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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Artist and author writes that tech firm will provide all Gmail correspondence and gif novel he was working on, and post data from site to new domain post-by-post

Artist and author Dennis Cooper re-launched his popular blog on Monday after months of legal disputes with Google, who many accused of censorship.

The artist posted a message on the blogs Facebook account on Friday to explain Googles reasoning for erasing his 14-year-old blog, which housed a gif novel he was working on.

According to Cooper, someone had reported a post on DCs Blog, which was hosted on the Google-owned Blogspot, from 10 years ago as they felt it constituted child abuse images, and Google immediately deactivated his account.

The post was part of a Self-Portrait Day series in which Cooper asked users to send him things related to a topic he selected.

In 2006, I did one of those posts where I asked people to send me things they thought were sexy, he wrote on Facebook. Cooper said he placed the post behind an adult content warning after seeing some of the responses.

Coopers DCs Blog had been a prime destination for fans of experimental literature and avant garde writing. It was updated six times a week, highlighting film, fiction and music he enjoyed. Coopers work often depicts sexuality and violence in graphic terms, and some of the writing and images dealt with similar themes.

When his blog was removed without warning, it raised first amendment concerns in the art community, and many were worried he may have suffered censorship at the hands of Google.

Its just yet another means by which certain members of the government or certain internet conglomerates have decided to make it impossible for culture to be produced, Stuart Comer, a curator at MoMA and a longtime fan of Coopers work, told the Guardian when the site was first taken down.

Coopers troubles started two months ago when his Gmail was disabled without reason. He later attempted to log into his blog and received a notice saying it was suspended due to a violation of Googles terms of service. Cooper lost 10 years worth of correspondence in his emails, all his blogposts, and a gif novel called Zacs Freight Elevator, which was slated for release in the coming months.

Cooper told the Guardian that Google originally provided no explanation for taking down his site and didnt respond to the lawyers he enlisted; even Google employees who were fans of his work were unable to uncover what happened.

Cooper received an outpouring of support from fans of his work which resulted in several articles on the issue from international media outlets, a statement of support from PEN America and a petition to recover the blog.

According to Coopers Facebook post, Google began negotiating with his lawyer on 15 July and eventually agreed to provide all the data from his disabled blog, the data from his 10 years of correspondence in his Gmail account and his novel. The data from his site will be put up on a new site, post-by-post on a new domain, starting on Monday.

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One of TVs best comedies and one of streamings best dramas return for new seasons, and Vicelands exploration of all things weed is back for season two

Returning series

Youre the Worst

Youre the Worst Photograph: FX Networks/Courtesy Everet/RE

Of all the comedies about awful people living in Los Angeles, this is really the only one worth checking out. The third season picks up right after season two concluded when Gretchen and Jimmy professed their love for each other. The new episodes will deal with their evolving and unique relationship as well as Gretchen grappling with her clinical depression, which was a big thread last summer. To help her get through it, she has a new therapist, played by Samira Wiley from Orange Is the New Black. Music publicist Gretchen also has a new client: Ben Folds, playing a version of himself. Dont worry, Jimmy will have some issues of his own, including the commercialization of Sunday Funday. Yes, its an issue important to all of us. FXX, Wednesday31 August 10pm ET


Weediquette. Photograph: Vice

Vices cable channel, Viceland, only launched this March, but already one of its shows is back for a second season. Host Krishna Andavolu travels the country meeting the people who buy, sell, cultivate, cook, smoke and love marijuana. If this cant get it legalized, then nothing can. For all of those who want to catch up on the first season which looked at weed in the Congo, gender equality in the pot industry, and kids who use medicinal marijuana, among other topics its available online. All of the stoners out there shouldnt puff puff pass this one up. Viceland, Wednesday 31 August 10pm ET


Building Star Trek

Star Trek. Photograph: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

Star Trek turns 50 years old in early September. To celebrate the shows birthday, Smithsonian Channel (yes, its a thing) put together this look at its influence not on pop culture, but on science and technology. It examines all of the advances that the show predicted (cellphones, personal computers, leggings as apparel) and how some of its technology might actually be possible soon. While Trekkers might not find much new here, casual fans and science nerds will find plenty to beam them up. Smithsonian Channel, Sunday 4 September 8pm and 11pm ET

