World Stories

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ejjus
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Re: World Stories

Post by ejjus » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:50 am

El Salvador: The Youth Are the Ones Who Are Dying

October 25, 2017 | Field Notes
BY LAURYN CLAASSEN

http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/el- ... -are-dying

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In a local cemetery, workers in think rubber boots dig graves
with shovels and move dirt with wheelbarrows at the Cementerio
Municipal Santa Tecla. Image by Lauryn Claassen. El Salvador, 2017.


“In this country, the youth are the ones who are dying,” said Aida, shaking her head and keeping her eyes fixed on the road.

According to the World Bank, the homicide rate in El Salvador hovers around 109 deaths per 100,000 people, making it the most violent country outside of a war zone. San Salvador is neck and neck with its regional neighbors Caracas and San Pedro Sula as the murder capital of the world.

The current spike in violence is rooted in the drug trade. As a lowland country that forms a physical bridge between South and North America, El Salvador bears the brunt of an industry in which they are neither the suppliers nor the buyers.

And even the foot soldiers on the ground are imported. The warring gangs locked in a Capulet and Montague-Esq battle were born in U.S. prisons in the 1980s and 1990s. Rivalries were created and crystallized—and then deported back to a country still reeling from civil war and in the middle of a power vacuum.
The world is deep,:
And deeper than even day may dream.

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Re: World Stories

Post by ejjus » Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:57 pm

Steve Buscemi: ‘In some ways I feel I haven’t fulfilled my true potential'

Aaron Hicklin
Sunday 17 September 2017 08.00 BST

From firefighter and bar fly to Hollywood superstar, Steve Buscemi has populated his films with lovable oddballs and cold-blooded killers. But, as Aaron Hicklin finds, it’s all been driven by his need to fit in

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/s ... ric-dreams

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You feel their animating spirit in his own projects, populated as they are by oddballs and outsiders. He summons a quote by Frank Capra to the effect that every character in his Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, is worthy of his or her own film. “I tried to keep that in mind as I wrote Trees Lounge,” he said. “I thought I was being careful not to romanticise the life of someone who hangs out in a bar all the time, and yet I do find these characters romantic, and I still find bars really alluring.” He was touched when the owner of the bar they were set to film in changed his mind at the last minute. “He said: ‘I don’t think I can close my bar for a week and let you guys film here,’ and we said, ‘Why?’ and he said: ‘Where are my regulars going to go? What are they going to do?’”

...

No one could have been more surprised by his catapulting fame than Buscemi himself. Although his passion for acting was cemented early – he recalls clambering adorably on to tables at family weddings to crack jokes – he spent much of his teens and early adulthood feeling thwarted by circumstances. He got an early taste of rejection when he failed to get cast as the dwarf he had set his heart on in his Catholic school’s production of Snow White. He was seven at the time. “I was a little crushed,” he recalls. “I asked our nun if I could have that part, and she said: ‘Oh no, I’m giving the part to another kid.’ She was sweet about it, but I just remember being really disappointed: ‘Oh, this is what life is.’”

...

Buscemi got the role, and a standing ovation for his efforts, but it did little to quell his fear of being rejected by an indifferent world. “I don’t know if it was my dad’s worldview, or something, but it was about not expecting much,” he says. “I’ve never really analysed it that deeply, but it’s something that I know is still in me. It hasn’t stopped me altogether.” He pauses. “It did stop the character I play in Trees Lounge, but what I find saddest about that character was that he didn’t seem to have an awareness that there could be a way out.”
The world is deep,:
And deeper than even day may dream.

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Re: World Stories

Post by ejjus » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:24 pm

Octavio Paz, The Art of Poetry No. 42

Interviewed by Alfred MacAdam
ISSUE 119, SUMMER 1991

https://www.theparisreview.org/intervie ... ctavio-paz
https://www.scribd.com/document/1949726 ... etry-No-42

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Though small in stature and well into his seventies, Octavio Paz, with his piercing eyes, gives the impression of being a much younger man. In his poetry and his prose works, which are both erudite and intensely political, he recurrently takes up such themes as the experience of Mexican history, especially as seen through its Indian past, and the overcoming of profound human loneliness through erotic love. Paz has long been considered, along with César Vallejo and Pablo Neruda, to be one of the great South American poets of the twentieth century; three days after this interview, which was conducted on Columbus Day 1990, he joined Neruda among the ranks of Nobel laureates in literature.

...

INTERVIEWER
Octavio, you were born in 1914, as you probably remember . . .

