Europe is not a secular paradise — and Americans should be careful when embracing this myth

I had to come to America to realize I’m Christian. Until a couple of years ago, when I moved to New York, I had always embraced my atheism as a given. Even though Spain is largely a Christian country by many standards, I was never baptized, I can count with one hand the times I’ve been to church and I wouldn’t know how to say grace. At home, even if I would not describe my parents as radical atheists, I was born and raised in a religion-free environment — or so I thought. (

Continue reading Nov 27, 2016

‘A Strange Story': How 160 Bleecker Went From Slum House to Bohemian Bastion

At the end of the 19th century, Ernest Flagg had a vision. Educated in the École des Beaux-Art in Paris, the young architect came back to New York in 1890 wanting to “reform the barbaric housing standards of the day.” Then he met banker and philanthropist Darius Odgen Mills, and before long Mills House No. 1, an inexpensive hotel for working men, opened in Greenwich Village in 1897. (Bedford and Bowery)

Continue reading Dec 25, 2015

Who will take care of Spain’s lost generation?

“The crisis is over,” declared Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy earlier this summer. We’ve heard this kind of announcements before. In fact, it seems like every September since the global financial crisis hit Spain in 2008, politicians of all colors and affiliations have promised an end to the prolonged economic grievances of the country. Perhaps what’s new this time is that politicians were not the only ones saying it: Major world think tanks have forecasted that Spain would increase its job market and have a positive growth rate of 3% by the end of the year.(Quartz)

Continue reading Dec 19, 2015

A Mediterranean-Style Crisis for the Andaman Sea?

On the 11th floor of an apartment building on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, four Rohingya men sat down to celebrate the end of the fasting month. “What is the solution for us, Rohingya people, in Myanmar?” asked Shamsul. He was talking about the neighbors and family members whom he left behind 20 years ago when he fled the country, whose houses are now being burned down, whose throats are being cut in front of their own children. (JPI)

Continue reading Sept 30, 2015

Malaysia’s irresistible street food gets even better during Ramadan

Bazaars with sticky rice-flour cake, fried chicken with rice, and sugary drinks in electric colors. It’s the end of Ramadan in Malaysia, a time of fasting and reflection, but also a time when street vendors across Kuala Lumpur set up irresistible makeshift food courts, filled with indulgent holy-month treats. Malaysian Muslims have had to wait until dusk to partake of these “Ramadan bazaars.”(Quartz)

Continue reading July 17, 2015

Afghanistan: No Country for Women

In the 1920s, women's rights were enshrined in Afghanistan's constitution. At that time, women had the right to choose their own husbands. After years of Taliban rule, it is now one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman. Can Afghanistan put women's rights back on the agenda? Watch the full movie here (Edited the teaser for Al Jazeera)

Watch it July 6, 2015

Is Thailand's Tiger Temple Humane?

Visiting a tiger temple is one of the top attractions on Thailand's tourist trail. What guides do not tell visitors are that many of these animals have been abused.Thailand recently introduced laws to protect animals born in captivity, but critics claim they will do little to prevent mistreatment in this multi-million dollar entertainment industry. Watch the full movie here (Edited the teaser for Al Jazeera)

Watch June 20

The World We Lost and How We Get it Back: Book Review of Ill Fares the Land

Fear and insecurity are dominating the public discourse, Tony Judt argues in Ill Fares the Land (2010). There needs to be a serious conversation about what we want our future to look like. In the frenzy of globalization and increased inequality, politicians are running in xenophobic, Eurosceptic and austerity agendas; nation-states are taking refuge in their old borders. But what is, and more importantly what should be, the actual role of the state?(JPI)

Continue reading May 5, 2015
Data visualization

"They are coming to eat your children": Why immigration in Europe is not the problem some politicians want it to be

Final project for Amanda Cox and Kevin Quealy's Data Visualization course (NYU, Spring 2015)

Take a look April 28, 2015

The Detention of Anwar Might Be PM Najib’s Undoing

On February 10, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was imprisoned on charges of sodomy, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. This is the third time he will be imprisoned for politically motivated reasons. As a result, the long-entrenched National Front is left, once again, with no opposition. (JPI)

Continue reading April 17, 2015

Aung San Suu Kyi Won’t Speak Up for This Human Rights Abuse

She is the consummate activist for democracy and freedom, but she remains silent on a major human rights violation against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. But she hasn’t made her position clear on the almost one million stateless Muslims and the violence they face every day.(JPI)

Continue reading April 8, 2015

A Look inside Industry City

Sunset Park has been a contender for next “it” neighborhood since 2013, when the team behind Chelsea Market took over Industry City. The six-million-square-foot warehouse complex, dating back to 1895, used to be a thriving manufacturing and import-export facility but now looks almost abandoned with its broken windows and uneven alleyways. But the clamor of construction and the comings and goings of employees hints at dramatic changes afoot. (Bedford and Bowery)

Watch it Feb 20, 2015

Lasers Shows and Human Disco Balls at the New York Festival of Light

This’ll light up your life: the city’s first ever Festival of Life has come to Dumbo, and I dropped by last night for the opening. Play the video for a summary of the night when displays and light installations appeared in the archway under the Manhattan Bridge and at Pearl Street Triangle at Pearl and Water Streets.(Bedford and Bowery)

Watch it Nov 7, 2014

Let There Be a Festival of Lights

New York will finally join the ranks of cities such as London, Montreal, Sydney and Berlin this week as it kicks off a three-day Festival of Light.(Bedford and Bowery)

Continue reading Nov 4, 2014