No party can exist forever. Political traditions can decline, and then take on new forms; some simply become extinct. All that can be said with certainty is that if the left is to finally leave the 20th century, the process will have to start with the ideas and convictions that answer the challenges of a modernity it is only just starting to wake up to, let alone understand.
At first glance, this brightly decorated room is no different from that of any other elementary school. Shelves are filled with storybooks; on the chalkboard, a vertical line of words reads ”prudence,” ”pretzel,” ”prairie,” ”purple.” But the nervous agitation of the boys’ hands, punctuated by occasional odd flapping gestures, betrays the fact that something is off kilter. There is also a curious poster on one of the walls with a circle of human faces annotated with words like ”sad,” ”proud” and ”lonely.” When I ask Cacciabaudo about it, she explains that her students do not know how to read the basic expressions of the human face. Instead, they must learn them by rote.
In the United States, the ranks of journalists keep shrinking. As I travel around the world for The New York Times, I hear from journalists everywhere about the painful downsizing happening across the industry. This has meant important stories go untold. Costly investigative reporting units pare back their ambition in the face of budget cuts. Expensive trips to conflict zones suddenly seem like a luxury publishers cannot afford, and news organizations everywhere rely more and more on wire services to cover the world. This has reduced the vibrancy and diversity of the journalism we consume, and the world is poorer for it. Above all, local journalism has suffered. Cities that once supported two or more daily newspapers find themselves with one, or none at all.
I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals, nor do I have any gloating arrogance at posing for selfies with unknowing security men. But I’m in my rhythm. Everything I say to everyone must be true. As true as it is compartmentalized. The trust that El Chapo had extended to us was not to be fucked with. This will be the first interview El Chapo had ever granted outside an interrogation room, leaving me no precedent by which to measure the hazards. I’d seen plenty of video and graphic photography of those beheaded, exploded, dismembered or bullet-riddled innocents, activists, courageous journalists and cartel enemies alike. I was highly aware of committed DEA and other law-enforcement officers and soldiers, both Mexican and American, who had lost their lives executing the policies of the War on Drugs. The families decimated, and institutions corrupted.
• • •
Still, today, there are little boys in Sinaloa who draw play-money pesos, whose fathers and grandfathers before them harvested the only product they’d ever known to morph those play pesos into real dollars. They wonder at our outrage as we, our children, friends, neighbors, bosses, banks, brothers and sisters finance the whole damn thing. Without a paradigm shift, understanding the economics and illness of addiction, parents in Mexico and the U.S. will increasingly risk replacing that standard parting question to their teens off for a social evening – from “Where are you going tonight?” to “Where are you dying tonight?”
El Chapo? It won’t be long, I’m sure, before the Sinaloa cartel’s next shipment into the United States is the man himself.
The romance between the artist, Charles Schulz, and his muse, the little girl with the red hair :
In the Peanuts Sunday strip that ran on November 19, 1961, Charlie Brown sits down to lunch, as usual, accompanied only by his abundant anxieties. He watches longingly as the other children enjoy themselves, laments his aloneness and unpopularity, and despairs over the lunch that he finds packed for him: a peanut-butter sandwich and a banana.
And, for the first time, he glimpses someone new in the schoolyard. “I’d give anything in the world if that little girl with the red hair would come over, and sit with me,” he says, to no one in particular.
A story on Raj Rajaratnam’s inside job and an unsuspected collateral damage:
In my many conversations with Das, I had failed to explain to her what insider trading was, how she ended up a millionaire on paper, and what her employer did in her name. Her sole source of aggrievement was the sum of Rs 8.5 lakh she believed Kumar owed her. Now, I heard her voice on the crackling line fill with hope. “Will he give me the two years’ pay he promised?” she asked. “If he does, that will be very good.” But, after a pause, she added, “If he does not, my life will continue.”
There’s just so much in this longform that I could not settle for just one or two paragraphs :
In the time I’d been gone, there had been a shift. Of course I had changed, and the trees had grown taller, but a greater swing—the kind that happens on a geological timescale of thousands or millions of years—was beginning to be widely acknowledged. Some scientists were becoming urgently vocal about the need to recognize that, in recent centuries, the world had entered a new epoch. They called it the Anthropocene. Planet Earth was now defined, they said, by the complete and utter dominance of human beings.
“It’s no longer us against ‘Nature,’” Paul Crutzen wrote in 2011. “Instead, it’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be.”
My favorite part — I love birds :
I stared down at my charge at the bottom of the basket. It was just a bird, but a bird that couldn’t be found anywhere on the East Coast forty years earlier, when DDT was so abundant that every falcon nest failed, the eggshells thinned beyond survival. This bird was hope. There in a room far above the famous Riverside Church sanctuary that gives so many people a place to put their faith, I looked into the bird’s dark eyes and found a place for my own.
A beautiful conclusion by Meera Subramanian. My thanks to her for this remarquable journey :
There is no trail going forward. We have to follow the lay of the land. We need to remember that when we leave the woods, it is not so easy to find our way back.