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Archive for the ‘Current Events’

APECked

November 18, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events 1 Comment →

What is our takeaway from the ongoing APEC Summit, apart from the smooth traffic away from the conference venues and the unusual cleanliness and order? (Kasi may bisita, baka akala nila wala tayong modo.)

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That the presumptive winner of the national leader beauty contest Justin Trudeau of Canada is not a shoo-in for the title. He faces competition from Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, who apart from being photogenic is the stuff of telenovelas.

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Read The Telenovela Life of the Mexican President. Thanks to Ricky for the alert.

If there are other finalists, let us know.

It’s our biennial Taking a Whack at Proust day. Update: Screw you, terrorists, now we’re going to finish Proust.

November 17, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Current Events 1 Comment →

Update: We’re up to Combray, chapter 2, past the madeleine stuff.

Warning: Profanity

You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight. You are fucked.

John is the new Jon.

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We’ve got the new translations in good-looking editions (lucky the three other volumes haven’t appeared or we’d be even more behind than we are already), the tea and the madeleines, now all we need is the stamina to climb all those words.

The Other France. Are the suburbs of Paris incubators of terrorism?

November 15, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, History, Places 2 Comments →

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Although the alienated, impoverished immigrant communities outside Paris are increasingly prone to anti-Semitism, the profiles of French jihadists don’t track closely with class. Many of them have come from bourgeois families. Photograph by Arnau Bach for The New Yorker.

Fouad Ben Ahmed never paid much attention to Charlie Hebdo. He found the satirical magazine to be vulgar and not funny, and to him it seemed fixated on Islam, but he didn’t think that its contributors did real harm. One of its cartoonists, Stéphane Charbonnier, also drew for Le Petit Quotidien, a children’s paper to which Ben Ahmed subscribed for his two kids. On January 7th, upon hearing that two French brothers with Algerian names, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, had executed twelve people at the Charlie Hebdo offices—including Charbonnier—in revenge for covers caricaturing Muhammad, Ben Ahmed wrote on Facebook, “My French heart bleeds, my Muslim soul weeps. Nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, can justify these barbaric acts. Don’t talk to me about media or politicians who would play such-and-such a game, because there’s no excuse for barbarism. #JeSuisCharlie.”

That night, Ben Ahmed left his house, in the suburbs outside Paris, and went into the city to join tens of thousands of people at a vigil. He is of Algerian and Tunisian descent, with dark skin, and a few white extremists spat threats at him, but Ben Ahmed ignored them—France was his country, too. On January 11th, he joined the one and a half million citizens who marched in unity from the Place de la République.

Ben Ahmed’s Facebook page became a forum for others, mostly French Muslims, to discuss the attacks. Many expressed simple grief and outrage; a few aired conspiracy theories, suggesting a plot to stigmatize Muslims. “Let the investigators shed light on this massacre,” Ben Ahmed advised. One woman wrote, “I fear for the Muslims of France. The narrow-minded or frightened are going to dig in their heels and make an amalgame”—conflate terrorists with all Muslims. Ben Ahmed agreed: “Our country is going to be more divided.” He defended his use of #JeSuisCharlie, arguing that critiques of Charlie’s content, however legitimate before the attack, had no place afterward. “If we have a debate on the editorial line, it’s like saying, ‘Yes—but,’ ” he later told me. “In these conditions, that is unthinkable.”

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American Crime is an introduction to race relations in the US

October 19, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Television No Comments →

It starts with a phone call in the dead of night, then a visit to the morgue where the body of an Iraq war veteran named Matt Skokie waits to be identified. Skokie’s house in Modesto, California had been broken into, leaving him dead and his wife Gwen in a coma. His father Russ confirms his identity then goes to the bathroom, where he sobs and wails like a wounded animal. Russ’s grief is painful to watch, but the camera looks on pitilessly. This refusal to look away from the uncomfortable truth or allay the viewer’s distress is what distinguishes American Crime on ABC from the recognizable network offering. Cable and online streaming services may be winning the battle for prestige TV but the mainstream hasn’t given up completely.

Read our TV column The Binge.

Mar on Mar, the conclusion: On traffic, slow internet, and the “trapo” label

October 14, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events No Comments →

Part 2 of our report on candidate Mar Roxas’s meet-and-greet with bloggers and social media. Other candidates, invite us for a chat.

On improving road infrastructure

Six additional elevated lanes parallel to Edsa will be constructed in one year, Roxas said. “Why has it taken so long? We fell behind.” Infrastructure plans had to be dusted off and updated with regards to engineering and costing, and right of way issues had to be resolved. The six-lane elevated highway would go from SLEX through Araneta Avenue to NLEX. At the same time, the elevated MVP highway going to the pier would be constructed. All trucks going to the pier would take that highway.

These will be toll highways, Roxas noted. “There will always be a free route, Edsa.” Motorists who want to save time can pay the tolls. He added that the Highway Patrol Group’s takeover of traffic management has been successful. Traffic infrastructure, software and systems are being improved and routes are being reworked.

Strength: We do need more roads.

Weakness: Are these new highways enough to handle the volume of vehicular traffic? Also, Roxas was Secretary of Transportation and Communications, meaning he was in charge of the traffic, between June 2011 and October 2012.

Opportunity: For construction companies.

Threat: If there is a zombie apocalypse, it will start on Edsa during rush hour. Someone will get out of a vehicle in the gridlock and start eating random commuters’ brains.

Read our column at InterAksyon.

“Badil” is everything we need to know about Philippine elections. Why isn’t it showing?

October 11, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Movies 2 Comments →

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Badil, the political thriller directed by Chito Rono from a screenplay by Rody Vera, was screened at the Film Development Council of the Philippines’s (FDCP) Sineng Pambansa festival in 2013. One of the finest Filipino movies of the decade, it tells us why elections in this country are so screwed up.

After the sparsely-attended festival, Badil seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Election season has begun, and the audience needs to see Badil in order to understand what we’re up against. But there are no plans to show the movie.

The director is amenable to screening it. The writer is amenable to screening it. The independent producer is amenable. Sine Pop-Up, which screens rarely-seen indie films, is eager to organize screenings. Even the movie theatres would be amenable to showing the film. What is holding it up?

The FDCP needs to get on board. Apparently showing a movie that already exists, that was partly funded by the FDCP and is just gathering dust (virtually), involves lots and lots of red tape. Even if a screening wouldn’t cost the FDCP anything. Why was the movie even made if we cannot get to watch it now, when it could not be more relevant?

Let’s get Badil shown. Spread the word on social media. Ask the FDCP to let the people see Badil.

Here’s our review of Badil from 2013.
Badil: Democracy for Sale

Elections are the pinnacle of Philippine political life – so emotional and all-encompassing, everything that follows is practically negligible. Every effort is exerted and no resource spared in order to win the vote; by the time the winner is proclaimed, there is nothing left.
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