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New From Autonomedia/CAE Defense Fund


Here's a mid-January update on some of what's been going on around Autonomedia.

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1. Critical Art Ensemble: trial update, new book
2. Shut Them Down!: New book on the G8 protests in Scotland
3. 50% off 2006 Autonomedia Jubilee Saints calendars
4. Some highlights from the Interactivist Network

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1. Steve Kurtz (and by extension, the Critical Art Ensemble) was denied a motion to dismiss his trial last week in Federal court. Critical Art Ensemble are the collective authors of a series of Autonomedia books analyzing the authoritarian uses of science and technology, particularly where these mechanisms operate with a positive, "everyone's a winner" face (the full-stomached promises of food genomics, for example, or the healthy-and-smart-kids promises of the reproductive industries). Not content to be armchair critics, the CAE also produce art and performance that brings their analysis to museum and gallery audiences and into the public sphere, demystifying the spectacle of what they've called the "military techno-security cineplex."

Of course, this got Steve in big trouble with the security-happy administration, and for close to two years now he's been under investigation for an artwork found in his home at the time of his wife's death. The absurdities of the case seem apparent to nearly everyone except the court itself, which insists on draining everyone's resources to pin a mail-fraud charge on him.

There is good news, though. Despite these many months of strain and stress, CAE has another book in the pipes, scheduled to be published in the early Spring of this year. It's called "Plague March", and rips apart the fear economy at the foundation of bio-warfare alarmism. That's all I'll say about it just now, except that one of the appendices to the book comes from Claire Pentecost, of the CAE Defense Fund, analyzing the real reasons the State has chosen to prosecute Steve's case. This text is well worth reading online at our Interactivist site, at the following address:

Also, please read the forwarded email at the bottom of this Autonogram, from Lucia Sommer of the Defense Fund, and check their website from time to time:

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Autonomedia has recently collaborated with the Dissent Network in the UK to produce "Shut Them Down! The G8, Gleneagles 2005, and the Movement of Movements", a new collection that takes as its starting point the protests in Scotland last summer. Not content to just rehash what went on there, the book addresses issues fundamental to the globalized resistance to capital, such as the nature of openness and "horizontality" and limitations of the "activist" identity. More on the book, including a table of contents and list of contributors, is at, and you can order the book from our new online bookstore. We'll be shipping these books as soon as they're received from the UK.

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50% off Saints calendars! Another tradition of mid-January around here (aside from hot buttered rum-soaked toboggan races across the East River with Team Autonomedia) is trying to sell off the remaining Calendars of Jubilee Saints still in our inventory. $4.98 gets you a fresh copy here.

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Interactivist Info Exchange: Recent Headlines

Please make a regular visit to our online Interactivist Info Exchange. Read a story, leave a comment, engage, debate, illuminate! Here are some recent hotties: is a recent interview with Italian Autonomia philosopher/agitator Paolo Virno, discussing his history, immaterial labor, etc. (and for Steve Wright's discussion on some of the same) on the recent death of Zapatista Comandante Ramona (and for Marcos' transition to Candidate Zero) for an analysis of Chomsky's anarchism. for efforts by WalMart employees in Florida to use collective action and mutual aid to deal with problems on and off the shop floor.

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that's it, and please feel free to change your subscription options using the links at the bottom of this email. And please read the following! It's important!

bests, Ben / Autonomedia



January 17, 2006

Dear supporters of Steve Kurtz and Critical Art Ensemble,

Your support is needed now more than ever.

Whereas the hopes for dismissal of Steve’s case were high last fall, on Thursday we received bad news on the recommendation concerning the pre-trial motions. Although it has been over 18 months since Steve was charged with “mail fraud” and “wire fraud”—charges carrying a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in jail—he will now have to wait at least 8 months, and possibly much longer, for the final decision on these motions. (Please see for more about the case.)

Magistrate H. Kenneth Schroeder recommended that all our motions for dismissal of the case and suppression of evidence be denied, with one exception: there will be a hearing on the suppression of statements made while Steve was illegally detained. (Schroeder’s recommendations also include a footnote stating that since Steve’s co-defendant Robert Ferrell is gravely ill at this point, Ferrell’s case is being held in dormancy.)

Magistrate Schroeder's recommendations will next go to the Federal District Court to be heard by Judge John T. Elfvin, who will make the final ruling on the pre-trial motions, thereby determining whether or not the case will go to trial. If the motions are denied by Elfvin, Steve can choose to appeal to the next higher federal court, or go directly to trial.


Schroeder’s recommendation cited legal precedent that “An indictment returned by a legally constituted and unbiased grand jury… if valid on its face, is enough to call for trial of the charge” [even if] “the grand jury acted on the basis of inadequate or incompetent evidence.” (Please see for the full text of the recommendation.) In other words, once the legal machine is turned on, it is very difficult to turn off. Therefore, supporters should prepare for the likelihood that Steve’s case will go to trial.

Within the next 10 days Steve’s lawyer, Paul Cambria, will file an appeal of Schroeder's recommendations. Steve’s lawyers will then get a hearing for their appeal of all of Schroeder’s recommendations in Judge Elfvin's court. There, Cambria will make essentially all the same arguments as at the hearing last spring before Schroeder. (For the press release detailing those arguments and more information about the case, please see This appeal hearing will probably happen in mid-summer of 2006. We will then have to wait once again for Elfvin’s final ruling on all the motions for dismissal and suppression.

(There is no date for the other hearing, on the suppression of statements, but it will happen sometime within the next 60 days.)


Although any actual trial is still far off, your continued support has made, and continues to make, all the difference in this case. Without your support, Steve would probably be in jail now awaiting trial. As we know, justice in politically motivated trials is won in the court of public opinion as much as in the court of law.

Because of your support, we have raised the more than $200,000 necessary for Steve and Robert Ferrell’s defense. Due to the overwhelming success of this fundraising effort, there are 3 main forms of support that we now need:

1) Publicizing this precedent-setting case and its implications for artists, intellectuals, researchers and others—particularly in outlets that will reach the Buffalo population. In this regard, we are still hoping for a real investigative story into the DoJ’s and prosecuting District Attorney William Hochul’s motivations in this case. Anyone who is interested or knows such a journalist—particularly one who could spend some time in the Buffalo area—is encouraged to contact the Defense Fund at: media (at)

2) Publicizing this case wherever possible. Anyone interested in helping to publicize this case through creative means at the College Art Association Annual Conference (February 22-25 in Boston) please contact the Defense Fund at: media (at)

3) At the time of the actual trial, should one occur, helping to mobilize support for a massive demonstration in Buffalo, NY.

Thank you once again for your continued support.

In solidarity,

The CAE Defense Fund media @