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The Observer:

These documents, which form a dossier several inches thick, are the main source for the facts in this article. They suggest that while the eyes of the world have been largely averted, America’s ‘war on drugs’ has moved to a new phase of cynicism and amorality, in which the loss of human life has lost all importance – especially if the victims are Hispanic. The US agencies and officials in this saga – all of which refused to comment, citing pending lawsuits – appear to have thought it more important to get information about drugs trafficking than to stop its perpetrators killing people.

The US media have virtually ignored this story. The Observer is the first newspaper to have spoken to Janet Padilla, and this is the first narrative account to appear in print. The story turns on one extraordinary fact: playing a central role in the House of Death was a US government informant, Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, known as Lalo, who was paid more than $220,000 (£110,000) by US law enforcement bodies to work as a spy inside the Juarez cartel. In August 2003 Lalo bought the quicklime used to dissolve the flesh of the first victim, Mexican lawyer Fernando Reyes, and then helped to kill him; he recorded the murder secretly with a bug supplied by his handlers – agents from the Immigration and Customs Executive (Ice), part of the Department of Homeland Security. That first killing threw the Ice staff in El Paso into a panic. Their informant had helped to commit first-degree murder, and they feared they would have to end his contract and abort the operations for which he was being used. But the Department of Justice told them to proceed.

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Magnum Photos:

For the german magazine “mare”, Gueorgui Pinkhassov travelled to these extreme latitudes eight times. Aboard a mail boat he cruised the Norwegian fjords, visited the Nenets people of Siberia, watched calving glaciers on the east coast of Greenland, and travelled to Canada’s northernmost point. He went to see the Russian Arctic Fleet at Murmansk and accompanied a taxi driver at the European North Cape. Wherever he went, whether it was to visit Norwegian fishermen or Russian submarine soldiers, Pinkhassov always brought back an unexpected view of the Arctic Sea, in the kind of shimmering and radiant impressions of light which are the trademark of his works. A kaleidoscope of light, adventure, awe-inspiring nature and utterly unfamiliar facets of life!
“Nordmeer” has received the German prize: “Best photobook of the Year”.

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Wooster Collective:

Artist: klynia

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PDN:

Most recently, an anonymous bidder paid $2.48 million – with a sense of irony, one hopes – for Gursky’s “99 Cent II Diptychon” (2001), which shows the cluttered interior of a discount store.

The sale, made at a Nov. 16 auction at Phillips de Pury & Company in New York, set an auction record for a work by a living photographer. It fell short of the record for the highest price ever paid for a photo at auction, which was set in February when a 1904 Edward Steichen print sold for $2,928,000.

The work sold at Phillips consists of two chromogenic color prints displayed as a diptych that measures over 22 feet wide. The work is one of an edition of six.

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Wooster Collective:

One of our favorite things about doing the Spring Street project, has been the amazing collection of Stikman images that have been appearing over the last few days on the outside of the building. Sara and I have been fans of Stikman’s work for years, so having him included in the Spring Street project is a great pleasure.

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Slamdance:

Slamdance, an organization always looking to foster new and innovative ways to assist emerging artists and writers, has established the Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition.  This contest is a natural extension of Slamdance’s stated mission to nurture, support and showcase truly independent works and will be held concurrently with the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 18-27, 2007.

A gaming competition at a film festival? It makes more sense than a first glance might indicate. Gaming is one of – if not the – fastest-growing components of the entertainment industry. Like filmmaking, game design is a means of visual storytelling, and the similarities between the two media far outweigh the disparities. Like a film director working on-set, today’s gamemakers assumes a leadership role in the outcome of the game, guiding plot points and character interaction, integrating art and technology with game design. Recognizing that the space between film and gaming was becoming increasingly smaller, and seeing a niche for it within their festival, Slamdance developed the Game Competition to help aspiring game developers display their work.
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Joe Reifer:

I’d rather go to the dentist than spend hours scanning negatives. This evening I remembered why I got interested in digital SLRs 5 years ago. I hate scanning. After watching volume 1 of Contacts, I decided to shoot a roll of Tri-X over the Thanksgiving holiday. Even though I own a bunch of fancy SLR gear, I would way rather shoot with a Leica rangefinder. I’m not going to wax poetic about how the Leica M6 is the most perfectly pleasing 35mm camera I’ve ever used, or how the 35mm f/2 ASPH lens has microcontrast and bokeh to die for, I promise. But it’s true.

