Diverse perspectives on Charlie Hebdo attacks — from Tariq Ali, the Guardian, the New York Times, and others

Tariq Ali, writing in the London Review of Books, looks incisively into key issues that arise from the atrocity, the horrendous murder of 12 people at the headquarters of the French satirical magazine. A Guardian editorial and the New York Times Editor and Public Editor explain why the two newspapers with a global reach decided not to re-publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons targeting the Prophet. The New York Times fields a debate on whether satirists can sometimes be ‘too provocative and outrageous’ and whether they ‘should hold themselves back’.

‘Short Cuts’ by Tariq Ali:

Guardian editorial view: ‘show solidarity but in your own voice’:

New York Times Editor Dean Baquet in fiery, touch-me-not Facebook attack on critic of newspaper’s decision not to reproduce Charlie Hebdo cartoons:

New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan on how the decision not to re-publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons was made:

‘When Satire Cuts Both Ways’:

‘Victims of the Terror Attacks in Paris’:


A case of faux-valorisation of security preparedness? Praveen Swami on the so-called ‘terror boat’

Praveen Swami’s hard-headed, upstanding investigation in The Indian Express challenges the Government of India’s claim that the Coast Guard destroyed a Pakistani ‘terror boat’. The Defence Minister, claiming that there are intercepts, has promised more information. Meanwhile, read these articles:

Why String Theory Still Offers Hope We Can Unify Physics | Science | Smithsonian

Why String Theory Still Offers Hope We Can Unify Physics | Science | Smithsonian.

“Experimental evidence is the final arbiter of right and wrong, but a theory’s value is also assessed by the depth of influence it has on allied fields. By this measure, string theory is off the charts. Decades of analysis filling thousands of articles have had a dramatic impact on a broad swath of research cutting across physics and mathematics.”

Hilary Mantel on her new short story collection, BBC Radio 4 and The Guardian

Hilary Mantel, one of the world’s finest novelists, talks to Tom Sutcliffe on BBC Radio 4 about her wonderful new collection of short stories, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories” (Kindle edition: Fourth Estate, 2014). Asked how she came to write the title story, she provides fascinating insights into a writer’s mind and the writing process. The title story can be read at the second link below:

BBC Radio 4 interview (audio):

“The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,” title story (a Guardian exclusive):

Guardian interview:

Author’s reply to critics:

Damian Barr defends Mantel:

The Influence of Beethoven, "Deus Ex Musica," Alex Ross in The New Yorker

“Three days before the end…Beethoven had said, “*Plaudite*,* amici*,* comoedia finita est*” (“Applaud, friends, the comedy is over”)….Perhaps Beethoven was mocking his doctors; perhaps he was mocking the priest who administered the last rites; perhaps he was mocking himself. In any event, he was laughing about something as the curtain came down. He presumably did not know that, like the Emperor Augustus, he was about to undergo deification.”

Microsoft’s Nadella Sets Off a Furor on Women’s Pay –

Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft and a man “not known for being tone deaf on women’s issues,” puts his foot in his mouth and then, donning sackcloth and ashes, backtracks all the way:®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

‘In 1976 I discovered Ebola – now I fear an unimaginable tragedy’

Peter Piot was a researcher at a lab in Antwerp when a pilot brought him a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had fallen mysteriously ill in Zaire.

Prime Minister Modi speaks in code to his Hindu nationalist base, Meera Nair in The Washington Post

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed his fans in a campaign-style appearance at New York’s Madison Square Garden, “he wasn’t just speaking to the people on this continent. In fact, the symbolism and rhetoric of this trip were carefully calibrated toward his Hindu nationalist base at home (and here, too)…The message: I may nod to tolerance and openness, but I’m really still with you.” A perceptive analysis by Meera Nair, who teaches writing at New York University:

"Towards an Asian century of prosperity," President Xi Jinping’s article in The Hindu

‘As emerging markets, each with its own strengths, we need to become closer development partners who draw upon each other’s strengths and work together for common development. With rich experience in infrastructure building and manufacturing, China is ready to contribute to India’s development in these areas. India is advanced in IT and pharmaceutical industries, and Indian companies are welcome to seek business opportunities in the Chinese market. The combination of the “world’s factory” and the “world’s back office” will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market…I am confident that as long as China and India work together, the Asian century of prosperity and renewal will surely arrive at an early date.’

"How the West Caused the Ukraine Crisis," John J. Mearsheimer, Foreign Affairs

“The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process — a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.”

Work in the new “sharing economy”

“These are not jobs, jobs that have any future, jobs that have the possibility of upgrading; this is contingent, arbitrary work…It might as well be called wage slavery in which all the cards are held, mediated by technology, by the employer…”

Despite its ambivalent title (“In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty”), this New York Times article by Natasha Singer gives useful insights into current trends in the labour market in the United States today.

The article is at

From the New Left Review: “Unexpected Cuba”

From the Introduction to an important new article by Emily Morris:

“What is the verdict on Cuba’s economy, nearly a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet bloc? The story generally told is a simple one, with a clear message.…After the dissolution of the Comecon trading bloc, U.S. Cuba watchers were confident that the state-socialist economy faced imminent collapse. “Cuba needs shock therapy—a speedy shift to free markets,’ they declared. The restoration of capitalism on the island was ‘inevitable’; delay would not only hamper economic performance but would inflict grave human costs and discredit Cuba’s social achievements. Given his stubborn refusal to embark on a course of liberalization and privatization, Fidel Castro’s ‘final hour’ had at last arrived.

“The problem with this account is that reality has conspicuously failed to comply with its predictions…”

Read the whole article at

(via Deepak Kumar)

"Vandana Shiva’s Crusade Against Genetically Modified Crops," Michael Specter in The New Yorker

“Much of what…[Vandana Shiva] says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.”

‘Soul Cycle: David Mitchell’s "The Bone Clocks",’ James Wood in The New Yorker

“Despite Mitchell’s humane gifts as a secular storyteller, The Bone Clocks enforces an ordained hermeticism, in which fictional characters, often bearing names from previous Mitchell fictions, perform unmotivated maneuvers at the behest of mysterious plotters who can do what they want with their victims. Time to redact this particular Script.”

"India’s Foolish Crush on Japan," Pankaj Mishra, Bloomberg View

“…it is hard not to suspect anachronism and naivete in Modi’s plan to model India’s economy on Japan’s postwar achievements of technical innovation and labor-intensive manufacturing.”