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Bills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches: ‘Bez’ of Happy Mondays is running for Parliament
03.19.2014
05:38 am

Topics:
Music
Politics

Tags:

Bez
Bez and his maracas
 
It was reported on Monday that legendary “freaky dancer,” maracas player and alleged former ecstasy dealer Mark “Bez” Berry of the Happy Mondays and Black Grape has revealed his intention to run for Parliament in the UK general election next year.

Bez, who is currently 49 years old, told the Manchester Evening News of his plans to run as an MP in his home city of Salford, After years, if not decades, of sober study of the nation’s political problems, Bez has stated his plans to “stir things up,” redistribute wealth, end all war, and solve cancer and dementia. Frankly it sounds a lot less harmful than a lot of things I’ve heard politicians say.
 

I’ve been saying we need a revolution, and there’s no good shouting about it when you’re not actually doing anything. ... If you want to do something about things you’ve got to get into the corridors of power and take them on. ... If you’re voting for me, you’re voting as a protest about what’s happening in the world at the moment. ... I’m going to create a new world order and get rid of them and start again with a new, fairer system without evil being the main policy. ... One of my policies would be a permacultural society where we’ll end illness and get everybody back to an alkaline state.

 
Bez has a history of achievement in the political arena; in 2005 he won the UK reality show Celebrity Big Brother.

I have long believed that Bez’s role as semi-musician/mascot/dancing idiot is essentially unique in rock history, and I’d love it if he could parlay being the Linda McCartney of Happy Mondays into a slot in Parliament. Voters looking to assess Bez’s fitness for dealing with matters involving the Exchequer will be interested to learn that he’s “been made bankrupt twice” in his life, as revealed on the talk show This Morning with Martin Lewis (is his name really Martin Lewis?) last year.
 

 
Here he is in his heyday, on Top of the Pops with the Happy Mondays dancing to “Kinky Afro”:
 

 
via Brooklyn Vegan

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Edward Snowden’s testimony to the European Parliament is a must-read for EVERY concerned American

Edward Snowden
If Edward Snowden isn’t very careful, they’re going to crush his head!

The fate of Edward Snowden continues to be excruciatingly unresolved. The former NSA contractor who made international headlines in 2013 when he illegally disclosed details about the shocking scope of federal surveillance programs via The Guardian and other news outlets has been obliged to seek asylum from various non-U.S.-aligned governments, such as Russia, Ecuador, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Nobody really disputes that Snowden has committed criminal acts—no matter how justified—and yet the intransigent stance of the U.S. to hold over Snowden’s head the most draconian penalties (short of the death penalty, praise Jeebus). Attorney General Eric Holder promised that Snowden would not be tortured if Russia, Snowden’s current home, were to turn him over to U.S. authorities, but in the wake of Bush/Cheney and Obama himself, such promises ring hollow. In the end, the behavior of the U.S. government and other western governments has, unfortunately, tended for the most part to substantiate Snowden’s more “paranoid” claims. The optimal outcome at this stage would be for the United States to offer a more “reasonable” prison term of 3-5 years—such a gesture would go a long way towards confirming to suspicious citizens that the U.S. intends to get its house in order.

Short of that, acceptance by U.S.-friendly western goverments of the European Union would likewise tend to send the message that U.S.security-related surveillance interests don’t trump every other value in the geopolitical system. One of the dispiritng lessons of the Snowden affair thus far has been the lack of counterbalancing perspective in the global system, in other words, the only apparent recourse Snowden has had to escape punishment from the United States has been various “bad guys” like Iran, North Korea, Russia and so on.  The strong impression has been left that countries like Germany, France, U.K., and so on, which once may have acted as sensible, fair brokers are all (a) unduly beholden to the U.S., and (b) compromised in their own right, as each country has its own semi-legal regime of espionage and surveillance. If all western states are but satellites in the U.S. sphere of influence, then Snowden’s revelations become all the more urgent.

For this reason, Snowden’s testimony (delivered in the form of a written statement) to the European Parliament on March 7 is a huge story—one that, sadly, has gone largely unnoticed by major U.S. media outlets. (At this point it’s a little difficult to distinguish sinister anti-Snowden propaganda from regular Snowden fatigue.) You can read Snowden’s entire testimony here.

