The Black Herald

Was there a better chronicler of the pitiless cruelty of Guatemala’s urban society than the artist Anibal Lopez? A profile of a provocateur, of the artist as thug and transgressor, by Sebastian Escalon:

Piglets are plentiful, on hog farms. But a piglet with a name, ‘Hugo,’ dressed up with a beautiful blue bow is something special; a pet, almost a person, a character like one of the three pigs who vanquished the wolf, or like the cartoon Porky Pig. Anibal Lopez, the controversial Guatemalan artist who died recently, knew this well.

Everything Reminds Me of Sex

Obsessed with sex, and yet entirely unwilling to talk about it: the judgment of writer Baraa Ashraf on modern Egyptian society.

There is a joke about a famous Egyptian anchorwoman who decides to take on the subject of “human rights and equality” for her upcoming TV show. She goes out on the streets of the capital to ask people about their thoughts on the idea of equality. She takes a comb with her, as a concrete illustration of the prophet Muhammad’s famous maxim that “All people are as equal as the teeth of a comb.”

Emergency Medical Marriage

Saudi Arabia’s strange gender relations produce endless challenges and contortions for situations that are elsewhere straightforward. Here, for example, Al Safir Al Arabi ponders the question of how ambulances and paramedics must deal with female patients in medical emergencies. If they have no male relative nearby, should they be rescued at all? The answer turns out to be generally, no.

A woman was recently arrested for driving a car in Safwa City, in Saudi Arabia’s Qatif province. According to newspaper reports, [Aaliya al-Farid] had been driving herself to a hospital during an attack of a chronic illness she suffers from.

The Last Days of the President’s Pet Parliament

Just days ago, Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore had instructed his parliament to amend the constitution so he could head toward a fourth decade in power. But as deputies prepared to vote the measure through yesterday, the population turned out en masse to burn down the parliament, and went on to sack the prime minister’s office, the national television and radio offices, and the homes of various authorities for good measure.

Protestors dead or injured, others knocked unconscious. But in spite of it all, the people of Burkina Faso have accomplished something that not a single political analyst would have predicted.

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.

Evo’s Highway in the Sky

From its perch on Bolivia’s arid altiplano highlands, the vast metropolis of El Alto gazes down on the country’s administrative capital La Paz, in a valley thousands of feet below. No longer a distant mirage, thanks to the lines of the new Teleferico aerial cable cars that snake up the slopes, writes Javier Lafuente in El Pais:

With great difficulty, taking tiny steps and leaning on her granddaughter, Doris succeeds in getting into one of the gondola pods at the Ajayuni station. She sits down on a bench and puts her hands on her black dress.

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.

An Engine of War Called National Reconciliation

How the concept of “national reconciliation” in Iraq was transformed into a bureaucratic machine of sectarian war. From Iraq’s Omar Al Jaffal, Iraq’s non-state-building project under Prime Minister al-Maliki.

The fall of Iraq’s largest province into the hands of armed groups has show very clearly the depth of the rifts in the country. Unreligious, and even atheist writers have abruptly rushed back into the sectarian trenches to wave the flag of religious hatred that was hibernating inside so many Iraqis.

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