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Archive for April, 2011

DEAR COMCAST: Why Can’t I Watch The Flyers?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

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CONTEST: Win Tix To See The Submarines At JBs

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011


[Photo by Autumn De Wilde]

We have a pair of tickets to see everyone’s favorite boy-meets-girl-they-start-a-band-together-fall-in-love-break-up-write-catchy-songs-about-how-much-they-miss-each-other-get-back-together-get-married-live-happily-ever-after-on-their-Apple-commercial-money indie-pop band from LA. Well, almost everyone — some people like the Ting Tings better. The Submarines are currently on a tour in support of their third album, Love Notes/Letter Bombs, which brings them to Johnny Brendas tomorrow night. First Phawker reader to email us at FEED@PHAWKER.COM with the correct answer to the following question wins: What Submarines song was used in Apple’s commercial for the iPhone 3G? Note, we are NOT talking about the Submarines song that was used for Apple’s commercial for the iPhone 3GS (SEE BELOW). Please include a day time telephone number for confirmation and the words SUBMARINES CONTEST in the subject line. Good luck and Godspeed!

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WEASELS IN THE HENHOUSE: Head Of School Reform Bringing Same Old Crony Capitalist Bullshit?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011


NEWSWORKS: Just over a month ago, the chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission took part in a pivotal, closed-door meeting to discuss the fate of a charter-school deal potentially worth $60 million, only hours after he publicly recused himself from voting on the matter due to a conflict of interest. SRC Chairman Robert Archie [pictured, below right, with Arlene Ackerman] confirmed his participation in the private session in an e-mail statement to NewsWorks and the Public School Notebook. The meeting was held March 16 at Philadelphia School District headquarters, and included Archie, State Rep. Dwight Evans [pictured, below left], and John Q. Porter of Mosaica Education, an Atlanta-based, for-profit school operator. Earlier that day, Archie’s fellow commissioners had voted 3-0 to award Mosaica the right to negotiate for the charter to run Martin Luther King High in Germantown. Archie didn’t vote, citing his law firm’s ties to another applicant for the charter. Porter described himself that afternoon as “ecstatic” about the vote. But the day after the three men met, Mosaica Archie1.jpgwalked away from the King deal. Porter explained the reversal at the time by saying that he did not want to interfere with Evans’ plans for his community. He also said that his company “did not believe that, without full support, we could be successful.” Mosaica’s abrupt about-face left Foundations Inc., a New Jersey-based nonprofit with ties to both Archie and Evans, as the only bidder for the King charter.  The law firm where Archie is a partner, Duane Morris LLP, has represented Foundations. MORE

RELATED: You might want to gather the kids tomorrow and take them down to the School Reform Commission meeting. They couldn’t get a civics lesson like this if you could afford to send them to Harvard. Tomorrow’s agenda includes a discussion of “reform” plans at Martin Luther King High School. The plans were reviewed and then revised by an ad hoc group of district officials who had trouble remembering which back room they met in, let alone what was discussed. You could get whiplash trying to follow the meandering course of this sordid affair. MORE

PHAWKER: This is why Philadelphia schools suck so bad, this is why every hard-working couple of child-bearing age have plotted an escape to the suburbs by the third trimester, this is why a quarter of adults in Philly can’t read and almost half of all students don’t graduate, because before they even start kindergarten, before pencil ever touches paper, before chalk ever touches blackboard, every kid knows deep down on some sub-verbal level of intuition, the way dogs detect the approach of storms long before their masters do, that it ain’t about them. It’s not about reading and writing and arithmetic, it’s not about learning or enlightenment, it’s not about acquiring skills for survival in the modern adult world, it’s not about teachers or students, it’s about the money, how it gets divided and who gets how much. And, on behalf of the children, fuck you all for that.

