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'I live in a country of 30 million impoverished people, people who can't read or write, people who live in cardboard shacks in the shantytowns, under bridges, on the streets. I know their stories because I have lived it myself.'

Benedita di Silva, the first Afro-Brazilian woman to be elected to Brazil's senate, is an extraordinary woman whose life reflects the struggles and the hopes of the people she represents. Bené, as she is affectionately known, was born in 1943 in one of Rio de Janeiro's notorious favelas. One of fourteen children, she led a life of excruciating poverty and hardship. Two of her four children died of curable diseases, she herself risked death after a back-street abortion went wrong, and she endured years of exploitationas a live-in maid.  writes Vida Adamoli

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On 8 December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, talented journalist and the former editor of French Elle,  suffered a massive stroke and slipped into a coma. When he regained consciousness three weeks later, the only muscle left functioning was in his left eyelid.

 

 

 

Although his mind remained as active and alert as it had ever been, he was paralysed and unable to speak, a rare condition known as locked-in syndrome.

As the charming former editor-in-chief of a glamorous fashion magazine, Bauby already had a book deal and he decided to go ahead, dictating his memoir ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ by blinking his eyelid to depict the letters of words - one by one.

 


 

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A frightened boy, stumps bandaged and fighting back tears, gazes into a camera from in his hospital bed.

 

The picture, beamed to newspaper editors around the world, touched hearts everywhere. Overnight 12-year-old Ali Ismail Abbas became the human face of the Iraq war

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Juan Puntes, founder of White Box, has a mission – to link contemporary art with ethical issues and to counter highly commercialized art with work that is underrated or overlooked.

  

His New York gallery is run as a non profit exhibition space, and he encourages his innovative curators to exhibit provocative work. 

Recent shows include work by Iraqi artist, Adel Abidin, whose show Abidin Travels turned the gallery space into a travel agency selling real holidays to a post -US invasion Iraq and an exhibition by Belgian artist, Pieter Vermeersch who is concerned with the  way space is perceived and likes to paint directly on the walls, doors or windows to engage viewers with the environment.

Puntes also supports internships and benefit events and White Box’ s annual programs have included exhibitions aimed at getting voters to register, work with local low-income neighbourhoods and collaboration with local women’s prisons on inmate art.

With a regular, rotating audience of around 12,000 art lovers, White Box has a reputation  as a venue for distinctive and thought-provoking contemporary art.

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‘At three o'clock in the morning, in a hotel room high above still-glimmering Montreal, Tina Turner is plugging into the universal buzz: Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho–renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo… As the words gather speed, her voice rises slightly to a smoothly rippling alto drone, then winds down.’ 

 

So said Kurt Loder in a 1984 article for Rolling Stone magazine.  Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, is a global megastar and one of the most famous Buddhists in the West.

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If a man in a white coat told you to give a painful electric shock to an innocent person, would you do it?

 

 

In 1961, scientists in the USA conducted experiments to measure obedience to authority in an attempt to understand the actions of the German people under Nazi rule.  

They predicted that almost everybody in the States would refuse to obey orders to inflict pain on an unseen victim and they were deeply shocked to discover that more than 62% of the American participants happily obliged, writes Geraldine Royds.

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Jennifer Murray is rich, well connected and glamorous. She has been presented to the Queen and counts the Duchess of York among her friends. She’s also addicted to extreme challenges and in love with her tiny, cherry-red, Robinson R44 helicopter.

 

She describes learning to fly as changing her two-dimensional life into a three-dimensional one. ‘You are a bird, you can soar, you have the freedom of the sky,’ she explains, ‘and it’s intoxicating.’

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