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LA Weekly:

On the night of August 22, 2003, Billy Cottrell would later testify, he had only intended to tour around Southern California with his friends Tyler Johnson and Michie Oe, plastering SUVs with bumper stickers. Going in, the plan was so innocuous, rising only to the level of a graffiti prank, that even Cottrell’s mom, Heidi, was involved.

An attractive blonde in her 50s, with big blue eyes and a curly bob haircut, Schwiebert is a horsewoman, although that’s where her interest in environmentalism ends. But she was fed up enough with polluting road hogs that she volunteered to print up bumper stickers for the three young people that would say “SUV = TERRORISM.” “I told the printer I didn’t particularly agree with the slogan myself, but I supported their right to free speech,” she recalled. At the printer’s, another “I” slipped in, and the stickers came out condemning “TERRIORISM.”

In the defense account of that night, Tyler Johnson, angry about the misspelling, demanded that Cottrell pay him back the $200 he’d spent on materials. Johnson offered to forgo the $200 if Cottrell would use his own car to chauffeur Johnson and his girlfriend, Michie Oe, around town while they spray-painted the offending gas-guzzlers.

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LA Times:

Arriving home, Kartofelnikov noticed a car parked near the entryway. Someone had written “62,” the auto license code for Ryazan, and taped it over part of the license plate. Underneath, he saw “77,” the Moscow code. Suspicious, he called police.

The car was gone by the time police arrived. But in the basement, officers discovered what appeared to be a bomb made from three sacks of white powder, a detonator and a timer set for 5:30 a.m. The powder tested positive for hexogen, an explosive used in the bombings.

The next morning, Russia launched its second war in Chechnya, bombing the airport in the republic’s capital, Grozny, in what Moscow said was a counterattack against terrorists. The separatist southern region had exercised de facto independence after defeating Russian forces in a 1994-1996 war.

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NYT:

Dave Anderson says the photographs in the book, published in October by Dewi Lewis, came out of the affection he developed for the small town; he considers them largely sympathetic portrayals of the beauty he sees in life “close to the bone,” as he put it.

But many residents have responded with rancor, to Mr. Anderson directly, in online forums, and with phone calls to his Houston gallery. On her MySpace page Ashley Hammonds posted an essay she had written in response to the book. Some residents began using the title of the book as an epithet. On Kim McGriff’s MySpace page, Jessica Jaeger, 20, left a comment, part of which read: “Face it! You just aren’t that smeart! You should have been featured in the Rough Beauty book!” James McCullar, a 25-year-old Vidor resident, started a thread on the MySpace “Vidorians” group, where he referred to Mr. Anderson as “a joke just trying to make a dollar off our past.”

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Washington Post:

Several thousand people chanted “Shame!” as they marched down St. Petersburg’s main avenue to protest what they said was Russia’s rollback from democracy. The demonstration, called the “march of those who disagree,” was a rare gathering of the country’s often fractious opposition.

Mayor Valentina Matviyenko, a close ally of Putin’s, called the protesters “guest stars from Moscow” and “youths of extremist persuasion,” accusing them of stirring turmoil ahead of elections for the city legislature this month.

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Netflix:

In this comedic action movie, a martial arts master teaches his secrets to a gorilla, who is then dispatched to America to show off the best Chinese fighting techniques. The ape, known as King Kung Fu, escapes from his handlers and eventually seeks refuge atop the tallest building in Wichita, Kan., a Holiday Inn. Pursued by bumbling reporters and blundering cops, will King Kung Fu find peace with the love of his life, Rae Fay?
Releases on DVD Mar 06, 2007

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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…”

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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?

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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