You gotta be in the right mood to enter this dark small book. But it is unlike anything else you’ve seen. The author was a guard in the Soviet Union’s gulag prison system in the 1950s. Danzig Baldaev traveled across the gulag, documenting the horrors, perversions, and peculiarities of this vast subculture in meticulous pen and ink drawings. Unschooled as an artist, Baldaev has his own distinct style. He drew some incidents that he witnessed himself, but most of the drawings were based on the accounts by others he met. The events were gruesome, but often with an odd cultural twist — much violence was committed by imprisoned gangsters, who ran the prisons according to gang rules. Baldaev’s drawings with captions try to decipher these strange rules and customs. In effect, this is a contemporary ethnographic report on the underground culture that really ran the Soviet gulag. It is miles from where you live, and seems unbelievable that this alternative empire could have existed at the scale it did, but here are eyewitness reports, drawn in obsessive detail.
Drawings from the Gulag
by Danzig Baldaev (artist), Damon Murray (editor) and Stephen Sorrell (editor)
2010, 240 pages, 6.9 x 7.8 x 0.8 inches
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The US Senate's Defense Authorization Bill redefines America as a "battlefield" and authorizes US troops to conduct military arrests of civilians on US soil, and to indefinitely detain citizens without charge or trial. The ACLU wants you to write to your senator and demand that this insanity not pass.
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The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.
The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.
I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime.