The War of Bicycles and Thumbtacks

New bicycle lanes bearing vast tides of lower and middle class bike commuters sweep through the wealthy neighborhoods of Sao Paulo. Thumbtacks and twitter rants from elite residents who want to keep the roads for their Mercedes and BMWs only. In Brazil, class warfare over a painted line on the asphalt:

Over the past few days, Brazilian social media has buzzed with complaints from cyclists about thumbtacks being scattered on the new [Sao Paulo] bike lanes by those who oppose their creation.

The Women Behind the Block the Boat Movement

American media are remaining predictably silent on an important new front in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. But the repeated blockades of cargo ships from Israel’s Zim line, which began with a four-day action in August during the heated aftermath of Israel’s latest armed assault on Gaza appear to be doing damage to the firm as well as giving new energy to the BDS movement, writes Daikha Dridi in Al-Huffington Post Algeria.

Behind the success of the California-based Block the Boat campaign are a multitude of activists, and two exceptional women in particular.

Autumn of the Patriarch

He was perhaps the last of an older breed of Brazilian politicians: an oligarch who dominated public life in the northeastern state of Maranhao, eventually going on to become president as the country transitioned from military dictatorship to democracy in the mid-1980s. As this interview makes clear, Jose Sarney sees his political legacy as the emphasis on social justice that has molded Brazil’s economic development in the generation since he left power.

When you left the Presidency, in 1990, did you expect Brazil to follow the path it did? I believe that the return of democracy provoked a fundamental change in Brazil, because the country started to focus more on social issues.

Bedtime Stories for Little Cosmopolitans

From the virtual border between Buenos Aires and Barcelona, Orsai magazine shone very brightly for 16 dazzling issues. Until this year, when its editor Hernan Casciari suddenly extinguished it to open -of all things-a children’s magazine. There is a real flowering of narrative journalism in Latin America at the moment: dozens of new publications with a flair for literary, beautifully written reporting have sprung up from Mexico City to Santiago; here, one of the form’s most brilliant exponents tells Buensalvaje’s Luis Pacora about his unusual effort to extend the medium to children:

It is 3 am in the peaceful village of Barcelona.

On the Margins of Aleppo, a New and Brutal City

Where human beings ground down by poverty and war are regarded as mere surplus weight; where the state’s only presence is via its army of snitches; where street boys sniff glue and dream of Messi and Ronaldo, and where the street names no longer bother with the romantic antiquity of this 4,000 year old city. A new Aleppo is emerging beyond the margins of the margins of the ancient city, and it is not pretty. An elegy for Aleppo by Syrian writer Aziz Tebsi.

No one really knows how the neighborhood ended up with such a name. It is an extension of the slum that crawls out from the edge of the Sheikh Maqsud district in the northwest of Aleppo.

Kuwait: Going to Bed a Citizen and Waking Up an Alien

The end of Kuwaiti exceptionalism? In this essay Abdel Hadi Khalaf argues that Kuwait’s political system is founded on the myth that its emirs rule by the consent of the governed; it has always been less autocratic than its Gulf neighbors. But Kuwait has never dealt with the vast disenfranchisement that accompanied the country’s modern founding, and now its rulers have begun the grim and familiar process of stripping citizenship from its opponents en masse.

One of the founding myths on which the Kuwaiti royal family bases its historical legitimacy is the agreement between the Al Sabah family and the ‘people of Kuwait’

Bahrain: Innovation in The Political Technology Of Repression

Are the monarchies of the Arab Gulf nations at all, in any meaningful sense?
Huge populations of guest workers who vastly outnumber native citizens. States that are closed oligarchies of blood-related ‘princes’. And as Lebanon’s Al-Safir reveals, for even the native-born, citizenship in these countries is seen as a privilege to be handed out or stripped away by the king or emir based on personal loyalty and religious sectarian allegiance.

Arab regimes are nothing if not creative; they are sources of constant innovation in certain policy areas.

A Freedom Fighter at Rest, and At Ease With Her Own Contradictions

Are a country’s traditional cultural practices a lodestar for a post-colonial people, or a historical burden that holds back progress? In this interview with Mozambiquan novelist and writer Paulina Chiziane, onetime activist with the anti-colonial leftists of FRELIMO, both beliefs are on display.

On a warm November afternoon, Aldino Languana, a Mozambican painter and documentary filmmaker, drove us to Paulina’s house

Sometimes They Come Back

Their daughters and sons, young leftist activists from high schools and colleges across Argentina, were tortured and murdered by the military dictatorship of the 1970s, their bodies usually thrown out of airplanes into the Atlantic. The mothers and grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo stood in silent vigil for decades in memory of their disappeared children. This summer, the original Grandmother of the Plaza found her grandson, stolen from his mother’s arms on the night of her murder.

The longest trip of Estela Barnes de Carlotto's life started that winter afternoon, in August of 1978, with a summons to go to the Isidro Casanova police station.

Palestine, Wounded and Proud

The latest round in Israel’s eternal war against Palestinian civilians seems to have ended in the usual fashion, with many dead, and with both sides enjoying new heights of public support. Lost as usual among the photographs of death and columns of smoke, writes Francoise Feugas, was a sense of the humanity of the people beneath the bombs. For that, she says, few photographers can match the lifelong work of Joss Dray. Images of the Palestinians, from Orient XXI:

Gaza is once more being bombarded. But the image that we are assailed with today, of a civilian population under siege, terrorized and at the mercy of violent Israeli military attacks, is not the one we find in the archives of Joss Dray.

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