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Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

Snowden walks free in Russia

Russia grants Snowden asylum ; US government goes apeshit. [more inside]
posted by allkindsoftime on Aug 1, 2013 - 295 comments

...never believing the people who think they have you figured out.

"It's his charm. It's his gift. It's his political liability, and it's part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it's hilarious. [Vice President Joe] Biden can be fantastic when he's on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton's or Obama's. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama's miserable first performance against Romney. Watching those performances, it's almost impossible to see him as a person once crippled by speech."
posted by zarq on Jul 18, 2013 - 75 comments

The jury's in... and they can't deny that view, either.

A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jul 14, 2013 - 81 comments

It’s almost as if a domestic war is about to be formally declared.

Creating a military-industrial-immigration complex.
In a world where basic services are being cut, an emerging policing apparatus in the borderlands is flourishing. Since September 11, 2001, the United States has spent $791 billion on “homeland security” alone, an inflation-adjusted $300 billion more than the cost of the entire New Deal.
posted by adamvasco on Jul 12, 2013 - 32 comments

"Government was created in this equal footing for men and women."

"The country has cheaper medical care, smarter children, happier moms, better working conditions, less-anxious unemployed people, and lower student loan rates than we do. And that probably will never change." In The Atlantic, a comparison of some of the socio-economic aspects of Finland and the USA. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Jul 11, 2013 - 55 comments

How does it feel to be 100?

A New York woman turned 100 recently and she only has one thing on her mind. (NSFW)
posted by gman on Jul 8, 2013 - 54 comments

Audio recordings of 1964 interviews with Civil Rights activists

Robert Penn Warren's book Who Speaks for the Negro? was a collection of interviews with various men and women involved in the Civil Rights Movement published in 1965. Vanderbilt University has made all the interviews available as audio and transcripts, taken from the original reel-to-reel recordings. Among the interviewees were Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Septima Poinsette Clark, Ralph Ellison, Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin. On the page for each interview there are links to related documents, such as letters, photos and contemporary news articles.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 5, 2013 - 13 comments

Racial Slur or Honorific?

The Other Redskins. 62 US high schools in 22 states currently use the name "Redskins" for one of their sports teams. 28 high schools in 18 states have dropped the mascot over the last 25 years. As public pressure continues to intensify on the Washington Redskins football team to change their name -- one many consider a racial slur that disparages Native Americans -- similar debates are being waged in towns across the country about their local high school teams.
posted by zarq on Jul 2, 2013 - 183 comments

FYI, We Just Won a War in the Philippines

Did you know the U.S. was at war in the Philippines? An excerpt from David Axe's new book. Previously.
posted by destrius on Jul 1, 2013 - 15 comments

Morsi, more like Lessi.

A sense of foreboding is rising across an increasingly troubled land.
One year after being democratically elected Egypt's President Morsi defies threat of military coup.
Some say the Egyptian Army Can’t Oust President Without ‘American Approval'
Al Jazeera - Egypt opposition to continue mass protests.
Background: Financial Times Egypt in transition.
posted by adamvasco on Jul 1, 2013 - 127 comments

“I’m dismantling the Death Star to build solar ovens for the Ewoks.”

The Merry Pranksters Who Hacked the Afghan War [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 1, 2013 - 14 comments

Rape on the Job in America

Rape in the Fields is a Frontline documentary that explores the persistent allegations that female agricultural workers in the U.S. are frequently sexually assaulted and harassed by supervisors who exploit their (often undocumented) immigrant status. Victims typically do not seek help from US law enforcement, either out of fear that they will be fired, deported or worse, or from a lack of understanding of U.S. law. Reviews: Popmatters. NY Times [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 26, 2013 - 19 comments

Surplus surplus surplus, Sir!

Military planners for the U.S. Army have decided not to ship back more than $7 billion of equipment — about 20 percent of what the Army brought into Afghanistan — because the shipping costs are too high and the need for the used equipment too low. Instead, the Army is destroying the equipment in-country: shredding it, crushing it and selling it on the Afghan scrap market for pennies a pound.
posted by infini on Jun 21, 2013 - 82 comments

Tell us what you think about human spaceflight

The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), on behalf of The National Academies, is seeking input papers on human spaceflight until July 9th, 2013. You can also read the current submissions. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 19, 2013 - 3 comments

This space is the no-touching zone.

