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SUICIDE BY ATF: The Death Of LaVoy Finicum

Friday, January 29th, 2016

FBI: This is the complete video footage of a joint FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop and OSP officer-involved shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. This footage, which has only been edited to blur out aircraft information, was taken by the FBI on 01/26/2016 and released by the FBI on 01/28/2016. Note regarding date/time stamp in the left corner of video: Pilots use Zulu Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), when they fly. Zulu time is eight hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Therefore, although this footage was taken on January 26, 2016 in Oregon, the date/time stamp on the video shows just after midnight January 27, 2016.

VICE NEWS: The aerial video taken by law enforcement helicopters showed Finicum speed off in a white truck from FBI and Oregon state police and nearly strike a law enforcement officer while trying to evade a police barricade before barreling into a snowbank and exiting the car. The grainy aerial footage shows Finicum raise his hands in the air and then turn and flail his arms moments before he is shot by an officer the FBI identified as a state trooper. Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland office who narrated the video for reporters, said Finicum can be seen reaching for his jacket pocket. But a lack of focus in the video makes Finicum’s precise movements prior to the shooting difficult to discern. The agents and officers do not attempt to administer first aid or attend to Finicum until roughly 10 minutes after he is shot and lying down. MORE

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SERIAL FICTION: The Perpetual Lent Of Leif Cole

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Leif Cole Chap4


Part 4

BY BLAZE ARCHER Leif is talking to the woman psychiatrist, who chased me out. There’s something about growing up poor that makes anything like that seem like you’re the hired help having to flee the room. She was a small woman. There was something bludgeoning in the way she put up her hair. Her hair was coarse and black, and so were her eyebrows.

Dropping my cigarette, I crushed it with my sneaker and walked toward the door to prepare for work. I was going to check in on Leif before I put on my scrubs. Something told me that psychiatrist shouldn’t be the last person he talked to. His face was wrinkled with tears.

The door to the roof opened. I wasn’t used to anyone else being up here this time of day. I looked into the shadow of the door and saw Leif in his hospital gown peering out of it. He had a startled expression, like he couldn’t understand what he was doing there. I began to walk toward him, but as I drew near he rushed across the roof.

He skidded to a stop at the edge of the roof, looking over the railing with a wild look. I ran across the roof and lunged at him. All I saw was his white figure, a blur of limbs and creased fabric. I grabbed him around the waist and dragged him to the ground, fumbling with his arms as he pushed against me.

“Let go of me!” He clawed at my hands frantically.

“Jesus Christ, Leif—how the Hell did you get out here?” I had pinned his arms behind his back, but his legs were still kicking. I could feel my arms going numb.
“I can’t—I can’t do this anymore!” Leif screamed. “You-you don’t know what I’ve been through, if you did you’d let me die!”

“No I wouldn’t!” Leif was still struggling, and I prayed he wouldn’t have another cardiac arrest. “Leif—nothing’s so bad that death is worth it! If you die everything’s going to be bad for the rest of your life—that’s what suicide is!”


Leif gave one last kick before going limp. The tears were streaming down his face, dripping onto my sweatshirt. Shakily, I picked him up and got to my feet. He didn’t resist.

I walked toward the open door. “They’re going to 302 you,” I said. “I’ll visit you, if you want.”

“I…I have a final request,” Leif whispered. There was something strained in his voice. I glanced down into his face. It was flushed and thin. I had never noticed how thin it was till now, this close. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him.

“What is it?” I said. Leif gulped.

“I…there’s a supply closet the janitor always forgets to lock,” he said. “I…I want you to fuck me. Please. I…I can’t handle this!”

“Um…” I stopped in my tracks, thinking over my words.

“I think…that’s a really bad idea,” I muttered. “Anyways, I’m…mostly straight. And I don’t want to have sex in a closet.”

“Mostly straight?”

JOHN CALE: Close Watch

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

M:FANS, a radical new reworking of one of John Cale’s most unique and lauded solo records, the 1982 masterpiece Music For A New Society, released last week on Double Six / Domino as M:FANS/Music For A Future Society, and it is fucking brilliant. The video features Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman and is directed by Abby Portner.

