Dire News


Violence on TV

by on Apr.16, 2015, under History, Media, War and Terrorism

The Viet Nam war brought home the horrors of the battlefield in a way that we had never seen before. vietnam_exe The rules of war hadn't changed. There were atrocities committed by both sides. viet_napalm Napalm didn't respect allegiance, and the U.S. used it with abandon. viet_monkprotest In protest of the war, peaceful monks went on hunger strikes ... or immolated themselves. viet_kidsoldiers In the 60's and 70's, when these pictures were taken, we still had first amendment protections in the U.S. To find out what was really going on, newsmen and photographers went into the jungle, putting themselves in great danger. viet_mylai They exposed the My Lai massacre when the government tried to cover it up. They were there from the beginning of U.S. involvement viet_embassyfence and hung around until the end, witnessing and photographing the abandonment of the U.S. embassy, and many of our desperate allies. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The vivid depiction of blood and gore resulted in massive protests across the nation. viet_protest_generations Disaffection spanned generations and race. The government reacted. Wounded Kent State student John Cleary is attended to by other s The Governor sent the National Guard in to quell a protest at Kent State University, resulting in 4 student deaths. Dean Rusk, U.S. Secretary of State, called the war "the first struggle fought on television in everybody's living room every day." If the U.S. government learned anything from the Vietnam War, it's that suppressing coverage minimizes dissent. The new paradigm is the "embedded reporter". Instead of just letting the journalists and photographers have the run of the country, they are assigned to a military unit, where they have food, shelter, and can be kept safe, and see the war from the point of view of their benefactors and protectors. em_reporter It also controls the flow of information. There's no way to file stories or send pictures without the cooperation of the military. em_geraldo Even when the networks and new services send their best, they are still hampered by military censorship. jarecke01 When embedded journalist Kenneth Jarecke came across the scene on February 28, 1991, he felt compelled to document the burned-out Iraqi military convoys and incinerated corpses. One of his colleagues asked why he wanted to photograph such a distasteful scene. “I’m not interested in it either,” Jarecke recalls replying. He told the officer that he didn’t want his mother to see his name next to photographs of corpses. “But if I don’t take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see in movies.” As Hermanson remembers, Jarecke added, “It’s what I came here to do. It’s what I have to do.” jarecke2 Straying from the press pool was against the rules, but Jarecke was determined to get his pictures. And when government censorship failed, the media censored itself. The media took it upon themselves to “do what the military censorship did not do,” says Robert Pledge, the head of the Contact Press Images photojournalism agency that has represented Jarecke since the 1980s. The night they received the image, Pledge tells me, editors at the Associated Press’ New York City offices pulled the photo entirely from the wire service, keeping it off the desks of virtually all of America’s newspaper editors. It is unknown precisely how, why, or by whom the AP’s decision was handed down. jarecke3 Time Magazine received the picture, and the editors fought to publish it, but Managing Editor Henry Muller refused. Photo Director Michele Stephenson says it was, to her recollection, the only instance during the Gulf War where the photo department fought but failed to get an image into print. War is hell, and we need to keep reminding ourselves. The Atlantic has a more in-depth account of Kenneth Jarecke.
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Inside Story

by on Jul.31, 2014, under Art, History, Technology, Weapons

Sir Thomas Overbury wrote in 1613: "All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin deep." renaissance-nude-lead We don't know anything about Overbury's wife, but we've always heard that it's what's inside that counts. Gun deaths have  declined 49% since 1993, nevertheless the extensive and shocking press coverage has polarized the United States on the subject of gun violence. gun_control030413 Scientists and engineers, in addition to gun enthusiasts, can understand the beauty of the designs behind certain firearms. They are machines, designed by brilliant minds of their times, and their esthetics often reflect the thought that goes to what lays inside. gunshop_1900 These x-rays by artist Nick Veasey turn these ominous looking weapons into fascinating art. The Smith & Wesson .44 revolver sw_44_l veasey-sw44 Walther PPK ppk_silenced_2 veasey-waltherppk Magnum Research Desert Eagle magde veasey_deserteagle Mauser C96 mauc96mag   veasey_mauserc96 Franchi SPAS 12 Shotgun SPAS 12 veasey_spas12   Anschutz 1418 Riflean1418ST   veasey_anschutz M1 Garand M1_Garand veasey_m1garand     Thompson M1928 "Tommy Gun" Thompson-M1928 veasey_thompsonm1 MG42 MG42 veasey_mg42 M14 M14 veasey_m14 M16 w/ M23 Grenade Launcher M2031 veasey-m16 M60 M60GPMG veasey-m60 H&K UMP-9 hk_ump-9 veasey_hkump

