Mexico "putting a stamp on racism": A month after Mexican president Vicente Fox angered US blacks by saying immigrants come here to do jobs "that not even blacks want to do," Fox's government has issued five postage stamps featuring a character in what appears to be blackface. Named Memin Pinguin, the dark-skin, fat-lipped character appears in a comic book first created in the 1940s that is still being published today. While activists here liken the character to the "pickininny," Mexican officials countered: "Just as Speedy Gonzalez has never been interpreted in a racial manner by the people in Mexico.. . He is a cartoon character. I am certain that this commemorative postage stamp is not intended to be interpreted on a racial basis in Mexico or anywhere else."

(Thanks, Giselle.)


Strib under attack: As a Minneapolitan, I'm often less than thrilled by the Star Tribune: they only seem to cover my neighborhood, the northside, when somebody gets shot; their "media critic" Neal Justin is the dimmest of bulbs; and their hiring of a new rightwing columnist "with no reporting experience" is mighty questionable. But their editorial page has been spot-on of late. Which is a problem for Hugh Hewitt and his allies at the locally produced wingnut blog Powerline: they've launched a campaign to get Strib subscribers to cancel in protest of editorials taking Bush to task for WMDs or defending Dick Durbin. If you can, subscribe to the paper, then email publisher J. Keith Moyer (http://www.startribune.com/subscribe) or write a letter to the editor applauding it for being—in the words of Liberal Oasis—"arguably the most devoted to the truth and the least afraid of the Bush White House."
Darwin has a posse: Riffing on Shepard Fairey's "Andre the Giant has a Posse" sticker campaign of the '90s, students at Swarthmore are rallying 'round the father of evolutionary science. A defense of the scientific method itself, as well as a slam on the faith-based dismissal of Darwinism, Evolution Outreach Projects aim to educate people, especially the young, on "the unifying principle in biology" and "the most important intellectual discovery of all time." Download stickers here.

(Via Wooster.)


Wunderpants: Here at Eyeteeth, we've tracked the encroachment of products that leverage poor body image, from "vaginal rejuvenation" surgery to a new bra that simulates the herniated-waterballoon look of silicone breasts. Now, as Stay Free! points out, such leveraging is literal--aimed at the crotch region. New underwear for package-conscious men promises to give a lift, Wonderbra-style, to the male genitalia. "Guys who wear tighter pants are demanding undies with snugger cuts," writes Newsweek. "Plus, these supportive pouches build confidence—or at least that's how the lines are marketed."
World's most fuel-efficient car: The Pac-Car, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, may be the world's most economical car. Created by the Swiss Federal Technical University, the car "could drive around the earth only using eight litres of fuel"--that is, its energy consumption if compared to gasoline, amounts to one liter per 3836 kilometres driven or 900 miles per gallon.
Update: Apparently even before I made this post, Nike apologized and pulled the offending ad.

Marketers have long been adept at ripping off youth culture and selling it back to us, but it's rare that it's this overt: to promote its East Coast Tour, Nike Skateboarding swiped the cover art for DIY punk band Minor Threat's 1984 compilation, slapped some Nikes on the guy in the picture, and changed the word "minor" to "major." The band's label, Dischord, promises that they never sold rights to Nike:
"No, they stole it and we're not happy about it. Nike is a giant corporation which is attempting to manipulate the alternative skate culture to create an even wider demand for their already ubiquitous brand. Nike represents just about the antithesis of what Dischord stands for and it makes me sick to my stomach to think they are using this explicit imagery to fool kids into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike's mission. It's disgusting.

Is this just the beginning? Carrie McLaren links to a site where readers submit their own co-opted album covers, from Pink Floyd's The Wall-mart to The Replacement's ad for Kleenex:

Terminology: Vancouver artist Alex Morrison's "Poached" series addresses this very topic using skateboarding parlance: just as a poached skateboard move is a stolen one, so is the capturing, repackaging, and reselling of youth culture back to the kids who made it cool in the first place.


Who is this America? "Liberty and justice for all" didn't enter into it when the US government detained terror suspects, according to a new ACLU/Human Rights Watch study released today. The report, Witness to Abuse: Human Rights Abuses under the Material Witness Law since September 11, found that the US government twisted due process "beyond recognition" when "at least seventy men living in the United States—all Muslim but one—have been thrust into a Kafkaesque world of indefinite detention without charges, secret evidence, and baseless accusations of terrorist links. They have found themselves not at Guantánamo Bay or Abu Ghraib but in America’s own federal prison system, victims of the misuse of the federal material witness law in the U.S. government’s fight against terrorism."

Meanwhile, the just-concluded World Tribunal on Iraq, featuring a 10-country Jury of Conscience and testimony by 54 witnesses, rendered its opinion, announced today by Arundhati Roy:
The Bush and Blair administrations blatantly ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history. The Anglo-American occupation of Iraq of the last 27 months has led to the destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and order have broken down completely, resulting in a pervasive lack of human security; the physical infrastructure is in shambles; the health care delivery system is a mess; the education system has ceased to function; there is massive environmental and ecological devastation; and, the cultural and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people has been desecrated.'
Read more.
Breaking news:
Internet file-sharing services will be held responsible if they intend for their customers to use software primarily to swap songs and movies illegally, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, rejecting warnings that the lawsuits will stunt growth of cool tech gadgets such as the next iPod.

The unanimous decision sends the case back to lower court, which had ruled in favor of file-sharing services Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc. on the grounds that the companies couldn't be sued. The justices said there was enough evidence of unlawful intent for the case to go to trial.

File-sharing services shouldn't get a free pass on bad behavior, justices said.
When should free markets not be free? When George Soros is opening his wallet, according to some Republicans. Zillionaire and progressive funder Soros is part of a group of investors hoping to buy the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team. "I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R). "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."

