US worked round the clock to stop WikiLeaks

Anons supporting Bradley Manning 450x483 US worked round the clock to stop WikiLeaks

A threat to national security, all both of them (img by savebradley)

@News24/AFP:

US officials worked around the clock to contain the fallout from the WikiLeaks scandal, a colossal leak of confidential information blamed on an US soldier, State Department personnel said on Thursday.

The comments came on the second day of a preliminary hearing for Army Private Bradley Manning, aged 24, who faces a court-martial for allegedly transferring a trove of classified documents – including military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan – to the WikiLeaks whistleblower website.

The junior intelligence analyst, whose trial is set to begin on 21 September, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of “aiding the enemy”. (more…)

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Does this pass the homeless test?

Homless and on the Move Does this pass the homeless test?

(img by Ginger Tuesday)

A little over a year ago, I went on a six-week fast. I wanted to know what it was like, why people did it, if I could do it, and how it would change me. Modeled off the old Catholic tradition of the Black Fast, the rules were this: you get one meal a day after sunset, six days a week, Sundays you can eat whatever.

The first week was easy. Annoying, but easy. Saturday night I had the best prime rib of my life. By the final week, I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t walk straight, my body was incapable of temperature regulation, and I had cramps and spasms constantly. I also did it in the spring and I became painfully conscious of the lengthening days.

You’d think you can cram in a good number of calories eating one meal a day, but over time, your stomach shrinks and you stop being able to eat in quantity. Big dinners became normal-sized dinners, and eventually small, calorically-dense meals. Towards the end on Sundays I couldn’t even eat three meals a day, although I was allowed to.

But when I go back to that, when I think about what the fast was like, I don’t think about the physical stress, that isn’t the part that sticks out the most, or even much at all. The most prominent part of that fast, what I remember most vividly, is an overwhelming feeling of being poor.

It crept in slowly over time. But eventually, it becomes everything, all day. One day, I looked down at the mail–junk–and saw a flier of coupons for the Hamburger Stand. I picked it up and read every word, I held it like a missal, I couldn’t pull myself away from the pictures of the food. I knew I couldn’t have all of it, couldn’t eat all of it, but I looked at the combos and the fancy drinks and tried to taste  them in my head to plan out how I might eat my next meal, how I would stage thing out, what order would I go in.

When you fast that long, even though it’s a construct of your own design, the desperate poverty you feel isn’t illusionary, it’s crushing. (more…)

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Watching a snake-handler die

Pastor Randy Wolford 450x340 Watching a snake handler die

Donald Dover, left, of North Carolina and Jamie Lloyd of Sidney, Ohio, right, support Pastor Randy "Mack" Wolford after he was bitten by a venomous snake. He later died. (img by Lauren Pond)

You may have heard that the somewhat-renown Pentecostal pastor Mack Wolford recently died, having succumbed to a rattlesnake bite. And while my first instinct is to chuckle, ’cause come on, this guy, for all his beliefs, is going to be remembered as a Darwin Awards candidate.

Not that he shouldn’t be remembered for that, but after reading this editorial by the photojournalist who sat by his side and documented his death, expands on what it means to die, slowly, for something you believe in, and what it means to watch it happen…

Mack’s family has accepted his death as something that he knew was coming and something that was ultimately God’s will. The pastor believed every word of the Bible and laid down his life for his conviction, they said. For them, his death is an affirmation of the Signs Following tradition: “His faith is what took him home,” said his sister Robin Vanover, 38.

Some of the people who attended last Sunday’s service have struggled with Mack’s death, as I have. “Sometimes, I feel like we’re all guilty of negligent homicide,” one man wrote to me in a Facebook message following Mack’s death. “I went down there a ‘believer.’ That faith has seriously been called into question. I was face-to-face with him and watched him die a gruesome death. . . . Is this really what God wants?”

That’s a good question.

I know many photojournalists have been in situations similar to mine. Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Carter photographed an emaciated Sudanese child struggling to reach a food center during a famine — as a vulture waited nearby. He was roundly criticized for not helping the child, which, along with the disturbing memories of the events he had covered and other factors, may have contributed to his suicide. As photojournalists, we have a unique responsibility to record history and share stories in as unbiased and unobtrusive a way as possible. But when someone is hurt and suffering, we have to balance our instincts as professionals with basic human decency and care.

I can’t say I know what I would do in a similar situation. Read the whole thing here. Also die less by not handling snakes. Durr.

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Off the grid living looks like the movies

7 evotg15 450x295 Off the grid living looks like the movies

Isn't that a scene from "Clan of the Cave Bear"? (img by Eric Valli)

Photographer Eric Valli spent a bunch of time with some off-grid people over a period of years and came up with some really interesting photographs, which only raise a bunch of questions in my mind. Who are these people? How long have they been living off grid? What are the parameters of their offgridness? The canoe dude and the bearded gun people look like they have access to modern textiles… or are they doing that themselves? The skin-wearing people look like Weta Workshop cooked them up in an afternoon.

Sometimes, I want words with my pictures. I really want to know the stories of these off-griders, accounts somewhere so I can believe them.

Do you know off-grid people? Can you tell me where to find their stories?

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Jump a rally car for my homies

I first saw rally footage in 1995 and I was immediately entranced by one driver in a Subaru Impreza sliding through turns, bashing off snow banks, and airing out his car down forest tracks, daring it to let him down.

Since that day I’ve been a fan of Colin McRae. He was a competitor of the first order, and despite what looks like pure recklessness (even by rally standards) a master of car control. He didn’t push to the raggedy edge, he lived there, for entire rally stages. When he was on, it was a thing of beauty. He would approach a turn all blood and feathers, car 3/4 sideways, looking through the window in the passenger door, foot buried in the accelerator, grass hanging from the bumpers, soil sample in the radiator scoop, and more often than not some rock rash on each corner of the car. When he was off? Well, those team mechanics need to earn their keep sometimes.

Colin died when he crashed his helicopter in September 2007, but here is a stage from the 2001 Rally Great Britain in his Ford Focus WRC car. Set it to full screen, turn up the volume, and put a pad under your jaw so you don’t hurt yourself when it drops.

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SpaceX program finally launches James Doohan’s–Scotty’s–ashes into orbit

James Scotty Doohan 450x560 SpaceX program finally launches James Doohans–Scottys–ashes into orbit

"All right, you lovelies. Hold together." (img by sandrino)

The SpaceX program has demonstrated the abilities of the private sector, combined with some eccentric wealth, can succeed at literally the highest plane of exploration and scientific achievement since the dawn of man. Its Dragon spacecraft has gone into orbit where it will continue to test its maneuvering thrusters until it meets and berths with the International Space Station.

Just under 10 minutes after launch SpaceX announced Dragon successfully reached orbit. A few minutes later, loud cheers washed over SpaceX’s factory floor as Dragon successfully deployed its solar panels.

The Dragon receives power from batteries and the pair of solar arrays. The next big event will be the opening of the Guidance, Navigation and Control Bay door in two hours and 27 minutes after launch. When the door opens, it is the first step toward the rendezvous with the ISS, according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

“This is a key new feature for this mission, which basically exposes the Proximity Operations Sensors to space so we can see the ISS as we are approaching and allow us to get close enough to berth,” Shotwell explained in a press conference on May 19. “Our star trackers also get a view of space at this time, so this is a very critical operation”

While modern and impressive as this is, the whole ordeal is overshadowed by the completion of James Doohan’s final will and testament, which read that his ashes were to be launched into space. This SpaceX launch will be the third and finally successful attempt at sending Scotty’s remains into orbit. (more…)

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