Creative Time Reports

The Chilling Reason Our Government Wants to Erase These Americans from History

Andy Stepanian is one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met.

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Christian State, Woo-hoo! Jewish State, Yay! Muslim State, Boo!

All right, I know it’s extremely sensitive to mention the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and really touchy to muse on Muslims and altogether reckless even to bring up any issue besetting the Middle East. But would you mind, reader, if I take a moment to do all of these things? For the record, I should clarify that I’m not a Muslim hater, an anti-Semite or a Christian basher. I’m just not! I happen to love matzo-ball soup, hummus and wafers. There’s no hidden agenda here. This isn’t some stealth mission to promote Freemasonry, scrapbooking fundamentalism or the doctrine of ladies who wear clumpy mascara. I’m just your average Iranian American comedian/filmmaker (slash former policy adviser, slash Muslim, albeit a secular, booze-swilling Muz) with some thoughts on the way we look at the Middle East.

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Venezuela: Where the Wealthy Stir Violence While the Poor Build a New Society

Before Hugo Chávez became president of Venezuela in 1999, the barrios of Caracas, built provisionally on the hills surrounding the capital, did not even appear on the city map. Officially they did not exist, so neither the city nor the state maintained their infrastructure. The poor inhabitants of these neighborhoods obtained water and electricity by tapping pipes and cables themselves. They lacked access to services such as garbage collection, health care and education altogether.

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Tough Love: An Intimate Look at Mexico City's Retired (and Semi-Retired) Sex Workers

Casa Xochiquetzal is a quiet presence in a bustling, run-down neighborhood near Mexico City’s historical center. The 18th-century brick structure, which once housed a boxing museum, stands as a sober contrast to the surrounding visual chaos. Inside, a courtyard opens onto plain but spacious chambers that provide shelter for elderly women. But these residents are not the typical retirees that one finds in a senior care facility.

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Going 'Green' Is More Than Shopping at Whole Foods and Driving a Prius

As environmentalism goes mainstream, corporations are marketing the word "green" as a panacea for the world's climate crisis. Today the word describes a set of prescribed, mostly consumerist actions: buy local, organic and fresh; go vegan; eat in season; skip the elevator, take the stairs. "Green" has come to mean shopping at Whole Foods and possessing a Prius. Meanwhile, leading corporate polluters like BP and ExxonMobil place commercials on CNN advertising their "green" practices.

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What Is a Refugee If There Is No Nation-State?

The legacy of the 20th century has been to define a stateless person in need as a refugee. In the Middle East, there are millions of such “refugees,” many of whom have lacked a state for 65 years, since thenakba of 1948 that created Israel out of Palestine. The dates of the disasters are written on the walls of the camps: 1948, 1967, 1973. And Israel continues to divide Palestine and its people while its own borders implode. In recent weeks, Eritrean and Sudanese immigrants in the thousands have been occupying public space, demanding that their humanity be recognized, chanting, “We are all refugees; yes to freedom—no to prison!”

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How NAFTA Drove Mexicans into Poverty and Sparked the Zapatista Revolt

Mexico was said to be one step away from entering the “First World.” It was December 1992, and Mexico’s then-president, Carlos Salinas, signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The global treaty came with major promises of economic development, driven by increased farm production and foreign investment, that would end emigration and eliminate poverty. But, as the environmentalist Gustavo Castro attests in our video, the results have been the complete opposite—increased emigration, hunger and poverty.

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I Bought Signs Homeless People Use to Beg - Here's What Happened

Sign of the Times was conceived in early October when I started to see what I perceived as a greater number of homeless people in New YorkCity. As a native New Yorker, it surprised me because I had never seen so many people begging and sleeping on the streets. It occurred to me to start buying the signs that the homeless use to ask for money.

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The Clock Is Ticking for a Generation of Children in the World's Largest Permanent Refugee Camp

 Whirling red dust clouds the outskirts of a massive temporary “city,” erected on scorching earth, that is now the size of Cleveland, Ohio. A patchwork of plastic bags—the roofs of people’s homes—stretches for miles and miles. This is Dadaab, the world’s largest permanent refugee camp.

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America's Best Cities Are Being Lobotomized

Nato Thompson: Gentrification is a topic you have written about quite extensively in regard to that city on the Bay, San Francisco. It’s also a strange word in that it hints at not only a spatial transformation, but a cultural one as well (in terms of race and class). How do you see that mutable thing called culture playing out in cities and what value does it possess?

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Artist Responds to Gun Violence, from Mexico to US, by Transforming Weapons into Art

In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed twenty children and six adults, gun sales soared across the United States. It is a sadly familiar response in a country where nearly half the population keeps a gun at home (as of 2011). After each massacre, whether a mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater or the attempted assassination of an Arizona congresswoman that killed several bystanders, Americans have bought guns at a higher pace than they did before the rampage.

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Soybeanland Stands Up to Monsanto

When President Obama signed a spending bill into law last March, an obscure, anonymously introduced section, the Farmer Assurance Provision, outraged Americans across the political spectrum. Labeled the “Monsanto Protection Act” by critics, the rider strips the Department of Agriculture and federal courts of their powers to stop the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops, even if they are shown to pose health risks. Monsanto’s products are already ubiquitous. The company’s patented GM soybean seeds, Roundup Ready, are grown by 93 percent of U.S. soybean farms, which must also use its accompanying herbicide, Roundup.

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40 Years in Solitary? New Documentary Interrogates America's Nightmare System of Punishment

Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States: he’s spent more than 40 years in a six-by-nine-foot cell in Louisiana. Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery for which he admits guilt, he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison for a killing he vehemently denies committing. My documentary film, Herman’s House, recounts the remarkable expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by then New York-based artist Jackie Sumell, who invited Wallace to imagine his “dream home.” The undertaking quickly became an interrogation of justice and punishment in America.

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The Guantanamo Effect: A Constant Reminder of America's Role in Perpetrating a Global War

The U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay has, over the last 11 years, become much more than a place. In the sphere of U.S. domestic politics, it is an irresolvable problem over which pitched partisan battles have been fought. Its continued existence is a snarl in the larger geopolitical fabric, an irritant that constantly recalls the role of the United States in theorizing and proliferating a state of global war.

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