Sohrab Ahmari reports for the WSJ from Lesbos:
They wash ashore daily. This Greek island is the first port of call for many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war-torn failed states that encircle Europe today. Some 33,000 arrived in Lesbos in August, according to international aid groups, though local authorities believe the real number was much higher. Roughly a third escape Syria’s war zones. The rest hail from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia, even Bangladesh.
Popular with tourists for its mountain vistas overlooking a deep-blue Aegean, Lesbos now doubles as a front-line processing center amid the biggest global refugee crisis since World War II. From here, the refugees sail on commercial vessels to Athens, then make their way by train, bus and foot to Macedonia toward destinations in Western and Northern Europe. The journey begins the moment the they set foot on Lesbos....
I accompany a dozen or so Syrians on part of the first leg of the walk, about 12 miles from Molyvos to the village of Kalloni, their next rest station. The 10 adult men and two boys in our group—one age 3 and the other no older than 7—are from Deir ez-Zor, a town in eastern Syria partially controlled by Islamic State. They are lucky to have among them a 17-year-old young man from regime-held Homs, who speaks English.
“I saw everything,” he says. “I saw the gas. I saw the barrel bombs, the jets, the helicopters.” The Assad regime, he says, “has no mercy.” His family immigrated to the United Arab Emirates after the civil war broke out, he says, but he returned to Syria in the hope of escaping to Europe to finish his education. Studying in the U.A.E. “is not possible for people like me,” he says. The Emiratis don’t grant citizenship to, let alone educate, Syrian and other Arab refugees.
Barely into the first mile, sweat begins to pour down my forehead and back. The road is flanked to the right by the seashore. This is the world of flimsy bikinis, wedge sandals and beach cocktails—all set to the rhythm of European dance music. The miserable procession through this beach idyll, of refugees who a month ago lived under the caliphate, is a surreal sight. Many tourists and locals display great solidarity, delivering bottled water, juice and candy. Others are more callous. Two 20-something women riding a scooter wave and blow mocking air kisses. “Yoo-hoo!”
Hassan, the amber-haired 3-year-old in our group, walks vigorously. Does he understand what’s happening? His parents have stayed in Turkey, and he is traveling with a young uncle. Hassan has been made to understand that he is on a mission to reach Germany so he can rescue his parents. When we reach a public park in a town called Petra, he laughs joyously on swings and plays on the slides. For 10 minutes, Hassan gets to be a 3-year-old. Then we walk on....
The consequences of anti-Semitism during WWII are well-known. The consequences of today’s Islamic anti-Semitism, however, are underestimated.
Matthias Küntzel's latest book “Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold”, looks at the historic influence Germany has had on Iran. He talks here to Karmel Melamed at the Jewish Journal.
In defending the nuclear deal with Tehran, President Barak Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry gave the impression that they view the regime’s anti-Semitism as an incidental problem; to take it seriously would be a waste of time. Others believe that Iranian anti-Semitism is merely a response to Israel's policies. I show in my book, that both assumptions are wrong. On the one hand, there was in the Shiite tradition always a strong anti-Jewish tendency. And there is, on other hand, still the after-effect of Nazi propaganda: Between 1939 and 1945 the Nazi’s anti-Semitism was exported via a daily Persian-language broadcast from Berlin to Iran. This broadcast was popular and its main radio speaker, Bahram Sharokh, a celebrity during those years. The Nazis based their anti-Semitic incitement in Persian language on Islamic roots. They radicalized some anti-Jewish verses of the Koran and combined them with the European phantasm of a Jewish world conspiracy. Ruhollah Khomeini was, according to Amir Taheri, a regular and ardent listener of “Radio Berlin”. His claim of 1971 that “the Jews want to create a Jewish world state” mirrored a classical trope of Nazi anti-Semitism.
That last photo is described as a "tribute to Walker Evans", after Evans' "A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania" from November 1935.
Justin Fox, at Bloomberg, on the legacy of Hugo Chavez:
Around 2005, Chavez began calling his approach governing "Socialism of the 21st Century." But it was more akin to what political scientist Terry Lynn Karl dubbed "petrolization" -- making the spending of oil money your government's main purpose, even after the oil money starts to run out. This has left the country in an impossible situation. To pay its bills the government has borrowed $45 billion from China, but it also printed tons of money. And yes, you could say that the Federal Reserve in the U.S. also printed money during and after the financial crisis, but in Venezuela the money creation has reached such epic proportions that people have to carry the stuff around in bags.
Chavez isn’t around anymore, but this is clearly his crisis. He took a country that was muddling along, and put it on course to become a basket case. There are worse kinds of rulers than that -- those who massacre their own people or lead their nations into hopeless wars. But in terms of basic macroeconomic management Hugo Chavez has to go down as one of the most disastrous leaders the world has seen quite in a while.