(Via Atrios.)
Pataki joins attacks on The Drawing Center: Holland Cotter writes on the Daily News' tirade against The Drawing Center, reporting that since 2001 the small nonprofit has shown exactly four works of art critical of the Bush administration. One such piece, now on view, is Charbel Ackermann's New Geometry:
The piece takes the form of a mock-PowerPoint computer presentation, projected on the wall, and its subject is a drawing by someone else that already exists: namely, the Axis of Evil traced by President Bush, linking nations hostile to the United States.

Mr. Ackermann's piece, sly and funny, was, of course, among those cited by The Daily News as a problem. Just as the show as a whole pushes the notion of drawing as a medium to absurd lengths, testing its limits and possibilities, so does Mr. Ackermann push the image of the Axis of Evil to the max, extending, dividing it, passing it through a pseudo-scientific prism of Ptolemaic geometry, orthographic projection and statistical analysis, until it ends up in a crazy tangle. Depending on your perspective, that tangle represents either a political critique, or political reality, or art doing its ambiguous, needling thing, which is exactly what it's supposed to do, wherever it lands.
Despite Cotter's defense, Gov. Pataki derided the "nutty 9/11 art" at Ground Zero (in the Daily News words). Said Pataki:
We will not tolerate anything on that site that denigrates America, denigrates New York or freedom or denigrates the sacrifice and courage that the heroes showed on Sept. 11."

He added, "The Daily News did a good service by pointing out some of these things. We do not want that at Ground Zero; I do not want that at Ground Zero and to the extent that I have the power, it's not going to happen."
Perhaps next will be a stinging indictment by the News and the Republican governor against Karl Rove's caustic words that "denigrated" and politicized the site of the 2001 attack, which, it's worth adding, is situated in a city and state that overwhelmingly voted Democratic: "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

The Daily News also targeted the International Freedom Center, planned for the site, which aims to present "inspiring stories of mankind's progress toward liberty." That, too, is off-limits, say rightwing activists and some families of 9/11 victims. They fear, writes the News, that "it will focus on acts of U.S. wrongdoing, like slavery and treatment of American Indians."


Bordercrossing: I'm heading across the border to Wisconsin for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary celebration (Congratulations, Mom and Dad). Blogging will resume Monday morning.
Just when you start to doubt the power of art: You might think that putting an art space in the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero is a good idea, a visible way of embodying the free speech, creativity, and diverse (if at times conflicting) viewpoints allowed to flourish here. Not according to the New York Daily News. Using today's front cover, the paper is pleading with Gov. Pataki to "show the door" to The Drawing Center, an important art center that would be a tenant in the building. The kind of "silly, self-important, half-baked pieces of 'political art'" shown there don't belong at Ground Zero, says the News:
A museum that is set to rise above the hallowed soil of Ground Zero has showcased art that the families of 9/11 victims are denouncing as offensive, anti-American - and a slap in the face of nearly 3,000 dead innocents.

The Drawing Center, a little-known cultural group in SoHo, has mounted works linking President Bush to Osama Bin Laden and showing a hooded victim of U.S. abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

The storefront museum currently features a "pseudo-didactic PowerPoint presentation on the Axis of Evil" that appears to mock Bush's famous description of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

Previous exhibits include a drawing of four airplanes swooping menacingly out of the sky - one of which is flying directly at a naked woman lying on her back, legs spread-eagled. The acrylic image is titled "Homeland Security."
Full story here.
Baghdad Dick:
Is Dick Cheney the new Baghdad Bob?

And: According to a new Rasmussen poll, considered to be more conservative than other pollsters, more people believe Bush is to blame for the Iraq war than believe Saddam is.
Where classic videogaming meets modern art:
Pac-Mondrian disciplines the syncopated rhythms of Mondrian's spatial arrangements into a regular grid, then frees the gaze to follow the viewer's whimsical perambulations of the painting: a player's thorough study of the painting clears the level.
(Via Unbeige.)
$60: Oil prices hit an all-time high of $60 a barrel, prompting some to say goodbye to cheap oil forever.
Bunglers: Is there a leadership vacuum over the war in Iraq? Y'think?

Consider: Dick Cheney, a man who chose not to serve in Vietnam because he had "other priorities" at the time, opines that the Iraqi resistance is in its "last throes," but the top commander on the ground in Iraq says otherwise. According to General John Abizaid, the insurgency is just as strong now as it was six months ago and "There are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago." Meanwhile, as Sen. Edward Kennedy calls for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation over a war he dubs an "intractable quagmire," Rumsfeld defends his own honor by stating that he'd already tried to resign twice. Can the guy not even find success at quitting his job?

Above: As Atrios suggests, maybe someone at CNN.com has a problem with Dick Cheney.


We've had it: As top Bush advisor Karl Rove cracks open a fresh bottle of vitriol, saying, "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Paul Waldman says enough is enough:
We've had it. We've had it with the attacks on our patriotism and the charge that we don't "support the troops" because we are, as a rule, reluctant about sending them off to be killed and wounded for dubious reasons. We've had it with being called unpatriotic by chickenhawks who would never dream of encouraging their own kids to sign up for the military or signing up themselves, but are all too happy to send other people's kids off to die.

We've had it with being told that if you think torture is a betrayal of American values, you don't support the troops. We've had it with being told that unless you think the unadulterated clusterfuck that is Iraq is really just a land of butterflies and puppy dogs, then you don't support the troops who are there fighting and dying every day. We've had it with being told that if you use soldiers as props for your photo-ops when your approval ratings dip then you support the troops, but if you mourn those soldiers' deaths then you don't.

