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.

The Deliveryman

Meet Driver: he delivers wretched little moments of paid pleasure to men in a life of toil. And in equal measure, he delivers endless moments of horror to women in a life of sexual slavery. The Mexican prostitution mafia that services immigrant workers in America, from Nexos:

Driver tensed up like a spring. He was seated in the front seat of his red Charger — this was normal, but it wasn’t normal they call him when the evening had hardly begun. It was too early. Way too fucking early, man.

A Bus Ride in Rome, Navigating Twin Seas of Resentment

In the wake of a seemingly inexplicable attack on a public bus by a mob of immigrants, a journalist in Rome rides the 508 bus at night, navigating a maelstrom of rage, fear and frustration among the Italian capital’s underclass, both immigrants and natives.

“Have you ever taken the 508?” A few days after the incident, I accept the invitation. I take the subway to Ponte Mammolo and walk to the Atac company station.

In Brazil, Racism’s Second Lives

Black Awareness Day in Brazil passed some weeks ago. Half the country’s 200 million people consider themselves white, half say they are black or brown, making it one of the most racially diverse large countries in the world. In this essay, a Brazilian journalist recalls the appalling practices of not so distant a past and measures the powerful, though almost invisible, present remains of the beast within.

In the 1970s, I remember vividly how one of my relatives kept two types of glasses in the cupboard.

How They Killed The Hollywood Kid

Come down the rabbit hole into the nihilistic world of El Salvador’s gang culture, via this chronicle of a little death foretold; Oscar Martinez’s menacing tale of the assassination of an assassin: Miguel Angel Tobar, killer, police informant, father of two, predator and finally prey.

Miguel Angel Tobar knew since November of 2009 that he was going to be murdered.

Slum Golf

What lies beyond the manicured grass and stately buildings of Porto Alegre’s most exclusive country club? A slum village where the only jobs available are in service to wealthy golfers, a place where kids prefer golf to soccer. A landscape where old shipping containers converted into houses, open sewage ditches, rocky terrain, and impressive amounts of garbage are the fairway for their own golf course.

The path is narrow and winding. In some places it is not even a meter wide, a dirt track covered with candy wrappers, popcorn bags and plastic cups.

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