In his testimony, Snowden related that he has requested asylum in from a number of EU countries, only to be told by European Parliamentarians that the United States would not permit its EU partners to make such an offer. “I do seek EU asylum, but I have yet to receive a positive response to the requests I sent to various EU member states. Parliamentarians in the national governments have told me that the US, and I quote, ‘will not allow’ EU partners to offer political asylum to me, which is why the previous resolution on asylum ran into such mysterious opposition. I would welcome any offer of safe passage or permanent asylum, but I recognize that would require an act of extraordinary political courage.”
 
The NSA
 
In Snowden’s view, the NSA and the security agencies of various EU states have created a “European bazaar” in which the perception of shared interests among the EU states trump the rights and expectations of western citizens to conduct their affairs in private. Wrote Snowden:

“The result is a European bazaar, where an EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the (unenforceable) condition that NSA doesn’t search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn’t search for Germans. Yet the two tapping sites may be two points on the same cable, so the NSA simply captures the communications of the German citizens as they transit Denmark, and the Danish citizens as they transit Germany, all the while considering it entirely in accordance with their agreements. Ultimately, each EU national government’s spy services are independently hawking domestic accesses to the NSA, GCHQ [U.K. Government Communications Headquarters], FRA [Försvarets radioanstalt, the Swedish National Defense Radio Establishment], and the like without having any awareness of how their individual contribution is enabling the greater patchwork of mass surveillance against ordinary citizens as a whole.”

Snowden has gone out of his way to put up a non-threatening front to the EU, insisting that he left the Russian secret service frustrated in its attempts to procure from Snowden further classified information about the United States. To the question “Did the Russian secret service approach you?” Snowden replied:

“Of course. Even the secret service of Andorra would have approached me, if they had had the chance: that’s their job. But I didn’t take any documents with me from Hong Kong, and while I’m sure they were disappointed, it doesn’t take long for an intelligence service to realize when they’re out of luck. I was also accompanied at all times by an utterly fearless journalist with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, which is the equivalent of Kryptonite for spies. As a consequence, we spent the next 40 days trapped in an airport instead of sleeping on piles of money while waiting for the next parade. But we walked out with heads held high. I would also add, for the record, that the United States government has repeatedly acknowledged that there is no evidence at all of any relationship between myself and the Russian intelligence service.”

According to Snowden, the NSA itself, which has well-nigh unregulated status within the U.S. federal government, has itself been pushing for EU states to take actions that do not benefit EU citizens:

“One of the foremost activities of the NSA’s FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance. Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK’s GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers.”

The Snowden “affair” is a highly sensitive “node” in the incredibly complex network of institutions that touch on so many important aspects of our lives—the federal government, telecom companies, Google and Facebook, credit card companies, the U.S. military, Russia, the UN, and so on. If the European Parliament denies Snowden’s requests, it will be another depressing sign that those interrelated interests do not have your or my well-being at heart.

In this video, Democracy Now! looks at the three most important of Snowden’s revelations:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Colorado’s new marijuana DUI PSAs and the YouTube comments they inspired…


 
Earlier this month, the Colorado Department of Transportation rolled out a series of PSAs to discourage folks from driving while they’re stoned. While I agree no one should drive while they’re high—hell, I don’t think people should even drive while taking Benadryl, cold/ flu medications, painkillers or especially too much coffee—these commercials seem pretty silly to me. The stereotypical dum-dum stoner is in full effect here.

I posted all three commercials here for your viewing pleasure. I also added some choice comments from the general public from the YouTube comments. I’m not endorsing these comments, I am merely stating “here they are” and “make of this what you will.”
 

- Nobody gets high alone, bullshit PSA nobody will relate to. 

- I call bullshit.  Potheads don’t buy T-Bones, they buy double cheeseburgers and more pot.

- Apparently being stoned on marijuana magically reduces your to cognitive abilities to that of a chimpanzee.  Who knew. 

- I inject 4 marijuanas, now i punch babies for fun.

- Hey CDOT, if you want marijuana consumers to listen to you, I’d suggest talking to them like the rational, normal adults they are instead of insulting them.

- Well I don’t know what drug he was on cuz it definitely wasn’t weed…

- I’ve never broken something or forgot to do an important step, while high. This commercial makes us look stupid.

- The stoner stereotype bullshit is insulting. Keeps perpetuating that people that smoke look and act like this. Fuck the marketing team that came up with this.

