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From the Daily Sun, Nigeria’s King of the Tabloids:

Any time you meet a person telling you that the government of Imo State has turned the state to wonderland, don’t believe it until you go to Okigwe, one of the three major cities of the state.

After your visit to Okigwe, you will have every reason to boldly stand up and tag the person laying claims to such wonders a liar.


From the Daily Sun, Nigeria’s King of the Tabloids:

“Pressman, you have no need to ask questions on whether we live under the terror of security operatives. You have witnessed it and we guess your story will just be a narration of what you have encountered”. It was a story that told itself and investigation practicalised by the constant visit of daring security men to the town. There were three of such visits on Monday, May 8, and we all ran into the bush whenever they came. One managed to peep from the hiding to catch a glimpse of the armed men who called like ravenous wolves to take a prey.


From PunkNews:

The Aquabats have gained a new member. Eagle “Bones” Falconhawk will be taking over guitar duties from Chainsaw, the prince of Karate who injured himself just prior to May.


Dispatches from the Edge : A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival

Dispatches from the Edge, by Anderson Cooper. Grade: A.

Don’t mistake my high rating of this book for any vindication of broadcast media. I don’t watch TV news, finding it generally shallow. And before I quote from the book, showing you some of Cooper’s observations, I’ve got to ask, did he really need three photos of himself on the book jacket? There he is looking serious in Africa. There he is looking serious in a hurricane. There he is looking serious after Katrina. He’s got that serious-looking squint going down, but in photos inside the book, you’ll actually see him with his eyes open.

That said, it’s a great book that gives you the feel for crisis reporting:

In Baghdad in 2005 the list of what you can’t do is much longer than the list of what you can. You can’t: eat in a restaurant; go to the movies; hail a taxi; go out at night; stroll down the street; stand in a crowd; stay in one spot too long; use the same route; get stuck in traffic; forget to barricade your door at night; neglect to speak in code when using walkie-talkies; or go anywhere without armed guards, communication devices, an ID, a Kevlar vest, or a multi-vehicle convoy. You can’t forget you’re a target.

Other than that, it’s not so bad.

Cooper writes about covering international crisis in Iraq, Bosnia, Niger, Rwanda, and Somalia:

I arrived back in Nairobi and showered the dust from my hair, lathered my body, pried the dirt from my finger- and toenails. I put on fresh clothes, went to an italian restaurant, ate pasta, drank passion fruit juice, watched the TV above the bar. I’d been there, now I was here. A short plane ride, a few hundred miles, another world, light years away.

I finished my meal. A cool breeze blew through the restaurant. When I breathed deeply, however, I was suddenly assaulted by a smell. Smoke, rot, flesh, and food- it was the smell of Somalia, and it came like a stiletto stab out of the shadows. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. My clothes were clean, so was my skin. For a moment I thought it was my imagination, a hallucination brought on by the heat and my fever. Then I realized that it was coming from my boots. I had only one pair, and the smell of that place had soaked into the leather, worked itself into the soles. Just that morning, in Baidoa, getting pictures of a dead donkey, I’d stepped into a pool of blood. Who knew what else I’d walked through?

From the chaotic aftermath of Katrina:

The Scientologists are here too. Kirstie Alley arrived with a bunch of them, and John Travolta is around as well. No one beats Steven Seagal, though. He’s not here with any group. I saw him late one night dressed in a cop uniform, out on patrol with some deputies from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department. He’s been going out with their SWAT team.

“Seagal’s tight with the sheriff in Jefferson,” a New Orleans cop tells me later. “There’s a bar where a lot of cops hang out, and I remember a couple years ago Seagal comes in with those guys and takes out a framed eight-by ten photo of himself and fucking hangs it on the wall.”

“Get out of here,” I say, “no way.”

“I shit you not,” he says. “As soon as he left, a couple of us took out our pistols and shot it. Blew the fucking thing off the wall. One bullet actually went right through and hit a car-rental place next door.”

Dispatches from the Edge, by Anderson Cooper. Grade: A.

From PDN:

Through a spokesperson, Shock editors declined to be interviewed for this story, though the company did provide an advance copy of the magazine for review.

The first issue of Shock is a medley of photojournalism essays, paparazzi, and upsetting images including a self-immolating protestor and a child held hostage with a blade to her throat. Shock borrows the celebrity tabloid look of its French counterpart, but with less nudity; it’s more PG-13 than R.

This issue has just five advertisements, for JVC, Bowflex, Girls Gone Wild, a cell phone service and a film school.