We've had it with being told that if you think America is supposed to stand for something more meaningful than just kicking ass, you don't really love your country. We've had it with having every policy criticism we make responded to with an attack on our motives. We have goddamn had it.

But we've also learned that just protesting these vicious, cowardly attacks doesn't work. So here's what we're going to do.

We are delivering the Grand Old Party and its supporters an ultimatum. Henceforth, when you accuse us of hating the military or hating our troops or hating America, we will not bow down and beg for forgiveness. We will stand up and hit back...

Fruit map: "Free food is available at every time of the year on the streets of Los Angeles. According to the law, if a fruit tree grows on or over public property, the fruit is no longer the sole property of the owner." From this premise, and driven not by a shallow desire to deflower (or de-fruit) LA trees, the project Fallen Fruit set out to map all the instances where fruit-bearing trees on private property overhang public spaces. The point they seek to raise is political, according to the website:
We call upon the city and urban planning groups to begin plantings that yield edible goods to be shared by the city's citizens. How can these resources be developed to the benefit of all parties? What ethical or contractual obligations are incurred? It has been observed among many hunter-gatherer societies that when people “have more of something than they immediately need, they should carry out their moral obligation to share it out.”

All property owners with suitable sites should be obliged to plant edible trees, or else be taxed to provide food for the poor. Most European cities have communal gardens, which often provide up to half the food of poor families. We need city fruit parks that open their fields to anyone who is hungry. To discourage profiteering, individuals could be limited to taking only as much fruit as they can carry in their hands. This way everyone could give according to their capacities and receive according to their needs.
(Via We Make Money Not Art.)



Spell with Flickr: Way cool application that lets you create words using Flickr's photo files. Try it.


Red & yellow: Apparently as part of Operation Yellow Elephant, Crooks and Liars tried to place this recruitment ad in the Official Program of the Young Republican National Convention to encourage young chickenhawks to come to the aid of their country.

No dice.

An emailed reply from the young patriots' organization read, "We are sorry but we must regretfully reject this advertisement. We feel that the tone of the message is too negative."


Gettin' blown up: The US Army is developing inflatable structures called "airbeams" that are lightweight, compact, and incredibly strong. Developed at the Center of Excellence for Inflatable Composite Structures, the technology is used mainly for inflatable shelters, but other applications include "ship fenders, ejection seat stabilizers, high-glide deployable parachute wings, inflatable ladders, pollution containment booms and fuel bladders."
The other leaked memo: Another document leaked to the British press shows the extraordinary attempts by the Bush administration to undermine Tony Blair's climate-change efforts. The Observer reports:
The documents show that Washington officials:

· Removed all reference to the fact that climate change is a 'serious threat to human health and to ecosystems';

· Deleted any suggestion that global warming has already started;

· Expunged any suggestion that human activity was to blame for climate change.

Among the sentences removed was the following: 'Unless urgent action is taken, there will be a growing risk of adverse effects on economic development, human health and the natural environment, and of irreversible long-term changes to our climate and oceans.'

Another section erased by the White House adds: 'Our world is warming. Climate change is a serious threat that has the potential to affect every part of the globe. And we know that ... mankind's activities are contributing to this warming. This is an issue we must address urgently.'


Prewar Iraq bombing illegal: Another bombshell drops in the UK in the form of another leaked document. Whether it manages to render a response from the complacent US media is another story:
A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began “spikes of activity” designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.

The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was “not consistent with” UN law, despite American claims that it was...
Full story.

The Downing Street Memos also include British Foreign Office political director Peter Ricketts asking whether the White House had a clear and compelling military reason for war. "U.S. scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaida is so far frankly unconvincing," Ricketts says in the memo. "For Iraq, 'regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."

Wouldn't a grudge match between Bush and the still-at-large Osama bin Laden be more appropriate?
The real problem: Newt "Contract on America" Gingrich seems to think the real problem at Guantanamo isn't that the US is currently holding more than 500 people without charge in a facility that, were it housed on American soil rather than the land of our grave enemy Fidel, would be illegal. Nor does he think US personnel torturing detainees and pissing on Islamic holy books just to get a rise out of them part of the problem, nor the fact that only four of the hundreds held in Gitmo since its opening in January 2002 have been charged with any crime.

No, the problem is Dick Durbin.

The right's rhetoric is so tired. Sen. Durbin "dishonored the United States and the entire U.S. Senate" by likening conditions at Gitmo to those of facilities run by the Gestapo. While the Democrats are seemingly retarded to keep using language that'll derail the debate from fact to enraged discussions about lexicon, it's also bizarre that Republicans think that a few words uttered by Durbin are somehow more "despicable" than the conditions Durbin was describing. The senator's words, sez Newt, "endanger the lives of our young men and women in the military because it arms every radical Islamist with the official-record words of a Senate leader to justify their war of terror against civilized people everywhere.” Right, Newt. Had there been no abuse at Guantanamo, no indefinite detention, no peeing, then perhaps Durbin wouldn't have had to go on the official record at all.
Here we go again: What we now know: Bush "fixed" intellligence to go to war prior to Congressional approval. There were no WMDs. Saddam wasn't a threat. No wonder the prez is trotting out the 9/11-Iraq link again: "We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens." And: Who's the waffler now?
Crucified nun dies: Whoa.
A Romanian nun has died after being bound to a cross, gagged and left alone for three days in a cold room in a convent, Romanian police have said. Members of the convent in north-west Romania claim Maricica Irina Cornici was possessed and that the crucifixion had been part of an exorcism ritual.