The bizarre border between the United States and Canada (SLYT)
posted by desjardins on Jun 5, 2013 - 62 comments

It's just not the same without Caaaaaptain Chaos!

There are just 2,795 miles of interstate and 31,000 highway cops between them and the all-time speed record for crossing the American continent on four wheels. Welcome to the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, later known as the US Express race: The Cannonball Run. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 5, 2013 - 103 comments

Time flies by when you're the driver of a train

You may remember the 7.5 hour documentary released in 2009 which allowed you to travel the journey between Bergen to Oslo from the comfort of your home. If your wanderlust was fired up watching that video, then you may enjoy some of the other trips you can take. Switzerland: [more inside]
posted by jontyjago on May 25, 2013 - 28 comments

Another Stupid Newsreel! I Hate The News.

We visited Weirdo Video back in 07 for propaganda films, but the YouTube channel has been steadily updating with yesterday's ephemera. Why not enjoy some vintage newsreels about STRIKES! SULTANS! SUEZ! SAN FRANSISCO! or some FITNESS FADS!
posted by The Whelk on May 16, 2013 - 2 comments

America's 10 Worst Prisons

"'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.' So goes the old saying. Yet conditions in some American facilities are so obscene that they amount to a form of extrajudicial punishment." Mother Jones is profiling "America's 10 Worst Prisons." Facilities were chosen for the list based on "...three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates." [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 14, 2013 - 88 comments

"If people were more concerned, I wouldn’t have to be there."

Her encampment is 'an old patio umbrella draped in a white plastic sheet secured with binder clips. It is flanked by two large boards with messages in capital letters: BAN ALL NUCLEAR WEAPONS OR HAVE A NICE DOOMSDAY and LIVE BY THE BOMB, DIE BY THE BOMB. This rudimentary shelter has been positioned outside the White House for more than three decades. It is a monument itself now, widely considered the longest-running act of political protest in the United States, and this woman, Concepcion Picciotto — Connie, as she’s known to many — is its longest-running caretaker.' [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 6, 2013 - 7 comments

Crossing the "Red Line"?

Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 2, 2013 - 289 comments

"I am always the last person to eat."

David Arenberg on being the only Jewish inmate in a state prison.
posted by reenum on May 1, 2013 - 49 comments

Act of Terror: arrested for filming police officers - video

When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Apr 29, 2013 - 24 comments

"Never, ever let anybody use your gender as an excuse."

"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 25, 2013 - 49 comments

Trans 100

The Trans 100 is a list curated by We Happy Trans based on nominations of 100 key trans people breaking ground in American culture, arts, social justice, and politics. [more inside]
posted by divabat on Apr 12, 2013 - 36 comments

Smaller Wallets, Larger Households?

A dozen ultraleft voluntarists arguing about shower schedules is a noise complaint; 120,000 downwardly mobile yuppies doing it out of necessity is a substratum. The material realities of declining wages, ballooning debt, and skyrocketing rents at the core of the neoliberal city have conspired to herd young people into unprecedentedly dense, poor, and precarious kinds of living arrangements. - Andrew Fogle on how the economic crisis is changing how people live together.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 12, 2013 - 55 comments

Class-Divided Cities

Beginning with New York and wending its way through to Detroit, The Atlantic Cities has just completed a series of posts exploring geographic class divisions in a dozen cities (actually metro areas) in the U.S., with help from American Community Survey data. [more inside]
posted by psoas on Apr 10, 2013 - 53 comments

U.S. Customs and Patriarchal Protection

Sexism at the border: A personal account. "For me, carrying my own condoms (in purses, wallets, camera bags; everywhere) is a routine act towards safer sex. For someone else with the power to not only deny passage but judge, moralize and intimidate, it has become enough evidence to put a woman through hell. My story has brought a number of women out of the woodwork stating that they have had similar experiences." [h/t Alex Grossman]
posted by jaduncan on Apr 6, 2013 - 203 comments

"I couldn't afford for Carpentersville to become Detroit"

