Alessandro Figus (Malta): Italian Politics at the Crossroads: Nationalism, Separatism or Federalism? Beauty and the feast: With its history as a nation, it is easier to understand modern Italy through its food and women. From L'Espill, in order to understand modern Catalan nationalism, it is necessary to examine the emergence of "anti-Catalanism" in Castilian Spain during the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance. A review of The Basque Country: A Cultural History by Paddy Woodworth. Blacklisted as an uncooperative tax haven for its secretive bank laws, Monaco hopes to prove it is more than a place for the rich and famous to hide their money. But can the principality shake off a reputation for sunny days and shady characters? From Dissent, Mitchell Cohen, Philippe Askenazy, Françoise Gaspard, Nancy L. Green, and Jean-Baptiste Soufron consider how the election of Nicholas Sarkozy reflects a dramatically different France. Film fans will always have Paris: We've all been to the French capital, even if we've never travelled there. Movies have implanted it in our minds. Putting Belgium on eBay? What explains the mega-malaise currently gripping the Flemings and Walloons in Belgium?
The New Global Cinema: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on why Hollywood must portray point of view of others; and Nathan Gardels and Mike Medavoy on Shock and Awe vs. Hearts and Minds at the movies. A review of Cecil B. Demille and The Golden Calf by Simon Louvish. A review of Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King by Foster Hirsch. Seriously funny: A review of Mere Anarchy and The Insanity Defense by Woody Allen; and Conversations with Woody Allen: His Films, the Movies and Moviemaking by Eric Lax (and more). From Nextbook, the remake of “The Heartbreak Kid” favors bawdiness over sharp-edged satire; a look at the short story on which “The Heartbreak Kid” was based; and now, a major motion picture! What happens to a writer when Hollywood calls? Schmucks with Underwoods: Treated more like factory workers than artists, Hollywood screenwriters — currently threatening to strike — have never gotten much respect. Do they deserve it? A review of The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger. Who's afraid of Michael Moore? The spirit and humanity of Moore's film-making shames the supine American media (and more). Mr. Bad Taste: Michael Hirschorn, boss of VH1, intellectual columnist, hits jackpot going low with Flavor Flav and Bret Michaels. A review of The Truth is Out There: Christian Faith and the Classics of TV Science Fiction by Thomas Bertonneau and Kim Paffenroth.
From New Politics, Dan La Botz on the Immigrant Rights Movement: Between Political Realism and Social Idealism America has a big problem with illegal immigration, but a big part of it stems from the word "illegal". As a code word for racial and ethnic hatred, it is detestable. A review of Mestizo in America: Generations of Mexican Ethnicity in the Suburban Southwest by Thomas Macias. From Colorlines, before race is resurrected and redefined by biologists, geneticists and biotech firms, social justice advocates must grapple with the issues and add their voices to the debate; and a look at The Rise of the Ghetto-Fabulous Party: Across campuses, white students are donning blackface, drinking 40s and playing at being undocumented immigrants. Just another stupid racist joke—or is it the culmination of two decades of conservative politics at colleges? From Discover, an article on how not to be racist: A rosy outlook on life makes some people immune to racial prejudice. A review of Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal by Randall Kennedy. Who asked him? An article on the irrelevant Rev. Sharpton.
From New Politics, Samuel Farber on Visiting Raul Castro's Cuba. A review of My Life by Fidel Castro (and more and an excerpt). From TNR, who's buried in Che's tomb? Alvaro Vargas Llosa on the Cuban government's most shameless con. From Foreign Policy, a look at how Carlos Slim got huge. Argentina's current first lady, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has secured victory in the country's presidential election, where a mixed message is sent (and more). Is the Organization of American States on its deathbed? The futile debate between the virtues of representative and participatory democracy detracts from some of the more sober problems facing the hemisphere.
From The Scientist, an excerpt from Science Without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives; and an essay on the future of public engagement: The facts never speak for themselves, which is why scientists need to "frame" their messages to the public. An article on why scientists must learn to talk to the media. From Popular Mechanics, here are the 2007 Breakthrough Awards. The science education myth: Forget the conventional wisdom—US schools are turning out more capable science and engineering grads than the job market can support. Stephen Wolfram, author of A New Kind of Science, pays brainy undergrad $25,000 for identifying simplest computer.
Thomas Bertonneau (SUNY-Oswego): The New Berlioz: Musical High Romanticism in an Age of Technical and Ideological Correctness. Benedict XVI reflects on Beethoven's 9th, and says composer's suffering heightened his perceptivity. Conductor of the People: Gustavo Dudamel is a product of el sistema, Venezuela’s radical approach to music education. What will he bring with him when he leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic? Salsa without borders: The popular Latin dance helps bring nations together — one four-minute song at a time. It’s a Hip-Hop World: Rap music has long been considered a form of resistance against authority and boosted by the commercialization of the music industry, that message has proven its appeal to youth all around the world. Now, from Shanghai to Nairobi to São Paulo, hip-hop is evolving into a truly global art of communication. Negritude 2.0: An essay on deconstructing the false good rapper/bad rapper dichotomy.
