‘The Elites Despise the City For Its Democratic Qualities’

Demonstrations and strikes are the way a city talks to itself; ripping universities out of the urban fabric and transplanting them into the suburbs amputate part of the city’s soul: an interview with one of Brazil’s greatest living architects, from El Pais Brasil:

Paulo Mendes da Rocha, the 86 year old Brazilian architect, today occupies a place reserved for very few individuals. In 2006 he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The Man Who Chose the Forest, and Died For It

One day, Peruvian electrician Edwin Chota abruptly abandoned the life of the city, and the various children he had failed to raise, for the jungle and for an indigenous tribe whom he adopted as his own. For over a decade he lived under death threats for denouncing illegal logging on his lands. His pleas for protection were ignored. In the end, the timber traffickers murdered him.

Those who knew him said that Edwin Chota had a wide, exaggerated and contagious smile, with a prominent gap where a front tooth was missing.

‘Russians Are Volcanoes With Snow-Covered Slopes’

For more than a decade one of the finest foreign correspondents in Russia, El Mundo’s Daniel Utrilla last year quit his job and went native. Here, excerpts from a much longer interview he gave to Spain’s Jot Down magazine: observations by a Russophile in an increasingly Russophobic world:

I was having dinner the other day with a friend, and she said this sentence that struck me; for me it perfectly defines the Russian soul. She said, “We’ll go back to eating potatoes if we have to, but we’ll still be with Putin.”

Fearing Police Violence in Sao Paulo, a Neighborhood Empties

As in the United States, police in Brazil routinely shoot poor (and largely black) suspects with legal impunity. El Pais’s Gil Alessi here profiles a neighborhood in the south of Sao Paulo where a spate of police violence is forcing residents to flee.

Carrying her four year old daughter Emanoele, Aparecida Lima da Silva, 38, is walking along Carlos Lacerda Avenue in the south Sao Paulo neighborhood of Campo Lindo.

No Bluffs or Bargaining With Syriza

The predicted earthquake in Athens has come to pass, as voters handed a near-absolute majority to the Coalition of the Radical Left- Syriza. Last week, Spain’s El Mundo interviewed political economist Yanis Varoufakis, who has famously described the IMF/EU treatment of Greece as “fiscal waterboarding.” Today, Varoufakis was named Greece’s Finance Minister. Excerpts from a frank and very revealing roadmap to Syriza’s plans:

The most recent data shows that the Greek economy is growing.

True Sons of the Republic

In this powerful essay by a trio of schoolteachers from the banlieue ghettos of the Paris suburbs, the writers urge a different view of the Kouachi brothers, whose murderous rampage at Charlie Hebdo last week shocked the world. The Kouachis, born in Paris, orphaned and raised by the French state, are in a sense the true sons of modern France, and their murderous end cannot simply be blamed on foreign religious values.

We are schoolteachers in the Seine-Saint-Denis department.

When they Came for Reynaldo for the Last Time

In the Latin America of the 1980s, everyone knew who was behind the death squads and forced disappearances. In the new Honduras, after the coup and the rise of the drug gangs, the state is a weakened organism; it is perhaps no surprise that who has been disappeared, and who disappeared them, is a greater mystery now. But as Daniel Vicente Caravantes shows here, the state and its agents are often still to blame.

"Nubia, can you take me home?"

Among All Those Who Did Not Deserve to Die…

In the aftermath the Charlie Hebdo massacre, wrote Francois Burgat, former head of the French Institute for the Near East in a Facebook post, it is tempting to blame the demented ideology of the murderers, to refuse to look at the national and global context that brought them there.

At one end of the chain, before our very eyes, twelve people are executed. It arouses emotions one shares unreservedly. What else is there to say except perhaps, for me, and for many others, damn….Cabu…Cabu did not deserve that.

No, We Are Not All Kamel Daoud

In spite of a savage civil war in the 1990s in which jihadi groups killed over a hundred journalists as well as numerous musicians and writers, Algeria today is home to a thriving literary culture. The biggest star of the day is Kamel Daoud, whose literary repartee to Camus’s The Stranger made a splash in France last year and will soon be published in English translation. Daoud’s prominence and cantankerousness recently won him a death fatwa from a prominent local islamist.

A solicitation for murder. A solicitation for murder published, signed and acknowledged-proudly and publicly-by its author, a certain oddball called Hamadache.

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