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Exorcists Gather in Poland
11.13.2010
04:55 pm

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Belief

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Earlier this year, the Holy See’s Chief Exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth claimed, “The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences. He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, or even appear to be sympathetic. At times he makes fun of me. But I’m a man who is happy in his work.” He also said that the 1973 film The Exorcist gave a “substantially exact” impression of what it was like to be possessed by the Devil.

“People possessed by evil sometimes had to be physically restrained by half a dozen people while they were exorcised. They would scream, utter blasphemies and spit out sharp objects.

From their mouths, anything can come out – pieces of iron as long as a finger, but also rose petals,” said Father Amorth, who claims to have performed 70,000 exorcisms. “When the possessed dribble and slobber, and need cleaning up, I do that too. Seeing people vomit doesn’t bother me. The exorcist has one principal duty - to free human beings from the fear of the Devil.”

Old Nick finds work for idle hands, and this week sees the National Congress of Exorcists in Poland, as increasing numbers of Poles struggle with Satanic possession, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Since 1999 the number of Polish exorcists has surged from 30 to over a 100, despite the influence of the Catholic Church waning in an increasingly secular Poland.

Exorcists attribute the increase in their numbers to growing scepticism in psychology in the wider Polish population, and people looking for spiritual reasons for mental disorders.

In recognition of modern science, however, exorcists now work in tandem with psychologists in order to distinguish between psychiatric problems and the work of the devil.

But while some cases of Satanic work are difficult to diagnose others manifest themselves in shocking circumstances explained exorcist Father Andrzej Grefkowicz.

“An indication of possession is that a person is unable to go into a church, or, if they do, they can feel faint or breathless,” he said.

“Sometimes if they enter a church they are screaming, shouting and throwing themselves on the ground.”

The national congress comes as part of a policy by Poland’s Catholic Church to lift the veil on what was once a secretive practice. Frustrated by the Hollywood image of cross-wielding exorcists engaged in dramatic conflicts with demons the Church intends to show the complicated and often more mundane world of exorcism.

Father Grefkowicz stressed that the most of the time exorcism required quiet prayer.

Quiet prayer? I was hoping it would be a bit more like this…
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Aung San Suu Kyi
11.13.2010
01:54 pm

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Current Events

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Today, we celebrate the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy leader and human rights activist who has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest. Suu Kyi’s release has been welcomed across the world, and it is hoped that this is the first step towards democracy within Burma (aka The Republic of the Union of Myanmar).

Suu Kyi’s political career started in August 1988, after a mass uprising against Burma’s military junta left thousands dead, Suu Kyi gave a speech, in front of 500,00 supporters, calling for an end to military rule and a new democratic government.

The following month, Suu Kyi co-founded the National League for Democracy (NLD) and became the party’s general secretary. The pro-democracy movement quickly gained support across the country, which led the junta to place Suu Kyi under house arrest for the first time in July 1989.

In May 1990, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won a landslide election victory, but the ruling junta refused to recognize the results. The following year, Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize:

for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.

...Suu Kyi’s struggle is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades. She has become an important symbol in the struggle against oppression…

...In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.

In 1995, Suu Kyi was temporarily released from house arrest, but her movements were restricted. She was offered the opportunity to return to her family in the UK, but Suu Kyi opted to stay an continue the fight for democratic freedom.

These photographs from her family’s collection, reveal Suu Kyi’s life before she returned to Burma. Married to academic, Michael Aris in 1972, the couple had two children, Alexander and Kim, who are now grown men, one with a family of his own. Suu Kyi’s campaign for the greater good has come at great personal cost, her husband Michael died of prostate cancer in 1999, but he accepted what Suu Kyi saw as her destiny, as before they were married she told Aris:

“I only ask one thing, that should my people need me, you would help me to do my duty by them.”

When Aung San Suu Kyi was released today, she addressed thousands of well-wishers, saying:

“There is a time to be quiet and a time to talk. People must work in unison. Only then can we achieve our goal.”

It can only be hoped that Suu Kyi’s release is the first step towards achieving the goal of democracy within Burma.
 
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More rare photographs of Aung San Suu Kyi after the jump
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Planet Claire Attacks!
11.13.2010
05:05 am

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Amusing

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What it says on the tin.
 

