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Flyer for a show featuring The Dicks and Whoom Elements in Houston, TX (1982).

Pressure’s On: Ten songs about the police from 80s punk bands

By | Oxford University Press

By Kevin Mattson

Editor’s Note: We met Kevin Mattson in 2008, when Rebels All! was published, and then collaborated again the following year on the publicity for What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President? His latest, We’re Not Here to Entertain: Punk Rock, Ronald Reagan, and the Real Culture War of the 1980s, will be out this summer – his first new book in eight years. During the 80s, he played in bands, wrote for zines, and worked with the organization Positive Force at the time of its founding. This past weekend, after protests spread throughout the United States in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless more, he prepared this playlist with 1980s punk songs about the police – long after the hippie 60s and before rap and hip hop dominated the theme in 90s. As Mattson writes on his blog, where this originally appeared, “I’m surveying the tragedies we’re going through right now, and I’m thinking about how many 1980s punk songs focused on suspicions about the police….I’m not sure it’s right to say “enjoy,” maybe flex your anger muscles.”

Dead Kennedys, “Police Truck” One of the best. Not just anti-police but anti-macho.

Black Flag, “Police Story” “A war we can’t win…”  Which was proven when the LAPD practically shut down every show they could.

The Dicks, “Anti-Klan” This song has the great opening line: “I see that you’re a policeman, I know you’re in the Ku Klux Klan.” The Dicks were started in Austin, before moving to San Francisco in 1983. During protests, I remember the chant: “The cops and the Klan go hand in hand!”

The Dicks, “Dicks Hate the Police” Yes they get two, because they were the anti-police band, just as much if not more than MDC. This one lasted, especially when Mudhoney covered it later on.

Red C, “Pressure’s On” Red C was an early political punk group in D.C., with the drummer Tomas Squip, who would later lead Beefeater, also a very political band. This is a great one with its shredded vocals.

Circle Jerks, “Back Against the Wall” The futility of rebellion, much like “Police Story.”

Crucifucks, “Cops for Fertilizer” Get a hold of the album where there’s a recording of the police talking to the band’s leader about an upcoming show.  It ends with the following skirmish, “You guys… shouldn’t go so far out of your way to make fools of yourselves.”  To which, the authority figure on the other side retorts: “Well, that’s a matter of opinion.”  The band’s retort?: “It’s a matter of intelligence.”

The Vandals, “The Legend of Pat Brown” Featured in the movie Suburbia, the quasi-realistic depiction of suburban punk, this one is about a punk arrested for trying to run the cops down in his car.

SS Decontrol, “Police Beat” Slightly obvious, like much of the band’s releases.

MDC, “Dead Cops” Even more blunt than SS Decontrol and clocks in below thirty seconds.

“Firmly establishes American hardcore in the politics of the moment and the economics of the music industry at the time. An essential read for anyone wanting to understand the cultural history of the 1980s.”
–Vic Bondi, founding member of Articles of Faith

“The good news is that Mattson grew up in this scene and he has a clear understanding of it. We’re Not Here to Entertain is a great read that focuses on a vital and largely overlooked time and place in music history.”
–Mark Arm, lead singer of Mudhoney

Oxford University Press | August 2020 | hardcover & e-book
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Anu Bradford at Columbia's Morningside Heights Campus (2020) | Photo by Michael Skoglund

The Brussels Effect: How EU Regulations Help the Environment

By | Oxford University Press

By Anu Bradford

Anu Bradford’s The Brussels Effect received a warm reception upon its publication this month, including Andrew Moravcsik writing in Foreign Affairs: “This may well be the single most important book on Europe’s global influence to appear in a decade.” This week, she launches her UK and European book tour, including stops in London, Oxford, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, and Helsinki. For more information, please visit the book’s website Below we’re pleased to offer a short excerpt from Chapter 7, on Environment.

Environmental protection is one of the policy areas where the EU’s dedication to protect the global commons and willingness to promulgate stringent regulatory standards in this regard is well known. However, in the public discourse the EU is often best known for its commitment to multilateralism and active backing of global environmental treaties. While the EU plays an out-sized role in multilateral environmental cooperation, in fact its environmental goals are often most effectively accomplished through the Brussels Effect ­– three examples are noted below.

