Laure Gautherin

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Photo of a 2016 protest in Cairo, Egypt, in support of deposed Egyptian President, Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi
Geopolitics

Autopsy Of The Muslim Brotherhood's Failed Political Project

A decade after the Arab Spring, the Islamist political movement driven by the Muslim Brotherhood, from Egypt to Morocco and beyond, continues to flirt with more extreme Salafist elements to build popular support — and continues to show its utter incapacity to properly run a national government.

-Analysis-

The momentous setback of the Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) this past September has had everyone in the political world talking, including Islamists themselves. Abdelilah Benkirane, the former prime minister who returned as the head of the party following an extraordinary congress on Oct. 30, emphasized the responsibility of the party itself in this defeat, including "internal quarrels and renouncing the values of Islam and the fundamentals of Islamist militancy, including selflessness."

The outgoing party leaders, instead, described the defeat as a kind of puzzle, even leaving the doors open to "deep state" conspiracy theories.

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Road engineer looking through a scope on a metal tripod in the Mongolian steppe
Green

Global Warming Could Sink Mongolia's "Permafrost Highway"

Mongolia built an extensive road network on a permafrost foundation. Now, the permafrost is melting.

ALAG-ERDENE, KHUVSGUL PROVINCE, MONGOLIA — Munkhbaatar Tumur mounts a scope on a metal tripod and peers through it. He assesses the elevation of a road that stretches across the steppe and into the mountains.

He is a general engineer at Khuvsgul-AZZA, a state-owned corporation responsible for maintaining the roads in this northernmost province, on the border with Russia. Today, he and his team are repairing bulging and sunken asphalt along the road, which stretches more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) up to Khuvsgul Lake.

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Photo of a plastic figurine in front of a smartphone displaying social media icons
Weird

Public Sector Trolls? 7 "Institutional" Social Media Accounts That Let It Rip

The Ukraine government’s official Twitter account is using memes and GIFs to poke Moscow and draw attention to the risk of a Russian invasion. It is one of just a few institutional accounts that has decided not to be careful

From good humor to hate speech, you can find just about anything on social media. And it’s not just entertainers, or the anonymously angry: Our would-be public servants of the world have long since jumped into the fray, with provocateur presidents from Donald Trump to Jair Bolsonaro to Rodrigo Duterte.

But Twitter and Facebook and Instagram are also full of plenty of painfully careful (though sometimes very useful) accounts of public institutions, from offices of the prime minister to national weather services to local police stations.

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Photo of two girls wearing Catalan and Spanish flags in Barcelona, Spain
Society

A Kindergarten Student Reignites Spain’s Eternal Battle Over Languages

Language is an ultra sensitive subject in Spain , especially in Catalonia, where a schoolboy and his family found themselves at the center of online hate campaign and a constitutional storm.

In Spain, language is politics.

Historical and regional differences and claims of autonomy are often expressed through demands about what language to use. Yet the latest public battle was sparked by a simple request by a kindergarten student in Canet de Mar, in Catalonia, a region that has long fought for the preeminence of the Catalan language. Instead, this time, the five-year-old schoolboy in question (and his family) had asked to have more lessons that are taught in Spanish, which set off many others similar requests for more bilingualism throughout the region around the city of Barcelona.

The debate has unleashed both solidarity and strong opposition directed at the family, reports Spanish daily La Rázon. Catalan, spoken by about nine million people, has been the region’s official language since the Catalan parliament passed a law in 1983. This came after the language had been banned for four decades under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

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Photo of La Vergueria's erotic waffle nativity scene
Weird

Erotic Waffle Shop In Spain Under Fire For Genitalia Nativity Scene

The racy pastry scene in the holiday shop window in the city of Seville is no joking matter in the traditional Catholic country. Now "Josephallus" and family might land this local wafflemaker in court.

La Vergueria is a small shop located in the heart of old Seville and its specialty is waffles — erotic waffles, to be more precise. Their desserts are shaped either into vaginas (vergofre) or penises (chochofre) and covered in the topping of your choice. Their unusual menu, which gained them some national notoriety and steady LGBTQ+ support, also includes other kind or sexually-referenced sweets, such as boob-shaped lollipops or fruit-flavored ice pop penises for summer.