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SERIAL FICTION: The Perpetual Lent Of Leif Cole

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Leif Cole Static


Part 3

BY BLAZE ARCHER I wake up. I am lying on the floor. The carpet is a soft white yet it feels rough on my cheek. I try to sit up, but my limbs are weights and I fall back down again. I lie still and breathe in the recently shampooed carpet. The chemicals make me feel like my head is full of clouds. Even though I am on the floor, I feel like I am plummeting to Earth like a stone. Getting to my knees, I crawl toward my coat and pull out my cell phone before collapsing back on the floor. I scroll through my contacts. Lisa, likes hot wax. Brian, likes whippings. Stan, likes cock and ball torture. Feeling weak, I alight on a name. Dr. Prost.

Putting the phone on speaker, I dial the number and collapse again. The phone rings and rings into oblivion before Dr. Prost picks up. He sounds fuzzy with sleep, and breathes heavily into the receiver. “Hello,” he says. “Leif? What’s going on?”

I struggle to talk, but no words come out. I try to take a breath, but my lungs are weak. Panting into the phone, I flail for words like they are passing targets at a carnival shooting gallery, only I keep missing the shot. Dr. Prost is silent for a minute before muttering, “I’ll be right there.” He hangs up.

I continue to lie on the floor. The carpet is quickly becoming my enemy, but I can’t move. The fibers are making my lungs itch. Breathing in the carpet shampoo, I become light headed, and the carpet becomes a big cloud before my eyes. Twenty minutes passes before there is a knock at the door. I can’t get up, but continue to breathe into the carpet. The doorknob is tried, and the door is shoved open.
I can tell Dr. Prost is walking toward me because he has a very heavy stride. Every step he takes sounds like a banging of a judge’s gavel. He walks across the carpet and stops before me. All I can see are his shoes, which are beat up sneakers with run down laces with the tips missing.

“Christ, Leif, what happened?” he said. I struggle to talk, but my tongue feels like its inflated and is clogging all sound from reaching the air.

Dr. Prost kneels down, so that I can see his face. It is creased and tired, with a five o’clock shadow. He is wearing a sweatshirt and jeans with a hole in the knee. The sweatshirt appears to be from a department store like Target. Dr. Prost clutches my wrist and looks at his watch, calculating my pulse. From somewhere, Dr. Prost produces a stethoscope. Carefully rolling me over, he listens to my heartbeat. The stethoscope is cool on my bare chest. I am not wearing underwear.

“I’m calling an ambulance,” Dr. Prost says. “Is that your phone?”

I can’t nod, and so Dr. Prost picks it up anyway and dials 911. The call is brief, and soon he has hung up.

“I’m coming with you,” he says. “You didn’t take something did you?”

Dr. Prost is still kneeling on the floor beside me.

“What the Hell is that picture?” he says, glancing at an abstract photograph of a woman’s vulva on the wall. “Is that…? Huh. Kinda makes me want to be celibate, Leif.” I do not say anything, though at this point I think I can speak.

“This is a nice place you’ve got here,” Dr. Prost says. “A little too neat for my taste. It kind of reminds me of a museum in here.” There is silence as Dr. Prost looks around the living room.

“They should be here soon,” Dr. Prost says. “Do you have any family you want me to call?” Feebly I shake my head.

There is a knock at the door. Dr. Prost gets up and opens it, and two EMTs come in wheeling a gurney.
“I found him like this,” Dr. Prost says. “He’s having a tachycardia episode.”

The two EMTs lift me up and strap me into the gurney. Dr. Prost follows us as I am wheeled quickly down the hall. I gaze up at the ceiling, the pain in my chest making me soar into the whiteness of the walls.
We go down in the elevator. I feel like I am falling. The EMTs wheel me into the cold night air. All I am in is my robe, and I shiver.

I hear the EMTs open the doors of the ambulance, and I am wheeled in. Dr. Prost follows. There is a slap of a door, and the ambulance starts moving. The sirens begin to wail.

In the small back of the ambulance, Dr. Prost is close enough to me that I can tell his skin is warm, and this comforts me.

“We’re going to figure this out,” Dr. Prost assures me. “I’ll make sure of that.”