Dwight_Evans.jpgRELATED: The assault by corporate America on public education has taken an ominous turn in the last decade. Funded by an array of conservative institutions such as the Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute, and the Olin Foundation, the corporate drive to undermine public education has enlisted an army of conservative pundits many of whom served in the Department of Education under Presidents Reagan and Bush. […] Providing policy papers, op-ed commentaries, appearing on television talk shows, and running a variety of educational clearinghouses and resource centers, these stalwart opponents of public education relentlessly blame the schools for the country’s economic woes. Citing low test scores, a decline in basic skills, and the watering down of the school curriculum, Ravitch and others use such critiques to legitimate the ideology of privatization with its accompanying call for vouchers, charter schools, and the placing of public schools entirely in the control of corporate contractors. More specific reforms simply recycle right-wing ideology critiques calling for the replacement of teacher unions and “giving parents choice, back-to-basics and performance-driven curriculums, management ‘design teams’ and accountability.” Underlying the call for privatization is a reform movement in which public education is seen as “a local industry that over time will become a global business.” As a for-profit venture, public education represents a market worth over $600 billion dollarsMORE

RELATED: The voucher issue has divided education advocates and sparked a fierce and costly lobbying campaign, pitting large unions – such as the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a sponsor of Tuesday’s rally – against “school choice” advocates, bankrolled by wealthy investors, who say vouchers are the answer to failing public schools. Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D., Phila.), whose unsuccessful run for governor last year was largely financed by voucher supporters, drove past protesters in his Cadillac Escalade. Williams said in a statement that while he recognizes the right of the NAACP to protest, he remains focused on passing the voucher bill. “It is tragic to condemn generation after generation to persistently failing schools simply due to their zip code or family income,” he said. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Dwight Evans For The Deaf

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ARTSY: French-Fried Chagall

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011


LOS ANGELES TIMES: Marc Chagall was an enormously popular 20th century painter, revered by the public for his rooftop fiddlers, biblical lore, upside down lovers and fanciful visions of Jewish shtetl life in the old Russian empire. Art historians and critics, however, have always had difficulty placing him among the many currents of modern art; to them, he often seemed unique, special, one of a kind. Some also found him repetitive and sentimental. But Chagall was not always a loner. In an innovative exhibition, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has decided to concentrate on his younger years when, far from unique, he and a band of mainly East European, mainly Jewish artists honed their craft in Paris. The show, “Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle,” closes July 10. Made up mostly of paintings from the Philadelphia museum’s own collection, the show, which displays Chagall alongside his contemporaries, goes nowhere else. MORE

RELATED: As a symbol of culture, freedom, and modernity, the city of Paris held a magnetic attraction for artists from Eastern Europe during the early decades of the twentieth century. This exhibition will include around 40 paintings and sculptures by these artists, all of which were created in a unique atmosphere of mutual encouragement and support in Paris before the Second World War. The exhibition will focus in particular on the paintings that Chagall made between 1910 and 1920, including the artist’s early masterpiece Half Past Three (The Poet), of 1911, which has long been considered one of the great treasures of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. MORE

RELATED: Before the Nazi rise to power, the Museum Folkwang in Essen was a leader in the collecting and display of modern art in Germany. By chagall_purim.jpg1934 Hitler’s government had dismissed the Folkwang’s progressive director and replaced him with the ardent Nazi Count Klaus von Baudissin, an SS officer and art historian. One of the Count’s first acts was to paint over the museum’s famous murals by the German Expressionist Oskar Schlemmer. Baudissin also served on the Ziegler commission, responsible for impounding “degenerate” art from German museums. From the Museum Folkwang the commission seized and dispatched to Munich an astounding total of 1,202 works of art, including Chagall’s Purim, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Louis E. Stern Collection. The painting—the Folkwang’s only Chagall—had been acquired in the 1920’s by the previous director, Ernst Gosebruch.1 Set in a Russian town, its theme is the celebration of Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews. In the center a boy carries Purim sweets from the market stall-keeper on the right. Nazi officials chose Purim, along with three other works by Chagall, for display in the notorious Degenerate Art exhibition. MORE

RELATED: On July 19, 1937, the “Degenerate Art” exhibition opened in the Hofgarten arcades of Munich’s Residenz. It included 650 works of art confiscated from 32 German museums. For the National Socialists, the term “degenerate” applied to any type of art that was incompatible with their ideology or propaganda. Whole movements were labeled as such, including Expressionism, Impressionism, Dada, New Objectivity, Surrealism, Cubism, and Fauvism, among others. Many of Germany’s most talented and innovative artists suffered official defamation: for example, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Ernst, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Pechstein, Paul Klee, and Ernst Barlach. Avant-garde artists and museum directors who Entart_Kunst.jpgpurchased or exhibited modern art had already been barred from professional activity as early as 1933. With this exhibition, the visual arts were forced into complete submission to censorship and National Socialist “coordination” [Gleichschaltung]. Initiated by Minster of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and President of the Reich Chamber of the Visual Arts Adolf Ziegler (1892-1959), the exhibition travelled to twelve other cities from 1937 to 1941. In all, the show drew more than 3 million visitors. The exhibition sought to demonstrate the “degeneration” of artworks by placing them alongside drawings done by the mentally retarded and photographs of the physically handicapped. These comparisons aimed to highlight the “diseased,” “Jewish-Bolshevist,” and inferior character of these artworks and to warn of an impending “cultural decline.” As an exercise in contrast, the opposite – good, “healthy,” “German” art – could be seen in the “Great German Art Exhibition,” on view only a few meters away.

