21st Century

Catching the 21st Century Bus

By Andrej Mrevlje |

In the 19th century, the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde defined the marketplace as a war between buyers and sellers. He called price “a truce” obtained by haggling. In his Selected Papers, Tarde also explained that in the mid-19th century, Europe fixed the prices of goods and services to enable the end of continued hostility between the buyers and sellers.

If Tarde is right, I spent most of my life like a 19th-century man. Until a few years ago, when I walked into Sephora, a drugstore on Broadway in Manhattan, I evidently experienced a truce that was established in 19th century Europe. Armed with a two-hundred-year-old mindset, I noticed that the product I was using for many years and was now purchasing had no price tag on it. When the cashier scanned my cream, I had to bargain, fighting to reduce the extremely high and exaggerated price I was asked to pay. I won the battle, without understanding the reasoning behind this arbitrary pricing because, as I said, I came from a time when even an artichoke on a street market in Rome has to have a price tag. Ascribing the whole event to the ignorance and menefreghismo of the personnel in the shop, I did not know that in fact, I was the ignorant party, using a dusty, 19th-century logic, and the shopkeepers were following a modern textbook.

 Read more »

North Korea

Kim is no Gaddafi

By Andrej Mrevlje |

“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” he said. “We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That much I can tell you,” he said. And we have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this: he is doing the wrong thing,”

This is what Donald Trump, the 45th President of United States, had to say on Kim Jong Un in April 12 interview with Maria Bartiromo, of the FOX Business Network. Watch the interview. The level of infantilism in the president’s words and tone is incredible. It reminds me of the prepubescent age, when boys bicker for nothing, fight until someone brags about his older and stronger brother who’s ready to avenge him if anyone in the group touches him. This might be translated, in adult-speak, to deterrence. But the more I watched that video, the more Trump’s thinking reflected pure infantilism.

 Read more »

America

Dark Money Behind the Washington Post

By Andrej Mrevlje |

For the last year or so, the Washington Post has been a rare piece of the news. While many papers shut down or struggled to survive the digital era, the Post has made it. The paper is profitable and hiring. I’m not familiar with the printed edition, but its digital copy comes in a sleek and very fast-loading app. Well-reported and continually updated pieces are delivered with several newsletters per day, the model of assault journalism.

Adapting to the political chaos and circus-like media din since the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House, the Washington Post scans and writes them all, adding many investigative and opinion pieces to bolster its effectiveness. The paper is not an aggregate of coincidently written pieces thrown together, as occasionally happens with the New York Times because of the desk infighting, generating multiple articles on the same topic. At the Post, with the newsroom fusion of print and digital, they’ve created Websked, a newsroom tool, a sort of central command where the editors can see what’s being worked on across the newsroom—in video and photography and blogs. To my mind this oversight helps create a product similar to an instant book.

 Read more »

Trump Era

One Bomb a Day Keeps the Russians Away

By Andrej Mrevlje |
American B-52 bomber.(Reuters /DarrenStaples) / Reuters

In the beginning, there were tweets. President Trump used them as the smokescreen bombs, cover-ups for other, hidden actions, distractions from indecisive ignorance. The tweets kept the media busy for a while, sensational, outrageous as they were. But when the President dropped the tweet accusing his democratic predecessor, President Obama, of spying on him, Trump unintentionally called upon the intelligence agencies to investigate his serious claim, and the American public to doubt, then altogether deny, his credibility. His tweets have taken on a more trivial significance since. Then there were White House cover-up operations to distract public opinion that were straightforward pathetic; people surrounding the President came under scrutiny for the alleged secret communications and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, and the inner circle got smaller, tightening around Jared Kushner, the prodigious son-in-law of the president.

 Read more »

Europe

Ode to Sadness?

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Ludwig van Beethoven performing with the Razumovsky Quartet, as depicted by artist August Borckmann. Rischgitz / Getty Images

Late last summer, my wife and I took a ferry from Doolin, on the West coast of Ireland, to Inishmore, the smallest of the three Aran Islands. The tiny ferry, with perhaps no more than 30 or 40 people aboard, was filled with mostly European passengers.The ocean was rough; a short trip to a quaint island turned out to be a test of tolerance between various European nationalities. Italians took over the boat, while the Germans were appealing for discipline and order.

As a person with almost no ethnic identity, I wondered how this boat might survive the rough seas of the European Union. I was trying to imagine what might have happened during the European Summit between Germany, France, and Italy on the small aircraft carrier docked at the island of Ventotene, in Italy, a few days before my disturbing boat ride. Why had the Italian premier called for the summit? What was he trying to obtain from his country’s bigger siblings? How had they understood each other?

 Read more »

U.S.- China Relations

Dinner at Mar-a-Lago

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Shortly before eight in the evening, footage of President Trump hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping at the lavish Mar-a-Lago residence was on the air. The respective parties were seated around a big table; the presidents sat next to each other. Trump was tense; he locks his hands whenever he wants to prevent himself from sharing, we’ve learned.

As host, Trump pronounced a statement to the media in the room: “We’ve had a long discussion already, and so far I have gotten nothing, absolutely nothing, but we have developed a friendship – I can see that – and I think long term we are going to have a very, very great relationship and I look very much forward to it.” Trump then freed his right hand from under the table, turned to Xi Jinping and shook his hand. Firmly.

 Read more »

America

Man of the 36 Percent

By Andrej Mrevlje |

In the last couple of weeks, important steps have been taken towards uncovering the truth of whether the 45th President of the United States was elected with the substantial help of a foreign power. According to FBI Director James Comey, investigators began looking into possible coordination between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives because the “bureau had gathered a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.

Acknowledgment by the FBI director of an ongoing investigation that scrutinizes possible collusion between Trump’s campaign staff and the Russian government may represent a turning point and may help regain some clarity and stability in the country. No matter what the outcome, the conclusion of the investigation will have to clear the Russian cloud above Washington D.C. and stop the continuous smokescreen operations of a young White House. It may also halt political gossip and wind down some of the crazed media speculation. Or, as many now hope, these revelations may force President Trump to resign and allow us to go back to our normal work, work that dedicates our attention to topics other than Donald Trump. It is almost becoming an issue of mental health. But, as director Comey says, the end of this charade might not be immediate, as the timeline of investigation is impossible to predict. The line has been drawn, at least.

 Read more »

Geopolitics

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?

 Read more »

America

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.

 Read more »

China

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 »

Yonder is a weekly newsletter from Andrej Mrevlje that connects global events in the news, delivered every week. Learn more »

Questions? am@yondernews.com