Printing money? - isn't that a major part of Jeremy Corbyn's radical and exciting new plan for the UK economy?
And here's the great man (Corbyn, that is, not Chavez) in an (undated) article on his website:
In a sense history is being played out to its fullest extent in Venezuela, where the Bolivarian revolution is in full swing and is providing inspiration across a whole continent....
Venezuela, like others, has massive injustices of wealth and power, but unlike many others it has huge resources of oil.
The Bolivarian revolution led by Chavez is rapidly changing things. The poorest do get food, can see a doctor thanks to Cuban help, and are able to get good education. Chavez was elected, faced down a coup attempt, won a recall referendum, and then won Parliamentary elections. His electoral democratic credentials are beyond reproach.
In power, and faced with enormous opposition from a very hostile media, he has allowed them to continue, preferring instead to develop an alternative from of communication and thus inspire support....
The success in Venezuela has inspired others so that there is a tangible shift across the whole continent, with the election of Left Governments in Uruguay, Bolivia and now Peru looking likely to follow. The isolation of the USA with only the lame duck President Fox of Mexico, and President Uribe of Colombia supporting it at the 2005 trade conference in Buenos Aires shows just how far the politics of the region have moved.
In Parliament, Tony Blair seemed not to understand that the survival of Cuba since 1979 is an inspiration to the poorest in the region, and that Venezuela is seriously conquering poverty by emphatically rejecting the Neo Liberal policies of the world’s financial institutions.
Success for radical policies in Venezuela is being achieved by providing for the poorest, liberating resources, but above all by popular education and involvement.
As with Cuba the threat to the USA by Venezuela is not military or economic. It is far more insidious, a threat by example of what social justice can achieve.
Or read his tributes on the death of Chavez in 2013. And weep.
From Syria's Children, a gallery at In Focus:
"A wounded Syrian girl stands in a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of Syria’s capital of Damascus, following shelling and air raids by Syrian government forces on August 22, 2015. At least 20 civilians were killed, and another 200 wounded or trapped in Douma, a monitoring group said, just six days after regime airstrikes killed more than 100 people and sparked international condemnation of one of the bloodiest government attacks in Syria's war."
I missed this, but there was a good interview with Quilliam founder Maajid Nawaz by Lucy Bannerman in the Times yesterday (£). In particular:
He is well aware of the criticisms repeated against him, often from other British Muslims: that he lacks credibility, that he is not representative. He says he has never claimed to represent anyone. The government stopped funding Quilliam in 2011. Since then, its profile has continued to rise, thanks to donations by unnamed charities and individuals. Yet so too has the number of British boys and girls leaving their bedrooms in Bethnal Green, Glasgow, Luton and Cardiff — the list goes on — to join the jihadists. At the latest estimate, 700 Britons have left to fight in the Middle East.
“We’re a small organisation of ten people trying to do what frankly should be everyone’s responsibility.” Perpetuating the problems, he argues, are the apologists on what he calls the “absurd regressive left, who are only happy when you’re attacking America”. He condemns the tone of a recent profile piece in The Guardian as “racist”.
“The expectation that the only real Muslim is a scruffy Muslim, somebody who is inarticulate and angry, that’s the racism of low expectation and it usually comes from privately schooled, Oxbridge-educated Guardian journalists. They’re talking to me, someone from a state school, who has been homeless, divorced; witnessed torture; been arrested and profiled at airports; had DNA taken from him; had every so-called angry Muslim grievance these so-called leftists are on about, yet they have the audacity to speak to me about my credibility and Muslim experience?
“They’ve never had to face the barrel of a police gun pointed at the their head because they’ve been racially profiled. They’ve never had to dodge a hammer from a neo-Nazi or be guided by a torturer’s grip as he walks you through the torture dungeons of Egypt. Yet they sit there and talk to me as if somehow my Muslim experience is somehow less credible than their silver-spoon, privately educated understanding of what a Muslim should be and the mere fact that I’m not angry is what upsets them the most.
“They would be happier if I was sitting here, saying to you: ‘Of course this country deserves to be blown up. What do you expect?’ Then they say: ‘Good Muslim.’ That’s the real good Muslim/bad Muslim game. That’s the biggest form of hypocrisy — between the champagne socialists and the shisha jihadists.”
After the recent Guardian hatchet job by David Shariatmadari, he has every reason to be angry.
Perez Prado was best known as "King of the Mambo" for his early 1950s hits like Mambo No. 5, when the mambo craze hit New York City. He was based in Mexico City for most of his life after he left his native Cuba, though. This is high-octave Mexican fun:
Pachuco was a Latino American subculture from the Forties and early Fifties, with snappily-dressed zoot suiters and gangster chic. Pachuco Bailerin just means Pachuco dancer - which is what we get here.
The frenetic pace and brass lines - not to mention the scantily-clad girls - remind me more than anything of merengue, originally from the Dominican Republic.