Gun X-rays © Nick Veasey

The x-ray pictures make these menacing weapons look intriguing and non-threatening. They become art.


bullet_skull03 bullet_scrotum
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Crossing The Line

by on Jul.30, 2014, under Animals, Culture, History, Racism, Religion, War and Terrorism

Islam is a paradoxical religion. Like Christianity, it has a history of using violence to advance the religion while preaching discipline and self-sacrifice. The Koran is the framework for Islam, just as the Christian bible is the framework for Christianity. And like Christianity, there are different sects of Islam. sunnishia It's hard to know how widespread some Muslim practices are, but people in the Western Hemisphere might find some of them discomforting. muslim_marriage The Prophet Mohammed had an 8-year old wife, so most Muslims wouldn't consider letting their daughters marry below that age. 8-year old Rawan from Yemen died on her wedding night. bachabazi01 Young girls aren't the only option available. bachabazi02 If you have enough money, you can have Bacha Bazi boys. bachabazi03 The boys are usually dressed in costumes, to dance and otherwise entertain their owner and his friends. Sex with young boys is neither considered to be homosexual nor illegal extramarital sex. cir015 Female circumcision is not practiced exclusively by Muslims but many of them consider it to be a cultural tradition. islam_hand Limbs, like hands and feet, may be cut off for various offenses, like stealing, or handling the wrong literature. It's usually done in public. muslim_stoned People are stoned to death for such things as sex outside of marriage, or associating with someone from another sect or religion. muslim_heads1 They behead their victims and proudly display their trophies. muslim_heads2 What could possibly be so horrible that it offends people like this? puppy_sibhusk The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth games recently held in Scotland features Scottie dogs, each representing a participating country. cgames01 Mohamad Sabu, the deputy president of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party said, "Malaysia and all Islamic countries deserve and apology from the organizer. This is just so disrespectful to Malaysia and Muslims – especially as it happened during Ramadan. Muslims are not allowed to touch dogs, so the organizer should have been more aware and sensitive on this issue. It is hoped this incident can teach other Western countries to be more respectful in the future." cgames02 Dato Ibrahim Bin Ali, a far-Right politician, former MP and founder and president of Malay supremacist group Perkasa also called for an apology. "I think it is unbecoming. The hosts have not been sensitive enough – especially in a so-called knowledgeable and civilised society like Britain," he said. "It is shameful and has offended not only Malaysia as a Muslim country, but Muslims around the world." cgames03 We have it on good authority that Muslims don't like Scotland's other namesake famous product. whisky_springbank
A police force has apologized to Islamic leaders for the "offensive" postcard advertising a new non-emergency telephone number, which shows a six-month-old trainee police dog named Rebel.
The German shepherd puppy has proved hugely popular with the public, hundreds of whom have logged on to the force's website to read his online training diary. Police Poster Many Muslims believe that dogs are impure and therefore 'haraam' - or forbidden - except for use in hunting or farming, and that it is not hygienic to keep a dog in the house. They say that the "impurity of dogs is the greatest of animal impurities", and anyone who touches one must wash the body part that has come into contact with the animal seven times. puppies_sink We're not sure how that applies to postcards.
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The Bell Ringer

by on Jul.22, 2014, under Crime, Culture, Health, History, Religion

Sergey Bogdanov, 28, was on vacation from Russia, spending time in the village of Mandrem. He visited a local temple to take pictures. sergey1

He told Russian media by telephone, "It seemed really peaceful here and the locals are friendly, all that changed when I went to a local temple to take a few pictures and I saw a bell which I rang."

mandrem He wasn't aware that the bell was sacred, and is only rung for Puja, which entails showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. temple_bell For this act, Sergey Bogdanov, from the Russian seaport city of Kaliningrad, said he was badly beaten by a mob after ringing the bell and was even refused help by doctors.

"Before I knew it there was a mob rushing up to the temple and I was dragged out onto the streets and kicked and beaten with sticks."


‘Some monks dragged me away from the mob but they then didn’t help me at all, and I had to make my own way to the local medical centre where the doctors had heard about my apparently sacrilegious act – and they also refused to help me other than giving me a few bandages."


