LA Times:

In every war that Britain fights, the Imperial War Museum selects an artist to render that one image. Steve McQueen was chosen for the task at the start of the Iraq war, and he struggled for months to come up with it. Then he realized that it didn’t have to be just one image. It already was many.

He imagined the faces of Britain’s war dead printed in the serrated frames of postage stamps. Peering out from under a stack of bills. Stuck on the envelopes of birthday cards. Lying silently in sheets in desk drawers.

But the artistic rendering of the war still painfully underway for 7,100 British troops in southern Iraq has proved as controversial as the conflict itself.

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NYT:

But people from all demographic groups across the country are facing a much more frightening real-life situation: the disappearance of millions of bees. This winter, in more than 20 states, beekeepers have noticed that their honeybees have mysteriously vanished, leaving behind no clues as to their whereabouts. There are no tell-tale dead bodies either inside colonies or out in front of hives, where bees typically deposit corpses of dead nestmates.

What’s more, the afflicted colonies tend to be full of honey, pollen and larvae, as if all of the workers in the nest precipitously decamped on some prearranged signal. Beekeepers are up in arms — last month, leaders in the business met with research scientists and government officials in Florida to figure out why the bees are disappearing and how to stop the losses. Nobody had any answers.

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via Wooster Collective:

Why don’t we just see them for what they are? They are regular people just like us, they just have a team of retouchers waiting at the ready.

Printable cold sores allow us to take action! Bring these people back down to our level, and tell advertisers that you don’t agree with their message. How can you help? It’s easy…”

Here.

NYT Magazine:

By now we can too readily imagine the horror of terrorists exploding a nuclear weapon in a major American city: the gutted skyscrapers, the melted cars, the charred bodies. For Sam Nunn, however, a new terror begins the day after. That’s when the world asks whether another bomb is out there. “If a nuclear bomb went off in Moscow or New York City or Jerusalem, any number of groups would claim they have another,” Nunn told me recently. These groups would make steep demands as intelligence officials scrambled to determine which claims were real. Panic would prevail. Even after the detonation of a small, crude weapon that inflicted less damage than the bomb at Hiroshima, Nunn suggested, “the psychological damage would be incalculable. It would be a slow, step-by-step process to regain confidence. And the question will be, Why didn’t we take steps to prevent this? We will have a whole list of things we wish we’d done.”

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NYT Magazine:

A studio visit to an artist in Beijing is often like 10 studio visits in Brooklyn. In China, you don’t find a painter, and a sculptor, and a video artist, but rather one artist who is working on painting, sculpture, photography, video and (why not?) performance all at the same time. When I visited Liu Wei in Beijing to select works for my show in Turin, he offered me not only beautiful cityscape paintings but also architectural models of famous buildings, like St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building, made from the same rubber used to make fake dog bones. (I chose a painting.) In Europe, an artist that looks for inspiration in both a pet shop and the early work of Gerhard Richter would most likely be dismissed as lacking a consistent point of view. But in China the same criteria do not apply.

European artists often develop different bodies of work. Many Chinese artists seem to develop different bodies for each work. A great chaos under the sky was supposedly an excellent sign for Chairman Mao Zedong, and the same may be true for today’s Chinese artists. Complexity and change is part of Chinese philosophy. To favor one medium over the others would be to impose a silly constraint. If all is possible in contemporary art, why limit yourself?

Here.

The Observer:

Last week, in a remarkable insight into the world of gangs and how teenagers get dragged in, The Observer spent two days with Kerr and other members of the PDC, a group of young men who, throughout the Nineties, formed the most feared gang in south London. Lee Jaspar, the Mayor of London’s senior adviser on policing, has said the PDC were ‘as tough to crack as the IRA’.

PDC stands for the ‘Pil Dem Crew’, a term which has its roots in the Jamaican ‘peel dem’, meaning to ‘rip them off’ or ‘steal from them’. But during our time with the founder members of the group, we met young men who insist they have left the gangster lifestyle behind. They are, they maintain, working to persuade local children not to follow them into the world of guns, drugs and crime.

