U.S.- China Relations

Bidden’s China Currency

By Andrej Mrevlje |
During the first meeting between new American administration and Chinese delagation in Alaska, the tables remained separated.

We live in uncertain times. The human race is facing its biggest crisis yet, perhaps similar to the one that extinguished the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. This time around, though, the crisis may not happen due to a big asteroid crashing down on our planet, causing clouds of dust and ash to rise, blocking out the sun, and destroying the ozone layer that protects life from harmful cosmic radiation. Instead, our crisis is a slow agony that is happening because of our extreme stupidity.

We are dogfighting about trade wars, starting wars over some stupid border disputes. We easily announce embargos, start cold wars, order sanctions and let the pandemic ravage on. But we forget to address unresolved questions of inequality, racism, the crisis of ideology, leadership, and the overwhelming migration phenomenon. As the new epoch of massive migrations due to climate change, world conflict, or simply the consequence of a vampirized economy approaches, we are not equipped to deal with it.

The China-U.S. relationship, with its fight over world domination, is part of this story. 

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America

Big Lie

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Waiting for the enemy. Photo: Andrej Mrevlje

In the end, we survived him. As I write this entry, there are less than 24 hours before Trump is scheduled to leave the White House and Washington D.C. for good. Like Twitter and Facebook, the microphones and TV cameras will no longer transmit his offenses, insults, brutalities, threats, and most of all, his lies. It’s over. “Fuck Trump,” actor Robert De Niro said a couple of times when the 45th President of the United States was in power.

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America

Seizure Of Capitol

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Confederate flag, a symbol of white supremacy and racial segregation — never entered the Capitol with such fanfare during the Civil War. It was seen many times Wednesday in possession of white rioters who waved it without interference from police.

After a long pause with no accidents this time, Yonder is back as this new year unfolds. I apologize for the silence. I was busy with a different kind of project. But let’s celebrate the arrival of the vaccine and the departure of Trump. Cum grano salis, obviously.  

Every year, the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, is celebrated on January 6. For some Christians, the holiday season does not end until then, the day in which the three kings (also known as the Wise Men or the Magi) reached baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The Italians added to the biblical story, incorporating a Christmas witch, Befana.

The old wrinkled Befana found out about Jesus when the three Magi stopped at her house and inquired about the road to Bethlehem. They invited her to come with them, but she had to finish cleaning first, she told them. When she finally finished, it was late, and she had lost track of Magi. She took her presents for baby Jesus and hopped on her broom, trying to catch up with them. But she lost her way and was forced to fly around, asking about Bethlehem here and there, leaving presents and charcoal for the children in the places she stopped at. Italians added Befana to their Christmas traditions because expecting the witch’s arrival was a way for families to spend an extra evening together before work started back up. Both Befana’s and the three Magi’s stories are rooted in a Christian tradition, but they are also a step away from severe catholic liturgy and discipline. They are told for pleasure and imagination. So, one may wonder why the heck Americans chose January 6 as the day to certify a newly elected president.

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America

Last Days Of America

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Photo: Andrej Mrevlje

Tomorrow, America is supposed to elect a new president. But the reality is that nobody knows what might happen tomorrow, one day after or even weeks later, since the current president has threatened that he will not accept election results unless he is declared the winner. This president has a weird notion of democracy. If his word is not enough, he said, he will be confirmed by the Supreme Court, where he thinks he has majority support. I decided to do a Yonder from Pennsylvania, which flipped from blue to red in 2016, helping elect Donald Trump. I did not visit the areas where Democrats prevail. I wanted to see how the depleted areas that voted for Trump in 2016 are doing today. Do they still support Trump, are they any better off than they were when they first voted for him?  

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Elections 2020

Cluster In The White House

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Americans are set to vote in just three weeks’. I don’t vote in this country, and I don’t pray, but I will pray on election day, and I will anxiously await results. What do you care? Someone might ask. I care because the experience with this president has been very personal and painful. It started a few days before the 2016 election when the disgraceful candidate was caught on tape talking about pussy and power. I would not straightforwardly support Hillary Clinton for president, but it could be interesting, I thought. Besides, what kind of country would vote for a person as vulgar as Trump?

As we know, Trump won. Hillary indeed contributed to his success as she is famous for running bad campaigns, and for being honest, she was the wrong candidate. Not because she is a woman, of course. Trump’s victory did not arrive because of his charisma, talent, or anything else that could count as merit. He got lucky because Hillary Clinton so rudely eliminated Bernie Sanders. If Trump had had to face Sanders, he would probably never be the president of the United States. By saying this, I do not mean that this country has just one Trump. There are more waiting to come. In these last four years, Trump has managed to destroy the values and reasons that give human existence worth. This is why I will be nervous on November 3. Go vote, please. 

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New York

Has The Covid Worm Eaten The Big Apple?