OCTAVIO PAZ
Not very well!

INTERVIEWER
. . . virtually in the middle of the Mexican Revolution and right on the eve of World War I. The century you've lived through has been one of almost perpetual war. Do you have anything good to say about the twentieth century?

PAZ
Well, I have survived, and I think that's enough. History, you know, is one thing and our lives are something else. Our century has been terrible—one of the saddest in universal history—but our lives have always been more or less the same. Private lives are not historical. During the French or American revolutions, or during the wars between the Persians and the Greeks—during any great, universal event—history changes continually. But people live, work, fall in love, die, get sick, have friends, moments of illumination or sadness, and that has nothing to do with history. Or very little to do with it.

INTERVIEWER
So we are both in and out of history?

PAZ
Yes, history is our landscape or setting and we live through it. But the real drama, the real comedy also, is within us, and I think we can say the same for someone of the fifth century or for someone of a future century. Life is not historical, but something more like nature.
The world is deep,:
And deeper than even day may dream.

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Re: World Stories

Post by ejjus » Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:42 am

The Shadow Commander

Qassem Suleimani is the Iranian operative who has been reshaping the Middle East. Now he’s directing Assad’s war in Syria.

By Dexter Filkins September 30, 2013 Issue


https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013 ... -commander

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A former C.I.A. officer calls Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, the “most powerful operative in the Middle East today.”Illustration by Krzysztof Domaradzki

Last February, some of Iran’s most influential leaders gathered at the Amir al-Momenin Mosque, in northeast Tehran, inside a gated community reserved for officers of the Revolutionary Guard. They had come to pay their last respects to a fallen comrade. Hassan Shateri, a veteran of Iran’s covert wars throughout the Middle East and South Asia, was a senior commander in a powerful, élite branch of the Revolutionary Guard called the Quds Force. The force is the sharp instrument of Iranian foreign policy, roughly analogous to a combined C.I.A. and Special Forces; its name comes from the Persian word for Jerusalem, which its fighters have promised to liberate. Since 1979, its goal has been to subvert Iran’s enemies and extend the country’s influence across the Middle East. Shateri had spent much of his career abroad, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, where the Quds Force helped Shiite militias kill American soldiers.

Shateri had been killed two days before, on the road that runs between Damascus and Beirut. He had gone to Syria, along with thousands of other members of the Quds Force, to rescue the country’s besieged President, Bashar al-Assad, a crucial ally of Iran. In the past few years, Shateri had worked under an alias as the Quds Force’s chief in Lebanon; there he had helped sustain the armed group Hezbollah, which at the time of the funeral had begun to pour men into Syria to fight for the regime. The circumstances of his death were unclear: one Iranian official said that Shateri had been “directly targeted” by “the Zionist regime,” as Iranians habitually refer to Israel.

Kneeling in the second row on the mosque’s carpeted floor was Major General Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force’s leader: a small man of fifty-six, with silver hair, a close-cropped beard, and a look of intense self-containment. It was Suleimani who had sent Shateri, an old and trusted friend, to his death. As Revolutionary Guard commanders, he and Shateri belonged to a small fraternity formed during the Sacred Defense, the name given to the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 and left as many as a million people dead. It was a catastrophic fight, but for Iran it was the beginning of a three-decade project to build a Shiite sphere of influence, stretching across Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. Along with its allies in Syria and Lebanon, Iran forms an Axis of Resistance, arrayed against the region’s dominant Sunni powers and the West. In Syria, the project hung in the balance, and Suleimani was mounting a desperate fight, even if the price of victory was a sectarian conflict that engulfed the region for years.

Suleimani took command of the Quds Force fifteen years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran’s favor, working as a power broker and as a military force: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Suleimani for his role in supporting the Assad regime, and for abetting terrorism. And yet he has remained mostly invisible to the outside world, even as he runs agents and directs operations. “Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,” John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, “and no one’s ever heard of him.”
The world is deep,:
And deeper than even day may dream.

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Re: World Stories

Post by ejjus » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:51 am

James Mattis, a Warrior in Washington

The former Marine Corps general spent four decades on the front lines. How will he lead the Department of Defense?

