Bang.Lab / EDT Update

In the past few weeks, a number of developments have occurred in relation to the art/research practices of b.a.n.g. lab and Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), which we wish to share with the public in accordance with our long history of radical transparency.

– Since November of 2009 the Transborder Immigrant Tool has become a media event with many groups and individuals, such as Congressman Duncan Hunter in his Op-ed in the San Diego Union Tribune, calling for the defunding of the Transborder Immigrant Tool. The University of California system began a financial audit of the project on January 11, 2010, in which they requested that every member involved be interviewed by Audit & Management Advisory Services (UCSD). The exact investigations (they claim that there are multiple) under way have yet to be clarified by UCOP or other UC entities, but in the interviews thus far, TBT members have been questioned about the usage of the funds and the originality of the project. The investigation has ‘arrested’ TBT’s developmental process and core research matrix.

– To add injury to injury, due to widespread media coverage of the Transborder Immigrant Tool, members of bang.lab and EDT also have been receiving copious hateful email and paper letters, some including threats of physical violence and murder. The racist, xenophobic, classist, misogynist, homophobic and transphobic “excitable speech” of the threats has been as clear as that of the correspondence received in recent weeks by national representatives who voted for health care legislation. Hardly a tea party!

– On March 2nd, Markyudof.com publicly declared the resignation of UCOP Mark Yudof in a gesture of minor simulation to encourage the imagining of other possible futures. On March 21st, bang.lab received notice that a faculty member at UC Riverside was being investigated in relation to this action.

– On March 4th, bang.calit2.net hosted a virtual sit-in against the UCOP website, providing a space for many people concerned with public education to embody their dissent online. As a result, UCSD IT Security shut down our server’s access to the Internet for eight days. Shortly thereafter, we were informed that an investigation of Ricardo Dominguez by the Senior Vice Chancellor (SVC) was initiated by the UCOP to determine if criminal charges were in order for the virtual sit-in, despite the legal precedent that a virtual sit-in is political speech, not a DDOS attack. This investigation–itself in the service of a denial of distributed free speech–has been framed by SVC as potential reason to end Professor Dominguez’s tenure.


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Empire Strikes Back: Organizing Inland (Part 2)

Date: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: Universalist Unitarian Church of Riverside, 3525 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA

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Join Mike Davis, Victor Valle and representatives from seven organizations fighting for justice in the Inland Empire in a public forum about what’s gone wrong and how we can join together to fight for a just and sustainable future.

Just four years ago, you couldn’t find a better symbol of the economic boom than California’s Inland Empire—subdivisions, malls and warehouses were going up everywhere, filling in nearly every last empty spot on the map between LA and the desert. Today it’s hard to find a better symbol of what went wrong. Official unemployment is 15 percent, more than three times what it was in 2006. In the jobs that remain, wages are low and the future uncertain. State and local budgets are in tatters. Students are struggling to stay in school, while families wonder if they can keep their homes. And after a decade of explosive growth, the air quality is as bad as the foreclosure rate. But all over Southern California—from Boron to Fontana to Riverside—people are fighting back and organizing for a just and sane economy in the Inland Empire and beyond.

Speakers will include UC Riverside Professor MIKE DAVIS, author of City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear and Planet of Slums; Pulitzer Prize winner and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Professor VICTOR VALLE, author of City of Industry: Genealogies of Power in Southern California; and representatives of the INLAND EMPIRE DAY LABORERS CONGRESS, the LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, the SOCIAL JUSTICE ALLIANCE of UC Riverside, DOMESTIC WORKERS UNITED, the WAREHOUSE WORKERS UNITED of Fontana, and the locked-out mine-workers from Boron, CA.

Emceed by UC Riverside Professor ELLEN REESE and author and journalist BEN EHRENREICH.

organized by Ben Ehrenreich, Ken Rogers & Michael Wilson

UC President Yudof Resigns!

from the press release:

Date: 2010-03-02
Contact: University of California Office of the President
Phone: (510) 987-9200
Email: president@ucop.edu
RE: Statement of UC President Mark Yudof regarding the future of public education in California, March 2, 2010

Today I am publicly announcing my resignation as president of the University of California. A letter to the U.C. community is posted at my website: http://markyudof.com/

I first would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the members of my staff who have worked tirelessly on behalf of public education. It has been a privilege to work with such an exceptional group of individuals. I would also like to thank the Board of Regents for allowing me to serve the University of California and the staff, faculty and students of the entire University system for their dedication, perseverance and commitment to the ideals of excellence in higher education.

There are no doubt many questions about my decision to step down. I would simply refer people to the letter I have posted on my website and urge the public to respect my decision. I should say that this decision was entirely my own and I was not pressured by any individual or institution.

The crisis we are facing is not only a budget crisis. This much is clear. It is a structural and systemic crisis. It is my hope that outside of my role as president of the U.C. that I will be able to do more to address the systemic nature of the crisis we are all facing.

Respectfully yours,

Mark Yudof, ex-president, University of California

UC System – The Business

from Continental Drift

February 23, 2010 by Brian Holmes

“Many of our, if I can put it this way, businesses are in good shape. We’re doing very well there. Our hospitals are full, our medical business, our medical research, the patient care. So, we have this core problem: Who is going to pay the salary of the English department? We have to have it. Who’s going to pay it in sociology, in the humanities? And that’s where we’re running into trouble.”

Mark G. Yudof, President, University of California

transcript here

Intriguingly, one finds almost no information on the net about the UC Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense, except the now-vanished page recounting its foundation back in 2002, preserved at archive.org, and a mention of its continuing existence by the National Nanotechnology Initiative — which is one of the many federal centers coordinating the development of so-called “dual-use” technologies with civilian and military applications. Maybe I’m paranoid, or maybe just anti-militarist, but whenever I look into the ways that higher education in the United States is being transformed into a functional innovation system for those profitable businesses that Yudof talks about, it’s the Defense Department funding that catches my eye.

A few years ago I wrote an article on flexibilization, corporatization and militarization in the universities of North Carolina’s Research Triangle. What the investigation revealed was an education system that had become the perfect lamp and mirror of neoliberal management. When Bob Samuels remarks, in a very succinct and useful article, that “research universities like UCLA now spend less than 5% of their total budget on undergraduate instruction,” the questions worth asking are: Where does the rest of the money go, and where does it actually come from in the first place? Why are the administrators so keen to drastically reduce the size of English and Sociology departments? What kind of research is being supported by students’ overpriced tuition? And how did formerly public universities reach the point where their agenda is set by a corporate accountant’s logic grafted onto the priorities of the national security state?

These are some of the questions that we’re going to raise at the upcoming Continental Drift sessions at the Public School in LA, on Feb 27-28, just in advance of the next UC walkout on March 4.

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–> For more insights into the management of the UC business, consider these podcasts and articles on UC Regent Richard Blum — upstanding citizen, construction and real-estate magnate, owner of the $7 billion Blum Capital Partners private equity firm and husband of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Thanks to Daniel Tucker for sending the podcast:

Richard Blum, Alpha Regent

Richard Blum: The Man Behind California’s “Developing Economy”

Disaster Capitalist University