What I’m going to say is one $4 roll of film, a $12.50 develop and contact sheet, two trips to the lab, and hour and a half of scanning my favorite images later, I remember why I gave this process up. What a pain. Not to mention the cost per shot is about 45 cents (Hey, I’m too lazy to soup my own negs anymore).

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WFMU’s Beware the Blog:

I first heard of Thor not through his 80s hair-metal albums, but via a dusty video cassette from the rental store called Rock and Roll Nightmare. A good friend giddily introduced me to this film one spooky night (his mother watched it with us) and I must say that my world has not been the same since. Synapse films finally released this lost gem in a deluxe DVD this year, and there has been no greater moment in my life then when I tore open the plastic of my freshly purchased copy only to find, much to my surprise, my own darn name listed in the thank you credits.

So how did a humble little fanboy like me make it to the inner circle of one of the old ones? Well, first let’s start with the film…

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SF Gate’s Daily Dish:

Sources claim Kid Rock, real name Bob Richie, became enraged by his wife’s role in the spoof film — in which Borat, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, travels across America to get close to the blonde beauty.

A close friend of the pair tells Page Six, “(Film producer) Ron Meyer held a screening of ‘Borat’ at his house for a bunch of people, including Pam and Bob. It was the first time Bob had seen the movie, and, well, he didn’t like it.

“Bob started screaming at Pam, saying she had humiliated herself and telling her, ‘You’re nothing but a whore! You’re a slut! How could you do that movie?’ — in front of everyone. It was very embarrassing.

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Washington Post:

But the contents have not previously been made public. Read as a complete assessment, it paints a stark portrait of a failed province and of the country’s Sunnis — once dominant under Saddam Hussein — now desperate, fearful and impoverished. They have been increasingly abandoned by religious and political leaders who have fled to neighboring countries, and other leaders have been assassinated. And unlike Iraq’s Shiite majority, or Kurdish groups in the north, the Sunnis are without oil and other natural resources. The report notes that illicit oil trading is providing millions of dollars to al-Qaeda while “official profits appear to feed Shiite cronyism in Baghdad.”

As a result, “the potential for economic revival appears to be nonexistent” in Anbar, the report says. The Iraqi government, dominated by Iranian-backed Shiites, has not paid salaries for Anbar officials and Iraqi forces stationed there. Anbar’s resources and its ability to impose order are depicted as limited at best.

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NYT:

What does this mean for Iraq? At the least, Tet and Somalia suggest we should be very careful before concluding that Iraq is a defeat. There is real evidence of failure, especially the escalating sectarian violence. But our perceptions are nevertheless easily manipulated. Iraq looks like a defeat in part because the Bush administration fell into the same trap as President Johnson: raising expectations of imminent victory by declaring “mission accomplished” before the real work had even begun. And as with Somalia, fighting shadowy insurgents in Iraq while propping up a weak government engenders negative memories of Vietnam.

Perceptions of success and failure can change the course of history. Reeling from the supposed disaster at Tet, the United States began to withdraw. Memories of “failure” in Somalia were a major reason — perhaps the major reason — that the United States did nothing to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. If Iraq is perceived as a failure, it is only a matter of time before America pulls out, leaving who-knows-what behind. With the stakes so high, Americans must be certain that their perception of failure in Iraq is not a mirage.

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PunkNews:

The latest Tony Hawk game, Downhill Jam is set to include a number of classic and current punk and hardcore bands including Descendents,Anti-Flag,The Bouncing Souls,Bad Brains,Lagwagon,Thursday and more.

The game was launch title for the Nintendo Wii, and is also available exclusively for the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance.

Full track list Here.

Daily Sun, Nigeria’s King of the Tabloids:

“My mind told me, ‘my friend, bring out your camera’. I just brought out my camera. The moment he was climbing a tree, I snapped him. He was trying to tie the knots of the string he was holding to the tree. People were just wondering, what is this? Some people were just wondering, is he trying to stage a play? Not until the man put the rope on his neck and tried to throw himself off the tree that two of them ran towards the tree. One tried to push him up, the other climbed the top of the tree to unknot the rope.

“All of a sudden the man fell and hit his right eyelid on the hard concrete of the gutter edge. There was a cut and blood started coming out. The man was crying, “why don’t you leave me to die?” He was not happy with his rescuers. He was seriously crying. All of a sudden, before you know it, crowd of people started gathering to know what was happening. People were wondering, what kind of thing is this? How can this happen? As for me, I could not believe it, as old as I am, because since I have been moving around, I have never seen somebody trying to take his life in broad daylight. It is amazing. That’s the way I see it”.

