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Whereas all this urchin-venery transpired without objection, a few months earlier much facile hand-wringing had arisen over the filmmakers’ propriety in depicting India’s poor. When Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood’s august standard-bearer, posted to his blog a tame one-liner on the controversy (“let it be known that a murky under belly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations”), he was shanghaied by the press and pushed to the head of the column then advancing on Slumdog Millionaire with the cry of “Poverty porn!” (Bachchan soon raised the white flag, calling the movie—in which he appears, via archival footage and stand-in doppelganger, as a blazon of Oriental authenticity, his eminence compelling young Jamal to plunge into a cesspit for an autograph—a “fairy tale.”) –“Jukeboxes on the Moon,” Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Triple Canopy
The role of illegals is threefold: to act as cut-outs between important sources and the Center (directly or via the SVR station); to serve as talent-spotters finding potential candidates for further intelligence cultivation and possible recruitment (a rather long and complex process, where the illegals only act at its early stage); and to establish the right contacts that would allow other intelligence operators (members of the SVR station) or the Center (visiting intelligence officers under different covers, journalists, diplomats or scientists tasked by the SVR) to get intelligence information and/or receive favors that the Center is interested in. The illegals also have a number of technical tasks like renting accommodations that could be used as safe houses, finding places for dead drops, planning hit operations like assassinations that are also carried out by illegals (but from a different department of the same directorate). They also collect sample documents that could be used in other covert operations and update Moscow about some standard proceedings (buying a house, getting a job, registering a company, and so on). –“Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask,” Steve LeVine, Foreign Policy
As unwise as it would be for van Marwijk to reboot his tactics at this stage, the Dutch fans who want the team to play with more flair aren’t completely crazy. Compared with other major sports, soccer can easily become chaotic and incoherent. This is one reason unconverted fans find it boring: Watch a random passage of play, and you’re likely to see players booting the ball out of bounds or frantically kicking it nowhere in particular, so that what ensues looks as much like an accident as a series of intentional actions. Teams that play it safe tend to go along with this entropic tendency, disrupting their opponents’ play, creating long periods of stalemate, then haphazardly smashing the ball toward their own strikers in the hope of a lucky bounce. The teams that become beloved, on the other hand—Leo Messi’s FC Barcelona, Pelé’s Brazil, and Cruyff’s Holland—are the ones that bring order or clarity to the game, so that the randomness and dullness fade out and the play assumes the shape of perceptible intention. –“Why all soccer fans should root for Holland to lose to Spain,” Brian Phillips, Slate
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year:
The best way to measure happiness is simply to ask people how happy they are.
Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. “Happiness will conquer the embittered,” he said during an appearance at a recreation center.
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”