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January 26, 2012

The New French Hacker-Artist Underground

The New French Hacker-Artist Underground | Magazine
Thirty years ago, in the dead of night, a group of six Parisian teenagers pulled off what would prove to be a fateful theft. They met up at a small caf� near the Eiffel Tower to review their plans—again—before heading out into the dark. Lifting a grate from the street, they descended a ladder to a tunnel, an unlit concrete passageway carrying a cable off into the void. They followed the cable to its source: the basement of the ministry of telecommunications. Horizontal bars blocked their way, but the skinny teens all managed to wedge themselves through and ascend to the building’s ground floor. There they found three key rings in the security office and a logbook indicating that the guards were on their rounds. But the guards were nowhere to be seen. The six interlopers combed the building for hours, encountering no one, until they found what they were looking for at the bottom of a desk drawer—maps of the ministry’s citywide network of tunnels. They took one copy of each map, then returned the keys to the security office. Heaving the ministry’s grand front door ajar, they peeked outside; no police, no passersby, no problem. They exited onto the empty Avenue de S�gur and walked home as the sun rose. The mission had been so easy that one of the youths, Natacha, seriously asked herself if she had dreamed it. No, she concluded: “In a dream, it would have been more complicated.” This stealthy undertaking was not an act of robbery or espionage but rather a crucial operation in what would become an association called UX, for “Urban eXperiment.” UX is sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of “restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn’t have the means to maintain.” The group claims to have conducted 15 such covert restorations, often in centuries-old spaces, all over Paris. What has made much of this work possible is UX’s mastery, established 30 years ago and refined since, of the city’s network of underground passageways—hundreds of miles of interconnected telecom, electricity, and water tunnels, sewers, catacombs, subways, and centuries-old quarries. Like computer hackers who crack digital networks and surreptitiously take control of key machines, members of UX carry out clandestine missions throughout Paris’ supposedly secure underground tunnels and rooms. The group routinely uses the tunnels to access restoration sites and stage film festivals, for example, in the disused basements of government buildings. . . .

December 27, 2011

Was Nixon in the closet?

Possibly yes. According to a new biography. Joe. My. God.: Did Nixon Have A Gay Affair?
According to a new biography of Richard Nixon, Tricky Dick had a long-running gay affair with Mafia-insider Bebe Robozo, who was investigated for acting as a money-carrying middleman between Howard Hughes and Nixon. Fulsom uses recently revealed documents and eyewitness interviews — including with FBI agents — to shed new light on long-standing suspicions among White House insiders that Nixon may have been more than just good buddies with Rebozo. He claims Nixon's relationship with Pat, his wife of 53 years, was little more than a sham. A heavy drinker whom his own staff dubbed 'Our Drunk', Nixon used to call his First Lady a 'f***ing bitch' and beat her before, during and after his presidency, says Fulsom. The pair had separate bedrooms at the White House — and in Key Biscayne, the exclusive resort near Miami where Nixon holidayed, Mrs Nixon didn't even sleep in the same building. Rebozo, however, was in the house next door. Fulsom claims one of Nixon's former military aides had a secret job 'to teach the President how to kiss his wife' so they would look like a convincing couple.

December 02, 2011

Ohio men used fake job posting to lure in loners and then murder them

Three Lured to Death in Ohio by Craigslist Job Ad - NYTimes.com
To their eyes, the advertisement on Craigslist, offering $300 a week, a free trailer and unlimited fishing to “watch over a 688 acre patch of hilly farmland and feed a few cows,” may have seemed like a sign that their luck was finally turning. Instead, in a scheme so macabre that residents here are already speculating on when it will be turned into a movie script, three of the four men, one from Virginia, one from the Akron area and one still unidentified, were lured to their deaths, their bodies buried in shallow graves. The fourth man, from South Carolina, who was hired and driven to the property in rural southern Ohio, was shot in the arm but escaped and alerted the authorities. The “farm” was in fact land owned by a coal company. More bodies may still be found, as the bogus advertisement, which was picked up by online job aggregators, drew more than 100 responses from Ohio and other states. In Ohio, hit hard by the recession, the abundance of eager applicants pulled in by the advertisement has surprised no one, stirring talk about the lengths that people will go these days to find employment. “People here are desperate for work,” said a clerk at a motel in Akron, whose employer did not want him to give his name. . . .