Crackland Ballet, Hurricane Katrina, Kenyan Fishers and US Gun laws: Facts, and Opinions, this week

Young girls take ballet lessons at the New Dreams dance studio in the Luz neighborhood known to locals as Cracolandia (Crackland) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 14, 2015. For the young girls learning to jump and plie, the dance studio provides a way forward and out of the difficult environment they have grown up in. Brazil is one of the world's highest consuming countries of crack cocaine, and Cracolandia, or "Crack Land", located in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, is one of the most intense and brutal hubs. Picture taken August 14, 2015. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Young girls take ballet lessons at the New Dreams dance studio in the Luz neighborhood known to locals as Cracolandia (Crackland) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A Photo-Essay, by Nacho Doce, of Reuters

Ballet in Brazil’s ‘Crackland’. By Nacho Doce (*unlocked)

On the outskirts of Sao Paulo in Brazil, the rough Luz neighbourhood – known as Cracolandia or “Crackland” locally for its widespread use of crack cocaine – might seem a world away from the beauty and grace usually associated with ballet. But there’s another side to life in Luz, in a country that’s among the world’s biggest consumers of crack cocaine.

A child walks on a street in the Lower Ninth Ward neighbourhood, an area damaged by Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States August 18, 2015. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina triggered floods that inundated New Orleans and killed more than 1,500 people as storm waters overwhelmed levees and broke through floodwalls. Congress authorized spending more than $14 billion to beef up the city's flood protection after Katrina and built a series of new barriers that include manmade islands and new wetlands. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria returned to New Orleans after documenting events in 2005 and found a city much rebuilt and renovated, although abandoned homes show Katrina’s lingering impact. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

  Hurricane Katrina 10 years on, a Photo-Essay by Carlos Barria (*unlocked)

When I arrived in New Orleans after the 2005 hurricane, which caused flooding in 80 percent of the city and killed 1,572 people, the scene was quietly apocalyptic. There was dark water all around, empty highways, bodies wrapped in plastic. The calm before the storm, the saying goes. But for many survivors of Katrina, it’s the calm after the storm that truly haunts.

Europe faces a 1945 moment, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs columnist (*subscription)

Astonishingly, Europe’s dysfunctional and divisive refugee policies have now collapsed entirely in the face of the onslaught of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa. The last time Europe faced a similar crisis on this scale was at the end of the Second World War, which carries many experiences and lessons, some of which are worth examining in the light of what is happening today.

Kibibi Mramba replants mangroves along a creek in the Kenyan coastal town of Kilifi. TRF/Sophie Mbugua
Kenyan fishers swap boats for mangroves and mariculture. TRF/Sophie Mbugua

 Kenyan fishers swap boats for mangroves and mariculture. By Sophie Mbugua (*unlocked)

Coastal mangrove forests, which are being destroyed quickly,  are among the world’s most important wetland ecosystems, providing crucial habitat for wildlife and fish, slowing coral reef sedimentation, and protecting coastlines from severe weather events. One solution has been found by a Kenyan community group, which acts as a volunteer forest guard, restores Kenyan mangroves, and maintains  tidal fish ponds — both helping to conserve local marine life, and make a living for its members as climate change impacts bite and fish catches on the open sea shrink. 

Bucking Pop Music Labels: Colleen Peterson, Brief Encounters by Brian Brennan (*subscription)

The newspapers couldn’t figure out how to classify Colleen Peterson’s singing when she was first making her way in the music business in the late 1960s. Neither could the record industry. Sometimes she was listed under folk, other times she was classified as blues, other times she was categorized as country. When asked to provide her own description, Peterson offered a new coinage: CRB, country rhythm and blues.

Apocalypse now: our obsession with the end of the world. By Natasha O’Hear and Anthony O’Hear (*unlocked)

What constitutes an “apocalypse” has mutated dramatically over the centuries, from the English to the Jewish to Barack Obama. And the torrid apocalyptic speculation surrounding our own era is nothing out of the ordinary. In constantly citing it today, journalists are drawing on a distinguished and rich apocalyptic tradition, the details of which may have been updated to reflect new global developments and social trends.

Maybe this time America won’t run away from better gun laws, by Tom Regan, Seeking Orenda column (*unlocked)

Alison Parker and Adam Ward, gunned down by an enraged former co-worker at the WDBJ7 TV station in
Alison Parker and Adam Ward, gunned down by an enraged former co-worker at the WDBJ7 TV station in

Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic (heaven knows I thought this would come before now), but I think we might be at a crucial tipping point moment in the long history of trying to enact stronger gun regulations in the United States, and finally putting the demon of the National Rifle Association behind us.

Sam McClure, Muckraker, by Jim McNiven, Thoughtlines column (*subscription)

There were reasons why Sam McClure’s low-cost, good quality magazine sold well in the tough economic climate from 1890:: cheaper postal rates and rural delivery; new technology including high-speed presses and halftone photoengraving; and a growing demand for low-cost outlets for advertising. McClure’s also innovated with an in-house staff of writers and editors.

Fighting Olympic eviction in Rio favela, by Ricardo Moraes, Reuters (*unlocked)

As sports arenas rise up around them and the houses of neighbours are reduced to rubble, more than 20 families refuse to leave their favela, or squatter settlement, on the border of the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, vowing to fight eviction whatever the cost. With just a year to go before the Games come to Brazil, over 90 percent of residents in the slum of Vila Autodromo have already left after accepting compensation and their homes destroyed. Some 50 or so families remain, living in a ghost town with sporadic access to water and electricity and having suffered violent run-ins with police. About half of those families are digging in their heels.

Children play soccer in the Vila Autodromo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 31, 2015. As sports arenas rise up around them and neighbours' houses are demolished, around 50 families remain in Vila Autodromo, a favela bordering the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. About half of those refuse to leave the favela, which they describe as "paradise" because of a lack of violence compared with poor areas elsewhere in the city. With a year until the Games come to Brazil, over 90 percent of residents have already left after accepting compensation. The holdouts, despite violent run-ins with police, vow to fight eviction whatever the cost. Living in a ghost town with sporadic access to water and electricity, the families have become a symbol against the use of the Olympic Games to modernize Rio, a move critics say is only benefiting the rich. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes
Fighting Olympic eviction in the Vila Autodromo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes


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UPDATED August 29 to correct a columnist’s byline


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