I don’t know when ‘banlieue’ became a word in English, but it’s in a 1990 edition of Chambers as ‘precinct, extra-mural area, suburb’. Many people living in the rougher outskirts of France’s cities prefer the expression ‘quartiers populaires’; others use the word ‘cités’: working-class neighbourhoods where architects, planners and commissioning bodies created huge, affordable housing projects half a century ago (long horizontal ‘barres’ and grandiose high rise set the tone). The rundown cités at the margins of Paris, Marseille, Lyon and other major cities are once again under inspection after the 7-9 January killings: Amady Coulibaly, who murdered the policewoman in Montrouge and the four Jews in Paris, grew up in a dismal estate south of the capital. ‘Ghetto’ and ‘apartheid’, words already murmured whenever France talks to itself about these places, are now spoken openly. The prime minister, Manuel Valls, used ‘apartheid’ in a recent speech about urban segregation. More »
Karl Miller liked to quote a passage from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
Like one, that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread
And, having once turned round, walks on
And turns no more his head
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.
The passage was much better, he’d add, if you changed a word in the penultimate line. Take out ‘fiend’, replace it with ‘friend’.
Mark Boxer was a friend of Karl’s; he was a friend of the LRB, too, and while he was no fiend, exactly, he was on the tail of his many friends, caricaturing them in his drawings, not always to their liking. He was the first editor of the Sunday Times colour supplement, as such publications were called back in the day, but the drawings are the lasting achievement. More »
An Israeli army sniper, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, 5 December 2014 © Haim Schwarczenberg
‘I won’t say we changed the open-fire regulations, but we’ve taken a slightly tougher approach with people around here,’ Brigadier General Tamir Yadai, the Israeli army commander in the West Bank, said last month. ‘In places where we used to fire tear-gas or rubber bullets, we now fire Ruger bullets and sometimes live bullets.’ Yadai was talking to residents of Halamish, an Israeli settlement, who had complained about the worsening security situation. More »
Table Bay Boulevard in Cape Town is to be renamed after F.W. De Klerk, subject to city council approval at a meeting tomorrow. When Eastern Boulevard was renamed after Nelson Mandela in 2011, the council chamber burst into rapturous applause. That’s unlikely to happen tomorrow. More »
Last week François Hollande wished teachers in France a happy new year and announced a plan to create ‘citizen reserves’ for schools: volunteers drafted in to inculcate a proper sense, in the wake of the 7-9 January killings, of how the country’s meant to work. Who would these reservists be? Journalists, lawyers and unspecified ‘cultural actors’. The president talked up secularism (la laïcité) and reminded teachers, if they hadn’t known before, that religion has no place in schools. Though ‘there can be lay instruction about religions.’ More »
Syriza’s victory in the Greek general election is a hopeful moment for Europe. It shows how a radical left-wing political movement, brought together in a short time, can use the democratic system to attack three menaces: the rentier lords of jurisdiction-hopping private capital, the compromised political hacks of the traditional parties who have become their accomplices, and the panphobic haters of the populist right. More »
In the Republican Response to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Joni Ernst, a newly elected senator from Iowa, referred to legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline as the ‘Keystone jobs bill’.
It’s the latest in a long line of Republican rebrandings. More »
Almost certainly not the last resting place of Alexander the Great
On Monday, six days before the general election, the Greek Ministry of Culture published a preliminary report by the osteo-archaeological team studying the skeletal remains found in the mound of Amphipolis in northern Greece. The bones were found in November, since when there had been a lot of speculation about who they might have belonged to. Alexander the Great’s name came up a lot, as did his mother’s, Olympias. More »
The decision by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, to open ‘a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine’ could have a concrete political impact in Israel/Palestine, but not because the ICC will end up charging officials for carrying out war crimes.
The ICC has yet to address any violations carried out by Western liberal states. Simply put, the geography of the ICC’s investigations – from Côte d’Ivoire to Uganda – both reflects and reproduces an old colonial frame of justice. Even within this blinkered framework, the court’s success rate has not been particularly impressive: in its 12 years of existence, the ICC has carried out 21 investigations; only two people have been convicted.
Given that record, why has Bensouda’s announcement provoked such outrage in the Israeli government? More »
On Saturday, the court case known in Egypt as the Shura Council trial was in session. Judge Hassan Farid entered the courtroom, flanked by the two other judges on the panel and a couple of morose security guards. The defence were to continue their closing arguments, the prosecution having wrapped up a month ago. But before the defence could begin, the judge leaned in to his microphone and asked if the prosecution had anything they wanted to say. The courtroom fell into a stunned silence – and then erupted in protest. More »