New on streaming services


If you want to know what happens in the second season of this show about the life of the notorious Colombian cocaine impresario Pablo Escobar, all you have to do is visit his Wikipedia page. However, thats not nearly as vivid as watching him try to keep his grip on power as his country crumbles from narcotics-related crime and the DEA tries to shut him down. Even though we all know how the life of Pablo pans out, this is still one of the freshest and most surprising dramas around, packed with great performances and insane details you wont believe are true. And if you dont, well, just ask Wikipedia. Netflix, Friday 2 September

Around the web

Halt and Catch Fire playlist

You may be sick of people telling you to watch AMCs drama about the computer industry in the 80s, but this isnt one of those pleas. Each season, the shows music supervisor, Thomas Golubic, provides the creative team with a vast playlist of music with tunes that were released that year. You dont have to be a writer on the show to listen to the four-plus hours of music that Golubic laid out for inspiration, because his playlist is available on Spotify. The 1986 selections include tracks from everyone from superstars like the Smiths, Duran Duran, and Talking Heads to forgotten acts like the Motels, That Petrol Emotion, and the Blow Monkeys.

TV news

John Cleese in talks to return to TV

Marcia Clark lands a pilot deal with NBC

Lifetime gives Britney Spears the made-for-TV treatment

Amazon adapting The Departed for TV

Ryan Lochte may appear on Dancing with the Stars

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With the Boss still in prime stadium-filling form, and with plenty of intimate truths still to give up, his new tome promises more than the average rock memoir

Virtually all rock memoirs follow a similar pattern of rise and fall, before ending with acceptance brought on by sobriety, spirituality, the death of peers, or just the plain realisation that its not worth hating your bandmates any more. Virtually all, too, are at their best in their early pages covering the early years when the passion for music still burns bright, when its all still fun, when the star is rising, rather than burning out.

The cover of Springsteens new memoir. Photograph: Simon & Schuster UK

Bruce Springsteens memoir, Born to Run, out at the end of September, looks as if it might be a little different. For a start, theres his status: no bass player with a second-rate hair-metal band, he. Its hard to imagine this will be bathos-laden, often one of the only selling points of lesser rock biogs. His status, too, is current: no one else has spent as long as Springsteen selling out stadiums, year after year, to ecstatic receptions. No one else of his stature seems to feel the need to commune with their flock with such frequency.

Then there are the precedents: among his generation (and his commercial and critical peers), both Bob Dylan and Neil Young have produced books that steered well clear of the traditional rock volume. Dylan told a meandering narrative that avoided many major events, telling the stories less told. Youngs dwelled heavily on his passions audio fidelity, green motoring while his relationship with Crosby, Stills and Nash was dismissed with startling brevity.

Less ornery than either of them in his public image, at least Springsteen is likely to offer his fans a more straightforward read. The foreword to Born to Run, which he released on his website recently, promises to answer the two questions that occupy the mind of anyone watching someone undeniably great working a stage: how do they do that, and why do they do that?

Why, after 50 years as a musician, after more than 40 playing the song that gives the book its name, does Springsteen still need to hear 90,000 people singing Tramps like us, baby we were born to run! back at him? The foreword offered some clues: DNA, natural ability, study of craft, development of and devotion to an aesthetic philosophy, naked desire for fame? love? admiration? attention? women? sex? and oh, yeah . a buck. Then if you want to take it all the way out to the end of the night, a furious fire in the hole that just dont quit burning.

Communing with the flock Springsteen in 1975. Photograph: Chris Walter/WireImage

Springsteen has long appeared one of the most knowable of rock stars. So many of his songs, if not autobiographical, have appeared to give direct insights into his childhood, his family, his town, his country. One album, Tunnel of Love, dealt with his disillusionment with his first marriage. Songs are songs: they are a truth, they are not the truth. But its not only in the songs: there are books compiling his many interviews. And this rock Charlemagne has his own Einhard, in the form of writer Dave Marsh, who has conveyed his thoughts to the world. Even while writing this book, he cooperated with Peter Ames Carlin on the really very decent biography, Bruce, published in 2012.

