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France appalled by ‘death by indifference’ of photographer René Robert on a Paris street | USA

The death of 84-year-old René Robert, a Swiss photographer who captured the biggest flamenco stars of today, could be considered a statistic, just another of the more than 500 people who die every year on the streets of France. What makes Robert stand out from the rest of these homeless and solitary victims is that firstly, he wasn’t homeless, and secondly, he was a renowned professional photographer. Indeed, it was because of this that his friends shared the circumstances of his death.

On January 19, sometime after 9pm, Robert was taking his nightly walk through the Paris neighborhood of Place de la République, a bustling hub of the French capital that is nearly always filled with people. But at 89 Rue de Turbigo, he fell to the ground. It’s not known whether this was because he slipped or if he had a dizzy spell.

And that’s where he remained: lying on the sidewalk between a bottle shop and an optometrist, unable to move and in clear view of the Parisians rushing home after work, the passersby coming in and out of the restaurants and cafés and the tourists.

Photo of ‘Farruco,’ by René Robert.
Photo of ‘Farruco,’ by René Robert.

Hours passed. The streets emptied. Robert was still there. It’s easy to imagine that to passersby he was just one of the many people in Paris, and in so many cities in rich countries, who are living on the street. In these cases, one often does not know if they are sleeping or in trouble.

At 6am on January 20, someone saw him and called the Paris Fire Brigade, which is one of the city’s providers of emergency medical services. But it was too late. Nine hours had passed since his fall. An ambulance arrived. When René Robert, the photographer of flamenco icons such as Camarón de la Isla and Paco de Lucía, was admitted to Cochin Hospital, the doctors couldn’t revive him. The cause of death was “extreme hypothermia,” according to the Fire Brigade. In other words, he died from the cold.

Robert’s friend Michel Mompontet, a journalist, described him as “discreet.” “He was very attentive to everyone, funny, but a man of few words. He spoke in a soft voice. Like many photographers, he didn’t like to talk a lot. He always wore a hat. For years, he always had a cigarette in his mouth, then he quit. He was very elegant, in flamenco style, with a polka dot kerchief. It was both a moral and physical elegance. When you saw him, you asked yourself: ‘Who is this man? Is he someone important?’”

Photo of Juana ‘la del Pipa,’ by René Robert.
Photo of Juana ‘la del Pipa,’ by René Robert.

Mompontet met Robert at the end of the 1980s. Both were regulars at the flamenco concerts in Paris: Camarón, Lole y Manuel, Enrique Morente, Paco de Lucía. “That short and discreet man was always with the artists, he was their friend and he took photos of them,” says Mompontet. “Since he was very close friends with Paco de Lucía, for example, for us, at 20 years of age, he was our way of getting close to the artists. What’s funny is that he hardly spoke Spanish, he knew a little, but the artists understood him. It was a curious language, a mix of French and Spanish that was neither French nor Spanish.”

René Robert had a close relationship with all the singers, guitar players and dancers. He had been taking photos of them since the 1960s, when he discovered flamenco in a club on the Rive Gauche that was popular with Pablo Picasso and other Spaniards living in Paris. The club was called Le Catalan.

Small-time artists and big names, mediocre performers and flamenco geniuses were all snapped by Robert’s camera. Always in black and white. “In black and white, there is a tragic side that seems more apt for flamenco than color,” he said in an interview with the music website Musique Alhambra. In the same interview, when asked about what he was looking for in his photos, he replied: “I am waiting for strong moments, when the expression is at its height […]. It is the extreme side of the flamenco artists that moves me.”

Photograph of Aurora Vargas, by René Robert.
Photograph of Aurora Vargas, by René Robert.

His photos appear in the books Flamenco, La Rage et la Grâce (or, Flamenco, the Rage and the Grace) and Flamenco Attitudes, and thousands more of his images were also given to the French National Library in 2021. In an article published on, Mompontet described the trove as “a true treasure for flamenco lovers, but all for all enthusiasts of visual art.” It is thanks to Mompontet that news of Robert’s death has gained public attention and had an impact beyond his circle of friends and France.

On Tuesday, Mompontet spoke on French public television about the death of his friend, whom he says was killed by indifference. “Before giving others lessons and accusing anyone, I have to respond to a question that makes me uncomfortable: am I 100% sure that if I was confronted with the same scene, a man on the ground, I would have stopped? Would I never skirt around a homeless person who I see lying against a door? Not being 100% sure is a pain that follows me. But we are in a rush, we are in a hurry, we have our lives and we look away,” he said.

Mompontet also recounts how, after searching for a few days, they found the person who did take notice of the man on the ground and called the Paris Fire Brigade. He was a homeless man in the neighborhood who didn’t want to reveal his name.