- There is a difference between being high and having down’s syndrome.

- Wow!! this is EXACTLY what being high is like!

- What a totally insulting stereotype they are building in the publics’ mind that anyone who uses cannabis becomes borderline retarded. Folks who doesn’t know better must think you automatically lose 40 IQ points afterwards. What a shame, as it has inspired so much art, beauty, and productive work by responsible users, who are unjustly subjected to this demonetization.

- Isn’t it great when people who don’t blaze it act like they know what it’s like?

The spelling mistakes were left “as is” and like I was saying “make of it what you will.”

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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You can stick Vladimir Putin up your ass
03.10.2014
08:39 am

Topics:
Amusing
Politics
Sex

Tags:
Vladimir Putin


 
A nifty Vladimir Putin butt-plug by Redditor Amzfx. Amzfx is sellin’ his “Putin Plug” on Shapeways for $23.27.

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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You too can dress like a pro-Putin Russian biker!
03.07.2014
09:06 am

Topics:
Fashion
Politics

Tags:
Russia
Vladimir Putin
Night Wolves

Night Wolves
Can you spot the Putin???
 
What with Pussy Riot, the Sochi Olympics, and the unrest in Crimea, Russia’s officially in the collective consciousness of Americans again, even the ones who get their news from Gawker. Americans generally have inordinate difficulty finding, say, Ukraine on a map, so I can’t say I’m not pleased that more people have context for an outfit like the Night Wolves.

For those not in the know, the Night Wolves are a Russian motorcycle club founded in 1989. They boast about 5,000 members, and have chapters in Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania. Like a lot of outlaw bikers, they’re fundamentally conservative, claiming to follow only their own rules, but they endorse both Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin has not only gone on rides with the gang for high-profile photo ops, he recently awarded the group’s leader, Alexander Zaldostanov (the big motherfucker here, whose nickname is “The Surgeon”), an Order of Honor for his “active work in the patriotic upbringing of the young”.

It’s difficult to tell which of the Night Wolves’ many accomplishments garnered them such prestige—perhaps it was for when they offered, ahem, “security” to churches after Pussy Riot’s “Punk Prayer” protest? At any rate, the Night Wolves have been keeping up with their civic duties, recently appearing as a vigilante military presence in Crimea. I’m sure they’re supplying just the right note of level-headed sangfroid the situation calls for. 

Also like a lot of outlaw bikers, the Night Wolves find ingenious ways to capitalize off their macho “brand.” Much as the Hells Angels make a little extra cash selling tacky swag, so too have the Night Wolves ventured into the world of merchandising. The clothing linked on their website (sadly) appears to only be available only in stores. You can see it modeled below by disheveled young ladies and those guys who stand as if the bulk of their arm muscles is preventing them from ever looking relaxed. (My dad was an Iron Horseman, and I assure you, this is some sort of ubiquitous biker body language.)

But with the possible exception of some leather goods (which appear to have a wolf on them?) the clothes appear to be generic biker fare. If you really want the Night Wolf logo (and can read Cyrillic), you can order the jewelry online! The collection is sort of a mix of “goth kid” and “Rasputin,” but I could see wearing it to your local PTA meeting. Don’t delay, order today! The guys clearly need to cash if they’re ever going to buy a decent camera (the photo quality is pretty bad).
 

Someone’s a crankypants…..
 

Still can’t seem to get those arms down, huh?
 

That looks practical. Nice Eurotrash jeans, by the way.
 

Apparently no one told them they were getting their picture taken.
 

If you told me these were some lesser-known Kentucky cousins of mine, I’d probably believe you.
 

For the daytime.
 

For more of an evening look. Works for the symphony or the club!
 

Awwww, loooook! Puppies! 
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Great idea: Bill Maher on a ‘maximum wage’ for the 1%


 
Bill Maher was on a roll last Friday with a “New Rules” rant about a—ahemmaximum wage. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Did you know that during World War II, FDR actually proposed a cap on income that in today’s dollars would mean that no person could ever take home more than about $300,000? OK, that is a little low. But wouldn’t it be great if there were Democrats out there like that now, who would say to billionaires, “Oh, you’re crying?  We’ll give you something to cry about. You don’t want a minimum wage?  How about we not only have a minimum wage, we have a maximum wage?”

