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‘Letter to the President’: Snoop Dogg tells the history of Hip Hop, Rap and Politics

Ronald Reagan, that evil fuck President who willfully destroyed working class communities to give tax breaks to the rich. Reagan was happy to do it so long as it was African-Americans that bore the brunt.

Reaganomics left half the Black population on welfare. Reagan had no conscience about it. He had a money lust which hit hardest on those who were weakest and least able to fend for themselves.

Stopping poverty wasn’t on Reagan’s tick list. Rather it was cut corners and take, take, take from the poor - which stooped as low as having the tomato base on pizzas reclassified as fruit to ensure he could slash the cost of school dinners. He even tried to do the same with tomato ketchup but failed.

Reagan’s policy was simple - if you were poor: fuck you. If you were sick: fuck you. If you were dying of cancer: fuck you and get a goddamn job.

For young African-Americans in the 1980s, it seemed the hard-earned achievements of the sixties’ Civil Rights movement had been too easily betrayed and forgotten. And when crack cocaine hit the inner cities, it seemed any hope of a future was gone.

Against this background arose a culture of music that was to redefine Black America. Hip-Hop and Rap reflected the poverty, despair and violence of life in the ghettoes. It also railed angrily against the indifference and cynical exploitation by successive Presidents, whose only interest was to help themselves and help the rich.

Letter to the President is a fascinating over-view of the rise of Hip-Hop and Rap, and their importance in bringing a community together against a common enemy. Narrated by Snoop Dogg, and with contributions form Quincy Jones, KRS-One, David Banner, 50 Cent, Chuck D, Ghostface Killah, Nelson George, Sonia Sanchez, and Dick Gregory.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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DANGEROUS MINDS EXCLUSIVE: The secret story of how they caught Canada’s cannibal pornstar killer

This May 30th – the day Montreal police held a press conference naming Canadian Luka Rocco Magnotta as the fugitive suspect for the filmed murder of Chinese international student Lin Jun – I happened to end up in a North London pub enjoying a drink with David Kerekes, co-author of Killing for Culture, the definitive study of death on film. Kerekes (who is currently completing some extensive revisions for a new edition of that 1994 work) has the apparently-not-mutually-exclusive distinction of being both the nicest chap you could hope to meet and perhaps the world’s leading authority on snuff cinema.

So, I was hardly going to neglect to bring up this Magnotta character, whose 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick (the title of his filmed killing – reportedly featuring dismemberment, decapitation, necrophilia, cannibalism and more) sounded something like snuff’s Citizen Kane

The mention of Magnotta, however, got more than it bargained for, as Kerekes instantly lowered his voice and – making a large show of not naming any names – regaled me with an incredible account of a long term friend and associate of his who had been on Magnotta’s trail for months, a member of a secretive cabal of amateur online sleuths incensed by Magnotta’s earlier series of kitten-killing films (there were three prior to 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick). Weeks later, and with Magnotta safely offline and behind bars, I asked Kerekes if his friend might consent to an interview for Dangerous Minds. The next day I received an email from a certain “Alex DeLarge” – a Kubrickian pseudonym we’ll have cause to revisit – informing me that the so-called “Animal Beta Project” were happy for him to go substantially on-record regarding these events for what amounted to the first time (previously two ABP members had given just one short interview for Canadian news).

A relative latecomer to the cause, DeLarge’s odyssey began towards the end of 2011, when he first stumbled upon one of Magnotta’s kitten films while looking for soccer news online. Appalled, DeLarge found a likeminded Twitter feed on the subject, then a Facebook group, “For Great Justice,” where to his amazement he saw that the individual in these videos had been identified by thousands as Luka Rocco Magnotta.

“The Facebook group was initially set up by someone known as ‘R’ around December 2010 when Magnotta released the first video – that video’s known as “VKK,” which stands for Vacuum Kitten Killer. In that, Magnotta puts two kittens inside a vacuum-sealed bag and then attaches a vacuum cleaner to it and sucks in the air until they die. You’ve got to understand how horrendous this shit was. I mean, I’d seen Faces of Death. I think that when they’re eighteen everyone wants to test themselves by watching the grossest thing possible. But this was no accident – and it was no act. This guy was actually killing and doing so for some demented reason.”

For most, presumably, membership of For Great Justice was a case of adding their own “boo” to the wider chorus. DeLarge, however, was not satisfied at just registering disapproval, and began to investigate Magnotta in earnest, the emergent obsession coinciding with a long-awaited month off work, holiday he half-ruefully recollects was spent doing little other than “search for Luka Rocco Magnotta.” Primarily, this entailed DeLarge (who works in film and video) trawling through Magnotta’s hundreds of Youtube accounts for leads and information. “You’d be amazed by how much you can find out from people just through a Youtube account. Sometimes, for instance, you’d be able to track back through comments – you’d search a username and the username would reveal stuff through Google etc etc.”