Suddenly I feel warm. A faint flush to my cheeks. I immediately begin to panic.

The EMT is administering an anti-arrhythmic medication. My heart is crushing me, but somehow Dr. Prost’s presence is making me calm and yet unsettled—as if I am a cobra being lulled to sleep by a snake charmer’s flute. His hands are large and covered in hair. They are close by me, and I wonder why he is wearing a ring but has never mentioned a wife.

The ambulance stops. A pause, and then the doors are opened, and I am wheeled into the ER where I work. The hospital is cold. I am wheeled into a white room and a doctor is walking in.

“Heart rate still elevated,” the EMT says. “Not responding to medication.”

They are going to get the defibrillator. I wait in agony.

“We’re going to figure this out, Leif.” Dr. Prost says again. “Don’t worry, I’m going to make sure of that.”

The doctor is rubbing the paddles together. The shock of electricity. My body shudders and jumps like a salmon running upstream. The beat of my heart on the monitor relaxes, and everyone exhales.

“Get an EKG,” the doctor says. His name is Dr. Robert, and I am reminded of The Beatles song whenever I see him. The doctor and the nurses disperse. Dr. Prost sits in a chair by my bed.

“Well…” he says. “Try not to be a doctor right now. You’re going to be okay.”

“I…” my throat clamps shut. “I think I’m going to die.”

“You’re not going to die,” Dr. Prost says. “Come on—did you take something?”

“No,” I say. “Dr. Prost…”

“Christ, call me Liam,” Dr. Prost says. “What is this ‘Dr. Prost’ all the time?”

“Dr. Prost…” I say. “If I die, don’t tell my family.”

“You’re going to be okay,” Dr. Prost says. “We’re going to figure this out. What were you doing when this happened?”

“Nothing,” I say, quickly. “I just…I just…”

“What?” Dr. Prost says.

“Just…please don’t leave me,” I say. I begin to cry.


Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

See? It doesn’t have to be like this. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you on behalf of money or fear.

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SERIAL FICTION: The Perpetual Lent Of Leif Cole

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


Part 2

BY BLAZE ARCHER On Dauphin Street there is a man with one gold tooth who lives in an old house that was once beautiful. He sits on the porch and yells at the neighbor’s children as they play in the front yard of their house. I’m told he has a shotgun, though I have never seen it, and he will come after me with it if I stiff him. I get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

When I enter the house, I am always greeted with a strong scent of marijuana. The man will go into a backroom I have never been in and come out again with a small bag. In this small bag is heroin. I pay him the money he is owed, which he always counts slowly, then puts into his front pants pocket, the one by his right hand.

When I get home, I put this bag atop the refrigerator with my syringes. I am not tempted to administer the heroin right then, but wait till the weekend. Knowing it is there is enough to satisfy me to the point where I feel an energy coursing through me like the feeling you get at the top of a roller coaster. I usually clean my apartment after putting the bag away, then I exercise on my exercise machine.

Tonight I am having sex with a woman named Sofia. She said she has her own restraints, which I like in a woman. I tell her that won’t be necessary. She has very large breasts, which I imagine will look very good tied up with a belt. She said she is not opposed to breaking skin. Our safe word tonight will be “red rover.”

Right now I am in my office replying to emails from colleagues. Everyone else has gone for the day, so it is quiet and the clack of my keys sound like gunshots. The reminder of the office holiday party has gone out. It is almost Christmas, and I will be working again this year.

I imagine my family will be having Christmas at my grandmother’s as usual. They will have a turkey which my mother will complain is too dry. My father will drink too much and start a political argument with my grandfather about Franklin D. Roosevelt and socialism. My sister will bring her three children, who will terrorize my grandparents’ cat. I imagine they will talk about their faggot relation and assume I am having an orgy where I will contract HIV instead of going to church.

In my office I close my Outlook and shut off my computer. Getting up stiffly, I put on my coat and pick up my briefcase, turning out the light. In the darkness I am without a body. Walking toward the elevator, I notice another light on. It is Dr. Prost’s office. Considering he always left exactly when his shift was over, I wondered what could be keeping him. I did not, however, stop to ask him, but continued to the elevator and pushed the down button.

