Terror in Europe

Kalash Is Loaded: French Gangsta Rap, Before And After Paris Attacks

The killers and victims of the Paris violence are part of the same demographic, though they share different realities. Authorities haven't heard the angst, but rap has been telling us for years how little the two groups share.

French rapper Kaaris
French rapper Kaaris
Marie-Pierre Genecand

PARIS â€" Young people killing other young people. The horrific violence in Paris represented a fierce clash between two very different populations within the same demographic.

On the one hand were the victims â€" the liberal, intellectual, secular and somewhat privileged, all gathered under the "Je suis Charlie" banner. Then there were the killers â€" not-so-privileged, less cultivated, reactionary, who feel so rejected by the system that they were ready to kill and die to exact revenge.

The vast majority of radicalized youth are from the outskirts of urban areas, and are deprived of the kind of professional prospects that their middle-class peers enjoy. They are full of hatred and embrace extremism in large part because there is no opportunity for them.

As evidence of this, consider the particularly distressing account of a Bataclan survivor: While the crowd was lying down in the pit to protect themselves, the terrorists demanded that their victims look them in the eye before being shot, the survivor recalled. As if to to say, "I'm here. I exist in my desperate omnipotence. Do you remember, now that you're going to die?"

The hatred and cruelty is unbearable. Almost as much as the lyrics of 35-year-old French rapper Kaaris, whose hugely successful track "Chargé" ("Loaded") last year goes like this: "I dream of blowing up the ministry, And get blown by the chief of police's widow. This world swallows and digests you, Hear the bullets whistle, from the 93 French department near Paris to Niger."

The chorus then uses common French slang for Kalashnikov: "Kalash is loaded, kalash is loaded, kalash is loaded."

On his Facebook page, Kaaris recently wished "peace to those who lost a relative." That's a bit sheepish, perhaps, even if his lyrical fiction isn't reality. But this type of gangsta or thug rap, enjoyed by millions, is very real and capitalizes on an anger that authorities don't consider thoroughly enough.

Luckily for every Kaaris, there's a Kery James. After calling for armed rebellion in his first tracks, the 37-year-old rapper formerly known as Daddy Kery has been practicing a consciousness-raising, peace-seeking form of rap since his conversion to Islam in the early 2000s. His songs are poetic, forging links between populations of young people that are fundamentally at odds. Listening, one dreams of the day that gap can be bridged.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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