The World Upside Down

By Andrej Mrevlje |
CreditPhotographs by Keystone/Getty Images, Julien Hekimian/Getty Images, Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images, Greg Baker/Getty Images and Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Somehow, for most of my life, I always looked west. I have no idea whether I preferred sunset to sunrise or, young and naive, I felt there was a dark, intimate magic in the dusk.

Looking back, I realize I also traveled in the direction of the West and that all my aspirations–as is reasonable for someone who was born in a socialist country–were reflected the West. Always, for even when I finally decided to set my sights elsewhere, it was because of a brief encounter I had in New York.

I was at the top of the Empire State Building, waiting for an elevator when I saw a large Chinese delegation. They were dressed in Mao’s jackets, and they refused to take the elevator unless all the members of the group would fit into one. What kind of country is like this, I asked myself? The group that moved as one in the homeland of widespread individualism?

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Why Italy Matters in Trump’s Time

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Antonio Di Pietro, Gherardo Colombo and Francesco Saverio Borelli, members of Mani Pulite and people's heroes.

On February 1992 Italian attorney Antonio Di Pietro arrested Mario Chiesa, a member of the Italian Socialist Party, for accepting a bribe from a Milan cleaning firm. Mario Chiesa was hoping to run for mayor of Milan, the second most wealthy city in Italy, but was caught receiving an envelope filled with 7 million liras (ca $7000) which was an installment of the agreed payment between the cleaning company and the Socialist party run by then-leader Bettino Craxi. Before they arrested him, Chiesa tried to flush the cash down the toilet. There were too many banknotes. He couldn’t flush them all in time.

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China Goes West

By Andrej Mrevlje |

It’s been some years now since China has been engaging the world’s attention with it’s deep expansion into the South China Sea. There, hundreds of miles away from its land, China runs the huge naval operations of land reclamation-creating small artificial islands. As the islands grow, Beijing builds airport runways and other military installations on them. China as the future superpower pretends to project its influence deep into the oceans, but lacks modern aircraft carriers. Soon those small islands will be compensating for the shortcomings of the Chinese navy. As those new standstill aircraft carriers are getting ready to receive the planes and perhaps even missiles as Reuters has reported, the new administration in Washington is getting agitated and as a result is sending one of its most powerful nuclear aircrafts into the area.  Read more »


Making America Smaller

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Examining the changes Trump’s one-month-old government inflicted on this country, I shudder. The list of repressive measures generated by the president’s executive orders, and by idiosyncratic interpretations of now unleashed local politicians and law enforcement is long and painful. Unfortunately many reports the news measures are fragmentary, making it hard to evaluate their true entity… Another obstacle that blockades a more accurate picture of the kind of impact these measures have on society is their quantity, and the rapid succession this government churns them out every day.  Read more »


The Man No One Remembers to Speak

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Sergey Kislyak, a 66-year-old Russian longtime ambassador to the U.S., feels isolated and perhaps even depressed. He spent so many years building his network, socializing, spending lavishly, and now everything has vanished. Evaporated. As The New York Times reports:

“For Mr. Kislyak, Washington is no longer the place it once was. It has become lonely, and he has told associates that he is surprised how people who once sought his company were now trying to stay away.” Read more »


Lonely at the Top

By Andrej Mrevlje |

I’ve been around the world

Had my pick of any girl

You’d think I’d be happy

But I’m not

Everybody knows my name

But it’s just a crazy game

Oh, it’s lonely at the top

Listen to the band, they’re playing just for me

Listen to the people paying just for me

All the applause-all the parades

And all the money I have made

Oh, it’s lonely at the top

Listen all you fools out there

Go on and love me-I don’t care

Oh, it’s lonely at the top

Oh, it’s lonely at the top

Randy Newman, 1971

The first person to say it out loud was General Raymond Thomas of the Special Operation Command – SOCOM: “Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon because we’re a nation at war.”

Thomas is a powerful general; he commands every branch of the military whenever they participate in covert and clandestine missions. These kinds of operations – be it an assault action, a special reconnaissance, or a counter-terrorism operation – are based on scrupulous intelligence gathering and data analysis. This is the type of material the National Security Council provides for the president who then decides a course of action and gives orders to General Thomas and other commanders. But General Thomas is now objecting the current standstill, lack of input, and inaction of his forces. This objection sounds an alarm because America is in a war but only watching things happen, the general is saying. He secretly desired a reaction from the White House or Pentagon. Instead, all he got was mild media coverage.

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From Behind the Enemy Lines

By Andrej Mrevlje |

After working for more then 20 years for various news organizations, I am now finally happy where I am working for myself. I never worked from a newsroom, but for many years I reported, wrote, spoke, and contributed to the newsroom. And, cursed a lot. Because even if you worked below the radar like I did, the editors in the newsroom still give you a hard time. Always. Their expectations, ignorance about the places written about, and preconceived notions of the elements that build a good story make journalism a headache sometimes.  Read more »

Trump Era

War Room

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Time passes slowly, but change is hitting us at the speed of light. We are only two weeks into the new government, and our world has changed already. We are no longer doing the same things we use to do. Trump’s administration is fast and erratic, providing so much information that it’s hard to follow. It takes time to read and absorb everything, to remember it and connect the dots. But when you do, the story points to a cunning conductor.

Just a week ago, when I wrote my last post, this government was still hiding its actions behind what then appeared to be more a symbolic ritual than real executive orders. Aside from ripping up the TPP agreement, a frenzy of other compiled presidential orders will have to go through long time evaluations and bureaucratic procedures. Only at the end of this process will we know for sure what their impact will be. But for the time being, most of those first executive orders look like paper tigers.   Read more »

White House

Melania’s Secret

By Andrej Mrevlje |

America feels like an orphan without the first lady in the White House. Melania Trump — aka Knauss — has been silent for two weeks. She left the nation’s capital the day after the inauguration, and — according to White House correspondents — never came back,  as if she wanted to give her husband space. After all, he is all over the place, and in his frenzied manifestation of power, he likely never has time for her. Except that the official explanation for why she is staying in New York is her pre-teen son, Barron, who attends school in New York. Of course, there’s much more to the story, and there are also doubts about young Barron’s health. But it could also be that the couple wants to have some distance from each other, which I find healthy. Read more »

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