From PDN:

With the guidance of photographer Gary Knight of the VII agency, the six women have formed a new group called EVE Photographers to create and promote social documentary photojournalism. They will collaborate on projects and post their best work on a group web site.

The photographers are Marizilda Cruppe (in Brazil), Agnès Dherbeys (Thailand), Bénédicte Kurzen (South Africa), Justyna Mielnikiewicz (Georgia), Lourdes Segade (Spain) and Newsha Tavakolian (Iran).


From LA Weekly:

Still, something about them has stuck. They live on through tribute albums, cover bands and MySpace fan clusters that rival the population of Long Beach. Even now, they poll as one of KROQ’s all-time fan favorites, and Nowell’s Dalmatian, Lou Dog, who died in 2001, has memorial pages littered all over the Internet like virtual roadside shrines.

What’s the appeal? Part of it is junkie-chic (the Cult of Dead Bradley) part of it is the staying power of a good pop melody, and part of it is Nowell’s lilting tenor and jazz phrasing — at his best he sounded like Billie Holiday on uppers. But there’s also the fact that as a band, Sublime was way ahead of its time.


From WFMU’s Beware of the Blog:

Jud Jud was the band that was too straight edge for instruments. Every song (including their “tuning”) on their 1989 seven Inch The Demos consists of Steve Heritage (in the left stereo channel) and “B” (in the right channel) chanting their manifesto, which consists mostly of the word Jud, as well as occasional feedback and explosion noises. But mostly the word Jud. Repeated over and over again. The Demos contains pictures of fake flyers for Jud Jud headlining over bands like Minor Threat, which never happened. But the hoax/parody worked remarkably well.


From the BBC:

Joseph Kony adds: “Most people do not know me… I am not a terrorist… I am a human being, I want peace also.”

The former altar boy and self-proclaimed mystic, who has said he wants to run Uganda along the lines of the biblical Ten Commandments, agrees to end attacks in southern Sudan.


From Dexter Filkins, The New York Times:

Even in a country beset by murder and death, the 16th Brigade represented a new frontier.

The brigade, a 1,000-man force set up by Iraq’s Ministry of Defense in early 2005, was charged with guarding a stretch of oil pipeline that ran through the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dawra. Heavily armed and lightly supervised, some members of the largely Sunni brigade transformed themselves into a death squad, cooperating with insurgents and executing government collaborators, Iraqi officials say.

“They were killing innocent people, anyone who was affiliated with the government,” said Hassan Thuwaini, the director of the Iraqi Oil Ministry’s protection force.


Deadline for submissions for the first issue of NoTxt Magazine is tomorrow night (May 25). Photography, art, stickers, graffiti, stencil, pranks, send us your work.

Debut issue goes online in June.


Blue Nude : A Novel

Blue Nude, by Elizabeth Rosner.
It’s about a painter and a woman who models nude for art classes. He’s German, she’s Jewish. He has a studio in Point Reyes. She lives in The City. San Francisco.

I want to remember these passages:

I was married for a while, she says. To a photographer.

Danzig snorts at the idea. They always want to put frames around things, he says. They pretend they’re only telling you what they claim is out there in so-called real life, but really they’re getting in the way just as much as painters are.

And this:

His photos began getting smaller while the white linen mats around them kept getting larger, surrounding his images with more and more white space. Merav envisioned herself shrinking inside a vast blizzard and dreamed about Gabe building a house with empty rooms, windows too high to look out from. He said he framed things, people, so that he could make them more visible, believing even as he cut off its edges that he was making a thing more real, more seeable. She started wearing clothes in all the colors he couldn’t see to camouflage herself in his landscape, disappear in front of his eyes.

The walls of their apartment showed a collection of Merav in parts, close-ups of her feet, hands, hip bones, shoulder blades. The one exception lay in a single photo that showed her entire, taken from behind her back. In a wide-open field stood a wooden picture frame the size of a doorway, balancing upright as if by magic in the middle of nothing. And Merav was walking through it, her arms held out to her sides, her fingertips just brushing the edges of the frame. She was stepping out of it and walking away.

Blue Nude, by Elizabeth Rosner.

From the Chicago Tribune, via Rob Galbraith:

A real-time presentation of a photo-op in the Oval Office of the White House with President Bush and Australia Prime Minister John Howard. (30 seconds.)


From the BBC:

Congolese politicians have been warned that they should not have more than 25 bodyguards, amid pre-election tension.

