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Le Monde
Wishful thinking about natural gas
Albert Einstein is rumored to have said that one cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that led to it. Yet this is precisely what we are now trying to do with climate change policy. The Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, many environmental groups, and the oil and gas industry all tell us that the way to solve the problem created by fossil fuels is with more fossils fuels. We can do this, they claim, by using more natural gas, which is touted as a "clean" fuel (...) - Open page
Gaza: Palestine first and last
More than a thousand Palestinians have been killed in Israel's latest assault on Gaza, against some 40 Israelis, and the numbers are rising. But Gaza, the birthplace of Palestinian nationalism, has a long history of resistance.The Biblical story of Samson and Delilah takes place in Gaza, capital of the Hebrews' enemies, the Philistines - from which the word Palestine derives . The seductress Delilah cut off the hair of Samson the Hebrew, sapping his strength, and he was taken prisoner by the (...) - 2014/08 /
Egypt on strike
After the 2011 uprisings, it seemed that a revived workers' movement might be a force for change in Egypt. It isn't working out quite that way.
Strikes in Egypt this February, which forced the resignation of Hazem Beblawi's government, should have been a turning point for the workers' movement. For the first time since President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from office in July 2013, there were mass strikes in public services and state-owned industries: workers in (...) - 2014/08 /
Goodbye to Gabriel García Márquez
They'd known each other nearly 40 years. They met one last time, in Cuba, before the rain and the darkness finally fell.They'd told me he was in Havana, but that he wasn't well and didn't want to see anyone. I knew where he usually stayed: in a lovely little house, far from the city centre. I phoned, and his wife Mercedes brushed aside my concerns: "Not at all," she said. "We just say that to stop people bothering us. Come on over. Gabo will be glad to see you."
The next morning, which was hot (...) - 2014/08 /
Syria's exiled artists
Syria once had a thriving artistic life, but many who were part of it have had to flee, ending up next door in Lebanon, trying to express what has happened to them and their country.
The Syrian illustrator Diala Brisly became famous when a drawing she had done to support women hunger strikers in the prison of Adra went viral online. "People made it their profile picture on Facebook," she says. "It helped raise awareness of their protest ... I care about women. I believe there's a role for (...) - 2014/08 /
Latin American coups upgraded
The classic Latin American coup used to put the military in direct command and control of a country. That doesn't play well on the world stage, and is being replaced by more clever manipulation - although the same people end up in power.On 23 September 2010 the former Ecuadorian president Lucio Gutiérrez (deposed by a popular uprising in 2005) gave a talk to the InterAmerican Institute for Democracy in Miami, criticising his nation's socialists for their mysticism, incoherent Marxism and (...) - 2014/08 /
The Balkan floods
The worst flooding in a century drowned towns in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in May. Governments can't cope, or deny responsibility: it's up to the locals to rebuild yet again.
The Bosna burst its banks on 14 May, flooding Maglaj in central Bosnia-Herzegovina, and for two days the town of 25,000 was under two metres of water. A month later, it was still a disaster zone. People were camping on the upper floors of their buildings, or living with neighbours, friends or family. There was a (...) - 2014/08 /
Robots before humans
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies,
by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
W W Norton & Company, New York, 2014
Self-driving cars, medical diagnosis by computer, automatic news article generators - Brynjolfsson and McAfee, economists working in the area where business and academia overlap, write that "computers and other digital advances are doing for mental power - the ability to use our brains to understand and shape our (...) - 2014/08 /
Islam's prohibition on pre-marital sex, plus advancing ages of marriage due to lack of work and housing, have created a frustrated generation - especially of young men, who sometimes take out their anger in violence.
Rabah, a Chaoui Berber from Tiffelfel in the heart of the Aures mountains, has just completed the final year of his masters' course in mathematics at the University of Batna . He is 23, and like most young men his age whom I have interviewed about their sexuality, he mentions (...) - 2014/08 /
Rise of the web documentary
The web documentary, which goes beyond showing and telling a situation into a mix of real and simulated, sometimes gamed, experiences, is not quite a decade old. It still looks like the future. The "web documentary" as we understand it today was created, in France, in 2005 with La Cité des mortes (City of Dead Women) , an investigation by journalists Jean-Christophe Rampal and Marc Fernandez into the disappearance and murder of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juárez, on the Mexican-US border. (...) - 2014/08 /
Costa del Cam Ranh
Expat Russian entrepreneurs, budget Russian tourists, and a government hoping the post-Vietnam war exiles will come back home rich to retire: Vietnam is a demonstration model for change.The driver, his eyes red from opiate addiction, is polishing his jeep, which shakes as it pumps out deafening electronic music. He has hurtled here from the "fairy stream", a channel of muddy water that snakes through an ochre canyon, where enterprising locals demand payment from tourists. His clients, three (...) - 2014/08 /
How much for your data?
Rapacious financialisation risks turning everything we are and have into a productive asset. And the foremost asset is our personal data, mined by digitalised technology.Oral-B, a Procter & Gamble company, this year launched its SmartSeries Bluetooth toothbrush - an essential appliance for what the firm calls "the well-connected bathroom". It connects to your smartphone, where its app tracks brushing tasks (have you flossed? cleaned the tongue? rinsed?) and highlights areas of the mouth (...) - 2014/08 /
Unfair and unbalanced
The Israeli army's punitive expedition in Gaza has revived a major aspiration of modern journalism: the right to be lazy. In professional terms, this is known as "balance" (the far-right US television channel Fox News describes itself, not without irony, as "fair and balanced").
In the Middle East conflict, where the wrongs are not equally divided, "balance" gives the occupying power an advantage. It also enables western journalists to escape the anger of those who dislike hearing inconvenient (...) - 2014/08 /
Something better than this
Thomas Piketty's phenomenon of a tome, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, doesn't question the whole system of capitalism - unlike Marx's original enquiry. It simply wants to make things more just and equal. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-first Century is as much a sociological as an intellectual phenomenon. Like Allan Bloom's 1987 The Closing of the American Mind ,it is a tome that unexpectedly captures the zeitgeist. Few read all of Bloom's volume - for the good reason that it is (...) - 2014/08 /



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