January 28, 2010

Los Pepes and the Rise of the North Valley Cartel

When Pablo Escobar escaped from prison in 1992, a lot of people in Colombia began to lose sleep. Some of these people formed Los Pepes - People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar - a collection of Escobar's fiercest narco competitors, paramilitaries and columbian authorities with perhaps even american intelligence assisstance. After taking care of Escobar the victorious narcos, as the Cali Cartel, went on to rule the world of cocaine. For about three years. A younger, more ruthless crew inside the Cali Cartel quickly did away with the old guard and established what is still today considered the largest supplier of cocaine in the world, the North Valley Cartel.With many former police officers in its upper ranks and the assisstance of one of the Colombian military's top antinarcotics officers, the North Valley Cartel was more likely to run a wiretap than be caught on one.Still, as to the whole omerta thing? North Valley Cartel bigshot Andres Lopez AKA Florecita (little flower?), after turning himself in to american authorities, cooperating and serving about 2 years in prison, wrote a book. El Cartel de los Sapos (Cartel of the Snitches) was then made into the most popular telenovela ever by Colombia's Caracol and dominated just about every market its played in. Oh yeah, and telemundo is streaming them all for free with subtitles as we speak. Not quite The Wire, but still a must see.
posted by jake1 at 10:59 PM PST - 40 comments

I bet your family owns a brothel, right? If you dislike Hanzi so much, you should change your daughter’s surname.

Chinese Characters (Hanzi) Discriminate Against Women A lawyer argues for replacing vulgar sexist Chinese language characters containing the female radical with gender-neutral forms. Many say it is unnecessary. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu at 10:30 PM PST - 50 comments

The one and only Billy Shears ... umm, played by Peter Frampton?

Sgt. Pepper's one-and-only Lonely Hearts Club Band. The movie. Starring Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees. Aerosmith. Alice Cooper. Steve Martin, who steals the whole thing. And cameos from about 50 other quite notable artists of the day. If you've never seen this particular "why yes, it was the 1970s, how did you guess" trainwreck, you really should treat yourself. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. [more inside]
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:58 PM PST - 117 comments

PNSFQ (Possibly Not Safe for the Queasy)

"Putting Weird Things in Coffee" is one man's quest to find new and unusual ingredients to add to coffee instead of the cream-and-sugar staples.
posted by Taft at 8:52 PM PST - 140 comments

Moon landing = cancelled until further notice

Return to the moon? Not likely. "President Barack Obama is essentially grounding efforts to return astronauts to the moon...".
posted by deacon_blues at 7:46 PM PST - 179 comments

Gay culture: Patricidal?

Gay culture: Patricidal? A former reverend in the Church of Satan, Jack Donovan (nom de plume: Malebranche), is coauthor of an E-book on blood brotherhood and a previous book on masculinity and homosexuality. Now: Do teh Gays have a problem with manhood? Donovan thinks so. “Sexually... homosexual men venerate manliness and virility. They want their fantasy men to be uppercase MEN.... All homosexual men are aware of the fact that there will always be some straight men who, given the opportunity, would exclude them from male groups.... [T]hey love him through surrogates and kill him by rejecting what he stands for. They side with women against him to castrate him. They mock and taunt him with flamboyant, effeminate displays. They look down on his stoic, simple, grounded manliness by aligning themselves with high culture and excess. Gay culture is patricide.” Oh, snap! as they say. [more inside]
posted by joeclark at 6:56 PM PST - 109 comments

The king of 90s indie film is dead.

Miramax Films (named after founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein's parents Miriam and Max) has been closed. The company was founded in 1979, but found massive success in the 90s with films like The Piano, Pulp Fiction, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Clerks, and The English Patient, and many others. Owned by Disney, the production company still has six movies unreleased. More at The Wrap.
posted by zardoz at 6:40 PM PST - 47 comments

A frank exchange of views

Wikipedia editors debate the merits of speedy deletion of of thousands of poorly referenced BLPs (Biographies of Living Persons).
posted by ovvl at 6:14 PM PST - 71 comments

We're the ones we've been waiting for?