The warning was made by Defence Minister Adolphe Onusumba, amid reports that some politicians have hundreds of armed personal guards.


A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka.

Now I see his energy is all redirected towards this woman and her son- they will become his substitute family. He can speak with them in his own language. Such a beautiful language that anyone can be a poet. Such a landscape- it would make anyone an artist. Blue-painted wooden houses, golden wheat fields, forests of silver birch; slow wide sliding rivers. Instead of going home to Ukraina, Ukraina will come home to him.

I have visited Ukraine. I have seen the concrete housing blocks and the fish dead in the rivers.

Lewycka’s short novel is the story of a woman whose elderly father (an immigrant from Ukraine) who falls in love with a young woman, Valentina (also from Ukraine) and marries her. The narrator has her doubts all along about the young woman’s intentions. They fight:

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” I have slipped into the mongrel language, half English half Ukrainian, fluent and snappy.

“Ah-shamed! Ah-shamed!” She snorts. “You shame. No me shame. Why you no visit you mamma grave? Why you no crying, bringin flower? Why you making trouble here?”

The thought of my mother lying neglected in the cold ground while this usurper lords it in her kitchen drives me to a new pitch of fury.

“Don’t you dare to talk about my mother. Don’t even say her name with your filthy-talking boil-in-the-baggage mouth!”

“You mother die. Now you father marry me. You no like. You make trouble. I understand. I no stupid.”

She speaks the mongrel language, too. We snarl at each other like mongrels.

Another book I picked up in Canada. B.C. this time. The story weaves from discovery to discovery, her parents’ story in WW2 Ukraine, and the detective work involved in ridding Valentina (the other woman) from her father’s life:

The detective thrusts the envelope into her hands. Valentina looks confused.

“Divorce pepper? I no want divorce.”

“No,” says the detective, “the petitioner is Mr. Nikolai Mayevskyj. He is divorcing you.”

She stands for a moment in stunned silence. Then she explodes in a ball of fury. “Nikolai! Nikolai! What is this?” she screams at my father. “Nikolai, you crazy dog-eaten-brain graveyard-deadman!”

My father has locked himself in his room and turned the radio on full volume. She swings round again to confront the private detective, but he is alreadly slamming the door of his black BMW and driving away with a screech of tyres. She turns on Vera. “You she-cat-dog-vixen flesh-eating witch!”

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka.

From Punknews:

The full routing for the mostly U.S. tour featuring the recently reunited influential hardcore act Gorilla Biscuits has been announced. Victory Records’ Comeback Kid will be acting as direct support on all dates.


From The Washington Post:

On June 21, neo-Nazi sympathizers are scheduled to hold a rally in the city of Leipzig before a match between Iran and Angola, to show support for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the destruction of Israel and denied the Holocaust happened.

The rally sponsor, the far-right National Democratic Party, caused controversy this spring by publishing a glossy tournament schedule with a photo of a German soccer player and the headline, “White — Not Only a Color for Jersey!” Critics called it a thinly veiled insult to foreign-born players on Germany’s national team.

Last week, a former German government spokesman warned World Cup fans from abroad “and anyone with a different skin color” to avoid towns and villages outside Berlin and other rural parts of eastern Germany. “They may not leave with their lives,” said Uwe-Karsten Heye, who served as chief spokesman under former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and now heads a civil rights group.


The Architecture of Moscow from the early 1930s to the early 1950s. Unrealised projects.


From The New York Times:

In 2000 Mr. Junger went with Mr. Scott Anderson to Bosnia, where they accidentally almost captured one of the world’s most-wanted war criminals. “The idea was to head to the Croatian coast, drink beer and look at girls,” recalled Mr. Junger. “Instead we detoured into some hell hole on the border of Montenegro when we heard that Radovan Karadzic had been spotted there.”

Serb satraps mistook them for an American intelligence hit team and offered up Karadzic in exchange for bribes including visas to the United States. “We said, O.K., let’s see where this goes,” Mr. Junger said. “It was a stupid, dangerous game to be playing,” one that quickly put them in the sights of real C.I.A. officers, who were not amused.


From Seymour Hersch, The New Yorker:

A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center. This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored. “What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,” the consultant said. “They’re providing total access to all the data.”

“This is not about getting a cardboard box of monthly phone bills in alphabetical order,” a former senior intelligence official said. The Administration’s goal after September 11th was to find suspected terrorists and target them for capture or, in some cases, air strikes. “The N.S.A. is getting real-time actionable intelligence,” the former official said.


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