David Thomson on Films: 'White Material'
January 07, 2011
Film-going is a total experience, so, when I went to see Claire Denis’s White Material in San Francisco this week, I had to sit through an advertisement for visiting South Africa and having a marvelous time. I’ve seen the ad before, and it gets increasingly depressing. There is lovely scenery and a complacent couple who can’t wait to get back there to regain the best Thai cooking of their lives and the rapturous experience of seeing elephants come to drink in the evening. Go if you must. I only know that my daughter—a world traveler—says South Africa is the scariest place she’s ever been.
Stephen Solarz (1940–2010)
December 02, 2010
The memory of Stephen Solarz, who died this week, should serve as a rude reminder of a time, not long ago but nonetheless ancient, when Capitol Hill was deeply immersed—when it led—in American foreign policy, and a congressman could become a significant figure on the world stage. The honorable gentleman from Brighton Beach had an impact upon the fate of nations.
The Little Emirate and the World Cup
December 01, 2010
[Guest post by James Downie] Today, the talk of the soccer world is Barcelona’s sublime 5-0 destruction of Real Madrid. Come Thursday, though, for a brief moment at least, international soccer will grab the spotlight once again, as FIFA announces the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Fighting HIV With Circumcision; Getting Depressed About TB
November 30, 2010
Read parts one, two, three, four, and five of Zeke Emanuel's Africa diaries. Six boys sit on green plastic classroom chairs in gowns with their clothes neatly folded on a side table. Cloth booties cover their feet and lower leg. They smile nervously. They are waiting to be called for a medical circumcision. Eduardo says he is 16 years old, as is his friend sitting next to him. Why are they getting a circumcision? “For hygiene, and for HIV,” they tell us. And their classmates are getting one too. This is the Military Hospital in Maputo, Mozambique.
The Worthless Babies of South Africa: A New Low in the Moral Rottenness of the Most Morally Portentous Country in the World
August 31, 2010
This story was brought to the world by Benjamin Pogrund who for years was a writer and ultimately deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail, a fiercely anti-apartheid newspaper in South Africa. After I acquired The New Republic, Pogrund wrote for us during the seventies and eighties, bringing our readers a white liberal's view of the rotten apartheid government and a wise view of the predicaments that would face the black movements that were arrayed against it. After the R.D.M.
Hillary Clinton's Naïve, Muddled Approach to Development
August 23, 2010
Does the Obama administration have any idea at all what it wants out of its development efforts? In a recent speech at SAIS at Johns Hopkins, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Washington’s new six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative. She was at pains to differentiate the administration from its predecessor—yet one more recapitulation of a by now familiar trope, but one that is particularly disingenuous in the case of global health, where the Bush administration’s record actually was very good.
Paul Kagame and Rwanda's Faux Democracy
August 05, 2010
If you’re a betting person, here’s a safe bet: On August 9, the balloting in the east African state of Rwanda will give world-famous military leader Paul Kagame yet another seven-year term as president. The astonishing margin of victory will impress even the modern grand viziers of Central Asia.
Eat A Kangaroo, Save The Planet
July 14, 2010
Here's one idea for reducing methane emissions down in Australia—get people to eat kangaroos instead of cows: Both animals are herbivores, and both eat grass that is fermented before entering their main stomachs. But while cattle belch enormous amounts of methane to digest the food, kangaroos release virtually none—they burp only harmless acids that can be turned into vinegar. Some context: Australia emits more greenhouse gases per capita than any country on Earth (and nearly 2 percent of the world's total).
Which team should the large majority of us who are neither Dutch nor Spanish support? At the final there are sometimes strong pulls of sentiment even for neutrals, though such sentimental longings can be disappointed, with Germany the likely culprit. I mean the 1954, “Aus! Aus! Aus!” final, when so many people wanted to see the World Cup got to Ferenc Puskas and his wonderful Hungarians, and 1974, when so many of us rooted for Johan Cruyff’s Dutchmen, only for both to be defeated by what we no longer call Teutonic efficiency.
In South Africa, Missing My Favorite Univision Announcer
July 09, 2010
One of the only bad parts about being here in South Africa for the World Cup is missing out on Univision’s Spanish-language coverage. I should probably note that I don’t speak Spanish. Not fluently, at least. But I vastly prefer watching my fútbol en español. And being here, subjected to the dry and ramblingly irrelevant South African announcers on the local SABC and Supersport stations has reminded me just how superior the voices of Mexican television are on the global scale.