The group, which now calls itself PDC Entertainments, is based around a nucleus of men aged from 15 to 32: Kerr, his younger brother Najar and their friends Ribbz, Inches, Sykes, Skippy, Birdie, Phat Si, Blacker, Justin, Temp Man and the 15-year-old KC. Other founder members of the group have fallen victim to the gun and gang lifestyle over the years: Adrian Marriot, or Ham, was shot five times in the head in 2004 after an argument with some local men.

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NYT:

The letter from Al Qaeda in Iraq to the members of the local police was clear.

Come to the mosque and swear allegiance on the Koran to Al Qaeda, the letter warned, or you will die and your family will be slaughtered. Also, bring $1,200.

It had the desired effect on American efforts to build an Iraqi security force here.

Here.

NYT Magazine:

One thing that Wall knew for certain when he took up the profession in the late 1970s is that he would not become a photojournalistic hunter. Educated as an art historian, he aspired instead to make photographs that could be constructed and experienced the way paintings are. “Most photographs cannot get looked at very often,” he told me. “They get exhausted. Great photographers have done it on the fly. It doesn’t happen that often. I just wasn’t interested in doing that. I didn’t want to spend my time running around trying to find an event that could be made into a picture that would be good.” He also disliked the way photographs were typically exhibited as small prints. “I don’t like the traditional 8 by 10,” he said. “They were done that size as displays for prints to run in books. It’s too shrunken, too compressed. When you’re making things to go on a wall, as I do, that seems too small.” The art that he liked best, from the full-length portraits of Velázquez and Manet to the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock and the floor pieces of Carl Andre, engaged the viewer on a lifelike human scale. They could be walked up to (or, in Andre’s case, onto) and moved away from. They held their own, on a wall or in a room. “If painting can be that scale and be effective, then a photograph ought to be effective at that size, too,” he concluded.

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The Observer:

One day, at the Ninth Municipal Hospital in Grozny, the Chechen capital, Anna Politkovskaya encountered a 62-year-old woman named Aishat Suleimanova whose eyes expressed ‘complete indifference to the world’, as she wrote in a typical piece. ‘And it is beyond one’s strength to look at her naked body. She has been disembowelled like a chicken. The surgeons have cut into her from above her chest to her groin.’ Two weeks earlier, a ‘young fellow in a Russian serviceman’s uniform put Aishat on a bed in her own house and shot five 5.45mm bullets into her. These bullets, weighted at the edges, have been forbidden by all international conventions as inhumane.’

In the west, Politkovskaya’s honesty brought her a measure of fame and a string of awards, bestowed at ceremonies in hotel ballrooms from New York to Stockholm. At home, she had none of that. Her excoriations of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, ensured isolation, harassment, and, many predicted, death. ‘I am a pariah,’ she wrote in an essay last year. ‘That is the result of my journalism through the years of the second Chechen war, and of publishing books abroad about life in Russia.’

Here.

RobGalbraith:

Canon has taken the wraps off their next 1-series digital SLR. The EOS-1D Mark III is a 10.08 million image pixel, 10 fps digital SLR that offers so many improvements over the model it replaces that it’s best to describe it as a new-from-the-ground-up camera.

Here.

NYT:

In Collinsville, Ill., Daniel Burrus scrolled through digital photographs of bloodied faces as he described how, on a crew he helped manage for several years, men who missed their sales quota were forced to fight each other.

In Flagstaff, Ariz., Isaac James sat with his wife and newborn daughter as he told how he and others on his mag crew — as they are typically called — stole checkbooks, jewelry, medicine-cabinet drugs and even shoes from customers’ homes.

Last October, Jonathan Gagney joined a mag crew to escape the “crack scene” back home in Marlborough, N.H. But one night last month, he called this reporter from a bus station in St. Petersburg, Fla., to say he had just sneaked away from his motel to run away from his crew.

“All I know is this guy got beaten and there was blood all over the motel wall,” Mr. Gagney said, his voice shaking.

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NYT:

It is hard to believe, but Somalia is actually becoming a more violent and chaotic place. This is not how it was supposed to be. Nearly two months ago, an internationally supported transitional government ousted the Islamist movement that ruled much of the country and steamed into the capital with great expectations. But confidence in the government —which was never very high — is rapidly bleeding away.