“My wallet and my money had vanished and I had no alternative but to go back to my accommodation in agony. I managed to get a telephone message to my mother who flew over immediately but I need paperwork and money to fly back with her. My poor mother almost had a heart attack when she saw me, she is doing her best to look after me but I need proper medical attention that I can only get it seems in Russia.” Mr Bogdanov has appealed to Putin to help him get the paperwork and a ticket back home via the Russian Embassy in Mumbai.
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It’s A Boy’s Life In The BSA

by on Oct.05, 2013, under Culture, Education, Family, History, Kids, Parenting, Recreation

The Boy Scouts of America has agreed for the first time to allow openly gay boys as members, a decision we see as long overdue. bs-rally In a statement released by the Boy Scouts of America after the historic vote, they said: "For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training." bshbf65 They always been an inclusive organization, as their statement continues, welcoming white Christian boys of all kinds. But they're ready to open up to an even wider group. bs-deutcsh "Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change. ..." ScoutHandbookCovers It's never been about homosexuality at all. "The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place." scountmaster_interest At least when it comes to kids. But no adults. Gay adults are creepy. The scoutmaster isn't at all creepy: He's just interested in boys. Gay kids have actually been welcome for decades, as you can see from the cover of the 1960 Boy Scout Handbook. But gay scouts have been around well before these cheery lads appeared in the Boy's Life centerfold. bshbfc3227 In 1923 the Boy Scouts adopted the "left hand clasp" as the official Boy Scout secret handshake. bs-lefthand   It's actually the same handshake members of the gay community use to identify each other without being obvious. scout-hs The scoutmasters teach the same skills to every boy, regardless of his orientation. These are things that he thinks may come in handy while you're isolated while camping. For example, you may be in a situation where you have to take your clothes off fast. Your scoutmaster can teach you how to disrobe in 20 seconds and he will probably encourage you to practice as much as possible.


Today's scouts are conscientious about the environment. They know how to clean up their camp site, set up a campfire safely, and  to leave nature undisturbed. There are even environmental awareness patches and awards.


Conservation is an especially important topic for scouts, who are at an age when conservation is crucial to the survival of their generation.


There's a whole section on it in the Boy Scout Handbook, with a lot of detail about leaving things untouched.


Today's scouts enjoy activities to encourage trust.




And bonding experiences they'll never forget.


Greater inclusion means that more boys can benefit from scouting and what it teaches, helping to turn today's children into adults well-prepared for their future.


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Point and Shoot

by on Jun.02, 2013, under Animals, Consumer, Education, Environment, History, Media, Nature, Technology

If you live in the U.S. and wondered who made the first movie camera, you were probably told that it was Thomas Edison. Edison-cine It's typical of the U.S., as it used to be in Western Europe, to ignore scientific and technological discoveries until we reveal them for ourselves. Not to belittle his accomplishments, but much of Edison's success was in making practical the inventions of others, and his business acumen. kinetoscope-1 Edison took the Zoopraxiscope invented by English photographer Eadweard Muybridge and turned it into the first true motion picture peepshow.

Old Fashioned Peep Show

In 1882, a few years before Edison created the modern pornographic movie industry, French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey wanted to capture the motion of birds and small animals to study their movement, a discipline known as chronophotography.

Etienne Jules Marey Seated In Laboratory

He invented the Fusil Photographique, or "photographic rifle", which allowed Marey to track his subjects while shooting his images, effectively developing the technique of "panning" the camera.


The magazine holds a light sensitive gelatin emulsion plate that's big enough for 25 frames. The exposure is through one of the 12 shutters in front of the plate and the camera could take 12 exposures a second.


Focusing was accomplished by changing the length of the barrel.


It predates the reflex camera. It's a point-and-shoot.

marey3The ultimate result is a collection of images that are viewed in rapid sequence.


We suggest a few basic rules:

  • Know when it's loaded.
  • Don't put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
  • Don't have a finger in front of the barrel.

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Over A Barrel

by on Jan.26, 2013, under Crime, Culture, History, Recreation, Weapons

However you interpret it, the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. With the British violations of civil rights before and during the American Revolution still fresh in the minds of the citizens of the new country, certain rights were amended to the Constitution to ensure that they wouldn't be subject to the same tyranny from their own new government. gunfetus Some consider it to be a birthright. Kids have fond memories of their first hunting or assault rifle.


Entire families participate in shooting activities.