I would take the Market Frankford Line to the Broad Street Line, which always cleaner because fewer people ride it, and get off at Dauphin Street. I walked toward the subway. It was night, and in the darkness I was, blessedly, without a body again. I walked down the stairs toward the subway turnstiles. There was no one in the subway stop, and this was strange to me. I stood on the east side of the platform. A light was approaching, and for a split second I imagined stepping in front of the train. But it was only for a second, and the thought passed. I was not suicidal. It was cold on the platform. I shivered despite my coat.

Sofia was exactly on time, which pleased Leif. They met in a Starbucks off of Rittenhouse Square. She came in wearing a tight black dress, black pantyhose, and an oversized black coat. Around her thin neck was draped a gauzy black scarf, which made her look like a mourning wife but sexier. She had a mole on her left cheek, and Leif imagined he would get much pleasure out of watching this mole while they had sex.

When she saw him, she smiled slightly, a faint flush of her dimples. She did not show her teeth, which Leif appreciated. “Hey,” she said, sitting down across from him. She did not order anything, which told Leif she was eager to get her clothes off. Leif had ordered a double espresso. It was nine o’clock at night.

“You look better now than in your pictures,” she said. “You work out?”

“Religiously,” Leif said. “Is there anything you need to know to prove I’m not a serial killer?”

“I got mace handy,” she said, shaking her head. “I can take care of myself. I’m a third degree black belt. I could totally crush your windpipe.”

This revelation turned Leif on, and he watched her eagerly. She had a hunger about the mouth, a faint perspiration on her upper lip. Her lips were full, like two pomegranates—they were painted a flushed deep red color. Leif imagined her as Persephone coming up for a spring orgasm, her vagina dilated and ready to be tamed. Leif quite enjoyed the feeling of a wet vagina on his tongue. It drove girls wild, and Leif liked how he could control their octaves and turn them up to ten. In contrast, Leif did not enjoy oral sex performed on him. There was something about the vulnerability of his cock in a mouth that made him itch. Any second, any sudden whim—and they could clamp down their teeth and bite right through like a nutcracker.

In the bright light of the Starbucks, Leif noted that there were no irregular patches on her skin, though this could be because of foundation. Her waist was slight, though she had almost overly large breasts. Leif imagined it would be hard to find a bra in her size, as she was not in any way obese. He was eager to see this bra, and unclamp it from around her chest. Leif was fascinated by women’s lingerie, the softness, the fluid contours over the woman’s curves. There was something so enticing about panties—the treasures they held securely all day, to be discarded like the eggshell of a newly hatched chick. There was one woman who would allow Leif to wear her undergarments, though Leif soon learned that asking for this of most other women made them wary of sleeping with him, and so he merely enjoyed the softness of their womanly wares on his bare skin as he removed them.


Monday, January 25th, 2016

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SERIAL FICTION: The Perpetual Lent Of Leif Cole

Monday, January 25th, 2016


Part 1

BY BLAZE ARCHER Leif Cole was a physician. He lived in a modern apartment off of Rittenhouse Square. In this apartment was a refrigerator. On top of this refrigerator was a box in which Leif Cole kept his syringes. When guests entered his apartment, they never noticed this box, and were always quick to comment on the penetrating painting of a white woman’s genitalia which took up most of the living room wall. The clitoris was especially striking, as were the palpated labia, which were as moving to the eye as the flying buttresses of Le Mont-Saint-Michel. Something French in the windows lent themselves well to the bookshelves stuffed with Proust and Gide, in the original French, with much leafed pages on which Leif had clearly lingered over, his thin fingers curling round the edges of the page like a puff of cigarette smoke curling around a red, wet mouth.

In the evening, Leif sculpted his body on an exercise machine he kept in his office. Its sleek structures jutted like ships rigging and elongated the lines in the curtains behind them, as if they were sails soaring off into the night sea air. Leif would get lost in this rigging, a gymnast in the crow’s nest, scanning the horizon in his head for enemy ships and rocky shores. His pale skin would steam with sweat, so much sea foam washing against the hull, and he’d creak and buck with every thrust of his muscles, as if he were riding a hurricane toward the eye of the storm. At a certain point the sea would level, and Leif would push so close to the edge of the horizon that he felt he could taste the ether on his tongue, a heady musk of blood and air that made his mind disappear, a wisp of cumulus and ice particles floating against the sun—to evaporate like so much mist, and drift away.