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NYT:

In theory, Western snipers are a nearly perfect method of killing Iraq’s insurgents and thwarting their attacks, all with little risk of damaging property or endangering passers-by. But in practice, the snipers say, they are seeing fewer clear targets than previously, and are shooting fewer insurgents than expected.

In 2003, one Marine sniper killed 32 combatants in 12 days, the snipers say, and many others had double-digit kill totals during tours in Iraq. By this summer, sniper platoons with several teams had typically been killing about a dozen insurgents in seven-month tours, with totals per platoon ranging from 3 to as high as 26.

The gap between the expectations and the results has many causes, but is in part a reflection of the insurgency’s duration. With the war in its fourth year, many of the best sniping positions are already well known to the insurgents, and veteran insurgents have become more savvy and harder to kill.

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LA Times:

Spirea Ciorobea, 68, portrayed as the “village mechanic and abortionist” in the film, is being represented by the lawyer’s group.

“I was approached in the street and asked whether I could play a welder,” he said. “Like many people here, I can’t find work, so I appreciated the chance to earn some money for my family. Later, they painted my arms up to my elbows with red paint. I had no clue what for and only realize now they wanted to show that I am covered in the blood of the women whose babies I was aborting. I would never have agreed to that, even if they had paid more than the $4 I was given. I am a Christian and oppose frivolous approach to abortion, and I think what they made me do was disgusting.”

Another “Borat” participant, Nicu Tudorache, was told that the fist-shaped rubber sex toy filmmakers attached to his amputated arm was a prosthetic.
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NYT Book Review:

They met in 1970 on Thompson’s home turf of Louisville, covering the Kentucky Derby on assignment for the short-lived magazine Scanlan’s. Steadman’s drawings — vicious caricatures of local residents, including Thompson’s brother — shocked the writer with their predatory vigor. Thompson, soon to become famous for a similar bloodthirsty tack in prose, demanded of the artist: “Why must you scribble these filthy ravings and in broad daylight too? … This is Kentucky, not skid row. I love these people. They are my friends and you treated them like scum.” Their first collaboration ended with the journalist spraying Steadman from a can of Mace. “We can do without your kind in Kentucky. Now get your bags and get out, and take your rotten drawings with you!”

Isn’t this how all great buddy movies begin?

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WFMU’s Beware the Blog:

Released on Casablanca, recorded live 1979 at the Roxy in Hollywood with backing band that includes Christopher Guest credited as Nigel Tufnel (three years before Spinal Tap, though well dressed and with short hair), Ming the Merciless, Lars Svenki, Dwight Night and Beanie Barnhill. Tracks flow into each other as it’s a live record

Mp3’s, Here.

Yes Men:

Philadelphia – At a Wharton Business School conference on business in Africa, World Trade Organization representative Hanniford Schmidt announced the creation of a WTO initiative for “full private stewardry of labor” for the parts of Africa that have been hardest hit by the 500 years of Africa’s free trade with the West.
The initiative will require Western companies doing business in some parts of Africa to own their workers outright. Schmidt recounted how private stewardship has been successfully applied to transport, power, water, traditional knowledge, and even the human genome. The WTO’s “full private stewardry” program will extend these successes to (re)privatize humans themselves.

“Full, untrammelled stewardry is the best available solution to African poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory,” Schmidt told more than 150 attendees. Schmidt acknowledged that the stewardry program was similar in many ways to slavery, but explained that just as “compassionate conservatism” has polished the rough edges on labor relations in industrialized countries, full stewardry, or “compassionate slavery,” could be a similar boon to developing ones.

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PDN:

The video begins simply. Title cards set the stage for a story about the Kurds, the ethnic group of northern Iraq who now live in relative peace.

Then all madness breaks loose. Daily life in Kurdistan unfolds as a staccato, stop-motion dance. Cars jam a street, children play, soldiers train, nurses tend to patients – all at a few frames per second, synchronized like a ballet to instrumental music. As the frames flip by, the camera zooms in and out, hovering to line up a well-framed shot, changing brightness and focus.

The 12-minute multimedia presentation is made from thousands of still photos Ed Kashi shot on a National Geographic assignment in Iraqi Kurdistan last year.

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