The Trash Truck Intifada

The trash crisis in Beirut is a kind of late “Lebanese Spring,” we are told: young, secular protestors mouthing nice slogans. But the foreign press has paid little attention to the backcountry, where a full scale intifada seems to be happening, with residents often led by their local elected officials taking over highways and roads to block the fleets of trucks bearing the capital’s garbage, frequently not very photogenic and chanting very vulgar slogans.

Intense efforts to find an ‘immediate, temporary’ solution to Beirut’s garbage crisis have not led to the immediate removal of the trash.

Italian Tomatoes, Certified Slavery Free

Exploited, underpaid and mistreated, the field laborers who harvest southern Italy’s crops have little official help. But the country’s labor unions are working from the bottom up to stop the practice of caporalato, illegal piecework labor gangs ruled in near slavery conditions by a foreman who answers to the mafia, writes Fabrizio Patti in Linkiesta:

This August at dawn we would go out to see the field workers.

Checkpoint Beard

Power, masculinity, maybe a certain kind of ethnic pride: Taimoor Shahid writes that he is not entirely sure why he wears his problematic Pashtun beard in the educated middle class Lahore milieu he inhabits. But like a black teenage boy in a white suburb, he is noticed.

It is the check point of Lahore Cantt on Shami Road. I am standing there surrounded by soldiers in close vicinity: one to my left, one to my right, and one before me.

An Egypt Where Jews are Good, Islamists Bad, and Palestinians Don’t Exist

The most talked about Egyptian TV series this summer, a historical drama with Jews as the heroes: hard to imagine a fresher angle than that, right? But as Orient XXI’s Celine Lebrun writes here, Harat al-Yahoud, which explicitly exchanged as ‘bad guys’ Jews and Zionists for the Muslim Brothers, was transparent propaganda for the country’s new military rulers.

With sensationalist title, the subject of the TV series by Egyptian director Medhat el-Adl seemed a risky gamble for this summer’s Ramadan month season.

On Mexico’s Caribbean Coast, A Tropical Despot, A Murdered Journalist

When photojournalist Ruben Espinosa was tortured to death in a Mexico City apartment last week, along with four women who happened to be in the home where he was staying, he became the seventh Mexican journalist killed this year. From Sin Embargo, the last interview with Espinosa, recorded after he fled the coastal city of Veracuz for the false protection of anonymity in the capitol.

For almost a month, photojournalist Ruben Espinosa Becerril has been living in Mexico City, the victim of threats that obligated him into self-exile.

“An Excess of Rationality Leading to Collective Madness”

The Greek leftists have apparently capitulated once again to German economic demands, including a nearly unprecedented surrender of sovereignty over billions of dollars in public assets. For a time, the crisis of the Eurozone has perhaps been papered over. In this interview, Emmanuel Todd says that Europe is however slowly committing collective suicide under German supervision.

For me, the striking thing is how the Europe we are dealing with today is no longer the Europe of yesterday.

Smile! You’re on Kalashnikov Camera!

Hilarious fake airplane crashes, amusing mock decapitations and comical hijackings: This Ramadan TV season has seen TV viewers around the Arab world subjected to a particularly tasteless and unimaginative crop of hidden camera shows, writes Mustapha Benfodil in Algeria’s El Watan.

The hidden camera show “Hostages” hosted by Sofiane Dani and broadcasted during this Ramadan month on Echourouk TV is clearly missing its mark and turning into a fiasco, to judge from the huge wave of outrage that it has generated among viewers.

In the Republic of Arab Letters, Rule of the Despots

The bleak state of Arab literature in the age of mega-prizes. As Yves Gonzalez-Quijano writes here, the extravagant literary prizes handed out by the despotic lords of the Gulf Arab monarchies have done more than make a few Arab novelists wealthy: they have poisoned the entire confection of Arab literature, shrinking and desiccating the range and style of writing.

The “Arab World” is sinking into a certain amount of chaos once again.

First, They Came for the Islamic Modernists: Book Burning in Cairo

The most curious thing about the list of books burned in an official ceremony organized recently by bureaucrats of Egypt’s Education Ministry is the list of titles: it reads like a syllabus on Islamic Modernism, the Enlightenment-inspired movement that swept Egypt and the Arab world at the end of the 19th century.

Islam and and the Foundations of Governance, by Ali Abdel Raziq. Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the biography by Uthman Amin.

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