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Jokermen, Art And The Limits Of Politics

Manipulation and violence, animus and hypocrisy: Such is the stuff of politics on almost any given day, in any corner of the world. But, on our best days, politics holds out the possibility of actually making things better and solving our problems. These are not our best days.

In the war-torn country of Colombia, a much-hailed peace settlement to end a half-century of armed conflict was voided by a national referendum 39 days later. Not even the surprise announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is likely to help fix the country's broken politics.

Art is a different story. The Bogota-based newspaper El Espectador describes a major new installation in the capital by famed Colombian artist Doris Salcedo. Her Sumando Ausencias ("Adding Up Absences"), where hundreds of volunteers have written with ash on white sheets the names of some 2,300 victims of civil war, depicts not so much a country that is polarized politically, but simply broken. "Art is not just an instrument for reflecting on reality in times of crisis," writes El Espectador's Arturo Charria, "but also saves and repairs what has become irreparable by other means."

Some might search for answers in another surprising Nobel announcement. Since he was awarded the 2016 Nobel prize in Literature yesterday, Bob Dylan hasn't spoken a word publicly. He did, as is his habit, play a concert last night in the appropriately surreal location of Las Vegas, Nevada. The American troubadour/sphinx, who has written some of the most memorable politically-tinged songs, will certainly not be speaking out (or probably even writing) about what is happening right now to the politics of his country. Here, instead, are just a few words from his 1983 song "Jokerman expand=1]":

You're a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds,

Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister …



"There is nothing the political establishment will not do — no lie that they won't tell, to hold their prestige and power at your expense," Republican candidate Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters in Florida, in response to accusations published yesterday that he sexually assaulted women. "These claims are all fabricated," he said. The New York Times meanwhile stood by its report and refused to retract the story.


King Bhumidol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, as well as the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, died yesterday in Bangkok at age 88. See how the country's media paid tribute to the king.


Everybody's favorite pooh turns 90 today. That, and more, in today's 57-second shot of history.


Colombia's government has extended the current ceasefire with the FARC rebels, which was due to expire on Oct. 31, until the end of the year, El Espectador reports. Opponents to the peace deal, led by former president Alvaro Uribe, presented the government with new proposals yesterday centered mostly on victims' rights and the FARC's access to political institutions.


Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified this morning an agreement with the Syrian government that authorizes the indefinite deployment of Russian air force in Syria, Sputnik reports.


Everybody's heard about Sweden's education and welfare model, but the Nordic nation is also an inspiring leader in premature baby care. Writing for Le Figaro, reporter Pauline Fréour explores this more natural, less clinical approach that takes into consideration the babies' affective and physiological needs. "Sweden insists on keeping parents close to prematurely born babies, whatever their level of vulnerability. Parents are invited into the medical routine as ‘privileged caring partners.' At night, Samira sleeps on a bed close to Amro's cot. She will stay there for as long as her baby's state of health requires, be it weeks or even months. In Sweden, parents of a child with a serious illness are given unlimited parenting leave from work.

When the baby needs less supervision, he or she can share a room with the parents, where they can also cook and wash their clothes. The parent is ‘responsible for the child's health and nobody would understand their not being there,' says Charlotte Casper, a neonatology professor at Toulouse University who completed part of her training in Sweden. ‘This is written in people's minds and in the law itself.'"

Read the full article, In Sweden, A More Hands-On Approach To Premature Births.


A total of 113 Asian entrepreneurs became billionaires in 2015, making Asia the continent with the fastest wealth creation rate, with about one new billionaire every three days, the latest UBS/PwC Billionaires Report shows. But at the same time, Asia also saw 80 lose their billionaire status.


The Bigger Picture — Ajaccio, 1969


Twenty-one of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014 in northeastern Nigeria, were freed yesterday after 911 days in captivity, Vanguard reports. A minister quoted by the newspaper denied claims that Boko Haram detainees were released in exchange for the girls, 18 of whom now have babies. This comes amid reports that military forces of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin are preparing a final assault on Boko Haram.



Soccer legend Diego Maradona managed to get into an argument with fellow Argentine Juan Sebastian Veron. At a charity game. For peace. Organized by Pope Francis.

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food / travel

When Racism Poisons Italy's Culinary Scene

This is the case of chef Mareme Cisse, a black woman, who was called a slur after a couple found out that she was the one who would be preparing their meal.

Photo of Mareme Cisse cooking

Mareme Cisse in the kitchen of Ginger People&Food

Caterina Suffici


TURIN — Guess who's not coming to dinner. It seems like a scene from the American Deep South during the decades of segregation. But this happened in Italy, in this summer of 2023.

Two Italians, in their sixties, got up from the restaurant table and left (without saying goodbye, as the owner points out), when they declared that they didn't want to eat in a restaurant where the chef was what they called: an 'n-word.'

Racists, poor things. And ignorant, in the sense of not knowing basic facts. They don't realize that we are all made of mixtures, come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. And that food, of course, are blends of different ingredients and recipes.

The restaurant is called Ginger People&Food, and these visitors from out of town probably didn't understand that either.

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