The Annotated State of the Union - PBS has one too (+ video responses ;) Submit your own and make it a two-way dialogue!
posted by kliuless at 5:55 PM PST - 6 comments

Mine was called the Cardinal

Another institution might be close to biting the digital dust: The high school/college yearbook. Some are looking at alternative business approaches. " Last spring was the first time since World War II that University of Virginia students did not publish their yearbook, "Corks and Curls." No one seemed to notice."
posted by Xurando at 5:49 PM PST - 67 comments

Frinds, Roomuns, coontrimun, lend me yurr eerrs.

Oy coom too berry Sayzurr, nut too preyze im. That's a reconstruction of how Brutus's famous speech from "Julius Caesar" may have sounded to Shakespeare's original audience. (Scroll down in the linked page for the rest of the speech -- or look inside this post.) If you'd like to learn more about Original Pronunciation (OP), check out www.pronouncingshakespeare.com, where you'll find several recordings by David Crystal, the scholar who probably knows most about the subject. You can also listen to this example or this NPR broadcast, first linked to in this 2005 post, here. Ben Crystal, David's son, tries some OP here. [more inside]
posted by grumblebee at 5:42 PM PST - 34 comments

Panel finds MMR scare doctor 'acted unethically'

Dr Andrew Wakefield's 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles - but the findings were later discredited. The General Medical Council ruled he had acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in doing his research.
[more inside]
posted by mdpatrick at 5:30 PM PST - 25 comments

Electoral Innovation

Murray Hill Inc. for Congress in MD.
posted by pwedza at 4:18 PM PST - 41 comments

Flickr: Looking into the Past

Flickr: Looking into the Past, a photography pool featuring images where there is a single image with the past overlapping the present somehow.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:20 PM PST - 17 comments


John Kiriakou, the former CIA operative who affirmed claims that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists, says he didn't know what he was talking about.
posted by jtron at 3:03 PM PST - 50 comments

Jared Diamond on Haiti

Jared Diamond on the unique cultural and geological challenges Haiti has faced since its colonial days. Diamond shows how these reasons have caused the nation to fare considerably poorer than its neighbor, The Dominican Republic. [more inside]
posted by reenum at 3:01 PM PST - 35 comments

The Island

Hugo Chavez owns it. New Jersey controls it. Developers and environmentalists covet it. And one brazen trespasser wants us to pay homage to its forgotten king. Welcome to Petty's Island, a fin-shaped slice of strange, in the middle of the Delaware River.
posted by fixedgear at 2:53 PM PST - 16 comments

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce the acoustic guitar.

Michael Hedges was something of a revolutionary. [more inside]
posted by timsteil at 1:16 PM PST - 53 comments

So long to Mt. Washington wind speed record, 14 years ago

Mount Washington gust record gone with the wind. Mount Washington had been the home of the surface wind speed record since April 12, 1934 with a 231 miles per hour wind; but during cyclone Olivia (with only 10 minor injuries) on April 10, 1996, a wind gust of 408 km/h (253 mph) in Austrailia was only just now noticed and confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The Mount Washington Observatory has accepted the record in their offical reaction but in more personal blog posts they are a bit more skeptical. The Washington Post Capital Weather Gang posted a Farewell to Mt. Washington's wind record from two former employees of the Observatory, lovingly referring to the record wind as "Gale." (And via Capital Weather Gang.)
posted by skynxnex at 1:13 PM PST - 46 comments

To the Victor Go the Spoils

It's not uncommon for the mayors of two cities locked in sports competition to make friendly wagers. But, do the cities' art museums do too? Apparently, they do.
posted by Leezie at 11:57 AM PST - 26 comments

For JD - with Love and Squalor

Famously reclusive American author J.D. Salinger has died at 91. The author of The Catcher in the Rye, a novel alternatively banned and labeled the Great American Novel, Salinger was also among the last authors whose short stories were routinely published in magazines. Salinger's other published works include Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories & Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. [more inside]
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:40 AM PST - 263 comments

Meta commentary about post

SLYT news report, starting with a lackluster establishing shot of a significant location.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:49 AM PST - 126 comments