So, on the face of it, one really shouldnt need this book. Dont we all know about his dad, his struggles, his superstardom and so on? Yes, but we still only know the facts of the legends. Born to Run gives us the chance, at last, to know why Springsteen needed to build those legends.

Born to Run is published on 27 September by Simon & Schuster.

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Image copyright Sam Newman
Image caption More than 55,000 Feastival-goers gathered on Alex James’s farm to enjoy the festivities

When I asked Blur-bassist-turned-gentleman-cheesemaker Alex James why he had decided to turn his 200-acre Cotswold dairy farm into a three-day festival celebrating “food, music and family”, his answer was typically direct: “I’ve got five kids, I’ve made six cheeses and seven albums.”

Slouched in a corner of the bar of the Groucho club – transported lock, stock and smoking barrels from Soho to Kingham for the occasion and perched like Cheddar on a cracker on top of the festival’s fat beating heart, the “Alex James Presents” Cheese Hub – he said: “Claire and I bought the farm on our honeymoon, 12 years ago, and it was a ruin – a derelict, silent ghost town, so seeing it transformed into this – full of amazing food, brilliant music and smiling faces – is the realisation of a fantasy.

Image copyright Sam Newman
Image caption Alex James shares the main stage with BBC Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley

“We have already started organising next year, and there is something to do every day, but because it is all the things I love the most, it never really feels like work.

“The whole thing is completely exhilarating, like a mad village fete.”

Image copyright Sam Newman
Image caption Jamie Oliver applauded the growing number of vegetarians and vegans, saying the “rest of us” should now be eating less, but better-quality and responsibly sourced, meat

Celebrating its fifth birthday this year, the annual Big Feastival is the brainchild of James and Jamie Oliver, another famous foodie father of five, whose charity, the Fifteen Foundation, is part-funded by the festival, after the pair met playing, with Oliver on drums, in a Comic Relief pop band.

And since its inception, the list of star attractions from the worlds of food and music has grown from “something you could fit on a sheet of A4 paper to the size of a telephone directory”, according to James.

Image copyright Sam Newman
Image caption Front man Ricky Wilson acknowledged Kaiser Chiefs’ debt to Blur and said it had been their long-held ambition to play at James’s dairy-farm “back garden”, before adding: “Although, I am lactose intolerant”

This year’s bill-toppers included Mark Ronson, Tinie Tempah and the Kaiser Chiefs, supplying the sounds, and Raymond Blanc, Tom Kerridge and Nadiya Hussain, winner of the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, doing the cooking.

The co-hosts, meanwhile, straddled the divide, playing a DJ set together at the Cheese Hub, with Oliver frying up some locally sourced wild venison, and James, of course, supplying the very popular cheese plates.

As the man himself put it: “If I can’t sell cheese, at Feastival, in the Cheese Hub, I shouldn’t really be doing this, should I?”

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(CNN)Ugandan rapper Keko is no stranger to overcoming challenges.

At the height of her success in 2014 she was struggling with drink and drug abuse.
    Two years later, after overcoming her own difficulties, she is working hard to stop young Ugandan’s from falling into the same trap through her organization “Sober Up So High.”
    “We are hoping to get as much help for the young people out there as possible,” Keko told CNN. “The future is always brighter, you always fall but you have to keep your head up and you can always rise up again”

    …What you heard about me….

    A photo posted by kekotown (@kekotown) on

    “It’s a non profit organization that is focusing on creating awareness about drug awareness and prevention,” adds co-founder Shadrack Kutesa.
    “Basically we use our testimonies, we use the arts to put out messages.”
    In addition to her commitment to the organization Keko is still passionate about her music, her country and her continent.
    “Thirty years from now I see myself being a CEO of a recording company,” she says. “I still feel like Africa is a very young market music wise, so I think the future is still very bright.”

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    Martha Mills: How to talk to a woman wearing headphones, without seeming like a terrifying harasser

    An article has surfaced from the quagmire of bilge that is The Internet and it has caused, not without reason, a small tornado of outrage. Written as dating advice for The Modern Man (a misnomer if ever there were one), it promises a solution to the hot n horny down-on-their-luck young bucks of the world who face the tedious obstacle of a woman wearing headphones, because how dare she. And no, it isnt a parody.

