political posters and live-streaming laptops, communication involves all kinds of other technologies. Such “other media” objects include the fences, walls, and barricades, that become sites of and for communication. This ‘other media’ also includes ‘container technologies’ like shoeboxes or sound grenades, which function as storage devices, as well as re-crafted objects that become transformed through practices of disobedient design.

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#teargasID  The Riot ID Project

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Who are the World’s Heaviest Tear Gas Users? Our 2015 Mapping the Media project on Tear Gas is now live! Check out the maps on our BU Civic Media Hub website.

http://www.civicmedia.io/projects/tear-gas-maps-2015/

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Anna Feigenbaum, author of Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today, in conversation with L.A. Kauffman, Mark Bray, Ali Issa, and Ajay Singh Chaudhary. At Verso Books in Brooklyn, November 8, 2017.

Watch it here –     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gPqfSPikWA

*** Some of the articles referenced in this interview can be found here:

How the ‘use of force’ industry drives police militarization and makes us all less safe   https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/use-of-force-police-militarization-less-safe/

The profitable theatrics of riot control  Militarized policing was designed to destroy the dignity of those who contest power

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/5/the-profitable-theatrics-of-riot-control.html

The profitable marriage of military and police tech  War technologies aren’t just adopted by domestic law enforcement; they’re created with policing in mind

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/9/police-militarizationswattechnology.html

The National Guard protects Ferguson’s police, not its people  Backing a militarized police force with civilian soldiers makes a mockery of the right to protest

This weekend, a one-stop-shop to militarize your town

https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/weekend-one-stop-shop-militarize-town/

Former UC Davis police lieutenant receives $38,000 workers’ compensation settlement   http://www.dailycal.org/2013/10/23/former-uc-davis-police-lieutenant-receives-38000-workers-compensation-settlement/

Israeli Drones Tear-Gas Gaza Protesters in Latest Unmanned Weapons ‘Experiment’

https://www.mintpressnews.com/israeli-drones-tear-gas-gaza-protesters-latest-unmanned-weapons-experiment/238915/

Tear gas was banned for warfare in 1993 but police still use it, viral meme says http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/aug/26/facebook-posts/tear-gas-was-banned-warfare-1993-police-1997/