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Back in March, just before the pandemic, I walked down Broadway to Soho in New York City. It was an unusually hot, sunny day and the streets were packed with people. Something told me I did not want to be there. Suddenly, beyond the usual city noises, I heard the voice of a young man calling out to people, asking them if they might be interested in getting a tattoo. I felt that there was something strange in this call. Was this how to advertise a tattoo? Isn’t redesigning your body a profoundly intimate decision? I thought. Getting a tattoo is not the same as getting a coffee. But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I ascribed too much importance to something I do not wear and am not familiar with. However, that voice told me one thing: that the business must be short of customers. Since we already knew about coronavirus at the beginning of March, I associated the advertising voice with the pandemic knocking on the door of the most vital city in the nation. I looked around again, realizing that this city that I knew so well and that I was no longer in love with was the perfect place to spread the virus at the speed of light. What if it really happens? I wondered. Appalled by the possibility of a human catastrophe of massive proportions, I became worried about the people I know and love. New York, with its dense population, was the perfect setting for a virus outbreak.

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Geopolitics

Cold War’s (Climate) Change

By Andrej Mrevlje |

The number of people infected by COVID-19 in the U.S. increases daily by 50,000. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has reached more than five million, and 1000 Americans die every day (the death toll is now over 175,000). We, the survivors, continue to live behind closed doors, limiting our contacts to a minimum, shopping once a week, sitting in a little garden (if you are privileged enough to have one), and repeating conversations with our loved ones. We continue to exist without any outside stimulus, with no impulses. We no longer use our instincts because everything has become so routine and predictable. Not completely, since we still have our brains. We can read, write, and think. And when it comes to thinking, it becomes really hard. Locked in, with institutions locked down, with public spaces gone and therefore urban life equivalent to zero, we are left — more than ever — in the hands of the people in power who command our lives. And when the people that dispose of your life are Donald Trump, or Xi Jinping on the other side of the globe, (we could add a long list of names of the leaders in the countries between the U.S. and China, Slovenia included), then perhaps you are at the point of having serious apathy. There is a constant echo in our heads: when did this all happen? What happened to the times when lunatics were kept in safe places and the people could walk freely? When you realize this, you understand that something terrible is going on. 

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Healthcare

Bebee Hospital Prison

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Waiting for the doctor, Bebee Hospital E.R. Photo: Andrej Mrevlje

“Anyone want a blanket?” an E.R. staffer from Beebe hospital on the outskirts of Lewes, Delaware asked. It was a late afternoon during high summer. But almost everyone among the dozens sitting in the waiting room waived for a cover. How come no one bothered to lower the air conditioning? I thought. Was it because AC is an important part of American exceptionalism? The blankets were white and heated. In mere seconds, the uneventful waiting room had been transformed into a temple, with patients looking like druids. Covered in white, we were ready to contemplate our pain for a protracted period of time. The blankets — they felt more like towels offered in a spa — gave us some comfort but also made us aware that the waiting might drag on. Each of us already had a registration number with a name and a signature on the wristband they gave us. It was like a boarding pass for a long flight or a religious meditation depending on which way you looked at it. There was a deep silence in the room despite the presence of people with serious health issues. I found this bizarre situation amusing. 

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White House

Melania’s Life In A Golden Cage

By Andrej Mrevlje |

As I finished reading The Art of Her Deal, a biography on Melania Trump by Mary Jordan, it struck me that I could not remember anything relevant that the First lady has ever said that would be worth publishing. Nothing I have heard from Melania has ever been uplifting or even depressing. In Jordan’s book, there was nothing new in what Melania was saying, nothing inspiring, nothing we haven’t heard before. It was as if Melania had kept repeating the same mantra again and again, like this phrase, largely used in Slovenian language: “The sun always shines after the rain!” In the book, Melania’s expressions are packaged in small blurbs and read like haikus on survivalism that contain common-sense wisdom, rooted deeply in a rural mindset. Melania’s words have an overtone of fatalism, restraining even the tiniest glimmer of hope. Most of the time, when she says something it is just a dull expression of an obsolete weltanschauung. Choosing words can be either an art or just the plain repetition of common sense expressions that we Slovenians inherited from our rural ancestors and the Habsburgs. Is it possible that Melania uses them to cover-up her misanthropic nature? She may also sound dull and reluctant for many reasons we do not know about: perhaps because of her looks, which to her mind might not be good enough for public appearance; or maybe she is simply not interested or is unsure about what to say. Maybe it’s because a nondisclosure contract with her husband bans it. Or could she be putting the president of the U.S. on ice, ignoring him because he offended her? Perhaps she carries herself the way she does because her mother taught her how to survive in a world governed by men; how to defend herself and be desirable at the same time, a technique Melania applied to Donald Trump from their first encounter on.

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White House

President’s Prison

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Last week, the U.S. went through many dramatic events as the president tested some repressive apparatuses of the state that could be used during the insurgency. A week later, we are back enjoying high summer, with the coronavirus once again becoming the main adversary. The protests and the Black Lives Matter movements are still marching in the hopes of bringing about more change. Let’s hope they can keep this country alert till November, as the vote for a new president will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the trajectory of this vulnerable country.

My apologies to our subscribers. We ran into some technical issues with the newsletter distribution last week, and we apologize for the delay.

Now that the protective fence around the White House has been built, one might ask what the intent to build one in the first place was. The most obvious interpretation is that the President cannot stop himself from building walls. Then there are easier conclusions: as the fence around the White House has pushed people away from what was once the heart of the nation, the impression is that the whole perimeter has been transformed into a construction site. Does this mean that the President will build another of his towers, or change the lawns around the residence into a mini-golf course? All these scenarios could be a part of the chatter, the talk of the town, or even the President’s wet dream. But these are not normal times, and there is no time for jokes anymore. 

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