119 years ago, today, the unthinkable happened, as far as the Europeans were concerned. The Ethiopian army trounced the Italians in the Battle of Adwa. Headlines such as ‘Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Defeats Invading Italians’; ’80,000 Ethiopians Destroy 20,000 Italians at the Battle of Adwa’; ‘Italian Premier Crispi Resigns’; and ‘Abyssinia and Italy Sign Peace Treaty.’ peppered the European press. Adwa was placed on the world map and remained a historic story because of Ethiopia’s decisive victory against the Italian army on March 1st 1896 (Yekatit 23, 1888 according to the Ethiopian calendar).
'I am a woman. I do not like war. But I would rather die than accepting your deal."attributed to Empress Taitu Bitul*, Wife of Menelik II [more inside]
How the north ended up on top of the map is an article by Nick Danforth, author/curator of (The/Mid) Afternoon Map blog, detailing how the north-up orientation came to be the default orientation, looking beyond Eurocentrism to Byzantine monks and Majorcan Jews who set the path for modern cartography. If you want more information, you might enjoy the Wikipedia article on the history of cartography, or you can really dig deep with the three-volume text, The History of Cartography, which is available in full from the University of Chicago Press online, split into individual PDFs for each chapter. [more inside]
The UK has opened its first social supermarket as a means of combatting food poverty.* [more inside]
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
Italians cheer as police move African immigrants out of a small town in Calabria, following clashes in which immigrant farmworkers were shot at, severely beaten and run over. Rosarno is said to be a hotbed of the 'Ndrangheta, which controls the labour market of illegalized seasonal day labourers living in inhuman and desperate conditions. While the Pope urges Italy to respect migrants, leftist newspaper 'il manifesto' put this on the front page.
At last, someone is going to take the legal route. Italian authorities have issued arrest warrants for 22 CIA Agents suspected of involvement in the US kidnap/torture policy. "The new warrants allow for the suspects' detention anywhere in the 25-nation EU, a prosecutor said." That's more lost clients for the European tourist industry.
All The Nudes That Are Fit To Print: It's no exaggeration to say La Repubblica is Italy's finest newspaper. It's liberal, modern, intelligent and independent. Along with Spain's El Pais; France's Libération and Le Monde; the UK's Guardian; Germany's Die Zeit and Portugal's Público, it's one of the mainstays of the European Left and Centre-Left. And yet its website offers calendars in the, er, Pirelli tradition of time-keeping. Imagine the New York Times being similarly... liberal. Can soft prOn and serious reporting live together? Is it an Italian thing? The only other example I can think of is Spain's Interviú, a magazine which in its heyday mixed superb (again, left-leaning) investigative journalism with politically incorrect - and photographically retouched - tits and ass. (NSFW, obviously, unless you're somewhere in Southern Europe or Louisiana.)
Italian spammers face jail. The ruling follows estimates by the European Commission that spam e-mails cost EU companies approximately 2.25bn euros in lost productivity last year.