“Which virologist do you trust the most?”asked the tabloid Bild to its readers, on April 3. The 60,000 participants in the survey did not hesitate: Christian Drosten is the undisputed champion, the favorite of the public. At 48, the director of the virology department of the Berlin University Hospital of Charity already has an impressive career behind him, just crowned with an award from the German Research Foundation. Drosten was recognized for his “exceptional achievements for science and society in the face of a dramatic evolution of the pandemic ”.
He is one of the most listened to scientists in Germany. By the government, but also the general public. He intervenes several times a week in a very popular radio program, covering all types of subjects : Does the virus spread through the air? Are children as contagious as they say? Begun on February 26, the show is at its 34e episode, and always
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Far from being the preserve of criminal organizations alone, drug trafficking has long been an instrument in the hands of states. This geopolitical prism serves as the common thread for an exciting documentary series in three episodes broadcast on Arte from March 31, the first of which is available in preview all day this Tuesday on the website of Released. A little-known story whose origin dates back to the XIXe century, when the British crown flooded China with opium to replenish its coffers, and France refined it in the heart of Saigon to make profitable its presence in Indochina. Long before the mafias, the great colonial powers understood the interest they could derive from the trade in addictive substances. In their wake, the first pharmaceutical companies managed to put cocaine on the market in 1884, then heroin, a new derivative of opium guaranteed without addiction, recommended to treat asthma and cough in infants.
If the appearance of these new drugs radically changes the relationship with the body by abolishing pain, it will also lead to a generalization of addiction on a planetary scale. At the beginning of the XXe Prohibition accelerated the rise of the black market and organized crime in the United States, which found strong support within the state apparatus. But it was especially during the Cold War that the occult links between traffic and the great powers fueled the most troubled interests. Failing to be a public health issue, drugs become a major strategic issue. In 1951, in the midst of the Indochina war, the French secret services bought opium themselves to resell it to the Corsican mafia, in order to finance a counter-insurgency army of 40,000 men. The same year, the CIA supports the Chinese soldiers of the Kuomintang withdrawn into Burma, who will become the main traffickers of Southeast Asia. In the name of national security, Washington is reluctant to rely on drug trafficking to fight the Communist enemy.
America will end up paying dearly for its ambiguities. As the country plunges into LSD in Flower Power, the Vietnam War offers a much darker face for youth. On their return from the front, a third of the 500,000 soldiers involved are addicted to heroin. In 1971, President Richard Nixon began a radical turn and officially declared a war on drugs. The world’s leading producer of heroin thanks to French connection chemists, France is in the sights of the American services, which send agents to DEA, the new drug agency, to Marseilles. In just five years, the “French” was dismantled and 3,000 traffickers were arrested. But the 1970s were especially marked by the industrialization of traffic. It is the era of the great drug lords, Pablo Escobar in Colombia, Felix Gallardo in Mexico, Toto Riina in Italy or even Khun Sa in Thailand, whose images shot in the heart of the jungle are part of the precious archives unearthed by Julie Lerat and Christophe Bouquet, co-directors of the documentary series. The result of a two-year survey between Europe, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand and Burma, History of drug trafficking decrypts the complex relationships between states while highlighting, far beyond corruption, the structural logic inherent in the system.
An opium smoker in Saigon, taken from the History of Drug Trafficking. Photo Yami 2
Half a century after Nixon’s martial discourse, the war on drugs has above all revealed its obvious failures and its macabre record. In Colombia, where the United States has invested in an ambitious $ 45 billion plan to eradicate coca plantations, production has never been higher. In Mexico, where 40,000 people have disappeared over the past ten years amid the cartel war, associations continue to tirelessly search the earth in hopes of finding the bodies of the victims. After years of Soviet and American occupation, Afghanistan still produces 80% of the world’s heroin. Far from drying up, drug trafficking only adapts to its environment.
Macabre balance sheet
The fall of El Chapo, the perpetrator of the Sinaloa cartel sentenced to life in the United States, could foreshadow the advent of a new generation of traffickers. In Mexico, criminal organizations have reportedly managed to synthesize fentanyl, a drug produced since the 1950s by the pharmaceutical industry without a single poppy flower. This fully synthetic drug, a hundred times more potent than heroin, kills more than 30,000 people a year in the United States, where the overprescription of painkillers encouraged by laboratories has made hundreds of thousands of patients addicted. “It takes a number of trucks of coke to supply the US market for a year, while it takes just one car to supply the entire opioid market with fentanyl,” notes an American specialist in organized crime. A revolution that should once again overturn the geopolitics of drugs.
When Nordic pioneers approached this shore of America in the 17th centurye century, with their picks, their dreams and their families, they planted standards in the soft ground, erected tents, lit fires. The stories warmed up when morale went down. The mud complicated everything. The community was fragile, but with sweat and hope, it had to get out of it. On this land which will later be called the United States, it was necessary to build a city. Houses have grown, lopsided houses, stalls, churches. Rivalries and brawls have grown as fast. The ground was cursed, some said. The spilled blood was buried under the stones. The foundations of Gotham City were laid.
Crime Carnival. Centuries later, despite its chaotic genesis, the city is still standing. A hero named Batman plugs the gaps. He watches over a city with insane cadastre, modeled after New York, Chicago and Babylon. The danger is permanent. Death awaits you outside the cinemas of Park Row, in banks ready to be robbed, in toxic factories, in poisoned sewers… Gotham is the paradise of crime and nothing seems to be able to bring peace, neither the mayor nor the money of billionaire Bruce Wayne and especially not the police, overwhelmed, corrupt, reduced to turning a spotlight to the sky to summon a man disguised as a bat.