    You can read it in its full entitled glory, or stick with me as I dissect each grubby, jaw-dropping delusion of psychopathic awfulness. Its going to be quite a ride.

    How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones

    These days, many women walk around playing with a smartphone or tablet device and are often wearing headphones and listening to music at the same time.

    Yet, that doesnt mean you cant talk to them.

    Of course, not all women are open to being approached because not all women are single and looking.

    However, if a woman wearing headphones is single and hoping to meet a boyfriend (or even a new lover), she will almost always be happy to take off her headphones to give you an opportunity to create a spark with her.

    The author, one Dan Bacon, could have saved us all a lot of bother here by answering his How to with Dont. Sadly he seems to have missed some basic behavioural science here; you see, the very reason I and many other women wear headphones isnt as a trivial obstacle to some throbbing hormone mountain, nor as a challenge for those blessed with an abundance of ego. Its a defence. A defence against the aural onslaught of modern life and especially the leering advances of said throbbing hormone mountains. In short, we wear them because we dont want to be talked to. Its basic physics really – we fill our ear holes to stop you from getting in.

    But back to Dan:

    What to Do to Get Her Attention

    1. Stand in front of her (with 1 to 1.5 meters between you).

    2. Have a relaxed, easy-going smile.

    3. Is she hasnt already looked up at you, simply get her attention with a wave of your hand. Wave your hand in her direct line of vision so she cant ignore it.

    4. When she looks at you, smile and point to her headphones and say, Take off your headphones for a minute and pretend to be taking headphones off your head, so she fully understands.

    If she doesnt understand (most women will), simply gesture that you want to talk to her by briefly pointing back and forth from you to her and say, I want to talk to you for a minute.

    In most cases, you wont have to go to that extreme, but some girls are shy and will be hesitant to take the headphones off right away because they are feeling a lot of nervousness and excitement about what is happening.

    5. Then, do what we call Acknowledging the Awkwardness by quickly mentioning something about the awkwardness of the moment (see the conversation example below), to demonstrate you understand that approaching a woman in this way isnt the most common of experiences for either party.

    This helps put her at ease and know that you are a cool guy who she can relax and open up to.

    I dont know if these five steps are a common thing, but I have personally experienced this several times. At step 1 I know what you are doing and Im ignoring you, hoping the ground will open up and take one of us to the depths of somewhere Hellish, which would be more pleasant than this situation is developing to be. By step 3 Im not feeling excited and Im not feeling flattered as Dan later tells his readers I will be – Im feeling harassed. Straight up, dictionary definition harassed.

    By step 4 Ive learnt that you cant understand a basic body language brush-off and are therefore a direct threat to my personal safety. My brain is in fight or flight, checking for escape routes, its trying to figure out just how aggressively youre going to react to any further action I take to extract myself from a situation entirely not of my own making and it is praying they use a flattering photo of me on the news, not that one when my front-facing camera went off accidentally that time.

    According to step 5, the fact you have bullied me into one of the most awkward and scary moments of my life makes you a cool guy. Mr Bacon clearly has trouble spelling. It begins with a t, Dan.

    Heres Dans interpretation of how the conversation goes once a man has used his infallible five-point Jedi mind trick to bludgeon a woman from her blissful state of aural security:

    You: [Smile in a friendly, confident manner] Hey I know its not normal for people to talk to someone with headphones in, but I was walking along and saw you and thought wow, shes a cutie, I have to say hi. Im Dan, whats your name?

    Woman: [Usually flattered by the compliment and impressed by your confidence to approach her like that] Jessica.

    You: [Add in some humor] Coolnice to meet you Jessica. I dont normally talk to girls with headphones, but your big green headphones were just calling out to me.

    Woman: [Most likely laughing, smiling and enjoying the interaction].

    You: [Let her know that you have something to do/somewhere to go, so she understands that youre not going to stand there talking to her for 30 minutes] Anyway, so Im just out doing a bit of shopping at the moment. Im on my way to a store up the street. Hows your day going so far?

    In his scenario, Jessica has just been waiting her whole life to be blessed with the attention of a complete stranger who mistakes hunched shoulders, darting eyes and rictus for laughing and smiling.