By Dexter Filkins May 29, 2017 Issue


https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017 ... washington

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Mattis is by turns deeply thoughtful and ferociously aggressive about war; he’s seen by peers as both soldier and scholar.Illustration by Bob Staake

On January 22nd, two days after President Trump was inaugurated, he received a memo from his new Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, recommending that the United States launch a military strike in Yemen. In a forty-year career, Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general and a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had cultivated a reputation for being both deeply thoughtful and extremely aggressive. By law and by custom, the position of Defense Secretary is reserved for civilians, but Mattis was still a marine at heart. He had been out of the military for only three years (the rule is seven), and his appointment required Congress to pass a waiver. For the first time in his professional life, he was going to the Pentagon in a suit and tie.

Mattis urged Trump to launch the raid swiftly: the operation, which was aimed at one of the leaders of Al Qaeda in Yemen, required a moonless night, and the window for action was approaching. Under previous Administrations, such attacks entailed deliberation by the National Security Council. Instead, the request was discussed over dinner three days later at the White House, where Trump was joined by Mattis and several advisers, including Mike Flynn, who at the time was the national-security adviser, and Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The target of the raid, they explained, was a mountain camp where the Al Qaeda leader was holed up. The military hoped to apprehend him and capture his comrades’ computers and phones, which could be scoured for intelligence.

A plan for the operation had been developed under the previous Administration, but President Obama didn’t want to commit to a risky mission at the end of his term. Obama’s restraint was in keeping with an over-all preference for caution, which often rankled leading generals at the Pentagon. For eight years, the White House had tightly managed the Pentagon’s operations in the Middle East and in South Asia; even something as mundane as moving helicopters from one part of a war zone to another might require top-level discussion. “The Pentagon said they had to crawl through glass to get anything out of the White House,” a former defense official told me. Now the generals wanted to move. “There was an eagerness in the military to do something quickly,” a senior official with knowledge of the strike told me. “There was a frustration because a lot of operations had been held up.” When Trump heard the plan for the Yemen strike, he gave the order to go.

...

Mattis avoids talking to the press, preferring to remain behind the scenes, but, by following his team on two weeklong trips to Europe this spring, I was able to talk with him several times. On the airplane, dressed in a business suit, he looked like a banker, except for the closely cropped gray hair on the sides of his head. There are heavy bags below his eyes, giving him a weary aspect. His accent is Western flat. He usually had a book with him. During our first talk, it was “Earning the Rockies,” by Robert Kaplan, about how geography has shaped Americans’ role in the world.

When I asked what worried him most in his new position, I expected him to say isis or Russia or the defense budget. Instead, he said, “The lack of political unity in America. The lack of a fundamental friendliness. It seems like an awful lot of people in America and around the world feel spiritually and personally alienated, whether it be from organized religion or from local community school districts or from their governments.

“I come out of the tight-knit Marine Corps, but I’ve lived on college campuses for three and a half years,” he went on. “Go back to Ben Franklin—his descriptions about how the Iroquois Nations lived and worked together. Compare that to America today. I think that, when you look at veterans coming out of the wars, they’re more and more just slapped in the face by that isolation, and they’re used to something better. They think it’s P.T.S.D.—which it can be—but it’s really about alienation. If you lose any sense of being part of something bigger, then why should you care about your fellow-man?”
The world is deep,:
And deeper than even day may dream.

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Re: World Stories

Post by ejjus » Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:57 pm

OUT IN THE GREAT ALONE

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race pushes participants to the brink on an unforgiving trek to the end of the world. And, as one writer who tracked the race by air discovers, that is exactly the point.

by Brian Phillips
05/05/13

http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/ ... reat-alone

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Prologue
A Lot of Ways to Die


In the summer of 1977, a fire swept across the wilderness of interior Alaska, west of Mount McKinley. Tundra burned to rock; 345,000 acres of forest — more than 530 square miles — disappeared in flames. When the smoke cleared, it left behind a weird scar on the map, a vast, charred crater littered with deadfall. In the winter, when temperatures in the interior dive to 40 below, the skeletons of burned trees snapped in the cold or were ripped out by powerful winds. The tussocks of tundra grass froze as hard as bowling balls.

Every year in early March, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race sets out from Anchorage, in the south-central part of the state, and runs northwest toward the finish line in Nome, on the coast of the Bering Sea. In its early stages, the trail runs upward, into the mountains of the Alaska Range, then plunges down, into the interior, where it enters the fire's scorched country.

For the mushers of the Iditarod, the Farewell Burn, as the region became known, was a nightmare. The race had been founded only four years earlier, as a way to commemorate the importance of sled dogs to Alaska. Large expanses of the state had, for much of its history, been unreachable by other forms of transportation. Now dog teams were forced to navigate through blackened stumps and fallen limbs, along a trail that was often impossible to follow. Many years, the Burn accumulated little precipitation. Sleds intended for snow and ice had to be dragged across hardened mud and gravel. Runners broke; tree shards snagged tug lines; speeds dropped to 3 or 4 miles per hour.