...Police say the 23-year-old nun, who was denied food and drink throughout her ordeal, had been tied and chained to the cross and a towel pushed into her mouth to smother any sounds.
Empathy is not just a thing but it's the blood of the revolutions to come. Otherwise the tears of the stranger are just water.
—Russian saying, paraphrased by artist Frank Gaard.
The hilarity of torture: The Rush Limbaugh store is also selling t-shirts yukking it up over prisoner abuse and Quran desecration at Guantanamo. In "institutional orange," the shirt's front has a "Club Gitmo" logo. On the back, the words, "What Happens in G'itmo Stays in G'itmo."
Feel the love: Rightwing blog Powerline endorses a line of t-shirts with an "I (heart) gitmo" logo on the front (Powerline loves a prison camp where torturers are paid through my US tax dollars?). And so apparently does Halliburton: they were just handed another building contract there. Through a $30 million contract, which could expand to $500 million, a subsidiary of the company will build a permanent two-story prison at Guantanamo.
Only in Florida: From the land of Kathleen Harris, Terri Schiavo, Elian Gonzalez, and that straight-A lesbian banned from the high school yearbook for wearing a tuxedo in her photo comes this: a Tampa Bay area school district is considering a proposal that would bar students from wearing apparel that displays any flag other than the United States'.

I wonder if belt buckles are considered apparel?

(Via Raw Story.)


Delete Street: Somehow, Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf convinced officials and local businesses in Vienna to cover all commercial signs and other advertisements for a two-week period. The project, Delete is up on Vienna's Neubaugasse, now through Monday.

(Via StayFree!)
Lingerers on lynching: A handful of Republican senators have signed onto the anti-lynching resolution, leaving just these 13 senators sticking to what could easily be construed as a pro-lynching stance:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) - (202) 224-4944
Robert Bennett (R-UT) - (202) 224-5444
Thad Cochran (R-MS) - (202) 224-5054
John Cornyn (R-TX) - (202) 224-2934
Michael Enzi (R-WY) - (202) 224-3424
Judd Gregg (R-NH) - (202) 224-3324
Kay Hutchison (R-TX) - (202) 224-5922
Jon Kyl (R-AZ) - (202) 224-4521
Trent Lott (R-MS) - (202) 224-6253
Richard Shelby (R-AL) - (202) 224-5744
Gordon Smith (R-OR) - (202) 224-3753
John Sununu (R-NH) - (202) 224-2841
Craig Thomas (R-WY) - (202) 224-6441
Saluting W: A friend living just blocks from the site of George W. Bush's invitation-only "forum" on Medicare in Maple Grove, Minn., this morning just emailed about her encounter with the president:
The police shut down all the streets by my house and the sheriff helicopters flew over my house, so I walked to the end of my block ... And watched the 38 car motorcade go on by.

[Bush] himself waved to me out of the window of his limo... I was the only one standing there. Weird. I wish I had made a protest sign, but then again the police probably wouldn't have let me stand there if I had.
But did she wave back?
I was sort of stunned. I didn't wave, I had Celeste's leash in one hand and a bag of dog poo in the other. Not how I imagined meeting the president.
Yet somehow fitting.


Follow the money: State Machine, a flash-based mapping tool, shows the relationship of various US senators to their PACs and funders. Culled from records at Opensecrets.org, the project illustrates the lobbying group (green plus-sign), party affiliation (red or blue dot), and the size of the contribution (dot size). Be sure to click on the control panel to get access to additional information on each senator and PAC.

(Via we make money not art.)

And: The newly redesigned Media Transparency (a Cursor joynt), " tracks the impact of conservative philanthropy on the media, both through a database of grant information and through original research." Definitely worth your time—or money.


Is Jem Cohen a terrorist?

Anyone who's serious about independent film knows Jem Cohen. His films have screened all over the place, including three—Benjamin Smoke; Instrument (a documentary about Fugazi), and Chain Times Three—that showed here at the Walker Art Center. But to the terror-fighters at Homeland Security, his use of a movie camera might mean he's a terrorist.

This January, Cohen was using his hand-wound 16mm Bolex to film passing scenes out a train window en route from NYC to DC, something he's done for 15 years. After an Amtrak ticket-taker asked him to stop filming, he was met by four armed police officers at a stop in Philadelphia; they confiscated his film. When he arrived in Washington DC, he was confronted by FBI and Homeland Security officers who questioned his motives and credentials. As Doug Thompson writes, the situation is yet another example of the Bush administration's "callous disregard for freedoms we once thought were protected by the Constitution." An excerpt of his Capitol Blue column:
"As a filmmaker who does most of my work in a documentary mode and often on the street, my role is to record the world as it is and as it unfolds,” Cohen writes in the spring issue of American Filmmakermagazine. “I build projects from an archive of footage collected in my daily wanderings, and in travels across this country and overseas. I film buildings and passersby, the sky, streets and waterways, the structures that make up our cities, life as it is lived.”

Perhaps in the old days, as in before September 11, 2001, but to the basement level IQs that dominate the White House police state mentality, taking pictures is a threat to national security. When Cohen asked about getting his film back, the thick-necked morons in the black suits told him the film had been turned over the National Terrorism Task Force. That was five months ago and he is still waiting to get his footage back.

“Street shooting is one of the cornerstones of photography itself and it is facing serious new threats, some declared, many not,” Cohen says. “In New York City the MTA apparently intends to forbid all unpermitted photography of and from its trains and subways.”
Cohen should be known to those in government: his digital print, showing the faces of Bush and Bin Laden with a headline "Both want war / Both unelected"--was acquired by the Library of Congress.
(Via SpeakSpeak.)
'Bout time: Adbusters now has an RSS feed!
I'll do it if... I must confess, this makes me a bit tingly: In an age of rampant me-first-ism and political entrenchment, PledgeBank offers a refreshing alternative. An online social tool created by mySociety, PledgeBank is about beating the feeling of powerlessness by "connecting you with other people who also want to make a change, but who don't want the personal risk of being the only person to turn up to a meeting or the only person to donate ten pounds to a cause that actually needed a thousand," according to mySociety director Tom Steinberg.