    Heres how it plays out in real life. Trust me, Ive been it, seen it and spoken to the survivors:

    Him: I see you dont want to be talked to but I find you physically attractive and Im making that your problem.

    Her: Please leave me alone.


    With advice like this out there, its hardly any surprise, is it? These lonely men so desperately in search of conquests have been given permission, blessed with the entitlement to go forth and pluck their bounty using but five humble steps. So imagine their horror and indignation when that which has been promised doesnt want to be plucked and tells them to sling their greasy hook.

    Next Dan lists the five mistakes men make when approaching a woman who is wearing headphones. Sadly not one of them is to sod right off.

    Points 1, 4 and 5 are fairly inoffensive, generic dating guff (be confident, be engaging, be flirty), but oh boy, just try and get your noggin round points 2 and 3.

    2. Allowing her to ignore him

    Headphones are a great barrier between a person and the rest of the world.

    That being said, if a guy wants to get a womans attention he needs to show confidence by being determined to get her to stop listening to the music and chat to him to him.

    If a guy has a weak vibe or presence about him, a woman usually wont give in to his request for her to remove the headphones.

    Women love to test guys to see how confident they really are and a favorite test of women is to ignore a guys attempts to converse with her and see what he will do next. Will he walk away in shame, or will he remain calm and continue talking to her in a confident, easy-going manner?

    This is her way of gauging his interest in her and also a way of determining whether he is mentally and emotionally strong enough for a girl like her.

    If a guy gives up at the first sign of resistance, most women will be turned off by his mental and emotional weakness as a man.

    3. Allowing her to take control of the interaction

    No matter how confident or challenging a woman might behave, she still dreams of meeting a guy who is more confident than her. A woman doesnt want to be forced to control an interaction with a guy (i.e. call the shots, boss him around), but she will if she has to.

    Controlling an interaction with a woman is not about bossing her around, being arrogant or being too assertive. Instead, you simply need to assume the role of the man and let her be the woman. In other words, make her feel girly around you because you think, behave and feel (your vibe) so masculine.

    The advice here is basically No doesnt mean no, it means keep going until you get what you want – the screaming will stop eventually. Because apparently thats what women want – and forms the basis for a million rape defence cases. Trust me, when we tell you to go away we arent testing your measure as a man, were testing how quickly your legs can carry you in an offward direction.

    Put Dans advice into any other scenario for the true jaw-drop factor: Shopkeepers may lock their doors at night, but if you want a pint of milk, just hammer on the door until they open up. Theyll be flattered.

    I appreciate the world of mating is hard but please, for the love of humanity, learn this: just because you want, doesnt mean you can have. Women are not commodities to be hunted and won, and if you have no luck finding someone to bump pink bits with, thats your problem, not our fault for not adhering to the playbook rules. Its a playbook we never signed up for and its only a game if both teams actually know theyre playing.

    Nowhere in his advice does Dan tell his frustrated man-babies how to handle rejection with grace, because the advice is simply not to accept it. This attitude is why I and countless other women have been been chased down the street, followed home, physically restrained, spat at, verbally abused and generally made to feel like garbage, merely for trying to exist.

    So when, I hear the whiny pissbabies ask, when am I allowed to approach hot single women? Simple.

    If a woman has her headphones in, the answer is never – and before you bleat on about ooh, what if theres a fire?, shell smell it, even through all your bulls**t. If youre in a bar or party, her flirtatious smile may be the come-on youre looking for, but be prepared to accept that you read it wrong, politely wish her a good evening and toddle back off out of her life without 20 minutes of awkward pawing, insisting she let you buy her a rohypnoltini. But how about this; take up a hobby, ask your friends if they know of someone looking to date or (brace yourself for a whopper of a revelation) if youre looking for a horde of single, eligible women all looking for friendship-maybe-more in one convenient place, try a dating site.

    Anyway, coming soon from Dan Bacon, How To Talk To A Woman Through A Fog Of Pepper Spray. Probably.

    Martha Mills is on Twitter as @mittendamour

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    Los Angeles police obtained a warrant to search the singers home and retrieved a bag he threw out the window containing drugs and a firearm, TMZ reports

    The Los Angeles police department have served a warrant at singer Chris Browns Los Angeles home after a woman called police for assistance.