Unbeknownst to DeLarge, his dedication and professionalism had alerted the attention of certain persons behind the scenes at For Great Justice, who asked if he would be willing to produce a video identifying Magnotta for the general public. Collaborating with two others from the group admin, DeLarge had the video ready in just sixteen hours, and it rapidly received upwards of 150,000 views. These efforts earned DeLarge an invitation to join a secret Facebook group he hadn’t even suspected existed and has since assumed the name Animal Beta Project.

Upon admittance, DeLarge’s own obsession with stopping Magnotta was put into perspective, as he came into contact with data analysts, animal rights activists, and others who had been assiduously tracking Magnotta much longer than a few weeks. The group – “20 or so persons, half of them active,” and guided by key members such as “Baudi Moovin,” “Nicee Punk” and “John Green” – characterize themselves as “miners” (they “mine for information”) and DeLarge was now confronted by the remarkable and sophisticated wealth of excavated data: it had enabled them, among other things, to correctly pinpoint Magnotta as then residing in Montreal.

One fascinating aspect of this hunt was Animal Beta Project members’ inevitable online acquaintanceship with Magnotta himself. This was mostly due to For Great Justice activists and supporters lavishing him with the kind of obsessive scrutiny craved by his omnivorous narcissism, meaning there was no more dependable presence lurking about its pages than Magnotta, albeit under a vast succession of fake Facebook profiles, behind which he would slander, spread rumors, and generally muddy the investigative waters with endless false leads and double bluffs. (Suspicion was so ubiquitous that, when DeLarge was first admitted into the secret group, members apologetically instructed him to ignore a recent thread theorizing that he was another Magnotta dupe.)

I asked DeLarge how members could usually go about seeing through a Magnotta mask. The answer is telling. “Every comment Luka Magnotta made was about himself, was pro-Luka Magnotta, that was the first thing to look out for. If someone thinks he’s ‘hot,’ that’s usually him.” This familiar phenomenon resulted in an especially memorable incident on Christmas Eve 2011. DeLarge, sensing that this kitten-torturing Über-narcissist might not be wading in festive cheer, intentionally smoked him out with a cheeky post musing aloud what Magnotta might be doing that evening – “I’m sure it’s a joyous occasion” and so on.

Duly stung, Magnotta (at that moment hiding behind a female profile that had joined the group the previous day) fired back: “No, I think you’ll find he’s out with his friends, visiting family, having a great Christmas…” Magnotta then proceeded to compulsively post an unprecedented couple of hundred times over the next twenty-four hours. “He was on his own,” DeLarge remembers, “he had nothing better to do than talk to people that hated him. The whole of Christmas Day he stayed online and posted and posted and posted.” (Which goes to show it’s possible to pity just about anyone.)

When he wasn’t being painfully pathetic, however, loopy Luka could be ingeniously elusive, disruptive and – at times – outright intimidating. One day, conducting one of their regular Social Media trawls, Animal Beta Project came upon a new Magnotta account.

“Magnotta knew he was communicating with us through his videos on Social Media accounts, but this one time was particularly scary. He had just set up a video account in which he’d favorited a load of videos – and in the videos he’d favorited a video of the exact workplace of one of the ABP group, and all five or six films in the account related to the personal locations of secret group members.”

Magnotta’s message was clear. When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back…

DeLarge defines this entire tragic course of events as one in which “the general public tried to help, and the system knocked them back every time.” The overall purpose of the Animal Beta Project’s efforts had always been to amass enough concrete information regarding Magnotta’s crimes and location so that certain inherent obstacles impeding the intervention of the proper authorities could be removed (such as the issue of jurisdiction that arises with any ostensibly anonymous online film).

Accordingly, the group had been in contact with various authorities “since day one.” Thanks to the ABP’s establishment of Magnotta’s identity and location, in early 2012 the case was finally assigned an officer from Toronto police. But it was, stresses DeLarge, “one officer.” Worse still was when local police submitted their conclusion that it “seemed” as if Luka Rocco Magnotta “doesn’t exist.” This triggered something of an epistemological crisis in DeLarge.

