Middle East

Syria Is Everybody’s War.

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Aleppo, SyriaAleppo, Syria

In light of the recent bloody chaos, it is legitimate to ask again: what is going on in Syria?

We have known from the beginning who the victim is in this war. Between 400 and 500 thousand people have been killed in Syria since 2011, while 4.8 million Syrians have fled the country and 6.6 million people are displaced internally, as of March 2016.  Last year, just over a million Syrians escaped terror and death by fleeing to Europe. When they ran for their lives, they were deterred and humiliated by barbed wires that some small countries installed in their desperate attempts to protect their identity and defend their territory. Syrian refugees couldn’t care less about this last humiliation. They managed to escape from much worse — they were alive! They escaped a gruesome reality that Ben Taub has described in harshly vivid language. His words capture the Syria that we refuse to see. We pledged that Rwanda would never happen again, but here it is — happening again:

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America

The Elections Money Can Buy

By Andrej Mrevlje |
money-and-politics

On September 14th, Nate Silver, the pollster and founder of the blog FiveThirtyEight, tweeted that, “Without those states, Clinton has 273 electoral votes, but there is no margin for error. Lose any one of NH/PA/WI/CO/VA and Trump is POTUS.”

In other words, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll, Hillary Clinton will win enough electoral votes (273) to win the elections. But that’s barely over the 270 that are needed to win the presidency. So if Clinton loses just one of the five states — New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado or Virginia — then the next president of the United States will be Donald Trump.

This sounds like hazardous prediction, since there are many more ways to win or lose this election than Silver’s tweet indicated. However, the tweet’s message is quite positive for Clinton, since it implies that, nearly two months before the elections, her prospects for getting the necessary number of electoral votes are looking good.

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America

Can Obama and Clinton win Against Trump?

By Andrej Mrevlje |
obama-and-clinton-in-mortal-hug

There are only 53 days left until election day, when United States citizens will decide who to put in the Oval Office for the next four years.

The untamed, populist, anti-establishment Donald Trump, who always plays against the rules, has made this election unpredictable from the very beginning. Rejecting the political system while making a good use of it does not seem to bother him.

When Trump stepped into politics, he immediately appealed to politically marginalized voters who found no space in a country moving quickly towards free-thinking and liberal society. The appearance of Donald Trump on the political scene created the conditions for the erosion of America’s Republican institutions by digging out the values of the deep past and installing  savage, extreme right-wing populism.  Read more »

America

They Ride Horses in Washington

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Statue of General Andrew Jackson, Photo: Andrej MrevljeStatue of General Andrew Jackson, Photo: Andrej Mrevlje

When the equestrian statue of General  Andrew Jackson was unveiled on January 8, 1853, twenty thousand people crowded Lafayette Square to witness and celebrate the event. Participants in the dedication ceremonies included President Millard Fillmore, his cabinet, members of Congress, officers of the United States Army and Navy, and the statue’s sculptor, Clark Mills. When he was introduced to the assembled throng, Mills, a little- known, self-taught, former house plasterer, was too overcome with emotion to speak. Instead, he pointed silently to his work.

Standing nine feet high and twelve feet long, and weighing fifteen tons, the statue depicts Jackson reviewing his troops on the morning of the Battle of New Orleans. His horse rears, anxious to move along the line, but Jackson calmly holds the reins and raises his hat in acknowledgment of his soldiers. The Battle of New Orleans secured Jackson’s place in American history. From that day forward, he would be known as “the Hero of New Orleans,” the man whose leadership and gallantry pre-served the Union against the invading British troops. For his part in the project, Clark Mills would become known for his creation of Jackson’s likeness in Lafayette Park. His work was the first equestrian statue designed, cast, and erected in the United States, and he solved a problem-that of balancing his rearing horse entirely on its hind legs-that had thwarted even Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the most celebrated artist of the Italian Renaissance.

sketch-of-unveiling-ceremony

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America

Yonder Goes to Washington

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Washington Monument,  Photo: Andrej MrevljeWashington Monument, Photo: Andrej Mrevlje

There is always something exciting about leaving your comfort zone and moving on to a new place — into an unknown situation. I never thought that this would happen with such exhilarating city as New York. And yet, after more than five years of life in “the city that never sleeps,” the proposal to move came my way, and I said “yes” immediately. The things I have fallen in love with in New York started to fade away.