That is not a new idea.  James Madison, who wrote our Constitution, said, “Government should prevent an immoderate accumulation of riches.”  Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, they all agreed that too much money in the hands of too few would destroy democracy.

Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison… those guys the Tea partiers are always (selectively) quoting…

This clip is not only worth watching, it’s worth sharing with other people and encouraging them to watch it and pass it on themselves if they deem it worthy. When “the situation” the United States finds itself in, at this point in history, can be summed up so succinctly and be understood so readily by the man on the street, real change is coming. Maher articulates this matter masterfully, indeed. A very few people at the top have engineered it so that the spoils of Wall Street and the capitalist system flow to THEM and ONLY TO THEM. These lucky, er, bastards then promptly kicked the ladder out from underneath the rest of us with the help of both political parties. (Clinton signed NAFTA, ‘nuff said.)

Writing at Daily Kos, Lawrence Lewis nicely summed up another facet of “the American predicament” which has become so incredibly obvious over the past few decades, the Republican Party’s transparent fealty to the wealthy to the detriment of the working man’s lot (mind you, not that the Democrats are all that much better. They’re just not Republicans.). It is an actual class war that they’re waging, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to deceive their base about what they’re up to with just the standard GOP tropes of pro-life, pro-gun, pro-Jesus and anti-gay, anti-immigrant rhetoric, when the lives of their constituents are crumbling:

The final piece of the puzzle is the Republican focus on making life more difficult for those who do have work. Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage. They want even the employed to know economic want. Republicans oppose workplace safety regulations, and they want to destroy unions. They want workers completely subject to the whims of management, and unable to quit lousy jobs because there are no good alternatives and there is no social safety net to protect them. Under the Republican agenda, workers have to do what they’re told or suffer even worse consequences.

In short, the Republican agenda is to keep people desperate for work, with more people seeking jobs than can find them, with no laws or other forms of assistance or protection for those who can find jobs, and no safety net for those who can’t. Lack of opportunity ensures a glutted labor market, which drives down wages, forcing many of even those who do find work to seek more. Exhausting hours, inadequate pay, and broken unions ensure that workers are hungry and tired and incapable of defending themselves.

It could be called a new form of feudalism, but that feudalism actually made necessary more responsibility from the aristocracy toward the peasants and serfs than does unregulated bastard capitalism from owners and management toward labor. It is class warfare. Simple, straightforward, class warfare. For Republicans, poverty, hunger, and unemployment are not tributary outcomes of their economic model, they are deliberate means toward insidious ends. Make people hurt. Make them desperate. They will do what they are told. They will ask for no more than that they be allowed to survive another week.

Or so Republicans hope.

Everyone is starting to realize exactly—and if not exactly exactly, then CLOSE ENOUGH—what’s going down.

It simply can’t continue on like this. It’s not going to.

[And if you haven’t heard about this guy, he’ll blow your mind. Ladies and gentlemen, meet THE PERFECT Republican spokesperson, Josh Miller of Arkansas. Keep talking buddy, you are doin’ the Lord’s work…]
 

 
UPDATE: As posted on the Dangerous Minds Facebook page (thank you Eric Blahbson) Jello Biafra on the maximum wage:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Controversial male political figures reimagined as fabulous drag queens
02.28.2014
09:45 am

Topics:
Fashion
Politics
Queer

Tags:
politicians
drag queens

Baricka O'Bisha
Baricka O’Bisha
 
“Behind every ‘great’ man, there’s a queen.” That’s the insight that “Saint Hoax” hit upon after seeing a drag show for the first time and contemplating the similarly “constructed” nature of drag queens and incredibly powerful political figures:
 

The recipe for an iconic queen:

1. Flamboyant name
2. Fierce persona
3. Defining outfits
4. Personalized hairdo
5. A trademark feature
6. One hell of a PR team

I then realized that it takes that same exact effort to make a leader.

 

The text continues: “Like drag queens, political/religious leaders are expected to entertain, perform and occasionally lip-sync a public speech. ... But unlike drag queens, the fame hungry leaders don’t know when to take their costumes off.” 

At the Saint Hoax website you can see the full transformations.
 