The site works like this: sign up (for free) and make a pledge to do something, but only if other people will join you in that activity. Once enough people pledge to help, dig in and do it.

A recent successful pledge:

- Jeff Rigsby pledged "to edit 100 pages for Project Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreaders site during the month of July but only if 50 other people will too"--which, if completed, will make 5,000 pages of public-domain literature available for free online!

A few ongoing pledges:

- Simon Holledge "will have 10 trees planted to offset my total carbon dioxide emissions for 2005 but only if 99 other people will too." (61 people have already signed up.)

- Al, a "road rage sufferer," will drive in the most considerate and courteous way possible for the entire month of August but only if 50 other people will too." (21 more to go.)

(Via Treehugger.)

Speaking of pledges:
1. To mark its two-year anniversary, Sustainablog will be blogging 'round the clock starting at 9 am July 11. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg has been soliciting per-post pledges, with proceeds going to support the sustainability mission of the Earthways Center at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Bloggers, including yours truly, will be donating blog posts for the cause.

2. Independent Minneapolis underground theater company Flaneur Productions, one of 12 companies dubbed "hip, hot, and on the verge" by American Theater magazine last December, needs your help to bring its latest production (reviewed here) to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Donations—even $5—are tax deductible and can be made here.


Cadillac Bicycles are "the Cadillac of Bicycles," according to Cadillac Bicycles.

(Via AgendaInc.)
Proponents of lynching: The Senate last night passed a historic resolution apologizing to African Americans that it never passed anti-lynching laws. Some 200 laws were introduced, but thanks in part to filibustering Southern conservatives none were ever approved by the Senate. The vote was held late in the evening, far from TV cameras. Cheers to Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and George Allen (R-VA), who spearheaded the effort. Jeers to the 16 (predominantly white, predominantly Southern, all Republican) senators who voted against the measure:
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)
Is your senator on the list? Call 'em.

Strange fruit... In commemoration of the vote, Democracy Now looks into the protest song "Strange Fruit," most famously sung by Billie Holiday but written by Bronx-based teacher and union activist Abel Meeropol:
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter cry.
The Hardest Work: Deriding Iraq as an "illegal and unjust war," Cindy Sheehan, president of Gold Star Families for Peace, chided George W. Bush for calling it "hard work" to comfort families of those killed in war. She'd know: her son Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, while on patrol with the First Cavalry Division.
Hard work is seeing your son's murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you're enjoying the last supper you'll ever truly enjoy again. Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son, your first-born, your kind and gentle sweet baby. Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday. Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big (brother) into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both.


Flagging evangelism: The US Christian Flag explained:
The Image and Colors :
The eagle carrying the cross represents the American Christian taking the gospel around the world declaring Christ's shed blood for the people.

The Purple represents His royalty, the White represents His purity, the Red represents His shed blood, and the Blue represents His bruises.

The 50 stars that create the border of the flag represent all the Christians of the United States banding together to protect our right to preach the gospel and to protect our Christian heritage.

The Scriptures are Matthew 24:4 "take heed no man deceive you" and Matthew 24:14 "and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world ......and then shall the end come". This flag is evangelical and prophetic. The mission is called "Operation Band Together". Is there not a cause?
(Via Horkulated.)
Bodies piling up: As 28 bullet-strafed bodies of Sunnis were found in a shallow grave beside a Baghdad street, four more American GIs were killed in Iraq, pushing the US dead past 1,700. That's 1,700 dead, even though:
British Knew Iraqi WMD Was Not a Threat: “There is no greater threat now that [Saddam] will use WMD than there has been in recent years, so continuing containment is an option.” [Iraq: Options Paper]

Evidence Did Not Show Much Advance In Iraq’s Weapons Programs: “Even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on [the] nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.” [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]

Evidence Was Thin on Iraq/Al Qaeda Ties: “US is scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al [Qaida] is so far frankly unconvincing.” [Ricketts Paper, 3/22/02]

“No Credible Evidence” On Iraq/Al Qaeda Link: “There has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida.” [Straw Paper, 3/25/02]

Wolfowitz Knew Supposed Iraq/Al Qaeda Link Was Weak: Wolfowitz said that “there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?).” [Meyer Paper, 3/18/02]
Florence and Hussain freed: After 157 days of captivity in Iraq, French journalist Florence Aubernas and Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi have been released! The global "Paint their walls away" mural project has been cancelled.


Blog-free weekend: There will be tents and rain and children where I'm going this weekend, but there's won't be internet access, so look for new posts on Monday.
Sustainable cities: Despite being "somewhat of a contradiction in sustainability goals and performance," my city ranks tenth most sustainable of 25 major US cities, according to Sustainlane's rankings. How does your town rate?

(Via WorldChanging.)
The center cannot hold: Is Iraq spinning out of control? It sure is getting weirder. According to new reports, now the US military is going Abu Ghraib on American citizens. A group of US civilian security guards were detained, beaten, stripped, and "threatened with snarling dog," the Guardian reports. "They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed [bullied] us, called us names," said one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard.

