Martin Greenacre

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Women in Rabat, Morroco
Sources

How The Digital Dating Revolution Is Changing Morocco

Social media and dating apps have revolutionized the way young people live, and given women the right to seduce.

CASABLANCA — Facebook is the only place Nadia* is allowed to go out in the evening. From her tiny, windowless bedroom, with the fan on full blast, she allows herself a breath of fresh air. Social media has revolutionized her life – that of a young bank employee who, at 23 years of age, has led an unremarkable life, suffocated by the traditions that her parents still adhere to. In the room next door, they have no idea what is happening inside Nadia's head, beneath the multicolored veil which covers her long, brown hair. It is made from "high quality silk from Saudi Arabia," boasts the pretty Moroccan with large, black eyes.

Every morning, when she walks into the bank, she puts her veil in her desk drawer. "There is a time and place for everything," she says. Nadia puts her veil back on before returning to her parents' apartment, in a working-class area of Casablanca. On the way home – on the bus, along the endless road as she walked, and in front of her apartment block – Nadia meets several people. "I didn't know if you can call that meeting people," she says. "Maybe in a one-sided way."

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Plastic art exhibit in London
EL ESPECTADOR

Water Pollution And The World's Plastic Bottle Conundrum

From Flint, Michigan to Shanghai, China, bottled water is a luxury many people can't afford to do without.

PARIS —The global war on plastic continues. With several U.S. cities, the UK and the European Union all proposing to ban plastic straws, people are now turning their attention to bottled water, asking whether that, too, should be banned. Writing in the Guardian, Sonia Sodha argues that, "There's no consumer good we have less need of than bottled water."

But while that statement is mostly true for the UK, recent examples from around the world show that not everyone can be so confident about the quality of their water supply.

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Bureaucracy meets postmodernism
Sources

David Foster Wallace, Finding Empathy Hidden In Red Tape

The author of 'Infinite Jest' and 'The Pale King', who took his own life 10 years ago, saw a higher meaning in the mundane — even wrestling with the French bureaucracy.

PARIS — On September 12, 2008, David Foster Wallace hangs himself in his California home. He is 46 years old and has suffered a life-long battle with depression. The American author is something of a literary icon at the time of his death, best known for writing Infinite Jest, a category-defying 1,100-page novel about addiction and tennis, with a hundred pages of endnotes. Before his suicide, Wallace has arranged the pages of an unfinished manuscript on his desk.

Wallace's editor, Michael Pietsch, compiles the material Wallace has left behind, and The Pale King is published, posthumously, nearly three years later. The novel is set in an IRS office in the American Midwest and follows its employees in their mundane, repetitive, and tragic — but ultimately beautiful — lives. It is a book about boredom and bureaucracy, with detailed footnotes explaining the differences between various tax return forms and other daily matters. The New York Times called it "by turns breathtakingly brilliant and stupefying dull," which is perhaps the closest imitation of life an author can achieve.

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Matteo Salvini
Geopolitics

Salvini v. Macron: A Battle For The Soul Of Europe

The French president is the populist Italian Interior Minister’s favorite target. But is Salvini attacking Macron to mask his own failure to unite Europe’s nationalists?

ROME — The campaign for the European Parliament elections in the spring of 2019 has not yet begun, but the main opposing forces have already drawn their battle lines. The elections will see the nationalist-populist axis running from Rome to Budapest squaring off against the pro-Europe progressives centered around Paris.

"There are currently two camps in Europe. Macron is at the head of the political forces that support immigration. On the other side, we want to put a stop to illegal immigration," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared following his recent meeting with Matteo Salvini in Milan. "We will work together to create a future alliance to bring to the forefront the questions of the right to work, healthcare and security. Everything that the European elites governed by Macron refuse to talk about."

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In France, from Niqab bans to handshake holdouts.
BBC

Just A Handshake? Touchy Subject For Pious Muslims In The West

A series of recent legal cases across Europe have questioned whether those who refuse to shake hands with people of the opposite sex for religious reasons are guilty of discrimination.

PARIS — The traditional Muslim veil has long been a source of conflict in the West over integration and gender equality. Now, another familiar practice is prompting debate: the handshake.

Last week, it was reported that a Muslim couple had been denied Swiss citizenship after refusing — for religious reasons — to shake hands with people of the opposite sex during their interview. Officials cited a lack of respect for gender equality as the reason for their decision.

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A statue of Nathuram Godse in New Delhi
India

Hindu Nationalism And The Posthumous Glory Of Gandhi’s Murderer

Nathuram Godse, author of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, is the object of a quasi-religious cult among Hindu extremists. In the Maharashtra state, his great-nephew is spreading his message.

PUNE — This article almost didn't see the light of day. My mistake was to send a message to the great-nephew of Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, without realizing that my WhatsApp profile featured a healthy and smiling image of the "Father of the Nation." Suffice it to say that Ajinkya Godse was not too pleased.

His response arrived a few days later: "If you would like to meet me and to visit Nathuram Godse's memorial, first of all, listen to his last statement before the judges." He had enclosed an audio recording along with the letter. In it, an actor recites, for almost four hours, the murderer's final words before the court in November 1948 — included as a bonus is the audio reconstruction of the infamous great-uncle's hanging a year later. Everything is there, even the sound of the rope being wrapped around his neck and the stall falling to the ground.

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Boundaries are fading between human and technology
Future

For Dating Sites, Artificial Intelligence v. The Human Heart

French experts doubt that a machine can help you find your soulmate better than trusting the eternal language of love.

PARIS — In 2017, when a journalist asked the co-founder of Tinder how he imagined his dating app in five years' time, Sean Rad pulled out his smartphone and pretended to have a conversation with the device.

"The Tinder voice might pop up and say, ‘There's someone down the street that we think you're going to be attracted to, and she's also attracted to you, and guess what, she's free tomorrow night! And we know you both like this indie band, and it's playing, so would you like us to buy you tickets?""

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