That morning, Leif was washing his face with an exfoliating treatment he got from a local salon. It was infused with green tea and ginseng, and made his face tingle when dried with a terry cloth towel. Leif would never admit this to himself, but this tingle both deeply disturbed him and pierced him with an intense, animal joy that expressed itself through the widening of his deep gray eyes. These eyes were encircled with a dark ring that penned the color in and made the whites of his eyes seem whiter, as if a light were escaping from his skull. His skull was pleasing to look at, with a slight slope at the forelock that made you think of sheets of iron or tectonic plates. His nose rose from the friction like a steep cliff, the end of the bridge slightly turned upward. In contrast, his lips were an afterthought, plucked from his face like two wilted cherry blossoms scattered on the pavement. They were colorless instead of pink, as if they had soaked too long in the rain. They made his face appear plainer than it was—if not for his lips, Leif could have been called handsome.

Leif turned off the tap and patted his face dry with a towel. The towel was periwinkle, and had been bought especially for this color. Walking out of the bathroom, Leif glanced at himself in the mirror, his muscular torso glinting with residual moisture.

He made for his closet. Dipping his hands into the swaths of white, gray, and pink fabric, he pulled out a light shirt and gray slacks, along with a gray suit jacket. Slipping into these with the ease of lubrication, Leif then picked out a tie from his tie rack. It was a striking coral color, and as Leif knotted it around his neck he was pleased with the effect—it went well with his creamy, rosy white skin. Leif’s skin was his most pleasing feature: carefully kept free of oils and dirt, it attracted the fingers of men and women, and made up for his colorless, wilted lips.

There is a strain between my eyes. It is cold like a steel door that is locked. When I open it, there is nothing but white walls. When I look in the mirror, these white walls press in on me. My muscles aren’t big enough. My stomach is not flat enough. There is a bulge between my ribs is it cancer or is it water retention? I am brushing my teeth four times a day.

For breakfast that day, Leif had a tangerine. It fell into his stomach like a stone and rested there solidly.

Leif walked into the bathroom and got on the scale. The number dialed up pound by pound. Leif’s heart stood still, then pounded when the number stopped. Leif got off the scale. His heart rate went up and up and up till his veins were pumping air. In the clouds, Leif looked down at the tile floor rushing to meet him. He felt dizzy, but walked out of the bathroom and picked up his briefcase and his Burberry coat. It was a size medium.

In the elevator, Leif looked at the button panel and avoided looking the floor length mirror occupying all the walls where his reflection reflected back on itself into infinity. A man got into the elevator. His body was sculpted by the gym, and his pants were well hung over his well-fleshed out crotch. Leif noticed the bulge of his dick fleetingly, his eyes poring over the pronounced musculature of the man’s torso and he struggled to keep his face blank of envy.

The two of them got off the elevator and parted ways. The man went left: Leif noticed his stride was bold like black coffee, and as fluid. Leif’s stride was bold too, but it was with the stiffness of a well-disciplined Marine. In the center of his legs was a weakness of the knees, but on the outside Leif was well-oiled and brisk. He went right: the sun glinted off his blond hair. He kept his briefcase exactly at a right angle to his knee. It stayed in place like a crucifix.

Every morning, Leif took the subway to 34th Street. That morning, he descended the piss-soaked stairs, holding his breath. A homeless man was slumped on the stairs, and Leif had to walk around him and fit himself into a small space between the wall to pass. Leif managed to not touch the tiled wall, and walked quickly toward the ticket booth where a crumpled trash bag of a man sat, unblinking, behind the glass. Leif swiped his trans pass, passing through the gate swiftly. He made a point of touching the turnstile as briefly as possible, so that he clacked through like an incoming train. He walked quickly past a woman carrying a suitcase. She paused, out of breath. Leif noticed the stains on her teeth.