[Pictured left] is the cover of the guidebook to the “Degenerate Art” exhibition; the cover features Otto Freundlich’s monumental sculpture, Der neue Mensch [The New Man] (1912), which had been confiscated from the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. Freundlich, a German painter and sculptor of Jewish origin, spent much of his career in France. He was arrested in Nazi-occupied France in February 1943 and sent to the Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin (Poland), where he was murdered on March 3, 1943. MORE

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GRAPHIC: Interactive Timeline Of The Arab Spring

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011


[Click image to activate]

Courtesy of our friends at The Guardian, this is Pulitzer-worthy. Try it, you’ll like it.

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REVIEW: Elucid’s Super Chocolate Black Simian

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011


Hengeveld.jpgBY MATTHEW HENGEVELD Much like jazz music, hip-hop is a pliable and elastic form. From the Beastie Boys’ meshing of punk and hip-hop to Gansta Grass’ awkward bluegrass/hip-hop fuckcluster; rappin’ has found a method of adapting to just about any genre, for better or worse. So, with the recent rise in aggressive hip-hop, characterized by the sudden uber-popularity of Odd Future, it seems natural that hip-hop should crossover to one of the most bone-crushing genres of all time, drum and bass. The precursor of modern dubstep, DNB might be the most ‘social’ music since the Jazz Age, but like a spoiled child it does not play well with others. The question is how can DNB be ported into the realm of hip-hop without one cancelling the other out? Crossovers should retain strong elements of hip-hop and DNB/dubstep. That’s where Elucid steps in.

Elucid, a Brooklynite who sounds a lot like Party_Arty (R.I.P.) of DTIC, has taken this goal to task with his two-part mixtape Super Chocolate Black elucid.JPGSimian. The sound incorporates a heap of dubstep influence, but retains the ultra-dark sound and hyper tempo of DNB music, with a focus on 8-bit synthwork. The album was produced by an onslaught of producers, including Breakage, Lorn, Dibia$e, El-P, Jamie Vex’d, Mexicans With Guns, Skream and more. But it’s not all low, grumbling synths. Tracks like “Braking for Zombies” is littered with the sounds of dogs barking, children yelling and rapid-fire snares. Dub DJs love to yell over tracks, usually getting washed out by the music— this is the basis for Elucid’s rapping. He is almost completely drowned out by the beat. This makes deciphering Elucid’s verses a task in itself, but proves to heighten the album’s dark edge.

“Nobody’s askin’ questions, they just want a job / Put their ears to my message, survey says fuck the dumb” is the hook to his cyber-punk anthem “Fuck the Dumb,” which sounds to me like a caustic, Bill Maher-style diss of Teabaggers. Other tracks are filled with violent mayhem, mass slaughter and other not-ready-for-Sunday-School topics, but are conveyed with the kind of stoicism-in-the-face-of-abomination that you’d expect from, say, Jeffrey Dahmer or Richard Kulinsky . Elucid’s violent outbursts are often coupled with Islamic imagery about jihad and whatnot. “MEANR” is the pinnacle of this aggression, with lines like “I’m top dollar / bring me the head of Justin Bieber.”

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FOLLOW THE MONEY: Governor Whorebett Signs Repeal Of Fire Sprinkler Mandate For New Homes

Monday, April 25th, 2011


ASSOCIATED PRESS: Gov. Tom Corbett is signing his first bill as governor. The Republican plans Monday afternoon to sign a bill repealing a requirement that fire sprinkler systems be installed in all new one- and two-family homes. The legislation was approved earlier this month by margins of nearly 2-1 in the state House and Senate. Proponents of the requirement said it would save lives by extinguishing fires before firefighters can get to the scene. Opponents, led by the Pennsylvania Builders Association, said it would unnecessarily drive up housing prices already out of reach for many people. MORE