Tom Roeser was unhappy about the decline of his town, Carpentersville, IL. So he decided to do something about it. Roeser bought some foreclosed properties, renovated them, and then rented them out for below market value.
posted by reenum on Apr 2, 2013 - 56 comments

It's just a one-time fee that you pay annually

As the tax deadline approaches in the United States, ProPublica investigates why the promise of free and simple tax filing has yet to be fulfilled.
posted by antonymous on Mar 26, 2013 - 61 comments

Grappling for survival

Wrestling Out Of The Olympics - The Gods Must Be Crazy Mad
The whole lucrative sham of it all was exposed once again this week when the executive board of the IOC — Informal Motto: "Me Some Too, Yes?" — recommended that wrestling be dropped as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Summer Games, which are supposed to be held in Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid, depending on whose checks clear first, I believe. According to the board, wrestling is no longer a "core sport" in the Olympics and it will have to petition for inclusion in 2020 along with, and I am not making this up, sport climbing and wakeboarding. This is terrific. Why don't we just hold the Olympics in an REI outlet store somewhere?
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 19, 2013 - 94 comments

The American Mind

The Historian Garry Wills Has Written Better Than Anybody Else About Modern America
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 18, 2013 - 10 comments

The Atlantic - Benj Edwards

The Copyright Rule We Need to Repeal If We Want to Preserve Our Cultural Heritage
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 15, 2013 - 34 comments

"As the hymn says, you can lay your burden down."

The Things They Leave Behind. "When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial opened 30 years ago, something unexpected happened: People started leaving things at the wall. One veteran has spent decades cataloging the letters, mementos, and other artifacts of loss — all 400,000 of them." (Via.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 15, 2013 - 26 comments

The Minerva Controversy

The Department of Defense recently announced the creation of the Minerva Research Initiative (PDF), also known as Project Minerva, providing as much as $75 million over five years to support social science research on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. The initiative indicates a renewal of interest in social science findings after a prolonged period of neglect, but it also prompts concerns about the appropriate relationship between university-based research programs and the state, especially when research might become a tool of not only governance but also military violence. The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has invited prominent scholars to speak to the questions raised by Project Minerva and to address the controversy it has sparked in academic quarters.
posted by infini on Mar 7, 2013 - 17 comments

"The Fiery Cross guards you at nights."

In the 1920's, the Ku Klux Klan operated a resort for Christian white supremacists called Kool Koast Kamp near Rockport, TX. For just a dollar a day per family, they offered swimming and "big game fishing" in "deep blue surf," educational activities and "watermelon parties." All under the protection of a "fiery cross" and "an officer of the law, the same Christian sentiment." (Brochure pages 1, 2, 3, 4) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 6, 2013 - 60 comments

"Perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists"

The Homosexual Atom Bomb
Such absurd equations show how homosexuality became a floating signifier, associated with whatever political tendency one most disliked. Rather than representing a certain group of people, it represented everything that was wrong—whatever that meant. America’s Red Scare bled into its Lavender Scare; the Soviets associated homosexuality with capitalism and fascism. But empty as it was, the political use of the trope of homosexuality had a devastating effect on real people from both countries.
"Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America" is on display at the Winkleman Gallery in NYC. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 28, 2013 - 21 comments

Naming: From Fly-fornication (ok) to ChristIsKing (not ok)

Historically the United States (on a state by state basis) has given almost complete freedom to parents to name their children, both first name and surname, with results like "Fly-fornication," "Mahershalalhashbaz," "Encyclopedia Britannia," "States Rights" (who was killed in battle as an officer for the confederacy), "Trailing Arbutus Vines" and many more. (Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights, Carlton F.W. Larson, 2011 [SSRN/PDF]). In October 2012, however, New York courts made two interesting rulings that reflect limitations on renaming, if not naming, rights, for both adults and children. [more inside]
posted by Salamandrous on Feb 27, 2013 - 54 comments

Academic freedom under attack in NYC

The Political Science Department at Brooklyn College is co-sponsoring a panel discussion about the BDS Movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel this Thursday Feburary 7th. The event features Omar Barghouti, BDS co-founder and Judith Butler, prominent philosopher. The college has come under widespread attack for its hosting of the event, with a coalition of New York City councillors threatening to defund the school. [more inside]
posted by mek on Feb 3, 2013 - 142 comments