Descending the stairs to the platform, Leif paused next to a pillar on the west side. A bright light was emerging in the tunnel, and Leif was fearing his heart would burst. Every morning, Leif dreaded the subway car and its multitude of stranger flesh. Leif would never sit on the seats, but would stand by the door. Sometimes, a back would be pressed against him, and Leif would count to ten and imagine he was in a box. The box was small, and kept a wall between him and the jacket covering the back in front of him. Sometimes there would be a tattoo on the neck, and Leif would get lost in the ink and forget it was on skin. The red of a flower, the orange of a tiger. Leif had a tattoo of a name on his thigh —“Richard.” Leif always wore pants, and never went swimming.

The train reached 34th Street, and the doors opened like the red sea and Leif crossed onto the platform and climbed the stairs into the morning sunlight. Leif began the walk toward Spruce Street, making sure to keep to the right side of the sidewalk. If he were to walk on the left side, Leif’s heart would have failed him and he would have to exit his skin. Outside his skin, he would watch his body walk and analyze the contours of his silhouette, how his clothes were draped on his body, and how his weight was distributed. Outside his skin, Leif became a walking mass of water and carbon. If he could, he would weigh each atom, and discard what tipped the scale.

Leif walked toward the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. It was a big concrete building occupying one block with an emergency room. Leif worked in the trauma department. He was known for his efficiency and keeping himself controlled when patients were screaming obscenities at the staff. Leif would calmly watch them, then say, “I’m sorry, but I need you to trust you will be taken care of.” He said this in such a firm, soft voice that people would immediately quiet down and allow Leif to administer pain killers.

THIS MACHINE KILLS COMBOVERS: Woody Guthrie HATED His Racist Landlord, Trump’s Dad

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Woody Obey
GAWKER: Guthrie’s two-year tenancy in one of Fred Trump’s buildings and his relationship with the real estate mogul of New York’s outer boroughs produced some of Guthrie’s most bitter writings, which I discovered on a recent trip to the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa. These writings have never before been published; they should be, for they clearly pit America’s national balladeer against the racist foundations of the Trump real estate empire. Recalling these foundations becomes all the more relevant in the wake of the racially charged proclamations of Donald Trump, who last year announced, “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.” […]

In the postwar years, with the return of hundreds of thousands of servicemen to New York, Fred_Donald_Trump/55efq7hy9780252038181.html” target=”_blank”>affordable public housing had become an urgent priority. For the most part, low-cost housing projects had been left to cash-strapped state and city authorities. But when the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) finally stepped in to issue federal loans and subsidies for urban apartment blocks, one of the first developers in line, with his eye on the main chance, was Fred Trump. He made a fortune not only through the construction of public housing projects but also through collecting the rents on them. When Guthrie first signed his lease, it’s unlikely that he was aware of the murky background to the construction of his new home, the massive public complex that Trump had dubbed “Beach Haven.”

Trump would be investigated by a U.S. Senate committee in 1954 for profiteering off of public contracts, not least by overestimating his Beach Haven building charges to the tune of US$3.7 million. What Guthrie discovered all too late was Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of the FHA’s guidelines for avoiding “inharmonious uses of housing” – or as Trump biographer Gwenda Blair puts it, “a code phrase for selling homes in white areas to blacks.” As Blair points out, such “restrictive covenants” were common among FHA projects – a betrayal, if ever there was one, of the New Deal vision that had given birth to the agency. […]

For Guthrie, Fred Trump came to personify all the viciousness of the racist codes that continued to put decent housing – both public and private – out of reach for so many of his fellow citizens:

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts […]

In 1979, 12 years after Guthrie had succumbed to the death sentence of Huntington’s Disease, Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett TrumpVillageVoicepublished a two-part exposé about Fred and Donald Trump’s real estate empire. Barrett devoted substantial attention to the cases brought against the Trumps in 1973 and 1978 by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. A major charge was that “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents” had “created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.” The most damning evidence had come from Trump’s own employees. As Barrett summarizes:

According to court records, four superintendents or rental agents confirmed that applications sent to the central [Trump] office for acceptance or rejection were coded by race. Three doormen were told to discourage blacks who came seeking apartments when the manager was out, either by claiming no vacancies or hiking up the rents. A super said he was instructed to send black applicants to the central office but to accept white applications on site. Another rental agent said that Fred Trump had instructed him not to rent to blacks. Further, the agent said Trump wanted “to decrease the number of black tenants” already in the development “by encouraging them to locate housing elsewhere.” MORE