RELATED: Sometimes life-saving technologies seem beyond the reach of the average person. If you put residential fire sprinklers in that category, think again. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) economists ran the numbers. Their benefit-cost analysis found that for new home Whorebett.jpgconstruction, a multipurpose network sprinkler system that connects to a house’s regular water supply and piping makes good economic sense. MORE

RELATED: At the present time, cost of a home sprinkler system is targeted at approximately $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot in new construction.  MORE

RELATED: Average square footage of a single family home in Pennsylvania = 1,500

RELATED: Cost of a fire sprinkler system in a 1,500 square foot home = $1,500  to $2,250

RELATED:  Cost of your family not burning to death in their sleep = Priceless






[SOURCE FollowTheMoney.Org]

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INFINITE JEST: You Are Missing Almost Everything

Monday, April 25th, 2011



NPR/MONKEY SEE BLOG: The vast majority of the world’s books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It’s just numbers. Consider books alone. Let’s say you read two a week, and sometimes you take on a long one that takes you a whole week. That’s quite a brisk pace for the average person. That lets you finish, let’s say, 100 books a year. If we assume you start now, and you’re 15, and you are willing to continue at this pace until you’re 80. That’s 6,500 books, which really sounds like a lot. […] Of course, by the time you’re 80, there will be 65 more years of new books, so by then, you’re dealing with 315 years of books, which allows you to read about 20 books from each year. You’ll have to break down your 20 books each year between fiction and nonfiction – you have to cover history, philosophy, essays, diaries, science, religion, science fiction, westerns, political theory … I hope you weren’t planning to go out very much. […] We could do the same calculus with film or music or, increasingly, television – you simply have no chance of seeing even most of what exists. Statistically speaking, you will die having missed almost everything. MORE

RELATED:Time Enough at Last” is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. Bank teller and avid bookworm Henry Bemis works at his window in a bank, while reading David Copperfield, which causes him to shortchange an annoyed customer. Bemis’s angry boss, and later his nagging wife, both complain to him that he wastes far too much time reading “doggerel“. As a cruel joke, his wife asks him to read poetry from one of his books to her; he eagerly obliges, only to find that she has drawn lines over the text on every page. The next day, Henry takes his lunch break in the bank’s vault, where his reading will not be disturbed. Moments after seeing the newspaper’s headline, which reads: “H-Bomb Capable of Total Destruction”, an enormous explosion outside the bank violently shakes the vault, knocking Bemis unconscious. After regaining consciousness burgess_meredith_twilight_zone_time_enough_at_last.jpgand recovering the thick glasses he needs to see with, Bemis emerges from the vault to find the bank demolished and everyone in it dead. Leaving the bank, he sees that the entire city has also been destroyed, and realizes that a nuclear war has devastated the Earth, but that his being in the vault has saved him. Finding himself totally alone in a shattered world with food to last him a lifetime, but no one to share it with, Bemis succumbs to despair. As he is about to commit suicide, he sees the ruins of the public library in the distance. Investigating, he finds that the books are still intact and readable; all the books he could ever hope for are his for the reading, and all the time in the world to read them without interruption. His despair gone, Bemis contentedly sorts the books he looks forward to reading for years to come. Just as he bends down to pick up the first book, he stumbles, and his glasses fall off and shatter. In shock, he picks up the broken remains of the glasses he is virtually blind without, and says, “That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all. There was time now. There was all the time I needed…! That’s not fair!“, and bursts into tears, surrounded by books he will never read. MORE

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SIDEWALKING: The Price Of Libyan Democracy

Monday, April 25th, 2011


Delaware & Springarden, 8:18 PM last night by JEFF FUSCO

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Secret Gitmo Files Released By Wikileaks Reveal Many, Many Prisoners Innocent Or Low-Level At Best

Monday, April 25th, 2011


THE GUARDIAN: More than 700 leaked secret files on the Guantánamo detainees lay bare the inner workings of America’s controversial prison camp in Cuba. The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called “worst of the worst”, many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment. The 759 Guantánamo files, classified “secret”, cover almost every inmate since the camp was opened in 2002. More than two years after President Obama ordered the closure of the prison, 172 are still held there. The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim. The old man was transported to Cuba to interrogate him about “suspicious phone numbers” found in his compound. The 14-year-old was shipped out merely because of “his possible knowledge of Taliban…local leaders” MORE