    The robbery and homicide division is handling the incident, officials said. Theres still officers at the scene, as of now its still ongoing, a spokesperson told the Guardian.

    A warrant was served on the property just before 1pm on Tuesday, nearly nine hours after the 911 call was made, the LAPD confirmed. Brown was not under arrest, officials said.

    Brown has been posting online videos declaring his innocence. In one Instagram video Brown, waving a cigarette and looking at the camera, says if and when police get the search warrant, they will find nothing at the home. He dismissed TV reports that he was barricaded inside.

    According to the celebrity news site TMZ, police have retrieved a duffel bag Brown threw out of the window of his home containing drugs and at least one firearm.

    Officials say detectives hope to talk to Brown, the woman and any witnesses.

    Lt Chris Ramirez of the LAPD told reporters that the call came early on Tuesday from outside the residence in the Tarzana neighborhood. Ramirez did not say what assistance the woman needed.

    Calls to representatives for Brown were not immediately returned.

    The Grammy-winning singer has had multiple run-ins with law enforcement. He spent six years on probation after pleading guilty to attacking his girlfriend at the time, Rihanna, in 2009.

    Warning: this video contains strong language:

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    Mexico reels from the loss of Juanga, whose lyrics about love and loss struck a common chord as he overcame the gender stereotypes of a chauvinist society

    Mexican media went to work on Monday morning with a burning question: where were the remains of singer Juan Gabriel?

    Reporters staked out an airport near Mexico City, where his remains were to arrive and be taken to the Bellas Artes cultural centre for a funeral, while officials in the singers adopted hometown of Ciudad Jurez and his birth state of Michoacn made their cases for where Juanga as Juan Gabriel was affectionately known should be returned to. The location of his burial will certainly become Mexicos Graceland.

    Despite fevered speculation, his legal representative called for calm, saying the singers children want to be alone with the body of their father.

    Residents participate in a rally around a statue of Juan Gabriel in Paracuaro, Michoacan state, Mexico on Monday. Photograph: Enrique Castro/AFP/Getty Images

    People sometimes forget that in addition to being an idol that belonged to Mexico, Juan Gabriel had a family, his attorney Silvia Urquidi told Televisa. Children who have not processed the pain they feel.

    Mexico is still reeling from the loss of an icon, whose music struck a common chord, serving as the soundtrack to countless lives. His showmanship, effeminate appearance and fondness for sequins and shiny shirts overcame the gender stereotypes of a chauvinist society, while his lyrics about love and loss spoke to all.

    That Juanga overcame hardships in early life he was orphaned at a young age along with his nine siblings, and later served 18 months in prison on robbery charges to hit the big time, only added to the appeal of a performer with whom the often oppressed masses could easily identify.

    There was definitely this transcendence from high-brow to low-brow with Juan Gabriel. He straddled all the social classes, says Esteban Illades, editor of Nexos, a high-brow Mexican magazine. He didnt write about social problems, he didnt write about the economy. He wrote about what every Mexican could feel, even if you were rich or you were poor.

    Mexicans have mourned Juanga in the streets and online since his death, aged 66, on Sunday.

    Many told of his importance in their lives, while others spoke of his significance to the nation and to his hometown of Ciudad Jurez, a city plagued by intense drug-related violence.

    Perhaps the biggest achievement of his career is vindicating an aesthetic that belonged at the start [of his career] on the margins, Vctor Santana wrote in the online publication Horizontal. For entire generations of Mexicans, Juan Gabriels music meant an authentic sentimental education.

    Juan Gabriel performs at Viejas Arena on 6 February 2015 in San Diego, California. Photograph: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

    Others posted unexpected anecdotes.

    When I met Juan Gabriel, he told me that he often read Seneca. He was a stoic romantic, tweeted musician Julieta Venegas.

    From the first time I saw him in the early 80s, in the nightclub El Patio, he seduced me, like he did that night to everyone listening with a true fervour, wrote columnist Guadalupe Loaeza in Reforma. What most fascinated me was the response of the men. I saw how they looked at him. They did it with curiosity, but above all with a certain fascination.