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Michigan Gov To Flint Families: Let Them Eat Lead

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

NEW YORK TIMES: A top aide to Michigan’s governor referred to people raising questions about the quality of Flint’s water as an “anti-everything group.” Other critics were accused of turning complaints about water into a “political football.” And worrisome findings about lead by a concerned pediatrician were dismissed as “data,” in quotes. That view of how the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder initially dealt with the water crisis in the poverty-stricken, black-majority city of Flint emerged from 274 pages of emails, made public by the governor on Wednesday.The correspondence records mounting complaints by the public and elected officials, as well as growing irritation by state officials over the reluctance to accept their assurances. It was not until late in 2015, after months of complaints, that state officials finally conceded what critics had been contending: that Flint was in the midst of a major public health emergency, as tap water pouring into families’ homes contained enough lead to show up in the blood of dozens of people in the city. Even small amounts of lead could cause lasting health and developmental problems in children. MORE

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Portrait Of The Angel Of Death As A Young Man

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Cruz Thug Smoke


NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Cruz, the most ardent death penalty advocate of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s clerks in the 1996 term, became known at the court for his signature writing style. Nearly two decades later, his colleagues recall how Mr. Cruz, who frequently spoke of how his mentor’s father had been killed by a carjacker, often dwelled on the lurid details of murders that other clerks tended to summarize before quickly moving to the legal merits of the case. “That, I think, was a special interest of his,” said Renée Lerner, then a clerk for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who said she was impressed with how deeply Mr. Cruz delved into the facts and history of a murder case. “It was unusual for a Supreme Court clerk to do that.”

Other clerks, however, had a less admiring view of his interest. In interviews with nearly two dozen of Mr. Cruz’s former colleagues on the court, many of the clerks working in the Ted Cruzchambers of liberal justices, but also several from conservative chambers, depicted Mr. Cruz as “obsessed” with capital punishment. Some thought his recounting of the crimes — “dime store novel” was how one described his style — seemed more appropriate for a prosecutor persuading a jury than for a law clerk addressing the country’s nine foremost judges.

Melissa Hart, who clerked for one of the liberal justices, John Paul Stevens, said Mr. Cruz’s memos on death penalty appeals basically boiled down to “frivolous, meritless, deny,” and added that his writing approach “made a lot of people really angry.” In Mr. Cruz’s time as a Supreme Court clerk, a coveted step in a legal career that he had meticulously plotted out, he showed his now familiar capacity to infuriate colleagues. He also worked hard to please his powerful boss, delved into the nuances of constitutional law for long, grueling hours and sought to smooth over harsh feelings at clerk happy hours. But when he left, he was most remembered by his fellow Supreme Court clerks for his fervor for capital punishment cases, a cause that would define his legal career and help him break into politics. MORE

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Answering a question this week about climate change during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Ted Cruz was worlds apart from the scientific consensus Cruznocchio copythat sees a world that is warming because of human activity. Some of the GOP presidential candidate’s claims and how they compare with the facts:

CRUZ: “The satellites that actually measure the temperature, that we’ve launched into the air to measure the temperature, they have recorded no significant warming whatsoever for the last 18 years.”

THE FACTS: Scientists, including those who work with the very satellite measuring system that Cruz refers to, say he’s misusing the satellite data. They do show warming, albeit relatively little over the period Cruz cites, says Carl Mears, senior scientist for Remote Sensing Systems, which produces the data that Cruz refers to. But by starting his comparison period in 1997, Cruz has selected a time when temperatures spiked because of an El Nino weather pattern. Starting at an artificially high point minimizes the rate of increase since then, Mears said, adding, “If you start riding your bike at the top of a big hill, you always go downhill, at least for a while.” More important is what’s measured at the Earth’s surface, where people live, Mears said. Those ground-based systems show a greater degree of warming. The long-term trend that Mears’ satellites show is about 0.7-degree warming since 1979, when satellites started measuring temperature. Ground-based monitors show a warming of about 1 degree during the same period. And 1979 was not among the top five hottest or coldest years in the 36 years of records.Cruznocchio copy

CRUZ: “John Kerry said in 2009 the polar ice caps will be entirely melted by 2013. … Has anyone noticed the polar ice caps are still there? In fact, there was an expedition that went down to Antarctica to prove that the polar ice caps were melting … (the ship) got stuck in the ice because in fact the polar ice caps have increased. They are larger than they were. So not only was Kerry incorrect, he was spectacularly absolutely opposite the facts.”

