‘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.

Across France, a Witch Hunt Among the Children

After the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the French justice system rounded them up by the dozens across the country: drunkards and madmen and children, all charged with a new and strange crime, ‘justifying’ an act of terrorism.

In Saudi Arabia, they sentence bloggers to a thousand lashes and ten years in prison for “insulting Islam.” In France under the Socialists, they arrest children and throw them in jail, charging them with ‘advocating terrorism.’

In the San Francisco Library, a City’s Generosity and Its Meanness

Amid the vast wealth and ostentation of the internet boom, San Francisco also accommodates an enormous and growing population of homeless people. The city’s public library, writes Daikha Dridi, perfectly crystallizes the ambiguous attitude of this affluent place toward its least fortunate.

Like an ocean liner of glass and concrete, the San Francisco library indifferently shrugs off the deluge of rain that has splashed down on this city for the past few days.

Saudi’s Choice: the Menace of Democracy, or the Shi’ite Devils?

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have at long last shown their hand and formally seized the capital city that they have controlled for many months. In the face of this improbable victory, Francois Burgat wonders why Yemen’s neighbors in Saudi Arabia seem to have suddenly come to terms with a “Shi’ite” regime on their southern border. Within the country, religious sectarianism between Sunnis and Shi’ites, as well as regional rifts, threaten war.

On the evening of January 20th, in an extensive speech, Abdelmalik al-Houthi, long dismissed as the provincial leader of the decade-old “Zaydi Shi’ite rebellion in the north

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.

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