“All the members of the secret group had communicated with Magnotta at some point: if the police can’t find him, then what the hell is going on? There are certain areas I can’t say anything about right now, but sometimes I’d wake up and think, ‘It’s like we’re dealing with more than one person, or as if we’re dealing with some really weird, fucked-up troll story – someone just playing with our heads on the internet.’ I was just starting to think, ‘what have I done – I’ve put to much into this,’ and then…”

And then, one of the ABP members received a Google Alert. It was 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick. They posted it to the ABP Facebook group: DeLarge and a couple of other members immediately clocked the still frame of Magnotta crouching in his purple hoodie, Casablanca poster behind him on the wall. “I was just waking up,” DeLarge recalls. “It was 11’o’clock Sunday morning, the sun was shining: I was looking forward to a nice chilled day.” 

After skimming through the footage DeLarge attempted to back out, telling his fellow members he wanted nothing to do with this film… even though he was entirely convinced that 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick was “a very well made fake” (a presumption initially shared by the entire ABP). Another group member, however, reminded DeLarge that they at least needed to ID Magnotta. DeLarge, being the “video guy,” felt obliged:  “I felt I had to stand up and be counted for.”  So he dragged himself upstairs, drew the curtains, locked the door, logged onto Skype with other ABP analysts, and spent the next forty-eight hours going over the film “frame by frame by frame” – everyone horrified by what increasingly seemed to be its irreducible authenticity…

Here let us momentarily pause this footage to acknowledge, with some superstitious awe, the high irony behind Alex DeLarge’s pseudonym, plucked out of thin air months prior to those days during which he would so closely resemble his namesake in the defining scene of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange – “the” Alex DeLarge strapped to a chair, eyes raked open, compelled to ogle ultraviolent films while choking back horror and disgust. 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick itself is mired in weird intertextuality, the icepick a nod to Basic Instinct, the soundtrack – New Order’s “True Faith” (in place of Beethoven’s Ninth) – a wink to the opening strains of American Psycho. Killing for culture indeed!

“Magnotta murdered the guy while filming it, so he’d have to set up the camera, get the video going – afterwards he’d have had to turn to his laptop, with all the body parts lying around, and think, ‘I’ve got to edit this.’ Now, there’s dodgy sound in this video. We think it’s because he tried to use the music in the background, but realized it sounded shit and decided to put a soundtrack on it. Then he had to upload it onto the Internet… can you imagine what it must’ve been like in that room? And all you’re focused on is getting your video out there.”

While Magnotta slipped out of Canada, the Animal Beta Project’s growing conviction that the film was bona fide began to be echoed in a run of mainstream media reports: body parts were being mailed to various Canadian institutions… a torso had turned up in Montreal. DeLarge felt himself sink into a dream world of foreboding. Then came that May 30th press conference.

“I was stood there after a job with a bunch of camera equipment, and my partner phoned and said: ‘he’s on the news.’ At that time, it was as close as you can get to a feeling of a family member dying. Just that feeling of when your heart hits your feet and carries on through the floor.”

Magnotta existed alright. Belatedly, the ABP had everyone’s complete attention. “I was actually quite paranoid and just had a feeling the police were going to close the whole group down. Thankfully they didn’t.” On the contrary, a police division now approached them (via PETA, who DeLarge is quick to credit and praise for their involvement throughout), seeking to join the Animal Beta Project. Within hours, a solitary “amazed” representative was admitted and gifted what amounted to a comprehensive foundation for what had overnight become a global manhunt. “You know it’s serious when Interpol release a code red notice saying ‘Magnotta has not been apprehended.’”

Months later, and with Magnotta awaiting trial in Montreal, it sounds as if some of the benevolence the ABP extended to the police has waned: particularly when the police not only seem to have taken the evidence and ran, but can appear to be presenting it all to the wider public as the fruit of their own professional diligence.

“Look, we were never looking for glory in this. We just wanted to get the guy the help that he needed, but if it’s getting to the point where the police start claiming credit for it… that’s wrong. I’d just hope that at this point the police could be cool enough to say, ‘You know what, we really had no idea that the guy was going to do what he said, and we were contacted many times. We did screw up and the general public needs to be credited.’ It’s ultimately the system that’s failed. I just hope they do the decent thing and admit that this guy should have been looked into a long time ago.”

It is the proper investigation into those who document animal cruelty online that the ABP continues to instigate and advocate. “People who post videos of themselves torturing animals on the Internet usually have abuse associated with them one way or another.” It is, in short, “a big red flag,” as the case history of Luka Rocco Magnotta quite egregiously demonstrates. In July alone, the ABP could claim credit for identifying and locating two such perpetrators of online animal abuse – both are now facing appropriate charges.