I wrote a column on New York a few months after I landed in the city. It was dedicated to Tony Judt, who had passed away a few months before, and whose declared love for New York has become my own love for the city. This in spite of the fact that the New York from the times of Woody Allen and other intellectuals no longer exists. But no matter how much it’s been diluted, as Tony Judt wrote from his deathbed, the city still kept its endless charm and liveliness:

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China

Stairways to Heaven

By Andrej Mrevlje |
stairways-to-heaven

Sometimes giants behave like kids. Or is it perhaps that when they have nothing  substantial to say, world leaders turn into toddlers and start poking each other in the ribs?

There was no good reason to call for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China. G20 is a self-appointed group of the most powerful countries on Earth. It is not an institution that would compel the participants to fulfill the agreements reached during the brief meeting. The group resembles a sort of court of the most powerful leaders in the world, who chose to meet in picturesque and exclusive places. It is a great photo op, and on rare occasion — for the minor members of the group — a chance to shake hands and exchange a few words with the biggest, most powerful chaps of this world.

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Technology

Rotten Apples

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Apple Store, Georgetown, D.C.
Photo: Andrej MrevljeApple Store, Georgetown, D.C. Photo: Andrej Mrevlje

Is it time to ditch Apple? As I arrived in Washington, D.C., my iPhone 6 Plus went comatose. Back in New York, the phone had started to rebel while charging. It would not charge from any source or at any given time. Nothing wrong with the cables or outlets — the phone just would not do it. It needed to be convinced. Busy with moving, I had no time to visit an Apple store to figure out what the cause of this behavior was. Dust in the charge port, maybe?

Then, on my first day in D.C., the phone just would not charge for more than one or two percent of the battery capacity. Which means that I could make a brief call, but could not do anything else that smartphones were created for. So after I did my first round in the car around the new city, I drove straight to an Apple store in Georgetown — the nearest one to the place I live at the moment.

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Europe

Escape from New York

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Photo : Elisabeth RosenthalPhoto : Elisabeth Rosenthal

How does one decide to visit Ireland? I have friends who did it out of their newly discovered passion for golf. And I remember the late president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga, who went to Ireland every summer and praised Irish literature and Guinness. But although he was a man of letters, Cossiga was always full of secrets and cover-up stories, so we can’t be sure what he was really up to in Ireland. He spent most of the time in Dublin, so it might well be that he was paying  visits to his friends, members of the Irish Freemason Lodge.

Then there are my compatriots who, when I asked them what Ireland was like, told me that it was very similar to our country, Slovenia. And last but not least, there are my Irish friends. But none of them — not a single one of them — ever told me that I should come and visit Ireland. The Irish are modest. They love their country and they want to keep it to themselves. And like all smart people, they are also gossipy.

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America

White House Nightmare

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Trump and Hillary

For Hillary Rodham Clinton, clinching the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination seemed equivalent to crossing a torrential river. The closing image from convention in Philadelphia last month showed her on the other side of that river in much jubilation. The newly confirmed Democratic presidential nominee played with balloons, relaxed and happy. Dressed in paper white — as if to evoke her innocence — and immersed in hundreds of balloons, she seemed to be walking on air, a triumphant expression plastered across her face. It was a perfect, Hollywood-like scene — one of a dream that shows an elderly woman returning to a happy childhood, a recurring dream that finally turned into a reality. Hillary actually uses another metaphor for her great, long-desired achievement: now that she has managed to shatter that glass ceiling, the sky’s the limit. She was flying. She was in heaven. Perfect.

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America

Speechless Melania

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 2.25.43 PM

Damn — she almost made it! The world was waiting for her, and then — an hour after most of the media had decided that they liked Melania Knauss’s speech for making her husband look more human — the truth came out. It was not Melania’s speech, but rather the speech of the unbeatable, spontaneous, smart, charming Michelle Obama, the real first lady of the United States. One only has to watch Michelle’s most recent video performance for Mother Jones to get a sense of the difference between the two women. This hip-hop video that the first lady starred in surfaced just two days after Melania’s plagiarism. It gives an implicit but fierce critique of the wannabe first lady — Donald Trump’s 46-year-old third wife — who copied the most inspiring part of the speech that Michelle Obama gave in 2008 when she introduced her husband, Barack Obama, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

While the criticism and ridicule of Melania are so devastating that they have probably silenced Melania for the rest of her husband’s campaign, this story is also significant.

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