Blues Buzz

The Oscars were really something -- a display of white faux progressivism rubbing arms with the real, raw groundbreaking progressivism only some are capable of. Never let Moonlight's win be overshadowed by a mixup, it deserved everything -- and yes, the mix-up was problematic. Mahershala Ali is a Black Ahmadi Muslim and every one of those identities counts. Jimmy Kimmel's name jokes are a problem.  After Moonlight, one Black Southern gay man no longer feels 'niche.' The limits of Black graciousness. La La Land is a propaganda film. 'Gary from Chicago' is the hero we need and his prison record only makes that more true. Mohsin Hamid on the dangers of nostalgia. The unlikely man who has kept thousands of people from becoming HIV positive. Blue cities, red states. Eileen Myles forever. On being non-binary but sticking to she/her pronouns. Can this Democratic El Paso congressman (who is super fond of Mexico) unseat hardline conservative Ted Cruz? James Baldwin found solace and space in Turkey. Gay liberation didn't cure gay lonelinessMeet Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer, the man working overtime to ensure that, more or less, Roe v. Wade remains law. Two rich people will get to fly around the moon in 2018. Planned Parenthood isn't sure it's going to be okay. New Zadie Smith! When We Rise is what we need now and here's what it took to pull it together. HBCUs and 'choice.' Uber is still terrible. Fatimah Asghar: If they should come for us. On building a diverse list. SJW behaviors that hurt social justice. Swet Shop Boys are back at it, and this one's for Qandeel, who would have been 27 this week. For friends who did not grow up with an intimate knowledge of antisemitism. Texas is the future. (The future that liberals want.)

Writers protest against the Trump administration at the annual AWP conference, held in Washington, D.C. this past February. © E.A. Crunden

Writers protest against the Trump administration at the annual AWP conference, held in Washington, D.C. this past February. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Coptic Christians are fleeing violence in Egypt. Zimbabwe's dictator has no plans to step down. Zimbabwe has also banned corporal punishment. Nigeria's army has been accused of killing civilians. The country's president, Muhammadu Buhari, has been in the U.K. on medical leave -- and the country's vice president is gaining power in his absence. South Africa is actively deporting Nigerians. Moroccan troops are set to pull out of a buffer zone in the Western Sahara. Burundi's president is at war with independent media.

Americas. Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres' killing appears to have been extrajudicial. Contamination left millions without drinking water in Chile following extreme rains. An Indiana plant is finalizing its efforts to move jobs to Mexico. Vaquitas are dying out. Colombia's FARC rebels are disarming under the new peace deal. Thanks to Trump, nationalism is on the rise in Mexico. Antisemitism is on the rise across the U.S. A French scholar of the Holocaust was detained at the Houston airport for 10 hours (he was born in Egypt.) Houses of worship are preparing to break the law in order to shelter undocumented immigrants. Four American mosques have been burned in seven weeks. Jewish centers, schools, and cemeteries are being targeted and one synagogue saw a bullet fired from a playground. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian ambassador twice during the election, appears to have lied about that reality, and everyone is very upset about it. (Sessions has also been linked to white supremacy routinely, a thing that, for some reason, fewer people are upset about.) A DREAMer spoke about her fear of being arrested -- just before she was promptly arrested by ICE. A new Muslim ban is coming, but Iraq may be spared.

Asia. Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown in the Philippines is targeting children now. Two women in Malaysia will be charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam. The Islamic State is threatening China with a wave of terror attacks. Eastern Japan experienced an earthquake this week. Indians are mourning the American hate crime that killed an Indian man living overseas. After coming under fire for its treatment of ethnic minorities in Pakistan, the government is expanding rights for citizens in FATA, the country's northwestern territories. Taiwan will conduct military trainings in (where else?) the contested South China Sea. Vetoes from Russia and China ensured that UN sanctions will not be placed on the Assad regime in Syria. Russian and Syrian forces bombed U.S.-backed Syrian troops -- something Russia claims never happened. Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was acquitted in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. 

Europe. Supporters of fallen Putin foe Boris Nemtsov marched in Moscow to honor the two-year anniversary of his murder. Croatian neo-Nazis are super excited about Trump, apparently. A new report claims racial profiling is rampant in Germany. Zoya Svetova, a Russian journalist and human rights advocate, was the target of a sudden raid at her home this week. Hungary's prime minister has linked ethnic homogeneity with economic success. A French sniper accidentally shot two people while Prime Minister François Hollande was speaking. Horrors in Greece's refugee camps. As the far-right grows in Eastern Europe, so too does pushback against liberal billionaire George Soros. Same-sex marriage has gone into effect in Finland. Poland is sending asylum seekers back to Belarus, a dictatorship. Norway has the right idea about the comments section. 



To make: In honor of Texas' 181st birthday, make all the Texan things, even if you care not at all for the Lone Star State! (We have excellent cuisine.) Breakfast tacos are my personal preference, but why stop there -- stacked enchiladas (shoutout to West Texas), migas (meat-free for me), squash blossom quesadillas, fried pickles, and some Texas sheet cake to top it off (or my childhood favorite, as best prepared by my great-grandmother: banana pudding.) Best made in large quantities and shared with friends. 

To listen: New Lorde! 'Green Light' is the first track to drop off of Melodrama, the follow-up to Pure Heroine. Video + sounds here, as well as some background on this latest addition to the Lorde discography. Pretty upbeat for a song about a breakup, is all I'm saying. 


Quote of the Week

"I realized the problem began with the fact that adjectives are mostly required of the less powerful. Thus, there are “novelists” and “female novelists,” “African-American doctors” but not “European- American doctors,” “gay soldiers” but not “heterosexual soldiers,” “transgender activists” but not “cisgender activists.” As has been true forever, the person with the power takes the noun — and the norm — while the less powerful requires an adjective." -- Gloria Steinem


Fun Fact

This past Thursday marked the 181st birthday of the state of Texas. Or, more accurately, 181 years since the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. Your newsletter curator is a Texpat and enthusiast re all things Texas (ask me about my shameless Texas tattoo some time), so here is a brief recap of the mainland U.S.' largest state's odd history under six flags, per the Austin-American Statesman:

'“Six flags over Texas” is more than just the name of a theme park. Throughout history, many flags have flown over our great state, including a version of the hotly debated Confederate flag....Spain actually flew two different flags over Texas...The simplified version of the royal banner of France was lifted by French nobleman René-Robert Cavalier, who was attempting to establish a colony on the Texas coast.....Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, and the region of Texas became Mexican territory....Following a victory over Mexico in 1836, Texas finally became its own republic....During the Civil War, Texas joined many of its southern neighbors in seceding from the Union and forming the Confederate States of America....Texas was inducted into the United States in 1845.'

Happy 181st birthday, Tejas. Live long and speed up the import of real breakfast tacos to the rest of the world, thanks much.