I am become Hello Kitty, destroyer of worlds: Domestic Cat Holocaust USA

In a report that scaled up local surveys and pilot studies to national dimensions, scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day outdoors and the unnamed strays and ferals that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, most of them native mammals like shrews, chipmunks and voles rather than introduced pests like the Norway rat.
That cuddly kitty is deadlier than you think
See also Feral Cats Kill Billions of Small Critters Each Year
See also The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States
posted by y2karl on Jan 30, 2013 - 171 comments

The Cyber-Ombudsman

TruthTeller is an ambitious new automated application built by the Washington Post, which fact checks political speeches, ads and interviews "in as close to real time as possible." The prototype is intended to be a complement to the paper's Fact Checker Blog. More on the project from TechCrunch and Poynter.
posted by zarq on Jan 29, 2013 - 13 comments

Abortion in America

The Geography of Abortion Access - Forty years ago Tuesday, the Supreme Court ushered in legal abortion for American women when it decided in Roe v. Wade. Today, states—particularly in the South and Midwest—are eroding that right by legislating hundreds of provisions intended to impede access with burdensome obstacles. To understand more fully the complex state of access to abortion services in America, The Daily Beast identified and confirmed the location of the country’s remaining 724 clinics and calculated the distance from every part of the country to its closest clinic. (more)
posted by Artw on Jan 24, 2013 - 26 comments

Now all they need is a replica of "The Wire"

"Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide."
posted by vidur on Jan 23, 2013 - 37 comments

the impossible vocabulary of sorrow

Richard Blanco, a poet, teacher, and engineer, was chosen to be the nation's fifth inaugural poet. He is the author of the collections of poetry "City of a Hundred Fires," "Directions to the Beach of the Dead," "Place of Mind," and "Looking for the Gulf Motel." He is the first immigrant, first Latino, the first openly gay person and the youngest to be the U.S. inaugural poet. The poem he read was "One Today" (full text/analysis)
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jan 22, 2013 - 28 comments

There's a lot of bullshit coming from America

"Of the top 100 Swiss companies, 49 give shareholders a consulting vote on the pay of executives. A few other countries, including the United States and Germany, have introduced advisory "say on pay" votes in response to the anger over inequality and corporate excess that drove the Occupy Wall Street movement. Britain is also planning to implement rules in late 2013 that will give shareholders a binding vote on pay and "exit payments" at least every three years. Minder's initiative goes further, forcing all listed companies to have binding votes on compensation for company managers and directors, and ban golden handshakes and parachutes. It would also ban bonus payments to managers if their companies are taken over, and impose severe penalties — including possible jail sentences and fines — for breaches of these new rules."
posted by vidur on Jan 21, 2013 - 32 comments

Don't sing along at work

My Dick's Double Full​-​Length Release is an album of modified covers, with hits from the 70s-90s. Includes songs like Dancing In My Dick, Fields of Dick, Do They Know It's My Dick?, Baker Dick, and (my favourite) Orinoco Dick. Interview with the band. (possibly NSFW)
posted by rollick on Jan 16, 2013 - 37 comments

%-| The difference between us and them

The Depressive and the Psychopath, an article about mental state of the killers responsible for the Columbine high school massacre of 1999.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 10, 2013 - 76 comments

The British and their bizarre view of American

The British and their bizarre view of American. "So, while from afar America may seem, to the Briton, a bewildering and Brobdingnagian phenomenon, close up and personal, the Americans themselves take on the more familiar Lilliputian lineaments of his own countrymen and women." Will Self takes a look at the ambivalent relationship the British has with the USA.
posted by zoo on Jan 6, 2013 - 125 comments

"If you account for my access to academic journal subscriptions, my salary is really like half a million dollars."

This past Thursday, Forbes Magazine published a pair of articles: The Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 and The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013, the latter of which began with the sentence: "University professors have a lot less stress than most of us." 300+ outraged comments (and thousands of sarcastic #RealForbesProfessor tweets,) later they've added a retraction, and linked to a blog post that takes A Real Look at Being a Professor in the US. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 5, 2013 - 68 comments

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