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Alec Baldwin: ‘Rust’ case arrives in court with trial against armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed | Culture

Two years and four months after the death of Halyna Hutchins, someone is finally sitting in the dock. On Wednesday, the first trial began after the cinematographer was accidentally shot while filming the movie Rust on October 21, 2021. That day, a real bullet was shot from a revolver held by Alec Baldwin, killing Hutchins and injuring Joel Souza, the director of the independent western. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the person in charge of the production’s armory who loaded the gun, will be the first to respond to the accusations made by New Mexico prosecutors in a trial that will extend until March 6.

On Wednesday, the trial in Santa Fe began with the process of selecting the 12 jurors who will decide whether Gutierrez-Reed was accountable for Hutchins’ death. The weapons supervisor was 24 years old when the accident occurred. She has been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and another of tampering with evidence. Gutierrez Reed has pleaded not guilty. If she is found guilty, the armorer could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The trial against Alec Baldwin was set for August, but has been rescheduled following a judge reassignment.

For the jury selection process, the defense and the prosecution interviewed a pool of 70 residents from the Santa Fe area. It was a difficult process, as the lawyers sought to find people who had not been exposed to the intense media coverage surrounding the case. According to AP, the lawyers interviewed non-English speakers, a welder, a teacher, a graduate student and a mother who provides for six children. Sixteen jurors — including four alternates — were sworn in for trial.

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense team intends to argue that their client — one of the youngest and least powerful people on set — has been used as a scapegoat. Rust was only the second film the armorer had worked on. Gutierrez-Reed started in the industry in August 2021 with a western in Montana starring Nicolas Cage. However, her family is no stranger to the industry. Gutierrez-Reed’s stepfather is Thell Reed, an experienced Hollywood firearms consultant who worked on major productions such as L.A. Confidential, Tombstone and 3:10 to Yuma.

The defendant’s lawyers will seek to blame the film’s producers, including Baldwin, for the poor security measures on set, which was located on a Bonanza Creek ranch. On the day of the accident, the Rust camera crew had walked off the set to protest the poor safety conditions. Gutierrez-Reed admits to loading the .45 Colt revolver that killed Hutchins. However, her lawyers claim that she tried to get David Halls, first assistant director, to check the weapon before the rehearsal where the fateful accident took place. In a December 2022 deposition, Gutierrez-Reed said that Halls had said there was “no time” to do the weapons check.

Halls, another defendant in the case, pleaded guilty to one count of negligent use of a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to six months probation as part of a plea deal.

New Mexico prosecutors have other plans for the armorer. They intend to paint an unflattering profile of Gutierrez-Reed in court: that of a careless employee who may have been working under the influence of drugs. She is charged with evidence tampering for allegedly handing off drugs to another person on the day of the on-set shooting.

In the next two weeks, about 40 people will come to court to give testimony. This list of witnesses includes the police officers who found six real bullets among prop projectiles. These were found in boxes, on a belt and a shoulder bag that were part of Baldwin’s wardrobe. Authorities believe that one of the armorer’s responsibilities was to have differentiated between dummy rounds and real bullets.

The producers of the film were fined $100,000 by the government of New Mexico for failures in security protocols. The body in charge of workplace and occupational safety wrote a report claiming that those responsible for the film did not make any changes following a series of earlier accidents, where weapons had been fired due to carelessness.

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Yorkshire Ripper: ‘The Long Shadow’, the story of a serial killer | Culture

The Long Shadow is an excellent British series, and its viewers would do well to keep in the mind the decade in which its plot takes place. During the 1970s, London was experiencing a liberating social and culture shake-up, while in Yorkshire County, police were trying to arrest a serial murderer who targeted women. Complicated times, in which economic crisis and unemployment forced some housewives to turn to sex work to be able to feed their family. This was the demographic from which the so-called “Yorkshire Ripper” initially chose his victims.

Largely avoiding special effects and any morbid fixation, the sobering series, which can be seen on Amazon Prime and ITVX, makes use of remarkable locations and wardrobe from the aforementioned decade. To them, it adds an important take on the deep-rooted machismo that characterized the vast majority of the police officers who were involved in the long-lasting investigation. The cops display intolerable contempt towards women in general, and their female colleagues in particular. And before we satisfy ourselves by thinking that such relatively recent bias is a British thing, consider the fact that it wasn’t until 1974, when the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed, that women’s right to open their own bank account without a signature from their husband was recognized in the United States. Not to mention, that there was no national plan to combat gender-based violence until just last year.