 
Via Edward C. Zacharewicz
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Luie Luie: ‘El Touchy’
11.12.2010
11:52 pm

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Music

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One man band Luie Luie introduces his new dance El Touchy.

Luis Johnston is a Southern California screenwriter, painter, and musician who’s spent the past 30 years working in almost complete obscurity. But he’s also written and starred in a feature film and shaken hands with Elvis Presley. Luie has been playing live at various restaurants, lounges, and country clubs for three decades and is still going strong. He released a handful of 45s in the ‘70s and one full-length LP, “Touchy” in 1974. And he continues to record unknown quantities of yet to be released CDs.

Once a rare and coveted collector’s item, Luie’s album has been re-issued and is available here. As for me, I want to buy Luie’s belt.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Franju’s ‘Blood Of The Beasts’: In death there is cruel beauty
11.12.2010
08:25 pm

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Art
Food
Movies

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George Franju’s 1949 film Le Sang Des Bêtes (blood of the beasts) is one of the most beautiful and horrifying movies ever made. Filmed in the backstreets of Paris, Franju contrasts bucolic scenes of fog-shrouded streets, canals, deserted junkyards and children playing, with the nightmarish events taking place within two slaughterhouses. Marcel Fradetal’s stunning black and white cinematography turns the horrific into a brutal kind of poetry that if it had been shot in color would be unbearable.

Observing the workers going about their gruesome work with emotionless efficiency is the most disturbing aspect of the film for me. How much of our humanity is sacrificed for a plate of meat? Franju’s intent may have been no more than to compose a work of visual art, but as I watch Le Sang Des Bêtes I can’t help but be reminded of the fact that France was still reeling from the effects of years of war and in these images of animals being murdered I am aware of the thin line between man and beast, killing one is not so different from killing the other. Is not the abattoir a concentration camp for animals? Is the flesh of the beasts any less sacred than our own? Or have we arrived at the place where nothing is sacred? And if so, isn’t that hell?

Outside the walls of the abattoir we watch life go on, while inside we watch it come to a cruel and bloody end.
 

 
Parts two and three after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
See the Flamin’ Groovies shake some action, 1972
11.12.2010
06:13 pm

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Music

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It’s been said of The Flamin’ Groovies that they sounded like the Rolling Stones, had the Stones sworn their allegiance to Sun Records rather than Chess Blues and that seems about right to me.

The Groovies, who started in San Francisco, circa 1965, never really caught on here and moved to England, getting caught up in the brief pre-punk enthusiasm for “pub rock” which saw them lumped together with bands like Dr. Feelgood and Dave Edmunds & Rockpile. By the time punk came around, they were all but forgotten, although they did have a song (“Shake Some Action”) on the Clueless soundtrack that a lot of people seem to know.

Below, The Flamin’ Groovies do their anti-drug anthem, “Slow Death” in 1972. This is pretty amazing, I must say.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Alan Clarke’s ‘Elephant’
11.12.2010
04:22 pm

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Television

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Alan Clarke‘s TV drama Elephant didn’t fuck about. Thirty-nine minutes of screen time, 3 lines of dialogue, 18 killings. No structure. No narrative. No plot. Just one bloody assassination after-the-other. And yet, it was one of the most powerful and disturbing films made by the BBC during the 1980s - and there has been nothing like it since.

Inspired by writer Bernard MacLaverty’s oft-quoted line that described the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland as like “having an elephant in your living room,” that everyone ignored, Clarke’s film presented the relentless killing that was part of everyday life in the 6 Counties at that time.

Clarke was no stranger to controversy - his 1977 TV drama Scum, on the brutality of the Borstal system, had been banned, while Made in Britain, starring Tim Roth, caused an outcry over its complex depiction of a racist skinhead abandoned by the education system. Elephant was conceived by Danny Boyle, later the director of Trainspotting and written by MacLaverty, but it was Clarke’s skill as a film-maker that made Elephant so effective - long walking shots on Steadicam of anonymous killers in deserted urban landscapes; the quick, almost off-hand nature of the violence; and the lingering images of the victims. As one of Clarke’s regular collaborators, the writer David Leland said:

I remember lying in bed, watching it, thinking, “Stop, Alan, you can’t keep doing this.” And the cumulative effect is that you say, “It’s got to stop. The killing has got to stop.” Instinctively, without an intellectual process, it becomes a gut reaction.