    Gabriel was believed to be gay, but he never publicly confirmed this, despite attracting hoardes of male fans in a country with a heavy culture of machismo. He once told a television presenter pushing the issue: They say you dont ask about whats obvious.

    Juan Gabriel was a true punk, tweeted writer Yuri Herrera. In a country of machos, he danced as he damn well pleased.

    Despite widespread adoration, Juanga was known to court controversy, occasionally entering the political fray. In 2000, he propped up the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary party, penning a song for its 2000 election campaign as the country was preparing to cast aside its one-party rule.

    His views are expected to become better known in his death. His lawyer told the media that Juanga wrote a letter for her to deliver to the president, telling for the first time how he sees the country.

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    Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are not good enough to take part in these television shouting matches? That is absurd

    Free speech in the United States is having a rough go of it lately. Everywhere I turn, theres some misanthrope whinging about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernicks Star-Spangled Banner protest. How dare he denigrate the stars and stripes, a venerable symbol of protest against tyranny, by protesting?

    Then theres the third-party candidates running for president. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green party candidate Dr Jill Stein, despite surprisingly potent campaigns that are tapping into wellsprings of dissatisfaction with the status quo, will very likely be held out of the upcoming debates. Theyre still free to campaign and, because theyre not black NFL players, they can go about saying what they please. They just cant do it in front of the largest possible audience.

    Ladies and gentlemen of the American electorate, its finally time for you to rise up and demand that third-party presidential candidates be allowed to debate with their Republican and Democratic peers. Yes, its a far more democratic way to go about this electing the leader of the free world business, but more importantly, Im starting to feel sorry for these candidates.

    Johnson and Stein are desperate to get the arbitrary 15% support in national polls they need in order to qualify for the contests.

    When desperation sets in, its natural to behave irrationally. Perhaps thats why internet pirates posted an illegal stream of the MTV Video Music Awards on the open forum of Steins website, thereby making her official page the first Google search result when looking for illicit VMA viewing. Only a couple days earlier, Stein chose to publicly mourn the death of Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe, a posthumous internet sensation who was killed before it could maul a human child back in May.

    Stein issued a statement on 1 June calling for Harambes demise to be a wake-up call to fight for the rights of animals. Last week, she dug up that statement and tweeted it out again, inserting herself into the most irritating internet moment since the hot mugshot guy.

    Harambe is so popular that in a recent poll of likely voters in Texas, the gorilla was pulling 2% of the electorate equal to one Dr Jill Stein. I would call the use of a dead gorilla to score points with young people opportunistic, but who hasnt made a buck off this poor primate?

    Its not just Stein pandering either. An unaffiliated Facebook group supporting Johnson mocked up this poster, which features their candidate of choice juggling two balls while riding a unicycle a parody of the popular Dat Boi meme, with Johnson filling in for a computer generated frog.

    If Johnson and Stein wont be allowed to compete on a level playing field with their well-heeled opponents through the debates, then the only equitable resolution to this issue is for Clinton and Trump to be required to debase themselves for attention in the same fashion as their competitors. Our presidential candidates of the future shall wage meme war in lieu of stodgy, 20th century televised IRL shouting matches.

    What is a debate, if not a series of disconnected nuggets of easily digestible information, regurgitated ad nauseum for the benefit of the easily manipulated? The talking points are designed, honed and manicured with the explicit purpose of disseminating them across the media landscape over and over and over again. The gaffes, the zingers and the catchphrases are nothing more than proto-memes packaged in the real world and transmitted to your TV set.

    If this is how political discourse is going to be for the remainder of my time on this planet, then at least quit pretending and put our candidates on unicycles and make them juggle for our amusement. Or better yet, tell them they have to play football.

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    State TV makes no announcement about Islam Karimov but situation may become clearer on countrys independence day

    As in life, so in death: Islam Karimovs regime was one of the worlds most secretive and opaque for a quarter of a century, and now his apparent demise is equally shrouded in mystery.

    Uzbekistans president, a dictator who was ruthless with his opponents and even locked away his own daughter, is rumoured to have died on Monday, though there has been no official confirmation. On Tuesday, state television ran segments about fruit, vegetables and the upcoming Independency Day celebrations, without mentioning a word about the presidents health.