Peter Sutcliffe murdered a total of 13 women in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester, and it took five years for police to identify and arrest the assassin. In the series, investigators are played by heavyweight British actors like Toby Jones and David Morrissey, the latter in the role of George Olfield, who was the head of the police operation for the majority of those years, and who was highly criticized for his fixation on following clues that went nowhere. Special mention should be made of the splendid self-criticism exhibited in the seven episodes of The Long Shadow, which was written by George Kay and directed by Lewis Arnold, an apt account of the events that caused the very foundations of British society to tremble.

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‘The Bill Gates Problem’ – The Case Against World’s Richest Man

The Case Against World’s Richest Man

When Clinton assumed the presidency of the United States, there was eager anticipation from the Chinese, not for Clinton himself, but for Bill Gates. This was during the late 1990s, a period when the internet was still in its nascent stages, and the digital boom of the early 2000s had not yet reached its peak. The enigmatic persona that captivated the attention of the burgeoning Asian powerhouse is now portrayed in “The Bill Gates Problem” as a “domineering, brusque figure” whose demeanor is likened to “a cauldron of passions that freely erupts.” According to a former employee cited in the book, Gates was perceived as “a complete and utter jerk to people 70% of the time,” while the remaining 30% saw him as a “harmless, enjoyable, exceptionally intelligent nerd.”

The 1990s were also the decade of the conflict between Microsoft and the now defunct Netscape browser, which challenged what was already being openly described as the former’s monopolistic practices. Gates was investigated and accused in Congress for such practices; he ultimately won the battle, but the case harmed his reputation, and in 2000 he resigned as CEO of his company. From there he undertook an expansion of the foundation that he had established with his wife and to which he has dedicated his main efforts in the last two decades. In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

With a personal fortune of $100 billion and tens of billions more in his private foundation, Gates has been one of the richest men in the world for decades, and the foundation has been the most generous organization of its kind, specializing above all in health aid, education and child nutrition, with a large presence in Africa and India among other regions of what was formerly known as the Third World. Tim Schwab, a contributor to the weekly left-wing newspaper The Nation, undertook a detailed investigation to denounce something that in truth was already known: that American foundations are largely a way for billionaires to avoid taxes.

To prove this, he thoroughly looked into the accounts and procedures of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the failures and occasional successes of its philanthropic policies, and came to the conclusion that behind this facade of help to the needy hides an operation of power. He is ruthless in his criticism, although accurate in his analysis of the growing inequality in the world. Absorbed by the revolutionary rhetoric, he laments that the Gates Foundation has remained “deadly silent” regarding movements such as Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter, which demand social change in the face of the “excess wealth and ‘white savior’ mentality that drives Bill Gates’ philanthropic work.” He does attribute some good intentions, but his criticism is merciless, sometimes even coarse, while the absence of solutions for the problems he denounces — other than the calls for do-goodism — is frustrating.

His abilities as an investigative journalist are thus overshadowed by a somewhat naive militancy against the creative capitalism that Gates promotes and an evident intention to discredit not only his work but, above all, him. The demands he makes for transparency and the accusations of obscurity are dulled by the author himself in the pages he dedicates to Gates’ relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the famous corruptor of minors at the service of the international jet set. Gates has explained his meetings and interviews with him on countless occasions, and in no case has any type of relationship, other than their commercial relations or some confusing efforts to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, been proved. Still, Schwab raises, with no evidence whatsoever, the possibility that their relationship “could have had something to do with Epstein’s principal activities in life: sexual gratification and the exercise of power.” The book is full of this kind of opinions and speculations, to the detriment of a more serious analysis of Gates’ mistakes in the management of his foundation, the problems of shielding the intellectual property of vaccines in the hands of the pharmaceutical industries and, ultimately, the objective power that big technology companies have in global society.

He signed a collaboration agreement with the RAE to improve Microsoft’s grammar checker and was interested in the substantial unity of the Spanish language in all the countries where almost 600 million people speak it. That man was very far from the sexist, arrogant, miserable predator that Schwab portrays. Nor did we deduce — and this can be applied to the personal adventure of Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos — that his life’s goal was world domination, as suggested by this book. If they have achieved it, or may achieve it, it is due to the dynamics of digital civilization and the objective difficulties in governing it. The deregulation of financial capitalism, which has increased inequality among humankind, is due to the incompetence of obsolete political institutions and to leaders who care more about their own fates than those of their people. The criticism against “lame and wasteful government bureaucracies” might be part of the propaganda promoted by the world’s wealthy, but lately we have also heard it from small-scale farmers across Europe.

In conclusion, we found the book to be more entertaining than interesting. It provides a lot of information — we’re not sure if it’s entirely verified — and plenty of cheap ideology. Above all, one can see the personal crusade of the author, determined to prove that Bill Gates is a problem for democracy and that millionaire philanthropists are a bunch of swindlers. The world needs their money; maybe managed by party bureaucracies, that much is not clear. Bill Gates’ money, that is, but not Bill Gates himself.

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