RELATED: Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu was a prisoner at the Guantánamo Bay prison, judged “a probable member of Al Qaeda” by the analysts there. They concluded in a newly disclosed 2005 assessment that his release would represent a “medium to high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies.” Today, Mr. Qumu, 51, is a notable figure in the Libyan rebels’ fight to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, reportedly a leader of a ragtag band of fighters known as the Darnah Brigade for his birthplace, this shabby port town of 100,000 people in northeast Libya. The former enemy and prisoner of the United States is now an ally of sorts, a remarkable turnabout resulting from shifting American policies rather than any obvious change in Mr. Qumu. He was a tank driver in the Libyan Army in the 1980s, when the Central Intelligence Agency was spending billions to support religious militants trying to drive Soviet troops out of Afghanistan. Mr. Qumu moved to Afghanistan in the early 1990s, just as Osama bin Laden and other former mujahedeen were violently turning against their former benefactor, the United States. He was captured in Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, accused of being a member of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and sent to Guantánamo — in part because of information provided by Colonel Qaddafi’s government. MORE

RELATED: The Wikileaked Gitmo Files

PREVIOUSLY: Mr. Rumsfeld, who earlier this year called the prisoners ”the worst of the worst”

RELATED: Rumsfeld Confesses to Joint Chiefs of Staff that Guantanamo is Filled with “Low Level” Detainees in Recently Declassified Memo; Finding Calls into Further Question “Recidivism” Representations

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Pulling A Hogan’s Heroes Manuever, 475 Taliban Insurgents Tunnel Out Of Afghan Prison

Monday, April 25th, 2011


[Photo by Allauddin Khan/Associated Press]

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Taliban insurgents dug a more than 1,050-foot (320-meter) tunnel underground and into the main jail in Kandahar city and whisked out more than 450 prisoners, most of whom were Taliban fighters, officials and the insurgents said Monday. The massive jailbreak overnight in Afghanistan’s second-largest city serves as a reminder of the Afghan government’s continuing weakness in the south, despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers. Kandahar city, in particular, has been a focus of the international effort to establish a strong Afghan government presence in former Taliban strongholds. The 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison has been part of that plan. The facility has undergone security upgrades and tightened procedures following a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners. Afghan government officials and their NATO backers have regularly said that the prison has vastly improved security since that attack. But on Sunday night, around 475 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel dug between the prison and the outside and disappeared into Kandahar city, prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said. He said the majority of the missing were Taliban militants. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: The governor of Kandahar, Wesa Toorylai, sharply criticized the security forces. “This is absolutely the fault of the ignorance of the security forces,” Mr. Toorylai said. “This was not the work of a day, a week or a month of activities. This was actually months of work they spent to dig and free their men.” MORE

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WORTH REPEATING: Sebastian Junger’s Tribute To Tim Hetherington, His Restrepo Co-Director

Sunday, April 24th, 2011


“Tim*, man, what can I say? For the first few hours, the stories were confused enough that I could imagine maybe none of them were true, but they finally settled into one brief, brutal narrative: While covering rebel forces in the city of Misrata, Libya, you got hit by a piece of shrapnel and bled to death on the way to the clinic. You couldn’t have known this, but your fellow photographer Chris Hondros would die later that evening. I’m picturing you in the back of a pickup truck with your three wounded colleagues. There are young men with bandannas on their heads and guns in their hands and everyone is screaming and the driver is jamming his overloaded vehicle through the destroyed streets of that city, trying to get you all to the clinic in time. He didn’t. You and I were always talking about risk because she was the beautiful woman we were both in love with, right? The one who made us feel the most special, the most alive? We were always trying to have one more dance with her without paying the price. All those quiet, huddled conversations we had in Afghanistan: Where to walk on the patrols, what to do if the outpost gets overrun, what kind of body armor to wear. You were so smart about it, too — so smart about it that I would actually tease you about being scared. Of course you were scared — you were terrified. We both were. We were terrified and we were in love, and in the end, you were the one she chose.” MORE

*Tim Hetherington, a conflict photographer who was a director and producer of the Afghan war documentary “Restrepo,” was killed in the besieged city of Misurata, Libya, on Wednesday, and three photographers working beside him were wounded, one fatally, when they came under fire at the city’s front lines. MORE

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SIDEWALKING: Madonna Without Child

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011


13th & Locust, 12:51 PM by JONATHAN VALANIA

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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