Somalia seems to be just shy of total collapse — again — because the Ethiopian troops who provided the muscle to throw out the Islamists have already begun to withdraw, yet none of the peacekeepers promised from other African countries have arrived.

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A Photo a Day:

Since October 2001, besides a couple studio shoots, I have not used a strobe once. Why? First, I want to document reality and that includes the light, If something happens in a dank dark room, I don’t want it to look pretty, I want it to look dank and dark.

I also am very confident in my ability to find light in low light situations. I shoot a lot of photos and if 98 out of 100 have motion blur, it always seems that the two sharp ones are the best moments.

Another reason is that I hate using a strobe in a situation where I am trying to be stealth. The less attention I get the better.Here.

NYT:

But the source of his dark-hued lens on life, Mr. Fincher suggested, might be as simple as that original bogeyman. “It was a very interesting and weird time to grow up, and incredibly evocative,” he said. “I have a handful of friends who were from Marin County at the same time, the same age group, and they’re all very kind of sinister, dark, sardonic people. And I wonder if Zodiac had something to do with that.”

Mr. Fincher was first approached about “Zodiac” by Brad Fischer, a producer at Phoenix Pictures, with a script by James Vanderbilt. It was based on two books by Robert Graysmith, a former San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist who became obsessed with the Zodiac, and who built a case against one suspect, now dead. Mr. Fincher said he wanted Mr. Vanderbilt to overhaul the script, but wanted first to dig into the original police sources. So director, writer and producer spent months interviewing witnesses, investigators and the case’s only two surviving victims, and poring over reams of documents.

“I said I won’t use anything in this book that we don’t have a police report for,” Mr. Fincher said. “There’s an enormous amount of hearsay in any circumstantial case, and I wanted to look some of these people in the eye and see if I believed them. It was an extremely difficult thing to make a movie that posthumously convicts somebody.”

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PEJ:

For the first time this year, “tabloid gold” fever seized at least some of the news media last week in a significant way, according to PEJ’s News Coverage Index from February 4 to February 9. Though it only made up two days of coverage, the sudden death of the Playmate turned heiress turned reality star was the No. 3 story in the news last week, almost edging out a bloody week in Iraq.

And that may be understating the feel of the coverage. The bosomy blonde’s demise consumed a staggering 50% of the cable newshole PEJ examined on February 8 and 9. Those are levels reminiscent of those pre-9/11 celebrity sagas—think Princess Di and JFK Jr.

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The Onion:

American security is not certain how Al-J’Aqasse was allowed to build their custom snowpipe-ramp setup across the street from the embassy, but banners and promotional materials scattered across the blast zone point to the involvement of radical, extreme-sports-beverage bottler Sunni Delight.

Here.

Gamespot:

The game, originally released in 1984, featured a bicycle-handlebar-shaped controller that was used to control a neighborhood newspaper-delivery boy. As gamers tried to keep customers happy with well-placed newspapers, they could also earn points by preventing thieves from breaking into homes, knocking over tombstones, or breaking the windows of nonsubscribing houses.

The Xbox 360 version will be updated with a new cooperative multiplayer mode, as well as “modernized” audio and “new artwork.” Paperboy will be available February 14 at 1 a.m. PST for 400 Microsoft Points ($5). For more information, read GameSpot’s previous coverage.

Here.

WFMU’s Beware the Blog:

Mike Warnke is one of the most famous figures in American Christianity. However, unless you’re a Christian, a Satanist, a scandal fiend, obsessive internet troll, or a vinyl collector, there is still a good chance you don’t know his tale. Mike Warnke is a stand-up comedian. A Christian stand-up comedian. And despite a scandal-ridden career that would put Jim Bakker to shame, Warnke alone is responsible for what has turned into an enormous multi-million dollar industry – Christian stand-up comedy. Kinda nutty, ain’t it?

In reality the Mike Warnke story has been recounted several times over the past decade and, yes, we’re about to go through it again. This piece is more than that, however. It is a history of Christian stand-up comedy, from its roots in ventriloquism to its modern day standing as perhaps the wealthiest of all weirdo subcultures.

Here.

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