From Wired, Jack Hitt goes behind enemy lines with a suburban counterterrorist. What to do about pixels of hate: Jihadi Web sites may be useful for terrorists, but they are also helping terror fighters. A review of Suicide Bombers: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom by Mohammed M. Hafez; A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja by Joost R. Hiltermann; and Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun. The new Taliban: In a swath of territory across Afghanistan and Pakistan, a wild and lawless new state is being born, and warlords struggle for control as Islamic militants pour in. Five books on terrorism you aren't allowed to read: A review of Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and the Failed Search for bin Laden by Jean-Charles Brisard, Guillaume Dasquie and Lucy Rounds; Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World by J Millard Burr and Robert O Collins; Unknown Soldiers: How Terrorism Transformed the Modern World by Matthew Carr; Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It by Rachel Ehrenfeld; and Reaping the Whirlwind: The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan by Michael Griffin. Chalmers Johnson reviews The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror by Stephen Holmes. Bush’s dangerous liaisons: Though it has been a topic of much attention lately, the origin of the term “terrorist” has gone largely unnoticed by politicians and pundits alike.
A review of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde Vol 4: Criticism; and Coffee With Oscar Wilde by Merlin Holland. A review of Ezra Pound: Poet: Volume 1: The Young Genius, 1885-1920 by A David Moody. Deed and word: Winston Churchill said that history would treat him kindly, because he would write it. And he did—with a prodigiousness that almost defies belief; but also with a literary craftsmanship that made his Nobel prize far more than just a Swedish thank you note. A poet's warning: In a witty 1946 poem, W.H. Auden contrasted the way of "experts" with the Hermetic path of the trickster. William Skidelsky on masters of disgrace: Philip Roth and JM Coetzee are very different writers, but with age, their visions are getting closer. Zuckerman Unbound: What should we make of Philip Roth's alter ego in his declining years? Was George Plimpton a literary giant? Uh, no—why does Philip Roth insist on arguing that he was? A review of Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism by John Updike. How gay were the Hardy Boys? Did their original author hide secret jokes inside the famous children's detective books? J. K. Rowling may think of Dumbledore as gay, but there is no reason why anyone else should.
Ashley Dawson (CUNY): The Return of Limits. Mark Sagoff (Maryland): Environmentalism: Death and Resurrection. Chris Turner, author of The Geography of Hope, believes most of the environment movement has been spreading the wrong message. It’s time for us to shift from despair to dreams. From The New Yorker, Neptune’s Navy: An article on Paul Watson’s wild crusade to save the oceans. The climate crucible: From parched earth, Australia sprouts a culture convinced that global warming can be overcome. An interview with Tim Flannery author of The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change. Save the earth in two not-so-hard questions: Joseph Romm on what Steven Landsburg doesn't understand about climate change. An interview with Sierra Club’s Carl Pope on global warming, water, and Al Gore. From NPQ, scholars, thinkers, scientists and activists write on on "The 11th Hour", a documentary on global warming. From conservation to population, a new look at Planet Earth: Can nine billion humans survive and try to improve their lives without depleting the planet? The big choice for humanity is not whether but how we survive as a species: A review of The Lost and Left Behind: Stories from the Age of Extinctions by Terry Glavin. George Monbiot reads Cormac McCarthy's The Road: It shines a cold light on the dreadful consequences of our universal apathy. Regrettably, some Americans are simply not aware of how large an asshole footprint they leave on the planet. Here, Vanity Fair offers a questionnaire that will help such individuals determine the size and breadth of their footprint.
Darryn Jensen (Queensland): Liberal Egalitarianism and Religious Vilification Laws. The cliche that won’t die: Pundits claim that proponents of free speech and human rights are fundamentalists. From The Progressive, an interview with Christopher Hitchens on God is Not Great. From Jewcy, Hitchens v. D'Souza: Thoughts on the New Atheism debate. Are the "New Atheists" avoiding the "real arguments"? Consider the Nicene Creed. What the New Atheists don’t see: Theodore Dalrymple on why to regret religion is to regret Western civilization. A review of Darwin’s Angel: An Angelic Riposte to The God Delusion by John Cornwell. From Secular Web, a look at the argument from religious confusion, or problem of religious diversity. A review of Believing by Faith: An Essay in the Epistemology and Ethics of Religious Belief by John Bishop. A review of The Bible: A Biography by Karen Armstrong. From Theandros, a review of From Clement to Origen: The Social and Historical Context of the Church Fathers by David Ivan Rankin. An interview with Bryan M. Litfin author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction. A review of Believe Not Every Spirit: Possession, Mysticism, and Discernment in Early Modern Catholicism by Moshe Sluhovsky.