Meanwhile, a senior military official admits that not all Iraqis fighting the US are Baathists or Al-Qaeda terrorists, as the Bush administration likes to characterize the "insurgents." "If a good, honest person feels having all these Humvees driving on the road, having us moving people out of the way, having us patrol the streets, having car bombs going off, you can understand how they could [want to fight us]," said Major General Joseph Taluto.
Today in numbers:

"George W. Bush's approval rating is now a full twenty points lower than Bill Clinton's was on the day he was impeached."
Rhetoric of the right: Get a load of conservative columnist Doug Patton, writing for GOPUSA:
The lie heard round the world about the flushed Koran has caused convulsions in the Bush Administration and forced the Pentagon to launch an investigation of unfounded allegations contained in an unsubstantiated story. The results of said investigation are now in, and it seems there are at least five incidents of "mishandling" of the Koran at Gitmo.

Well, guess what? I don't care!

Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001? Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania? Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet? Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.
(Via the Star Tribune.)

Speaking of tired troops: How come the patriots over at Fox News stopped updating its list of military casualties in Iraq almost a month ago? The military death toll is now at 1,687.

And now the good news: Rightwingers lament that all those carbombs and military casualties make headlines, but the good news in Iraq gets overlooked. Well, this just in: Fallujah's public schools are now getting "skylights" installed!


The NABA Defense: That we're "Not As Bad As" so-and-so seems to be the defense echoed by the White House and the right, writes Slacktivist:
The American abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, we are reminded, was Not As Bad As the abuses committed there by Saddam Hussein back in the day. The lawlessness of Guantanamo Bay, the president insists, indignantly, is Not As Bad As the kind of thing Joe Stalin used to do. And while more than 100 prisoners have been beaten and tortured to death in American custody during the past three years, that's Not As Bad As the death toll from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 -- the event that we have taken as license to adopt means that are almost, but perhaps Not (quite) As Bad As the means of the terrorists we rightly condemn as immoral.

I do not merely concede these points, I heartily embrace them. Take the whole sordid affair -- the Lynndie photoshoot, the torturing to death of innocents and adversaries alike, the "extraordinary rendition" of unknown hundreds or thousands on the slenderest of suspicions -- and it still doesn't put us in the same league as the A-list All-Stars of Evil.

But, good God, is this what America is now reduced to? Do we really have to go all the way over to Stalin or Saddam to find an example of someone whose behavior is reassuringly worse than our own? How are we supposed to maintain a shred of pride in our nation or in ourselves as a people when the best we can say for ourselves is that we're Not As Bad As the worst people we can think of? Do we really need Stalin in the class to blow the curve so we can pass this course?
(Via Peek.)
The culture biz:
Tyler Green names a candidate for "quote of the year":
"I'm not sure there's so much difference between Tutankhamun and Celine Dion," says Tim Leiweke, head of [Anschutz Entertainment Group], who jokes about packaging Tut and Celine on the road. "It's about entertaining people, moving them emotionally, making them feel good about the time and money spent."
Earlier: Alice Walton, the MOA, and Commodity Culture.


"Images have an advanced religion. They bury history."

—Vicenc Altaio, quoted by Alfredo Jaar
More on Jaar's Rwanda Project here.


Grand Old Porn: Press secretary Scott McClellan won't "dignify" a reporter's question about a Bush fundraising appearance by porn star and California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey, but they certainly will dignify the $2,500-per-plate ante paid by Carey and her boss, porn director Mark Kulkis, whose ouevre includes the 2004 film Smokin' #8. It sounds like a cinematic experience that's heavy on the family values:
When Mary Carey ran for governor, she kept her smoking a dirty little secret. She didn't want everyone to know that smoking not only gave her a buzz, it also made her p----y wet. In fact, the only thing that made her p----y wetter, is the thought of guys like you watching her and jerking off!

"Paint their walls away": On January 5, 2005, Florence Aubenas, a reporter for the French newspaper Liberatión and her interpreter Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi went missing in Iraq. On the six-month anniversary of their capture, the defense committee set up in their honor encourages muralists and street artists to help raise awareness of their plight. Wooster Collective urges your support and promises to post images of street art on their site.
"Paint their walls away"
July 5th: dozens of painted walls in support of Florence and Hussein

French newspaper reporter Florence Aubenas and her assistant Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi were reported missing in Iraq on January 5th, 2005. This upcoming July 5th will mark their sixth month of captivity since they disappeared in Baghdad.

Florence Aubenas arrived in Baghdad on December 16, 2004, to cover the Iraqi elections for Libération, one of the three leading French national dailies (with a circulation of 150,000 copies a day). She sent several articles to the paper just before her disappearance on the afternoon of January 5th. At this date, she was reported missing along with her guide and interpreter Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi. Florence Aubenas had previously traveled to Iraq in September 2003. She was one of a handful of Western journalists who returned to Baghdad in order to inform the French public on the reality in Iraq (for further information, go to www.pourflorenceethussein.org)

I am appealing to you today on behalf of the Defense Committee that was created in the days following their abduction in order to raise awareness of their plight and to lobby for their release. The French public is currently widely informed and supportive of their cause. But as time goes on, and the hostages remain captive, our anger increases. We feel it is time to go one step further and to alert the international public opinion as to their intolerable fate.

For this reason, we would like to ask you for your help. On July 5th, we are organizing a worldwide event, inviting all graffiti artists, street artists and muralists, of all styles and obedience to participate. The idea is simple: find the wall with the best possible exposure in your town, obtain legal permission and invite the press for the best possible media coverage. Then let your imagination do the rest.

Make sure you keep us informed on your participation so that we can organize the buzz around it on an international level. Why are we making this appeal to graffiti and street artists? Because it offers an alternative, and vividly visual, political point of view. Because we think it represents an aspiration to freedom that can be expressed in many ways but with the same message around the world, from Los Angeles to Bamako, from Berlin to Tokyo, from Bogota to Moscow. We are counting on you because we appreciate and respect you and your work. So fire up your spray paint to free Florence and Hussein.