Gun owners in the US don't all hunt or keep firearms for self-protection. Shooting is a recognized sport, and there are a number of shooting events in the Olympics. There are training programs to teach kids safety and marksmanship. 200323586-001 Some of the programs are sponsored by the government. paleskids-ak47 What it really comes down to is that it's no different than any other sport or potentially dangerous recreational activity. Motorcycle riders, skydivers, ATV's... as a society we recognize that people are entitled to engage in risky behavior if they choose, and we expect them to pay the consequences if they exceed their boundaries.


  shootingsfun68 On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring 500. Many of the victims were children. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil up to then. No guns were involved. Not a single shot was fired. okc-bombing_3
All of the materials used to build the bomb were legally obtained. Nobody deemed it practical or reasonable to make it illegal to buy diesel fuel, fertilizer, or rent a truck.
The twin towers of the World Trade Center were brought down by terrorists armed with box cutters. The government's reaction was to curtail rights to privacy and freedom for law-abiding citizens. We've had to learn to live with warrantless wiretaps, "extraordinary rendition", and "Homeland Security", an Orwellian sounding organization that could have come out of the Nazi or Soviet states. The TSA performs intrusive searches and infants and the disabled, while letting Richard Reid board with bombs in his shoes, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab take flight with an underwear bomb.
At one time we were certain we knew what constituted an assault weapon. The most important distinguishing feature was automatic fire. But Congress believes that adding an adjustable buttstock or pistol grip, which make the weapon more manageable, or a shroud to protect your hand from the heat of the barrel, or a flash hider to help you maintain your night vision make your hunting rifle into an assault rifle. None of these additions change the fundamental way the rifle shoots but Congress believes that making them illegal will save lives.
Here's a stock Saiga AK Sporter rifle. It's made by Izhmash Arms, the premiere manufacturer of AK-47's in Russia.
And here's the same rifle dressed for prom. It looks like something you'd see in Call of Duty, but outside of esthetics, it's the exact same rifle. Under the current proposals, the sport style rifle might remain legal, while the tactical model wouldn't.
Mass killings didn't come with the invention of the assault rifle. A determined killer will find the means. The deadliest school killing in US history was in 1927, at an elementary school in Bath, Michigan. A school board member named Andrew Kehoe, wired the building with dynamite.
The school exploded at 8:45 a.m. on May 18, 1927. It was determined later that a short circuit prevented the ignition of 500 pounds of dynamite and a few sacks of gunpowder, otherwise there would have been more damage.
After the initial blast, Kehoe loaded his truck with additional explosives and drove to the school. Thirty minutes after the initial attack, while conversing with the superintendent, he detonated the truck bomb, killing himself, the superintendent, and a few others. Kehoe’s actions killed 45 people, 38 of whom were children.
In Newtown, Connecticut, Sandy Hook School killer Adam Lanza used an AR-15, a semi-automatic replica of the military M16 assault rifle to kill 26 people, including 22 kids. Firearm opponents want to limit the number of rounds a magazine can hold to 10, 7, or even 5.
Adam Lanza had 30-round magazines, It was reported that all of the magazines recovered contained at least 15 rounds. Even if they were fully loaded initially, smaller magazines wouldn't have reduced the carnage.
A school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland resulted in the deaths of 16 five and six year old children, along with their teacher. Shortly after 9 a.m. on March 13, 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a 43-year-old former Scout leader, burst into the gymnasium of a primary school in the tranquil Scottish town and started shooting.
There was a huge public reaction in Scotland, and a highly successful public campaign against gun ownership. The change in UK public sentiment regarding firearms began nine years earlier in Hungerford, Berkshire when 27-year-old Michael Ryan decided to have a day out in Savernake Forest. He took along two rifles, including a fully automatic AK-47, and a pistol. As he neared the entrance to the forest, he shot Sue Godfrey just as she was putting her children in the car to leave.
By the end of his rampage, he had shot and killed 16 people, wounded several others, killed his mother, set her house on fire, and ultimately killed himself.
Within a year and a half of the Dunblane massacre, UK lawmakers had passed a ban on the private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain, giving the country some of the toughest anti-gun legislation in the world.
Although sport shooters were angry, England doesn't have the same kind of gun culture as the United States and many thousands of weapons were voluntarily surrendered after each of those incidents. All small-bore pistols, including the .22 caliber, were included in the ban, along with rifles used by target shooters. Penalties for anyone found in possession of illegal firearms range from heavy fines to prison terms of up to 10 years.
How effectively would such a ban work in the United States? At the time of the UK ban, there were about 200,000 registered handguns in England, most owned by sport shooters. It's estimated that there are over 270,000,000 modern weapons in circulation in the United States.
In Antoine de Saint Exupéry's Le Petit Prince, the young hero encounters a king, who rules over his tiny planet. He tolerates no disobedience, and insists that his authority must be respected. pp-king

"I should like to see a sunset . . . Do me that kindness . . . Order the sun to set . . ."

"If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?" the king demanded. "The general, or myself?"

"You," said the little prince firmly.

"Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform," the king went on. "Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable."

"Then my sunset?" the little prince reminded him: for he never forgot a question once he had asked it.