THE FACTS: Kerry was talking about the ice cap at the North Pole, and it’s true that it hasn’t melted as he predicted. But in pointing that out, Cruz distorts the facts by referring to a ship that got stuck in Antarctic ice a world away near the South Pole. Scientists do say it’s only a matter of decades before the sea ice around the North Pole will be melted during the summer months, and some countries’ navies are already exploring the area for quicker sea routes. Scientific measurements in Antarctica — where thick ice sheets sit atop land, not floating on the ocean as in the Arctic — show the ice sheets are diminishing on one side while growing on the other. But the fact that a ship got stuck in ice in the Antarctica doesn’t tell us anything about the phenomenon.Cruznocchio copy

CRUZ: “If you’re a big-government politician, if you want more power, climate change is the perfect pseudo-scientific theory … because it can never, ever, ever be disproven.”

THE FACTS: Far from being pseudo-science, climate change is the consensus view among real scientists. “The climate is terribly complicated, but it is now remarkably well understood because so many people have made such great efforts at developing sensors and deploying sensors and making sense of what the sensors say,” says Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, and a former Democratic congressman. “It’s not just a few fanciful models on a computer, there are real data now. This is a highly developed science.” MORE



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3-MINUTE DOCUMENTARY: David Lynch Explains Why The Horror Of Philadelphia In The Late ’60s Remains His Primary Source Of Artistic Inspiration

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: David Lynch turns 70 today.

On September 10th, 2014, David Lynch gave a press conference at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to promote DAVID LYNCH: The Unified Field, the first major retrospective of his paintings in an American art museum. The retrospective is something of a homecoming for Lynch who studied painting at PAFA from 1966-1967, back when the City of Brotherly Love was a desolate hellscape of decay and despair after years of white flight, industrial collapse and seething racial animus. From 1965-1970, Lynch lived in a section of the city that has come to be known as The Eraserhood. It was in Philadelphia that Lynch first transitioned from painting into filmmaking. In 1970, he headed to Los Angeles to begin work on Eraserhead. At the press conference, Lynch talked about how he drew inspiration from the horrors he witnessed during his days in Philadelphia, and expressed his sadness that the city is no longer a soot-stained miasma of fear and loathing and ultra-violence, that his malevolent Rosebud has been rendered harmless and ordinary by gentrification. The short film you are about to watch is a compendium of Lynch’s remarks about filmmaking, painting, smoking, and the nature of art. Filmed and edited in high Lynch-ian style, this short film incorporates David Lynch’s music, paintings, and films along with his charm, wit and insight into the creative process. A must-see for fans of his work.

RELATED: ‘That Gum You Like Is Coming Back In Style’

RELATED: David Lynch: Eraserhead Stories

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SPACE ODDITY: Phantom Planet Discovered One Week After David Bowie Dies — Coincidence?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016



NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: A planet larger than Earth could be hiding in the cold, dark depths of the solar system. The presence of the planet, which would lie far beyond Pluto, is betrayed by the curious orbits of a handful of distant icy worlds. As described Wednesday in the Astronomical Journal, the gravitational signature of a large, lurking planet is written into the peculiar orbits of these farflung worlds. Called extreme Kuiper Belt Objects, the misbehaving bodies trace odd circles around the sun that have puzzled scientists for years. It’s tantalizing evidence that a ninth large planet might live in the solar system, though the world hasn’t been detected yet. “If there’s going to be another planet in the solar system, I think this is it,” says Greg Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “It would be quite extraordinary if we had one. Fingers crossed. It would be amazing.” The team calculated that the planet, if it’s there, would be about 10 times as massive as Earth, or roughly three times larger. MORE

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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