    The presidents younger daughter, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, confirmed rumours of her fathers ill-health on Instagram on Monday, claiming he was in a stable condition in hospital after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage. The Russia-based Fergana news agency, which first broke news of Karimovs deterioration, announced on Monday evening that the dictator had died that afternoon.

    Daniil Kislov, who runs Fergana, told the Guardian on Tuesday he was 99% sure that Karimov had died. Other Uzbekistan watchers agreed the leader was dead or at least in such a condition that he would never be able to rule the country again, though details were scarce.

    Steve Swerdlow, a Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, who has spent many years working on Uzbek cases, said: We have no idea what day the initial incident actually happened. Some have said it was Thursday, some said it was Saturday. Its just like the Karimov regime to be so cowardly and so opaque that they cant even give us the concrete information. Even in death, Karimov is a wily fox.

    Assuming that Karimov is dead, the question of succession now looms large. When the longstanding dictator in neighbouring Turkmenistan died a decade ago, he was swiftly replaced by his former minister of health and dentist, who went about dismantling his predecessors personality cult and building his own.

    Many analysts suspect a plan must have been in place in Uzbekistan given Karimovs increasing frailness over recent years, but whether or not it is adhered to is another matter.

    The country is one of the most closed and secretive in the world. Karimov rarely travelled abroad and almost never gave interviews. Few outsiders have insight into the power struggles at play behind closed doors, and diplomats and analysts are waiting to see whether the transition will be smooth or bumpy.

    Whatever happens, it will be unchartered territory. The country has no experience of living without Karimov, who was the last Soviet party boss when Uzbekistan was still part of the USSR, and has governed since independence in 1991. Uzbeks were due to mark 25 years of independence on Thursday, but the local BBC service reported that the celebrations had been cancelled.

    Kislov said he had received information from his sources that all key officials had their mobile telephones blocked on Tuesday, possibly to prevent them from organising or discussing potential plots.

    We really dont know very much. Maybe there was a plan put in place before. Maybe there is a battle going on now. Maybe there are negotiations. There is no information, he said.

    Uzbekistan borders Afghanistan and has been seen as strategically vital by both Russia and the west, who were willing to turn a blind eye to Karimovs human rights abuses in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in return for access to Uzbekistans airbases. In 2004 Britain sacked its ambassador to the country, Craig Murray, for speaking out over rights abuses.

    The next year, Karimovs security forces gunned down hundreds of unarmed protesters in the town of Andijan, a massacre condemned by international rights groups but never properly investigated.

    Its the bloodiest event outside of an armed conflict on the territory of the former Soviet Union, said Swerdlow. That day defines Karimov more than anything else. The fact he leaves this world not having to answer for any of that is very sad for the victims.

    Karimov has been accused of all manner of rights abuses and torture, and in recent years attention has also focused on his family. Nothing is known about the current whereabouts of his older daughter, Gulnara Karimova. For a long time she was considered a potential successor to her father, and was a highly public figure, launching a fashion brand and a music career under the name Googoosha. She even released a bizarre love duet with Grard Depardieu.

    In 2014 Gulnaras son, Islam Karimov Jr, who was studying at Oxford Brookes University, told the Guardian he feared for his mothers life, and revealed an extraordinary feud brewing in the first family. He explained how he and his mother had been kept from visiting his grandfather, the president, by armed guards, and that when they finally did get an audience, there was an almighty showdown involving the president, his wife, and their daughter. Shortly after, Gulnara was placed under house arrest, and nothing is known of her whereabouts since, or even whether she is still alive.

    There are plenty of rumours but no solid facts about Gulnara for two years already, said Kislov.

    Details may become clear later in the week, when it will be difficult for the authorities not to mention and explain Karimovs absence if celebrations go ahead. Gulnara is believed to be out of the running for successor, with most analysts agreeing that the prime minister and the head of the security services are the main centres of power.

    Deidre Tynan, Central Asia project director at International Crisis Group, said: If there is disagreement or conflict between different players, they will try to keep it behind closed doors. The risks multiply if they are not able to put on a public front of unity.

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