 

 
The whole of Alan Clarke’s ‘Elephant’ after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Satan makes cameo appearance on Christian puppet show
11.12.2010
01:37 pm

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Belief
Kooks

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Not much else to say about it, really.

Via Everything is Terrible

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
What’s gotten into the world’s coke supply?
11.12.2010
12:24 pm

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Drugs

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There is a fascinating 3-part series in The Stranger, by investigative reporter Brendan Kiley, that goes in-depth examining how a dangerous new cutting element is being added to the world’s cocaine supply. Levamisole is a medicine used to de-worm livestock, the DEA has reported that nearly 75% of the coke seized in this country during 2009 was cut with levamisole. (In 2005 only 1.9% of the seized cocaine had been cut with levamisole). Levamisole can cause an immune system failure know as “agranulocytosis” leaving users vulnerable to infections and causing skin lesions due to tissue swelling it can cause.

Yuck. If ever there was a time to “just say no” to cocaine (admittedly a drug I’ve never had much of a taste for) now might be the time…

Levamisole is an unusual—and unprecedented—cutting agent because it’s more expensive than other cuts, it makes some customers sick, and it’s being cut into the cocaine before it hits the United States. Smugglers typically prefer to move pure product, which is less bulky and results in less chance of detection. “The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine” offered a few theories about why South American drug manufacturers (mostly Colombian) are cutting their cocaine with levamisole.

A quick review of those theories:

1. Levamisole might produce a cocainelike stimulant effect either on its own or in conjunction with cocaine (in 2004, racehorses treated with levamisole were found to metabolize the deworming drug into an amphetamine-like stimulant called aminorex), meaning the product could produce a more substantial high with less pure cocaine.

2. Levamisole, unlike other cutting agents, retains the iridescent, fish-scale sheen of pure cocaine, making it easier to visually pass off levamisole-tainted cocaine as pure.

3. Levamisole passes the “bleach test,” a quick street test that reveals cuts like sugar or lidocaine (but, because of a chemical anomaly, not levamisole).

4. Levamisole is a bulking agent for crack. Making crack involves purifying cocaine and washing out the cutting agents, but levamisole molecules slip through this process—meaning a dealer can produce more volume of crack with less pure cocaine.

5. All of the above.

If levamisole can do several of these things, it becomes (in evolutionary terms) an advantageous genetic mutation, a cut that may have started as an accident but showed beneficial properties, so was passed on from one batch of cocaine to the next, from one generation to another, like a new gene.

The evolutionary, all-of-the-above theory is especially compelling because Colombia’s cocaine-production market is so fractured and decentralized, it’s unlikely that one mind is calling all the shots about cocaine’s manufacture and distribution. After the breakup of the Medellín and Cali cartels in the mid-1990s, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of independent cocaine producers leaped into the void. While FARC and the paramilitaries control much of the cocaine trade—such as the camps where Diego worked—they don’t control and centralize production technology to the degree that the Medellín and Cali cartels did.

Meaning: Those hundreds (and maybe thousands) of independent producers must have independently decided to use the same cutting agent. And even if levamisole looks like cocaine, behaves in bleach tests like cocaine, and can bulk up crack in a way that other cutting agents can’t, why not wait to cut it once it has crossed the border?

That’s still a mystery.

As the article also points out, by the time the cocaine reaches the northern city of Seattle, it’s not only been stepped on before it even leaves its south of the border country of origin, but it’s also probably gotten stepped on again and again from stops between San Diego and Sacramento! By the time it gets to Seattle (or London, for that matter) is there even any cocaine left at all in it anymore?

Read more of The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine by Brendan Kiley (The Stranger)
 
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“Line of cattle dewormer, anyone? Help yourself!”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Spotted: Man driving on highway with horse in a car
11.12.2010
11:48 am

Topics:
Amusing

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According to YouTube, Jerry Miller drives his 15-year-old horse, Rascal, in the back seat of his car for shows in Kansas. As you do! You can call Jerry at 785.828.3285 for an interview.

(via Buzzfeed)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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