"You shall have your sunset. I shall command it. But, according to my science of government, I shall wait until conditions are favorable."

"When will that be?" inquired the little prince.

"Hum! Hum!" replied the king; and before saying anything else he consulted a bulky almanac. "Hum! Hum! That will be about--about--that will be this evening about twenty minutes to eight. And you will see how well I am obeyed!"

How would gun owners in the United States react? Some gun buyback operations have gotten hundreds of weapons off the streets.


But many of the weapons aren't operational or complete anyway, and nobody believes that criminals brought their weapons for disposal.


Even if the government were to prohibit ownership of firearms, they are likely to discover more disobedience and less respect for authority than they would like. Our impression of the British in the US is that they politely queue for buses, and always mind the gap in the Underground. They respect law and order. And they have strict laws against private gun ownership. Simon Berni was renovating his uncle's house in the village of Dinas Powys, near Cardiff, when he encountered a false wall. berni1 After breaking it open, he discovered some items wrapped in newspapers from March 1996, just a few days after the Dunblane massacre. berni5 There was a stash of more than 30 shotguns and pistols, as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition. berni2 They were all greased for storage and well-wrapped. berni4 One set of guns was found hidden in a space behind a wall heater. Another was discovered behind a drywall panel. berni3 Police believe that the guns were unregistered, and the owner hid them rather than turning them in when the strict new firearms laws took effect. berni7 He is thought to have died after concealing the firearms without having told anybody about them. berni8 Mr. Berni commented that he "was shocked because there weren't any bricks in the wall but a lot of shotgun barrels and hand guns. They obviously belonged to somebody who knew what they were doing as they were all greased and beautifully wrapped up in newspaper." dinas1 Police were called in to carry out a search with sniffer dogs to be sure they've found all the guns. dogs-guns
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Women’s Work

by on Dec.30, 2012, under Consumer, Culture, Family, Health, History, Recreation, Technology

Ladies' personal appliances have come a long way. The first ones were hand operated. The hand-job gave way to the blow-job as pneumatic vibrators gained in popularity. Vibrator technology didn't improve at all during the steam era, although it did bring about larger and more powerful devices.

However delightful the motion, the scalding steam and flames could be detrimental to the moment.

Steam gave way to the modern electric personal vibrators that are familiar to us today.

Technological progress and design marched on.

 As appealing as these technological marvels were, they still had a few fundamental flaws. * They needed external power. High pressure air, steam, and electric line power can be hazardous in wet or slippery situations, and keep the user tethered to the power source. * Limited versatility. Some had heat and ultraviolet light settings, and different power and speed levels, but it was all under user control and had to be switched manually. * Virtually all of these devices were designed by men who weren't the intended users. Beth Scott was looking for a remote controlled vibrator, and settled on the LELO Lyla Cerise Egg Vibe, which comes with a wireless remote. It has a lot of benefits that the earlier models lack. It's waterproof, rechargeable, silicone, and it has a remote control. But its biggest innovation is that it gives some feedback. According to the manufacturer: Lyla is the premium egg-like massager in the world today, to be enjoyed externally or worn internally for a range of thrilling sensations. Featuring LELO's pioneering Sense Motion technology and a wireless remote with a range of up to 12 meters/ 39 feet, powerful vibration patterns are adjusted by the controller with a simple tilt of the hand. Meanwhile a discreet motor inside the controller mirrors Lyla's vibrations to show what a partner is feeling. Wonderfully quiet, fully waterproof and rechargeable with a beautifully smooth silicone design, Lyla brings an array of untold possibilities in couples play.

It's available in black, cerise, and deep rose, which are actual colors. The wireless controller adjusts vibration speed and intensity through a choice of six pre-set patterns, or with a flick of the wrist in two SenseMotion modes. The controller mirrors the same vibration patters as the massager.

Beth enjoyed her new toy. But she was thinking about it like a mechanical boyfriend.

There are some things I really like about this toy. The vibrator itself is reasonably strong, rechargeable, waterproof, and quite comfortable. I was much less happy with the remote. The radio range was rather lackluster, and using the controls made me feel more like I was programming a VCR (remember those?) than having sex. The optional accelerometer input on the remote was a good idea, but I feel like the execution leaves much to be desired. The controls are laggy, and controlling the vibrator by tilting the controller never really felt right to me. So, naturally, I wanted to see if I could do better. Beth hacked her vagina and came up with a truly personal vibrator.

You can see the details of her "Hack My Vagina" project at http://scanlime.org/2012/11/hacking-my-vagina/.

We believe there could be a market for a device that records the process. You could replay your favorites, or buy celebrity orgasms on line.

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