Vladdy Pushin'
Vladdy Pushin’
 
Madame O' Sane
Madame O’ Sane
 
Georgia Buchette
Georgia Buchette
 
Ossie B'
Ossie B’
 
Hitleria Hysteria
Hitleria Hysteria
 
Kimmy Jungle
Kimmy Jungle
 
Queen Abby
Queen Abby
 
via Lost at E Minor

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Maximum The Hormone: Batshit Japanese metal video
02.20.2014
08:19 am

Topics:
Music
Politics

Tags:
Maximum The Hormone


 
This preposterously and wonderfully zany video from Japanese nu metal/hardcore punkers Maximum The Hormone  probably makes about as much sense in the Land of the Rising Sun as it does anywhere else, which is to say not a lot.

It’s one thing, then it’s another, and then at the very end, it’s Benny Hill? Ichiban!

There’s an explanation of their name on their Wikipedia page:

“Take it as you like, it means anything from the Japanese cuisine for cooking animal innards to the sensation of the maximum amount of your hormones coming to the boil! Although when we go abroad people think we’re just some sorta sexual energy drink.”

You might still think that, all of it, after watching their video:
 

 
Via Popbitch

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Evocative photos from 1980s Berlin

Berlin
Slesische Strasse October 1982. Near the corner with Cuvrystrasse.
 
A photographer named Chris John Dewitt has set up a fantastic Tumblr consisting almost entirely of pictures of various places. During the 1980s he took many, many photographs of East Berlin and West Berlin, and they are utterly fascinating. Sometimes he has photos of the same place both pre- and post-1989. We’ve got a generous selection of them here, but really, there are tons more over at his Tumblr.

As for context-setting, I’ll leave that to Dewitt himself:
 

A trip to the East was another step into the time-machine. The politics of the 1940s and 50s shaped everything around. Most crossing points were much like something out of an old movie, even up to the end in 1989. Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous of course, as it was the only street crossing point for foreigners, and it was built up into a full-scale border control shed in the final years, with jolly ‘Welcome to the DDR’ signs on it. The other, less well-known crossing points remained mostly the dreary forbidding places they were from the beginning. Each border-crossing was intended for particular people. Chausseestrasse, Invalidenstrasse, and Oberbaumbrücke were for West Berliners only.

-snip-

When I got there I began taking pictures, but was very quickly stopped by two young policemen. It took some while to work out what it was I shouldn’t have been photographing. It wasn’t the site of the Reich Chancellery, they replied to my questions, or even the wall. It was because in the distance, poking up from the other side of the wall, the Reichstag building could be seen. One mustn’t photograph buildings on the other side of the wall they said. The fact that I could go there on the Western side and take as many pictures of it as I liked made no difference. That was the rule which I must obey whilst on DDR soil.

 
Here are some of the pics, in roughly chronological order, with Dewitt’s captions:
 
Berlin
The Berlin Wall at Wilhelmstraße 1980
 
Berlin
The view from the platform at the end of Bernauer Straße in 1980.
 
Berlin
Another Sunday, another protest. March 1981.
 
Berlin
Protest march on the Ku’damm 1982.
 
Berlin
The Berlin Wall. A viewing platform built by the West to allow West Berliners and tourists to look over into East Berlin.
 
Berlin
Looking over the Berlin Wall from the viewing stand on Harzer Straße Treptow. 1982.
 
Berlin
The East Berlin authorities were taking no chances with this building being so close to the wall. All the windows are barred, and a guard tower sits a few meters away, to prevent any escapes to the West. 1982.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Vive la (stalled) révolution: Cinema subverted Situationist-style in ‘Can Dialectics Break Bricks?’


 
Taking a page from Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? which re-dubbed humorous dialogue over a Japanese spy movie to make the plot about a recipe for egg salad, René Viénet’s 1973 film Can Dialectics Break Bricks? (“La Dialectique Peut-Elle Casser Des Briques?”) did the same sort of thing, but here the cinematic Situationist provocateur is less out for laughs (although there are plenty of them) and more about the political subversion.

The raw material for Viénet’s détournement is a 1972 Hong Kong kung fu flick titled The Crush (唐手跆拳道) directed by Tu Guangqi. In Viénet’s hands, the movie was turned into a critique of class conflicts, bureaucratic socialism, the failures of the French Communist Party, Maoism, cultural hegemony, sexual equality and the way movies themselves prop up Capitalist ideology, all in a manner that would turn such a product against itself, using Situationist aphorisms, arguments and in-jokes.
 

 
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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