The nights are long in Gotham City – twenty-four hours of black gangue, a veil of sticky nightmare like a latex suit. Batman blends effortlessly into the background, with the grace of a bramble in the evil flower garden. You may come across him at the bottom of your building, at the crime carnival. The artists are known: Joker, Penguin, Double-Face, Catwoman… Ask for the program! Don’t miss Arkham Asylum either. All criminals end up entering this Gothic building whose name recalls the novels of Lovecraft. Tirelessly, all criminals also end up getting out.
Masked convict. The city of Batman is the materialization of a fear, that of a city plagued by crime to the marrow. “Gotham City is the product of American history, explains the artistic director of the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Stéphane Beaujean. At the beginning of the XXe century, the United States is experiencing rapid urbanization. The population increases in big cities, it is the birth of buildings. Poverty is increasing, so is delinquency. Metropolitan crime then becomes the subject of all stories, from detective stories to comics. When Batman appeared in 1939, he joined this trend, that of the vigilante in the fight against crime, taking up the thriller codes. It’s no coincidence that his debut is published in Detective Comics. “
Gotham City seems to be carved out of blocks of shadow, dead ends, its buildings like bars. Batman is a prisoner, a man locked in a world, kept on a leash by his thirst for justice. Only the poets of crime, whimsical, unpredictable, are free. The masked convict will be the last to leave Gotham. No need to turn off the light. It has been for a long time.
Vitriol, the old name for sulfuric acid, was used mainly in industry, to bleach textiles or strip metals. Its corrosive nature encouraged malicious spirits to use it differently, in small doses like a poison (“Vitriol in the soup!”) or on a large scale to retract a bulky corpse. But the reasons for its success were still different. From the 1870s and until the beginning of the XXe century vitriol also says “Liquid dagger”, became the weapon of choice for crimes of jealousy or amorous spite. This well-known practice is the subject of Karine Salomé’s book, which, thanks to a large examination of the judicial archives, usefully renews its history.
Thrown in the face of a hated person, vitriol caused terrible burns and indelible marks. He blinded, distorted the features, closed the nostrils, welded the eyelids. The retraction of the scars that followed froze the corrupted face in a hideous and often monstrous grin. And that was what it was all about. Mark, disfigure forever. “I wanted to take away her beauty”, said a vitrioleuse about her rival. To reveal in the eyes of all the hidden monstrosity, the unworthiness, the moral infirmity.
The vitriol epidemic which raged in France at the end of the XIXe century (from 15 to 20 trials per year) made it especially a crime of “Female revenge”. Over 80% of the perpetrators were in fact women – young girls seduced, abandoned mistresses, cheated wives – generally from the lower classes, while the victims were almost all men. Such practices should come as no surprise at a time when feminist consciousness was advancing but male impunity remained the rule. We hardly started talking about “Deceitful seduction” and paternity research, which was only effective in 1912. This is undoubtedly why, in spite of the outcry from jurists and moralists, the trials of vitriolous women frequently ended in an acquittal (more than 40 % in the Seine department).
The popularity of vitriol ebbed in this country from 1910, when elsewhere figurative expressions flourished: there was talk of style or portrait in vitriol. When the practice has resurfaced in recent years, it has come at the cost of a radical reversal of intent and gender. In India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, where there are more than 1,500 cases per year, vitriolage has become essentially male, carried out against women aspiring to independence. Like what the paths of freedom are rarely linear.
If the pitch of Julien Tiberi’s exhibition seems a priori as crystal clear, the dark designs are much less so that this obscurity which engulfs them drools back on the initial idea. That’s it: drummer in the last show of the Zerep company, volcano bats, the artist has taken it into his head to transcribe his point of view graphically on this show staged by Sophie Perez with the collaboration of Xavier Boussiron, because there is a moment when he is asked to stick to the deviation from his instrument.
“I had to do something, He explains, from this position where, during the first fifteen minutes, I am a spectator of the picture that begins and that I will cross, in a slightly contemplative posture, but as if on adrenaline. ” However, he does not intend to tell the spectacle, nor therefore deliver a graphic novel. After the first performances in 2018, it takes four months to remember a very small part of it, exactly four seconds. Because at the outset, it was a 96-page book project, and its development was thought of as that of film, with 24 frames per second. Without images before his eyes, without notes, Julien Tiberi immerses himself in his memories (of lighting, artificial smoke bathing the scene and the characters) and lets happen “On the contemplative space of the white sheet, visual graphic impulses”. Then it’s a “Four months of improvisation experience”, where what he saw or experienced comes back “With the hand”, with the drawing. However, he prepared for it. He knew he would need “Dramatic plans” which would correspond to the theatricality of its subject. He therefore potashed the engravings of the beginning of the XXe century by Alfred Kubin and their macabre monsters, the futuristic boards of the 1950s by Virgil Finlay which illustrated in particular SF by Lovecraft and then films by giallo. Tiberi’s drawings cite these sources only behind the scenes, under a haze of very dense black ink, beaded with sparks of white reminiscent of the mirages of a hallucinated vision and the mechanics of improvisation during which “Lots of things are coming up. In the blacks, we perceive things inscribed, but hidden. But it is also the very device of the theater. We see things, even in the dark ”. A nocturnal look that cultivates the Volcano Bats.
Another common point, with the theater – a bit distant but not as anecdotal as it seems – is the latex (liquid), which Tiberi spreads on his sheet before coating it with ink, then with remove the dried particles: it thus obtains its light from the latex, which the theater makes its masks… Besides, the drawings are, and it is also true of the book, printed on a thick and porous paper, pulpy, this very organic texture and humid, summed up by this giant octopus species which slowly snorts on one of them. Finally, all this progress, technical and mental, as well as the exhibition allow us to measure that “The works are larger than the physical space they occupy”. The show, initial support, leaves the stage towards the exhibition, and this one of the picture rails to join the book.