For the Florence and Hussein Defense Committee,
Laurent Carpentier

The truth hurts: A Los Alamos Laboratory whistleblower scheduled to testify before Congress on the lab's financial irregularities was beaten up by six men on Sunday in an apparent attempt to indimidate him to "keep [his] mouth shut." Tommy Hock was lured to a strip club where he was to meet an informant who never showed up; returning to his car he was assaulted. After the attack, which resulted in a broken jaw, herniated disk, and numerous cuts and bruises, Hock affirmed, "I will never be intimidated."


FW: Removed from the streets as offensive, this license plate is now on sale at eBay Canada, with a starting bid of $5,000.
How to spot a neo-Nazi: Germany's youth rebellion, writes Der Spiegel, is taking on an extremist form that is "Germanic and xenophobic and potentially explosive." Some of the brands and fashions that typify Germany's neo-Nazi resurgence: New Balance sneakers (the N is for "national"), music by Störkraft (Disturbing Force) or the Bremen-based metal band Kategorie C, and clothing by brands like Londsdale, Pit Bull Germany, and Thor Steinar. (The Hitler moustache is also a dead giveaway.)

(Via Cursor.)
Escape pod:
In a "marriage of tree house and sailboat technology," these suspended spheres--great for a hermitage or hunting shack--are made of laminated wood strips over wood frames that are then covered with clear fiberglass. As the photos show, it can fit a (cozy) family of four.

(Via Treehugger.)


Kerry to grow a pair: At last, John Kerry will say something about the Downing Street Memo. In advance of his floor speech, controversy.
Bush's bum banned: It was no big deal when the US military leaked photos of Saddam in his underwear to a tabloid, but when British artist Michael Dickinson published satirical collages of Bush sans britches on his website, Tripod censored the site. Hear the story in Dickinson's own words and at the Index on Censorship.
Free speech irony: On May 27 as Condoleeza Rice spoke in San Francisco, three protesters "stood up wearing black robes and black hoods, with their arms outstretched at their sides, an apparent reference to US abuse of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison." After the protesters were escorted out, Rice said, “it is a wonderful thing that people can speak their minds. And it is a good thing that they can now do so in Baghdad." Of course, by speaking their minds, these peaceful protesters got arrested.


On artists and social responsibility:
Augusto Boal, Brazilian "Theater of the Oppressed" founder on Democracy Now! yesterday:
Shakespeare... said in Hamlet that the theater... is like a mirror in which we look at the mirror and then we see our vices and our virtues. I think that's very nice, but I would like to have a mirror with some magic properties in which we could -- if we don't like the image that we have in front of us to allow us to penetrate into that mirror and then transform our image and then come back with our image transformed. The act of transforming, I always say, transforms she or he who acts. So to use the theater as a rehearsal for transformation of reality. This was my idea, but not my practice until the dictatorship was every time more severe on us and they started forbidding our plays, not allowing us to do our plays to do nothing. So when we lost our theater, we lost everything. We found theater.
Curator-critic Suzi Gablik, in "Beyond the Disciplines: Art without Borders":
In Western culture, artists aren't encouraged to be integral to the social, environmental, or spiritual life of the community. They do not train to engage with real-life problems. Instead they learn to be competitive with their products in the marketplace. All our institutions are defined by this market ideology—none have escaped. "Professional recognition" in the form of brisk sales and positive reviews still remains the primary pattern of thought that structures the internal rhythms of art-making. For a long time now, I have been questioning these premises; anyone who has ever read anything I have written will know that my books are meant as a challenge to our reigning paradigms of economic control and domination. They seek to expose the coercive propaganda of capitalism as a form of spiritual and ecological suicide—and they look at the Big Picture, always with a view to recovering from the estrangements of Western civilization. Instead of art-as-commodity, deprived of any useful social role, I believe that art can help us to participate in what geologian Thomas Berry deems the "great work"? of our time: moving from a devastating presence on the planet to a more benign presence.
Pieter Hugo: Tragic Bliss points out the photography of Pieter Hugo, whose diverse body of work documents the mass graves of Rwanda's 1994 genocide (this image shows bodies covered in lime to preserve them for investigators); albinos in Europe, Africa and South America; and traveling minstrels, posed with their animals, in Nigeria.
Brazil ditches Microsoft: The government of Brazil, a country where 9 out of 10 citizens have never used the internet, has decided to ditch its Microsoft computers and replace them with free, open-source, Linux-based systems. The switch will save the country around $120 million, which they hope to put toward IT development in un-wired communities.

Microsoft "has no taste": Long in the Linux camp, Apple's Steve Jobs says Microsoft "has no taste... They don't think of original ideas and they don't bring much culture into their product."

iPod graveyard: While novelty accessories for the iPod seems to come out daily—like the "iGuy" Gumby-like rubber sleeve, complete with bendy arms and legs and a bum-hole docking slot—here's one that actually makes sense: Apple has finally announced a recycling program for its iPods. Use the program, which helps you dispose of these lead-heavy devices in a safe manner, and get 10% off a new iPod.