In 1984, the Alaska Bureau of Land Management cut a swath for a better trail. But even then, a seasoned musher could need 12 hours or more to cross from Rohn to Nikolai, the checkpoints on either side of the Burn — a passage that would frequently be made in darkness, through heavy wind and extreme, subzero cold. The novelist Gary Paulsen, who ran the Iditarod twice in the 1980s, describes the Burn as a place where mushers literally go mad. "It was beyond all reason," Paulsen writes in his Iditarod memoir Winterdance. "I entered a world of mixed reality and dreams, peopled with the most bizarre souls and creatures …" At one point he thinks he's on a beach in California; at another he pulls out a real ax to fend off an attack from an imaginary moose. When he comes to, his dogs have vanished; he's alone in the landscape. He stumbles across them 100 yards away. He has built a fire and bedded them down without knowing it.

The Iditarod Trail runs across the Burn for around 35 miles of its total length. The total length of the Iditarod Trail is more than 1,000 miles. The Burn is not the most difficult section.

...

Colin had a fascinatingly odd way of maintaining intense eye contact while simultaneously all but squirming with agony over the fact that he was being noticed — the way, say, your 15-year-old goth cousin might do. This was something I noticed time and again in the inhabitants of remote Alaska, this total, helpless acuteness in the presence of a stranger. It was as if isolation had kept them from numbing themselves to the fact of other people. You walk down the sidewalk in Manhattan and maybe you know on some level that every single person you pass is a constellation of memory and perception as huge and unique as whatever's inside you, but there's no way to really appreciate that on a case-by-case basis; you'd go loony. You get anesthetized, living among crowds, to the implications of faces. The terra incognita of every gaze, Saul Bellow calls it. Whereas if you walk up to a remote Alaskan, I mean buying a bag of chips in the village store or whatever, a lot of the time the response you get is this sort of HELLO, VAST AND TERRIFYING COSMOS OF PERSONHOOD. The apertures are just wide open.

I took a walk through the village. Couple of roads twisting down a couple of hills, some pretty rough-looking houses. Moose antlers over the doorways. Things happen to the color blue during an Alaska twilight that I've never seen anywhere else. Imagine that the regular, daytime blue sky spends all its time floating on the night sky, the way you'd float on the surface of a pool. Now it's submerging itself. You could see it vanishing upward. The cars looked derelict, half-buried in snow. Snowdrifts rammed up doorknob-high against the houses. Every now and again a snow machine would go screaming by; the drivers always waved. Snow 3 and 4 feet high on the roofs.

...

We were standing in the open. All of a sudden I felt … but I don't want to overstate it; it wasn't despair or anything, just melancholy, just an extreme forlornness. It hit me that what I really felt — I realize how weird this is to write — was loneliness for history. Alaska has its own past: the murdering flaming wreck of the Russian colonies, the gold insanity, the deep-time traditions of the tribes. But it doesn't saturate the landscape. In the Lower 48, you carry around a sense that the human environment has been molded by people who went before — this battle on this hill and so on. There's a texture that you, too, are part of, even when it's bloody or frightening, a texture within which your life can assume some kind of meaning. And that, as Bernard's theory of tax policy and generations of writers have discovered, can be its own nightmare, but in remote Alaska, the nightmare is: It's not there. It's hard to explain, though this felt absence is an obvious part of both the allure and the terror of the frontier. There are no pre-written meanings. A fella can do just about anything he's big enough to do. And one strong gust of wind could blow the whole edifice of human habitation away.

...

Who knew what would ever be there tomorrow? And it hit me that that was exactly the point of the Iditarod, why it was so important to Alaska. When everything can vanish, you make a sport out of not vanishing. You submit yourself to the forces that could erase you from the earth, and then you turn up at the end, not erased. I'd had it wrong before, when I'd seen the dog teams as saints on the cusp of a religious vision. It was the opposite. Visionaries are trying to escape into something larger. Mushers are heading into something larger that they have to escape. They're going into the vision to show that they can come out of it again. The vision will be beautiful, and it will try to kill you. And (oh by the way) that doesn't have to be the last word. That's why you go to the end of the world — to see whether you're still there.
The world is deep,:
And deeper than even day may dream.

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