On normal days, La Vergueria's window is decorated with an assortment of random stuffed genitalia, but as Christmas approached this year, the owner went for a very un-traditional nativity scene with his X-rated products. So now in the store window, passersby see a "Josephallus" and "Vagina Mary" looking over the little holy one.

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Bad Ruses, Good Reasons: How To Avoid Military Service In 5 Countries
Society

Bad Ruses, Good Reasons: How To Avoid Military Service In 5 Countries

In the countries that require military service, those who refuse to serve must either try to explain their exemption or find a creative short-cut to avoid the obligation. Here are some examples.

Military conscription has ebbed and flowed through history, typically depending on national security (wars), economics (jobs) and demography (young men). In recent years, many countries have outright eliminated the draft or replaced it with a civil service requirement. At the same time, other countries have been bringing back obligatory military service to respond to security threats or as a solution to rising high school dropout and unemployment rates. Morocco reinstated conscription in 2018 after 12 years, with a 12-month required military service for all men and women aged 19 to 25.

Amid newfound tensions around the Baltic Sea, the Swedish government also decided to reintroduce military conscription in March 2017, though for a limited number of citizens - 4,000 men and women were selected from a pool of 13,000.

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Woman with a bright red shirt holding an Iphone
Society

Quiet, Boss! How Portugal Became The World Model For Work-Life Balance

Portugal has become the first place in the world where it is illegal for managers to contact their employees after hours. Will other countries follow suit?

It's 8 p.m. after a long day of work, and you've clicked on your well-earned Netflix show...and "ping," another after-hours phone notification has arrived from your boss. Much of the working world has been there, somewhere between annoying and invasive. But now, in Portugal, it is also illegal.

Last Friday, the Portuguese Parliament approved a pioneering new law barring employers from contacting their staff outside their contracted working hours. The news, which has been hailed around the world by labor rights activists, academics and even television comedians, has largely been framed as a welcome response to the around-the-clock remote working that COVID-19 lockdowns have triggered.

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a photo of a table inside Poveglia Island's abandoned asylum
food / travel

The True Horrors Behind 7 Haunted Locations Around The World

With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.

When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.

And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.

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a girl looks across a valley
Society

A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

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Inside Volcanoes, In Front Of Trains: 10 Stunning Soccer Fields Around The World
food / travel

Inside Volcanoes, In Front Of Trains: 10 Stunning Soccer Fields Around The World

On September 19, the Cumbre Vieja, a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma, erupted. Since then, it's been a daily spectacle of plumes of black smoke and lava spewing in the air and destroying everything on its path down to the Atlantic shore, with some 6,000 locals forced to evacuate

With this autumn's dramatic images, all of Spain has been volcano-obsessed, and Madrid-based daily La Rázon pointed out to its readers last week that inside a (non-active!) volcano in Mexico, there is ... would you believe ... the El 'Teoca' soccer pitch.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time
food / travel

La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Gaudí.

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

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9/11 Front Pages: World Newspapers Coverage Of The Attack
Society

9/11 Front Pages: World Newspapers Coverage Of The Attack

History happened instantly before our eyes 20 years ago on September 11, 2001 — and the global press was there to offer a first view on a day that continues to live in infamy. Here are 31 newspaper front pages and magazine covers.

By the time United Airlines Flight 175 sliced into the second tower, news reporters and editors around the world knew they were facing the most monumental story of their lifetime. The Sep. 11 attacks forever changed the world, and put the powers of modern journalism, from real-time video coverage to deep news analysis (on deadline), to the test like never before.

With events unfolding on that Tuesday morning in New York and Washington, newspapers around the world could go to print that evening with special editions for Sep. 12 that offered the proverbial "first draft of history" on their respective front pages. News magazines followed suit with tragically iconic covers. TIME magazine's lead writer Nancy Gibbs recently recalled the unique pressure of producing a special issue in 24 hours.

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