“If people are gonna post these videos online – we’re gonna look for them. You’re traceable. Look, I’m a liberal. But I’m an extreme liberal. Do as you wish, as long as you don’t hurt others.”

Which sounds like a threat, in a really, really good way.

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
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America or Syria? Cops in Anaheim fire into a crowd of men, women, children (and babies)
02:15 pm

Class War
Stupid or Evil?


“They just started shooting.”

“I had my baby with me. My baby! The dog scratched me and then grabbed me. They shot at me while I was holding a baby!”

Teargas? Pepper spray? Non-lethal weapons? K-9s?

And what kind of an asshole fires into a crowd of men, women and children? Worse still, what kind of asshole follows orders to fire into a crowd of men, women and children, in their own neighborhood?

This is the question Anaheim residents want answered.

From “The Not So Happiest Place on Earth”:

While one might want to think this was a normal police action, it gives a person pause when they understand what happened just a few days prior that is conveniently excluded from most news stories on the events just following the fatal shooting of Manuel Diaz. Local residents, angry at the brutality of the shooting, expressed their outrage at the police who quickly lost control of the situation when residents began throwing water bottles. The police response to a public outcry against police brutality was itself, inexplicably brutal. Imagine police, firing indiscriminately into a crowd of men, women and children, including infants. Imagine letting a K9 loose into the crowd. This was not an orderly dispersal of an unruly crowd. It’s not something you have to imagine because it was caught on tape.

According to witnesses, a five year old girl was shot in the eye with a less than lethal round. Another young girl came forward to say that she was shot in the leg. Take that in for a moment. Are these “rioters” or are these actually children? Ask yourself what kind of mentality it takes to follow an order to fire rounds into a crowd that includes children in large numbers; in their neighborhood. This just makes no sense but it happened.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my personal and vehement outrage at the idea, much less the reality, of police opening fire into a crowd that included children much less letting a K9 loose whether it was an intentional order or not. I don’t much care if the K9 units involvement was unintentional as the police seem to have claimed or how quickly the K9 unit was restrained. You don’t use dogs on children. You don’t point guns at children.

Unless I’m mistaken, we as a society, haven’t tolerated the shooting of an unarmed man in the back, ever. Even in the 1800′s, the days of the wild west, it wasn’t legal for an officer of the law to shoot a man in the back. Those that did became outlaws themselves and often met their end at the gallows. Today, in the 21st Century, we give them paid administrative leave and far too often look the other way.

This video takes your breath away, doesn’t it? That one cop clearly is out to hurt someone. Apparently anyone!

They know who these officers are. They have to go. It has to happen now.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Police seize huge arsenal of weapons from Maine man who saw Batman movie with loaded weapon
05:01 pm

Current Events

Batman massacre

After several 911 calls from alarmed motorists who saw him doing 112 mph on the Maine Turnpike in a Ford Mustang with the hazard lights flashing, Timothy Courtois, 49, was arrested Sunday night by state police in Biddeford, Maine with an unusual arsenal in his car. Police found an AK-47 assault rifle, four handguns and several boxes of ammunition.

From the Bangor Daily News:

Also in Courtois’ car, police found newspaper clippings about the mass shooting Friday during a showing of the same Batman movie at a Colorado movie theater, according to McCausland.

Courtois told police he had attended the Batman movie at the Cinemagic Theater in Saco on Saturday night with a loaded gun in his backpack and that he was on his way Sunday to Derry, N.H., where he planned to shoot a former employer, McCausland said.

“He didn’t speak to any intent to harm people [at the theater], but I’m sure a lot of this is going to continue to come out” as agencies including the state police, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continue their investigations, Maine State Police Lt. Kevin Donovan said Monday.

“We don’t know what his true intentions were” when he brought the gun to the theater, and investigators are trying to determine his reasons for doing so and for having a large collection of firearms, McCausland said.

Disturbing enough, of course, but there’s more:

A search of Courtois’ home at 344 Elm St. in Biddeford after his arrest uncovered more guns, including a machine gun, rifles, handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Courtois made his initial court appearance in Springvale District Court on charges of having a concealed weapon and criminal speeding at 1 p.m. Monday by video from York County Jail, according to a court clerk.

His bail is set at $50,000 cash or $150,000 real estate, with provisions that he not use or possess alcohol, drugs or dangerous weapons. He also must submit to random searches and testing under the bail conditions.

Wait a minute, under THESE circumstances, the guy with a massive cache of weapons, who spoke to police of the intent to kill someone when the police picked him up for doing double the speed limit with an assault rifle in his car, plus with what happened in Colorado and the whole Batman connection here, if this guy makes bail, THIS GUY, they’re just going to let him go?