Egg Watchers

Egg Watchers: Egg Timer 2.0 A cute little web interface serves you a YouTube video based on how done you want your boiled egg, its size, and whether it's just out of the fridge. The length of the video is the length of the boil. No more watched pots!
posted by OmieWise at 9:21 AM PST - 25 comments

The White Death

Simo Häyhä is often revered as the deadliest sniper in history. Using nothing more than a Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle with stock iron sights, Häyhä is credited with felling 542 Soviet soldiers during the Finnish Winter War (with as many as 150 more kills by SMG). Nicknamed "The White Death", Häyhä spent weeks in snow-covered forests, enduring sub-zero temperatures while sniping Russian officers, weapons crews and snipers. The Soviets placed a bounty on Häyhä's head, utilizing counter-snipers and artillery fire in an attempt to kill him. Over the course of only three months, the 5'3" Häyhä (a farmer by trade) killed upwards of 800 of the Red Army soldiers deployed to Finland. Despite eventually being shot in the face by a Russian sharpshooter, Häyhä recovered and passed away in 2002 at the age of 96.
posted by Tenacious.Me.Tokyo at 8:50 AM PST - 244 comments

Vinnaren träder fram

Veronica Maggio shouldn't just be popular in Norway.
posted by eschatfische at 8:45 AM PST - 34 comments


Dallas police were skeptical at first, nicknaming the program "Hug-a-Ho." Two years later, the STAR Court ("strengthening, transition and recovery") is attracting attention from agencies and researchers nationwide, for its innovative approach to prostitute diversion. "It's absolutely apparent when you work with these women that they're struggling with incredible issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, sexual violence. We want to help these women change their lives, and if we want to change what's happening, we have to change our approach."
posted by pineapple at 8:43 AM PST - 35 comments

Breakfast destruction

Daily life of the jihadis: rants, the usual aggressive posturing, murderous threats, and dreams of paradise. Also, problems with frying eggs.
posted by four panels at 8:27 AM PST - 9 comments

Math class is hard.

Early elementary school teachers in the United States are almost exclusively female (>90%), and we provide evidence that these female teachers’ anxieties relate to girls’ math achievement via girls’ beliefs about who is good at math. A study (abstract and full-text [pdf]) by the University of Chicago Department of Psychology and Committee on Education found a link between math anxiety in elementary school teachers and their female students' math abilities. [more inside]
posted by albrecht at 8:05 AM PST - 57 comments

Frederic, Prinz von Anhalt, for Governor (warning autoplay national anthem)

Frederic, Prinz von Anhalt is running for Governor of California Zsa Zsa Gabor's 9th husband, Frederic, Prinz von Anhalt wants your vote as governor of California. Originally Hans Robert Lichtenberg, the son of a German police officer, he was adopted by the octegenarian Princess Marie von Anhalt. Now he's running for governor, promising to return the good life to California by promoting its world-class "avocados, wine, weather beaches and marijuana." [more inside]
posted by Ironmouth at 7:57 AM PST - 38 comments

Because You Can Read, And They Had A Web Site

It's time for some nostalgia. [more inside]
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:26 AM PST - 20 comments

We will miss you when you are gone.

The world is closing in on the Moken way of life. Sights and Sounds by the late Nicolas Reynard.
The Kabang serves both as home and transport. Here's how they are built.
The Moken have enhanced underwater eyesight.
However with probably fewer than 1000 people still pursuing the traditional lifesyle; It's sadly time to say goodbye.
( Further reading. Previously / related 1; 2; 3 )
posted by adamvasco at 6:18 AM PST - 10 comments

Street Art

Unurth is searching the globe for street art. A recent feature is Escif, Brick/Break, in Valencia—including an interview with Escif and his Flickr stream. [prev]
posted by netbros at 6:05 AM PST - 4 comments

Americans in the Egyptian Army

In the wake of the Civil War, fifty Americans (audio alert), Union and Confederates both, accepted commissions in the Egyptian army. One of the most notable was William Wing Loring who wrote A Confederate Soldier in Egypt about his experiences.
posted by maurice at 5:25 AM PST - 5 comments

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