The Palestinian director who earned a fatwa for her first film

When Maysaloun Hamoud first heard about her fatwa, she was shaken. The religious ruling – widely seen as a formalised “death sentence” – seemed like an extreme reaction for a woman who’d just released a Palestinian comedy. “It was pathetic,” the director says, remembering the moment she heard the news. “I wasn’t afraid, but I felt a kind of sorrow.”

The film at the centre of the furore was In Between. Hamoud’s first ever feature, it follows the story of three Israeli-Palestinian women as they attempt to share an apartment in Tel Aviv. It’s a raw and real portrayal of everyday womanhood, with each character struggling to navigate between family constraints, Islamic tradition, and cosmopolitan liberalism.

While it’s true that women’s stories are rarely – … Read the rest

Should we celebrate Uber losing its London licence?

Yes, be glad Uber is over – Abi Wilkinson

Without a doubt, the decision not to renew Uber’s license to operate in London was the right call. What other choice is there when the company shows such disregard for passenger safety and the rule of law, in the UK capital and across the world?

Revelations earlier this year that Uber used specially designed software to “greyball” law enforcement officials in cities where its service violated regulations – so that they weren’t able to hail a car during sting operations – were shocking but unsurprising. Like so many of Silicon Valley’s self-proclaimed “disruptors”, Uber executives seem to believe they’re above the jurisdiction of local and national governments. Technological innovation is part of the picture, sure, but they

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The Mossy Lava Fields of Iceland

Moss is a common plant in Iceland. It grows abundantly in the mountainous region and is a special characteristic of Iceland’s lava fields. One of the most spectacular moss blanket is located on the southern coast of Iceland, over the Eldraun Lava Field.

The Eldraun Lava Field was created in one of the most devastating eruptions in recorded history. Over a course of eight months, between 1783 and 1784, the Laki fissure and the adjoining Grímsvötn volcano poured out an estimated 14 cubic kilometers of basalt lava and clouds of poisonous gases that contaminated the soil, killing half of Iceland's cattle and horses, and more than three-quarter of sheep. That year, nothing grew on the fields and no more fish could be found in the sea. … Read the rest

The street photographers blurring private and public

Rico Scagliola and Michael Meier have an unusual way of describing their dynamic.

If they were to put it in terms of movie characters, Michael would be Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Rico would be Joan Crawford.

“Rico might have a tendency towards megalomania,” says one, “and Michael sometimes tends towards narrow-mindedness,” says the other. “Together we kinda level out these two extremes.”

The pair met while studying photography at the University of the Arts Zürich in 2006. Michael focused on homeless people and prostitutes in the Langstrasse district, while Rico devoted himself to the city’s suburbs and inhabitants.

“We were inspired, impressed and depressed by each other’s’ work,” says Rico. “In 2008 we thought it might be a good idea to … Read the rest

Lanterns Of The Dead

During the 12th century, people in the central and western parts of France erected small towers in their villages with windows at the top, in which lamps were placed like in a lighthouse, although none of them were near the sea. These structures are known as “Lanterns of the dead” and are thought to indicate the position of a cemetery. But this might not be true, considering that some of these towers are located nowhere near a cemetery.

The towers come in all shapes and sizes, but usually, they take the form of a column or a small turret with a conical cap and a cross at the top. A small entrance in the lower part gives access to the tower’s interior, so that a lamp … Read the rest

Puzzling Gravestones

When Canadian doctor Samuel Bean lost his first two wives, Henrietta and Susanna, within 20 months of each other, he decided that the best way to honor them would be to create a tombstone dedicated to a hobby they both enjoyed —solving puzzles. The doctor had them buried side by side in Rushes Cemetery near Crosshill, Wellesley Township, Ontario, and a single gravestone was placed over their graves. The gravestone bore a puzzle, one that kept historians stumped and amateur cryptologists busy for the next eighty years.

A replica of the gravestone can still be seen in Rushes Cemetery. The original stone was badly weathered and was replaced with this durable granite replica in 1982. The stone is about 3 feet high, and features a finger … Read the rest

Martin Parr opens gallery for UK documentary photographers

The Martin Parr Foundation, set up in 2014 to support and sustain the work of British documentary photographers, will open its brick and mortar location in Bristol next month. The architect-designed space in the Paintworks complex will be home to works from a wide range of British photographers – such as Keith Arnatt, Richard Billingham, Elaine Constantine, John Davies, Paul Graham, Ken Grant, and John Hinde – while also preserving the work of Parr himself, one of the most celebrated documentary photographers of the last 50 years.

The gallery’s first exhibition, Parr’s own Black Country Stories, will open on October 25 and run through to January 2018. That will be followed by Niall McDiarmid’s portraits project, Town to Town, before David Hurn’s Swaps – … Read the rest

Cutting the cost of a degree by a few grand won’t turn young people Tory

What could the Conservative Party do to get young people voting for them? That was the question Nick Ferrari – a right-wing presenter on talk radio station LBC asked me this morning live on his show. I was invited on following speculation that the Tories are toying with the idea of cutting the tuition fee cap by up to £1750 a year, meaning graduates could potentially be spat out into the working world by universities with just over £5000 less of student debt.

With students from the lowest income families currently left with £57k to pay back, it would be far from a transformative policy; one that neglects to reinstate maintenance grants scrapped by the Tories that were a lifeline for students without families to support … Read the rest