F&O wraps up the week with an eclectic range of slow journalism from the past, present and future:
Critical Assembly: A Drama Critic Remembers Berlin.
Two years before the wall came down, in 1987, historian and author Brian Brennan joined 139 other writers from 40 countries in Berlin, for an international conference on theatre on the 750th anniversary of Berlin’s founding. The meeting was fractious: “it seemed some of us would never agree on where to go for a good plate of liver dumplings, much less agree on how theatre could be made more relevant to our day-to-day lives,” he recalls. And yet, suddenly, theatre critics from around the world came to agreement — on a plea for world peace, “after we had visited the former concentration camp in Buchenwald where Nazis killed thousands of prisoners during the Second World War. Without world peace, we agreed, all this talk about the relevance of theatre would be just so much blather.” (Subscription)
For a brief, giddy moment, Sean Noble — a little-known former aide to a congressman in Arizona, United States — became one of the most important people in American politics, Kim Barker and Theodoric Meyer write in an investigative ProPublica report this week. “Plucked from obscurity by libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Noble was tasked with distributing a torrent of political money raised by the Koch network, a complex web of nonprofits nicknamed the Kochtopus, into conservative causes in the 2010 and 2012 U.S. elections. (Public access)
International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe casts his attention from Asia to South America in two new pieces this week. In Venezuela, he writes, there were hopes when President Hugo Chavez died that “the end of his strutting, belligerent and goading influence would calm the country’s violently polarised politics.” Instead, a “slow-motion coup” is apparently under way. In Asia Manthorpe examines the implications of a historic meeting between China and Taiwan – and finds its import over-rated. (Subscription)
In an essay, excerpted in F&O‘s Expert Witness section from his new book, museum director and author Jack Lohman issues a warning about the future of our cultural institutions — and why they matter to increasingly cosmopolitan and multicultural societies. He writes: “We have entered another Churchillian “period of danger,” but one of an unprecedented nature. We live in an age of profound cultural transition, a time in which the complexity of our multicultural world confronts us with challenges that have taken on an urgency and intensity quite unlike anything we have experienced in history. It is a time when hardly any of our public institutions are free from having to undergo deep soul-searching as to their meaning and their role…” (Public access)
One part of a complex and grueling saga came to something of an end this week, as a United States federal judge sentenced a former Guatemalan Army officer to the maximum 10 years in prison Monday — but only for immigration crimes. It took the efforts of authorities in three countries — Canada, the United States and Guatemala. As Sebastian Rotella of ProPublica reports, the judge ruled that the ex-commando obtained U.S. citizenship by concealing his role in the massacre of 250 men, women and children in a Guatemalan village in 1982. (Public access)
Have a good weekend.
– Deborah Jones
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