Apparently so. Courtois is scheduled to appear in York District Court at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 23.

How would you like to be this dude’s neighbor? And I wonder if the cops bothered to call his former boss to suggest the immediate purchase of a flack jacket? WTF?

Via Joe.My.God.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Hang The Bankers: Info-graphic clearly explains the LIBOR conspiracy scandal

Please spread far and wide, the sooner the public catches on to this story, the more likely it is that these bastards will do hard jail time instead of collecting $30 million dollar bonuses.

This is a make or break moment for the human race, it really is. Time for some heads to be put on sticks and paraded around lower Manhattan and the Hamptons.

There’s a larger version at Accounting

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Cast and Crew’: Documentary on the making of the ‘The Long Good Friday’

It started when producer Barry Hanson asked writer Barrie Keeffe, one night, what film he’d like to see? Keeffe said he wanted to see an American gangster film set in the East End of London. There was nothing like it on at the cinema, so Hanson told Keeffe to write it. The result was The Long Good Friday, a movie regularly voted the greatest British gangster film, and one of the best British films, of all time. High praise for a movie that was nearly re-cut, dubbed and pumped out onto TV by its original parent company, ITC, who hated it.

I was lucky enough to see The Long Good Friday, when it was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1980 as the highlight to a mini-retrospective of director John MacKenzie’s work. It had an indelible effect.

MacKenzie was established as a major talent, having made the films Unman, Wittering and Zigo with David Hemmings in 1969, and Made with Carol White and Roy Harper in 1972. He had also achieved further success directing Peter MacDougall’s brilliant dramas Just Another Saturday, which won the Prix Italia, Just A Boys’ Game, which starred rock singer Frankie Miller, and MacDougall’s adaptation of notorious hardman, Jimmy Boyle’s biography, A Sense of Freedom. Now he had just completed a film that captured the essence of 1980’s Britain under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Written by Barrie Keeffe, a former journalist who made his name writing political drams for TV and theater, Scribes (1976), about newspaper workers during a strike, .Gimme Shelter (1975–7), a powerful trilogy that dealt with deprivation, frustration and anger of working-class youth, and the tremendous BBC drama Waterloo Sunset, starring the legendary Queenie Watts.

Keeffe wrote The Long Good Friday in three days, over an Easter weekend. Originally called The Paddy Factor, the story dealt with East End gangster Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) who plans to go into partnership with the Mafia to redevelop London, only to fall foul of the IRA. The film co-starred Helen Mirren, (who battled to make her character, Victoria, stronger), a young Pierce Brosnan, and Eddie Consantine, as the Mafia don.

The script came from all the stories Keeffe heard growing-up and working as a reporter on the Stratford Express, as he told the Arts Desk last year:

The seeds were planted then; it was a very fertile time, just before the end of the Krays’ empire, and a lot of my plays, and some of the incidents in The Long Good Friday, came from my experiences. For instance, one of the gangland punishments, if you strayed into someone else’s territory, was to crucify you to the warehouse floor. As a very innocent junior reporter, a young 18, I was sent to interview a guy in hospital. He was covered in bandages and I asked him what had happened. He said, with that wonderful East End humour, “Do you understand English, son? Well, put it down to a do-it-yourself accident.”

Filmed the same year as Thatcher’s election, The Long Good Friday predicted much of the change Conservative rule would bring to London and the British isles.

The Long Good Friday was obviously about the transformation of the East End. The Bob Hoskins character was talking about the end of the Docks and mile after mile of territory for “profitable progress” - I think that was his phrase. I saw the film again about five years ago and it has a scene showing this model of how the area would look under the developers. It underestimated it completely - it ought to have shown Canary Wharf looking like Manhattan. Looking at it, I was taken by the fact that none of us had foreseen the enormous scale of change.

The Long Good Friday was a film “raging” at what was about to happen to the country, the story of gangsterism / Thatcherism / Captialism coming face-to-face with terrorism / idealism.

Cast and Crew: The Long Good Friday brings together John MacKenzie, Barrie Keeffe, Barry Hanson, actor Derek Thompson, casting director Simone Reynolds to discuss the film, its making and its legacy. There are also interviews from Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren. Watching Keeffe and MacKenzie around a table together, there is still the crackle of creative tension, as writer and director both lay claim to the film’s success.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

The ‘Get Carter’ Killing

Singer Frankie Miller stars in Peter MacDougall’s legendary gang film ‘Just a Boys’ Game’

More from ‘Cast and Crew’ plus bonus clip, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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