1) Hazardous substances and electronic waste. The EU’s regulatory efforts in this area culminated in the adoption of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS Directive or RoHS 1) in 2002. The RoHS Directive bans the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, with the goal of preventing these substances from leaking into the environment when many common products such as household appliances and computers reach the end of their useful life. The Directive applies to all products placed on the market in the EU regardless of whether they are produced in the EU or in non-EU countries. In 2011, the Directive was extended to cover all electrical and electronic equipment, including medical devices and monitoring and control instruments (RoHS 2). The EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), first adopted in 2002, complements the RoHS in that it is aimed at removing e-waste from landfills and redirecting it to recycling. Both sets of directives impose upon the manufacturer the responsibility for product management throughout the life cycle of the product. These directives have therefore had a dramatic impact on the entire electronics industry.

2) Animal welfare. The EU has also taken decisive regulatory measures to advance animal welfare. The first such provision in 1974 focused on governing slaughterhouses. Regulation in this area was expanded in a 1998 Council Directive that lays down general rules on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes, incorporating the “five freedoms” for animals as declared in the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming. The 1999 Amsterdam Treaty contains a Protocol on animal welfare, declaring that animals are sentient beings, a position confirmed by the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. From the Lisbon Treaty’s affirmation that animals feel pain and pleasure grew the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012–2015. This Strategy implemented new welfare standards around housing, feeding, transportation, and slaughter while also targeting the competitiveness of European producers. Another prominent example is the EU’s decision to ban animal testing for cosmetics. Since 2013, no cosmetics tested on animals can be marketed in the EU.

3) Climate change. The final example discussed concerns climate change—in particular the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS). Known as a “cap-and-trade” system, ETS imposes a limit on overall emissions and, within this limit, allows companies covered by the scheme to buy and sell emission allowances as needed. The ETS comprises 11,000 power stations and manufacturing plants in the EEA area, reaching a total of 45% of EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Initially, climate change emerged as a policy concern at the member-state level, including in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The EU had first opposed flexible market mechanisms such as the ETS during the 1997 Kyoto climate negotiations. However, after realizing the significance of the issue for the European integration, the Commission changed its course and argued that an EU-wide ETS was necessary to avoid market distortions after the United Kingdom and Denmark had introduced national ETSs. Further, once the EU undertook to fulfill its own Kyoto commitments regarding the reduction of GHG emissions by 2008, it became a priority to convince other countries outside the EU to do likewise, both to protect the global commons and to retain the competitiveness of the European industry.

These examples ranging from electronic waste to animal welfare and climate change are illustrative of the EU’s stringent environmental policy. They have also provided a foundation for the EU’s global influence as they have subsequently been externalized through the Brussels Effect.

Anu Bradford is the Henry L. Moses Professor of Law and International Organization at Columbia Law School. She is also a director for the European Legal Studies Center and a senior scholar at the Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Global Business. This is adapted from her new book The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World, published by Oxford University Press.

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Curated Stories by Sujatha Fernandes

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Sujatha Fernandes will visit the US next month for several events to discuss her recent book Curated Stories: The Uses and Misuses of Storytelling. She will give a talk at the Our (Digital) Humanity conference at Lehigh University on April 21 and then travel to California for lectures at UC-Santa Cruz and UC-Riverside. This is her fourth book – which she describes below in an interview from 2016 – that continues her project of examining social justice movements through a cultural lens, combining theory with engaged ethnography, and she presents case studies to demonstrate how the act of storytelling has been hijacked by those seeking profit or political gain, with soundbites that placate more than politicize listeners:

In truth commissions, courtrooms, and legislatures, stories were abstracted from the goals of building mass movements that confronted power, and they were reoriented toward transaction and negotiation. The method of consciousness-raising was retooled as the sharing of personal stories in televised spectacles, and was divorced from the political. Stories were shorn of their nuance and complexity to become short texts that would fit in a report or could be easily recitable for the purposes of a legal hearing, daytime talk show, or civil litigation.

Fernandes, who is professor of political economy and sociology at the University of Sydney, also just recently wrote a piece for The Nation, published last month, which follows a group of children in a small town in Cuba who make a short film – Siete Y 50 – about a local factory that was almost closed down, but saved thanks to their efforts.