Aiming site: New media curator Steve Dietz points out Lynn Hershman's artwork America's Finest, a great reminder of what's at both ends of the warmaker's guns:
The user aims at a specific spot or an object within the installation’s space. With the specially prepared rifle, the user sees not only what he/she is aiming at but also himself/herself. In this project, the wars, weapons and media that have touched and burdened our lives blend into a unified whole. “America’s Finest” makes use of different sounds and mixing/selection techniques as well as a Targa Board, specially developed software programmed in C. The rifle can pivot a full 360°, whereby built-in sensors recognize when a user picks it up and aims at a target.
Earlier: Copenhagen artist Jakob Boeskov's ID-Sniper rifle, a product he convinced Chinese law enforcement could be "used to implant a GPS-microchip in the body of a human being, using a high powered sniper rifle as the long distance injector."
Hitler for a day: If everybody's the next Hitler—from Democrats (according to Rick Santorum) to Fox (according to Ted Turner)—will we recognize it when a real homicidal maniac shows up? Will the flapping gums who invoke the Fuhrer's name help us to forget about what the Nazis actually did to Jews, gays, and the disabled? Beautiful Atrocities runs down the Adolph accusations, including:
Rick Santorum compares Democrats to Hitler

Robert Byrd compares Republicans to Hitler

Martha Stewart compared to Hitler

North Korea compares Rumsfeld to Hitler

Global warming worse than Hitler

Ted Turner compares CNN rival Fox to Hitler

"Those who support gay & lesbian families are no different from those who supported Adolph Hitler." Sheri Drew, who led opening invocation at 2004 Republican Convention

Sean Penn compares Bill O'Reilly to Hitler

British Foreign Secretary compares Saddam to Hitler

Robert Mugabe compares himself to Hitler

Archbishop Desmond Tutu compares Israel to Hitler

Ralph Peters compares Howard Dean to Hitler

Ross Perot compares Clinton to Hitler


Art marketers for Nike: I'm glad to hear other people are unimpressed by the fever-pitch hype over the NIKE iD lab, a boutique where the sneakerati can customize their own shoes. Couched in language about the "democratization of design" (while at the same time hyping "a private design studio on Elizabeth Street complete with security guards to keep out the celebrity seekers and sneaker freakers"), a Sunday New York Times article reveals that artist Cindy Sherman has signed on to help promote the venture (she seems to be making the commercial rounds: she's also appearing in Juergen Teller-shot ads for clothing designer Marc Jacobs). And, in kind, the Times enlisted, among others, painter Sarah Morris to test out the facility. But Greg sees through the bullshit of borrowed artistic cachet: "Customizing Nikes is to expressing your individual creativity what rhythmic gymnastics is to sports."
Bad words: I'm a bit late on this one, but it's so good I can't pass it up: the conservative weekly Human Events Online has published the "Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Century." While the list is worth a few good laughs—the brain-curdling Communist Manifesto ranks number one—the list includes some queer inclusions that seem to pinpoint conservatives' greatest enemies: feminists, environmentalists, antiracists, evolutionists. Among the list: Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique and Nietsche's Beyond Good and Evil, plus honorable mentions On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (!), Darwin's Origin of the Species, Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth, and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

(Thanks, Jake.)
Typography sketchpad: Each day at Daily Type, five Russian type designers add a new original font, along with the process sketches that led to it. This one's by Dasha Yarzhombek.

(Via MetaFilter.)

TC Art: Horochowski and Gaard

mnartists.org, a 5,000-member community of Minnesota artists, features a frank conversation between Twin Cities artists Frank Gaard (who'll be featured in the next issue of Adbusters with this work, Swan: John Kerry's Coat of Arms) and Argentina-born Alexa Horochowski. From the Whitney Biennial to the reprentation of the male member, the conversation offers glimpses into two very curious minds. More samples of their work here; see Frank's comics here.
History remixed: Over the weekend DJ Spooky (aka Paul Miller) performed his remixed version of D.W. Griffiths' racist film classic Birth of a Nation for 4,000 people at the Acropolis in Greece (apparently the first artist allowed to do such a thing). His project uses the DJ's toolbox--audio and video sampling, intercutting, film- and sound-collage--to rework a film that revolutionized montage as a film technique, while also reclaiming the twisted history depicted by Griffiths' Klansmen. Situated on a site of such rich history must've put Paul in a reflective mood. An excerpt from his email dispatch:
While I was in Greece, the TV showed so many things about America that the rest of the world sees as fundamental to how badly flawed our country has become - the debate on the Senate floor about Bush's controversial nominees, the whole sense of science ("stem cell research is immoral" Bush said on CNN). We're looking at a situation that's almost parallel to the Weimar Republic in the 1930's - a Republic (even Star Wars - got this in operatic form, with some of the characters saying lines from Bush's speeches over the course of the movie), based on participation requires some kind of common ground, some place where dialog can occur. Sadly, it seems more and more that in the U.S. entertainment, news, and even basic descriptions of scientific fact have become fatalities. Like Churchill said so long ago "in war, truth is the first casualty." Think about it: From gay male prostitutes in the White House Press Office, to a string of propaganda incidents like flushing the Koran down the toilet? A "heroes" death for a patriot football player who joined the Army and was killed by friendly fire - a fact covered up by the military because it didn't suit the news briefs?

It's a remix of Orwell meets the Keystone Cops with dashes of Pynchon thrown in... "A screaming comes across the sky" was what Pynchon wrote in his book "Gravity's Rainbow" - today, in the same vein, we can look at Rumsfelds' "known unknowns" and see it as an update of a shattered myth straight out of Homer or Aeschylus. In a press briefing in September 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted occasions during World War II when false information about US troop movements was leaked to confuse the enemy. He paraphrased Winston Churchill, saying: "Sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies." Don't worry about torture, we can have Newsweek apologize for it. Don't worry about the falling value of the dollar (I get paid in Euros at this point), its just another "faith based initiative." Do the math... we all live in Orwell's Room 101 now. We're just beginning to realize it. The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and all of the other U.S. holding prisons are way past that simple observation. They exist without identity and without any sense of connection to the events around them. They are the quintessential "man without qualities" left out of the discourse of modern human rights because of "extraordinary rendition."
Earlier on Eyeteeth: DJ Spooky featured in the Adbusters essay " Making Another World Possible," on art and social change.